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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

Low Back Pain: The Silent Killer From Sitting

Back pain.  What does your mind conjure up when you read those words, someone says they have back pain, or you hear about it from an advertisement?  The back is a large general area on you body and pain can radiate from all areas.  I have hurt my back a few times lifting weights on maximal type lifts, and moving in the same manner I do on a daily basis in the gym.  Where do most people who sit all day experience pain?  In their low back, and that’s also precisely where I injure myself also.

The presence of low back pain is significant in U.S. society with up to 35% of individuals experiencing reduced activity due to chronic back conditions and approximately 7% of that number with back issues that persist for 6 months or more (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019).  What executives, professionals, and older adults don’t often understand is their posture from sitting all day is the main culprit to their back pain.  You don’t have to sling heavy loads on a farm or construction site to put your low back at risk for chronic pain.  Overuse injuries are also based on posture and position, not just physical actions of the same repetitive motions.

Low back pain is very complex with several potential causes, which include but are not limited to muscle imbalances, decreased mobility, disc pathology, facet joint dysfunction, joint degeneration (spondylosis), and spinal instability (Cheatham & Kolber, 2016).   Let’s take a person who sits an average of eight hours a day between the commute and their career.  The muscles of the Lumbopelvic Hip Complex (LPHC), take on the brunt of sitting sins, which manifest themselves into low back pain (LBP).  Sitting weakens the glutes and hamstrings while tightening the quadriceps, hip flexors, and adductor complex.  In short, this means a person cannot bend their knees to lower themselves down into a squat position.  Whenever they bend down to pick up a box, bag of mulch, barbell, etc., they use the muscles of their low back instead of their glutes and quads in unison.  The low back is not built to take on such loads and is now compromised for high injury potential.  The weight of the load itself also does not need to be of a maximal resistance.

In my upcoming book, An Athlete in the Game of Life, due out in late 2020, I specifically discuss how these types of muscle dysfunctions in your 40’s can negatively affect life 20 years and more into the future.  Let’s give one example in my blog of the how and why LBP can be detrimental.  The body likes to be efficient in all movement, using the path of least resistance.  When one muscle group dominates another, it creates dysfunction and altered length-tension relationships.  In normal language it creates what I explained in the previous paragraph, one muscle group substitutes doing the work of the primary group because the body is used to moving in that way from tightness and weakness.  This in turn makes other joints of the body compensate for the dysfunction and imbalances leading to pain in say the knees or neck because everything must shift just to pick up that case of water.  Over time, you repeat this process as the “new normal” and the nerves reroute everything to this altered pattern.  One day you shift a little differently and BAM!!!  Now you’re stuck hunched over in extreme agony and out of work.

Did that scenario ring a bell for you or someone else you know?  Hopefully it rang an alarm also!  Hurting your back once makes you prone to hurting it again worse the next time unless you stretch, strengthen, and relearn the proper movements for picking up that case of water properly.  Obviously, you’re very successful in your career and don’t have time to workout hours daily.  This is where involving a Corrective Exercise Specialist as myself can assist you to be your best while not compromising your career and income.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Suffering silently and thinking LBP is part of the sacrifice you pay for being a successful executive is false.  You don’t need surgery as the first responder.  Stretch those quadriceps and hip flexors a few times a day and add some hamstring and glute strengthening exercises before or after work in your bedroom. 10 minutes a day can pay big dividends now and 25 years down the road, guaranteed!

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!

Considering SI Joint Surgery? Think Again

There’s a commercial currently playing on the talk radio station I listen to in my home area of New Orleans, LA, selling a minimally invasive procedure to alleviate SI joint pain, sacroiliac joint.  I know many surgeries that used to require a night or two in the hospital are now outpatient, this is probably one of them.  Is surgery really the answer when an exercise prescription and work modification could give you the same result?

SI and iliofemoral joint areas

What and where is your SI joint?  The pelvis and the sacrum compose the sacroiliac joint.  In conjunction with the iliofemoral joint, these joints account for movement and muscle attachment points for the LPHC (lumbopelvic hip complex).  Muscles above and below this area come together so we can walk, jump, run, twist, support, and stabilize the transition between the upper and lower body. The sacrum is set between the left and right ilia like a keystone. This is where the axial skeleton attaches to the pelvic girdle and the appendicular skeleton of the lower extremity. There is little movement at this joint which is classified as a diarthrodial joint (Cheatham & Kolber, 2016).

