3 Moves to Relieve WFH Chronic Pain (Pain isn’t your new normal)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau as quoted by Monica Fike on LinkedIn, 37% of employees were teleworking in late October through early November, with the majority living in major cities.  Because numbers can be read in different ways, that’s about 74 million people, or one out of every three people you know.  This number does not reflect jobs that have pivoted to more teleworking as part of their usual routine, like pharmaceutical sales reps for example.  Do you think employers have invested dollars to help their employees with appropriate workstations at home?  The answer is very likely no.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

People are working at their dining room tables, on their couches and beds, and at small desks in guest rooms.  None of these are truly appropriate for 8-10 hours of sitting that being constantly connected creates in this WFH environment.  What is the big result on their bodies?  Remodeling to with weak low backs, rounded shoulders, and text neck (forward head position), all of which create chronic pain and discomfort.

As I am interviewed by podcasts and radio stations around the country, they all ask the same question, what can these workers do at home to counteract their ‘new normal’?  In this blog, I’m sharing three body parts to stretch and strengthen right at your makeshift office to help the 74 million people out there suffering in silence.

  1. Stretch your chest/Strengthen your upper back – put your arm at a 90 degree angle in an L shape, place your arm against the corner of a wall and lean forward.  Stand up tall with proper posture and activate your core.  Hold for 20 seconds on both arms.  To strengthen, hold your arms out straight in front of you at shoulder height.  Pull your elbows back like there is a string attached, keeping good posture with a tight core and your neck stationary.  Hold soup cans or light dumbbells if you have them, for added resistance.  Do this for 15-20 reps once or twice a day.
  2. Stretch your quadriceps/Strengthen your hamstrings – grab your left foot with your left hand in a runner’s stretch, use a wall for balance if needed.  Make sure to pull your left leg in line with your right leg and your upper body is erect, hold for 20 seconds, and do the same for your right leg.  Strengthen your hamstrings by lying on your back, knees bent like you’re doing a sit-up, feet almost touching your butt.  Push your hips up as high as you can, keeping your feet flat on the floor.  Slowly lower your hips and repeat for 15-20 reps.  If that is to easy, do one leg at a time.
  3. Stretch your groin/Strengthen your hip rotators – stand with your legs wide apart, toes pointed forward.  Shift your weight to one side keeping the other leg straight, and the knee your shifting towards directly over your foot.  Do not excessively lean forward, then shift the other direction.  Strengthen your hip rotators by getting onto your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders.  Keeping the 90-degree angle in your leg, externally rotate one leg to feel the side of your glute contract.  Do not shift your weight while doing so.  Repeat 15-20 times per leg for a couple sets.

You can do all three of these movements 3-5 times per week as you feel throughout the day.  It’s important to keep proper form to maximize the benefits of the stretching and strengthening.  Don’t worry if your range of motion and strength are limited at first, they will improve as you do these over time.  Your pain will subside, your energy levels improve, and your ability to do activities you enjoy, increase!  This is your PROPER normal, get used to it!

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

Raging With Your Machine. How to Fuel the WFH Body – From Athlete in the Game of Life

The following is an excerpt from my new book, Athlete in the Game of Life, available on Amazon and on my website.

For the moment, however, I want to remind you that your body is a machine. And all machines need the right fuel to keep them operating at peak efficiency.

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m about to talk about a big four-letter word — diet.

The first three letters of the word “diet” spell out “die” — and maybe that’s why people hate to think about it. But instead, maybe we should all make an effort to stop associating healthy food choices with death!  So, lose the term “dieting” and instead, embrace the good feelings you’ll gain just from changing up what you’re eating. It can make a big difference to your overall wellbeing.

Let me break down some primary food categories and how much you should be eating of each.

  • Carbohydrates

Fruits, vegetables, grains, beans are all examples of carbs. You’ll also find some in nuts and dairy products. Carbs have been a little demonized by the media and the no-carb diet fanatics, but your body likes to use them for energy — so ignore everyone and put ‘em on your plate. You need carbs after a workout to replace your glycogen (which helps you maintain your blood-glucose levels). What you want to avoid is processed and sugary goods that contain them.

