Self Myofascial Release Techniques
By Coach Travis Grosjean, NASM certified Personal Trainer
What is foam rolling and how does it work?
Foam Rolling, the art of rolling your body along a large cylindrical foam, is a technique used to relax and restore muscles, increase circulation and improve range of motion and stability, which can result in more muscle, greater strength, improved athletic performance and decreased muscle soreness.
Foam rolling, or self-myofacial release, works like a deep sports massage, softening and lengthening the fascia and breaking down adhesions. The technique uses gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia, the soft connective tissue just under the skin that wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels. For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together creating an adhesion. Your body will feel the limitations caused by the adhesion, in restricted muscle movement, pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.
Some of my clients grumble at the foam roll because it can be uncomfortable, and at introduction may make your muscles feel tender and bruised. But, the rewards are well worth the few moments of discomfort. Your body will feel alive with increased circulation, your muscles will feel looser, longer and leaner as your flexibility increases, your performance will no doubt improve and that soreness after a workout will efficiently diminish.
This powerful, little, roll costs less than one good massage, typically under $40 bucks. Easily one of the most affordable pieces of essential gym equipment. And it is portable enough to tuck away in a closet or under a bed.
Who can benefit from foam rolling?
Who needs foam rolling? Everyone can positively benefit from foam rolling (if you have any heart/vascular illness or a chronic pain condition check with your doctor first.) As we age, flexibility, stability and mobility, are increasingly important. The foam roll maintains all of that.
Longer drive, more aces, better PR, stronger workouts. As an athlete, no matter the sport, foam rolling will improve your performance, aid in recovery and prevent injury. The increased flexibility allows your muscle to obtain their full range of motion which translates into greater power, faster reaction, and increased accuracy. Plus, you’ll find that your body can safely train longer and harder; and, with the lack of severe soreness your mind will be up for the next days workout.
Foam rolling is impressive for rehabilitation, correction, prevention and management of chronic problems. I have clients, who had Plantar Fasciitis, Sciatica and Bursitis, some even doctors and nurses themselves. I got them foam rolling and safely, quickly (in some instances more than 2 times faster than expected) the pain was eliminated and range of motion returned, improving their workouts and life. Most misalignment in the neck, back, hips, knees, and ankles, caused by muscle tightness can be corrected through foam rolling. Just as it corrects problems, it prevents them. By foam rolling and releasing fascia, you will have less opportunity for chronic pain and soreness, torn muscles and connective tissue. For instance, many runners end up with knee and foot problems, sometimes so unbearable the passion is retired. Most often the problems are caused by tight muscles. Foam rolling the legs releases that tightness and the sport continues.
How do I use the foam roll?
To learn how to use the foam roll and powerful exercises that will improve your health, contact Coach Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Coach Travis
I assume we all have a bucketlist of some sort. That list of awe-inspiring, self defining moments that you want to accomplish in your lifetime and relish in forever. You may even daydream about them and what it would feel like to be there in the remarkable moment. I know I do. And it really is quite inspiring for me. It picks me up and gives me a boost of direction when I need it most.
How many of your bucketlist moments are fitness based or require a certain level of fitness? Do you want to run in a marathon- maybe not just any marathon, but the Boston marathon? Do you want to hike Half Dome? Or maybe take up surfing? How about snowboarding in the Alps? Or chasing after the grandkids and playing catch with ease? Maybe trekking to Disneyland for 3 days of endurance training ;-)? Or dancing gracefully, confidently on your cruise?
Many of my clients have a bucketlist item that inspires them, keeps them motivated on their least motivated days and keeps them honest with themselves about their dedication to their preparation. There is something magical about preparing my clients to reach their desired acheivement. I enjoy every minute of it and am honored that they trust me to get them to creating their unforgettable memories. Some of my clients don't have fitness bucketlist, and here's what I tell them to get them started.
If you don't have a fitness bucketlist, start with the question, What would make this year remarkable? The only rule is that it has to be fitness oriented, and event based- for example: hike Grand Canyon, complete a marathon or triathlon, cycle the HWY 1 coast, jog with my puppy. It should not be based on body or image. Next, begin your preparation. Rather than trying to lose those last few pounds, or sculpt those ab muscles before working towards your bucketlist moments, commit. Start preparing for your goal. Don't wait another day. Your moment doesn't have to be a far off dream, it can be a reality, and the sooner you begin, the sooner it will come to be.