SI joint pain is a form of low back pain. Mechanisms that may contribute to sacroiliac pain include but are not limited to LPHC muscle imbalances, neuromotor weakness, trauma, overuse, poor sitting posture, and pregnancy (Cheatham & Kolber, 2016).  Most people don’t treat their bodies well by sitting extended hours daily at home and work and eating poorly to put on excessive weight.  These daily habits create pain that is first annoying to intolerable.  When they go to a doctor who makes a living on surgeries, that’s the option they are given.  Because bloodwork doesn’t show muscle tightness and weakness from poor posture and overuse, a person thinks surgery is their only option to alleviate the pain.  Is this you?  Probably so.

Low back pain is the most common form of pain around the world.  Most of it is manageable to preventable through exercise and wellness.  Similar to weight gain, low back pain doesn’t happen and end in one day, it happens over time until you notice it and can’t stand the discomfort.   85% of male gymnasts, 80% of weightlifters, 69% of wrestlers, 58% of soccer players, 50% of tennis players, 30% of golfers, and 60 to 80% of the general population were reported to have LBP (Daniels, Pontius, El-Amin, & Gabriel, 2011). Individuals who have LBP are significantly more likely to have additional low back injuries, which can predispose the individual to future osteoarthritis and long-term disability.

“But my job chains me to a desk all day and I get paid really well.  Am I supposed to quit my job and be in a gym all day?”  Of course not, silly.  Working from home obviously has added more stress to your life overall because you’re not set up to work 10-hour days at your dining room table or small desk in the bedroom.  Reducing and possibly eliminating SI joint pain starts with stretching muscles around the hips, like the quadriceps and abdominals.  When you sit, your knees are bent, and you lean forward into the screen.  This contracts the quadriceps and abdominals for long periods of time, causing them to be in a constant tightened condition.  The corresponding hamstrings and low back muscles get weak and can’t function to their standard potential either. 

SI joint pain areas

Sacroiliac joint pain primarily occurs around the posterior buttocks or sacroiliac region and can refer into the groin or down the posterior, lateral leg to the knee in some individuals (Cheatham & Kolber, 2016; Kurosawa et al., 2017).  A simple way to reduce SI joint pain is by daily stretching of your quadriceps and abdominals to assist the body in maintaining proper length-tension relationships in those areas.  Review the pictures below for examples on stretches.  To strengthen the weak muscles of your hamstrings and low back, add a couple sets of glute bridges, prone cobra, and/or planks.  Over a couple weeks, you can ease the pain without leaving the house and needing any equipment.  These suggestions are not the be all end all for helping your low back pain.  Working with a specialist such as myself, can provide you with more detailed info and corrections to last longer. 

Abdominal stretch
Standing quadriceps stretch

The low back area is affected by tightness in your ankle areas and weakness in your cervical spine areas, it truly is a complex problem.  By addressing a 1-2 muscle groups directly above and below the SI joint, you can avoid surgery.  Remember, follow the money.  Doctors know surgeries and prescriptions, not much on postural distortions and nutrition.  Find a fitness and nutrition professional to help decipher your individual issues.  Ask your company for help with standing desks and ergonomic chairs.  Worker’s comp is expensive.  Any investment to keep you at work generating a paycheck for your family is worth 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!

How do You Know if Pain in Your Knee is From Your Knee?

Have you ever been to the doctor for pain or injury in one area, and come to find out it was caused by a weakness from another body part you had no idea was weak?  Pain radiating in your knees could be caused by a dysfunction in your hips or ankles.  All you know is that your knee hurts when you step a certain way, for example.  The term explaining this phenomenon is called regional interdependence.  What it basically means is the body relies on the surrounding areas of a joint to make that joint functional and stable.  A more scientific explanation when referring to your hips is, the body is an interconnected chain and compensation or dysfunction in the LPHC (Lumbar-Pelvic-Hip Complex) region can lead to dysfunctions in other areas of the body (Cheatham & Kreiswirth, 2014).