According to the Institute of Medicine, carbs should make up 45 to 65% of your daily caloric intake.

  • Fats

Fats are another victim of food prejudice, but the truth is they also aren’t always bad for you. Olive oils, fish and avocados are all healthy sources of fat, while processed and artificial foods deliver unhealthy fats. In any event, it’s almost impossible to entirely eliminate fats from your daily diet, as most foods we eat contain them. Just educate yourself by reading food labels to make sure you’re having the suggesting serving size to minimize fat consumption. Fats are worse than carbs, because a gram of fat has FIVE MORE CALORIES than a gram of carbs. So tread carefully.

According to the Institute of Medicine, fats should make up 20%-35% of your daily caloric intake.

  • Proteins

As most of you know, meat, eggs and seafood all contain protein. You’ll also find it in beans, legumes, nuts and dairy. Ingesting protein contributes to a healthy lifestyle, but keto-style diets centering around protein-packed foods isn’t recommended for long-term health. To build lean muscle mass, protein is a must — your muscles use it to rebuild after a workout.

According to the Institute of Medicine, protein needs to compose 10%-35% of total caloric intake.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

The Side Effects of Sitting – An Excerpt from my book Athlete in the Game of Life

The following is an excerpt from my new book, The Athlete in the Game of Life, available on Amazon:

The Side Effects of Sitting

Just because you think you’re doing nothing doesn’t mean your body agrees.

For instance, some part of your body may have started hurting you on a regular basis. Could be your back, your neck, your hips, or another place entirely. And maybe you can’t get that part of your body to stop hurting. You ice it, get massages and try to avoid putting stress on it…and yet, it’s still bugging you constantly, despite the fact that you’re not overly active in your day-to-day life and you’re exercising regularly.

First of all, the place where it hurts you? It could be completely caused by another part of your body entirely. For example, knee pain could be the result of dysfunction or impairment at the hip, ankle or both. The term for this is “regional interdependence,” a relatively new idea conceived by therapists and rehabilitation professionals as a way to describe how one part of your body depends on the proper functioning of another part. 

Second of all, our lives — and our physical health — have been transformed by technology in ways we still don’t understand completely. Our work and home environments are filled to the brim with tech gadgets, such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and even a good old-fashioned TV set or two — and our eyes are glued to the screens of those gadgets for hours every day. Our jobs depend on it and our personal lives often revolve around it.

Result? As many as a quarter of Americans engage in no leisure-time activity at all, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This creates a “kinetic chain” in our bodies that is less prepared to adapt and recover from times when we do engage in activity, leading to increased injury rates. (We’ll get more into detail on that chain in a later chapter).

Photo by Robert Nagy on Pexels.com

This negative affect on our physicality directly impacts what happens to our bodies 20 years down the road. As I noted, we grow less flexible and mobile with our movements. When we do play that occasional game of tennis or golf, our motions become stiffer and more limited. A sitting position also puts huge stress on your back muscles, neck, and spine, especially if you slouch. There’s also the issue of postural decline. When you’re leaning over to look at your phone or tablet, your body does what’s called “remodeling.” It adapts to that position and locks it in as your natural state — and that can create some serious pain, because your body simply wasn’t built to be in that leaned-over position for long periods of time. For example, you’re probably sitting as you read this book — and that caused your body to automatically mold into what you feel is “normal.”

We also end up putting on weight — nobody gains 40 pounds in two weeks. You gain that much by putting on a couple month-to-month until you wake up and discover you’ve put on that 40 over time. Too much sitting can also raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. None of those conditions, obviously, are good things.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Finally, there’s one more part of you that can be seriously affected — and that’s your mind. At present, sitting and staring at screens can actually boost your anxiety levels. In terms of the future, the damage can get much more serious. According to the National Institutes of Health, a lack of physical activity can boost your chances of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive decline.

