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Why do Chiropractic adjustments alleviate the pain where massage or foam rolling often fails?

The answer is alignment. When the spine is in better alignment, we alleviate the need to send pain signals to the brain. This is an extremely important step that must be established before we can truly get a stronger core or even move without pain. But what happens when you don't have access to a chiropractor? With COVID-19 raging across our world, it is more important than ever before that we gain a greater understanding of how to self-adjust to influence our own alignment. While they do not replace the skilled hands of a chiropractor, self adjustment techniques can make a massive difference in alleviating or eliminating back pain all together. In the first video, I am having a hard time touching my toes. This indicates that my spine and sacrum are stuck in some degree of extension. By applying the next two activities in videos two and three, I can effectively self adjust to restore spinal flexion and sacral counternutation.

  1. Notice the flatness in my lower spine and inability to segment in to flexion.

1. Set against wall with knee is higher than hips 2. Push the knees apart to feel outer hips 3. Crunch stomach and reach with arms too feel abs 4. Take deep breaths in through the nose and exhale through the mouth while tightening abs and pushing knees apart 3. Repeat for 3 to five breaths Video 3- toe touch breathing

1. Place heels on rolled-up mat or bolster 2. Reach down to touch toes and inhale through the nose, feeling the back side of your body fill with air. 3. Exhale through the mouth well crunching the abs and attempting to relax the back further 4. Will notice with each breath you gained a few inches 5. Repeat for 3 to 5 breaths

  1. Notice my spinal improved segmentation through the lower back

If you have trouble touching your toes, try these drills and immediately retest afterwards. If you can get further, it means that we have restored some healthy motion in the spine. This is an example of some of the self adjustment techniques we utilize in our Pain Relief Plus program.

The repetitive nature of sitting, standing and moving in awkward ways will often bias our spine and overall alignment in to certain positions which provoke pain. One thing I want to make clear is that these self adjustments must be done several times per day to re-establish good alignment.

We may not be able to get out of the house at the moment, but that doesn't mean we have to be in pain! For more information on our program, visit our website or fill out the attached form.

  • Writer's pictureChris Kelly

A great mentor of mine recently said that “passion is merely currency generated by emotion resulting from effort and hardship”.

I am often told I must be passionate about exercise because I do it for a living. Or that I am passionate about soccer because I have played all my life and I love watching the game.

While I appreciate both things, the truth is that I am not passionate about either because I never really struggled at them.

At the same time, I never asked to be passionate about getting out of pain and I never ever thought I would end up where I am right now. A 38 year old trainer who is neither a physical therapist nor really a trainer.

But I have sure struggled like hell to get here. From literally struggling to walk for the first two months after tearing my ACL to waking up early for decades before work to mobilize my knee as well as read and study. I have put in thousands of hours and failed hundreds of times working with clients, only to learn what success really is (and is not).

What I have learned throughout this time is that, if we really pay attention to it, the struggle itself is the gift that finally causes us to act and to continue to appreciate the success we do achieve.

There are a few things I do know for sure:

You are going to struggle with your body, with not understanding where to turn to get better and with being consistent when it is easier to just take a pill or massage away whatever hurts.But what you will find is that any relief you experience is temporary and rather than turning away from the pain, embracing it, questioning it and better understanding it is the only way you will ever really get better.

This requires you to know your own body, just as I have learned to know mine, through careful, safe to fail, experimentation and observation.

Understanding Safe to Fail:

A safe to fail experiment is one that takes place within a controlled environment that allows for mistakes to be made with minimal consequences. A good example of this is my homie Blake, a surfer who suffered temporary paralysis due to hyper extending his back while taking a wave awkwardly.

He suffered an injury diagnosed as Surfer's myelopathy, a condition in which the back is hyperextended and a blood vessel leading to the spine can become kinked, depriving the spinal cord of oxygen. Almost immediately after his injury, he lost sensation in his lower limbs and had trouble walking for weeks after his injury.

Advised by his doctor that the partial paralysis he was experiencing could be permanent, Blake began to take matters in to his own hands noting that he ALMOST touch his toes on his right but not his left. After talking with me and a few other therapists, Blake began spending 15-20 minutes per day attempting to touch his left toes, balancing on his board and performing assisted versions of basic exercises like squats and step ups.

Every time he would experience a nerve or pain flare up, he would elevate his feet and breath and wait until things cooled off before resuming. Using his toe touch as a guide for progress, he eventually got to the point where he could touch both toes again and balance on his board for 90 seconds without much wobble.

From here, he returned to the water to begin practicing surfing, but this time he incorporated a warm up and the toe touch stretches he had been working on. It took him 8 months, but he returned to surfing pain free and basically rehabbed his body to the point where he has never experienced pain again.

When I asked Blake how and why he kept going despite no real indication of how long it would take, he turned and asked me “what is the alternative? Doing nothing? Because that is 100% guaranteed to get me nowhere”.

Where do we begin?

So where did Blake and where do you even begin? Before throwing a bunch of stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks, I want to provide you some simple principles that have served me well.

