The Importance of Shoulder Health & Better Posture (How To Improve BOTH)

shoulder-pain

Postural issues have run amuck in today’s society. And it’s not really a big surprise how this has happened. For years now, people have been stuck in the seated position. With the evolution of technology – television to computers, computers to laptops, laptops to cell-phones we are stuck in these positions. If you’re like me, you like watching sports. If you’re like me, you also like watching Netflix.  And finally, if you’re like me (I LOVE reading/writing) you’re sitting in front of a laptop reading this. Now, unlike most, I get to train clients and be on my feet for at least a few hours per day. But this alone can’t and won’t save my posture. Why would we need to save posture anyways? Lower back pain continues to rise… but something else is catching up. Shoulder pain. Yup you heard that right. Shoulder pain specifically pain in the front of the shoulders continues to rise and is now right on the tail of low back pain for most common areas of pain for the average person. Many people are in this seated and “slouched” position ALL DAY. You wake up, sit down and look at your phone, sit down and drive to work, get to work and sit at your desk over your computer or phone, only to come home and sit in a slouched position on the couch in front of your TV and phone or other devices. Forward head and rounded shoulders is the new norm. Because of this, we become disconnected from the back side of our body, and the front of our shoulders and chest become tight and restricted. This can cause acute pain in the front side of our body. BUT, the pain might not actually be the pain…

The pain in the shoulder (in many cases, NOT all) is actually because of a lack of connection and strength in the upper back. Through endless amounts of slouching, we have developed poor patterns that throw the spine out of neutral alignment. So how do we combat that? It’s going to come down to putting in work to repattern the shitty “slouch” so many of us have from all of this technology and modern lifestyle. So how do we do that? We hammer the upper back and stabilizer muscles of the shoulder. The answer isn’t getting shots of cortisone where you have pain. That’s a band-aid solution. If you want to get out of pain for life, you must get stronger and create better patterns. This goes for anything in the body. Strength is the best way to set yourself up for a pain free life. We have to train with weights and focus on the foundational movement patterns (a term coined by Dr. John Rusin). But this article is about correcting posture for proper shoulder health.

Not only are people slouching most of the time (and doing everything in the front of their body and ignoring the back side), but people go into the gym and hammer away at pressing exercises. This only adds to dysfunction if the pressing isn’t properly programmed with 2-3x as much pulling. Guys who are benching and overhead pressing without the “prehab” exercises I’m going to talk about are doing themselves a serious disservice and won’t ever maximize pressing movements because they have nothing to press off of (which would be a thick and strong upper back). So, what exercises do I need to be performing to ensure proper shoulder health?

The exercises I am going to talk about are simple, and all you need is a band. The first exercise is a banded face pull. If you’re a client of mine, you know this is a staple. Check out the video on the face pull HERE. The next exercise is the band pull-a-part. Another great exercise that hammers home the importance of upper back strength in regard to having healthy shoulders. HERE is the video for how to perform pull-a-parts. The last exercise is the seated row. Although this isn’t as much of an upper back exercise, it is an exercise that teaches depression of the shoulders, and at the same time retraction of the scapula. This is key for a society that has chronically elevated shoulders from the endless amounts of time in the “slouched” position. HERE is the video for how to perform seated rows.

The shoulders and upper back are comprised of a lot of small stabilizer muscles that thrive with a lot of stimulation. Meaning, doing these things quite often with a lot of volume will yield very good results for not only getting you out of chronic shoulder pain, but also repatterning your movement so your shoulders are pulled back and you’re in better spinal alignment. Simply put: improving posture is all about repetition. If you can improve posture, you’ll not only decrease the likelihood of shoulder issues, but also chronic low back pain and other common issues. The underlying message of all of this is strength. If you’re not practicing the modality of strength training, and want to improve your quality of life, it is NEVER too late to start.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Help Friends & Family Members Live a Healthier Lifestyle

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The more time you spend dedicating to your health, the more productive and happier you are. There are endless amounts of research that proves this. What does this mean? This means focusing on 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, eating a diet of 80% whole food (meat, veggies, rice, fruit, nuts, seeds, oils etc.), exercising regularly, getting outside and drinking plenty of water. In our society, we are always on the go. And many times, we don’t make time for our health. If you’re one of these people, you’re not your best. You’re not as good as you could be at your job, at school, at home with your family etc. We all have friends and family members that are in this situation. They say, “I don’t have time to sleep, cook, or exercise”. Well, I’m here to tell you that you might not think you have the time, but you do. If being healthy is a priority, you will make it one. You will take an hour out of your day every day to focus on some aspect of your health. I wanted to write a blog about how to help friends and family members live a healthier lifestyle. So, without any further rambling here are the top 5 ways to help friends and family members live a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Be the Example

This is number one for a reason. Whether you’re a fitness professional or just a person who wants to help your friends and family become their best selves, you MUST be the example. This starts with your daily actions. Being consistent with sleep, nutrition and exercise shows. It shows in your attitude, mood, energy, focus, productivity and more. If you are healthy and feeling great, people will notice.

  1. Educate

Even if you’re not a trainer/nutrition coach, there is an abundance of incredible information about becoming healthier and more fit. One of the best things you can do for friends and family members is to connect them with coaches and people that you trust and respect. Whether that is talking to them about hiring a coach, following informative social media accounts or just listening to a trusted podcast about health and fitness. These are all very positive ways to educate your friends and family members about being healthier.

  1. Don’t Be Forceful

One of the worst things you can do when attempting to help a friend or family member live a healthier lifestyle is being forceful. One of the best things you can do is listen. Listen to them talk about their relationships with things like exercise and nutrition. Give advice when it is called for and be sincere about it. Sharing the positive impact healthier choices has had on your life in more ways than just looking better is a great place to start. Some truth and education are great but, refer back to number one always. True change has to come from within. When someone truly wants to feel better, you’ll know. Trying to force a bunch of changes at once will inevitably lead to the person falling off the wagon and potentially having detrimental health consequences down the road.