So…if you think just sitting around means you can’t get hurt, well, you should probably have another think. Because chronic pain can easily result from that lifestyle, along with all the other conditions listed above.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

3 Muscles to Strengthen for an Improved Squat

You hit a plateau at the gym.  Don’t worry, we all do it.  The question is how do you overcome it?  Let’s talk about one of the mainstays of all lifts for everyone: squats!  If you’re a typical 9-to-5 worker who sits all day (yes WFH also), you have a constant battle of tight quadriceps (thighs), calf muscles, and hip flexors.  What you don’t realize are their weak counterparts that need strengthening to help you push through the plateau.

“I really don’t warm up except for a light stretch or 10 minutes on the treadmill, if that.”  Again, you’re a typical gym goer trying to maximize an hour away from kids, spouses, errands, and reality.  While you don’t really push yourself for fear of injury, you know there’s a hole in your heart because you’re capable of more.  I’m not talking about doing a 405lb max lift.  If you can get another 3-4 reps or add 20lbs more, the feeling of accomplishment is priceless.

What are those complementary muscles I previously mentioned that need strengthening?  They are your hamstrings, anterior tibialis, and glute medius.  You’ve heard of hamstrings and glutes, but what are the anterior tibialis and glute medius?  The anterior tibialis is the muscle in your shin, they contract when you point your toes up.  The glute medius is on the side of your butt muscles and help pull/rotate your leg out/away from your body.  All these muscles become weak and lengthened as we sit for hours each day.  True, there are more muscles that could be strengthened, we will stick to these as a foundation.

Starting with the ground up, the anterior tibialis is rarely thought of much less worked.  A very simple exercise to increase mobility and strength is to do ankle flips.  Ankle flips are walking like you have swim fins on.  Take a step and put your heel on the ground and point your toes up high as possible.  Walk about half your normal stride, repeating this process with each step.  Perform 24 steps total (12 per foot) for two sets as part of your warm-ups.  Or, have a friend hold a band or tubing around your toes and pull your toes towards you without lifting your leg.  Strengthening these muscles reduces your forward lean and helps you stay balanced and get lower on your squat descent. 

The hamstrings are usually worked in a leg routine.  I’m going to discuss how to isolate and strengthen them as part of corrective exercise, not just your normal workout.  If your gym has a leg curl machine you can do with one leg at a time, use it.  Here’s the difference: you’re doing a 4 second down portion of the lift, 2 second hold on the bottom, and 1 second to raise back up.  Do 12-15 reps for 2 sets.  You can use a seated or lying leg curl machine for this tempo. This method is called eccentric or negative training and is very effective for overcoming muscle imbalances.

The glute medius is more worked by women in their attempts to get a shapely and/or bigger butt.  It is what it is, I’m not judging.  What most women don’t know is what muscle and why they’re doing it, only they read it in Shape magazine or saw a YouTube video.  From a functional standpoint of squatting, stable glute medius muscles are important to keep the knees in line with your toes and to counteract tight groin muscles.  You can put a band or tubing around your knees, squat slightly into an athletic position, and side shuffle deliberately 15 steps out then back.  Another option with or without bands, is to get on you hands and knees, then raise your leg like a dog at a fire hydrant/tree.  Be sure to concentrate on using the glute medius and not the leg muscles to raise your leg.  Keep your lower and upper leg at a 90 degree angle.

Integrating these three types of exercises into your regular routine or warm-up can pay big dividends in posture, reducing pain in the knees and hips, and increasing the amount of reps and pounds you squat. To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

Keeping Gyms Closed is Killing a Community

Gym members can be extremely OCD about their gym time.  Literally come hell or high water, “the regulars” will be waiting at their usual ass crack of dawn time, or whenever their normal time is, to get inside.  They question the safety and sanity of others who prefer waiting for the safe signal to be given before venturing back on to the roads after a storm.  Working in gyms since 2008 in various states, this same profile exists everywhere.  You know who these people are in your circle of friends!

