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5 Reasons Why You Actually Should Try That “Breathing” Thing

Have you had someone tell you just to breathe and your natural reaction was something along the lines of rolling your eyes or wanting desperately to punch them in the face?

Especially if you’re upset or stressed about something. It’s like it makes your blood boil even more. Don’t tell me to relax! Now I’m even more hulk-like!

Well, I’m certainly not going to tell you to relax…I do have a couple questions though:

  • Do you ever get nagging aches & pains that distract you from your work?
  • Do you ever feel like your mind is running at 100MPH and you can’t seem to shut it off?
  • Or maybe you have persistent pain that limits you from being able to play golf, go rock climbing or go on a walk/hike with your significant other?
  • Have you started to feel like having pain, feeling insecure and/or out of shape is your new norm?

Well, if any of that even slightly resonated with you, and if you’re open to it, here are 5 reasons that might peak your interest in this whole “breathing” thing.

  1. It literally lowers stress [by activating your vagus nerve which decreases the sympathetic (fight or flight) tone of your nervous system. every time you breathe, you are quite literally telling your nervous system “it’s all good, nothing to worry about here!”]

  2. It allows you to finally turn your brain off [the different areas of our brain compete for their attention, so by focusing on something physical, our brain activity cannot focus on the millions of thoughts running through it – it must instead divert its energy to the physical. this is the same reason you can’t really talk if you’re concentrating heavily on some difficult new yoga pose or dance move or golf swing.]

  3. It relieves tension in spine that may be contributing to your pain [many people hold themselves in a very rigid, upright position all day, which creates a lot of excessive muscular tension in the spine (much like holding a bicep curl all day long – it would hurt & fatigue eventually!). it’s extremely difficult to hold this stiff position while breathing deeply, so if we practice deep breathing, we learn to let that stiff, rigid posture go.]

  4. It improves core strength [deep, diaphragmatic breathing actually requires use of specific abdominal muscles – the muscles in between your rib cage. so, by focusing on a deep, long exhalation, we are actually enabling our core muscles to activate better!]

  5. Its a powerful way of giving movement to your body 24/7 [breathing is actually a form of micro-movement. as we inhale and exhale, the joints and muscles of the spine and the core are getting movement. and as we know, the body does not like inactivity, so by learning to breathe deeply throughout the day, we are feeding our body more movement in areas that are often tense/inactive. this has a plethora of benefits!]

I’m going to be following up on each of these topics for the next couple of weeks, so be sure to stay tuned. I’ll be posting them on my Facebook page, my Instagram, my Twitter, and my exclusive Facebook Group!

And don’t be shy – if you have a specific question about any of this, email me so we can jump on a quick phone call to discuss what’s going on with you!


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

Best Exercises to Get Started on Eliminating Back Pain

If you have back pain, the fear of exacerbating your pain further is real. So you stop moving. But what about all of the things you used to love to do? Even just walking, or getting into the car, or lying down for bed without pain?

I’ve been there. You have to start somewhere. Living with pain, and living unable to do the things you love is not an option.

So, here are some places to start. The key is to start re-introducing certain movements to your body, and to start reawakening parts of your body that haven’t moved for a long time. Your body is likely experiencing pain due to muscular imbalances, joint dysfunctions and an overall lack of high quality movement.

But, like I discussed in my Facebook Live video the other day, we can’t solely treat the symptom – back pain. Yes, there are issues going on in the back muscles & relevant joints, but we must address the rest of the body. Everything in our body is connected – it is referred to as the kinetic chain. In fact, we really are one muscle. So, in order to alleviate pain & rebuild strength to get you back on track, we must address the areas of the body that are typically under lots of distress.

Here are 5 exercises to start taking care of the parts of your body that are feeling quite neglected and are likely contributing to and/or exacerbating your back pain:

Pelvic Tilt – It is critical to learn to isolate this part of your body. If the pelvis is shifted out of alignment, or immobile, this causes issues with the hips, the low back, the hamstrings, and basically every part of your body. TIP: Incorporate with diaphragmatic breathing as shown in the video to really get those core muscles firing up!

Shoulder Drivers – We must also build stability & mobility in the shoulder joints. If these aren’t functioning properly, then certain muscles in your shoulders & back will try to take on work they weren’t designed for. Typically, our low back likes to take on the brunt of the work, instead of the shoulders. TIP: During this exercise, be sure to focus on driving the shoulder blade straight back, without any lifting of the shoulder or any bending at the elbow. Performing up against a wall, for sensory feedback on the shoulder blade, is also very helpful.

Tennis Ball Trigger Point Release – Most people’s hips are extremely tight from sitting at a desk, sitting on the couch, sitting in a car, etc. Using a tennis ball as a trigger point release is a great way to provide much needed “information” to the hips that they haven’t been getting due to their restricted movement. This tends to open them right up, consequently releasing the SI joint & low back.

Hip Drivers – As a consequence of our tight hip flexors, the muscles on the other side of our rear ends, our glutes, tend to “shut off”. The tight front of our hips limits proper muscle activation in the back of our hips. This one is great to work on both stretching the front of the hips and activating the back of the hips.

