The Feel Better Blog

The Feel Better Blog

Movement Tips: 

Thoracic foam roll

This week's focus: enhancing the effectiveness of thoracic spine foam rolling

While foam rolling can feel good on the muscles around the mid back, getting the most bang for your buck on the foam roller involves a little more effort. Actively focusing on extending through the thoracic segments is what we are really after. Having the ability to CONTROL this range of motion into extension will pay dividends and help offload the postural stresses placed on our necks, shoulders, and upper backs from sitting at work, being in school, or using our phones all day. Small details can make a world of difference, feel for yourself and enjoy!

The Cat- Camel exercise: a versatile tool for people in pain or looking to improve function.
Many people have seen this movement before, however I am not sure how many value the power of what this movement can do for our bodies!

The Cat-Camel can:
1) Help reduce morning lower back pain by reducing intradiscal pressure
2) Enhance the ability to CONTROL spinal motion in areas that get commonly "stuck"

Here are some tips and tricks to enhancing its effectiveness:

- Make sure that this is performed in a pain free range, especially for those with sensitive low backs in the morning!
- SLOW it down, and control the motion. Really focus on trying to move through all of the segments without "hinging" or having sticky points. One great way to assess yourself is to take a quick video and see how it looks!
- Take deep (belly!) breaths at the end of each cat, and each camel.

Whether in pain or looking to improve performance, give this one a shot. It is very simple, and very effective!

Maximizing your hip flexor stretch

With the amount of sitting our society does a whole, it is worth while to know a few simple (but very effective) moves to help offset the postural deficits that occur with prolonged sitting. Hip flexors are notorious for being "tight", or in a shortened position. When some muscles are being used too much, others aren't getting used enough, and often times the gluteal musculature and hip extensors are the victims. When this occurs, it can manifest as pain in the lumbar spine, the anterior hips, and even present "down the chain".The importance of gluteal activation cannot be emphasized enough from both pain reduction and performance standpoints.

If you sit a lot for work or during your daily routine, do yourself a favor and try this out at lunch break or at the end of the day! Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds on each side, your hips and low back will be thanking you!

Hip Hinge

Movement tip of the week: Save your low back by using your powerful (and mobile) hips!

Some simple hip hinge tips:
- Rotate about your hips by shifting your backside posterior
- Keep your spine in a neutral position, do not allow for your low back to round (flex)
- Your weight should be shifted primarily on the heels during this movement

If this feels funny, not to worry! There are many drills and simple regressions to help "groove the pattern" if needed.

Hip Mobility

New Movement Tip of the Week: 90/90 hip mobility drill. Reduce stress on the low back and knees by mobilizing your hips with this simple, but incredibly effective move. Check it out!

Diaphragmatic breathing
New Movement Tip of the Week: Reduce muscle tension, pain, and enhance core stabilization with this simple, but extremely effective drill. Devote a few minutes a day to properly expanding your breath through the lower ribs and abdomen.

T spine extension/rotation

New Movement Tip of the Week: Actively CONTROL your thoracic spine!

Bird dog

New Movement tip of the Week! Is your bird-dog optimal? Make sure you aren't making these common mistakes!

Stir the Pot

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New Movement tip of the Week: Stir up your core routine with this challenging plank progression known as "Stir the pot".


New Movement tip of the Week: Crawling!

It may sound so simple, but we promise you this takes it to a whole new level. Give it a shot!

New Movement tip of the Week! Pectoralis

Improve resting shoulder position, improve overhead work, and reduce neck tension by integrating some focused pectoralis stretching into your daily routine.

This is NOT about how far you can "crank" your shoulder backward, rather more about maintaining good neck and upper back position during the stretch.

This pairs nicely with some scapular activation work (stay tuned for future episodes).

New Movement Tip of the Week: Loaded farmer carries.
It doesn't get more "functional" this, guys.
Use this movement to dynamically challenge core, hips, and shoulders. Although it looks simple, the right amount of weight can make this surprisingly difficult.
A few pointers:
1) Try to stay in an upright position, don't let the weight throw your shoulders or pelvis off center.
2) Give a firm grip to the weight (your rotator cuff will thank you)
3) As you begin walking, don't allow your feet to cross your midline. Maintain as normal a walk as possible.
Use an amount that challenges you, but does not allow you to compromise form or cause pain! Go for a walk (20-30 yards is a great start), and see how it feels.
We particularly love using the carry, and variations, for shoulders and hips in the office.

New Movement tip of the Week: Hanging

Hanging out for tissue health! Incorporating hangs into your daily routine will challenge grip, help mobilize stiff soft tissues, mildly decompress the spine, and is incredibly fun!
The passive hang is great for people with healthy shoulders but don't spend enough time overhead.
The active hang (engaging scapular stabilizers by keeping arms straight and pulling shoulder blades toward back pockets) is a great way to re-educate some of muscles that tend to become less active on most of us, and can double as a great way to progress towards pull-ups.
A few things to note: *If you have significant history of rotator cuff or shoulder issues, ease into this with the 3rd modification if you have been cleared for activity. Ideally, message us or your trusted health provider about if this is right for you.*

Now Introducing...

The TCM Foodie Mavens

Eating out not just for your soul but for your health


We love food. Not just a “I need it to survive” love, but a passionate, pour our hearts out, head over heels, butterflies in the stomach, kind of love. And we’re lucky enough to live in Portland Maine, one of the greatest places in the country to eat! The amount of restaurants we have in the area is mind blowing, and there are always five new ones about to open. Those of you who know us are aware of how much we like to take advantage of this, and if you don’t know us you are about to learn! One of the other things our patients know about us is how much we chat about loving the spleen.

Now you may be thinking, “Why are these chicks talking about their spleens, I thought this was all about food”. Well the spleen is one of the most important organs in Chinese medicine for digestion!

“Now these chicks are talking about Chinese medicine and spleens, how did we get here?” We guess it’s important to tell you that we are practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is the most common and well known modality in TCM, but there’s more to it than that. With our love of food, eastern dietary therapy is a passion of both of ours and the inspiration for this blog. We hope you enjoy!

For their first night out they decided to select a restaurant that elicits a sense of excitement when mentioned to the locals. One that always delivers incredible service and food so delicious that even when you’re full, you continue nibbling. Those requirements lead them to pick The Honey Paw. You can check out the rest of the amazing food on our blog which is attached above!



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