As a personal trainer, gym members seem to think I spend 10-12 hours a day at my place of employment.  While it seems like that some days, I’d venture to say they are at the gym longer than I am.  Obviously being at work opposed to working out, are different mindset hours to me, but not to the members.  When they are at the gym, it’s off time and they think it’s similar for me.  My working and workout hours are very different. 

My senior small group training

The gym is an important part of the social fabric in a community.  It truly does serve as a social outlet for people of all ages.  Friendships and dating relationships are made in the gym.  When this cog in someone’s life is taken away for any reason, there is a feeling of loss and anxiety.  The old adage of the car driving itself definitely applies to gym people in their daily habits of showing up at the same time regardless.  Is that really healthy?  There are worse addictions and OCD habits!

When gyms were and still are forced to shut down, it does more than take away a place to exercise.  The daily contact with friends of years and sometimes decades, disappears.  Mental health is not a common aspect thought of for gyms and health clubs.  Eliminating this socialization has a negative effect that is the same as any other club or meeting group.  Unlike the WFH movement, you can’t really get the same workout physically and mentally in your spare bedroom or living room. 

Gym people are their own breed.  Their lives often intertwine outside the gym into comingling at social events in the area.  The common themes automatically lead them to showing up at a festival, restaurant, or race.  I taught a group class for older adults that turned into us having lunch out locally each quarter.  This was a highlight pre-COVID for everyone because of the relationships built from seeing each other multiple times each week.

Health clubs are different from gyms like Anytime Fitness, so the community feeling is not as strong.  Smaller gyms do have their own sense of camaraderie with people who always show up the same times you do.  In this case, you’re forced into expanding outside the gym because there aren’t facilities like a executive locker room or café/grill to interact when not exercising.  When you see someone from your small gym out at the store or in a restaurant, you automatically have a friend! Sheltering in place has been especially hard on those over 65.  Many have not come back to their gyms, health clubs, and senior centers for fear of coronavirus.  Unfortunately, state, and local governments lump gyms in with bars as spreading centers, which is not true.  Research is out that shows gyms and health clubs are on the lower end of transmission compared to restaurants and bars.  The populations in fitness facilities are typically healthier with less obesity risk factors that lead to COVID-19 deaths.  Make your own decisions based on your health, please don’t lump fitness centers into the forgotten and trash piles as places you will never return.

My Story of Becoming an Author in Pandemic Times

Napoleon Hill said in every adversity are the seeds of opportunity.  The Covid pandemic is a major time of adversity for all of us.  Businesses are forced to close, and people lose jobs with no timeline, if and when they will ever reopen and go back to work.  For a while millions of Americans received $600 extra per week to stay afloat and figure out how to survive, much less thrive.  The added bonus ended in July and many were in the same situation as when it began, I was one of those people.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

In following Napoleon Hill’s philosophy, I invested the weekly $600 into becoming a Corrective Exercise Specialist through NASM.  For months I pondered how can I advance my career in fitness to keep pursuing my passion that adjusted over the years to help others battle postural issues and chronic pain.  Becoming a CES was that adjustment that also led to securing an SBA loan through the PPP initiative and writing my first book, Athlete in the Game of Life.  Was there lots of anxiety?  Absolutely, and still is!  Allowing fear to crush my goals, hopes, and dreams wasn’t and isn’t an option.

A teaching of marketing guru Dan Kennedy is to go the opposite direction of the masses, that’s where the leaders and successful entrepreneurs head.  While most were cutting back and hiding, I continued to spend, risk, and find ways to grow mentally.  As I write this blog, my book preorder link through Amazon is now available, and I made another investment for a radio PR campaign to promote my book and coaching programs. 

