Fitness

Headstands & Handstands - April Daily Fitness Challenge

Routines are good for our life, and are healthy. But our body and our mind also thrives with some variety. Neuroplasticity is a concept in phenomenon increasingly studied the demonstrates how the brain is always changing. It changes for the Better or For Worse depending on the inputs that we put in.

The daily fitness challenge that I have been taking part in since October is a mix of both these. There has been the daily routine of consistently challenging the body, but also variety as how the body is challenged each day varies and also there has been a different theme each month - running, abdominal and core strengthening, hip and shoulder stability, pull-ups, and this month is something else.

So trying new things is good for the muscles and the joints, ligaments and tendons, but also for the mind and the spirit. At the beginning of this year I set out an overall theme for the year. This year I'm focusing on theme of produce, which basically means working on moving forward and creating, without too much of the limiting mindset that can stop you from creating and participating and sharing. So I brainstormed what are some things that I might like to learn this year and some challenges I'd like to take on. Enter headstands and handstands. I haven't given them much thought before and I've never tried to do them. But I thought why not try and learn this new skill and just see how I do.

 Liz's baseline attempts at headstand with her watchful assistant and spotter.

Liz's baseline attempts at headstand with her watchful assistant and spotter.

Trying a new physical skill might mean some preparation is needed in order to do this healthily. Thankfully as a physical therapist, I have good insight into the strength needed and the flexibility needed to be able to put weight through my shoulders.

In trying this new skill I'm excited for the new opportunities that this presents for my body to grow, and strengthen, and learn new balance and ways to control itself. Some of my Approach will involve trying the overall skill, but I will also break it down into small parts to allow my body to have the best chance for success. I look forward to learning from others who are skilled in the area of handstands and headstands and learning some techniques. I plan to try some of the techniques described in this well done instructional video from the UK.

This month a focus on headstands and handstands I hope to be fun as I learn a new skill that I'm not good at. But I also know this will be a good compliment two activities that I like to do that strengthen my body in the other direction, namely, climbing and swimming. Both climbing and swimming are pulling motions and really activate muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and teres major which pull your arm down into more of a handcuff position. Pressing away in pressing overhead will be new challenges for me that have been overlooked and are often overlooked in rock climbers and swimmers, including triathletes, and lead to muscle imbalances, which put increasing strain on joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The strain overtime can lead to pain and dysfunction and difficulty doing the activities we love.

I'll be posting videos primarily on Instagram so follow us there @artisanphysical, but also intermittently on Facebook and here on the blog.

Want to join in on this challenge? I'd love to have you join in and share your successes and challenges. Arr you going to try a different daily fitness challenge? I'd love to hear about that too. Have ideas and suggestions for Liz's next daily fitness challenge? I'd love to hear that too.

Let's get to the source, AND TOGETHER, let's get moving!

Liz

Awesome, Effective Advanced Shoulder Stability Exercise

Looking for an excellent, if not awesome, way to strengthen your shoulder.? We've got an exercise for you including a video demo! Here is one of Liz's favorite exercises that she is incorporating into her March daily fitness challenge - which is alternating between the hip and shoulder stability and strength.

The shoulder joint is a "ball and socket" joint. It has a lot of freedom to move in a variety of directions, which is means it needs stability and strength in multiple directions. This exercise is a constant isometric force into external rotation pushing out with the wrists which strengthens and challenges two of the rotator cuff muscles, in particular, the teres minor and the infraspinatus. As you push constantly out through the band you will simultaneously raise your arms overhead which works additional shoulder muscles including shoulder blade (scapular) muscles responsible for upwardly rotating it. These muscles include the serratus anterior and the lower trapezius, which when weak can lead to shoulder impingement, bursitis, and rotator cuff tears and injury. 

This is not an exercise to perform when your shoulder is very weak. For that you want to exercises that place less demand on your shoulder. If you missed it, a video we created for that is this:

Mixing things up with "easy" and "hard" exercises is good for a healthy shoulder. I've been doing exercises from each of these videos as I seek to have an even stronger and healthier shoulder than I already have.