Despite your condition or diagnosis, these principles are universal and lead us to the habits necessary to get better.

1.) Devote 15 minutes per day to self care 2.) Identify and frequently revaluate the cause of your pain 3.) Do 3 mobility sessions per week 4.) Make Sleep a priority 5.) Understand how to sit/stand/walk with proper alignment

While I will get in to far more detail with these in future articles, two really key takeaways include researching the cause or injury mechanism of your issue (I can help you here) and devoting quite a bit of time both daily and weekly to experiment and learn about your body.

The way I often explain this to clients I work with is that doctors and therapists can give you a diagnosis and perhaps guidelines based upon a set of symptoms but this is merely a jumping off point. It is then your responsibility to identify things that make you feel better and activities that may provoke pain.

A really good place to start with this exploration is reading about Feldenkreis principles which a lot of the work I do with clients are based upon. These are a great guideline for self experimentation and where to get started.

Wrap up:

Ultimately, the secret sauce for getting out of pain and/or achieving any type of physical or other result is not a series of exercises, but rather a willingness to explore, challenge, experiment and fail a lot. For me, passionate is the thing that results from this mindset because it is an unwilling to be defeated.

If you can adopt this attitude and view your situation as a challenge versus a limitation, we can blaze a trail to anywhere you want to go. If I can answer any questions or help in any way, please feel free to reach out.


Coach Chris

Holy crap….its a new decade and I have been working in the fitness industry for almost three decades now.

I often say the best move (and at the time, worst) move I ever made was getting a $125,000 unsecured loan to buy a gym called Peak Fitness and move back to Lakeland from NYC. In the course of a year, the economy crashed, the bank that loaned me the money ceased to exist and the gym lost 2/3ds of it’s clients.

But I didn’t quit. I stuck with it, at first because I had to pay back the loan, but as I went along I found that I developed a passion for and deeper understanding of what I was doing. I put my life in to becoming the best trainer I could be, but my business still suffered. So I hired a business coach and over the last few years, my gym actually resembles a business versus just a collection of people doing burpees.

My point in mentioning all of these things is not to toot my own horn, but to let you know how similar my journey has been to the way most successful people find and flourish in fitness. Beginning in a place of complete ignorance, they sign up for a gym, literally do anything and see progress because they are so new to fitness. If we view fitness progress as a pyramid, I consider this level 1.

Over time however, plateaus inevitable occur as the body adapts to random exercises and requires more concentrated stress. So they hire a trainer and/or sign up for Orange Theory, Crossfit or group classes. This offers a lot more structure and professional coaching which should include learning fundamental moves like squats, deadlifts, pushing and pulling.

I consider this phase Level 2 and I view it as a fitness incubator in which young padawans (trainees) sample structured training and pick the style they enjoy—bodybuilding, metabolic conditioning, athletic based training, etc.

This level works for a lot of people but it will also inevitably plateau due to scheduling around classes and outgrowing the programming of the gym or class. I see this happen a lot with group fitness classes.

Breaking down your workout:

When I am thinking about training, I try to break it down in to general units of what I will be doing that day. These units represent the essential components of what I want to get in during the week in a holistic fitness program. They consist of:

Strength training- This usually consists of a workout program centered around the big movements like squats, deadlifting, bench press and chin ups to drive strength. After performing a main lift, we can insert exercises that work on areas of your choosing.

Low intensity conditioning- Think biking, jogging or circuit training at a 5-6/10 intensity.

Recovery- This includes foam rolling, stretching, kinstretch and light aerobic work.

High Intensity Conditioning- This includes sprinting or any high intensity activities which is 7-10/10.

Putting it together:

The trick with the categories above is understanding how and when to combine the above categories. One of the major errors in a fitness program (And why I am so down on things like Orange Theory) is exposure to a mix of the above at once.

For me, this is sort of like drinking a Bloody Mary. I love bacon and tomatoes and I can tolerate Worcestershire sauce but when you combine these elements with alcohol you create a recipe for disaster. The ideal scenario is we perform each element on separate days. If this is not possible, the next best option is blocking together higher intensity work in to one day followed by lower intensity work the next day. My preferred weekly split for a beginner looks something like this: Weekly schedule

Workout element







Sunday Rest

I have seen people make progress on this schedule for up to two years before we need to add an additional lifting or conditioning day. Once plateaus in results occur, adding an additional day is exactly what I recommend. A four day split may look something like this:

Weekly schedule

Workout element







Sunday Rest

Wrap up:

Following a workout schedule consistently is truly the key to long term success. Every year, we resolve to stick to something and half or more of us end up falling apart. My advice would be to use this information to plan a schedule that works for you BEFORE choosing any fitness activities and then plug those activities in the above categories to what they most resemble.

Next week, I will delve in to a few examples of actual plans for clients ranging from those seeking to lose bodyfat to those seeking to get back in to exercise after a long incidence of back pain.

I truly hope this info helps you to start your year off the right way and I will talk to you next week.


Coach Chris

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