Do you struggle with neck or back pain?  Celebrity physiotherapist, Tom Swales, shares his expert advice on relieving chronic pain including his top back pain exercises - lower back relief is possible!

Relieve Back Pain With These Exercises

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Do you struggle with neck or back pain?  Celebrity physiotherapist, Tom Swales, shares his expert advice on relieving chronic pain including his top back pain exercises – lower back relief is possible!

Don’t miss these proven ways to diagnose, prevent, and improve neck, elbow, back, and pain with body movement! 

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  • About Tom’s Advanced Movement program
  • The 3 essential hip stretches
  • The difference between good and bad muscle pain
  • How to avoid morning back pain
  • Sitting positions to prevent neck pain
  • Ways to check neck muscle tension
  • Why core training is essential for relieving back pain
  • The role of yoga in strengthening pelvic floor muscles
  • Advantages of exercising after a massage


Be a part of Tom’s 5-week complete home training program and get up to 50% discounts for any of his courses when you sign up with the code EMPOWERED50. Visit and get fit, reduce pain and increase your strength and flexibility today!

Get started on your path to becoming a Certified Advanced Movement Therapist and register now at


Tom is a practicing physiotherapist and strength coach focusing on human movement. He is the founder and creator of Swales Performance Systems (SPS), which educates advanced knowledge of human movement. Toms’s work and ideas are at the forefront of fitness, conditioning, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

Through his work, Tom has the vision to empower people and help them gain confidence in their potential and abilities. His whole body approach and empathetic character complement his extensive experience perfectly, allowing him to guide his clients through their issues and through the challenge of achieving the healthy bodies they deserve.

Do you struggle with back pain?   Celebrity physiotherapist, Tom Swales, shares proven ways to diagnose, prevent, and improve chronic pain with body movement.


Ahna Fulmer Signature

We’re designed from top down center out. This is the most important piece for survival. So the brain is happy to sacrifice an elbow or a knee to protect the back or the neck. And that’s why training the core is my favorite because everything comes from the center. And if the center is weak, nothing else works.
Welcome to the M perfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on. Where women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation one imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast.
I am your host on a former today on the podcast. We have Tom swales. Tom is a physiotherapist and strength coach with a passion for using human movement to not only improve your strength and your fitness goals, but to diagnose physical ailments and relieve pain. Founder of the groundbreaking advanced movement therapy method used by novice and professional athletes alike.
Welcome physiotherapist extraordinary Tom’s whales. How you doing? Hi. Good, good, good. Well, thank you. Thank you for having me. And this is so fun. I was looking over your website and your blog, and I was like, I could spend hours on this. I did spend at least, well, a long time looking over stuff. I was like, oh, my word, this is a landmine of excellent, excellent advice right now I’m in the process of reorganizing it.
So the Tom website was kind of like the first trial and see kind of what we can do with it. And then now that I’ve created a whole certification course, we’re going to have a new website called the EMT So awesome. It will be much more. Organized and a little bit cleaner than what is currently up, but information’s there.
You just, the information is there. They’ll find it. Yeah. There’s so much good information. It’s interesting. We’ll get into this expertise here in a little bit, but you know, I met Tom through the group that we’re both a part of a brand strategist group that we’re part of. And anytime I hear somebody who’s in the fitness or wellness industry, I’m like, hi, I wonder what they do.
And I saw Tom’s a website. And what I love about what you do is something, it’s an idea that’s missed in medicine all of the time. So coming from a medical background, nurse practitioner and worked in the ER for 10 years. And so oftentimes I think a lot of times conditions go undiagnosed. Improperly treated because we are not hitting the root of the problem and physical therapists or physiotherapists in your position, oftentimes are almost more accurate in their assessment of a diagnostic problem than I have actually found even like orthopedist to be.
And I know some really, really excellent orthopedist. And I’ll give a little example of this because what you do would have been so perfect for my husband. So my husband, Zack spent years and years battling significant. Hip pain in his butt. It was like a shooting pain in his butt and in his hip. And for those of you listening and watching my husband’s an athlete, he was a football player and he stays in great shape, but there was really no rhyme or reason for this pain that he was getting.
And this was probably for eight years and he was found to have a little chip beer somewhere where like the tendon of the ligament of pulled off the bone. Is that true for those that don’t understand what that is? Anyway, the bottom line is this several times two or three times when he was in physical therapy.
Somebody said, I actually think this is originating in your back. Not your hip. Yep. So many times he had been told this by physical therapist and yet the orthopedist could never figure out why that would be the case. Bottom line. The long story short, I will wrap this up is that he was then ultimately diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.
