Archives for posts with tag: diaphragm

In the first part of this post, I talk about 7 common reasons why people get back pain.  In this post, I’m going to get a little more in depth for solutions to these problems.  Remember they come in two categories: exercise habits and movement dysfunction. Let’s talk good exercise habits.

How to build a good warm up in 3 easy steps

Step 1: Become best friends with your foam roller. In fact, make it your lover. Figure our where it hurts the most and spend most of your time there.

Step 2: Dynamic Stretch. Although everyone should be assessed to figure out their specific needs, MOST people are tight in the same places. Hamstrings, upper back, shoulders and hips. 4 Stretches Most People Can Benefit From

Step 3: Activate. Do this where you need stability, usually core and glutes. Things like glute bridges, bird dogs, and wall slides will all do the trick. Find examples of good warm ups here, here, and here.

Learn how to hip hinge

Fix your form

There’s no way I can possible cover good form in one paragraph. The good news is there are people who have covered this already. My go-to articles for the big 3 are written by a pretty smart guy named Mike Robertson. He covers in great detail the squat, deadlift,  and bench. I suggest you read up if you’re serious about preventing back pain, or any kind of pain for that matter.

The truth is, your exercise habits wont make much of a difference until you fix your movement dysfunction; the two go hand in hand.

How to belly breath- Enter the diaphragm

Gain mobility where you need it

Most people I train are just your average joe’s. As much as I can dream about it… I’m not training athletes with crazy mobility or congenital laxity. Although it’s very important to get evaluated, I can tell you most people are tight in the same areas: hips, shoulders, and t-spine.

If you want to get more in depth mobility drills, I highly suggest checking out Kelly Starrett is a very smart guy who has hundreds of videos with in-depth mobility drills. You pretty much can’t put anything in his search bar that will go unanswered.  As much as he tries to dumb it down, I find myself having to watch some of his videos 2 or 3 times to completely understand it. So if you don’t understand some of his lingo, don’t worry about it; just try to emulate as best you can.  However for a quick reference, these are some mobility favorites:

Scapular Wall Slides

Thoracic Spine Extension on Foam Roller

Hip Mobility Combo

Gain some core stability

Core stability is a must… For everybody…. No exceptions! If you don’t have it, you need it; and if you have it, you need to keep it!

The basics never go out of style with core training. In my opinion, the plank and any of it’s variations is king, and form is VITAL.

Here are some other great core stability drills:

Banded Bird dog

Notice how her core does not change at all as she moves, and her low back does not cave as she lifts her limbs.

Half Kneeling Chop

Improve your posture

This starts with how you’re sitting right now. Stop slouching!

Obviously, everyone’s posture is a little bit different, but let’s go over some common deviations:

1. Lordosis

Lot’s of anterior core work is needed to help correct this. This is where your planks, front squats, and reverse crunches come in. Some mild low back stretches will help too; something like child’s pose.

2) Kyphosis

A lot of people I see have some degree of a kyphotic curve. It’s very important to go some soft tissue work before strength training; all those muscles in the upper back become tight and weak. A foam roller is great but a tennis or lacrosse ball is better.

Once you loosen up those muscles, it’s very important to get them slightly tighter and stronger (note: ‘tight muscles’ are not always a bad thing). Rowing and pull ups are the go-to’s here. There are so many variations of rows, all you have to do is pick your favorite!


You don’t have to conquer all these points at one time, but that being said, I think they’re all equally important and should all be addressed.

All I can say is I hope that you learned something! If I learned anything, it’s to not film videos on days I wake up at 4:30. Woof.



As you may or may not know, as of this past August I am a pre/post natal exercise specialist! I’m up one more level of awesome!
All jokes aside, it’s a very very cool certification and I’m ecstatic to be able to help this very special population. Although the process of getting certified was long, it was enriching and definitely worth it.  Some of my requirements were:

1. Read “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by Dr. James F. Clapp

Dr. Clapp is a leading researcher in this very specific arena, and his book offers ground breaking information. He talks about how pregnancy was once viewed as a sickness, whereas in reality perinatal women can do just about anything that their non-pregnant counterparts can. He covers the physiological changes that occur when you become pregnant, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy (there’s a lot– more on that later), and how to program and monitor.

2. Read a ~200 page manual written by my certification creators, Kim Nelli + James Goodlatte 

This manual is something I refer to frequently. It sort of fleshes out details from Clapp’s book and goes into more detail about structural considerations, corrective exercise, movement assessment, primal movement patterns (breathing, squat, lunge, twist, bend, push, pull, single leg balance), and actual program design. There is also a separate manual for post-natal fitness that digs into the emotions of child birth, hormones and nutrition. What I like so much about this certification is that Kim and James really explore a holistically healthy pregnancy, as opposed to just focusing on exercise.

3. Complete about 10 written quizzes to submit for feedback

4. Review and Learn the latest ACOG guidelines for absolute and relative indications to exercise during pregnancy

These are very pregnancy-specific issues to be mindful of as a trainer, or if you’re pregnant yourself. Some absolute contraindications include persistent 2nd or 3rd trimester bleeding or pregnancy induced hypertension. Some relative contraindications include severe anemia or poorly controlled thyroid disease.

5. Video record 2 movement assessments, 1 for prenatal and 1 for post

6. Video record a 60-minute session

A big thanks to my stellar client Christina for allowing me to film our session!

7. Have 2-5 skype meetings with James to discuss videos

James gave great feedback and really encourages his FitForBirth trainers to think critically.

I’ve learned way too much to ever summarize in one blog post, but to give you an example… here are some benefits to exercising during pregnancy:

For Moms:

1.  Less weight gain

2. Less labor pain

3. Less pregnancy discomfort

4. Decrease in need to artificially rupture membranes

5. Decrease in need for episiotomy (2-4″ incision along the vaginal wall)

6. Decrease need for operative intervention

7. Decreased time in labor

For Babies:

1. Increased physical health scores

2. Increased intelligence scores

3. Fewer fetal interventions

4. Fewer pregnancy complications

5. Increase nutrient delivery to fetus

These are obviously not exhaustive lists, and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of staying active during pregnancy. Many people view pregnancy as a time to be lazy and excuse a poor diet because they’re hormones are telling them to eat a double mac. Quite the contrary. Pregnancy is a time to pay even MORE attention to your health– you’re creating another human for pete’s sake! I’ve had a few pregnant clients at this point, and it’s honestly pretty cool to empower them to continue to lift and engage in interval training.

Lastly, I want to give you some insight as to how a session with me actually goes down. 

The session is broken up into 4 components. We spend the first 10-15 minutes doing some breathing drills to turn on the diaphragm, TVA and deep core muscles. Kim and James refer to this is awakening from ‘core amnesia.’ The next 25-35 minutes are dedicated to functional training. During this time I will go through specific corrective exercises, and my usual strength training programs. After that, we spend 10 minutes in what’s called Labor Training. Labor training is basically HIIT with a recovery period using imagery. I let my ladies choose their form of conditioning (ball slams, mountain climbers, sled push etc), and I walk them through the imagery. The work/rest intervals are supposed to simulate how actual contractions occur, starting with shorter work periods/longer rests, and gradually moving to longer work/shorter rest. Then whatever time is remaining is used for gentle stretching and relaxation. The ladies leave the session with a sense of achievement, confidence and calmness.

So far, I’ve been meeting with my pre/post natal clients in 1-on-1 sessions, but I’d also like to start a small group training program so that ladies can get the camaraderie and encouragement from fellow preggo’s.  🙂

If you or anyone you know is interested in pre/post natal training, please contact me at