Archive for the ‘General public’ Category

The Haunted House Effect and Your Chronic Pain

Friday, October 30th, 2015

By Anthony Carey M.A., CSCS, MES
Founder of Function First
halloween 1
(all photos are property of Nightmares Fear Factory http://www.nightmaresfearfactory.com/)

We’ve all heard the saying “frozen with fear”. It’s that brief but profound period of time where something is so shocking or terrifying that one can’t move. The body does not respond because the brain is overwhelmed with the danger at hand.

Or consider what happens to your body and your mind the moment you have the fright of your life in a haunted house. The image above is from the web site Nightmares Fear Factory. They are hugely popular images on the internet of visitors caught at a moment of time inside the Nightmares Fear Factory’s haunted house.

If we got a little “sciencey” here and thought about all the things that happen to the body as this photo is taken and for the short time thereafter, we would observe:

1. A huge dump of stress hormones enter the blood stream
2. The heart rate and blood pressure spike
3. Blood vessels dilate
4. Breathing gets rapid and shallow
5. Muscles all around the joints contract and stiffen the body
6. Posture instinctively goes into a flexed protection mode
7. Ensuing movement is guarded and apprehensive

Now let’s imagine these events happened within the first 5 minutes of a scheduled 30 minute tour through the haunted house. They still have 25 more minutes to take part in an experience where the tone has been clearly established as frighteningly intense.

So what happens when they approach that next corner that they can’t see past? Are they relaxed and at ease? Absolutely not! Their body will reproduce the identical events it did from the first scare. Except all of those responses will happen BEFORE they even get to the corner.

As they cautiously approach the blind corner and their body is in full anticipation mode-anticipation of the next blood curling scare-they ultimately see that there is nothing there. No threat exists at this corner. Yet their body and mind went through all the same events as if the next big scare actually took place. That pattern continues through the remainder of the tour with each anticipation of the scares almost as physically and mentally real as a scare itself.
halloween 2
The source (which we can’t see) that created those responses in the photos is not the only part of that scare experience. Although likely not as obvious to those in the photos, the entire experience includes the people they are with, the smell of the room, the temperature of the room, the sounds and even how their clothes fit. And as the remainder of the tour continues, they all become part of the biological, psychological and social contribution to that experience.

So what has this got to do with someone dealing with chronic pain? The scenarios can be almost identical except replace “scare” with “pain”. Let’s say for example that after a long flight you felt a pop in your back as you lowered your carryon from the overhead bin. You begin to feel your back tighten up and you experience the pain ramping up as you exit the plane. Beginning with the “pop” you felt, you would begin to experience those same 7 traits listed earlier. And whether you realized it or not, the physical pain itself is not the only part of the experience. The people you are with, the smell of the airplane and then the terminal, the temperature, the sounds and even how your clothes fit all become part of the biological, psychological and social contribution to that pain experience.
halloween 3
These combined elements begin to form a neuro signature or neuro representation in your brain. Over the next couple of days as you are recovering from this episode, you experience those 7 traits any time you anticipate potential threat to your back. This could be something as familiar as putting on your socks. Some movements may in fact provoke pain but others may not. Yet the net result is very similar in terms of your physical and mental response.

You can clearly see how patterns emerge that are counterproductive to your long term goals. And the reality of this is that we can’t and you can’t explain your way through process. Yes, you need an understanding but your body and brain also need proof. This is where a strategic and structured corrective exercise plan can create the movement confidence you need to no longer anticipate a threat when the threat is not valid.

Pain is a very complex experience for everyone. And many people will attempt to chase one aspect or another of their pain. The science now tells us that we have to look at the entire bio-pyscho-social context from which chronic pain is experienced.

Don’t live your life waiting for the next ghost or goblin around the corner.

Happy Halloween!

Sandy Todd Webster Member of the Month

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Function First Member of the Month


When and why did you first start training with Function First?