It is an autoimmune condition and lo and behold, it really is originating in the lower spine. So bottom line, everyone needs to listen up here because there is so much diagnostic and preventative value in physio therapists, physical therapists, and the power of understanding body movement, and how it correlates to your pain and even potentially preventing an injury in the first place.
So I’m very excited about this. I could probably ask you questions for several hours, but before we get into all that, tell us a little bit about you, your backstory and how you even got into this world of movement and athletic performance. Yeah. So I want your social security number the day you were born, you know?
Yeah. I’ll get it. That would be in the middle, in the middle I’ll pepper in the numbers there. Um, I think it started younger. So thinking back as to how I was as a kid and I like being athletic, I played lots of sports. I kind of specialized in soccer later, went on soccer scholarship down to the states eventually.
But as a kid, I always liked watching martial artists and gymnast and you know, all the flippy stuff and then just playing everything else. And I remember one time I was probably 10, 10 or 11 and it was the Olympics and I was watching the men’s tumbling routine. And I just remember watching them round off and they’re doing these continuous backhand Springs.
So I went outside and I analyze it enough where I did a round offense, started doing backhand Springs across my backyard. They weren’t pretty, but. I realized I could break it down enough in my brain that I could repeat it. And I just loved the beauty of movement in general, watching dancers and gymnasts and soccer and football and everything.
Like I never could really pin down a sport that I wanted to do on my own. And I just had interest in everything. So it became like one of those, a Jack of all trades, but a master of none. And that led me into just the total interest in physiology human movement. And then what, how to kind of improve upon that.
So coming from an athletic background to a strength coach, to physical therapy, I think that I’ve. Brought together a lot of the different realms, but also expanding and looking at not just where people have pain, but understanding that pain is just a signal saying something is wrong in the system because we move as a system, nothing moves in isolation.
And if we’re having a signal pain in our hip, well, that could be coming from an instability in the foot that could be coming from referral from the low back that could become from the neck because of the dural tube. So when you start looking at anatomy and how we’re all connected, everything plays on one another and in your, with your husband’s case with the low back.
Yeah. Like it makes total sense when people come in with hip ham, um, most of the time it’s coming from the low back and people coming with low back pain, a lot of times it’s coming from that. Yeah, or higher up, it’s just, that’s what you’re moving into. And that’s just what your body is saying. Hey, we’re kind of overstressing these tissues.
I’m going to create a little bit of a signal here to make you pay attention, but it doesn’t mean that’s the problem. Yeah. Oh, you’re talking about your athletics. And I think where I resonate with what you’re saying is as a nurse practitioner, you know, by education, I resonate with this concept of helping to bridge worlds.
Because a lot of times somebody would see a lot of what you’re doing and kind of mentally think, well, it’s all the same thing. But the reality is within these individuals, spheres of influence, like in my case, bringing a medical background where I treated disease for 10 years, and then marrying that with my passion for fitness nutrition, and taking those two and mashing them and helping people bridge the gap.
Because it’s just like, just because somebody has MD behind their name doesn’t mean they have any idea how to teach you what to eat. Just like a fitness influencer may have no idea why. Fasted cardio could potentially improve your metabolic flexibility and reduce your diabetes risk or, you know, eliminate.
And so what I love about what you’re saying is I think you have such a unique scenario where you’re taking all of these different worlds and expertise, and you are able to bridge them in a way that is cohesive and helping pull it all together. And I think that makes it a really unique situation. Is that how have you seen that play into.
Your role in what you do because you own a concept movement. Is that what it’s called? Yeah. Tell us a little bit about that and how that combines everything. Yeah, so it was my wife and I, we started the company 10 years ago coming this July. So we worked together. She does the management business side of things and I’m the health care practitioner person.
I’ve always had the vision, even working with the Olympic ski team for a couple of years, and then working in private practice and learning from a lot of great people I knew in Canada. Is that right? We’re in Canada. We’re in Barrie, Ontario. Yeah. So we just rebranded to calm physio because a lot of people are just kind of messing up the name and it’s nice and abbreviated.
So learning from great manual therapists, great traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners, osteopaths, and then also looking at well, people need to move and load and do it properly. I always knew that I wanted to have a facility that would create that all encompassing health care setting. Okay, we can get you from post-surgery right to high-performance in the same place, because a lot of places is, well, I went to physio, I went to Cairo and my pain’s gone and I can lift my shoulder again, but then I threw the baseball and now I’m hurt again.
So there’s a big gap between your personal trainer, strength coach, and then your rehab professional. There’s a lot of neuro motor learning, patterning, progressive loading that needs to occur. And then even just reconnecting the body and reconnecting the nervous system in a particular way. It needs to occur, especially with very complex things that pertain to human movement.
