2017 Road Season Recap

I competed in 30 road races in 2017 from February 28th through August 14.

These races brought me to travel as far as northern california, eastern Oregon and as deep into towns close to Portland. I had to contend with rain, cold, extreme heat over 100 degrees, altitude changes, and avoiding crashes in the bunch. Nutrition difficulties were from the early season in trying to figure out how to eat to not gain weight then at the end of the spring how to eat enough not to bonk or have indigestion. As the races piled up a feeling of fatigue was present each morning as I became less enthused to bounce out of bed and onto my trainer. When I figured out how to eat enough to fuel my workouts, how to rush less in my morning routine to leave enough time to get ready for the day before my first client and after my cycle training, and how to work with what my body gave me each day, I felt that racing and training made me stronger and more vibrant for all people around me. I made many great aquaintances and friends. I deepened my relationship with my partner and with the region around me. We got to visit many small towns and farms. Exploring local eats and hikes along the way. We read books and listened to great podcasts and music along the way. The road season is a party that gets me out of the routine of my small world out into the countryside yet there is enough discipline to appease the order seeking side of my brain. There is a quality of staying on track and working towards a goal and building slowly in each race and pedal stroke towards a depth of understanding about how to convert work into the art of experiencing the world. It is like flying when you are able to combine the right amount of effort with the task at hand. It is like struggle and pain when the connection between body and bike is not ready when the race dictates. But with a mind for feeling what is gong on first and easing into it rather than fighting the body for what its not ready for is a way to get on good terms with what needs to be done. The people in the group help eachother do more as one unit that each individual. We each make it harder by attacking and pulling through harder and easier 

I did not accomplish my highest objective of earning enough points to qualify for an upgrade to category 2. I need to use my power more effectively next season to make decisive brakeaways that are more daunting to undertake but potentially more rewarding than earning a lesser place. For instance I was often working at the front of the group to keep a race from splitting instead of starting or contributing to good brakeaways sticking later in a race. This is more risky but the reward of finishing off the podium is not a good reward. The goal for next season is to mete out my power at particular focused times during the race. This will require astute attention on my competitors and torrential and frightening feelings of jumping into the deep ocean and off on my own away from the comfort of the pack. 

I am starting earlier this year by reflecting and then preparing. I am excited by the potential to improve.

Experimentation is the key to not burning out

How to get stronger without burning out

Slow approach daily micro habits, weekly cycles, fit into quarterly results.

Being ok with sidestepping, backtracking, or staying at the same level when you are working with quality.

Go for it everyday, push your boundaries.

This can be applied to growing your fitness and your business

Paying attention to only the micro can leave you with a shortsighted view of how you are progressing.

If you do something new and you do not see results in the first few days and feel the pain of trying new habits, no need to fret. Balance how you feel in the moment while having patience for what will take time. Everything in our modern world of progress works on a lag time, so the work and habits or laziness and procrastination are going to have their effect on your life in several weeks or months but right now we have to have delayed gratification.

Contradictory I know.

Your in the moment physical being instrument is all about comfort, survival, satiety, low energy cost, stimulation. These are our primitive instincts. These are useful to make sure we survive. Thankfully not many times these instincts are called upon for legitimate threats to our survival. In our modern world there is danger for sure from car accidents, household accidents, forces of nature, things can go bad really quickly. But when we are behind on paperwork or are stressing about bills, we can confuse these modern day stresses with survival fear.

We can instead use our primitive instincts to help us change habits by paying attention to them to keep us in check from trying to change habits too fast. For instance, trying to go paleo and cut out all grains and carbs? You can try to go cold turkey but that might lead to burnout after a few days and splurging on beer and pizza, frustration and never returning to new challenges. With intermittent fasting or changing to a high fat diet we can strive to make daily and weekly improvements to get cleaner while still indulging as we wean ourselves off of a habit that we may want to reduce but sprinting to the end for a few days does not lay down sustainable habits.

Making hard changes takes hard work, there is mental pain and physical pangs in changing habits out of comfort in the moment to making lasting changes. There is no way around it. You have to harness the immense mental power to overcome these barriers. There does not have to be a conflict between our body and mind. They are both always communicating to each other.

There is a lot of talk by what I have learned from yoga teachers about denigrating the power of the mind and listening only to what the body tells you. “empty your mind” there is a place for this, but misapplied can bring you pain in not being able to take full experience in what modern life of humanity has to offer. If you are filled with fear about how to put one foot infront of the other on a project or a workout plan, a measure of embodiment can be helpful, listening to the sensations of the body, the key is without judgement. If you are hungry, eat, if you are tired sleep, if you are awake then move.

The other end of the spectrum is the power of the mind. When he are racing up a hill on a bicycle and our lungs and legs are burning and we feel our body talking to us, our mind can judge and say “no more” I am going to drop out, my body can do no more” try the opposite saying “ I can, I deserve to be here, I am contributing to this group and I am hurting no more than my fellow competitors. Psyching yourself up is our way of upregulating our central fatigue limits. In physiology we have terms such as VO2 max is the maximum level of oxygen the body can consume when tested to our physiological limits when after reaching our limit we immediately collapse without any control. What most of us get to is a VO2 peak where we get up to a level that is extremely uncomfortable and we decide to stop the test. We are afraid of feeling so much. In research studies we know that external verbal encouragement can have a significant benefit in pushing further past our VO2 peak and closer to our true maximum. What is our mental talk, what is the influence of people around us? Are they telling us to relax and not work too hard and live a balanced life or are our peers and mentors telling us to keep going dig deeper? Is it more satisfying when at a pivotal moment in our life we could have done no more and we failed or when we stopped short of our true potential? We do not even know where our limits are. Kelly Starrett says that in this age we are understanding more about having it all from our greater understanding to measure and reach our potential. “You have no idea what you are capable of”

Using the beauty of our human experience, understanding, art and science, objective measurements to help us see where we are falling short in our long term goals so that we can learn how to be the master of what we do. To own what we feel and not be owned by our feelings, to use the power of the nervous system to do what we love rather than being a victim to poor mentality or untrained urges.