Have you started a daily fitness challenge? If so, what are you trying?

Not started yet, but thinking about it? What are you considering? Even the considering, is a step forward and progress! The planning stages count for fitness and health.

Stay tuned for next month's daily fitness challenge which will be headstands and handstands! April is almost here. Would you like to join me? At this time, May is scheduled to be ankle and foot stability, so reach out with any questions or suggestions for that if that provokes some interest from you. This is particularly meaningful for those of you with "weak" ankles, foot and ankle pain, history of ankle sprains or foot/ankle fractures (broken bones). 

Let's Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving

Liz

March Daily Fitness Challenge - Hip & Shoulder Stability

I'm pleased to say that the daily fitness challenge that began in October of last year has continued, with a different theme every month. So far we have attempted daily running, seven minute workout, pull-Ups, 8 minute abs, and now.... drum roll please...

BOSU overhead ball toss.jpg

This challenge this month, as the title of the blog post indicates, is hip and shoulder stability. I'm excited about this month because they are very important and foundational to so many activities and preventing injury as well as rehabilitating injuries. I've had my fair share of injuries over the years and they have left they're mark. Now if I had been better about doing all my rehabilitation exercises for these various injuries, I don't think I'd be in the same place. I'm excited of the possibility that the asymmetries I have from side-to-side could diminish, and even, completely resolve!

 Doing all the exercises that your body needs is a lot of work. Can I get an amen? It takes a lot of time, a lot of motivation, and a lot of knowledge. I have the knowledge and a good bit of motivation, but not always enough time in the day. Anyone else have a hard time finding enough time in the day? These monthly-themed daily exercises that I'm exploring are an avenue for me to rotate throughout the body and pay attention to each area and hopefully be better off than the intermittent and sporadic exercise provided otherwise.

Unstable hips or, in other words, hips that lack the strength, endurance, and coordination to control themselves in space, can lead to problems from the low back all the way down to the big toe. Yes, even the big toe! You think you inherited that bunion from your family? Where you born with it? Is it rather from how you've moved and used your body over time? Let's take a look at your hip stability and then let's talk about it.

Knee injuries ranging from patellofemoral pain, runner's knee, ACL tears, meniscal injuries can all arise from a lack of hip stability. Lack of hip strength and control or endurance can also lead to ankle injuries such a sprained ankles and fractures and down the chain into the foot with overpronation, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or achilles or posterior tibialis tendonitis or tendinopathy.

Shoulder stability is also really important and isn't straightforward. Think of all the motions that your shoulder can do and that is a sign that keeping it healthy will similarly take a lot of work. The shoulder joint or complex is actually made up of four joints: 

  • Glenohumeral joint
  • Scapulothoracic joint
  • Acromioclavicular joint
  • Sternoclavicular joint

All of these are controlled by muscle. So once again the strength, the endurance, and the coordination of these muscles results in the control surrounding those joints. In terms of stability, the most important muscles are the rotator cuff and scapular muscles. You can think of your shoulder blade, or scapula, as the foundation of your shoulder. If the foundation is crooked or unstable, this has consequences for the areas attached to it.

As I work on shoulder stability this month, I am emphasizing the rotator cuff - all four of the rotator cuff muscles - and the scapula thoracic muscles - think rhomboids, trapezius, serratus anterior - as well as the scapulohumeral muscles. If these muscles are strong, can work for long periods of time, and can turn on and off at the right time, there should not be clicking in my shoulder with movement, nor am I very likely to injure myself. Bear in mind that as I strengthen these muscles, I will also need to stretch them because strengthening increases the tone of the muscles and often the stiffness of the muscles and sometimes shortens the length of the muscles. And tight muscles can lead to injury and dysfunction.

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Because it is unwise to strengthen the exact same area day after day, I will alternate between hip stability and shoulder stability, doing one one day and the next the other day. Want to learn a great routine to do for these areas, reach out and we can schedule either a visit or a remote consultation for you fitness, wellness and health goals.

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Stay tuned for April's daily fitness challenge of headstands and handstands...