What's on your fitness bucketlist?
Whether you are a beginner or advanced runner, what Cliff Temple calls the "Golden Rules of the Track" in the New York Road Runner's Complete Book of Running and Fitness (an outstanding book, by the way), are a great introduction and reminder to proper track etiquette.
As a runner and a trainer, I think that the integration of track training is essential to understanding and improving your performance. The track offers controlled conditions, with exact distances so a runner can establish a baseline and set benchmarks of improvement as training progresses. And, the track is the best environment for interval training,
We all start somewhere, and it's important to remember that. Many newbies to the track don't know the following bits of etiquette and can be intimidated to share the track with others that they perceive to be more experienced. The simple structure of the rules and being in the "know" builds confidence. And for those of us who are seasoned, this reminds us of our manners.
Rules to Live By When Running on a Track
Like I mentioned, these originated from Cliff Temple, but I've added a few of my own.
Have a great workout!
To learn specific track exercises and drills and learn how to integrate them into your unique workout, contact Coach Travis at email@example.com.
There is no doubt that the landscape of our active lives has changed over the last several decades. The car has become paramount to our daily lives, taking us everywhere we need to go and everywhere that we need to go spans greater distances than it once had. TVs, computers, and video games are now integrated into our every moment keeping us productively on task or complacently occupied. Our jobs have also become more sedentary and the hours that we work, longer. These changes have impacted us greatly. Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, 300 million are obese. Alarmingly, some studies have found that up to 70% of our kids are inactive. Childhood obesity is steadily on the rise. And, children are suffering from health problems, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol, that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. Quite literally, we have to get moving on change.
Personal Trainer, Travis Grosjean, explains 4 healthy habits that you can integrate into your families life!
The art of having fun, actively! Everyone benefits from unstructured play. Adolescents benefit greatly from vigorous play, like tag, chase, random running, swimming, cycling, walking, racing, jumping rope, tree climbing, playing at the playground. Even infants require active play, in a safe, nurturing and minimally structured play environment. Active play should be fun and is a wonderful parent/child bonding opportunity. A simple game of catch, shooting some hoops, or just running around the grass with your tot not only gets the blood pumping and the muscles moving, but can be great time spent together.
Try to get some active transportation in where you can. You won’t be able to walk or cycle everywhere that you go, but you can do your best. If you need to go to the convenience store or restaurant around the corner, walk or cycle instead of driving. If you have to drive, park your car in the furthest parking space that you can and walk the distance to the entrance.
Physical Activity Participation or Organized Sports.
I say physical activity participation -or- organized sports, because physical activity does not have to be athletic. It should be vigorous and enjoyable. It has been found that kids enjoy sports because they enjoy learning and improving their skill, getting stronger and healthier, and develop role models. But, organized sports aren’t for everyone and they don’t have to be. What is most important is that the activity is enjoyable, and easily continued.
Limited Screen Time.
Children who spend more time playing outdoors are more likely to remain active through adulthood than children kept indoors. With that said, it is important to limit TV, video game and computer time, keep TVs out of bedrooms, and create opportunities for active outdoor play for kids and as a family. And, if you are up to it, power your television and other screened equipment with Cycle Power, such as seen in Mother Earth News (I have often wondered why gym equipment wasn’t designed to be self -sustaining.)
For your kids, besides the obvious body weight benefits, they benefit greatly from being active at an early age. They typically are in better physical and mental health, have higher academic performance and with these healthy habits, they are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle through adulthood. These early years have also been identified as a critical period for growth and acquisition of motor skills that are needed to be physically active throughout life.
How much activity should our family strive for? Here are the general recommendations, as reported in Pediatrics, the publication of American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, check with your doctor if you are starting any new exercise routine.
Best Practice Guidelines for Physical Activity at Child Care
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
American Heart Association www.heart.org
The Obesity Society www.obesity.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov
World Health Organization www.who.int
Department of Health & Human Services www.health.gov
American Academy of Pediatrics www.pediatrics.org
By: Coach Travis
For most of us, our bathing suit hibernates during winter, and as the birds chirp with the approaching spring, we begin to feel the summertime siren calling us to the icon of California- the beach. But, for many of us, along with the bathing suit, our bodies have been in hibernation. This pattern, though indicative of the emergence of the summer season, can occur anytime of the year, and does!