And sometimes they just get lost or they just couldn’t get checked. And then that kind of led me into, I created the advanced movement therapist certification is from all these different rounds. I’ve taken hundreds of courses and certifications, and they’re all really good. They’ll give me a different insight into looking at the body a little bit differently.
They only gave me some really great tools, but then distilling it down into like, here’s how we organize our assessment. Here’s how we organize our questioning, how we look at the global movement. And then you look at the neuro because the brain controls everything. And if you skip neuro, like people will have a hip pain or knee pain because there might be a pinched nerve or there might be some nerve conduction issues going on on the opposite side of the body.
And it just might be tension and the compensating. So you’re looking at that right knee because of a left nerve tension. That just feels like hamstring tightness on the left side. But we have to go after neuro tissues very differently than we do with muscle tissues. They don’t like to be stretched. They need to be mobilized.
So organizing all this information into a little bit more of a streamlined form. It prevents one, it prevents you from skipping and missing stuff. And it’s like the best way I can describe it. I have a physio student that I’ve taken on to teach for the next six weeks. It’s like the highway. So you get on the highway and you take this highway until your assessment tells you to get off on a certain exit because that’s, and then you assess over there.
And then when that’s cleared, you come back onto the highway, but you do the same. You take the same road, you take the same highway each time and you only get off when it tells you to get off. And then when you got to get back on to be like, okay, yeah, this is fine over here. Get back on and continue on.
So that nothing is missed. And then people aren’t assuming, oh yeah, the nerves are fine. Well, are they. Like just because they don’t have nerve pain doesn’t mean it’s not compressed doesn’t mean it’s not conducting well. Right, right, right. So, and then going into your special tests and then all the other orthopedic stuff.
So, and then coming back on the outside is you reassess to make sure that what you did was the right thing. If you treat something, I hope that you measure things beforehand, because if you measure before, you don’t know if you’re effective and the person also doesn’t know if you’re effective. So like a straight leg raise or a shoulder, like check your work as a test retest.
So I mean that whole concept in general, we tend to miss in society, somewhat research studies show that and I’m like, okay, but show me the before show. Just because it worked out, it doesn’t necessarily mean there was a significant difference I have to ask. So you’re talking about all these certifications.
I’m distracted by the wall behind you. Are those, all your certifications? That’s some of them, that’s some of them, just a couple of look at this man is loaded with. So I get bored. I go, I go learn stuff, right? Okay. Point to the one you’re most proud of with your finger, which one? And the arrangement there.
The one that I created, actually. Okay, well, which one, if we take your certification, is it up there? No, it’s not up there yet. I didn’t give myself a certificate. Like how pretentious? I thought that’d be like, well, should I give myself a certification? Like I certified you, should you should. I want to see your certification.
Well, you guys can’t see the cool piece of paper that you’ll get. If you do his certification because he’s not pretentious, but I am. And I would like to see it on your wall. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there coming back to the business. So it’s a 5,000 square foot facility. We have four movement coaches.
We have eight physios. We have three massage. We have four men. The staff is unbelievable. Like we’re very fortunate for the team that we have to work with. They want to learn. They want to be better. They want to be the best that they can be. And that’s the culture that we’ve created here is yeah, you’re coming in with knowledge, but it doesn’t stop there either.
You want to keep learning something new and continue to get better so we can service our clients. Or it’s the wrong bus for you. So we’ve really, we’ve got great leadership in place and yeah, it’s super fine. Like we created an environment that’s fun to work on. Um, super cool. The videos are amazing for those of you listening to clarify the certification that we’re talking about, he does have, for those of you that aren’t watching, he does have a ton of certifications, which I love on the wall there.
But the one that we’re specifically talking about was one that he created with implementing all of these strategies that they practice at their center. It’s basically like a physical therapy center in a sense strength training, but also a school really. It’s a combination of all of the above. So we’re going to get into that a little bit more and more of your expertise here on movement, but you mentioned you and your wife are business partners and you are also a dad.
Yes, correct? Yes. I read that correctly. He was like, am I. Eight and six, our daughter’s eight and our son is minor nine, seven and four. So they’re very close. So I understand. So tell me a little bit in your experience. I mean, anyone who has not been a business owner and I would not have known until I started my own business.
It is a whole different world. You are managing so many hats. Tell us a little bit about some of the learning curve and you’re in it with your wife, which is not possible for many couples. They wouldn’t make it. So tell us a little bit about that experience, how it has been juggling, so many different things, wearing different hats, and then on top of it being in business with your wife, because then family is kind of meshing into the business world.
Talk to us a little bit about that. I’ll start with the meshing and working with it was like working with my wife is great. It’s not hard because we have two very different roles. She has her expertise that I will ask questions about, but because I don’t, I’m not an expert in that area. That’s her around, right.