Let's Get to the Source - and TOGETHER - Let's Get Moving

-Liz

Arm Strengthening for Climbers: Hand Sloper Strengthening with Rotator Cuff and Scapular Stability

Are you a long-time rock climber who wants to climb for a lifetime? Do you want to train right and train smart to prevent injury? Do you wish your hand strength was better for slopers and other open-handed grips while rock climbing?
In this video, Dr. Bottrell introduces a quick series of exercises that strengthens your hand and forearm in open hand positioning for slopers while simultaneously strengthening and increasing the stability of the rotator cuff and scapular (shoulder blade) muscles and joints. Incorporating exercises such as these present the opportunity for better performance & longevity of climbing of a lifetime, decreased likelihood of injury.


Bear in mind these are general recommendations, and a certain amount of strength and fitness are needed.
Interested in what weighted ball uses in this video? It's the Gymnic Heavymed 2 kg weighted ball for resistance.

8 Minute Abs

Last month I did a daily physical challenge of running every day - with the goal of being healthy. Success! This month the physical challenge is "8 min abs". I've spent everyday of November (one day to go) targeting abdominal strength, endurance and control for 8 minutes. Now this isn't about aesthetic or beach body abs. Being able to do crunches and sit-ups are important but have been over-emphasized in the fitness industry for years. Having healthy appearing abdominal muscles - a 6 pack - doesn't mean you are in fact healthy. More specifically, it doesn't mean you are preventing injury. Abdominal strength and stability in combination with low back and hip strength and control make up what we physical therapists call "lumbopelvic stability" or "lumbopelvic control." This is something we emphasize in helping and rehabilitating persons with low back pain, sciatica, SI joint (sacro-iliac joint) pain, lumbar radiculopathy, herniated discs, DJD (degenerative disc disease), arthritis in the joints of the back, and stenosis. The back is connected to the pelvis, which is connected to the hips/thigh/femur. I often sing  to my patients and clients about the wisdom of the children's song: "the back bone's connected to the hip bone. the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone" (They love it, as you can imagine).

So me spending on this focused time on this region wasn't just sit-ups and crunches. In fact, it was much more perform leg and arm motions without letting my back move. I spent 8 minutes each day this month emphasizing a variety of challenges to lumbopelvic stability to promote and preserve a healthy back. I brainstormed a list of exercises and invited a friend to join me with this month's challenge. My list is long and varied. I challenged my abdominal muscles - all of them (rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, and very importantly the transverse abdominus). I rotated through 48 different exercises these 30 days! There's no reason to get bored. And as we strongly recommend here at Artisan PT - variety is good and very healthy for us. 

Want an example of how to train the transverse abdominus? The transverse abdominus is the most important abdominal muscle to prevent back injury and recover from a back injury or back pain. Learn more in our video on a starter transverse abdominus exercise. PS - Side effects of this exercise include flatter stomachs! PPS - I won't be posting pre- and post- 8 min ab challenge photos, but will be enjoying the results.

 

Watch should the next challenge be? December is right around the corner!

Let's Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving!

Liz

3 Simple Strengthening Exercises to Prevent Climbing Shoulder Injuries

Today we have a guest post from a friend and fellow colleague on preventing shoulder climbing injuries. Dr. Jared Vagy - The Climbing Doctor - out of Los Angeles, California works with high level climbers and teaches at USC. The following is an excerpt from his blog post

"It is the end of the day. You are tired and beat, but you decide to give it one last go on your project. You get to the crux move and give it everything you’ve got. Suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your shoulder. You know that you likely injured your shoulder. What happened and what could you have done to prevent this?

The tendons in the shoulder slide through a very narrow passageway and attach to the shoulder bone. Impingement occurs when the space between the bones in this passageway is reduced. This can occur from repetitively moving the shoulder into a stressful or suboptimal position. When this occurs, the bones in the shoulder pinch down on the tendons and cause shoulder impingement. You should be aware of the dangerous movements that can lead to shoulder impingement. These movements include hanging on your arms during rest stances, climbing with a hunched posture and strenuous overhead reaching."

Bent over T's, Y's, and L's:

 Dirtbag tip - use items you have around: cans, bottles to provide the weight.