Are you ready to get your body back? Here are a few ways to get going.
Science has proven warm-ups utilizing dynamic stretching are more efficient and safer than static stretching. So, why then, is it so common to still see people warming up with static stretching moves? And, how can I implement dynamic stretching into my warm up safely?
Science has proven warm-ups utilizing dynamic stretching (muscle and momentum move the joint through a full range of motion) are more efficient and safer than static stretching (taking a muscle to its point of tension and holding it for 30 seconds.) So, why then, is it so common to still see people warming up with static stretching moves?
“Too often, we just don’t know any different. Scientific data is improving and evolving; in previous decades, static stretching warm-ups were commonplace. But, today, with new data we know the importance of dynamic warm-ups.” personal trainer, Travis Grosjean, explains. “Static stretching is best used as a corrective flexibility exercise. It is a great cool down move to bring the muscles back to resting length. Dynamic stretching, a functional flexibility move, on the other hand prepares your body for activity. Neither is appropriate for all situations. That is why you should have a well rounded flexibility program integrated into your training routine, designed for your body’s needs.”
A flexibility program will improve muscle imbalances, increase range of motion, relieve tension improve neuromuscular response, decrease chance of injury and is beneficial to overall performance.
There are three types of flexibility training: corrective (designed to improve muscle imbalances and joint motion), active (designed to improve the extensibility of soft tissue and increase neuromuscular efficiency) and functional (integrated, multiplanar soft tissue extensibility, with optimum neuromuscular control, through full range of motion.)
To get started, replace static stretching with dynamic stretching in your warm-up. Travis takes us through the basics, “An average warm-up is 10 minutes at low to moderate intensity and should include one set of ten reps using three to ten dynamic stretching exercises. When starting any exercise routine, always check with your doctor. And, before beginning an aggressive dynamic flexibility program, you will want to have good core stability and balance.”
Here are a few simple dynamic exercises that Travis recommend:
By: Coach Travis
You've probably seen them and done a double take, five toe shoes, like those made by Vibram (vee-bram), www.vibramfivefingers.com, are popping up everywhere. We talked with Vibram, the creator of these shoes, at the IDEA conference to learn a bit about their shoe, and why they're so great.
Vibram has been around and producing innovative performance products for more than 75 years; the founder, Vitale Bramani, developed the first rubber soled shoe. The FiveFinger shoe, introduced in 2006, takes rubber soles to a whole new level, an innovation allowing the foot to work and move as it naturally should.
Why should I try a 5 toe shoe? Here's what Vibram says:
1) They strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs- training barefoot or wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.
2) Improved range of motion in ankles, feet and toes. No longer 'cast' in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.
3) Stimulates neural function important to balance and agility. When barefoot and wearing FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance and agility.
4) Eliminates heel lift to align the spine and improve posture. By lowering the heel, your bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spinal alignment.
5) Allows the foot and body to move naturally. Which just feels good.
What uses are they good for? Everything. Hands down. Sprinting, mud running, water sports, climbing, yoga, sailing, you name it, you can wear them. Vibram has different styles for different uses. I can already tell that these would be great for triathloning, particularly Eppie's for the Run/Kayak legs.
How do I get properly sized for the shoe? They are not your conventional American shoe sizes. If you want to order them online, first find out your size, then shop. Vibram has a fit guide online. We asked how to fit wide feet, and Vibram suggested any of their laced products, like the Bikila LS.
How do they wear? How long should they last? Vibram soles have been around for over 75 years; they're on Louis Vuiotton shoes and almost every high end shoe out there. They wear like any other shoe and should last just as long as your sneaker.
How breathable are they? These shoes are like any other as far as breathability. A far larger benefit is that these shoes are completely machine washable. When they get dirty, just throw them in the wash and they are good as new. You can also buy five toe socks made by Injinji to wear with your Vibram's.
