Kick Ass Meditation

Kick Ass Meditation

I believe everyone should meditate.  That includes athletes, busy professionals, and YOU!  If you're like me (rather how I used to be), you probably think meditation is a waste of time and completely useless.  I always believed it was this foofy, woo-woo, new-age, pseudo-scienc-y thing that was only done by yogis and monks.  Find out what changed my mind and how meditation will CHANGE your mind.

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New Class: Movement Fuel

New Class: Movement Fuel

Our Team Training Classes at AMP Fitness are designed to give you the ability to choose the sessions that fit your goals.  We have CORE for the essentials, Kettlebell Training for Strength, and AMP Inferno for conditioning.  Basically all the things that will help you look, move and feel your best! This allows you to train 2-4 times per week to harness the power of all of these well-rounded fitness qualities without having to  train every single day.  

But we wanted MORE and we wanted to help everyone focus on one at a time so we decided to add one more session to the roster: MOVEMENT FUEL!

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The Stanimal Has Arrived At AMP

The Stanimal Has Arrived At AMP

We hope you are as excited as we are to welcome the newest coach to AMP Studios.  We used to think of ourselves as a two-coach wolf pack. But when my Eric flexed his biceps, we knew he was one of our own. And our wolf pack... it grew by one. So there... there were three of us in the wolf pack... Lindsay and Steve were first in the pack, and then Eric joined in later. Then one year ago, when Mike told us he was a doctor, we thought, "Wait a second, could it be?" And Mike became part of the wolf pack, too.

And now we have our newest part of the pack, Stan.

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Why I (Still) Don't Like Running For Fat Loss

Why I (Still) Don't Like Running For Fat Loss

Running is, in fact, a fundamental human movement pattern and comes in handy in case of a zombie apocalypse.  And if you LOVE running and it's your thing I'm not going to yuck on your yum here as it does provide some good fitness, like, if you want to run better.  But years of research show that it's a terrible option for long-term fat loss for most people.

Find out why I believe running isn't the best option for fat loss and what to do if that is your goal...

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Mindset Roadblocks

Mindset Roadblocks

On your epic journey, there are going to be many roadblocks that get in your way.  It's inevitable.  You might get busy at work and miss a workout or forget to plan a healthy breakfast or be attacked by a pack of killer ninjas on your way to Starbucks in the morning and sprain your ankle while defending your honor.  Sometimes, these are unavoidable.  Life happens.  And that’s okay!

What you CAN avoid are the roadblocks that happen in your MIND.  Or at least be able to identify them and keep living your best life.  In this post I'm going to share some common mental roadblocks you'll experience while trying to grow (your booty and mentally) and what to do about them.

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Become a Grocery Store Ninja

Become a Grocery Store Ninja

I LOVE food.  Seriously.  Who doesn't? I also like to stay fairly lean and maintain a super healthy lifestyle so I can live to be 110 years old and still rock a purple leopard speedo.  So the question I get asked quite a bit as a fitness professional is, "What do you eat to stay lean?  You must eat so healthy."  And I do... most of the time.

Especially when I'm at home and able to consciously make better decisions.  This is primarily due to cultivating solid eating and shopping habits which keep my fridge and pantry on fleek.  Check out today's post on how to become a grocery store ninja!

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Understanding Pain: An Essential Part of Life - Part 2

Welcome back!  We’ll cover the last 3 influences of pain today and give you the tools to turn what most people think as a negative feeling to a positive change!  If you haven't yet, don't forget to check out Part 1!

3. Your Nerves (Peripheral Sensitivity)

This is very similar to what happens in the brain, but instead of the central computer being the culprit, the nerves are the culprit.  Just like how the brain can become too sensitive to stimulus, so can the nerves.  This is why shaking your hand after jamming your finger can help with pain by changing the input.  However, as you know, the relief in pain you get from this is often temporary.  And that is is okay.  

The main intent of getting some manual therapy or doing a self-mobilization is to generate a temporary relief in order to provide a window of opportunity to instill real change.  

How does this real change occur?  

Movement! (See Part 1.)  

Starting to get the hang of this?  If we can decrease the perception of pain through a healthy stimulus, like foam rolling, to decrease the sensitivity of the nerves, then we can capitalize on this with specific exercise and education to make this effect more permanent.  

4. Your Feelings (Emotion & Memory)

Both body and mind can have a really hard time forgetting pain.  We tend to make more permanent memories to events that invoke a strong emotion.  This is why it’s hard to remember what you ate breakfast yesterday, unless your yogurt and granola really moved you, but you can still remember your first break up, even if you are not personally invested in that event anymore.  Furthermore, negative emotions and memories tend to stick around longer (we learn better from our failures, as long we can let go of them at some point).  

So what does this have to do with pain?

Let’s say at some point, you reached below your sink and threw your back out, and were in terrible pain for 2 weeks.  You took some Advil, rested in bed and it went away (or did it?).  Now every time you bend down to reach low, you slowly get down on one knee and place your hand on your back to make sure it doesn’t move, effectively changing your movement patterns.  Anytime you lose this “perfect” position, you a get a little twinge in your low back as a friendly reminder, keeping you stuck in your pain cycle.  The initial event of reaching below your sink was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, exposing a possible dysfunction in your movement.  

Without addressing the cause of the dysfunction and simply avoiding the related movements of bending (due to the strong emotional tie you have to the memory) you end up feeding the issue even more.  

Again, this is why it’s so important to be properly educated on healthy movement and how to gradually reintegrate it through exercise and manual therapy.  Are you starting to see how all of these things tie together?