I’m in the health, the fitness and the strength conditioning and the rehab side of things. So like, that’s my realm. So when she was in the office prior to COVID every day, people just like, how do you work together? And like, we, sometimes we don’t see each other, like I run into her office and I give her a kiss and it’s like, I got to go.
And then we’ll talk at the end of the day, because she’s doing her thing and managing the business side of things and I’m managing the. But from the learning curve, it’s such an, even after 10 years, we were just like, oh, it feels like we got it figured out. We figured out hiring. We figured out systems. We figured out training.
We figured out leadership. It’s just been constantly layering, one on top of the other. And then every year it’s just like, well, there’s a new problem that we never incurred. And it’s just like, how do we manage this? And then running a business because people are dynamic. And because things are the world around you is so dynamic and things are changing and evolving.
If you think that you can let your foot off the gas, you’re in trouble to think that, oh, I don’t need to evolve with social media on this. And I’m like, well, 50% of our new assessments come from Google, from Google or. So it’s either you evolve with the times or the business falls apart and keeping the relationship strong and connectedness with, with staff and with clients.
Like that’s a key thing for retention that we’ve learned. You know, we do staff events every quarter. We have a chief fun operator. So the CFO, chief fun operator, wait, I want that she fun operator in our houses and that’s what I need to be a chief fun operator. That’s my new word. Instead of a mom, I’m a chief fun operator.
I got a lot better. Yeah. Like that. So yeah. And then we have mastermind sessions every quarter. So it’s a lot of making sure everyone’s together, not just walking past each other in the workplace. And we found that, okay, like this is how we keep a good solid team together, which is fun. Like it’s awesome to do.
And it’s fun to see everyone kind of growing. And we have plans to continue to evolve and grow as a business, but we also having leadership in place. We want people to also grow and develop with us. Not just feel like they’re stuck in a position that, well, I guess this is it. Nobody wants to do that anymore.
So it’s great. And to work with my wife is a blessing. She is. Kylie Kylie, Kylie, Kylie, Kylie will recognize you by name because she is superwoman. How do you guys keep business separate? Do you keep business separate from like, how do you take a break? Because my problem is in my husband knows full well, I could work all day long and just keep going while doing 5 million things at one time.
And he’s like, Nope, we need to be done. So how do you, do you have those times where you’re intentionally, like we’re not talking business, we’re not talking like, how do you do that? How do you mesh those two? Well, we don’t look at, cause we don’t look at business as work because we’re both doing it. Right.
We’re both in it. So it’s always going to be that topic of conversation. And because we have our dreams are together, it’s always just like, okay, what do we keep doing to grow this, to prosper this, and then, okay. Then we’re like, it’s just always talking about the bigger dream and the bigger picture. And then what does it look like from there?
So it’s not work. It’s like, Ooh, I’m excited. Let’s live life. It does. It is life. And as an entrepreneur, you know, the whole work-life balance thing is like, work is your life, but it’s not work if you enjoy. If it’s something you really love, then it’s not really work. Right. It’s just like, I’m excited to do this thing.
I’m just lucky I get paid to do it. Why wouldn’t you talk about it if it’s work and you know, if you’ve got spouses and they’ve got two different things, like one spouse is like, okay, I’ll listen to your work a little bit, but then you have to cut that off because it doesn’t really involve them. Right.
It’s involving you. But when it’s involving both of us, it’s easier. We’re still talking about each other and what we’re both doing. Yeah. So let me ask you this. If Kylie was sitting here beside you and I asked her, what was her favorite thing to do with you outside of comp physio? Outside of work, even though it’s like life, what would she want?
Oh, we always plan an annual trip. Just the two of us. Right. We, when we have a family trip and then we have an us trip, but even just like doing stuff with the kids, like take them for hikes. We don’t talk about, we do talk about business at the dinner table because we want the kids to understand, and they’re learning about leadership and money and finances and stuff like that.
Right. We keep the details of work out of that. Your favorite thing then. So Kylie’s, she’s going on trips. What would you want to do outside of comp physio? Well, that’s why I created the AMT. It’s teaching me. I know, I know I’m boring. Well, we both love snow. You’re not boring. His stuff is incredible. It’s very fascinating.
But you’re an athlete. You like surely you like to do something outside of the walls of, yeah. So I still go to, like, I’m not a gymnast, but I go to, there’s an open gym and I do gymnastics on my own and just figure up tricking and like, that’s my physical outlet. I’m not playing soccer anymore and no, nothing organized, but anything that falls within the schedule that I’ve created, because I can go in the middle of the day.