What you focus on expands.  Depending on your political leaning, you may be contracting and feeding into mass hysteria that plagues social media and every news channel.  I turned that off and instead focused on how to come through this pandemic stronger than when it started.  Nobody has a crystal ball to know exactly what the true “new normal” will be.  Like everything else, in time, we will be flying around the globe without a mask and showing up at packed events without a worry.  Don’t believe me?  Where was that mask from the last pandemic?  Oh ya, you never had one.

Register for a free copy of my book at mattpeale.com

As a new author, the view of myself has not changed to a celebrity.  Authors do have instant credibility and are held in a semi-celebrity status by those who are aware of their books.  Becoming an author is the beginning, not the ending.  Authorship is a journey in reflection and growth to find ways for sharing the information written down with others.  So, my journey begins to share my passion in new ways for me, yet tried and true ways done by other successful entrepreneurial authors.  Good days and bad days lay ahead, and the cash register person at the grocery store has no clue who I am, nor cares. 

The lifetime of a book is 5-10 years per Advantage Publishing.  Time to slug through the mud and share my message for the next 5-10 years with people all over the world.  Big thinking separates the have from the have nots, mixed with a lot of faith.  Whatever you story is, have courage to share it.  It’s okay for people to laugh and ignore you, those aren’t the ones you want as friends, customers, clients, or patients.  As Jim Rohn said, there are only about seven mean people out in the world, they just seem to show up a lot wherever you go.

Photo by Alex Fu on Pexels.com

Take my message and make it into whatever you need for accomplishing what may be impossible during this pandemic.  Every winter does have a spring, and you we all get equal amounts of both.  Work to turn this pandemic winter into your next spring of amazing!

To learn more about me, my programs, and to preorder my book, go to mattpeale.com.

Text Neck: How to Overcome the New Pandemic in Neck Pain

Imagine a society where hardly anyone looks where their walking and is constantly staring down at an object in their hands.  They experience tension headaches and their bodies have remodeled themselves to look alien-like with their heads protruding forward and shoulders looking like Igor the hunchback.  Oh, that’s actually today’s current culture!

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Pick up your head and look around.  Does your neck hurt just do that motion?  Do you find it difficult to hold your head up straight, ears lined up with your shoulders?  If you answered yes, then you have forward head position (FHP), which is also called “Text Neck”.  Spinal surgeons report an increase in young patients who are experiencing upper back and neck pain due to cell phone use (Cuéllar & Lanman, 2017). A new diagnosis, known as text neck, has been established to describe this condition (Cuéllar & Lanman, 2017). 

Muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be altered over time from postural malalignments and injuries.  The body adjusts its shape to compensate for how you move and don’t move on a daily basis multiplied by weeks, months, and years.  This action is called spinal remodeling, and can work positively to reshape yourself into correct position, and negatively, which is likely your current postural alignment. Spinal remodeling increases the risk for degenerative changes to occur in the spine over the lifespan (Pop, Mihancea, & Debucean, 2018; Stone et al., 2015). Similarly, adults can also develop pain and other musculoskeletal symptoms by maintaining poor posture when working at their desk or workstation for extended periods of time. For example, frequent computer users commonly experience pain in the cervical spine, shoulders, back, and wrist (Borhany, Shahid, Siddique, & Ali, 2018).

How does this affect you in these pandemic times?  People working from home are spending more time on their laptops and devices than ever before.  Work is stressful enough, and you may think that is the cause of your headaches.  Sitting with abnormal head and neck posture while using computers on a regular basis is also associated with higher incidences of headaches (Mingels, Dankaerts, van Etten, Thijs, & Granitzer, 2016).  Does this ring a bell for you? 

The more we rely on technology, the more we fall into these patterns I’m talking about.  The good news is you can overcome them without needing surgery and missing work in physical therapy.  An exercise prescription can be the best medicine, and it’s a whole lot cheaper than pills and potions!  Here are a few tips to help you deal with FHP:

Foam roll your upper back and shoulders (thoracic spine) 2-3 days per week.