How should you transition to this type of footwear? Your body is highly adaptable and will learn to function in the shoe quickly, but the movement in the shoe is different than you may be accustomed to, and can cause muscle soreness at first. Your feet and calves are going to feel it. When asked how I, as a sprinter, should transition in the shoe, the Vibram rep said that at first, I should only do 1/10th of my workout in the shoe the first week, then work my way to the full workout and then, full time use. Vibram's brochures say, don't get discouraged, but it may take as long as one year to comfortably make a clean break from traditional sneakers to full time FiveFingers. Sole Training (www.willpowerfit.com), a training program designed to strengthen your feet and prepare them for FiveFingers, is available online. Vibram publishes great tips on transitions, (see these tips for the running) getting you familiar with and prepared for your new shoes.
What body adjustments can I expect? Your foot strike and stride will instinctively adjust to different surfaces. FiveFingers’ runners typically land on the ball of the foot towards the lateral side, then after the foot lands, the heel should land gradually. You'll feel more connected to your environment and your balance will improve. A lot of people say that they feel "free" and are ready to explore!
How much do they cost? FiveFingers run about $100. But, there are other toe shoes out there that you can find. You can shop at Vibram or find a retailer, like REI, that carries them.
Yeah! You are making the switch and are so excited that you are ready to go! But, before you take one barefoot step, read this! Transitioning to barefoot or minimal footwear for running, other workouts or everyday wear should be performed progressively and with awareness. Tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones and skin all must adapt. Building up strength slowly will prevent undue stress and injury.
Your body is highly adaptable and will learn to function quickly, but the movement, either barefoot or minimally shod, is different than you may be accustomed to, and can cause muscle soreness at first. When barefoot or in minimal footwear, it is most common to adjust your gait from a heel strike to a forefoot/midfoot strike. (Lieberman) Forefoot striking requires you to use muscles in your toes, midfoot, heel, ankles and calves that are most likely pretty weak. Podiatrist, Dr. Michael Nirenberg explains in a recent article for the Canadian Medical Association Journal “There are four layers of muscle in our feet. The majority of the muscles are used less, if at all, when the feet are in supportive footwear…once you support the arch of the foot, you don’t use your foot muscles as much.” (Collier, 2011) The typical modern shoe is like wearing a cast for too long, the confined muscles atrophy. Dr. Nirenberg further states “If you start doing barefoot activity…you start to build up the muscles in your feet.” (Collier, 2011) As a result of the new movement, your feet and calves are going to temporarily feel it as strength is built; they may feel tired, stiff and sore. Additionally, the Achilles tendon may stiffen. That’s why it is imperative to your health to take a progressive approach, acutely listen to your body, maintain proper form, and not push further than your body can handle.
To begin, test out your shoes wearing them to do things that you normally do in regular shoes. Wear them to the grocery store, around the house, get a feel for them and rediscover what feels natural. Your toes grip the floor a bit differently, and you will feel quite a bit more of the ground environment. You may experience spring in your step and a bit of exhilaration.
Once you are ready, try 10% of your regular workout in them for one week. Then, progress increasing by 10% each week until full time use is achieved. Vibram’s brochures say, don’t get discouraged, but it may take as long as one year to comfortably make a clean break from traditional sneakers to full time FiveFingers.
Dan Lieberman and team, reiterate in the Biomechanics of Foot Strike, “Be patient and build gradually. Stop and let your body heal if you experience pain. Sore, tired muscles are normal, but bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a signal of injury. Stop if your arches are hurting, if the top of your foot is hurting, or if anything else hurts!”
When transitioning, you don’t necessarily have to reduce your workout, just reduce the time you are barefoot or in minimal footwear. Carry a pair of sneakers along for part of your workout. You may also want to integrate forefoot/midfoot striking into your normal workout progressively. Start off your workout with a forefoot/midfoot strike and transition to your normal strike.
Become and stay very aware of your environment, the terrain and what is in front and under foot. Let your feet and legs feel the subtle changes in impact and ground so you can adjust your body. And, of course, when running barefoot particularly, be careful of things that can lead to a stubbed toe or puncture your soles, like nails, glass, fish hooks, needles.
Finally, prevent injury and soreness by stretching and foam rolling your feet, calves and hamstrings regularly; preferably after each workout/use.