Suppleness of mind and body so they can communicate without conflict. Push your limits and when you find them, celebrate that you have found a peak and keep searching and challenging the boundaries.

What's working this week

Monday monring 5:00am alarm.
The only way to get in what we need is to wake up an hour earlier. I need to get in my movement before I teach others for the remainder of the day. Also, the first hour of my day is spent on learning and getting my brain and body primed instead of just waking up and getting straight into work and teaching clients. 
If you feel like the day is getting away from you, give yourself more time for your own routines. I get to the weekend and I do not feel like I need to take a vacation from my life and lay about. Instead I hit the weekend full steam ahead into activities with people I love.

How to make 5AM work for you? Pack your bag and get as much ready for the next morning before you hit bed. There is no way to organize your stuff to make it to the gym and wake up. Any resistance is more reason to stay in bed.

The point is not to wake up and do more chores, the point is to wake up and do something that will make you feel much more energetic for the rest of the day. This is stoking internal fuel, through movement, challenging yourself in new movements or taking your current routine and tweaking the perspective, so that you are making it a new experience.

Burnout is easy if it is about doing more. Make it about your own process of meeting the day with what you have.

What I am finding helpful at this early hour is easing out of the house on the bike and making it to a weight lifting group, crossfit group, or pilates to work out with people and learn from a teacher first thing. This has helped me be accountable, by paying and by my teammates to stick to a routine despite feeling tired. Although I know enough to make myself workout at a gym solo, 

My current schedule is Monday- Morning group at form & function
Tuesday at Crossfit 503
Wednesday Form & Function
Thursday private pilates or gyrotonic lesson
Friday Crossfit
Saturday Group Ride
Sunday Group Ride

This has given me over the past 3 weeks power by being around positive people, having my own experience for myself first, and allowing myself more time to ease into the work day.

On the bike on my commute in the morning I listen to a philosophy book that was written before modern advertisements. This is like washing the brain out of modern concepts. Right now I am listening on my Audible to "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius.
On the way home or doing chores at home I listen to a book on health, right now listening to Going Wild by John Rattey.

Towards bed I do some gentle passive yoga, a little meditation while I do the dishes or some home task per day so I can actively appreciate my home and my Sara who also takes care of it.

If you are stuck in a rut and need some tools to help you start some momentum, start with good books and use curiosity in movement to get you going along with good work out buddies to stimulate your social bug in the morning. Filling your day with good things begets another good day and the decisions you make start to add up to keep this machine of positive things moving for your own benefit.

Training with The Pros

Last night at 6:15pm the smiling faces trickled in one by one and then all at once right before 6:30 after a long work day to make up the Training Like the Pros class. If you dont yet know what this is you dont know what you are missing.

I’m the new guy at Bridgetown and let me say thanks to all the friends of the clinic that have welcomed me. I am inspired by this lot of folks who have come to Bridgetown for their own reasons including looking for help getting over a training injury, personal training to get to the next level of performance, or upon the referral of a friend or family and stay with us every week to make a community of people that come together to get fit, work on our weak points, and have a laugh about me looking like a noobie falling over on the hurdles!

 

Training like the pros group is taught by co-owner Dr. Josh Kernan PT, DPT. Josh practices what he preaches, he is a marathon runner and you can catch him on the river walk running or doing strength work in the studio between treating patients. What compelled me to be a PT are therapists like Josh and the rest of our team who have the information and then test it out on ourselves, using the body like a laboratory testing different training strategies to extend our physical capacities and heal injuries.

 

The class starts out with an active warm up, line drills getting all the major hip motions warmed up, passing each other we get to check in and see what people have going on their day and what exciting weekend plans are coming up. We get a kickin’ workout but with this group whatever extra air is used to have a nice conversation.

 

Then the meat of the circuit workout starts with the countdown clock yelling every 45 seconds to work and switch stations. The combination of tasks is designed by Josh each week to focus on a different combination of physical benefits from explosivity, balance, endurance, strength, agility, and mobility. It is an accomplishment each round through and lots of high fives and comaraderie once the workout is complete.

 

The equipment is familiar but beyond what is available in a typical gym and way more challenging that what most physical therapy clinics have. We believe that recovery is complete when you are able to do the full load of your goal activity properly and without pain and we have some really cool equipment to challenge you here in a controlled environment with our skilled eye. This is in contrast to what I have had to do at other places I have worked is releasing my patient once able to complete basic body weight or light resistance exercise and hoping they are getting along well once back in their work or gym routine. At Bridgetown once we get you back to doing what you love pain free, we find many people want to stay on a regular personal training schedule to keep progressing in the good times. This is hugely energizing for us therapists to see our patients thriving when once we knew them as being in pain.

 

Thanks to all the regular clients at Training Like the Pros and Bridgetown. Each person’s hard work and smiles inspires the others in the room to keep showing up to work on fitness goals together. Thank you for trusting us with your wellness and for sending your friends and family into our doors.

 

See you all at the next class


-Grant

Knee Pain: Waking up the Posterior Chain

Knees hurt? Try using your hips.

When you first learned how to squat or ride a bicycle jump, you likely received no formal training in the fundamentals in how to do it. You just got on a started riding.

What I see in my own movements in learning weight lifting, in my bicycling and running and in a number of my clients with aching knees is we don’t know how to use our hips.

 

We have super strong muscles in the buttocks, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius,

The strength of the hamstring muscle group broken down are the biceps femoris, semimembranosus on the, semitendinosus on the. When this muscle contracts when the feet are planted it helps produce hip extension. When the leg is free in the air (open chain) it primarily bends the knee.

And super strong muscles to maintain our posture when loaded in the abdominals, notably transversus abdominus, the

 

What about the quadriceps muscle group? Its strong in straightening the knee and the rectus femoris and psoas work together to actively bend the hip. The calf muscles can help us come up from the bottom of a squat or pedal a bicycle but if we are relying on them as primary power drivers it may lead to tightness and pain.

