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Move Like A Kid

It’s an unfortunate fact that in our culture we have a strong tendency to take everything of ourselves and our lives as children and set it to the side as early as we can, but the truth of it is that when we were kids, some parts of how we lived were managed better than at any time as an adult. How we moved was DEFINITELY one of these. We start out learning authentic quality motion that set us up for a life time of comfort in our body, but it is quickly destroyed as cramped desks and horribly designed shoes (practically all of them) start warping our bodies into something they weren’t meant to be. Come adulthood and it just compounds with a lot less activity (with practically none of it natural in any way) and worse physical conditions.

Is it so crazy that learning how to move like a kid again might be exactly what you need? Our brains learned rolling, rocking, and crawling before anything else (walking is actually incredibly complicated stuff!) and very few adults can do any of them anywhere near well, believe it or not. So at Thrive Body Balance we work to reset the brains movement patterns (aka body movement software) by re-teaching it how to do these basic movements, and from there we can build up to teaching the body how to move in every way it was meant to in the first place; striving to undue the damage decades of office work has wrought on our poor bodies. Back pain? Arthritis? Chronic headaches? Crawling might just be what you need! It’s far more important than you can imagine, and a lot harder than you’d think. Learn to move well and the rest of your movement health will follow.

Age is not a diagnosis, and is not the cause of your pain

One of the most frustrating things I hear as a practitioner is something along the line of “Well, I am getting old,” this being an explanation and expectation of a patients pain and general degeneration of health and mobility. Our culture has saddled itself with an incredibly fatalistic expectation that as we age we simply start falling apart like an un-serviced car that is long past its day. I even get people in that have spent years going in for treatments each week, taking increasingly large dosages of pain medication, and only get worse tell me that originally their physician gave them a diagnosis of old. “Well, the thing is you’re just getting old.” Even though on a rational level we all realize we’re getting older, and even that we’ve crossed that line into being a senior citizen, but this kind of ‘diagnosis’ often floors most people. However…we take it to heart and more and expect that that’s just how it is and more than that any given ache or pain must be age…and we know it won’t get better. The little aches and pain, from hip, back and other joint pain to arthritis and beyond…simply age which ends in wheel chair and surgery quite often.

The thing is that age itself actually effects very little for our bodies. There are some hormone changes and possibly some gene presentation differences, but that may be a stretch itself. Age does practically nothing; time however, that’s a different story. When our body functions properly we’re like a well maintained car that gets every oil change, every service it needs, and then on top of it…every little scratch in the engine, scuff on the paint repairs itself. But when something actually damages itself, it stops being able to do all these repairs nonstop, and if not fixed, will eventually succumb to wear.

This is very roughly our bodies work. Our bodies have an incredible ability to heal themselves, but where the real problem comes in is when through an injury, inadequate nutrition, or something else that causes a perceived threat, the brain changes how the body functions with some kind of defensive strategy which results in inefficient operation. Inefficient operations cause wear faster than the body can repair and that is what causes these aches and pains of age, including arthritis, back and joint pain, stiffness, and poor mobility, among many other things.

Using Neurokinetic Therapy® and reintroducing proper movement we are able to unwind these defensive strategies and show the brain it’s perceived threat has been put to rest and then the body can heal itself faster than the wear accumulates. Arthritis does not have to be painful, cartilage can heal, your back can move freely and without discomfort again. Your body was meant to age gracefully; do not accept a fate that simply is not true.

Move Your DNA

I had the opportunity today to listen to one of my favorite movement and health specialists today, albeit by a previously recorded podcast. In her book ‘Move Your DNA’ Katy Bowman had perhaps one of the most perfect analogies I’ve ever heard for movement health. It generally goes like this: we all know we need to eat to not just survive, but be healthy. However, I think we all know sitting down with a mountain of Snickers isn’t going to take care of our eating needs; it’s a bit more specific than that. We need a certain blend of macro and micronutrients, and how much we need of one kind may depend on how much we need or are getting of another, and our overall need will be contextual for our bodies and what they’re doing. So it’s not just that we need food, or even a specific amount of food, but we need a specific profile of nutrients to survive long term and have any real degree of health.

Movement is the same way. Katy Bowman and I share similar views about exercise, which is generally that it can be seriously beneficial and especially in our modern world I think it’s brilliant as it lets you very specifically and appropriately for your needs (if with good knowledge or appropriate professional guidance) fill some of your ‘weak points’ or goals you want to work on most, much like some kind of high powered high nutrient super food or vitamin. However, exercise in the modern sense is only one type of movement in that movement profile we need. The exercise itself can be excellent varied in what it offers, but it generally only fills 30-90 minutes of any given day and for most people, only a few days a week. What kind of movement are we getting the rest of the time?