To learn specific feet strengthening, foam rolling and stretching exercises that are best for your body and ability, and learn how to integrate them into your unique workout, contact Coach Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Coach Travis
When it comes to core, most people think, six pack abs. But, that’s only part of your core. Though professionals debate the exact muscles and connective tissue that combine to create your core, the core is most commonly recognized as the muscles and connective tissue that function in trunk and back movement, stabilize the hips, shoulders and back and support the spine. I agree with the thought that the core includes the muscles and connective tissue that attach to the lumbopelvic hip complex, thoracic spine, cervical spine (Clark, Lucett & Corn, 2008)
The core is our powerhouse. The core is integral to daily function and is often referred to as your powerhouse because it is your bodies center of gravity, it's where all movement begins, and is the center of power. The 29 muscles comprising the core, act as a girdle holding your body in alignment and allows your extremities to move in a more efficient, effective manner. Think of your body as a kinetic chain from head to toe with each body segment a link connected to create a whole. The energy to move is generated at one link and transferred to the next. All of our movement is dependent upon the function, efficiency and strength of this chain. Your core is at the heart of this chain and if it is unstable, the kinetic chain will lose efficiency in it’s transference of energy, force, balance and stabilization and the bodies ability to generate power will be reduced.
Having a strong core is vital to good posture, muscle control, injury prevention, maximum athletic performance and basic daily living activities. “Regardless of the sport or skill, it is essential to have correct biomechanical positioning, or postural control, (the bodies ability to maintain a stable position) in order to maximize energy transfer. Correct postural control requires a strong, stable core. A strong and stable core allows one to transfer energy effectively as well as reduce undue stress. An unstable or weak core, on the other hand, will not allow for optimal force or energy production and will ultimately require compensation in other areas to make up for the lack of force production.” (Oliver, Adams-Blair, 2010)
Is that right, a weak core can contribute to injury? It is important to understand that not all injuries are a result of a weak core, however, “many injuries that are not caused by direct contact are due to body mechanics, and they typically can be linked to a lack of core stability. Core stability could also play a huge role in non-contact knee injuries.” (Oliver, Adams-Blair, 2010)
It is imperative that everyone, at all ages, maintain a strong, healthy core. Having a strong core is the best foundation for endurance, speed, strength, balance and agility. It is believed that a weak core diminishes a person’s ability to reduce, produce and stabilize force. As kids grow through their adolescence, core strength will ensure proper postural alignment, coordination, and agility, and will help with daily activities from playing the flute to football practice, to healthful sitting posture during homework. As your growth plates stop, reaching into teenage years and beyond, a strong core ensures proper posture through your work life, reducing the risk of repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel or low back pain. As we age, stabilization and balance are imperative to functional, daily living, for that matter it is imperative at any age, however, older adults are at higher risk for falling and potentially breaking bones, such as hips, wrists and ankles.
How do I integrate core into my workouts? Exercising the core requires sustained contractions between 6 and 20 seconds to properly stimulate the neuroconnection to the muscle. The best tool that I have found to integrate core into a workout is TRX. When using TRX, you are engaging your core in every exercise you do. Another great way to squeeze core exercises into a workout is to do these exercises during an active rest.
Let's talk about: Setting Fitness Baselines and Measuring Progress - Inspiring Healthy Exercise Habits
With the start of the school year, now is a great time to start an exercise log, setting baselines, goals and benchmarking progress. The school year is a natural beginning, with a natural end, making it a great S.M.A.R.T. goal, and goal setting lesson! Beyond the exercise, this also makes for great math skills.
Check out the At Home site of the Presidential Youth Challenge. We love the exercise tutorials, and downloadable tracker! This is a great way to incorporate healthy exercise practices in the home and start exercise discussions, beyond P.E. and training sessions.
Smooth Moto Coaches love it when parents and kids ask about things like the Presidential Youth Challenge. During P.E. class, they work on building their abilities to excel at testing like this. P.E. class is a great time for kids to ask questions, get specifics on how to do an exercise, learn how to benchmark progress, or have Coach take a baseline for them. Coach will even help parents define appropriate "P.E. homework", if you choose. Using the tracker as a goal setting experience, and point of discussion with Coach is also a fantastic use of this resource. Just ask! Anytime!
Presidential Fitness Challenge at Home (url: https://www.pyfpstore.org/pages/pyfpathome)
The Smooth Moto team - P.E. for kids! where kids Learn Safe Movement