Now on the issue of knee and back pain, a few tweaks to our emphasis of which parts of our body to use and the alignment of the pelvis will help us to use the powerful muscles of the backs of the legs and buttocks and allow the quads to be a balancing muscle with the back of the legs.

It is not to say it is wrong to use the quads or that we should overemphasize the posterior tucking of our pelvis. There are extremes on both ends. Discernment goes a long way here.

Some strategies to wake up the posterior chain are to squeeze the butt muscles together as you end many of your typical motions.

Straight leg variations

1.       Turned out leg extension.

 

2.       2quadruped opposite arm leg, watch out for the back excessively rounding, try to use the core as you reach one leg back and the opposite arm reaching forward

 

3.       Kettlebell Russian Swing, keep the knees relatively straight, reach behind you and squeeze the butt and push down into the heels as the bell floats up to eye level. Resist the tendency to collapse down and reach with your arms

 

4.       Deadlift by pushing into the heels and only lowering as far as your hips can reach back

 

5.       Roman Chair Extensions- push into the heels and squeeze the buttocks to return from a bent over position- if the back is trying to take over let it relax and emphasize the legs

 

Now in bent knee variations the tendency is even greater to overemphasize the quads at the expense of missing out on the great power of the posterior chain.

Using the hips has great implications for being able to move efficiently, powerfully, and explosively and even further if your hips are shut down we are missing out on a lot of enjoyment of the full movements in sex, dancing, and true integrated motion that we can repeat daily without breaking down. If we rely on just a few muscle groups perhaps those structures and the joints may be taking more load. With more load distributed to larger muscle groups and more structures it may stand to reason that there is less risk of reaching a stress point and on the performance side, opening up capability for greater capacity.

Long and short of it, push into those heels and squeeze the butt. As this becomes more natural don’t over do these cues, bring it all together and let it flow naturally even a good thing overdone can lead to overuse. 

Shoulder Subluxation

When I come to terms with the fact that yes I am injured, yes there is something I can do about it, then I can find the opportunity to learn from an injury. That initial step of acceptance and not fighting the circumstance is no easy feat but it is something crucial to understand before trying to go about business as usual in denying that their is pain, or just laying in bed not doing anything, both lead to worse outcomes in recovery from an injury and using the injury period as an opportunity to reflect and find purpose in the recovery process can be immense opportunities to learning that can give deeper wells of experience if they are addressed. Like petina aging on your favorite boots and pair of jeans, dealing with obstacles gives us character, those who try to bust through walls miss out on these lessons that ultimately teach us in mini doses how to deal with dealing with changes as our bodies age.

 Lets get into some steps that may help you. Guidelines,

Don't rush the healing process, it could take 6-8 weeks to return to activity

Continue to be active and treat your recovery activities with the same zeal you give to your favorite activities

1. Immobilize and get some elevation of the GH, 
     -Get a sling or Heavy Duty McConnel Tape
This will help your glenohumeral ligaments heal  and may give a bit better congruity between the head of the humerus and the glenoid (the ball and the socket)

 Kinesiotape to give a little support to the healing rotator cuff and GH ligaments. Thanks Darla and Josh for taping me everyday for a week.

Kinesiotape to give a little support to the healing rotator cuff and GH ligaments. Thanks Darla and Josh for taping me everyday for a week.

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2. Start with basic isometric shoulder exercises, you are making tension in the rotator cuff muscles without motion, this will help the muscles that may have been strained regain their strength and normal length.

3. Active range of motion to PAINFREE degree. It is important to keep moving and not lose more motion. We must balance this with what the shoulder can support.

4. Go to physical therapy, I am a physical therapist and I needed an outside perspective to make sure I was not progressing too fast. My progress kept getting interrupted before I took advice to simply rest and let the tissues heal.

5. When you have full active range of motion that is painfree, you can incorporate some resistance, slowly. Start with easy resistance bands, prone on hands and knees core exercise, and modified planks before using exernal weight. Before increasing in difficulty ask yourself if the easier step was possible painfree.

Other things I noticed that I had to figure out was out how put on shirts and jackets. Driving was problematic, turning the wheel with my left arm. The benefits of a sling in social setting is people will not whack you on the arm or squeeze your shoulder.

Remember there is always something you can do even if you are injured. Treat your rehab like anything else you enjoy. The more you miss the playing field, the faster you can return if you keep a lid on your enthusiasm, take it slow, and focus on the small step to get full shoulder function back. See your physical therapist for the individualized plan of action to get back to full speed.

-Grant
 

Why health apps fail and how to use tech to help you

Objective data helps us overcome our own shortsightedness and can help us have a greater perspective of days, weeks, months, and years that our primitive moment-to moment brain is not set up to be sensitive to. Technology that we have in our phones and tracking devices have been around for years. The problem of public health in our modern societies that can be helped by daily habits of movement and food choices have not gotten better with more technology. 
With every new purchase of an app or new device, we get a rush of excitement at the feeling of potential of what we want to do with this device, how this will be the turning point in our lifestyle to get us out of our rut and up to our potential. This excitement leads to disappointment without a few important things.

