neck pain

Bin the flip-flops for better performance

I have worked with thousands of clients over the years and one of the most consistent links that I can say with certainty exists, is the link between biomechanical dysfunction from flip flop wearing. You can also lump tight shoes, high heels and other rogue foot wear that simply do not allow the feet to function correctly in that description. What I am not saying is that you can never wear those shoes that you hold so dear to your heart again. What I am saying is; that if you are engaged in an exercise regime, be it professional or someone who wants to get the best from your training regime, without injury or decreases in performance. Ditching those pesky flip-flops and other gait restrictors are probably a good idea.

If you want to wear them, then doing some kind of releases that address your own personal restrictions is key. This flip-flop release is very useful but not complete.

With the twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints and over one hundred muscles and ligaments, each person demonstrates their personal movement and dysfunction in slightly different ways.

I can tell straight away, when a client walks in whether they wear flip-flops, tight work shoes or over used high heels. So what are the common issues that I see?

  • Inability to optimally recruit the hip and thigh (glutes/hip flexors/quads/hamstrings) muscles.
  • Restriction in mobility/stability to the neck.
  • Poor core function due to overuse of the back muscles.
  • Calf strain and usually a decrease in shin muscle contracture
  • Instability of the big toe-essential for push off in gait
  • Permanent contraction of the toes

There are others and many clients often look at me like a madman as I say that their problems are coming from their footwear. Usually the improvement in function and decrease in pain relatively quickly is enough to ensure their compliance to restricting problematic footwear and addressing their muscular problems with some foot TLC homework.

From a muscular and myofascial line Myers proposition of the structural connectivity via superficial  back line the superficial back line can show us how muscular and ligamentous issues in the feet might affect the whole line where the muscles are continuous with the cranial fascia. Addressing the foot has often decreased pain and increased mobility in the neck in many clients.

A long-standing client of mine who is a competitive swimmer was reminded of the implications of flip-flop wearing and performance. Originally a back pain client that was cleared, he was complaining of a lack of ability to complete a six beat stroke with his feet. After clearing the distortion of the peripheral and central nervous system and restoring optimal muscle function (Using NKT or Neuro Kinetic Therapy and Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex/PDTR), he reported a return of the function that night.

Whether exercising or just for moving efficiently you can still wear these shoes but just be aware that there is a cost. To remove the dysfunction you will need to do corrective work and more homework and lets be honest for those that do exercise, correctives are adistraction from the main event. More mobility and stability work? Come on!

Well if you just treated those feet with more respect you wouldn’t need too.


Why is my neck so painful?

Why is my neck so painful? 10 reasons why you could be experiencing neck pain Neck pain is one of the most common conditions experienced in my practice. Here are 10 reasons why you may be experiencing neck pain.

1. The way that you breathe can cause changes to how the neck muscles are used. If you sit at a desk or do lots of repetitive exercise, chances are you are not using the correct muscles for breathing. 2. If you have ever had a car crash, whiplash or any injury that has involved a knock to the head or rapid movement of the neck, no matter how long ago, this can cause long standing neck pain if not rehabilitated properly. 3. Caesarean sections can inhibit the muscles in the neck by scar tissue. See my old post for details 4. Sit ups, especially too many, overwork the back of the neck and underwork the front of the neck muscles. Placing a tongue in the roof of the mouth can go some way to helping with this issue but optimal alignment needs to be restored. 5. Computer position and the seated posture. As many people spend many hours at a computer station this can cause key changes to the position of the neck and the rest of the spine. Having someone assess optimal positions at work can help to alleviate neck tension. 6. Negative emotions and psychological stress can reinforce the use of muscles at the side and back of the neck. Understanding what causes you to become stressed and removing yourself or developing better coping mechanisms can help to alleviate the physical stress experienced by the body. One of the reasons that we feel stress in our neck is due to two muscles (Sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius) being fed directly by a nerve (XI cranial verve) that comes straight from the brain rather than the spinal cord. Internal stress can show up externally in these muscles. 7. Problems with internal organs such as the liver can show up in the shoulder and neck via a connection from large nerves. Are you eating well, or are you exposed to environmental toxins that could be causing the liver to become dysfunctional? 8. Other key functions such as eyesight, jaw and hearing issues can cause the neck to become over, or underworked in key areas, causing muscles to develop dysfunction. 9. A herniated disc or irritated cervical (area of the neck) nerve can often cause neck pain. Usually you may find the pain radiating into the neck, back, shoulder and arms. 10. Any muscle that is not working appropriately in the body has the capacity to cause pain in the neck. For example if the muscles that stabilise the lower back are not working correctly, muscles in the neck may compensate to help achieve balance and overwork. Causing pain.