I go and see if some of my adult kid friends want to come and bounce around with me for an hour and flip into the phone pitch. But in the wintertime, we take the kids skiing, snowboarding, we’re close to the hill. They’ve got soccer starting up in the spring. It’s moving around a lot and just planning.
There’s nothing like the only structured, organized thing with golf, but we’re not big golfers and terrible, but it’s getting outside and doing it together. Yeah. Mountain biking, summertime. That’s one thing I do with buddies, but right now I am enjoying their creativity side of things. It will be a relief, but it’s also going to be like, well, what do I do now once it’s created, because, and then obviously getting into the marketing, that’s going to be a whole other thing and a whole new thing I get to learn about because it’s one thing, creating a product and teaching what you love.
It’s another thing I’m trying to, how to explain it to people, which I have a very hard time distilling down or marketing. So a whole nother good, large people, much braver than I am. I hate marketing or selling. It was a joke. People that come on here, I’m like, I’m not a sales woman. Yeah, one question that I like to ask people is tell me one mistake that you can think of that you made at some point along this career journey in this process, as you’re learning to mesh, all of these loves and experiences, starting a business, you’re a dad, you’re a husband.
Can you think of a time where there was like, whew made this mistake, but here’s how it turned out. Here’s the lesson I learned. I mean, we learned from everything. Obviously there was a time. So our son was born, we were moving into our house. We were between houses. And I was trying to kind of like Kylie was on a little bit MOAs on mat, leave with Brody.
I was putting too much on my plate. I was trying to like, start this other thing here and do talks on this. And it didn’t really well, I thought it would align with, with our current businesses, but it was actually just eating away time. And then there was a point where I’m doing a PowerPoint presentation for this next one.
I’m like, this is costing me so much stress like this isn’t fun. And it was eating at my energy and my focus time away from the kids. And I’m like, why am I doing this other thing? Like, it’s not adding any value. So trying to build something that, you know, didn’t really fall in line or correlate with current trajectory, it just ended up pulling too much attention away from the things that actually matter most.
That was one thing I’ve learned in. And Kylie is very good at questioning me. She’s always my sounding board because I’ll get distracted with a shiny thing and be like, let’s get this. She’s like, you haven’t finished this yet. Once the course is done. And even last year, I’m like, Hey, you’re like the dog and the movie up, you see a squirrel and you’re like, squirrel.
Yeah. I don’t know what that makes Kylie in that movie. We won’t go into that. Kylie’s just a sounding board. She is. And she’s the voice of reason and, oh, my logic. So the point very well that the bottom line is sometimes it is easy for those of us that get very excited about a new opportunity. And it’s almost like.
Sometimes less is more that quality over quantity. Yeah. So the, oh, I know where I was going to go with that is, you know, doing the brand builder stuff. I’m like, oh, I should do a podcast. She’s like, when are you going to fifth avenue? I was like, that is a good point. She’s like, you’re going to start it.
You’re going to get overwhelmed again. And then it’s not going to happen. Or things are just gonna get half ass. I’m like, okay. So that’s where I’m like, okay, let’s finish this and then we’ll move on to that. There’s no rush. And I think one thing that looking back, I was too impatient with some things I’m like, I can do all of this now and it build it up together rather than just really focused attention on one or two things that work together.
And I think even looking back, some of those other distractions would draw attention away from physio and all of a sudden we’re like, somebody’s leaving or somebody’s like, that’s not growing this, isn’t growing, what’s growing. And it’s because we realized that our attention is too spread out that we’re not focusing on.
Yeah. So really making sure something is solidly built. And if we are going to divert attention, Do we have the right team in place that can continue to move it forward in the right direction who see the vision. And it wasn’t until actually, you know, I’m going to say when COVID hit, it made us step back from the business.
She was driving in every day, drop the kids off at school and pick them up after school and then rush to get home. And I was working longer hours here, but we had 16, 17 staff at that point. And she would have a monthly meeting with every single staff member. And then guess what? Next month got to do it all over again.
So like, it just got exhausting. Then we realized we need leadership. Like we need people in each department to help with this. So now that took down our meetings from 17 to four and we just check in and they’re checking in with the staff and then everybody’s still connected and everyone’s moving in the right direction.
Now that we have great leadership in place. It’s giving us a little bit more freedom to, okay, now Tom can go work on the AMT because it’s the AMT lunches it’s going to draw in like-minded clinicians who want to work at calm. If they’re local to the area, or at least get certified with this method and build the community that way by leagues, she’s starting to branch off and we’re going to look at what she used to do more in her real estate venture.
So she quit real estate. She quit working for the company and worked at the front desk for a couple of years. Right. And I was the only clinician for six months. She was already working 12 hours. So coming back to that, and it was like us two and 4,000. Right. Two other stuff, right? It’s seasons. It’s what I’m hearing there is that there’s seasons.