 Tracking a body weight exercise routine on Bodyspace App

Tracking a body weight exercise routine on Bodyspace App

We need to start with awareness of ourselves, appreciating what our capabilities and deficits are, identifying the obstacles and stories in our heads of what is working and what is not working. This is also an opportunity to identify the why we want to make a change. Our being is smart in that if we are working for a superficial goal or a goal that is an imitation of someone else's then we will sabotage ourselves out of reaching further. We need to understand the seeds of what makes us motivates to get up and go.  
New technology cannot take the place of awareness, we can hit ignore on our reminders, we can fill out all the food logs but if we do not know why we are doing it we are exerting energy to conform, doing more in confusing and getting further away from our understanding of what makes us tick, we build up walls of data that give us a false sense of what is important to achieving superficial goals.
Objectivity is a tool as is subjectivity in helping us express ourselves and take advantage of all that is on offer in our little world. Denying objectivity can lead to capriciousness and resentment and misunderstanding of innovation. As Sam Harris writes about in the Moral Landscape, if scientists continue to vacate the moral landscape, we are all missing out on how our increasing objective knowledge can inform our moral decision. Just as objectivity denied in taking care of our health can leave immense opportunity for taking advantage of advances in technology, medicine, physiology, science. The people that use science as a tool and have knowledge will have the benefit over those who do not have opportunity or cringe away from technology because they are put off by being shown in hard data how the body is working or not working. If people who base their decisions on intuition alone continue to eschew objective measures they are putting themselves at the mercy of the flightiness of their primitive brain centers who want to indulge in salt, sugar, and fat because it feels good and we are evolved to be drawn to these fuel sources that are tied to survival. To deny that this is in all of us is to deny what we understand about how the brain lights up when stimulated by these substances. 
That which gets measured improves.
Objective measurement tests in terms of weight, power to weight ratio, underwater weighing, maximum lifting capacity, VO2Max, circumference, blood lactate levels, hormone response, sleep cycles, resting heart rate. All these items can give us a wider lens to be the partner to how we feel on a given day, at a given moment.
Feeling of restfulness, satiety, thirst, hunger, desire, irritability, all these states can influence our ability to accomplish the one brick in front of us that will build the building that represents the artful application of our skill, knowledge.
Robert Pirsig describes art as the marriage of conceptual with objective skill. Like a sculpture who has an idea of beauty, what he likes, and has developed the skill to make a physical version of his vision a reality.
Using health apps give us the tools to bring our dreams to reality if used for us, rather than letting them use us.
 
Some items in creating a system of apps and devices that can help us:
We need:
1. easy or automatic to input data- this reduces drag to us collecting data, very important for the creative person to have little resistance to the act of gathering data.
2. Apps need to be able to share data so that we can see how diet, exercise, subjective feelings, and performance relate to each other
3. Take advantage of biases; social bias- sharing on social media, feedback for kudos and comments
4. Goal Tracking-- help us see where we are going based on our daily inputs so that we can correct or stay on our current course.

 Traking a bike ride on Strava: segments comparing you to others who have ridden the same segment.

Traking a bike ride on Strava: segments comparing you to others who have ridden the same segment.

I have been through different phases with trying to use technology and different exercise regimes. If our principles are general enough we can apply them to help us in our journey. If they are too narrow our intelligence will be insulted and we will throw out our methods even if they had kernels of the truth. This is why we go through phases with different exercise routines, always doing a new thing looking for the holy grail. Creative and intelligent people have a blindspot for leaving good methods on the table because it does not encompass everything. Have you ever been critical of a teacher who did not have all the answers? If you find a good teacher learn whatever they have to give. and use the knowledge as a tool, not the end in and of itself.
This will help us in choosing and staying with methods long enough to let them work while not trying to grasp on to any one method of exercise, guru, or data set with a false pretense that this holds the one key to health.

For tracking daily basic health, Apple health brings in data from many apps, they track daily steps and sleep.
For tracking my cycling data I use a Garmin Edge 500 synced with my Strava account which is linked to my facebook. I do this to be able to have social bias to give me external motivation and compare and compete with others in order to know if I am improving compared to others in my competitive bracket. Linking to facebook and social media allows me to share the art of my love for cycling and to inspire others to join me and find their own journey. Also linked to my Strava is Myfitness Pal which I use as a food log to track what I am putting into my body. How many hershey kisses did you eat? 2 or 9? the difference is 200calories. No calories are not everything, but ignore this one data point to your peril. Energy in and out does not represent the whole truth when it comes to nutrition but it does help us see if we are way off in not eating enough- explaining why we do not have enough energy to continue our pursuits, or too much-explaining why we gained 10pounds in the last 2 months. 
It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, this is why long term data tracking helps us transcend our tunnel vision.

 MyFitnessPal How I track my meals, they have the brands and quantities of many foods to get us pretty close to our food intake, this app is connected to my Strava account so it shows my morning bike ride and takes that energy expenditure into account for the estimate of my recommended caloric intake to maintain my weight, pretty great when apps talk to each other.

MyFitnessPal How I track my meals, they have the brands and quantities of many foods to get us pretty close to our food intake, this app is connected to my Strava account so it shows my morning bike ride and takes that energy expenditure into account for the estimate of my recommended caloric intake to maintain my weight, pretty great when apps talk to each other.



To keep track of body weight and gym workouts I use Bodyspace- this app does not link up with  my fitness pal, so I do not yet have a closed ecosystem where all my inputs and outputs are talking to each other.
I like to connect these building blocks each day with art, this is why I like photos with Instagram so I can have a visual boost when I look back at my data and I can tell a story, much more effective at keeping us engaged in our path and motivating others to join us in finding their own path to health through enjoyment.

Having the discipline to input the data and having apps talk to each other and liberating the data to other platforms and making it easy to use. This is how we use data to make our vision come out. Celebrate and let people see what you are experiencing, it may help inspire someone else, and yes it feels goood to get a kudo or like on our steps along the way.

Today, download Strava, MyFitness Pal, get a device like a Garmin to track your workouts, go for a ride or a run, take an instagram picture, share it with your friends and family and write a story about what you learned about yourself and the world around you.
 

Perfect Breathing: Interview with Al Lee

I sat down with Al Lee at a cafe and we chatted about breathing. Al Lee talks about breathing as the first and foremost important skill that one needs for performance in athletics, business, martial arts, relationships, sex, mindfulness. 

This one elemental thing we all do can be a huge source of energy and healing for all the systems of the body if we do it right, if we do it wrong, we are leaving a lot on the table at the least and could be the cornerstone of overcoming health issues.

Al talks a lot about how breathing has helped him in business situations be open to creativity in decision making and dealing with stress in the professional space.

I asked him how to teach the breath. He says you must practice. It is not enough to have experienced it in the past or to know about the benefits of breathing.