  1. Be Active Together

Scheduling time to do activity with friends and family is an incredible way to connect and help each other become more fit and healthy. Doing a nightly walk, hitting the gym together, going for hikes, WHATEVER. Schedule time with the person (or people) and don’t even talk about fitness or health. Use it as a way to communicate and bond while you’re being active.

  1. Cook Together

Just like doing activity together, schedule times every week when you’re going to prepare a health meal together. Again, this can be one meal per week to start out. Then two meals per week. Then when the person starts to put together that making better food choices improves their total quality of life, you’ll be prepping food more regularly. The act of being present and cooking a meal with a friend or family member doubles as great for physical health (because you’re eating nutritious foods) but is also incredible for emotional and spiritual well-being.

Bonus: ALWAYS BE SUPER SUPPORTIVE

When you know someone in your life needs to take their health more seriously, they probably know it too. When they decide that they are ready to take that step, be supportive of their goals. Help them to realize that fat loss is great, but it does take time and consistency to truly be the healthiest version of you in all aspects. Remind them to make healthy living a lifestyle versus taking the fad dieting, fat burner/detox tea “quick fix” approach just to temporarily lose weight.

Top 5 Reasons Resistance Training Is Superior

There really is no exercise modality like resistance/strength training. There is no other form of exercise that has as many benefits. This may be my bias, BUT there are also many truths to that statement.

No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do other forms of exercise you enjoy. What I am saying is that I believe everyone should include some kind of resistance training into their active lifestyle. There should be much more of a push for resistance/strength training in modern life. Here are the TOP 5 reasons why:

1. Resistance Training Builds Strength and Muscle

Maybe this is a bit obvious to some people, but it is one of the main attractions for many people to get into resistance training. You will get stronger. You will build muscle. You will feel more empowered and see drastic changes in body composition. Resistance training is the one form of exercise that can literally change the way each part of your body looks. By focusing on a properly designed resistance training program, you will see changes in every part of your body where you want to see changes. Want a bigger butt? Resistance training can do that. Want your abs to pop more? Resistance training can do that as well. But not only aesthetics improve with resistance training. Gaining better overall body strength and stability makes it much less likely that you will have balance and strength issues as you age. You decrease your risk of injury in daily life by a significant amount by gaining strength and muscle.

2. Resistance Training Burns More Fat

Yes, I do know that in the short term, the best way to burn calories is by engaging in cardiovascular (aerobic) activities. What I also know is that cardiovascular activities do not build muscle. I actually made a post on my Instagram 5 fat loss hacks talking about how there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss refers to total body weight decreasing. Fat loss refers to losing body fat, while retaining as much lean body mass as possible. The big difference here is if your focus is weight loss only, you can cause you to become metabolically adapted (slow metabolism) if you’re doing very intense cardiovascular exercise and restricted calories too much. If your focus shifts to fat loss and lean body mass preservation (or gain if you’re a beginner) you will actually have the opposite impact on your metabolism. The more lean mass an individual has, the more calories they burn at rest. This means you are able to eat more calories to maintain that lean mass because of how “expensive” muscle tissue is. In the long term, this will lead to you being able to burn body fat more effectively so you’re not yo-yo dieting and always gaining weight, then losing it and ruining your metabolism.

3. Resistance Training Improves Hormones

In modern society, stress is inevitable. With the amount of social media and pressure to be the best at work, home, school etc. it is no wonder the amount of anxiety and depression are off the charts. This causes cortisol levels to rise significantly. This can cause lack of sleep, sugary/salty processed food cravings, lack of energy, reduced sex drive, storing fat in “trouble” areas (spare tire) among others. What is so cool about resistance training is that it stabilizes stress hormones. While training, cortisol rises. This is a good thing. Cortisol combines with other hormones like growth hormone to help you release body fat. Resistance training helps you regulate these hormones much more effectively because you’re sending a “muscle building” signal to your body. When you don’t resistance train or you are doing high amounts of cardiovascular exercise, cortisol levels tend to be higher when you don’t want them to be. With less muscle, it makes it harder for your body to regulate hormones that help with sleep, mood, sex drive etc.

4. Resistance Training Improves Balance and Stability

For many of the clients I work with, they just want to improve the overall quality of their life. There is no better modality of exercise for this than resistance/strength training. Cardiovascular exercise doesn’t promote strength, stability or balance. When challenging yourself with resistance training, your muscle tissue breaks down and repairs itself to become stronger. Not only do you get stronger in areas that are very important for future health (core muscle, glutes) but your posture improves as well. This sets you up to have less injuries as you age. The stronger your posture is, the more you promote proper balance and stability throughout your entire body. Especially if your practicing big movement patterns like squatting, hip hinging, pressing and stability exercises like planks, farmer walks etc. Resistance training teaches your body how to contract muscles so you can create tension when doing everyday activities. Again, this will lead to you having less lower back pain, neck pain and other chronic injuries that are prominent in today’s society.

5. Lifting Weights is EMPOWERING

The coolest thing ever is seeing clients do things they never thought they could. This could be a client deadlifting a weight that they never thought they could. Or even something as simple as being able to play and run around with their children after not being able to do so. Something about resistance training and becoming stronger… is just so damn empowering. When you see that your strength in your daily life increases, and then you look in the mirror and see more muscles and less body fat, confidence goes through the roof. This impacts everything in your life. Your mindset, your career and finances and your relationships. More confidence = more passion, power and belief. More passion leads to success in anything you do.

So do yourself a favor and start making resistance training a priority!