I started at FF in January 2011. My husband and I had just purchased a home in the neighborhood. I was looking for a daily fitness solution that fit into my lifestyle and meshed with my knowledge of the fitness industry. Anthony has been an industry colleague for many years (14!). He is one of IDEA Health & Fitness Association’s expert presenters and he often lends expert commentary to the articles that appear In IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA’s other publications, for which I am editor in chief. So, I had direct knowledge of cutting edge training methodology and knew AC personally. Why wouldn’t I want to work with one of the best and brightest? How lucky was I to move into the neighborhood and be just over a mile from the studio?

What challenges were you facing with both everyday activity and athletics when you first joined?

I was very into triathlon training and a long-time runner when I started at Function First. I had also recently dropped a very heavy cutting board squarely on my left big toe joint. The havoc that wreaked up the left side of my kinetic chain included pain in my foot, knee, piriformis and reaching up into my infraspinatus. It’s amazing how it’s all connected. I had never had any of this pain until the cutting board incident. Like any stubborn athlete, I soldiered on, making it worse until I couldn’t run anymore. Shortly after starting X Factor, I did some corrective sessions with AC to sort it out. My toe joint will never be the same, but he gave me simple solutions that keep me in alignment, which releases a lot of the pressure my compensations build up. In four years of training with the team here, I’m happy to say that I’ve not incurred injury and have probably averaged 4-5 X Factor classes every week.

Can you tell us why you think the Function First Approach worked for you in reaching your goals?

It’s fun; it’s approachable; and even though I train in a group, it’s always customized to me. I know the training team has the skill/knowledge/experience to progress or regress me safely depending on how I’m feeling that day. Moving athletically and testing my body and mind in different ways at every session gives me a lot of joy. I love to feel my body move and test its limits. I’ve learned to crave lifting weight in multiple planes and shift the weight using full-body strength. The fact that there is not a treadmill in sight but instead shelves and bins and nooks and crannies full of fitness “toys” that are employed so creatively by all of the training professionals here speaks volumes to the knowledge of Function First’s trainers. It matches what I know to be the gospel in the fitness industry today—that you’ve got to keep challenging different body systems to keep progressing them. Our trainers are always experimenting with new formats and exercises, which is also key to maintaining my interest and attention.

What do you like best about the training program?

First and foremost, I love and appreciate the trainer-coach-inventor-tinkerer-inspirers I’ve trained with here over the years: From AC to Derrick to Wendy, to Natalie, Reyci and Danny (sorry, I’ve only trained with Derahan once!), they have always been all about helping us to improve and meet our goals. They are professional, knowledgeable, perceptive, funny and welcoming. They make the program! My X-Factor teammates make it worth coming, too. We all want to improve ourselves, so everyone is very positive and supportive. It’s both inspirational and aspirational to work and sweat alongside people who have fought through pain and injury, and see them “get after it” during training. That’s the magic of the programming here. So many have risen from the ashes of what they thought was destined to be chronic pain and inactivity to be strong, competitive life athletes who have shed the pain and learned how to train safely and smartly.

How has Function First changed your day-to-day life?

Training here has given me tremendous body confidence and, truly, confidence all around. I remember coming here for my first training session. I think it was Derrick’s first day or week, too. But I was so nervous I wasn’t going to be able to do things perfectly or that I would embarrass myself. I had some serious performance anxiety. DP’s confidence and great coaching got me over that in a couple of sessions. I can almost always sense that same trepidation in the newbies that join us; remembering how I felt, I try to make them feel at home. We all do. But I think we all learn to laugh at ourselves pretty quickly when we can’t get the correct foot forward on a ViPR bazooka combo, or we get lost in a circuit and have to ask what the heck comes next. Who cares? Learning and laughing along the journey is what it’s all about. I’ve trained with both the AM and PM X-Factor crews and both groups razz each other mercilessly. It’s hilarious at times. But we also support one another and cheer for one another’s victories. I still remember watching in awe as Rachel, Em and Ten started cranking out unassisted pull-ups a year ago. Amazing stuff! It made me so happy to see and share in their victories. I’ve made some lifelong friends here and plan to stick around for a long time! I’m so honored by this! Thank you, Function First.

25 years in the fitness industry has come to this

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

In all of my years of teaching and writing I’ve never shared my journey because I feel it can be perceived a self promoting, which is never my intention. But I’ve decided to share some of it with you today. This is a journey that is far from complete but one that I felt has accumulated enough academic training, research review, practical experience and business acumen to finally put together a curriculum based on what we do best.