Child’s Pose Reach – This exercise also works on shoulder mobility but is really powerful because it locks the low back in place so there is no way you can compensate using the low back! This will completely take pressure off of the low back and restore function to the shoulder so that your body can start working optimally again! TIP: It is critical to avoid arching the low back, as explained in the video.

Try performing these exercises twice a day – morning and evening – for one week.

You should already start to feel some relief!

Please leave any comments with questions/concerns! Good luck!


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

 

Can These 3 Desk Exercises Boost Energy?

We all have experienced the fatigue, brain fog, and general lack of sprightly spirit that can come from sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. And we all have been lectured to about the harmful effects of sitting, on our health and our productivity.

But let’s be honest. Sometimes we just have to get sh*t done, so getting down on the floor and doing some crazy stretches doesn’t seem quite that feasible.

Well, I am delighted to be the bearer of some pretty great news. I’m going to let the following two quotes speak for themselves. To just frame the picture for you, these quotes discuss the inextricable link between MOVEMENT, the BRAIN, and COGNITIVE FUNCTION.

Pretty cool stuff. I’ll break the quotes down after you give them a quick read.

“Born with a simple spinal cord and a three hundred neuron “brain”, the larva motors around in the shallows until it finds a nice patch of coral on which to put down its roots. It has about twelve hours to do so, or it will die. Once safely attached, however, the sea squirt simply eats its brain. For most of its life, it looks much more like a plant than an animal, and since it’s not moving, it has no use for its brain. Lllinas’s interpretation: ‘That which we call thinking is the evolutionary internalization of movement.’” – Dr. John Ratey, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain

“By showing that exercise sparks the master molecule of the learning process, Cotman nailed down a direct biological connection between movement and cognitive function.” – Dr. John Ratey, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain

This book quoted above, written by Dr. John Ratey, is one of my favorite books. That’s because I’m a nerd and love anything talking about the brain-body connection as it relates to our optimal health & performance.

What he is explaining is that without MOVEMENT, we actually wouldn’t need a brain. Yup. And, this works in reverse as well. Because the true purpose of the brain is movement (external movement via physical activity, or internal movement via thoughts), when we MOVE, we are stimulating our brain, and thus boosting our cognitive function.

The moral of the story? If you’re feeling sleepy, unmotivated and/or uninspired, give your body a dose of movement! What’s even better is that these movements do NOT need to be large, sweat-inducing or performed for long periods of time. Movement, in any form, causes a powerful cascade in our brain, and our entire body.

Movement (according to Ratey), even simply small joint mobility exercises, has the ability to boost neurotransmitters (namely, BDNF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor) responsible for the healthy function of neurons, the regeneration of new neurons, and the protection of neurons from stress and cellular death. This also causes a cascade of other hormones and neurotransmitters that support learning, memory, stress-management and problem solving to be released.

But, again, we sometimes are short on time since life is in no way perfect and we can’t always dedicate large chunks of time to exercise each day.

So, I’ve chosen a couple of energy-boosting exercises that can be done seated or standing at your desk (or anywhere, for that matter! Even on an airplane!) that don’t look ridiculous and can probably even be done without anyone taking notice!

These also were selected for particular reasons, listed below.

Spine Rotators

Any movement involving the spine is extremely powerful, since there are so many joint articulations in the body, and our spinal cord holds so many nerve endings. The more joints we can mobilize, the more “movement” and “information” we are feeding to our brain (read more on this in my article on why joints are the new muscles). So, any area of the body that has lots of movement receptors will be a high-impact exercise.

Shoulder Drivers

Exercises for the shoulders are extremely important if you tend to be desk-bound. This is because our shoulders often end up in one of two positions – forward slouching OR elevated up towards our ears due to tension/stress. So, feeding our shoulders the movement that they were designed for is extremely important. This will keep the entire chain of our body functioning properly, because of our shoulders are out of whack, it shifts everything else out of alignment, causing dangerous compensations. So, get those shoulders moving!

Toe Lifts

Last but nowhere near least, exercises for the feet & ankles are extremely high-impact and low-risk. Plus, you can do them under your desk or in the seat of an airplane without anyone giving you strange looks – they can be done INSIDE of your shoe! And just as discussed above, the more joints an area has, the more movement we are feeding to our brain, which makes the body very happy (again – read more on why the body loves joint movement here). Well, the foot has 28 bones and 33 joints. So…while some ankle circles may seem like a measly little exercise that you can just skip over, they are extremely powerful. Plus, as I have discussed in some of my Facebook videos, the feet are an often over-looked part of the body – but foot strength and stability is critical to leg strength, full-body strength, balance & power.

So the next time you are feeling like you need another afternoon Starbucks run, save your $5 (and some calories!) and try a couple sneaky desk exercises. I bet the fog hanging over your brain will clear up and you’ll be ready to get back to your to-do list with some newfound vigor.

Happy moving!


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

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