This movement is everything from our sitting posture, how we carry groceries, if we are and how we’re walking as well as how much, our ability to and if we actually use hand eye coordination for tracking, catching throwing, or even if we run! Fundamental skills and movements like crawling, rocking, jumping, throwing and catching, balance, and many more have been lost and are not used in our daily lives, let alone just walking! But the thing is that in a time of advanced science and the first waves of DNA based medicine, we are almost ignoring the most important aspect: our lifestyle’s effect on DNA.

Down to the cellular DNA level our bodies and their chemistry is very smart! We are incredibly adaptive biochemical machines and also don’t waste energy on processes that don’t seem necessary; most aptly and recognizably summed up (the latter part that is) with move it or lose it! The way we move actually mechanically pushes on our cells in different ways, via amplitude, direction, frequency, and an enormous amount of very specific minutia that our cells can recognize and interpret, and then translate into chemical signals which alter how the cell behaves at the genetic level.

What this means is that even if you have some kind of ‘bad gene’ that may even be lethal, it may not be active or ever do anything to you if the stimuli you feed it by how you live keeps it dormant. Even aside from such dramatic, but real, effects, each of your cells know what you’re doing (they know if you’ve been naughty or nice! But…in a healthy or not way) and react accordingly. If you are active and dynamic and feed it good quality nutrients it will be a productive, healthy and happy cell. If you don’t move and it gets junk, it will sit there and stagnate in a very real fashion, and what happens to the cells, happens to the body.

The lesson of this whole analogy and the ideas behind it is that for ~2+ million years we moved! All day pretty much, and very dynamically because the needs of survival in the wild meant we did a lot of varied things, not just one kind of ‘exercise’ but all day movement for the point of survival. No, I don’t expect nor am I trying to get you all to quit your jobs and spend your lives foraging out of Forest Park. The point is that most of us are painfully deficient in most of our ‘movement nutrients’ and there are ways to get them back within the average American lifestyle, which will contribute greatly to giving you energy and real vibrancy, performance, a healthier weight, and a hell of a lot pain, movement dysfunctions and the ability to carry this all into your golden years. I try to offer as much to my clients as I can by helping them fill the most important and needed ‘movement vitamins’ for their situation and their goals, but taking this outside of the gym is completely necessary to get the health, vibrancy and longevity that is your birthright as an animal human.

Take a look at the picture below (which is a rather handy link!) if you want to take a look at her book ‘Moving Your DNA,’ this link right here if you want to hear the podcast I got to listen to today, or visit her site at http://www.katysays.com/


What’s The Big Deal About Sugar?


So what’s the big deal about sugar anyway?  This really seems to be the nutritional buzz word for the last several years, and no one seems to be talking about saturated fat or cholesterol anymore, but is it just pop nutrition, or is there something to this?

Simply stated: yes, sugar is in fact the devil (No, really, we checked), and a lot of horribly done science and artificial conclusions were drawn from studies concerning cholesterol and saturated fat.  This isn’t to say saturated fat and cholesterol may have a role to play, whether it is more beneficial or harmful depends on various factors, but the matter of refined carbohydrates and sugar in particular (especially high fructose sugars) is a simple matter.  Let’s not leave you hanging though, what’s the big deal?

As so many of my discussions, lectures and articles do, it comes back to that two million years of ancestral human existence.  Animals change over time, but over great swathes of time with the most permanent and species wide genetic and adaptive changes happening over tens or hundreds of thousands of years or more to be the most able to survive the conditions that persist for the species.  This has a couple of repercussions.  One is that we have not yet been able to adapt genetically, biochemically, and biomechanically to the way we have lifted for the last ~10,000 years as farmers, let alone the last 60 years as ‘desk jockeys.’  The other side of this coin is that we are still ‘hard wired’ to live off the land in a particular fashion (i.e. we spent 2 million years as hunter gatherers so our bodies are still made for this).

Taking this discussion towards the issue of sugar, the ONLY time the vast majority of humans anywhere on earth had sugar was during the fruiting and blossoming seasons in spring and summer where sugary fruits and some higher sugar content vegetables were available.  Some areas in the world had some year round, but this was rare and some areas didn’t have really any at all!  The sugar we did have was all pretty fibrous as well and had loads of nutrients, both of which are a big deal in deciding how the body reacts to the sugar it does get.  The big thing to take home though was this cyclic nature to sugar during the year.  During the spring and summer we stuffed ourselves with it, but we had to forage for it, compete with animals for it, (aka work for it), what we did get was filled with fiber and we only got it during certain months of the year.

