Thursday, August 25, 2016

Do You Hate Doing Ab Exercises? Try this...

Are abdominal exercises uncomfortable for you?  Do you ever catch yourself counting faster as you begin to feel the burn during a plank?

If the answer to the last question is yes, the chances are when you begin to count faster, your breathing changes. You may exhale more quickly, or you may even hold your breath. This can pose problems for you in the long run. It may not only reduce the benefits of a particular exercise for you, but it can also impact the way your body moves as a whole.

Instead of counting reps or timing your core exercises, try counting your breaths. When doing so, breath slowly and controlled. Focus on exhaling fully and feel a strong contraction in your abs. Your rib cage should be tucked down and inward.

This technique will allow you do get more out of your abdominal exercises, and as a result, you can accomplish them in a shorter amount of time. Sounds good right?

Watch this video of a Hollow exercise being performed with an individual counting to 10.

Now watch the difference in this video. The Hollow is being held for 4 breaths.

*Note* Look at the wrinkling of the shirt in comparison to the first video.

By counting your breaths during sets of exercise, it allows you to turn on the correct muscles for that movement. On the other hand, if you hold your breath during an exercise, extra muscles are activated, which can lead to movement dysfunction.

Breathing improperly can also make exercises more difficult for you. It can take what is called a low-threshold strategy and turn it into a high-threshold strategy. What this means is you recruit and activate more muscles than are needed for a particular movement. This is inefficient for your body. Over time, it can lead to overuse of certain muscles and compensations that negatively affect our movement.

Learning to recruit your abdominal muscles effectively will give you more proficient abs. Yes, a 6-pack is largely achieved in the kitchen as well as the gym, but improving your core through breathing properly will help your whole body move better.

Counting your breaths can also assist you in maintaining good posture. It helps you make sure your postural and core muscles are activated at the correct times. Oftentimes, what people may assume to be weak abdominal muscles is more of a timing problem. Counting breaths is a great way to improve the timing of the firing of your core muscles, and overall efficiency of your movements.

It can also be effective to count your breaths when working on your mobility and flexibility. So go ahead, try counting your breaths, feel the difference, and spend less time by getting the most out of your core exercises!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Do You Suffer From Stiff Ankles? Try "the Wiggles"

Ankle dorsiflexion (pointing your toes upward) is one of the most common limited motions. If you feel you have stiff ankles, you may think it’s from tight calf muscles or all those ankle sprains you have endured playing pick-up basketball.

Those things can absolutely cause inflexible ankles. However, oftentimes lack of ankle dorsiflexion is a result of faulty movement mechanics.

Observe the limited amount of ankle dorsiflexion (even with the gastroc on slack) displayed at the beginning of the video. Then check out one of the quick techniques we use at Soul PT to improve ankle range of motion. We call it "the Wiggles."

As the nervous system ultimately controls our movement, this lack of motion can be due to an overly sensitive nervous system. Consequently, our brain may perceive a threat in that particular motion, and as a result, restricted range of motion and pain may arise. This can alter the mechanics of the way we walk or run, and cause pain in the knees, hips, or back, as well as the ankle.

In order to decrease this undesirable perception to the nervous system, a novel, nonthreatening stimulus needs to be introduced. This will calm the nervous system down and allow range of motion to be restored temporarily. Ultimately, when range of motion is reestablished, we are given the opportunity to correct our movement in order to reduce pain in other areas of the body that may be associated.

To perform this technique, wrap the band lightly, so it will stay on but no cut off blood flow, just below the knee. Twist the band back and forth, taking up the slack of the tissues in both directions. This will help relax any tension in the muscles of the lower leg. Continue twisting the band for about 30 seconds, and then retest your ankle dorsiflexion!

We picked this technique up from Dr. Erson Religioso. His Edge Mobility Band is an affordable and versatile tool that can be used for more than just improve ankle range of motion. For more uses of the Edge Mobility Band, feel free to check out his website, www.

There are many different options for improving ankle dorsiflexion, but this technique is simple and effective. If you try this technique and you are still experiencing ankle pain or stiffness, come see us at Soul Physical Therapy.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Uphold...don't fold....!

The squat is a compound exercise.  As with any complex movement there are many muscles working together to maintain proper form throughout the squat.

If any of these muscles become weak the balance between muscles gets distorted.

This imbalance can lead to a dysfunctional pattern ultimately increasing the chances of injury.

Take a look at this squat and watch the back fold excessively forward.

Because the squat is primarily a lower body movement, you may think this folding is due to tightness or weakness in the legs, or possibly a limitation in range of motion.

However, lack of trunk stability and control may lead to this folding during the eccentric (lowering) portion of the squat.

Now, how can we fix this?

By pushing the individual into the faulty pattern, we elicit an increase in the recruitment of weaker muscles thus fixing the form.

In the case of folding during the squat, applying an anterior load will help fire the extensor muscles.  These muscles help maintain a more upright posture throughout the movement.

The farther away from the body you hold the weight the more tension you create.

If you are a chronic folder this technique with lighter weight is a good starting point.  As you become more comfortable bring the weight in closer into a goblet squat where you can start increasing the weight.

So on your next leg day add some goblet squats into the mix and feel the difference!

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Having shoulder pain or stiffness?  Give this reset a try.

Ballistic Repeated shoulder extensions are a great way to restore shoulder motion or decrease pain. 

This technique is specifically beneficial for restoring shoulder internal rotation limitations that can contribute to shoulder pain. 

We constantly spend the day reaching forward, sitting at work, typing, on our phones. By whipping your shoulder into the end range of extension you are providing a novel input to the nervous system. This helps decrease threat, restore range of motion, and reduce pain temporarily.

As long as this movement is not increasing your pain, try these shoulder whips to increase shoulder functionality.  

Performing the whips before working out may help improve mobility and decrease pain with upper body exercise. 

Since the positive effects of this simple movement are initially temporary, it should be repeated regularly throughout the day. 

Performing 10 shoulder whips per hour would result in more permanent results. 

For any shoulder issues make sure to give us a call!