Dirtbag tip - use items you have around: cans, bottles to provide the weight.

These should not cause any shoulder pain! 

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 12.53.07 PM.png

Climb INJURY-FREE

Dr. Vagy just released another book! 

You can find it on Amazon now.

Thanks, Dr. Vagy for the helpful content.

Any questions? Comment below. 

Give Swimming a Try!

I was never a "water baby" - that is - I was never a kid that jumped into water whenever I saw it. I only wanted to get wet if I was dirty, sweaty, or super hot. This followed me into adulthood, so choosing swimming as a workout was not something that happened for me. That is until I was forced to. By age twenty I had injured my knee significantly twice. These ACL knee injuries (anterior cruciate ligament) had ended my soccer career prematurely. I had to wait a few months for ACL surgery, but wanted to stay active, so I did early morning walks with arm motions to get a whole body workout and I started swimming. 

I hated swimming. I hated it as I packed my swimsuit & towel, traveled to the pool, dressed, walked onto the pool deck, jumped in, and swam the first lap.  Do you see the trend? I hated it. But by the second lap it wasn't so bad. It was a quick and very intense workout for me. 20 minutes and I felt like jelly afterwards. All without any impact or pain to my knees! The workout was, in fact, so difficult for me that my cheeks tingled afterwards. Anyone else? Probably not. 

Flash forward to over a decade later and swimming is high up there on the things that I really miss about LA. Swimming laps outside midday on a sunny day is one of the most meditative and mind clearing experience I have. I get a whole body, no impact workout to balance out my running, hiking, biking leg workouts with inclusion of arm and abdominal conditioning and my mind gets to wonder through future ideas and possibilities as well as reflecting back on experiences and relationships. Oh and my cheeks don't tingle anymore.

So give swimming a try! 

Want to make sure you're healthy while swimming? Wonder what swim strokes are right for you? Wonder if you're stroke technique could lead to an injury? Wonder how much to do? Necessary stretches and strengthening? Let's chat. (Also possible future blog post topic - what do you think?)

Already swim? Where is your favorite place to swim?

Together - Let's Get Moving.

Liz

Preventing Rock Climbing Hand & Tendon Injuries: Part 2 - Techniques For Open Grip Strengthening

People are often injured by trying to progress too quickly and this is very prevalent in rock climbing. People fall hard for the sport and enjoy the challenge of pushing their limits, but lack the knowledge needed to stay healthy, prevent injury, and thus climb for a lifetime and not have to take months and month off due to tendon or pulley injuries in their hands or forearms.

In this video you'll learn the how-to principles of hand strengthening to cross train to improve open grip strength and reduce hand pulley and tendon injuries for rock climbers. Climb better, climb harder, climb longer. Climb for a lifetime.

For a personalized assessment, contact us at our Portland office.

If you have injured this area, make sure to give sufficient rest and see your local PT who specializes in manual therapy & treating climbers to learn how to get back to your prior level and incorporate this open hand strengthening to improve your grip and reduce compensatory strategies that overload your pulleys. Also find out how shoulder weakness, for example, can influence which grip you choose. 

This is Part 2 of a 2 Part series, with the possibility of a Part 3 adapted to interest, questions, and feedback from the first 2 Parts. Watch Part 1 to learn why hand strengthening matters to prevent injury and the important of incorporating into your climbing routine. Questions? Should we do a Part 3?

Let's Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving!

Quick Yoga Sequence for Runners: Stretching with Some Core

New video out!

In this video, Doctor Elizabeth (Liz) Bottrell PT, DPT, FAAOMPT of Artisan Physical Therapy in Portland, Oregon demonstrates a quick and effective yoga sequence for runners. Whether running your first 5k, training for a marathon, triathlon, or an ultra, you need to stretch. Stretching takes time and knowledge. In this video, you'll learn a quick vinyasana or flow yoga sequence that efficiently stretches your hamstrings, calves (gastrocnemius & soles), and hip flexors (Iliotibial band and iliopsoas) to maximize your time, as well as incorporating abdominal strengthening and control and cross training strengthening for the pectoral muscles and triceps. This fast routine, also trains balance, breathing, and improves motion in your back and abdominal muscles!