And there’s also the idea of leaders, empowering leaders that may be the most important element to leadership is empowering others to be leaders in their own. Right. Doesn’t mean we all look the same as leaders, but everyone is a leader in some way, shape or form. And that should be a priority. Well, we’re going to take a really quick break.
When we come back, we’re going to do a speed round of this or that with Tom. And then we’re going to hear more of his expert advice on movement for strength prevention and rehabilitation. Something that he’s just a little passionate about. All right. When we get. You have tried it all worried. He will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy.
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All right, we are back here with Tom, Tom, we’re going, gonna play a quick round of this or that you get two options. No stress. Don’t think about it too hard. Would you rather do gymnastics or skiing? I’m going to switch it to snowboarding. Oh yeah. Neither of those two. I would go gymnastics. I would go gymnastics between those two.
No, that’s okay. I’m flexible. I can flex so snowboarding and gymnastics. Okay. Would you rather a burger or hot dog burger? Best burger you’ve ever. Kensington’s here in Barre. Oh, okay. Say that one more time. We’ll put it in the show notes. Where’s it. Kensington’s burger bar in Barre. Kensington’s burger bar.
I have so many restaurant suggestions in my show notes. I need to do like an entire and there you guys again are in Barrie, Ontario, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Um, well I’m hungry now. All right. I’m coming up for a burger. Save me a seat. Okay. Coffee or tea? Coffee. How do you take your coffee? Black. Same.
Gotta be the right coffee though. Would you rather a personal yacht or a private jet? Uh, yacht. Are you going on your yet? Tropical islands? I guess. Yeah. Somewhere that’s not Ontario. Yeah. Somewhere that’s not, Ontario is ideal. That’s fair. I like the cardio or weights. What’s your very, very favorite body part to work out muscle.
I should say I’m going to say core core. Ooh. I have a question on cord. That’s coming. Stay tuned. People. Question Encore is coming in. It’s one. You don’t want to miss one of my own personal pet peeves about cores, and Tom’s going to, he’s going to explain it for us. You have spent years and years researching, practicing with body movement, you have a YouTube channel, by the way, we’re going to point more of this out at the end.
But a lot of these things that I’m going to ask him about, he has videos also demonstrating these exercises that you definitely want to subscribe to and check out. And to be clear, this is not just for athletes. When you look at his stuff, you realize you could be in your seventies and experiencing back pain, and there is stuff for you.
You could be in your twenties and an elite college athlete, and there is stuff for you. So there’s a whole gamut here. Let’s talk about in my personal experience, not just in the ER, as a nurse practitioner, but also as a fitness nutrition coach, one of the most common complaint. But I have either had to diagnose or treat his back pain.
Yes. You talk about three must do. We’ve already mentioned how the hip is so important to address with back pain. Three must do hip stretches to eliminate morning back pain. And you also offered this secret morning back pain remedy. So the three stretches, I believe are the night before. And then the morning back pain you get up and you’re like, well, I am 70 years old in a 30 year old body.
How I feel sometimes. And then you’ve got a morning back pain remedy. So talk to us about the three must do hip stretches. Yeah. So the three must do hip stretches goes after don’t think in terms of more of like, what muscles is it stretching because. All the muscles are connected via fascia and they’re, they’re more fascial lines.
So the one stretch, uh, it’s a straddle stretch that you kind of do. You got your legs out to the side, like in a V and then you’re just sliding. But what that’s going to do is going to open up hips, glutes, hamstrings, low back. And as you push the floor away and you slide, you can activate the front core, which will then create more relaxation on the backside.
So we can use neurological tricks of contraction and relax, uh, when we contract one muscle to create relaxation and the opposite. So that, that kind of straddle slide is the first one that I like to do because it opens up the hips and opens up the whole posterior chain, which is your backside. The next one is going to be more like a couch stretch or a wall stretch where you put your foot up behind you, and it’s going to stretch the hip flexors, but it’s going after.
Tibialis anterior front shin muscle, the front quad muscle, but then all the way up into the arm and the shoulder. And when we open up the shoulder with it, it goes after this different fascial line, up the front into the neck, because if we sit at a desk, everyone blames all my hip flexors. My, my dear diaphragm might be the abdominal wall might be the S it might be anything on the front here, because when we sit, we’re shortening everything here.
And then all of a sudden we stand now, all those muscles on our back are working extra hard against the shortening on the front. And people say, oh, my back is so tight. I’m like, no, your back is working too hard against the tightness in the front. If you release the tightness in the front, the back won’t work.