What I am going to share with you is not to try to impress you but to impress UPON you that you too can have a profound effect on people’s lives; not just within your zip code but around the world. Furthermore, you don’t have to work at “market value” putting in 70 hour work weeks often with people that don’t ever want to change.

As I write this, I have had clients come to see me from 15 different countries and 33 states. Just last week I had a pilot/surfer fly from Puerto Rico to work with me at Function First. This week I’ll see a university Dean coming in from Los Angles and I’ll have a Skype follow up with a retired attorney in Jackson Hole, WY who saw me in San Diego two weeks ago.

Because of the mental and emotional commitment I invest in every appointment with my chronic pain clients I never see more than 20 appointments per week. The earliest I see my first client is 9:00 a.m. and the last appointment I take is at 5:00 p.m. If I work on the weekends it is to teach (workshops, conferences, consulting)-no clients. My schedule is my own. I see my kids off to school in the morning and have dinner with them at night.

Please believe me when I say that I am a life-long learner and I’m humbled by the complexity of the human body and psyche daily; and without doubt there are scores of people much smarter than me. My success rate with clients is not perfect and I would be a delusional ego-maniac if I claimed I could help everyone at any time. However, when you bring together everything that we do with a client we have very often been successful where others smarter than me have not; and that is because it is not just about knowing anatomy and biomechanics. It is what we deliver in programming and how we deliver it to meet the physical, psychological and emotional needs of each client.

Many of my clients thought they had tried everything. Clients who have come to me after visiting the world renowned Mayo and Cleveland clinics described their visit as a “last resort”. Others who have been under the care of the best medical doctors, treated by multiple physical therapists and chiropractors were to find the results they hoped for only after coming to Function First. We delivered by meeting the client where they were and walking them down a path of progress that no one us had shown them.

The clients who seek me out today are not who I thought I would be working with after completing my undergraduate degree in exercise physiology back in 1989. The personal training industry was in its infancy. My emphasis was in corporate fitness and my first job out of school was with Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey-one of the earlier pioneers in worksite wellness.

California was calling and after a year I left New Jersey to begin my graduate studies at San Diego State University. Along with my course work I completed 1800 clinical hours in the athletic training room and graduated with a Master’s degree in biomechanics and athletic training. Yet I never sat for the NATA exam for athletic trainers because to me it was most about triage and short term rehab. This is a necessary but unfortunate consequence of most athletic training environments. Instead, I was after big picture and long term solutions.

My first job out of graduate school was at Pete Egoscue’s clinic in Del Mar. The Egoscue Method was my first real introduction to looking at the human body globally and functionally. This was also my first real introduction to the chronic pain population.

Having recently completed my own research project for my Master’s thesis, my co-workers considered me a research “snob”. But I used that critical thinking during my 3 years with Egoscue to become his Director of Education and grow his training platform. I owe a debt to Pete Egoscue because he did change the way I viewed the body.

In 1994, a couple of other Egoscue disciples and I started Function First. This month marks the 20th anniversary of Function First and I am the only founder still with the company. Needless to say a great deal has changed in those twenty years. The way I work with a client today and the way I worked with clients then has evolved tremendously. We are always learning and trying to improve.

That is why I am ready to share my passion and dedication to what we do with you so that you can take it and make it your own. So that practitioners like you can take the tools in our curriculum and empower people to better their lives the way we do. The launch of this curriculum was no quick information product thrown together for a profit. This was two years in the making with no intentions of being released until it represented the quality and thoroughness of everything that we do at Function First.

You think helping someone lose weight is fulfilling? Try on a hug from a client who just a week before would have given up her entire limb to amputation if she thought it would have stopped the nerve pain she suffered with for the past 8 months.

The recent release of our Pain-Free Movement Specialist has generated a lot of interest and attention from those familiar with my work and others in the fitness, rehab and medical fields. We are grateful for all of you who have already started to benefit from my 25 years of experience.

