Daily Mobility Exercises to Relieve Neck and Back Pain

Here are a couple of videos that show exactly how I help my clients become more mobile and reduce painful joints, especially when they are suffering from neck and/or lower back pain.

The first set focuses on opening up the hip flexors and glutes, both key contributors to lower back pain when they become over tight. Each set can last between 5-10 minutes depending on how long/many you do of each one. Turn the sound up as it has useful cues to follow whilst doing these ones.

I get prepared before most workouts with some form of mobility and depending on what I have planned out. These videos are an easy and quick way to shortcut to the most important joints in the body.

This second video focuses on the shoulder girdle, you need a bar or broom handle to do this one. Keep the arms straight in all 3 exercises and please make sure that you move from the the shoulders. This can be such an easy and quick way to prepare for any upper body work in the gym – even after a day sitting all crunched up at the desk.

Good luck with these and comment below with any questions. Thanks

How to stay calmer, for longer.

Let me first make it clear that what I am going to speak about today is just my opinion that has been developed through my own personal experiences.

Between the ages of 12-14 I experienced anxiety attacks. They manifested in the form of terrible stomach pains that lasted hours and often had no trigger or explanation. It was a difficult one to diagnose as there was no physical issue with my digestion that doctors could pinpoint.

One day my GP recommended I see a local councillor. After just one session with a lovely woman my stomach pains began to subside and after a while I realised one day that I hadn’t had one for months.

It’s important to note that I had a typically normal childhood, nothing extreme, two loving parents, I wasn’t bullied more than any other kid is and I had a pretty good diet (considering what other kids my age where eating!)

But, I was under quite a bit of stress. Anxiety releases the main stress hormone, which is called cortisol. This hormone causes your stomach to produce excess levels of stomach acid which can be problematic when you eat or drink triggering foods, can cause distress to your stomach lining and change the hunger satiety levels.

Because the concentration of acid in the stomach changes the way you digest food it can be quite destabilising for your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The cascade of effects add up, and it can effect your body in a fairly powerful way.

Why is this important to know?

Because without this experience I would never have got into the stress reducing habits I did start doing from a very young age. This is the purpose of this post, to help people realise that stress is not something that you can stop from entering your environment. In fact, stress levels need to increase in order of your body to adapt in training exercises, and they help you stimulate your focus in conditions that require a heightened state of alertness.

But, how can we prepare ourselves for dealing with the small stressors that don’t mean so much to us but seem to ‘tip us over the edge’ into rage, fear, anxiety and suffering?

Practice Meditation – this has been rebranded recently as ‘mind-full-ness’. In my opinion what we are actually trying to achieve is a reduced state of mind awareness, so I don’t exactly agree with the term. But, if it gets people sitting still and focusing their minds then I’ll let that one go!

This is a state where we simply slow our minds, remove the constant train of thought flowing without control in our mind and attempt to “rest” our brain. I started off with reciting Tibetan mantra’s, one specifically ‘Om-A-Rap-A-Sana-Di’ (spelt phonetically) for 108 beads on a bead-mala 3 or 4 times every morning. This practice evolved into full-on visualisations of imagery with my eye’s closed, breathing exercises and visual focus exercises.

If you want to find out more about these, I will be happy to talk about it with you so send me a direct message, but on this occasion I can’t delve too deep into it, that needs a whole other post!

All of them are a way of doing the same thing; getting your mind to focus on one thing and one thing only, when it drifts – because it will – you have to gently bring it back, don’t worry if you get sidetracked. Everybody does it. Just be a little more understanding of yourself.

Exercise the cardiovascular system – taking your time to exercise your body without it being overly challenging on your breath is a fantastic way to reduce stress. The physical exertion will far outweigh the emotional stress you’ve built up in your mind and the endorphin release will make you feel contentment and pride for taking the time to do something positive for your mind and body.

Try doing a really low-level run, swim or bike ride when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll immediately feel better prepared for what the world has to throw at you.

Go natural cold water swimming – this has no be proven and backed up by science to boost the immune system and relieve symptoms of depression. Whilst anecdotally improving participants perspective of their problems and environmental stressors.