Hmm. So again, it comes back to what feels tight. And I use quotation marks because it’s not truly tight. It’s hypertonic, it’s working too hard because the brain is saying, look, we’ve got too much tension on the front. I need to pull up a little bit harder to prevent us from the broken nose. Cause if it doesn’t turn on, then we end up falling.
So, and then the last one is going to be more the pigeon stretch where we’re opening up rotation and we kind of send it to a yoga pose, but I want people to be careful with that one, because if they have a certain type of hip hip joint, depending on the angle, it can cause more problems. So just because there’s three really good stretches for me does not mean it’s three really good stretches for everybody else.
If stretching is causing pain, you might be going too far. You might not be ready for it. And you might be bumping into your anatomy. I’ve had people trying to do force that pigeon stretch. Like I can’t get it, but I’m getting a pinch on the front roll. Their hip angles doesn’t allow for that. They just don’t have the anatomy to go that deep.
Which is then going to limit their squats on that side. And they’re like, well, I’m doing squats and they’re swinging to the opposite cause it’s a different hip. So if someone’s individual anatomy plays a big part into what they can move into. So appreciating that and kind of always self-assessing yeah, you have to self-assess the create self-awareness, which is why in a lot of my videos, you’ll see that like let’s measure someone.
We’ll do some exercises and then we’ll recheck it after to see if we may change, because if we may change our nurses and said, yep, I like that. That feels safe. I’m going to let the brakes off. If it didn’t like it, it’s going to create more tone, more pain, and it’s going to restrict movement. So movement is that ultimate feedback loop of whether you did something right.
Or whether you did something wrong for real, real quick. So I’m a free talk about the morning back pain remedy. Um, this is something that we talked a lot about in running. I was a competitive runner for eight years. And the difference between soreness and focal pain or a generalized stretch and focal pain.
Because a question I think a lot of people have, especially if you weren’t necessarily an athlete and you didn’t, or in competitive sports and you didn’t have that experience. I think a lot of people don’t actually recognize the difference between this is a pain that you should probably pull back from, or this is a pain you should push through.
Yeah. So how do you convey that concept to people even just in terms of stretching and exercising? Yeah. So pain and discomfort are two different things. In my opinion, pain is that absolute signal to stop. It’s that sharp burning, like it starts to shut stuff down. It starts to feel weak. It starts to feel unstable.
That’s the nervous system saying, I need you to stop what you’re doing right now. Discomfort is if we’ve been sitting on our desk for a period of time and you know, we start to shift around, that’s discovered that’s not pain because that’s a signal that you need to change what you’re doing, but also to move around, to stimulate different tissues or different receptors, the muscle soreness that we get from training.
If we dosed the exercise correctly, a little bit of this soreness is actually. Good, but it’s not a measurement of how good the workout was, because if you dose it so much where you squat too much weight, you deadlift too much. One, you’re going to start going to start losing position. You’re going to start damaging tissue, or you created so much microtrauma in the muscles that cause all this tearing that you can’t repeat training for the next four to five.
Great. That’s how, you know, you did too much. If you underdosed it you’d be like, well, I don’t really feel any difference. And it wasn’t enough of a stress to create a change or some kind of adaptation, but a little bit of soreness, a little bit of fatigue is okay, it’s actually going to improve performance because we know that often you did some squats.
You’re like, wow, I can really feel my glutes today. Yeah. That’s a good thing because now you’re like, oh, my brain can feel that I’m going to use that for more. Like, I can’t get out of bed today. I’m going to just roll out of bed. Cause I haven’t worked out in months. What did we, yeah. But what does that tell the body to like what, what kind of signal is that sending?
It’s just like, you know what? This feels awful. I don’t want to do this again. And if you do that enough times, your subconscious will find a reason not to do that again, because it’s perceiving it as harm. But if it’s just like, oh, I feel more energetic. I got my mobility feels great. I feel good. I want to do that.
Right. So if we dose exercise, right. If we make it feel good and we finish on a good note, that is going to trigger that dopamine that you’re like, Ooh, I want to do that again tomorrow. But if we go past dopamine into all the pain receptors and we start creating stress hormones, our physiology and our neurology will be like, I’m going to do anything.
I’m going to create any excuse. Not to do that again. Yeah. So the takeaway for people listening, even just when we’re talking about stretches is I’m hearing Tom say, is that one it’s not all or nothing. If you start these stretches and you’re like, Ooh, I can’t go any further stop. It’s a little bit at a time dose.
It even just stretching. I mean, everything that you’re saying here is applicable to whether you are training for a race and you’re all out training, or you’re just simply trying to do these stretches that we’re talking about. The concept is it’s not all or nothing, do a little bit at a time dose it. And if you feel that sharp, focal, I, which I can’t do that again, kind of a pain that is different than like the general soreness that you want to feel as you are trying to sort of along gate these muscles.