Let’s face it; we knew that we were making a bold statement when we named our curriculum the Pain-Free Movement Specialist. But we knew that what we are offering is so much more than just corrective exercises. Therefore, it did not make sense to limit the scope of interventions for the client we wanted to serve.

Although I’ve taught principles we use for more than 17 years to trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors and medical doctors from around the world-it was always in a way for them to fit it into their paradigm.

As we prepared this curriculum, we asked ourselves a very important question: “What is it that Function First does so well that individuals would travel from all parts of the world to seek out our services?” When my Director of Education Kevin Murray and I answered that question; we realized that the only way to make this curriculum authentic is to fully expose to you everything that creates our success.

We are proud of the fact that we have created something very special and unique because it is 100% based on exercise and self-care. You owe it to yourself and the hundreds of clients whose lives you could personally change with the skills you will gain moving from Level 1 all the way through Mastery Academy Level 4.

The wave of those in need is already upon us. 1.5 BILLON people globally are in chronic pain. Movement is life and they don’t know where to turn to learn how to move better and improve their function in a way that is not damaging or threatening to them. Let us help you help them get their lives back.

Your opportunity is now. Establish yourself as an expert and build a business and lifestyle that you’ve always wanted with a curriculum based solely around working with the person in pain. The PFMS curriculum is your opportunity to serve this population that is desperately searching for a pain-free solution. Position yourself as the expert to meet their needs.

We look forward to partnering with you on this journey.

Sincerely,

Anthony B. Carey M.A., CSCS, AHFS
CEO Function First
2011, 2012 & 2014 San Diego’s “Best of” Health and Fitness Club
2010/2011 San Diego’s “Best Of” Personal Trainers/Studio
2009 Personal Fitness Professional Magazine Personal Trainer of the Year
Author of The Pain-Free Program: A Proven Method to Relieve Back, Neck, Shoulder and Joint Pain
Inventor of the Core-Tex™

P.S. We’ve broken up the Level 1 curriculum into Parts A and B allowing you to split into two payments and making it easier on you.

Your Circle of Influence for Pain

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

From Chapter 2 of The Pain-Free Program: A Proven Method to Relieve Back, Neck, Shoulder and Joint Pain

First, let’s begin with your doctor. Your doctor is there for you. He or she is not you. In other words, no doctor knows your body better than you do. When you go to the doctor with a complaint about your body, your doctor examines you, runs tests if necessary and then applies a diagnosis to your problem. This diagnosis is based on what the doctor sees, feels with his hands and sometimes hears. Your doctor may also come to a conclusion based on the answers you provide him to targeted questions. But your doctor can never experience what you experience. The pain, the limitations, the inconveniences are all unique to you. There may be similarities to others with a like condition, but never will their experiences be identical to yours. Therefore, this well-educated, well meaning (hopefully) individual is much more limited in how he can affect your circle of influence than you probably thought. Although limited, his influence is still an important part of the route to recovery.

The doctor has four main options with you once a diagnosis has been made. He can send you to some form of therapy, prescribe medication for pain and/or inflammation, perform surgery or some combination of the 3. Once this decision has been made, the role of the doctor becomes more of an evaluator. He evaluates the impact of the intervention he prescribed and determines to continue, modify, stop or apply one of the other 3 options available. The doctor’s role becomes smaller and smaller after an accurate diagnosis has been made.

Sometimes the doctor’s evaluation and your personal assessment of progress may not match. The case usually being that the doctor feels you have progressed or improved more than you think you have. This difference in opinion brings us to a critical crossroads in your history book. Because if you are not as improved as the doctor thinks you are, or should be, and are still struggling with the pain, then there must be a reason. The possible reasons that run through most people’s minds are that the doctor made the wrong diagnosis. The drugs prescribed weren’t effective or the therapist didn’t “make me well”.
Perhaps it is to your advantage as an individual seeking an improved quality of life, to consider some other possibilities -possibilities outside the contemporary “menu” of options most adhere to. Medications top the list on this contemporary treatment menu, just look at the profit margins for the pharmaceutical companies in this country. If medication is part of your daily regimen for coping with musculoskeletal pain, it doesn’t have to be.

