Back Pain, Stretching

The Little Secret That Can Improve Golf or Tennis Swing!

Last weekend I was driving past a golf course, I saw several men place one of their clubs behind their neck and began twisting their upper body. Years ago when I played golf regularly as a teen, I remember seeing men doing the same thing. As I began learning about the mechanics of the human body, a lesson that I took with a golf pro kept coming back to me. This golf pro would line me up preparing to hit the ball. He would have my feet about shoulder width apart. knees slightly bent, and always told me to keep my head down so I would not top the ball. The last one was always the toughest for me and that probably kept me out of the PGA. Just kidding! What really stuck with me was, the pro telling me that when I rotate my body, keep my spine straight and rotate around the spine like it was a stick. So why do so many people continue to do the spine twist when the pros are telling us to remain straight in our spine?

When I took tennis lessons, my pro told me to pretend I was throwing the racket toward the ball and to generate the power from my legs. Which meant to start at my feet and rotate up through my thighs into my hips. I am not twisting my spine.

When I look at the human body from a mechanical view, I see the rotation of the body starting at our feet moving up through our thighs and rotates our pelvis. At no point do I see the spine twisting. Since most people don’t stretch their calves correctly and their thighs are very stiff, the power comes from the upper body which sets us up for low back pain, shoulder pain, and even rotator cuff injuries. For most people playing golf or tennis, how they swing the club or racket, will determine the amount of back injuries they sustain.

Most stretches we are taught will not improve our flexibility, but will make us less flexible. A great example is the calf stretch. How many of you stretch your calves by leaning against a wall with one foot behind the other? Or, do you stand on a slant board, curb, or step to stretch your calves? What you actually doing is stretching your Achilles tendon which is attached to your middle calf muscle, but it is in no way stretching your calves. To see a video on how to stretch the calves the correct way and to give you a quicker first step in tennis, go to my YouTube channel at The Muscle Repair Shop to see videos to stretch your calves.

Back Pain

The Secret to Stopping Low Back Pain!

Do you have to work to stand up every morning as you get out of bed? Usually, once you start walking, the pain will subside. How about when you get out of a chair after sitting for a while? Your low back can make you feel old? Or, what if you have to stand for a while? You feel the need to sit down to relieve your back pain. I have been there, done that!

In 2002 I was 42 years old and I felt all of those things. I just could not believe that I could be in that much pain. I was too young and too athletic to have my back disable me. I remember, at my worst, crawling out of my car onto my hands before I could stand up. That was crazy! Yes, I did exactly what everyone else did. I went to my doctor and she offered me some pills, then PT, then a back brace, especially when I was doing any activities. Finally, she said, if those didn’t help, surgery could be in my future. She certainly thought my back pain was here to stay for the rest of my life. I could not believe my ears. I had always been very strong. I was working out at the gym 3-5 days per week, running, and eating better that I ever had. I did all the things every professional had told me to do. I was mad!

Today, at 59 years old, I wake up with no pain. I work in my yard with no pain. I can do anything I want with NO PAIN! Want to know the secret? IT WAS NEVER MY BACK! You heard me right. I did have pain in my back. Every time I bent over and tried to stand up, there was pain in my back, but it was never MY BACK!

What I learned 15 years ago changed everything for me and I am sharing it with you today. I began studying the mechanics of the body and how the body balances from side to side and front to back. The muscles on one side will influence the muscles and bones on the other side. Next, I studied the relationship between my muscles and my bones. Believe or not, this stumps many doctors and therapists.The bones follow the muscles. This is scientific law, Wolff’s Law. Your muscles can, and will, apply pressure to your bones. You’ve heard of bone on bone in joints or compression of the vertebrae. This is a prime example of how the tension from the muscles literally wear out the bones and discs. Finally, I studied how the brain, mainly our emotions,and how it affects our muscles. Just a thought can create stress in our muscles which will make them contract as if we were lifting weights. When I put all that together, the secret to my back pain was right in front of me.

My back was hurting because the muscles on the front of my thighs and inner thighs were so tight from working out, working in my yard, and just moving through my life. When these muscles get tight they can shift the pelvis forward causing compression in my lower back. When I stood and gave them a moment, they would release partially which took the pressure off my back and I could move. Same thing happened when I sat too long. When standing, the pain in the back came from the muscles fatiguing while pulling against these muscles on the front that were short. Once I learned how to stretch them, I never had that problem again. The stretching we do at the gym or PT, will not work. I have developed a better stretching, Stretch n’ Release Technique that will teach you how to do it correctly.

How do you know if this is your back problem? If your back hurts when you stand up, you need pillows under your knees to ease the pain, back hurts after sitting. or when you get out of bed, you probably have the same issue. In my practice, 90% of my back pain clients have this same issue. Got to my video site at Youtube.com/themusclerepairshop/ to see videos of what I am talking about or you can go to http://www.musclerepairshop.trainerize.com and sign up to learn how to stop your back pain now!