The rest of the year was much harder on us just to keep from starving, let alone the fact that sugar was pretty nonexistent except in miniscule amounts in some vegetables and very small amounts of fruit.  We lived this cycle very year as a species for two million years!  Our bodies know that come winter we will have a harder time finding food than during spring when animals are mating and plants are putting out food like it grew from trees…okay bad joke out of the way, but our bodies knew that in the summer it was time to pack away all the energy we could and convert it to fat so that come winter we would be warmer and wouldn’t starve to death.

So what happens when our body eats sugar?  It thinks it’s spring/summer and time to put on fat!  Fructose in particular has a larger ratio of its energy converted to fat automatically regardless of any other factor when we eat it.  So you know those commercials paid for by the national corn conglomerates that say “Oh, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is just like table sugar, your body doesn’t know the difference!”  It’s a straight out conscientious lie. (<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMjKEncojQ” > Look Here For More Info On That.</a>)  This happens because your body after all these thousands of generations of ancestors knows that fructose means spring.  The more sweet a meal is (including when we have artificial sweeteners with no calories!  Calories are almost irrelevant, it is other mechanisms that are more important), the more insulin is stored and the more fat will be created out of anything you eat.

This mechanism is what has let our species survive so extremely well and spread over every continent (besides that cold one!) before modern times.  But today we no longer live based on the seasons.  We did in a notable way as farmers instead of hunter gatherers, but for the last few decades the changing of the seasons has zero impact on the Western world in a survival fashion.  We have no shortage of food at any time of the year and we even still have the same foods because of being shipped globally or being grown with artificial methods so there is no seasonal eating.  We also have no fasting and no seasonal shortage of food.  Not that the latter is necessarily a bad thing (the former is very appropriate when done properly) but every single meal we eat is a veritable feast by the standards that were applicable for two million years of our existence and biologically is still the case.

So adequate and regular fuel is awesome but lets get at where the real problem rests.  The issue is that our bodies are still based off this cyclic annual seasonal model that has certain natural cues from sugar intake to light and heat, among other things.  But we have artificial light whenever we want it we have permanent internal heating and the moment fall hits so too does pumpkin spice lattes, let alone the fact that our diets are filled with refined carbohydrates (only a step away from sugar really) and enormous before nonexistent levels of sugar (even more than cultures that lived on sugarcane territory!!).  Our bodies do not know how to handle this so it just goes with the flow and goes; “Oh! Sugar…and oh wait that’s fructose! I know what to do with that!” and starts body fat creation to get ready for the winter that will never come.  When we live in a perpetual spring we have written our own demise in our diet and our lifestyle.

Yes I am being a bit dramatic, but not by as much as you might think.  The sugar gets stored as too much fat and after a while chronic sugar intake and its resulting insulin spikes (not to mention all of the artificial sweeteners and other chemicals that contribute) can cause diabetes.  With or without the diabetes (though it heavily contributes) obesity can easily occur which DOES NOT EXIST in human history until the modern days except in kings and nobles or other evolutionary cultural exceptions.  Our bodies do NOT know how to handle it.

Our adipose tissue (fat) is very rarely known for its role in the endocrine system (hormones), but it actually secretes the body’s most important hormone: leptin.  Leptin goes to the brain (as well as every other tissue in the body) and informs it how much energy is on hand in case of a famine or just the winter to come.  Lots of leptin and the brain knows it can let the body grow and repair itself quickly, let the immune system kick some ass and let the brain be as power hungry as it wants (the brain takes up 25% of our energy and uses more when we learn or think a lot!).  If not much leptin comes in the brain doesn’t let metabolic processes such as the above go quite as full bore and it releases hormones that lower the metabolism and simultaneously make you hungry and seek out food.  Food that comes into the system automatically goes more to fat than usual because of low leptin.

So where’s the disaster in this, it sounds like a good system to me?  Well it is a good system…except that after two million years of daily fasting and annual starving without a single bit of obesity in the lot…our body doesn’t know how to deal with too much leptin.  When too much leptin piles up (from obesity) it just shuts it out like crazy talk and gets on with its business…but it makes its decisions based on the leptin that gets through, which may now be virtually none.  The brain thinks you’re starving and you start shutting down the metabolism and trying to store more fat quickly even though you’re already coated in far too much!  This is why caloric restriction diets are actually counterproductive and don’t work, by the way. This also means the energy doesn’t go to your muscles, brain, and some organs nearly as much which means eating makes you tired and you seem to have less energy all the time.