Many people will have heard about Wim Hof, an eccentric man from Holland who does incredible feats of human resistance to extreme cold. For the past 14 months I’ve been using his breathing exercises, cold water therapy immersion techniques and life advice to help me build up tolerance for stress in my everyday life. Like the first two (mentioned above), this practice has been a huge catalyst in improving my resistance to stress.

What I would like to recommend today is for you to comment below or message me directly if you’re interested about any of these practices and begin doing just one of them every day.

You can rotate the type, change the way you do them and adjust it to suit your lifestyle. But a plan and a simple piece of guidance (from me) might be exactly what you need to kickstart your stress busting healthy habits.

Speak soon, Patrick

Want to Lose Bodyfat? Try these 5 Essential Exercises…

5 Essential Exercises to Burn Body Fat

Exercise 1: Rowing

If you want to hit the whole body quickly and you want to boost your metabolism to burn fat then rowing is one of your must-do exercises. It targets the whole body, ‘what you put in – is what you get out’ in this case.  When you see your times getting lower with each practice you’ll be inspired to go harder again and again! I’ve witnessed benefits in every age group of client I’ve worked with this exercise.

KEY APPROACH:

Set a maximum 1000m or 2000m distance and try to complete it as fast as possible. Make the stroke as long and as powerful as you can. Try at the start of your workout 2x a week.

Exercise 2: Sprints

Running is the second most natural thing for your body after walking. Sprinting at maximum speed will get lipids (stored body fat) out of storage and into your bloodstream quickly.

KEY APPROACH:

Try one minute on, one minute off to start with on the tredmill. Get 10-15 rounds out on a speed that matches up to a 7/10 for you. Once you’ve got that done you can reduce the time resting to 30s instead and see if you can complete it at the same speed. Try this 2x a week after your weight training workout.

Exercise 3: Spinning

Pressing a 20kg weighted wheel in revolutions as fast as you can is almost the definition of high intensity interval training. Spinning is a powerful way to break up the monotony of regular cardio with powerful tunes and a group mentality.

KEY APPROACH:

Put the resistance up so high that you can’t turn the wheel when sitting on the seat. You’ll need to stand up to get momentum. Once you’ve got momentum go hard for a maximum of 30sec and then turn the resistance down and spin lightly for 90sec while sitting back down. It may sound easy now, but trust me the 1:3 ratio of work to rest works a treat when the 30 sprint is done at maximum intensity. Complete this 8x at the start of a workout 1x a week.

Exercise 4: Pull Ups

Asking you to lift your bodyweight from a hanging position is where many of my clients have closed down mentally and said; “There’s no way I can do that!”.

EVERYONE can do it, you just need adjustments to suit your capabilities. Your 30-40% stronger on the way down (negative phase of movement). So practice that. This exercise improves your posture, it uses the largest and most powerful muscles in the upper back and will boost fat burning hormones (HGH) in the bloodstream.

KEY APPROACH:

Knock out as many pull ups as possible every set for 8 rounds – 2 minute rests between. If you can’t pull up (yet) use a box, a band or jump up to get yourself above the bar. Slowly lower yourself into the full hanging position and repeat for 3-5 reps. Also complete 8 times. Try to do this minimum 2x a week.

Exercise 5: Resistance Band Squat Jumps

Boost balance, proprioception, speed and power with this squat jump exercise that will give the body every reason to start breaking down energy stores to provide energy for explosive movement.

KEY APPROACH:

Using a resistance band just above the knees, walk sideways like a crab to engage your glutes for 20 reps each side. After you’ve prepped/activated for jumping, stand with your hips slightly wider than hip width and the feet pressing away from one-another on the ground. Squat down into a deep position and jump up and tap the feet (using only the toes) on the ground with the legs together underneath you, immediately spring off the toes back down into a deep squat position – its like a star jump but with a squat and a band.

Do 20-30 reps 5x with a 60second rest between each set. You’ll be sweating, burning, activated and filling with pride at how hard you’re working just using your body and a band.