5. Your Stress (Mental & Physical)

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite... STRESS.

We need stress to change us for the better, but in controlled, healthy amounts.  When stress exceeds your limits, it can have a significant influence on many aspects of your life.  Stress does not cause pain but boy can it increase it.  Good inputs will always equal good outputs.  

So if you’re overtired, overworked, dehydrated, eating poorly, and under emotional distress, will you be able to:

Move well?

Stay focused on a goal?

Understand good from bad sensations in your body?

Use your past memories to inform your current experiences?

Limit inflammation in your body?

Recover after workouts?

Probably not.  

Stress can be one of the most difficult aspects of life to manage and control, and it’s individual from person to person.  What is important is to recognize when you need help controlling stress and whom to seek for assistance.  

If you train with us here at AMP Fitness, a good place to start is with one of the coaches.  We’re dedicated to you living your best life and even if we can’t specifically help with your issue, we can usually point you in the right direction.

Bottom Line

As you can see, pain is not that straight forward.  This is why the “pain industry” can range from mattress stores to pharmaceutical companies to sensory deprivation tanks to physical therapy.

I’m biased, of course, but I would say that the best place to start is physical therapy.  A skilled physical therapist can address all the issues above and all at the same time.  And not only will you have a good chance of feeling better, you will have the tools to continue progressing well after you are done with your PT visits.   

That said, I don’t see myself in the “pain industry” but rather in the “human movement and performance industry” based on its far reaching effects into improving people’s lives, function, and well being.  It just so happens that optimizing human movement, performance and mindset.... you will also do a good number on pain.

Understanding Pain: An Essential Part of Life - Part 1

"Why Am I in Pain?"

A simple question with a not so simple answer.  As a physical therapist, I hear many questions from patients, clients, friends, family, etc. about the nature and cause of their pain.  They equate pain to tissue damage (think the scary words: strain, sprain, tear, arthritis, cartilage damage, degeneration, bulging, etc), but I’m here to tell you it’s much more than that....and not always that scary.

Pain is simply a signal from the brain that tells you there is a problem.  It often doesn’t tell you the source or cause of the problem, just that there is a problem and something needs to change.  This is why there can be discrepancy in MRI findings for people who are in pain.  For every person that has knee pain with a meniscus tear,, there is also a person with knee pain that has a normal MRI and a person who has no pain but has what looks like shredded cheese for a knee on an MRI.  Many studies demonstrate this, especially in the low back.  In a study of individuals that had no back pain, 80% of 50 year olds had disc degeneration (whoa).  

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So what’s the deal? What causes pain if tissue damage and imaging findings are unreliable? It’s not so much what causes pain, but what influences pain.  More often or not, we can not change our anatomy, so we need to focus on the factors that we can control to help influence pain.  Below are the top 5 influences on pain that you can take control of today.

Note: Many of these influences play off each other, since nothing lives in isolation.  This is good news, because you can hit a lot of them together.

1. Your Movement Patterns (Mobility & Stability)

Every time you walk into AMP, you’re addressing this!  Proper training and exercise should target good, healthy, quality movement.  This is why we spend so much time on warming up, positioning, proper mechanics, breathing, mobility, stability, etc.  Your body craves movement and variability, allowing it to disperse physical stress evenly across your joints and muscles, making everything feel happy and healthy.  

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Pain will typically creep in when movement patterns become faulty because of mobility (I feel stiff!) and stability (I feel weak!) problems.  Stress will accumulate too much or too quickly at a specific area of the body causing pain and/or tissue damage (yes, this can still be the source of pain, but may not be the cause).  Luckily, if you catch these movement issues early, they can be a quick fix.  Some issues can be corrected through simple cueing and exercise modification by a strength coach, while others may require more hands on work from a clinician.

2. Your Brain (Central Sensitivity)

Here’s where we get into the fun stuff.  Pain is a perception generated in the brain.  It’s not tangible or measurable in a true objective way.  This doesn’t disqualify it as real but rather speaks to the power of perception and the role of our brain.  When our brain sends a pain signal, it’s often for a valid reason, but sometimes it’ll send a pain signal without a good reason.  I’ll use the home security analogy to explain this:  

Your body is the house and your nervous system is the home security system.  When an intruder breaks in the window or door (nerves) will trigger the computer (your brain) to set off the alarm.  Normally, you would reset the alarm once the ordeal is over, and normal entry to the house will not set off the alarm.  With chronic pain (pain lasting > 3 months), imagine that multiple break-ins happen over the course of a few days/weeks and the central computer is never reset.  Not only will the alarm go off every time an intruder enters, but even friends, family and your own self will start to set the alarm off.  The brain becomes too sensitive to input, regardless if it’s bad or good, and the pain sensation becomes more and more heightened.  It becomes harder for you to differentiate what makes the pain worse or better and you get caught in a pain-cycle.

How do we address this?

Well, we start through proper education of how this occurs and reintegration of healthy movement (see #1) with your physical therapist and then coach/trainer.  If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing and understand it’s role in establishing improved patterns, you will not only change your movement but your brain.  It’s a lot easier and more effective to exercise and stretch when you know why you’re doing it and what the goal is.  The brain will begin to desensitize to healthy stimulus, tissues will heal, and you’ll regain control of your pain.

To Be Continued...

Whoa, okay let’s take a break.  That’s a lot for just two points.  We’ll cover the last 3 in Part II next week, but between now and then I want you to think about how you use your movement and thoughts to your advantage in controlling your pain.  Pain is an essential part of life.  It can be a positive if we learn to accept the negative and use it to change.

Like it? Check out Part 2!