He places an important on not judging your breath, its about practicing awareness.

Thanks a lot to Al for his time and sharing his take on breathing that ties us to our primitive selves and takes us into our daily lives with focus and full performance.

Excuse the barista sounds, this is my favorite place to interview because it feels like two friends just shooting the breeze about our interests. 

ACTION STEP: Do this, in your reminder list on your phone, set it to remind you to do 5 minutes of breathing work first thing and at the end of the work day.

Set the timer for 5 minutes, sit down, close your eyes. Focus on what parts of your body move or feel stuck while you breathe.

Remember that knowing is not enough, daily practice is what allows us to access these benefits. There is no replacement for daily practice. 

Having a teacher is the best way I know how to instill better practices in my life. 
If you want to elevate your performance in all aspects of life, it starts with a step in the right direction.
Set up an appointment with me  at Bridgetown Physical Therapy & Training Studio and I will show you the techniques that help me access the powerful skill of breathing and how to instill discipline in practice everyday. Call my office at 503-222-1955 or email gheadley@bridgetownpt.com

 

 

Physical Therapy to Personal Training

Physical Training and Physical Therapy, what are their roles?

What is the point of taking care of the body and attempting to improve capacity, function, performance? These issues are better addressed by physical training with the guidance of a teacher or trainer.

Training solo is a must, this is how we learn to listen to our body, learn the strength and satisfaction that comes from creating a physical challenge and meeting the challenge.

However having guidance from a trainer or coach can add new perspectives and freshness. An outside perspective can teach in contrast to what you are comfortable with and can identify aspects in form and alignment that you are not able to see on your own.

 

 

What can physical therapy help with?

Physical Therapy is best utilized when an injury is limiting our basic daily function such as difficulty dressing, washing, transitioning between activities, getting to work, simply participating in what we enjoy, the point is all about restoring to our prior level so that we do not make extra time and energy on basic activities. A physical therapist is a clinician with training in evaluation and treating musculoskeletal dysfunction, constantly evaluating if the patient is improving under their care to determine if that person needs further medical or surgical intervention for their issue while also having knowledge in how underlying systemic conditions can manifest as pain or what may seem at first like an issue that PT can help, we seek to always ensure the patient does not have something more serious going on that they must see a medical specialist or emergency care to treat.

With this out of the way, when a patient is appropriate for PT we focus on improving function. Our primary ways of doing this are through exercises, education, and sometimes manual therapy to reduce pain or show proper movement patterns. These interventions are focused exclusively on the narrow scope of supporting the healing of the body to restore normal range of motion and strength. Modern PT does not simply look at the body as individual body parts knit together, our interventions while focused on the main issue at hand seek to integrate this area of injury back into the whole body and improve function overall.

When patients come to us for a specific problem we focus on what is most important to return to work, family, community function while also seeking to look for quality in the whole picture of the body. For instance if a person has inability to dress without pain and increased time due to difficulty, we are going to focus on exercises that work on improving the strength and range of motion of that one area of the body and the structures that contribute to helping that action regain its fluidity. Often in helping one aspect of the body we address the whole picture underlying posture or movement faults that contribute to that injury or impede further progress in healing. When the area under pain improves as supported by physical therapy and the natural healing of the body, along with how the whole mechanics of the body have been addressed, if the person has increased capacity and movement quality overall we have achieved our primary goal of restoring function of the injured aspect as well as improved the overall health and function. We track the changes of a person in physical therapy with tests and measures of strength and range of motion, as well as subjective measures of how the person feels their function is progressing or not. This process ensures we are helping with their primary concern and encourage them to experience the body as resilient. We encourage PT patient to continue to challenge their physical limitations to always be improving and learning about the body to maintain the ability to do what we want to do. Injuries happen but it is the quality with how we address them that can turn a pain into an opportunity to grow physically and mentally.

 

When someone is active normally to their own standard of normal, without pain or limitation in strength of range of motion, the training paradigm shifts more wide open to challenging the body as a whole while elevating the person’s current level of performance and wellness.

 

The way I design a session for my clients is always individual. Each person has unique strengths and weaknesses and goals. We must together find the right mix of challenge in different aspects from strength, mobility, balance, stability, and endurance. I think it is essential that I have first practiced the routine myself to feel how the exercises flow together into a session. For instance I may rotate between pushing and pulling activities or upper and lower body activities to keep the session active so that we do not feel that we need more than a few breaths of rest between sets. This way we are also challenging multiple energy systems and packing in more volume in the session without overtraining.


Here at Bridgetown, the physical therapists help people heal from injury and then help people continue their journey in learning about their body through one-on-one and group training sessions, yoga, and pilates. These different tools help people grow in a balanced way toward their wellness goals. I love seeing my former patients who I met when they were in a lot of pain now completing exercise sessions feeling great. Creating a plan for each session of PT or training and fitting each session into a progression toward the person’s goals is like an artform and our patients and clients are active participants in this creative process.

Interview

Todd Wymer and his lovely lady and fellow accupuncturist Kaecee and I sat down to coffee for an stimulating conversation that I decided to record. What I get stimulated by is a health professional with deep domain knowledge in his specific art but sees the inroads and parallels with other perspectives. This is the antidote to gurus and finding the flawed quest to find the one true answer to health or anything else. Todd just received his doctorate in Japanese accupuncture. Additionally he is a badass in Kali, a Filipino martial art that uses knives. He practices his knowledge of integrated body movement in his art of Kali that is a direct application and helps him feel what he is teaching his patients. 

Where in your community can you meet and learn from someone in a parallel practice that can help give us fresh perspective and just as martial arts and eastern practices teach us, a lot of old wisdom is becoming new and popular as Western thinking opens up to it.  