Back Pain

The 5 Worst Low Back Treatments and Why

80% of all Americans will suffer back pain at some point in the lives and it is the #1 reason people visit their doctor. So why are so many people suffering from back pain and why can’t we stop it? The truth is we are treating the wrong part of the body. Rarely is low back pain a back issue. I have listed the 5 of the worst mistakes in treating low back pain and I will discuss why after each bullet point.

The 5 worst low back treatments are:

1Strength training your back and/or stomach. The idea here is the pain is due to muscle weakness and if we can make the muscles stronger in the stomach and back, we can stop the pain. The truth is, your back pain is coming from the front side of your body. The front of your thighs, inner thigh, and hip flexors cause more low back pain then anything else. In fact, just ignoring it or only doing short-term fixes can lead to bulging discs, herniated discs, or pinched nerves.

2Sitting for long periods of time or doing nothing. Most people sit a lot during their day whether at work or relaxing at home. The body in a seated position shortens the front of thigh, inner thighs, and hip flexors. These muscles, when shortened, will pull the pelvis forward causing a pinch in the low back setting off pain that can drop you to your knees. As in mistake #1, doing nothing can lead to more serious injuries.

3 Traditional Stretching. Stretching as we were taught in school and athletics is actually strength training disguised as stretching. We hold the stretches too long , pull too hard, and try to stretch too many muscles at one time. When the body is in pain, your brain will anticipate pain every time you move in a direction that could possibly hurt. That anticipation of pain will cause the muscles to contract as the brain is trying to protect you. Holding a stretch for more than 5 seconds and forcing the muscle to lengthen will put the brain in the fight or flight mode. This will cause the muscles to contract and increase the pain.

4- Massage therapy– Massage therapist are taught to target the site of pain. If your therapist is only working on your back trying to push out the knots, like in #3, your brain will fight back. No one can cause your muscles to release unless you allow it. Deep tissue massage can cause your brain to fight back because if the pressure is too much, your brain will fight back leaving you with only short-term relief.

5Injections, braces, or surgery. Injections for low back pain is only useful if you are trying to only stop the pain. The doctor is not fixing anything. For example, what if you went to the dentist with a toothache and the dentist only gave you a shot to numb your mouth. Did they fix the pain and will it come back? The same is true for the rest of your body. Braces are to stabilize an area that is broken or torn. Low back pain is neither. Some people think a brace is for support, but the truth is, if the front of your body causes the pain, what good is a brace? Surgery is design to fix an area that has been damaged from past movements or behaviors. For example, the bulging disc may cause some pain, but what caused the bulging disc. If you surgically fix that one and not find the cause, won’t it bulge somewhere else?

The problem with all these treatments is that they are not addressing the cause of the low back pain. There is a specialized stretch to stretch the upper quad(front of thigh) and it is not standing on 1 foot and pulling your heel up to your hip. There is a specialized stretch for stretching the inner thighs and it is not doing a split or working an abductor machine at the gym. Once you can understand the mechanics of your body, it will become clear that working on the low back for low back pain is worthless.

In my next post I will tell you the 3 best stretches to stop your back pain in 3-5 days and why they outperform everything else that is suppose to solve your problem. Every day I meet people that are frustrated and tired of the letdowns from back pain cures that just don’t work. These stretches have work for people from 21 to 95 years of age and can easily be done at home or your office. I suffered for 6 months with severe low back pain and once I figured this out, my pain went away and hasn’t come back in 15 years. You can do the same. I have many clients that have testimonials on my website at http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com

Back Pain, headaches, Knee Pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder pain

When is the best time to stretch?

This is probably the most frustrating question I hear every day! Most of my clients and even my wife admits to only stretching when they experience pain. They come to see me frustrated with their pain and like everything else they have tried, they feel hopeless.

  The problem here is the mindset. Since we were children in grade school, every gym teacher and coach treated stretching as an afterthought. I can remember my coaches saying, “you boys go on over there and stretch before you go home.” Of course he would leave the field and usually so would we. The only time you really hear people suggesting to stretch is when they have a pain. I get it, it is a brainwashing! However, that doesn’t make it correct.

   Have you ever watched a dog or cat stretch out every time they get up to move?  Look up on the wire and you will see a bird stretching their wings before they fly. To these animals stretching is innate, and it is also true of humans. The problem is, we have been convinced that stretching really doesn’t work and especially for older people.