So while we’ve taken this article beyond its basic intent, I think you can see why sugar is such a big deal in a bad way.  The body takes it as a signal to start storing fat and having high fructose makes it worse, having no fiber makes it worse, having lower nutrients (even if its 100% juice most of the nutrients is in the pulp and skin by the way and the vitamins in it are added and usually artificial and hard to absorb!) makes it worse, and the artificial sweeteners are among the biggest culprits.  In a chemical and nutritional perpetual spring our bodies suffer enormously and sugar is the modern foundation of this problem.

So what’s the take away at the end of the day? I’m not necessarily suggesting we be severe in our attempts to keep sugar cyclic but that is the general notion. Sugar desperately needs to be filtered out of our diets to the vast majority of the time only coming from whole fruits and veggies (seriously, juice should be kept to 4oz and under most days and only fresh real juice. If it doesn’t have sediment and pulp, it’s not real enough) and mostly seasonally so. Come the spring and summer enjoy your fruit! But ditch the white breads and pastas most of the time, avoid sodas, anything with HFCS and artificial sugars at all cost. Enjoy yourself when celebrations come through, eat that piece of cake and have a beer! But don’t do this every day, that’s what gets us and keeps the perpetual Spring working against us! Eat fibrous foods and keep refined carbs low, and sugars real (dates, whole fruit, REAL honey [did you know most honey bottles have no honey in them? Yup, you guessed it, it's HFCS and colorings+chemicals] and so on) but still limited.

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

A surprisingly large portion of the population has some degree of ‘frozen shoulder,’ which is a painful condition where the range of motion in the shoulder becomes severely limited. Most people with frozen shoulder cannot raise their arm in front of them or out to the side to parallel without significant pain, if they are able to get it there at all. Limitations in the ability to rotate the arm in or out are also very common. Frozen shoulder happens either because of an injury or shock to the shoulder socket (like a fall onto an extended arm, or an impact directly to the shoulder from a car accident), which we call acute frozen shoulder, or because of a long period of time where the shoulder is not structurally stable, which we call chronic frozen shoulder. In either situation the brain wants to protect the shoulder, which is such a dynamic joint with such a normally large range of motion that it can become injured relatively easily, so it will basically clamp down the joint and compress it to limit range of motion.

frozen shoulder inflammation The notion is that by limiting it’s range of motion, any tissues in the joint capsule that were injured in an acute frozen shoulder can have a better chance to heal without being injured further. Or in the case of chronic frozen shoulder the brain is just too worried about the chances of injury so caries out the same protective strategy. The result of either is similar to flexing a few particular muscles as hard as you can nonstop; it gets pretty painful and severely limits your mobility. The main problem is that long after any injury that may have existed heals, the frozen shoulder continues. Most acute frozen shoulders last 1-2 years! Chronic frozen shoulders can persist indefinitely because the state of instability in the shoulder persists as well.

What Can We Do About It?

The treatment for either acute or frozen shoulder is fairly similar, though in my experience acute frozen shoulder is at times a quicker process to fix. We start by relaxing the group of muscles that have been over active in order to compress the joint and hold it in place, and those that have been working in place of the muscles that should normally be working to stabilize the shoulder. We then decompress the shoulder and work to break up any adhesions that have formed in the capsule (the tissues can actually get a bit stuck after being compressed so severely for so long!). For many acute frozen shoulders this is the most we can get done in one session as the stiff and angry tissue needs more time to loosen.

The next step is creating stability around the shoulder (And global stability in the neck, hand, and core. If the body isn’t generally stable, it won’t want to let that shoulder loosen up!) by getting the proper stability muscles back online. Once these all get back in operation the shoulder simply doesn’t need to stay frozen as it’s stable enough to safely move. I have seen people regain 60-90% of pain free passive range of motion (me moving their arm) in their first session, and on some occasions even active range of motion (the patient moving their arm) is returned in the first session. Every case is different, however, and sometimes the instability of the shoulder is a more complicated issue and home exercises are vital for making the changes permanent.

Nonetheless Neurokinetic Therapy® is the most effective, quickest acting, and cost effective method I have ever found for resolving frozen shoulder. Do you have shoulder pain or mobility challenges? Get assessed, and resolve the issue permanently!
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