From page 23 of The Pain-Free Program


Medications are nothing more than an adjunct to your path to a pain free life. They are not the foundation. And they are certainly not the ultimate answer to your problems. There is not a single medication on this earth that on its own, relieves pain, stops inflammation, fights infections, etc. The only way medications can do their job, is to assist the other systems in the body to do their jobs more effectively.

Am I telling you to flush all of your medication down the toilet right now? No. But I am going to give you hope as to why you should be able to one day. That hope should be inspiration to start formulating a plan to get off your anti-inflammatories and pain killers. Of course I am going to add, “check with your doctor first”. But keep in mind, pain pills and anti-inflammatories are not life and death drugs, as say, blood pressure medication might be. So getting off of these drugs is as much your decision, if not more, as it is your doctor’s.

Rachel Hayes Client Spotlight

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Function First’s Spotlight Member

CONGRATULATIONS TO RACHEL!

Rachel has been training hard in and out of the gym, and just completed her first triathlon, the San Diego International Tri! With a 1,000 meter swim, a ‘hilly’ 30k bike ride, and a 10k run, this is an amazing achievement. Nice work Rachel, and thanks for being an inspiration to the whole Function First team!

1. When, and why did you first start training with Function First?

My first workout with Function First was almost 3 years ago, WOW! It was a beach workout on a Saturday morning in August of 2011. I had been labeled by some as the “cardio queen” and was doing quite a bit of running, but wasn’t seeing any progress in my performance and/or physique. The Function First workout started as a way for me to shake it up a bit and do something different.

2. What challenges did you face with reaching your goal of completing a triathlon when you first joined Function First?

I didn’t have a goal of completing a triathlon when I joined Function First, but my results from Function First inspired me to do a triathlon. Over the last year and a half, through the quality and diversity of the workouts and the trainers’ expertise, I have gained significant strength and have seen marked improvements in my running times. The physical changes combined with the increased speed achieved goals that I had established for myself, so I decided I needed to set a new goal that would stretch and inspire me, while still maintaining and increasing both strength and endurance. Because of some of the successes of other fantastic iron chicks who have done tris (Sandy and Em) and the biking inspiration (the other Em), I jumped into signing up for a half ironman with both feet. The biggest challenge was I didn’t have a bike and I need to coordinate swim, bike, run, workouts around making sure I make it to the Function First workouts!!

3. Can you tell us why you think the Function First Approach worked for you in reaching your goals?

As noted above, the amount of strength that I have developed through the workout programs that the amazing trainers have developed. I’m even learning from the Function First approach that less can be more (and someday I will subscribe to it!)

4. What do you like best about the training program at Function First?
What don’t I like about it!? Honestly, the community is what I like best. The X-Factor crew is amazing, I have developed great friendships through Function First. the X-Factor crew really inspires each other to be 1% better. And, I love the diversity and creativity of the workouts that make me want to be there and makes me sad when I can’t be there!

5. How has Function First and X-Factor changed your day to day life?

Haha, I plan my schedule around Function First workouts. What I have been able to accomplish through training over the last 2 years or so has given me tremendous body confidence and a continued desire to challenge and improve myself, not only physically, but in all aspects of my life.

An Interdependent, Centered Approach

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

By Kevin Murray CPT, CES, PES
Director of Education

“Almost every significant breakthrough is first a break with old tradition, with old ways of thinking, and old paradigms”. Thomas Kuhn, physicist, historian, and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions originally introduced the term paradigm shift. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People further elaborated on this concept. Paradigm shifts guide us to new ways of thinking, shedding light on new ideas and concepts previously unseen. They are “Aha!” moments, when you suddenly view everything from an entirely different perspective, ultimately shifting your paradigm.

The Function First Approach is constantly evolving. A new era of growth, contribution and change awaits the movement industry, and we embrace this opportunity as industry innovators and educators. The Function First Approach is a principle-based outlook on movement and function. Principles are nature’s laws that forever endure and cannot be broken. Principles are fundamental truths that have universal relevance. If your parents or grandparents ever wonder why they’ve lost an inch or two, they need to look no further than the physics principle of gravity. Although we cannot see it, gravity is always there. It’s a universal principle.