Ultimately any of the issues above are perfectly capable of being either avoided or treated quickly with the right type of analysis, treatment and appropriate exercise. Get in touch if you would like to find out how to get rid of your neck pain.

Is your technique driving your injuries

Image-1 Training the classics like deadlifts and squats are an integral part of training and getting strong. More often than not we tend to sacrifice key parts of our body like a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter, inviting injury with each rep. One of the most common things that I see with clients deadlifting and injuries, is the drive with the neck in a fully extended position, which is shown above.

Using a body part to drive a movement isn't detrimental and as the motor control command is executed it has to start somehwere but extending the cervical spine shifts the emphasis on the kinetic chain. As the Cervical extensors are fully contracted, the whole extensor chain has to ensure that all the work is completed whilst a fully extended position is held. Short tight cervical extensors are a common finding in many people and their recruitment/facilitation and inhibition with many factors can be linked with issues in the calf and plantar fascia of the feet.

You will notice in the picture below as theorised by Myers and others that the superficial back line is a complete chain from head to toe. Facilitation of the cervical extensors can contribute to forward head posture and postural changes in the thoracic spine, shoulder and lower down the chain. Instead of creating injury hotspots, keeping the neck in a more aligned neutral throughout the lift and using the eyes to drive into extension can help alleviate the problems associated with facilitated neck muscles.

Image-1 (3)

Shoulder pain...which one?

Shoulder pain is one of the most Image-1common musculoskeletal issues that I see in my practice from week to week. Its easily as common as neck, lower back, hip and knee pain. So why is shoulder joint dysfunction so common? Well from the lay view, most people intepret shoulder pain as a rotator cuff issue, usually stemming from increased medial rotation. Common thoughts are that the use of the computer mouse, impact on this postural problem.

Too much bench press, throwing, ipad playing, racket or club, bat sports or anything that contibutes to excessive internal, external rotation, protraction, retraction, elevation or depressing of the shoulder joint and girdle and other actions will contibute to shoulder pain. Impingement syndrome is probably one of the most common shoulder problems.

Often external rotation exercises are utilised to combat these problems, often ineffectively. Determining whether the issue is one of mobility or stability and motor control should dictate which modality of therapy should be used together and the type of movement should be dictated by the dysfunction of each of the four joints of the shoulder.

Paul CHEK used the term slave joint to decribe any articulation below C2 (2nd cervical vertebrae) as a term to describe the vulnerability afforded to any joint that could be affected by heirachical factors such as breathing, atlas ( 1st cervical), vision, jaw and others that could influence lower joints such as the shoulder. Whilst this is a particularly useful model to bear in mind, both local and global dysfunction often effect the shoulder joint in isolation or together, from the head down or the foot up.

More often than not dysfunction in the opposite ankle can increase the facilitation of shoulder muscles. A lack of dorsi flexion or movement of the ankle which raises the whole foot off the ground whilst keeping the heel on the floor, can be a common feature in shoulder dysfunction. treating the shoulder may be the last thing that needs to be acheived in restoring shoulder function and decreasing pain.

Restoring shoulder mechanics need not be lengthy periods of shoulder rehab. Identify the cullprits involved in over working, rewire the ones that don't work enough, and create a stimulus that holds that pattern.

If you have shoulder pain and all people ever do is look at your shoulder, ask them to take a look at your ankle, breathing pattern, neck just in case they need a nudge in the right direction.