   I stretch every day of my life. I do not set aside a special time of day to stretch, although I do stretch first thing in the morning and most times at night for 15-30 minutes. Setting aside a planned time can create stress if you are running behind and are afraid you will miss your stretch out time. This will tighten the muscles and create more pain in the body. My stretching happens throughout the day and it is not a chore. Stretching, done correctly, should be relaxing and something you look forward to do doing. Unfortunately, for many of us, stretching has been painful and too much work and you are too tired to deal with it.

  Think of stretching like relaxing on the beach or in a hot bath. Stretching, done correctly, is about releasing the tension in the body by releasing the emotions from the brain. It is not about pulling the muscles really hard or pressing to hard creating pain in the muscles. That is not fun and no one will look forward to that!

   When holding a stretch, only hold for 3-5 seconds, breathe out allowing the muscle to relax. As the brain begins to let go, the muscle will relax. Repeat the stretch 8-10 times without force.  Do not try to stretch multiple groups of muscles at one time. Special poses are stamina building which equals strength training which equals tightening of the muscles. This is how people get hurt with stretching. When pulling so hard that all you feel is a muscle hurting, you are strength training.

   Stretching is a great way to take a break from a hard day. It will help regenerate the body and prepare it for a good night’s sleep and restful day tomorrow.

Back Pain, Knee Pain

Increase the Distance of your Golf Swing

Most golfers, especially as they age, complain about not being able to hit the ball as far as they once could. When we were younger, our muscles were a little stronger which allowed us to make up for the lack of rotation of our body. When we were younger our bodies were a little lighter for some people and we had not built up so much time in the Lazy Boy recliner either. The bottom line here is, our inner thighs have tightened and our quads, front of thighs, have also shortened. Due to sitting too much, the inner thighs will shorten. The issues that tight inner thighs create is low back pain, in the middle of the back, when standing up after sitting for a while or, getting out of bed first thing in the morning. The inner thighs can pull the pelvis slightly forward creating the back pain. With golf, short inner thighs limit the rotation of the hips through the ball and the need to use the arms for power takes over which usually ends up with a shoulder injury.

  The quads will also pull the pelvis forward when short and that will cause low back pain on either side of the low back area Both the quads and the inner thighs attach to the pelvis and as they shorten the pelvis shifts forward, putting a kink in your lower spine. When both are tight, it limits the rotation of your lower which can affect your knees, but just as important, it reduces the amount of power you can generate when hitting the ball. Most people will rely more on their upper body, or increase their strength training since they feel weak. The weakness comes from the muscles not having enough power to force through the tightness. No amount of strength training will help you do that as the brain will stop you before you hurt yourself.

  ON my website, www.MuscleRepairShop.com, you can sign up to see the videos.  Once you have signed up, send me a message stating that you want the lower body golf stretches and I will send them to you. There 4 different stretches for the inner thighs, three for the calves, and one for the quads. They will take about 10 minutes to do twice a day, everyday for as long as you play golf. The goal of stretching is not to relieve pain only. If you make a habit of stretching every day, you can prevent injuries from happening which will allow you to play golf for as long as you want.

Back Pain, Neck Pain

Do you Wake Up With a Stiff Low Back?

    I remember years ago waking up with a very stiff low back.  There were times that if I sat for a while, even standing up would cause my low back to feel stiff. At its worst, I would climb out of my car on my hands. The best part is I drove  Lincoln Town Car, which is huge. I went to several doctors, some sent me to physical therapy while others offered pain pills, braces, and injections. All of the doctors said that if none of those options worked I would be headed for surgery. SURGERY! I was only 42 years old. That is where my personal journey began.

  My mentors responded with use your muscle knowledge. They would laugh and say, if you figure this out, that would be amazing! Are you ready for amazing?  I never did anything that would be a trauma like falling down or lifting something that was too heavy. All I did was spread wheelbarrows of mulch. If I worked in my yard for 3-4 hours, it would take me 3-5 days to get over it. I was frustrated and could not believe that I was dealing with that much pain.

   I began to look at my body as a whole mechanical machine. I asked the questions like, how does my body balance itself,  and if a muscle on one side tightens can it affect the opposite side?Not realizing at the time how profound those questions were, but how few health care practitioners asked the same questions. I remember asking myself, How can a good ole boy from North Carolina figure this out, when highly educated people have not? The answer is, these educated people are not trained to ask those questions.

      The final answer to my pain was not my back at all. When we think about body balance, it makes total sense that if a muscle on the front side was tight, the pressure on the back side would increase. The same can be said side to side. When I was spreading mulch, I would bend over to lift the mulch with a pitchfork, turn, and spread it over the ground. To do this I had to contract the 4 muscles, quads, on the front of my thighs and contract my inner thighs. The thigh muscles attach to my pelvis and my inner thighs attach to my pubis bone. As these muscle shorten, they will pull my pelvis forward. So how does that affect my back?

