A Fitness Challenge To Help Your Back, Hips and Knees

You can’t go on social media without seeing all sorts of ridiculous fitness challenges. Plank challenges. Burpee Challenges. Abs challenges. Personally I’d rather eat glass than do a 5 minute plank. The kicker is that you know that most of the people doing these challenges are planking with somewhat less than good form.

I saw an Instagram posted fitness challenge the other day that wanted you to work out twice a day for 45 minutes each time and have no cheat meals for 75 days, along with about 4 other demands. Sure. Let me put my entire life on hold for the next 75 days to show the buff guy in the picture how awesome I am.

NOT!

Listen, if you want to try some of these things then please be my guest. You get to push yourself a little and maybe if you do it with a group it can turn into a fun thing. I’m the last person to tell someone to stop doing any kind of exercise they actually enjoy.

That being said, I thought I’d propose a fitness challenge that can actually help you and that you can even do while watching TV!

OK. Here it is. For the next seven days I want you to spend 30 minutes doing this:

Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch – Do 15 minutes each leg

It doesn’t look like much, but this simple stretch is the best thing I’ve found to loosen up your hips, back and shoulders and help improve your posture from the hips outward and you know my that your entire posture is set from the hips outward.

What does the Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch do?

This stretch focuses mainly on a muscle called the Psoas (pronounced SO-az). This is a long muscle that runs from from your lumbar spine on either side, down to just below your hips. See in this picture.

The Psoas is one of the muscles that are responsible for allowing you to move your thigh toward your torso as in this picture.

As a group, these muscle are called the Hip Flexors and the Psoas is the biggest and strongest of them.

The problem with the Psoas is that due to modern society’s tendency towards sitting, it can get pretty tight, and due to it’s attachment position at the lumbar spine, that tightness can cause postural problems which result in back, hip, knee and possibly even shoulder pain.

What the Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch does is help regain length and function in the Psoas. This helps put your body in better posture and helps reduce back pain, hip pain, knee pain and also possibly shoulder pain.

How do I do it?

Let’s refer to this picture one more time.

Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch

It really is pretty simple, but there a couple of important things to be aware of. Let’s go over it.

  1. Lie flat on your back with one leg straight and the other hip and knee bent to about 90 degrees and resting on a box or chair.
  2. The foot on the straight leg needs to be propped against something so your toes point straight up.

Keeping your toes pointing straight up on the straight leg is what allows the psoas to release and stretch. It’s also very important to have an object holding the foot straight up, not just you holding it. If you are keeping tension on the leg to hold it up under your own power,  the psoas will not relax.

If you experience back pain in this position it is likely because your psoas is a little extra tight. In this case, you need to elevate the straight leg like in this picture.

When you start the stretch, contract your thigh for a few seconds. You will likely feel the contraction close to your knee. Repeat this every 5 minutes or so. As you hold this position over time you will feel the contraction higher up your leg. When you feel that change, drop your leg a little lower.

I like to do this while watching TV at night. I’ve been through several seasons of Homeland and The Walking Dead this way. Half the show on one side and half on the other. I’ve been doing it long enough that I get a nice release from 10-15 minutes on each side although I still like to do 15-20. If you haven’t done this before it might take a bit longer. I remember the first time I did it, it felt like nothing was happening for a while and then all of a sudden my leg just started vibrating and relaxing like crazy. It was quite an experience.

What’s the challenge?

My challenge to you is simply this:

Do this stretch for 30 minutes per day (15 minutes on each leg) for the next seven days. That’s it. I’m pretty confident that you will feel some pretty powerful results. What’s most important is that you will start to realize the importance of your overall posture in how you feel and move every day.

I have found this stretch to have a massive impact on back pain, hip pain and knee pain. It very well may be the best thing I’ve found to help with these things and no, I’m not exaggerating. If you need more convincing just do a quick Google search for “Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch” and look at what comes up.

Also, if you want to have a little more fun with this challenge please post a picture on Facebook or Instagram or both. Tag me in it (Facebook or @mitchrfitness on Instagram) and use the hashtag #CVFitnessSupineGroinChallenge. Write how you feel in your post. I’ll be doing it, too.

Good luck and have fun!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191

 

Why Do I Have Back/Shoulder Pain?

So many people have back and shoulder pain. The problem is that many of those people don’t really understand what is causing it.

Hint: It’s probably not your discs and rotator cuff irregularities.

In this video I talk about some easy steps you can take to discover what may be really causing your pain and how to get started in fixing it.

