So What About the Psoas?

The psoas (pronounced so-as, and the plural psoai, pronounced so-eye, in case you were wondering) is a huge muscle that affects several joints in the body, most of which hurt in a lot of people. And a lot of people have tight psoai. Coincidence? I think not!

These crazy muscles attach to the vertebrae in the lower back, wrap around the front of the pelvis, and attach to the backs of the thigh bones. Low back pain, SI joint pain, or hip pain, anyone? If so, there’s a good chance that your psoai are involved. Also, because tight psoas muscles change the position of the rib cage and pelvis, they can affect the upper back, neck, shoulders, pelvic floor, and knees, too. Crazy, indeed!

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4 Things I Learned From My Social Media Vacation

For the entire month of July, I took a social media vacation. This means I swore off my two social media addictions of choice - Facebook and Instagram. Even when I got an email from Instagram a couple of weeks into the vacation encouraging me to check out the 152 likes, 12 comments, and 8 new followers that I had missed, I resisted the temptation to click through.

Depending on your level of interaction with social media, this may sound like no big deal, a luxury, or the worst deprivation ever. I personally found myself alternating between the three mindsets, and learned a lot about myself in the process.

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Nutritious Movement, Pokemon-Style

Even though I’m currently in the middle of my month-long social media vacation (which has been awesome by the way - keep an eye out for a blog post next month!), I’ve still managed to hear about this crazy phenomenon called Pokemon Go. Just in case this doesn’t ring a bell for you, it’s a game where you go around collecting cute little creatures called Pokemon. There are lots of different types with various properties, and you can tend to them till they get stronger, then have them do battle with other Pokemon. The twist is that, with the help of smartphone technology, you actually have to go outside and walk around to play the game!

At first I was skeptical, but with millions (!!!) of people already playing the game just a couple of weeks after it’s release, I figured I had to at least check out this thing that is getting people outside and moving around. And I’m actually pretty impressed for several different reasons.

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Move More, Travel Happy

I have a love-hate relationship with traveling. I love getting out of my comfort zone a bit, exploring new places, and meeting new people. However, I’m not such a fan of the actual getting from Point A to Point B. I’m also a homebody and very much appreciate having a familiar “home base”. Luckily, I’ve found a few tricks that help make traveling a little less taxing on my system!

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Pass the Active Internal Rotation, Please

In Restorative Exercise, we talk a lot about femur external rotation: the thigh bone rotating outward relative to the pelvis. (To give you a visual, if the foot is going along for the ride, then it’s when the toes turn out.) There are several exercises dedicated to strengthening and lengthening the hip external rotators. One of the main alignment points of the lower body involves - for most people, anyway - externally rotating too-internally-rotated femurs back to a neutral position. I even wrote a blog post about it a little while ago.

However, it’s important to have good range of motion in all directions that our bodies are designed to move. This includes the hip internal rotation department! 

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Let's Talk About Shanks

Let’s talk about shanks, baby.
Let’s talk about feet and knees.
Let’s talk about torque and external rotation that may be.

Let's talk about shanks.
Let’s talk about shanks!

If you grew up in the 80s and early 90s, you’re welcome for the earworm!

Anyway, what the heck are shanks? Technically speaking, they’re the portion of the leg between the knee and ankle - basically the lower leg. And they’re really key to understanding lower body health and function.

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Un-Cast Your Mind and Your Body Will Follow

I have a confession to make - I’m a recovering pillow addict, and last night I fell off the bandwagon, with some surprising results. Namely, I woke up with a migraine - the first I’ve had in 6 or 8 months! Good news, though - within ten minutes of pushing my pillow aside and switching to my now-standard pillow-free sleeping position, the migraine was gone!

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Why I Stopped Outsourcing My Movement to a Broom

What does outsourcing movement mean? It’s a big part of the Nutritious Movement™ paradigm, and the idea is that we've created all sorts of gadgets (everything from cars and other big machines to little household devices) to do the majority of our everyday work for us. Going even further with this concept, we've also outsourced our movement to other people (farmers, manufacturers, etc), sometimes with less-than-desirable consequences for the people hired to do these jobs. But that's a topic for another blog post.

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How to Fun-ify Your Movement Practice

Over the past year or so I’ve really been inspired to move in lots of fun ways, including tree climbing, rock climbing, scrambling, and generally moving more spontaneously. The only downside is that as I’m starting to feel so much stronger and healthier, I’ve been slacking just a little on my restorative exercises. Lately my body has been letting me know - in the form of some shoulder pain and a minor groin strain - that, while it appreciates the movement macronutrients (climbing, scrambling, squatting, etc), it would also like a little more attention to detail.

While I agree that I could use some more movement "vitamins" or micronutrients (i.e., all of the stretches and exercises that make up Restorative Exercise), I don’t want to miss out on the problem-solving, joy, and playfulness that come with moving in more complex ways. So, my newest goal is to fun-ify my Restorative Exercise practice! (And if funify isn’t a word, it should be!)