One of the fundamental principles that guide the Function First Approach is simply this: the body is an interdependent unit that always functions as a whole. And just as the body is interdependent, the Function First Approach operates much the same way. It’s not a methodology, but rather a principle-oriented, systematic approach, utilizing various perspectives to help guide the implementation of a corrective strategy. One such perspective contributing to our approach of viewing the body as a whole is that of Thomas Myers and his 2001 groundbreaking book Anatomy Trains®.

I’ve had the privilege of working side by side with Tom over the last several years, and in 2012 was appointed one of his Associate Teachers for Anatomy Trains®. While traditionally, manual and movement professions have been viewed as independent of one another, the movement industry over the last decade or so has grasped onto many of the principles and insights of manual-based philosophy and teachings. Surrounded by such brilliant minds and immersed into the “manual world,” so to speak, I quickly discovered that, while the process behind manual and movement applications are indeed drastically different, our objectives, outcomes and ultimate vision are almost always identical.

The anatomy-based knowledge of manual professionals is astonishing, and Tom’s is particularly so. In the same respect, Tom is often taken aback in his journey of movement comprehension. His own paradigms shift as he understands more about movement and function. Tom has taken a keen interest in our approach to Corrective Exercise, movement and function, which is why Anthony and I are thrilled to be collaborating with him in his hometown of Walpole, ME this July for three full days of advanced insights and movement strategies for creating lasting change. Combining the Function First and Anatomy Trains expertise into one event creates something far greater than we could ever accomplish separately. Together, we create an interdependent paradigm, completely revolutionizing how we approach working with clients, patients or athletes, while simultaneously bridging the gap between manual and movement industries.

We understand that one of the most effective strategies for expanding your knowledge and growing your skill set is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals at live events. There is no substitute for immersing yourself into new ways of thinking, to step into the unknown and leave with a new sense of what’s possible for you and others.

2014 is an exciting time for us at Function First. We are celebrating 20 years since we first opened our doors. As we reflect on this accomplishment, we also look to the future and to our pledge to continuously raise the bar to even greater heights. Our revolutionary unlimited personal training package, X-Factor small group training, reactive training with the Core-Tex™, collaboration with Thomas Myers & Anatomy Trains, and the soon-to-be-launched online curriculum based entirely around the Function First Approach to Corrective Exercise are just some of the projects that are keeping us busy.

Have you ever wanted to help someone in pain, but weren’t quite sure how? Function First is among the world leaders in Corrective Exercise intelligence. Since 1994, Anthony has been on the cutting edge of Corrective Exercise innovation and intellect, educating thousands of professionals at conferences, workshops, seminars and mentorships how to create Pain-Free living through corrective exercises. What if you could begin your personal journey of Corrective Exercise Mastery with Anthony and me anytime, anywhere, and at your own convenience? On May 1st, the Function First online curriculum will be accessible worldwide and available to anyone looking to geometrically grow his or her Corrective Exercise comprehension and application.

The Function First online curriculum and Corrective Exercise Mastery is the culmination of all that Anthony has learned and assimilated in over 20 years of working with the chronic pain population. It’s designed to share all the principles, strategies and tools that make the Function First Approach so effective and powerful by taking advantage of the most current research in pain neuroscience, biomechanics, motor control and all that encompasses the bio-psycho-social model to overcoming pain.

If you’re ready to become a master of helping people overcome pain through exercise, are committed to raising your standards of excellence, and are dedicated to acquiring the expertise to create lasting change in your clients, patients and athletes, then here is our invitation to you. Join us on this journey: an interdependent, centered approach with the ability to transform lives.

Lorimer Mosely on Chronic Pain

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The understanding of pain mechanisms-in particular chronic pain-has taken a quantum leap in the last few years. This is a rare case where the research is much further ahead than how patients/clients are treated day to day.

What we do at Function First is always evolving as we are exposed to more and more science. The good news is that much of what we have always done continues to work. The better news is that we have a clearer picture on why the Function First Approach works so well for so many.