Check out the audio below

What is missing from your movement, Integration

I am a recently new student to Tai Chi and Qigong. This discipline is unlike anything I in my repertoire of endurance, strength, mobility training. These old arts stress integration of the whole body moving together. Now our modern methods are studying Tai Chi and finding the benefits. Part of the problem I find in my practices of exercise and how I am trained to teach exercise is in isolation. Exercises designed to isolate the core, the arms, the legs, the cardio system, stretching. The language we use to describe what we intend to get out of our movement sets us up to have a self-limited experience. The parts might be moving as we train them but when it comes to power in the real world to move, what we miss out on is how we can feel tension in our body before it becomes pathological and using our tension in a smart way that takes advantage of energy return instead of burning out. 

Try this video of my Sara teaching a little Qigong practice and see how you feel,

Take care.

Pelvic pain impacting your relationship and family role?

Is pain in your pelvis holding you back from being your whole self with your family and relationships?

 

 

Pelvic dysfunction affects both women and men. Here is some recent research that presents how pelvic pain can affect our lives and how we can help heal and be the man or woman we want to be for ourselves and the others in our lives.

The latest this month from The Journal Physical Therapy describes that after childbirth the study by Wuytack et. al brings to light that mothers describe 3 main themes of mothers with pelvic pain: 1. The more they do after giving birth, the more pain there is 2. New Mothers tend to push through this pain to get their work done and take care of their baby, and 3. How mothers describe their role and self-image as different, in part because of this pain. in almost 20% of women, this pain does not subside on its own. Seeking help from a physical therapist for pelvic pain can help in determining which structures may be involved in contributing to this pelvic pain and building a plan to work back to function that will help the new mother meet her new life demands with improved strength, posture control, and tolerance of different functional postures like lifting heavy babies and reaching with carseats.

How can a physical therapist help?

We first create a professional and caring relationship where you can describe what is painful and we help verbalize what important things you are having difficulty with being able to do. As pain can affect us in many ways understanding why rehabilitation is important is an important first step in having open communication before we jump into the treatments. Then we keep the converstation going by testing basic function in functional tasks like squatting, bending, lifting, the strength the the major movements and range of motion of aspects of the body that connect to the pain you are experiencing. Additionally we look at posture and how the body stabilizes under progressive challenges in a safe and controlled environment that determines the whole picture of where the function is now. Then we build a plan to where you want to go with exercises that incorporate basic functional exercise that mirror your real life demands and specific training on how to use the pelvic muscles, breathing, posture, and coordinate these aspects to work together.

 

 

 

Men likewise suffer from issues related to dysfunction of the pelvic muscles that impact their role to participate fully in relationships from pain with basic motions and postures that prevents them from working and fulfilling their duty in the home as well as diminishing a healthy normal sexual function that is a vital part of intimacy and relationships. Lavoisier et al describes in his paper from 2014 that pelvic muscle rehabilitation is one important and overlooked aspect in men that suffer from erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. That’s right, instead of a little blue pill, we need to work on muscle control, relaxation, and control to optimize sexual performance and overcome these common and oft swept under the carpet issues that come down to posture, mobility, breathing, ability to relax and contract. The Lavoisier study shows that 20 sessions of pelvic muscle rehabilitation increased blood flow 87% in men with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. If you or someone you know is suffering from these issues, I hope this can be an encouragement that these issues can be resolved and through understanding how to use our pelvic muscles and how to use our bodies to optimize the function of our pelvis. Anytime we can solve a scary problem with a little guidance from a PT and learning how to control and appreciate our own bodies, it can be powerful in helping us reconnect with our own ability to heal ourselves and rely on the signals our body is giving us. It takes some work and attention to change ingrained habits no doubt, but we can solve this. If you are in the Portland area call me at Bridgetown Physical Therapy & Training Studio @ 503-222-1485

If you are looking for help where you are, search out a PT who specializes in men’s & women’s health.

 

I have been through pelvic pain myself. It is difficult to find help and understand where to begin to heal. I feel that patience is key, it may be a long process but keep seeking the answers and the teachers available to you to integrate awareness of the pelvis into your everyday movements.

 

Links to articles:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25929535


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25082919

Pelvic pain and cycling? Finding Soft Power

I became a PT partially because I was fascinated with the science and art of healing from my own injuries and the connection I had with my first PT. I have been through a lot of injuries and painful times in my life when despite rest and more effort I only got back in the same place.

Back and pelvic pain is something that afflicts a lot more cyclists than would like to admit. A lot of us amateurs approach training time sandwiched in between work and family as trying to work harder to get more out of it. This adds to the physical stress not to mention missing out on the enjoyment of our solitary training or group rides. 

Pain is a whole picture, it is not just tight muscles. The pain is effected by what you believe is causing the pain and the beliefs around the pain such as "my pelvic pain is preventing me from doing the thing that connects me to my friends and my primary way to express my self." This is where I was a few years ago and these negative pain beliefs took the place of the positive benefits I was getting from this activity. I felt helpless.

Just acknowledging what your beliefs are and reading them on a piece of paper was a step that was hugely beneficial and was a foundation to me moving on from my pain.

There is just as much mental work as there are physical steps to overcoming pain. The main thing is you have to own your obstacles and use them as opportunities. 

I found it beneficial to go through some cognitive coaching through books but also counselors and psychologists can be beneficial. 

Some resources I found hugely beneficial to putting a language to my pain were

thework.com, a practical approach to identifying the beliefs and dethorning the cognitive side around your pain so you can move forward with changing the way you are moving the body.

Also the books by David Wise including Paradoxical Relaxation, and Headache in the Pelvis.

My mentor Claudia von Hammerstein, a physical therapist here in Portland says that pain in the pelvis is very important to deal with the mental aspects to be able to change the manifestation of that pain in the body. To my physical therapy colleagues, pain education is an important area we can help people as we train them on physical aspects, also having a partnership with a good counselor and mental therapist if the issues are deeper than we are able to address.

When it comes to getting back to what you want to do whether its cycling, running, work, sex with your partner; it is up to you to pay attention to your body and find what works and what does not and have the patients to stick with the plan when it does not help immediately. 

Reading The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford, the mental coach to Michael Jordan, he talks about tricking yourself in seeing challenges as opportunities and anxiety as indication that you are going through hard change. 