  Well, by pulling my pelvis forward ,the spine in the low back will bend which will cause my body to lean slightly forward. Over a short period of time, the lean will get worse. As it got worse, I would contract my hip and low back muscles to help me stand straighter. These muscle would tire from fighting with the front muscles. This resulted in muscle spasms in my low back.

   I solved the spasms by laying on my side, grabbing my top ankle and bringing my knee back behind my torso. I stretched my inner thighs by sitting in a chair, crossing my leg, and gently press down on my knee to stretch the inner thigh.You can see these stretches on my YouTube,  The Muscle Repair Shop. Give these a try for at least 2 weeks and you will see the difference. Let me know how you are doing by leaving a comment.

Back Pain, Foot pain

Golfer’s Ankles Affects your Distance

Every golfer practices to improve the mechanics of their swing, but what about the mechanics of your body?

When I have been on a golf course, I still see people placing one of their clubs behind their neck and twisting their backs. The thought is to loosen their back before playing. There are a few reasons why this doesn’t really work and I will touch on it here, but I want to get to the ankles and their importance to your swing. First, the twisting of the back seems weird as every golf pro teaches us to rotate around our spin like an axis. There should no serious twisting of the spine. Secondly, people who do this twisting, do it rather quickly, they are releasing the muscles with their brain, so they are actually strength training which will tighten the muscles they are trying to loosen. SO really this stretch is a non-golf stretch and it is not even a stretch to boot.

Now on to the ankles.   The rotation of the body during the golf swing comes from the inner thighs, inner calves, and outer calves. In my last post, I wrote about the inner thighs, so today I want to go into the calves and feet which the ankles control.

In your calves, you have 4 calf muscles. The inside calf controls the inside movement and lateral movement of the foot. The outside calf muscle controls the outside movement and lateral movement of the foot. Each of these muscles goes into the arch of your foot. Thee are muscles in your feet that run from your knee to your toes and controls the tops of your feet and the arch muscle, with a few others, that control the bottom of your feet. It is important to understand that in order to improve the distance on the ball.

If you stand barefoot and go through a practice swing, focusing on the feeling in the bottom of your feet, you will feel your weight shifting through the foot from inside to out on one and vice versa on the other.  This ability to work the muscles in your feet and calves is what gives the ankle the flexibility to increase your range of motion at the club head increasing your clubhead speed as the club addresses the ball. As you are going through your swing the inside calf muscle has to be able to release which will allow the outside calf muscle to pull which frees the ankle. The range of motion you have in your ankle, the more lubrication your body puts in the ankle joint.  This makes your swing easier with less effort, but more importantly, it increases the club head speed due to the increased range of motion.

The question is, how do you get there? Calf stretching is a very misunderstood part of the human body. You will see some people place their toes on a curb, slant board, or step to stretch their calves. Others will lean against the wall with their feet pushed away from the wall to stretch. These can be good for your Achilles Tendon, but they are not calf stretches. In fact, I would venture to say that 98% of Americans have never stretched their calves properly. You may feel your calves with the above stretches, but you are not stretching your calves. Let me explain.

In the above-mentioned stretches, you are, at best, stretching the lower end of the 2 middle calf muscles. As a golfer, this does not help you as your motion is about twisting. With the previous stretches mentioned, no one is stretching their inner and outer calf muscles and few trainers or therapists even talk about them. Some golfers will complain of back pain and their calves could be the problem. Short calves will force you to take shorter strides. This will cause you to walk with the nose out in front of your chest. Did you know that for every inch your head is in front of your chest, the pressure at the base of your neck doubles? When a human head is sitting on top of your shoulders it weighs between 10-12 lbs. 2 inches in front of your chest, it could weigh as much as 42 lbs.  I always joke with my clients that it depends on how large is their brain.

So how do you stretch your calves? You can sit on the floor with your back against the wall or if you cannot get on the floor, sit in a hard-backed chair with one foot on an ottoman with your leg straight. Place a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy around the ball of your foot. Do not use your leg muscles. ONly use your arms and gently pull your toes back toward you feeling the stretch from start to finish. You should feel this behind your knee. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.  On each stretch, breathe out and allow your brain time to let go of the muscle tension. Next, rotate your foot inward and repeat the stretch. Now you should feel it on the outside of your calf. Finally, rotate your foot to the outside and repeat the stretch. You should feel it on the inside of your calf.  This is also a great stretch for Plantar Fasciitis, we will discuss that in a later post.

The reason for the 3-5 seconds hold is to avoid the stretch reflex in your muscles which will happen due to the discomfort. If you pull too hard, you will build up your arms as your legs will fight with you instead of stretching your legs.  Do not overwork yourself. You do not need to force your muscles to stretch. I see too many people hurt themselves because they are trying to force the stretch. Relax, enjoy, and watch the distant of your ball increase as you free your body.