You can repeat and hold longer as needed. Do not hold your breath!

Pay attention in the video because you need to make sure you know which muscles to stretch. Follow-up videos will show specifics for a few other essential muscle groups for runners to stretch.

Try it and let us know what you think.

Contact our Portland office to schedule your personalized evaluation or join in one of our LA PT Pop-ups while they last (next PT pop-up is January 23rd).

Do you say sorry too often?

I came across this blog post via some friends on Facebook. It's specifically from the perspective of a mountain biker, but it's a good universal principle and good attitude shift towards appreciation versus self deprecation. This switch could make a big change in your physical fitness and health goals and even throughout your life. The jist? Don't apologize for being slow, instead thank your companions for their patience.

http://www.sydschulz.com/mountain-biking/stop-saying-sorry

Free Personal Advice!

Come out this Saturday, Feb 13th for your free 15 minute consultation with a movement & injury rehabilitation specialist. This is the next installment of "PT Days with Liz Bottrell" at Fleet Feet - a great and friendly running store in Burbank, California. If you're keen, join in the weekly 3 or 5 mile run beforehand. To sign up, use this link from their website.  Liz is looking forward to venturing out of Echo Park to chat it up with the running community.

Can't make it? Subscribe to the newsletter by Sunday the 14th and get your free transformative Runner's Stretching Guide delivered directly to your inbox.

Let's show ourselves some self-love this month & spend a little extra time taking care of our physical health.

Chasing Your Goals

How 'bout them New Year's Goals?

It's been a busy summer transition into fall here at Artisan PT and in life in general. The seasons are changing even though here in Southern California it doesn't always feel like it. We have (hopefully!) made it to fall (finally!).  The Weather Channel app is telling me just a high of 74 deg, so I'm going to risk it and say: "we made it!" Here's to wearing layers, enjoying hot beverages, having comfortable workouts, and eventually enjoying falling leaves.

It's been 6 months since the last post about one of my goals: To do a race this year. September 19th, 2015, it happened. I competed in the Nautica Malibu International Distance Triathlon. 1.5 km swim, 40km bike, and 10 km run in the books!

 As a special bonus, I got to race with good friends. Nothing makes it more fun than to create memories together!

As a special bonus, I got to race with good friends. Nothing makes it more fun than to create memories together!

It's been 9 months since I started training for the race. I was even training for the race 4 months before I signed up! Someone might ask - isn't 9 months a bit excessive for training for an Olympic distance triathlon? After all, it's nowhere near the length of an Ironman! My answer would be that it depends how you think about it. Starting in January of this year, I joined a local gym, which was my first traditional gym membership in the past 5 years. I hadn't lifted weights, for at least that many years, and I hadn't been running for at least 2 years. As a physical therapist, I wanted to be healthy and decided to practice what I preach.

One of my PT mantras is that: Your body WILL change, but change takes time!

Body composition takes time to change, as does developing muscle strength and hypertrophying (i.e. increasing the size of your muscles), so does endurance, and cardiovascular adaptations. I don't want you to think that in those 2-5 years I was inactive, I wasn't. I'm a firm believer in activity and varied activity; I was simply doing other exercise. The first few years of those 5 years I climbed a lot and hiked. Then I got back into biking and would do that whenever I could with some swimming sprinkled in there. My enjoyment of swimming while in LA has taken birth. Prior to living here, I worked it into my routine simply because I new it was good for me or 10 years ago because I needed to in order to perform reasonably well in my triathlon races, not because I enjoyed it. Here, I've grown to love it, particularly during the sustained Indian Summer months that we just survived through, yet again.

Having not run in so long, I knew that my hip strength, in particular, would be limited and this would in turn affect my running and my mechanics during running. If not addressed, I would run a much higher chance of becoming injured. If I wanted a healthy race, I needed a healthy base. I think it's noteworthy that at that time I didn't even know what race I was going to do yet alone what distance, sports, or time of year I'd be competing. I simply knew that I needed to start with the basics. So I worked on leg, core, and upper body strength, I stretched, and worked on all the imbalances that I knew I have. I worked on exercises that combine single leg balance and strength. 