Awareness of Breathing techniques are the best way I have found to practice the concept of connecting mind and body or as Elliot Hulse and various Zen texts talk about as abolishing the concept of mind body separateness. If this sounds too esoteric, try it. If you have been working harder to no avail or injury, or you have reached your small goal but feel exhausted or no fulfillment from your effort, breathing from beginning to end and when things get especially overwhelming practicing awareness of breath keeps you open to the entirety of experience and helps you notice when you are tightening your body. 

This practice of awareness of breath has references from many different disciplines from martial arts, yoga, meditation, and now western science is studying the effects of these techniques to try to bring intellectual understanding to how breathing consciously effects the body. I could insert lots of research papers here like this one: Evaluating mobile apps for breathing training: The effectiveness of visualization,

But you might as well try this, where ever you are;

1. exhale all your air

2. let the next breath come in and happen on its own

3. feel which places in your body move on the inhale

4. Notice which parts of your body soften or tighten on an exhale

Repeat 5x 

Go back to normal life and repeat as normal

Here is an exciting video of my most recent cross race, see if your heart beat raises and notice if your breath constricts with the anticipation of the whistle going off.

https://y<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J80hY4GZzsU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>outu.be/J80hY4GZzsU

 

 

Am I Breathing Wrong?

My friend asked me last night as we were waiting in line for tacos at Porque No to correct her body issues and if I had noticed anything horribly wrong about her body that I havn’t been telling her. Surely many people assume that as a PT after spending time with someone I should be able to find something “wrong” with someone at least in the way they hold their body. Even if I did, should I say something about it?

 

In the past I would learn something really exciting from a body work guru or physio and want to share it with everyone going around telling everyone to unlock their knees, scoop their pelvis, tuck their chin, breathe with the diaphragm going on up the chair to every joint correcting everyone. By the time I would be done they looked like a perfect statue except the trembling and grimacing on their face trying to keep their body that way.

 

As a young clinician, enthusiasm to help can sometimes harm if we forget the fact that the body changes slowly and that each person has their own unique circumstances. This podcast with Greg Lehman and Jack Chews is one that brings a nice counterbalance https://youtu.be/1geNiokT3DI to what for me coming at people with a right and wrong mentality and armed with systems of biomechanics based on normative values and my own understanding of Dr. Kelly Starrett’s system, I would size people up and help them become aware of how their body parts fell outside of these norms.

 

I think there can be well-meaning in pointing out how people can do better. There is also a lot of harm in pointing out people’s flaws or assuming that certain ways people move or posture are right or wrong.

 

Being honest with people is important but just to assume the information you have is absolutely correct, in order to effect change in someone it is counterproductive to teach in a way that increases anxiety by drawing negative attention and judgement to a person’s body scheme or habits. Do you change your behavior long term if you feel that you have been force fed the “right” way or if you take the time to find your own truth and incorporate it in your life in your own way, does this change the way you behave?

 

As a person and a PT I feel a lot more positive about what I learn about my body and how I teach people when I guide others from a position of helping people find their own answer.

 

When it comes to breathing:

 

First notice your body as it is-- appreciate it

 

  1. Start by noticing your exhale; what body parts move, what feels tight

  2. What part initiates your inhale.

  3. Take inventory of your joints in relation to each other

 

Now try this-- Try adding these things

  1. Bend your knees

  2. Inititate the breath from the belly

  3. breathe Down

 

There are so many effective cues for breathing “properly”, I do not even like that term because it makes me come off as above the person I am trying to help and make the person feel bad about not being able to do something instinctual correctly.

 

If you are reading this as a person who wants to work on your breath, start by being positive about what you are doing in terms of breathing, you are alive, you have gotten this far doing it your own way, even if you are a “chest breather” you are still using your diaphragm, its just not given the chance to be the primary driver because it may be acting as a stabilizer because of your posture stress levels, the way you are comfortable stabilizing.

 

Most courses I have been to and what I find in my own practice is to start on your back with your knees bent

    Try these:

    Breathe down

    initiate the breath in the pelvis

    try to make the belly rise before the chest

 

Then incorporate these cues while you are walking, or in yoga poses while you hold the pose or syncing the breath with the movement: its simplistic not a bad start to inhale while you extend or reach, and exhale while you flex in or return to the starting position.

 

If you want to focus on changing your breathing I think trying it in these fundamental or what I call pejoratively “baby” exercises. These are problematic because they are so much slower and more minute and esoteric than daily life tasks so yes a lot of work needs to be done to incorporate these into how you actually live. But this comes first. It is not to say you have to stop doing your weight lifting of cycling or lifting your kids. As you learn these baby breathing exercises try to incorporate them into your major movements.

 

Breathing as a major part of the daily routine trains ourselves to live in a way that does not build more tension that we then have to experience when we have down time. Breathing transforms exercise into a whole body stimulator that leaves you more relaxed after and more mobile. Hold your breath and you are increasing the stiffness of your tissues. Do you feel like after everything you do you need a $100 massage and an hour of yoga just to get your body back to normal?

 

What if you could feel more relaxed and be more compelling during that work presentation? less nervous the night before an exam? Feel that deep runner’s high after that 10K run? What if you needed to do less to feel better?

 

Breathing is a powerful way to positively benefit every physiological system of the body. You are already doing it. It starts with appreciating it. If you need help getting started email me

Grant Headley PT, DPT at gmheadley@gmail.com

If you are in Portland, OR call 503-222-1955 and we can do work in person.

 

10 basic ways to reduce pelvic pain

Pain is more than just a tissue injury as we are finding. It is affected by our stress levels, beliefs, daily habits, posture, exercise. 

Dr. Jessica Reale PT, DPT writes a great article about how sleep impacts chronic pelvic pain. She is careful to point out that more research needs to be done. 

Think about ways in your life you contribute to unnecessary stress by not having good sleep routines. Being in pain and being stressed lead to unfitful rest but it think how much you can impact your pain going the other way by doing as much as you can to institute good sleep hygiene to give yourself the best chance to reduce your level of symptoms through basic daily habits. You are able to put your health under your control by finding things that work for you.