Thoracic spine foam rolling

Stretch the muscles of your neck and trapezius by holding each stretch for 15-20 seconds in 1-2 rounds.

Stretching your neck muscles

Strengthen your scapula by practicing retraction movements.  Remodeling back into proper posture is not solely based on stretching.  Strengthening the corresponding weak muscles is critical.  Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps with heavy enough weight that you can’t do more than the suggested reps.

Ball squat with scapular retraction

Whether you’re currently working out or not doesn’t matter to integrate these stretches and exercises into your lifestyle.  If you don’t belong to a gym, don’t worry about it.  Use what you have at home to do this simple routine.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

3 Exercises for an Improved Golf Stance & Swing

The pandemic gave me an opportunity to renew my passion for golf.  I grew up playing it sporadically with lessons from my grandfather and father, who were close to scratch golfers themselves.  In my 30’s and 40’s, golf took a back burner to life and reduced to an annual tournament with my alumni Sigma Nu brothers.  Now as I get back into it, and have become the author of Athlete in the Game of Life and a Corrective Exercise Specialist, the importance of building mobility into your fitness and wellness regiment is crucial for a proper golf swing.

Getting ready for my next round

To hit a golf ball where you want and the distance you want is almost counter-intuitive.  It’s not a baseball swing requiring a massive amount of swing speed and torque.  With technology, golf clubs can be purchased to match your natural swing speed to hit the ball competitively regardless of age and gender.  Obviously getting lessons from a professional is a big help, yet that can only take you so far if you have back pain, neck pain, and poor mobility to execute even a fundamentally sound swing.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Working from home and being more sedentary since the pandemic started, has created more problems for older adults, executives, and golf enthusiasts.  While golf courses have been deemed essential and a “safe” activity, preparing yourself to execute a good golf swing has become harder.  Everyone thinks about working your rotational muscles as the only way to hit the ball farther.  If your posture, grip, and address aren’t right, it doesn’t matter how good your rotation is.  I’m going to share three exercises to help with your posture.

Dumbbell scaption
  1. Dumbbell scaption – Being able to retract your scapula and keep your upper back straight in address sets your rotation up for success.  Most people bent over a laptop all day have a weak upper back because your shoulders are rounded.  You can’t bring the club around into its on-plane position in a full back swing with rounded shoulders.  The dumbbell scaption strengthens and mobilizes your upper back and shoulders to stay retracted and in position to bring the club up to parallel to the ground, and positioned with your lever arm straight.  To perform, stand up tall with your shoulders retracted.  With or without light dumbbells held in a thumbs up position, raise your arms in front of you at a 45-degree angle from your body.  Bring them to shoulder height and lower in a controlled manner.  Perform 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions.
  2. Glute-hamstring bridges – Sitting lengthens and weakens your glutes and hamstrings, contributing to low back pain.  Addressing the golf ball with proper posture requires strength and mobility in your hamstrings and glutes to generate the power you need.  Your upper body hinges at your waist with knees slightly flexed depending on the club you’re using.  If your low back is in constant pain because it’s weak, you can’t even address the ball properly, and no golf lesson can fix that.  Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent as you would for doing a sit-up or crunch.  Your arms are at your side palms up to prevent them from helping you perform the movement.  Push your feet into the floor and raise your hips to fully extend them.  Keep your knees in line with your feet and don’t let them flare out or rotate inward.  Slowly lower your hips to just above touching the ground and repeat the motion.  Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
  3. Straight leg/Romanian deadlifts – For the same reasons mentioned with weakened hamstrings, the ability to hinge at the hip is vital to maintaining proper posture in your stance.  Performing straight leg deadlifts requires you to practice hinging and strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, low back, and abdominals.  This exercise brings the benefits of dumbbell scaption and glute-hamstring bridges into harmony.  You can use a barbell or dumbbells, I suggest a broomstick or PVC pipe for beginners and I’ll explain why.  To perform the movement properly, you must half a straight back with retracted shoulders, knees slightly flexed (I call it soft), head in neutral alignment with your chin tucked, and push your hips back allowing your weight to be on your heels.  Hinge your upper body without bending your knees more into a 45 to 90-degree angle.  You will feel this in your hamstrings and possibly calf muscles if they are tight.  Raise your body up into full upright position again after the hinge.  For those beginners, hold a broomstick behind you with the back of your head, between your shoulder blades, and at the bottom of your back all touching it.  Keep this contact on all 3 points and hinge.  If any of the points come off the broomstick, adjust your range of motion or posture.  Once you master this, move to a barbell or dumbbells for more resistance.  Beginners practice the hinge for 3 sets of 15-20 reps, more advanced lifters do 3 sets of 8-10 reps with resistance.
Glute-hamstring bridge