This video is not meant to diagnose your specific issue but I do cover the most common things I see on a daily basis and the causes.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Brushing Your Teeth and Back Pain: The Connection

One of the most important things we try to do as personal trainers is get people to understand the connection between what we teach as far as movement in the gym and the connection to movement outside of it. This is especially important for people who have some sort of pain. Back and shoulder pain especially.

We don’t teach people to deadlift so they can deadlift. We teach them so they can pick up groceries, laundry, kids etc, safely!

People don’t realize that it is their everyday movement performing menial tasks that really determines how their backs and shoulders feel.

In this video I explain why and show you some examples.

IF YOU HAVE PAIN PLEASE WATCH THIS!

What The Heck Am I Talking About – Set Your Core

Do you know what your core is supposed to do when you move? This is another in our series that explain common cues we give at our gym.

Set Your Core!

If you find your low back hurting when performing certain movements this might be a pretty important thing for you to understand!

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness
510-755-9191

Ouch! A Simple Guide To Chronic Pain

The most we’ll see someone at our gym is 5 hours each week. Most of the time it’s actually 2 or 3. That means that there’s somewhere between 163 and 166 hours for someone to either work on good movement patterns or bad ones.

Let’s backtrack a little bit. So many people have chronic pain. Shoulders, knees, back. You know those kinds of pains that you just started noticing one day and can’t really remember when they even started.

I’m about to tell you something important about chronic pain. Something crucial that, if you listen, will change the way you look at them and will give you a much better chance at dealing with them successfuly. No hyperbole here but, if you pay attention to this it could change your life.

OK. Are you listening? Well, here it is.

The chronic pain you have, generally has little or nothing to do with where you are feeling the pain.

What does that mean? It means that if you have knee, back or shoulder pain it probably isn’t because you have a problem with your knees, back or shoulders.

Let’s just take your knees as an example. If you have some knee issues, let’s try something real quick. Stand up, close your eyes and march in place for 10 seconds. When you’re done marching keep your feet right where they are. Got it? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Great! Now I want you to look at the relationship between your foot and your kneecap. Your kneecap should face straightforward as should your foot. That would mean that your knee and your foot are in alignment and facing the same direction. Another way to look at it would be to draw a line from your kneecap straight down to the floor. The line should intersect your foot right in the middle. Take a look at the picture below. Notice how the left foot and knee are lined up and the right isn’t?

Knee Chronic Pain

I’m guessing that if you have a knee issue, the alignment on the side that hurts looks more like the right knee.

So if this is the case, is it your knee that’s the issue or the alignment (which is actually caused by either your hip or ankle)? You guessed it! The alignment!

Chronic Pain

There are many ways to work on these things, but the key to all of them is understanding that dealing with these issues is an everyday thing. You can’t just work on it at the gym and forget about it the other 165 hours a week! There are weeks, months and even years of bad habits that have to be undone. It can happen, but you have to do the work.

Now, these things can get complicated but let me just give you a very quick and very simple guideline on the causes of knee, back and shoulder chronic pain. Obviously it goes without saying that if you’re having a major issue, see someone who can help whatever specific issue you may have.

Knees – As we discussed above it’s all about the alignment. Look at your hips and ankles. One or both are probably tight.

Back – Again, this is about the hips. Do you sit all day? It’s important to note that your hips are supposed to have lots of mobility and your low back isn’t, so if your hips are locked up what has to take up the slack? The low back. That equals pain.

One more thing, when your doc takes x-rays and notices you have bulging discs? In study after study it’s been shown that something like 90% of adults, both with and without back pain, have bulging discs. In other words, it’s unlikely that they’re the source of your problem.

Shoulders – Posture, posture, posture! This is the key. How’s yours? Almost everyone we see with painful shoulders has some sort of postural issue.

Here are the keys:

  1. Stand up tall!
  2. Keep your shoulders down. (This is a HUGE issue when we’re under stress and/or sitting and typing for long periods of time.)
  3. Breathe deep.

I don’t want to get too complex with anatomy here so I’ll make this quick. Take a look at the picture below and notice that there are lots of small muscles in the shoulder but not a lot of room between them and the clavicle. What that means is that if those muscles get irritated and inflamed they actually rub against the clavicle, which causes pain. What causes inflammation and irritation? You got it! Bad posture!

shoulder Chronic Pain

Well, I hope this helped and you now have a better idea of what is causing some of the chronic pain you may have. Please let me know if you have any other questions or have any thoughts about what we’ve talked about.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
510-754-7113
MitchRFitness.com
www.facebook.com/MitchRothbardtFitness/
Discover Your Strength!