Everyone has their own routine to get ready for bed. 

My routine starts after dinner: I do things that reduce any need to think about what I need to do the next day, I lock the doors, I set my alarm for the next morning, I set out my clothes and make sure all the little details are packed in my bag. I leave my phone on do not disturb. I spend time with my girlfriend and then take a hot shower.  I get in bed with a book with a light nearby. 

A book that will help you sleep is Paradoxical Relaxation by David Wise PhD.

 

Does your morning routine set you up for success?

The alarm goes off, what is your first move? 

What do you want to be optimally able to do?

Besides the point if yesterday you got enough sleep or ate things that do not agree with you, today is a chance to start over and set yourself up to feel and perform your best. The morning routine of pros whether it be in sports, business, or any person good at what they do is something to be emulated, but you have to find your own aspects that work for you and that you respond to. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger started the day before breakfast with fetching the milk from the farm down the road and doing pushups and situps until his dad let him have breakfast as a reward. Venture capitalist and podcaster Tim Ferris starts the day meditating and journaling. Author James Altucher starts by reading the New York Times over coffee. Each person has a process that they identify as helping them wake up their instincts. 

I became a physical therapist because of how I experience exercise as a powerful tool to change state from status quo to help me make hard changes to getting myself on track with what I really want to be doing. The days I put my feet on the ground and start my morning movement practice I feel more awake within 10-20minutes and for the rest of the day I am both more alert and relaxed. On the days I do not do this, I have learned it is not the end of the world, but I know I am not doing this small but important thing to start the day practicing opening the body. As Elliot Hulse talks about, there is no separation between mind and body, The Voltaire principle of mind vs body may be a concept that we can move on from. The brain afterall is an organ that is directly affected by the chemicals running in your bloodstream which you can affect in a positive way with a little exercise.

The routines and lessons in my life that help me and help the people that come in to see me, I am compelled to share. If you need a guide and a community of people to help ease you into the day and help you find a morning routine that works,

Show up and you will get a great workout that will help you be ready.

Monday through Thursday and Saturday you will be led by a doctor of physical therapy in a physical practice that will help you get stronger and more mobile.

Monday and Wednesday 630AM: Power Yoga with Grant Headley PT DPT

Tuesday and Thursday 6:30AM: Pilates with Darla Phillips PT DPT

Saturday 8:30AM "Training like the Pros" with Josh Kernan PT DPT

And how about a two a day workout as Training Like the Pros is also going on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30PM

Find a routine that helps you be the best

-Grant

See you at Bridgetown, 

bridgetownpt.com

 

MWOD List approved!

I have been a fanboy of Kelly Starrett and his team at MWOD for years since I saw him interviewed by Brian Rose on LondonReal. The knowledge of a physical therapist to teach people of all abilities especially athletes under load to appreciate basic concepts of care for the body in a daily practice is beautifully communicated by Kelly. The 2nd Edition of Becoming A Supple Leopard just dropped in stores. To celebrate becoming an approved provider on the MWOD list network I went and picked up my new 2nd edition to share with my fellow PTs and clients at Bridgetown. This book will elevate your health, literally, it is a hefty book, but it communicates a lot of great basic knowledge that physical therapists and body work people of many disciplines appreciate as universal building blocks to moving well.

If you are in the Portland, OR area come and visit us at Bridgetown PT & Training Studio and lets see how we can build you a system to improve your health and make systems that will carry you to performance.

 

Trackie community

The Alpenrose dairy is a farm and industrial complex just over the West Hills from Portland city center. Wednesday night is a teaching clinic to get people of all walks of life involved in the track scene.  

Alpenrose is one of only a handful of tracks in the entire nation. 

The subculture is different. Different bikes, huge thighs, punk rock style. This being my first outing in the Portland bike community I noticed the near even participation of women and men in the participants but also the leaders of the club. My teacher was Erin Glover, an OSU student.  

She taught in full immersion style. Just going for it. She did not build up the first turn into the track into a big wall. We started pedaling the rented fixies around a little paved practice infield ring sand then increased speed to be able to stay up on the track.  

I was holding on for dear life in the drops. My fear was not being able to stop. Kind of weird for a seasoned road racer to not have any fixed gear experience. At slow speeds it seems like I was able to stop by letting the pedal come up into my foot and guiding it around without applying more pressure slowed me down. The whole experience of learning a new discipline brought me back to learning how to ride a bike for the first time. Fear and overcoming the fear leads to a childlike sense of accomplishment. To be in a community of adults who put themselves in a position to learn new skills and put their abilities on the line in front of fellow cyclists bonds people together. From 12 year old juniors up to middle aged masters sharing a physical pursuit. People of different walks of life from students, bankers, blue collar workers.  

This weekly event melds community and physical pursuit into a potent chemical reaction that results in miscles getting worked hard including the ones that make people smile,

ill be back  

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Learning a city by bike

I moved to Portland a week ago. I have spent about 1/2 of each day on the bike either going training or house hunting and one night to an outdoor rave party. This city has a high base movement in terms of how they commute to work and socialize than. The bike routes are not easy either, I'm sharing my training rides going up 5 minute 8% climbed with office workers carrying panniers. There is lots of bike infrastructure but still many areas where people make due with walking their bike to get to a sidewalk on the other side of the bridge to cross the river. During prime commuting hours biking across town feels faster than commuting by car. So far I have been more inspired to ride more and use the bike to connect different to different adventures and meet new people. More than a solitary training regime, cycling has always brought me together with kind and dedicated people who know how to go fast and push themselves to the limit but also know how to slow down and take in nature and the conversation space allowed by a shared air bubble traveling at the same speed. This main social aspect is shared by my friends back in the Midwest. One thing I want to encourage in Portland is the smile and wave between cyclist :) don't take this cycling Connection for granted just because there are more of us around. Cycling is still a small portion of total traffic and we have a way to go.