This video is a TED talk from one of the preeminent researchers in pain science. I have shared this with many of you in the past and wanted to be sure everyone in the Function First family had an opportunity to watch. The best part of this video is that Dr. Mosely is an extremely engaging and entertaining speaker. As someone who often speaks on difficult topics, it is refreshing to see a man of his background provide such an enjoyable presentation.

Plantar Fasciitis-A Function First View

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Foot problems can be a nightmare for anyone who exercises upright. The fact that the foot must interface with the ground consistently can jeopardize your workouts (and therefore your health) when there is a problem there. Plantar fasciitis is a common foot problem that effects people that engage in all kinds of activates; from recreational walking to higher impact versions of exercise.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia-the thick webbing of fascia at the bottom of the foot. The symptoms are most commonly felt at the heel where the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon mesh with one another. The pain is usually sharp and progressively gets worse over days or weeks. Plantar fasciitis does not occur overnight.

The symptoms are usually the worst when the foot first hits the floor in the morning. But symptoms may also be triggered after standing following long periods of sitting. In both instances there is a “pulling” at the attachment on the heel. Very often the symptoms lessen after the foot and body have been warmed up. This is because the fascia must lengthen when the foot is flat on the floor and tighten as we push off. “Warmer” tissue will be more compliant to lengthening and therefor create less pulling at the heel attachment.

Traditional exercise interventions for helping treat or prevent plantar fasciitis involve stretching the calf. This is because both calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) attach to the bottom of the foot and plantar fascia via the Achilles tendon. Flexibility in the calf transfers to improved flexibility in the plantar fascia. But the only way to effectively stretch both calf muscles is to stretch with the knee straight and bent. Bending the knee releases the gastrocnemius and allows better application to the small, deeper soleus.

If we take an integrated look at the body as we do at Function First, we can see that the tightness in the plantar fascia can be connected not to just the calf, but to the hamstrings and all the way up the lower back. And we must also realize that the calf muscles don’t only get tight in a front to back motion. They also can be tight side to side when the foot pronates or supinates. Therefore, for many people the calf stretching exercises they do provide limited or temporary help.

Muscles should never be stretched cold. And if you are experiencing plantar fasciitis symptoms this is even more critical because as you attempt to stretch the cold muscle you can actually do more damage. With plantar fasciitis you must also be very careful not to stretch to the point of pain. It should be a gentle, comfortable pull. If you do not have plantar fasciitis it is OK to stretch to the point of mild discomfort.

Try this dynamic calf stretch that functionally elongates the structures from the bottom of the foot to the lower back and through the side to side dimension:

Stand facing a wall with the toes of one foot elevated 3-4” off of the floor using a book or the like. Make sure the foot is pointing straight ahead. Place your hands on the wall for balance. Lift the knee of the other leg straight up toward your chest. From here, bring the leg straight back behind you. As the leg is moving behind you the torso should lean forward toward the wall. This should cause the knee to straighten more on the leg that you are stretching. As the knee straightens more the stretch should become more noticeable up the back of the entire leg. Immediately bring the knee back up toward the chest and repeat. This is a dynamic but controlled stretch so there is no hold. Do this for about 10 repetitions.

Next, lift the knee again and hold the leg up so that the thigh is parallel to the floor. From here, move the knee across your stance leg and then all the way to the other side like a gate that is opening and closing. Your hips/pelvis should turn as you do this. Repeat this movement dynamically 10 repetitions to each side.

The final motion is bend the knee of the support leg about 15 degrees. The stretch should be felt lower and deeper on the calf now. From here repeat the side to side motion 10 more times to each side.

The Pain-Free Program Opposite Arm and Leg Gliding

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

This powerful exercise from The Pain-Free Program: A Proven Method to Relieve Back, Neck, Shoulder and Joint Pain is an excellent exercise to improve function of the spinal muscles by getting both sides of the body working together.

Watch the video above and learn some of the finer points of this very beneficial corrective exercise.

The Pain-Free Program Upper Spinal Rotation

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

This powerful exercise from The Pain-Free Program: A Proven Method to Relieve Back, Neck, Shoulder and Joint Pain is a variation of a traditional yoga exercise. It is great exercise for loosening the upper back/neck and opening the chest.
Watch the video and learn some of the finer points of this very beneficial corrective exercise.