We all have our issues and we all need to do our best to stay on top of them! I spent 3 months focusing on weight-training, stretching, and doing my "PT" exercises. Any runs I did were very short and focused on good form. Any leg pain? I would immediately stop. Any break down in form? I would stop.

I followed up that 3 month phase with cardio that built up all the way to my race. My goal was to do cardiovascular exercise - working in biking, swimming, and running - for one hour per day. As I got closer to race day, I started combining workouts (bricks) and doing 2 workout days to get the endurance for the multiple hours required for the race.

I had an almost unspoken goal of 3 hours for my race. I calculated this by simply combining my individual time from workouts for each portion of the triathlon. It was mostly "unspoken" because it was a dream time. I didn't know if I could do it all back to back that fast.

Well, I raced and I'm happy to report that I did it in 3 hours and 6 minutes. So close to my unspoken dream goal!

Most importantly, I was healthy the whole time and, in fact, my muscles and joints felt better than they had prior to my commencing training. I finished the race motivated to compete again, knowing that with the knowledge I gained from my training, I could reach my goal. Goals are important. Setting high goals are important. It helps you expand yourself and growth, whether you obtain the goal or not! Part of my purpose with the race, was not just the physical. I wanted to train my mental fortitude, too, in a way that I wasn't able to when I competed in triathlons previously in my 20's. I focused and learned from leaning into the discomfort that accompanies continued on when things get hard.

Don't wait until the pain comes, schedule a physical therapy visit with Liz at Artisan Physical Therapy to learn how to reach your goals healthily!

Let's get to the source and, TOGETHER, let's get moving!

Stayed tuned for future blogs to read about how to tweak my training from what I learned from the experience. Let me know any questions you might have.

Liz

Exercise recommendations for Minimizing IT (iliotibial) Band Tightness

Did you watch the first video in my 2-part series about IT (iliotibial) band tightness and have been waiting ever since for video 2? Well, wait no longer, for that moment has finally arrived! In part 1, I explained the anatomy of the IT Band and how it can become tight and problematic. It is often muscle imbalances that lead to this or sometimes just shear volume of activity and training.

In this video, I detail some of the practical, basic stretching and strengthening exercises that I recommend for people's whose IT Band and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) are tight, particularly due to the TFL/ITB serving as an "overachiever" muscle in the hip.

Enjoy the video.  Contact me with any questions and/or suggestions for future video topics.

Let's get to the source, and together, get moving!

Liz

Race Goal for the Year

My first blog post of the year highlighted some of the goals I had for the year. How are your goals coming along? Typing this question, alone, is making me want to stop and go back to recheck on all my goals and see what progress I'm making & if I'm forgetting anything!

The goal on the forefront of my mind currently is my goal to train and participate in a race this year. I'm so pleased to report I reached a milestone! I signed up! "What race?" you ask. Well, I am opting for a triathlon - the Nautica Malibu International Distance Triathlon - to be precise. Now I'm excited and nervous. I got a lot to learn about ocean swimming and I've got some training to do to hopefully "race" it.

What do I mean by "race" it? It has to do with your fitness level. I am fit right now in terms of overall health and wellness in disease reduction activity lifestyles and with respect to my body weight and composition. I could participate in the triathlon event and complete it, possibly even this week, but it wouldn't feel good. I want not to simply finish it - although I think it is a great feat. I want to prepare, train, and give it my all - to go fast - that is, to "race" it. Let's be clear when I say race or fast, I mean my fast (not going to be winning any races here)!!

I'd love to hear about what your training for in life, how you're learning to persevere and be disciplined, and elevate what you think you're capable of. For me this all fits into the bigger picture of learning to live more WHOLE-HEARTED (my theme for the year) and even helping people living healthier, more satisfying lives with my work at Artisan Physical Therapy. Also let me know what training questions you have!

Together - Let's Get Moving!

Liz

Liz Bottrell - Artisan Physical Therapy - biking