Poor posture causes pain throughout the body

Relax, regional interdependence doesn’t mean you’re a hot mess because your knee hurts.  By understanding the signs your body gives that something isn’t right allows you to make a more informed decision on what may be the cause.  Let’s continue on with the example of your knees experiencing pain.  The knees play a critical role connecting your ankles to your hips.  They show compensations from tight muscles, weak muscles, and any injury you have or had above and below them.  In previous blogs I discussed a few specific knee injuries, their causes, and ways to prevent future recurrences.  Please read them if you haven’t to get a better understanding of a problem you are experiencing.

When I work with clients as a Corrective Exercise Specialist, this regional interdependence is what I first assess to determine where is the cause of their pain or muscle dysfunction.  Most people don’t understand how much their daily sedentary patterns play on their joints.  The typical response of “I’m just old,” is not the answer to why you have troubles bending down to tie your shoes.  Let’s examine overall the lower body response to sitting for 6-8 hours daily:

Tight hip flexors, groin muscles and quadriceps

Weak hamstrings, glutes, and hip rotators

Tight calf muscles if your feet are in high heels or don’t touch flat on the floor

Weak shin muscles (anterior tibialis)

The results of these general muscle imbalances are overall fatigue, inability to use proper lifting form per OSHA (bending at the knees not hips to lift heavy objects), and higher injury potential if you’re physically active (gym, pickleball, tennis, golf).  Your “new normal” is not normal at all.  Your brain has adapted its neural pathways to align with your muscle imbalances to make you feel like this the way your body should move.  Does this start to make sense and ring a bell for why you have that nagging pain or discomfort?

With work culture changing to working from home, more device connectivity, and less overall physical activity, these movement problems will continue at an alarming rate.  I haven’t even mentioned what happens to your back and neck!  Muscles work in tandem.  If one side of your joint is tight, say quadriceps, the other is week, say your hamstrings.  Another way to think is your muscles push and pull.  If either is tight, the corresponding is weak.  The NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist textbook says, when a situation of overactivity-underactivity exists between muscles on two sides of a joint (e.g., the agonist is overactive/shortened and the antagonist is underactive/lengthened), a muscle imbalance is said to exist.

The goal of what I do with clients and what you need to think about, is bringing your muscles more into balance first, then work on improving the areas that are important for your hobbies and lifestyle.  Nobody is every perfectly aligned, and that’s ok, you always have something to work on!  Remember, regional interdependence affects how your body responds to pain from what you do the majority of your day.  Take a few minutes every hour and at least stretch the overly tight muscles.  I promise you will thank me now and down the road! 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 ACL Injury Prevention

You hear and read about them all the time in professional sports.  If you’re lucky, or unlucky enough to  watch a game when it happens, your stomach usually gets a little queasy.  Sometimes they happen and nobody even touches the athlete, he or she just goes down in a heap wincing in pain.  Have you guessed what I’m talking about?  If you said, “ACL injuries for $1,000, Matt,” then you are correct!

“But I’m not an athlete now,” or “I sit at my desk all day, there is no way I can have a torn ACL.”  Your statements may have some merit, but not totally.  ACL injuries are the most common type of non-contact knee injury in the United States.  According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine Corrective Exercise Specialist textbook: ACL injuries can affect both males and females of all ages and it is estimated that there are over 200,000 ACL injuries annually in the United States (Donnell-Fink et al., 2015).  There are not 200,000 pro football, basketball, and soccer players in the U.S., so the numbers have to come from other sources.

Many ACL injuries occur from indirect contact, such as changing direction and cutting, due to altered lower-extremity neuromusculoskeletal control imbalances resulting from anterior forces, lateral forces, rotational forces or a combination of all three forces on the knee (Gagnier, Morgenstern, & Chess, 2013; Paterno et al., 2010; Weiss & Whatman, 2015).  What does all this technical jargon mean for you, the person over 35 who maybe is just a casual gym member or enjoys being active?  It means you are still susceptible to an ACL injury through overuse of muscles doing the same activity, and/or underuse from poor posture and sitting.

The good news, with a few adjustments to your workout routine, ACL injuries can be reduced by 51 to 62% (Gagnier et al., 2013).  Even if you don’t workout and just enjoy activities like tennis, hiking, golf, or gardening, implementing the following types of exercises can pay big dividends in keeping your knees safe.