You can integrate these exercises into your regular workouts if you’re not doing so already.  The golf swing is about tempo and rhythm, not raring back and being out of control.  Unfortunately, most of us rare back with poor posture at address and we’re doomed to only be lucky when he hit a good shot.  Putting everything together: lessons, mobility, strength, and practice, yields you the results you want.

Straight leg deadlift

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

3 Muscles to Stretch for a More Powerful Tennis Serve

The feeling of a hard-overhand smash for the winning game point, or the bullet ace serve to preserve a victory can be indescribable!  To accomplish this feat, the body has to work in harmony with all of your joints having the mobility to act as a unit.  Any dysfunction in one area such as your ankles, and you can’t generate the power needed to hit that winning shot.  Because you sit most of the day at work, your body molds itself into movement patterns that aren’t conducive to a winning tennis game, even if you are taking lessons.  I’m going to help you with the three body parts to stretch than can give you the mobility you need to be the consistent winning player.

Prone Band Assisted Hip Flexor Stretch
  1. Hip Flexors – When you sit all day, your hip flexors and quadriceps are in a constant contracted position, which makes them overly tight.  Over time, this pulls your hips into a forward and downward tilt, making it difficult and painful to stand-up straight.  Tight hip flexors and quadriceps do not allow full hip extension at the height of your overhand smash or serve.  You limit your power and ability to flex your lower back and also bring your shoulder back into proper position.  Stretch your hip flexors and quads before and after each practice and match.  Hold the stretch for 20 seconds each, you can do one or two sets of stretches. 
  2. Biceps – Having your elbows bent, typing on your computer keeps your biceps in a constant slightly contracted state.  Over time, this leads to tightness and an inability to extend your arms fully.  If you can’t get full arm and shoulder extension, there is now way to get on top of the ball to hit it accurately and with power.  Tight biceps can also lead to tight forearm flexors, which contributes to tennis elbow.  Racquet sports such as tennis have been linked to tennis elbow due to the high biomechanical stresses placed on the forearm and wrist with gripping and swinging the racquet (Abrams, Renstrom, & Safran, 2012). In an overhead tennis serve, the wrist extensors must contract to assist in decelerating the forward moving arm.  Making sure your biceps have flexibility and full elbow range of motion is crucial to proper form in any overhead motion.  Similar to the hip flexors, perform a couple sets of stretches for each arm before and after practice or a match.
  3. Pectorals – In performing overhead squat assessments with clients, a typical symptom seen are the arms falling forward from tight pectoral muscles.  These muscles are also typically contracted from hunching over a computer or device all day.  The shoulders round and close in from hands being on a keyboard and wrapped around a phone or tablet.  Leaning into your screen also adds to this tightening with a forward head position.  You can see this noticeably on people who have a closed off appearance with their shoulders.  Tight chest muscles don’t allow for full shoulder retraction to get the racquet behind your head and extended for power and accuracy.  Bend your arm into an L position with the forearm at a 90-degree angle to your upper arm.  With erect posture, lean into any doorway and hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
Standing Pectoral Stretch
Static Biceps Stretch

Obviously practicing and working with a professional is optimal for developing a powerful and consistent service game.  Don’t underestimate the power you lose from these tight muscle groups.  Integrate the stretches into your practice and training to see better results than solely working with a coach.  You’re not investing time and money just to be average, take this info and raise your game to the next level!

