Archives for posts with tag: foam roll

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.



Just cause it’s cute

Believe it or not, there are other components to health besides exercise. (I hope you all sense my sarcasm there.)

Although I’m obviously partial to the ‘exercise’ piece of the puzzle, sometimes it doesn’t have to be your primary focus, per se.

The holidays are around the corner, the year is coming to an end, and people are generally busier with work deadlines, vacations and the likes. Formal exercise is usually not on the top of people’s priority lists. So instead of falling off the wagon completely,  it’s a good time to pay more attention to the other aspects of wellness.

1. Sleep

Instead of setting goals for strength or aesthetics this December, set goals for sleep. It is the most vital part of recovery, brain function, and even body composition. Logging hours in the sheets can be just as vital as logging hours in the gym.

2. Stress Management and Recovery

As I mentioned, the end of the year can be a stressful time. Make a conscious effort to take 5 minutes out of your day to de-stress. Sip a green tea without looking at your computer, read a magazine article, do some breathing drills, get up and stretch, call your mom, put your headphones on etc, etc. The key is to do something that actually relaxes you, and actually do it. 

If you have the means, I highly suggest scheduling a massage. I don’t know about you, but it’s on my list of Top 10 Most Awesome Things Ever. It’s one of the best things you can do for your muscles, and it makes you feel like a million bucks.

Buy a foam roller. Come on they’re like 20 dollars. I guarantee everyone reading this can find 15 minutes to spare at night to spend foam rolling. It’s a close second to an actual massage.

3. Nutrition

You had to know this one was coming. I understand this is the month of holiday parties, office treats, and the cop-out gifts of chocolate and disgusting flavored popcorn.

I may or may not have gotten this for Steve last year…

I challenge you to challenge that. Be the annoying one that brings a veggie platter instead of cupcakes. Trust me, people will eat it… and you might even get some thank you’s for the relief of the constant sugar binges.

Offer to make a healthy side dish to your holiday parties like garlic spinach or pumpkin quinoa.

Please: Go easy on the alcohol. I’m not gunna sit here and tell you to not have a good time during this season of celebration– but it’s no excuse to be a sloppy lush at every event. Besides, you don’ t want to come into work on Monday hearing that you ruled the office Stanky-Leg competition that you don’t remember participating in. It’s bad looks!

4. Enjoy Yourself!

The holiday’s are a time for reflection, gratitude, and celebration. Taking a second to think about all the positive things in your life can do wonders for your mental health and state of mind. Take it a step further and make someone else’s day. It can be a random compliment to a stranger, or a conversation thanking your best friend for always being there for you. Deposits in the bank as Stephen Covey would say (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People– highly recommend it).

For most people, it’s probably not realistic to expect to lose a lot of weight during the month of December.  Now is not the time to stress about an imperfect diet or missing a workout. Enjoy life and live a little.

However that is not a free pass to go buck-wild. If you plan appropriately and are at least conscious of your physical health, you can avoid gaining holiday weight and setting yourself back for the new year.

Happy December!!


Yes yes it’s Tuesday. I apologize for the late post.

I’m sure you’re crying about it


Anywho, September proves to be a crazy month in the gym as everyone gets out of summer mode. But I’m not complaining! I love the extra energy. Today’s warm up is focused more for an upper body workout; emphasizing spinal and shoulder mobility and stability.

1) Foam Roll upper Back- Self myofascial release, t-spine mobility, posture corrective.

An even better position is to support your head with your hands and squeeze your elbows together. This really opens up between your shoulder blades and lets you get in there. One theory on strength training is that you have to lengthen before you strengthen. And the release is another form of lengthening and stretching your muscles. The upper back tends to be hypertonic (overactive) and really benefits from release on the roller. Plus it feels awesome.

2) Short ROM ab crunches on Stability ball

No need to put your arms over head, but you get the idea

I got this idea from Eric Cressey. A (serious) fitness professional doing ab crunches warrants a scolding for reasons I won’t go into today. Going from a neutral spine to a flexed spine 324 times is not ideal, however there are a few benefits from going from extension to neutral.  First and foremost, you get some good t-spine mobility, lumbar stability, and hey… a little direct ‘ab’ work never killed anybody.   (don’t quote me on that)

3) Overhead pulls on stability ball- lat activation, shoulder stability, t-spine mobility

Don’t let your hips sag

This one is pretty self explanatory. Doing it on a stability ball adds a little extra challenge. Although I haven’t conducted an electrode study (yet) I’d be willing to bet doing it this way gets a little more activation from your core and lower body stabilizers.

4) Band Pull apart- Scapular retraction, posterior shoulder pre-hab,  serratus anterior strengthener, shoulder stabilizer

Really focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you open your arms. Make sure the resistance is heavy enough to feel it but not heavy enough to limit your full range of motion.

5) Light Single Arm Waiters carry- Dynamic shoulder stabilization

Nia Shanks

Get the weight overhead and make sure your shoulder is packed and your elbow is locked. Take about 10 steps forward and back and then switch arms.



Happy Monday!

Let’s just get this one out of the way: We’re not going to talk about the Patriots. The end.

Anywho… We had an another amazing fall weekend weather wise and I hope you all got out to enjoy it. Alas, Monday has come again so here’s your WUOTW!


A) Foam roll Adductors – self myofascial release

Play the roller at a 45 degree angle in front of you and open up one leg to get your inner thigh on the roller. Roll extra slow in this area as it’s easy to go to quickly and miss some tension spots. Since it’s such a big area to cover, I suggest going from groin to mid thigh, then move the roller and go mid thigh to knee. Most people will feel more tension either closer to the thigh or closer to the knee. Make sure you find where you feel the pain and spend some time on it.

B) Single leg Glute bridges- hip mobility, glute activator, hip stabilizer

The SL glute bridge is harder than it looks and can be butchered if not done carefully. The idea here is to keep your hips square as you come up and don’t let your non working leg sag. This requires incredible strength and stability, so if you’re not there yet… go back to double leg bridges. This sometimes causes hamstring cramps, and that is not a good thing. Go back to double leg and make sure you’re feeling it in your glutes and not your hamstrings.

C) Bent to straight leg heel taps- core activator, anterior pelvic tilt corrective

Bring the straight leg closer to the ground

Keeping the upper half stable and making your lower body the levers will activator your lower core.  Keep your low back pushed into the floor to keep your abs on and protect your back.

D) Body weight walking lunges- movement prep, single leg stability, proprioception/coordination, lower body activation

Keep your torso as tall as possibly and drive through your front heel to stand yourself up. Make sure you take big enough steps so your knee doesn’t track over your front toe.