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Is Convenience Killing You?

In a nutshell, we’ve been culturally conditioned to think that convenience = good, and inconvenience = bad. We’re willing to sweat and “feel the burn” at the gym, yoga studio, or while out for a training run or bike ride, but god forbid this happen when we’re not prepared for it. If it’s not on our agenda, we’re not wearing the right clothes, or don’t have the proper gear, then we’re surprisingly averse to movement that challenges us.

And after all of this, we then feel guilty about NOT moving and think that we need to go beat ourselves up at the gym to somehow make up for it. What a strange conundrum we’ve created!

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Are Your Feet Dragging You (and Your Pelvis) Down?

For most of your life, have you been:

Wearing shoes?
Walking primarily on smooth, human-made surfaces?
Not walking regularly on bumpy, uneven ground?
Not walking as much as you should? (5-10 miles per day, FYI)

If you answered ‘yes’ to most or all of these, chances are pretty high that you have some really tight feet. 

That foot tension can be the cause of relatively obvious things like plantar fasciitis, hammertoes, and neuromas. What's less obvious is that foot tension also creates a host of other issues throughout the entire body, including the pelvis.

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Thank You, 2015

I think New Years resolutions are a great thing and can inspire people to make really positive changes in their lives. I also think that many of us are experts at minimizing or not giving ourselves credit for the good things we’ve already done. (Well, I am, anyway!)

That’s why I was so inspired by the most recent episode (Episode 38) of the Katy Says podcast. Katy and Dani not only look forward to 2016, but also recap some of their health and movement achievements from 2015. I thought this was such an awesome idea that I decided to do the same thing. Here are my answers to just a few of the questions they discussed.

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Is Pain Really a Pain?

One topic that came up frequently in the seminar was pain. It turns out that pain is very closely tied to movement, or lack thereof, but not necessarily in the ways you might assume. I’m still processing all of the earth-shattering information presented in class, but I’m so excited about it that I wanted to share a few points that really stood out for me.One topic that came up frequently in the seminar was pain. It turns out that pain is very closely tied to movement, or lack thereof, but not necessarily in the ways you might assume. I’m still processing all of the earth-shattering information presented in class, but I’m so excited about it that I wanted to share a few points that really stood out for me.

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Unshoes Uinta Minimalist Sandal Review

Several clever sandal makers have found ways to essentially secure a thin piece of rubber to the foot using nylon webbing, leather, or string, creating a traditional “huarache”-style sandal. While I love huaraches as much as the next minimally-shod person, I was really excited to try the Unshoes Uinta* sandal, which was released this summer. It has an innovative and ingenious strap design that gives you the look of a more mainstream sandal (think Chacos) while still maintaining a high level of comfort and functionality. Unshoes was kind enough to send me a pair to try out and review. I went with the 6mm suction cup tread outsole and the standard 1mm non-slip EVA footbed for a combination of durability and flexibility.

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Making real, lasting changes in your body is SLOOOOW work, and sometimes it can be disheartening. Every once in a while I wonder if all of the calf stretching and rhomboid pushup-ing and the myriad other RE exercises I do on a regular basis, not to mention the hanging, climbing, and walking, are actually doing anything. Yes, I am in much less pain than I used to be, and overall I just feel healthier, but sometimes I want to SEE the differences. Bone and other soft tissues DO change shape over time if you change the loads you’re applying to them, but the pace at which they do so can feel glacial.

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Footprints Don't Lie

Finally!!! After months of freakishly hot weather and drought, we had one day of glorious rain. Not just a little sprinkle, either, but downpours on and off throughout the day, accompanied by some serious thunder and lightning. While I'll be glad to see the sun again soon, I'm also greatly enjoying this cool respite.

One of the many things that I enjoy about walking in the rain is looking at the footprints I leave as I walk across a dry patch of ground under a covered area. The orientation of your footprints can tell you a lot about the alignment and health of your body.

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Hello, Tailbone!

I got quite the reality check the other day when I slipped on the stairs and landed smack on my tailbone - OUCH! I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, just some household chores. What I WAS doing was ignoring some pretty obvious signals from my body.

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Lessons I Learned From Gardening

Summer is just around the corner and I’ve been having fun with a few gardening projects. One in particular (tidying up a seriously neglected traffic circle by my house) has taught me a couple of things. First, bindweed is devious, resourceful, and almost impossible to eradicate. Second, spending several hours nearly every day for a week shoveling, bending over, and squatting while pulling out stubborn weeds is hard work. But, it doesn't have to be backbreaking.

I actually felt pretty good after each work session. Yes, I was tired (okay, really, REALLY tired) and I could tell that muscles in my shoulders, arms, and back were doing more and different work than they were used to. But it was totally doable for a couple different reasons.

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