Three exercises to lower your chances of an ACL injury:

Side lunge
  • Side lunges – step out to one side laterally with both feet pointing forward.  Keeping your knee also pointing forward, lower yourself to where your thigh is parallel to the floor and your opposite leg is straight, butt out like you’re sitting down.  Then extend your knee standing back up and return to the starting position.  Repeat all one side or alternate, using just your body weight first and progressing to added resistance as you get confident and stronger.  Do 12-15 reps per leg as a beginning point.
  • Side shuffles – get into athletic position and shuffle without crossing your feet.  Take it slow at first making sure you stay low with your knees pointed forward and not internally rotating as you take a step.  What’s athletic position?  Look at a linebacker before the snap.  Lead with the right foot then stop and come back leading with the left foot.
  • Side-step up to balance – stand next to a step/box/elevated platform of about 24’ high.  Step up laterally and hold that balance position on one foot for a 1-2 count, then step down under control.  Repeat 15 times and switch feet.  Add resistance when balancing becomes easier.
Side step up to balance start
Side step up to balance finish

These exercises will strengthen the connective tissues on the outside of your knees in addition to the muscles in your glutes.  Stretch your groin muscles to help with proper muscle function and stability in these movements.  ACL injuries occur from weakness due to tightness on the inner thigh and weakness on the outer thigh.  Watch your confidence moving in all directions improve without over reliance on just your dominant side.  Typically, the subordinate side is the one injured from lack of use just from a simple step.

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!

Reducing Knee Pain From Running Starts in Your Hips

Working from home and sheltering in place have changed the exercise and fitness landscape.  Home gyms popped up in garages and living rooms across the country.  Walking, running, and biking around neighborhoods gained a big boost in popularity also just to leave the house.  With a few posts from Instagram and YouTube, executives and older adults with little exercise experience found themselves going at with passion and fervor.  The common side effects of these new activities are overuse injuries from to hard, to fast, to soon without proper rest.  Some experienced workout peeps also have similar issues for the same definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Millions of successful executives and professionals enjoy running as their preferred method of exercise.  Running is great, and also has a huge overuse injury rate.  One of my most dedicated personal training clients is also a running fanatic and doesn’t understand the term rest and overuse which is causing her knee pain.  Couple this with the fact she’s a psychologist and sitting long hours daily working with her clients.  Even after encouragement, stern warnings, and threats I give her, she still does not stretch and do her muscular homework.  As a result, she has knee pain and consistent fatigue.

“Runner’s knee”, or the proper name, IT-Band Syndrome, is a common overuse injury among runners due to gait issues.  Pain is felt along the outside of the knee even though the cause originates along the side of the top part of the hip, the iliotibial band (IT-band).  IT-band syndrome is the result of inflammation and irritation of the distal portion of the iliotibial tendon as it rubs against the lateral femoral condyle as well as the compression of the fat pad, or less commonly, the greater trochanter of the hip, causing a greater trochanteric bursitis (Fairclough et al., 2006). In common language what the National Academy of Sports Medicine says is weak outside glutes cause the muscles along your outer thighs to takeover and compensate for them. 

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Weak glutes can result from extended periods of sitting.  The outside glutes, glute medius, are responsible for actions such as spreading your legs and taking side steps such as a side lunge or side shuffle.  To much sitting causes the glute medius to weaken, the groin muscles to tighten, and the outer thigh muscles (tensor fascia latae) to do the job of the glute medius.  What you look like is your knees turn in or towards each other in a squatting movement.  For runners, you can see the knees turn inward with each step.  Multiply that out over the steps in a 5K run spread out over months and years, and you feel what is happening in your knees now.

Standing groin stretch

What can be done you ask, because quitting your job or selling your company isn’t an option.  Begin and end each run by including groin and quadriceps stretches in your routine.  Add in side shuffles along the run concentrating on using your outer glutes to pull your legs not just the outer thighs.  On off days, do fire hydrants or any lateral leg movements, again focusing on the glute medius to be the focus of the movement.  The third ingredient and most important for runners, REST!  I know it’s an addiction, find something else to do for exercise.  Stop the insanity as I say.  The body builds on rest days, not work days.  I give you permission to take three days off per week from running and find another active hobby or don’t run period.

Fire hydrant start
Fire hydrant finish

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!