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

3 Reasons Why CrossFit Makes Orthopedic Surgeons Rich

In my first full year as a personal trainer in 2009, the same gym member at the Laguna Hills 24 Hour Fitness in Laguna Hills, CA, would ask me every week if I heard of CrossFit.  My same answer was no, I wasn’t negative, I really had no idea.  Fast forward through the next 10 years and the marketing machine CrossFit is gained massive ground throughout the United States.  With it, orthopedic surgeons nationwide saw a surge in profits from CrossFit related injuries by deconditioned people attempting lifts and workouts their bodies were not prepared for.

Yes, this blog will be controversial because like politics, there is a distinct line between religious CrossFit box members, and the rest of America’s gym population.  Olympic lifts like the deadlift, clean, and snatch, are the foundation of CrossFit.  There is nothing wrong with doing those lifts in good form and technique.  All advanced gym goers need to incorporate them as part of an all-around fitness program.  Read that last sentence again and let it sink in. 

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Olympic lifts require joint mobility of the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, all working in unison to generate power for the speed necessary to complete them.  Any miscue from improper form can result in anything from a torn rotator cuff, to torn knee tendons and ligaments.  Let’s add the basic coordination needed to maneuver a loaded bar from the ground to shoulder height and above.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Three reasons why the sedentary executive and office worker make orthopedic surgeons rich:

  1. Lack of ankle mobility:  What do ankle joints have to do with anything?  Tight calf muscles and weak shin muscles lack the flexibility for a person to use their glutes for generating power.  A person leans forward because they can’t keep their heels flat on the ground when squatting.  This puts excessive force on the knees and hips, while also limiting balance capabilities because the person’s body weight and loaded weight are moving forward instead of vertical.
  2. Weak glute muscles:  Sitting for long periods of time weakens the glutes by overstretching them.  This also pulls the hips out of alignment and doesn’t allow a person to stand up straight and support their upper body.  The glutes are the largest muscles in the body and are essential for generating power in a deadlift, squat, and lunge.  Corresponding tight quadriceps cannot do the lifting alone and open a person up for knee and low back injuries.
  3. Lack of shoulder mobility:  A person sitting at their laptop and device all day has tight pectoral and latissimus dorsi muscles.  These muscles help keep the shoulders stable and your arms pushing straight over your head.  When your arms fall forward int an overhead squat, any load above your head is now moving forward and you’re going with it.  Really, you can’t even bring it into proper position because your muscles won’t allow it.  Torn rotator cuff, scapular injuries, and head injuries from dropping it can and do result.

CrossFit athletes experience injury rates to the shoulder that are comparable to Olympic weightlifting, rugby, football, gymnastics, or ice hockey (Klimek, Ashbeck, Brook, & Durall, 2018). In weightlifting, Olympic lifting, and CrossFit, risk factors for shoulder injuries include poor mobility and strength, lifting heavy loads overhead, quick and explosive movements like the snatch and jerk, and kipping pull-ups (Klimek et al., 2018).

These are just three of many potential injuries novice and beginners who start CrossFit programs experience.  Orthopedic surgeons love being located in the same strip mall as a CrossFit box for this reason.  Add to this, the fast pace of a CrossFit workout for someone that can’t run a mile without stopping at least once to walk or rest.  Are you one of the unlucky ones who fit into everything I’ve mentioned so far? 

Before you start any advanced type of fitness program, ensure your joints work in harmony.  Investing into something fun and enjoyable doesn’t have to come at a high physical cost that jeopardizes your ability to perform your job.  CrossFit has a place in the fitness world for those ready for the physical and mental challenge.  Establish yourself first with someone like me to ensure you learn proper lifting techniques, have mobility in all of your joints, and can sustain higher intensity workouts.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!