And if you feel asymmetry, if you feel like I feel tightness on one side, but I don’t want the other right. Like normal muscle soreness should be symmetrical. It should feel the same on both sides and it shouldn’t limit your range of motion. But if all a sudden you’re like, ah, why do I have tightness on this left side?
Well, tightness is the first signal saying something might be unbalanced right before the pain signal starts coming on too. So it should feel the same. It should be in the muscle belly. It should not be around the joints. It should not be in and around the spine. It should be kind of the large muscle groups that should be doing all the work if we did it.
Right. Um, so a general, general soreness there, bilaterally not no more, no more than a hundred, no more than a three. Anything more than a three it’s too much. So hopefully for you guys listening here, moving forward, that’s a general idea. As you’re assessing yourself doing these stretches to know when it is a healthy soreness and an unhealthy, unhealthy pain.
I just wanted to sort of elicit that for people listening. So you talked about a morning back pain, remedy the magic morning exercise. What is. So this is coffee. It’s always coffee. Here’s the magic revenue for everything in my life. Sorry, I interrupted you again, squirrel. Yeah. So a lot of times people come in with the wake up in the morning, and I think the main problem is beds are too soft.
If sleeping on a soft surface, it doesn’t encourage movement through the night. It kind of folds us. You know, pillow-top mattresses are probably one of the worst things I’ve seen from a healthcare perspective. And I used to sleep on one years and years ago and I would always wake up sore. Why does it make sense?
That you’re waking up the next morning and you feel worse. Well, that means the environment in which you’re sleeping in or on is not appropriate. If you look at our evolution, did we sleep on soft, cushy mattresses, hundreds or thousands of years ago? No, we slept on the earth. We slept on hard, like natural leathers or whatever, or progressed, but it’s a hard from surface.
If you lay on the floor, you can do it for a period of time, but then what ends up happening? No it’s uncomfortable. So what’s that a signal for well, time to move. All right. Shift to your back, roll to your side. But when we do that through the night, we’re increasing circulation and we’re massaging the spine and the shoulders and the hips.
But when we lay on a very cushy surface, we don’t get that signal anymore. We don’t get the uncomfortable signal to naturally move. So everything pools, blood pools, tissues get overstretched or over compressed, and the core muscles along the spine. They’re not getting massage. Everything on the back needs a firm surface.
And if we’re not rolling and twisting, we’re not stretching and activating through the night. And then we wake up in the morning. Like I can’t move because nothing is. Everything’s been deactivated. So with the morning core exercises, it’s just a lot of times people sleep in the fetal position and the lower back muscles are getting overstretched all night and everything’s kind of expanded and it seems kind of, and again, it’s not for everybody, right?
This is just try, do some isometrics in those erectors, all those muscles that run along the spine, wake them up with the glutes and the hamstrings and see how that improves your total. Now if somebody has an instability or some kind of stenosis, please don’t do this exercise. But for the majority of people going up into some extension can be healthy for the discs and it can be healthy for the spine as long as we have control or not pinching into things.
So I don’t want people to think that, oh, this is the number one thing I need to do, because if it causes pain, it’s probably the wrong thing you need to do. Right. And if we have tight hips on the front that could easily pinch in your back. So we might need to go after hip mobility first, before we go into any kind of spine stuff, which are the ones that we just talked about, the three must-do hip stretches, both of these.
If you search on his YouTube channel, there’s everyone, hopefully you all know that you can always search anyone’s YouTube channel. There’s a little search button. You can search hip stretches. You can also search morning back pain remedy. You can also go to his website that we’ll make sure it’s in the show notes to search these as well, to find it specifically so you can see what he’s talking about.
Well, in line with back pain, Neck pain, not shockingly. And I saw a really interesting article that you talked about that I thought was very relevant. You talk about the concept of how we’re sitting at our desk. Look, I’m sitting right now. Totally not in line at all, but the point being we’re sitting a lot now and elbows how our elbows are positioned and how our torsos are ultimately positioned can actually be affecting our neck again, it’s that concept?
That youth it’s neck pain, but really it’s. Stemming from. And I personally experienced this really interesting when I very first started blogging. I was sitting in a position that I had never sat in for so long in my life, you know, in the ER, you’re up down, you’re all around. You’re running your running, never good in the ER, by the way, if you see that, but it happens.
So I was never in a job where I sat for a length of time, like I did. And for the first time in my life, I got this terrible next spasm and it was awful. It was terrible. I actually went to a massage therapist, which was the most miserable experience of my life. It was very helpful. But the bottom line was, I knew I didn’t even need someone to tell me I self-diagnosed.
I knew it was because how I was sitting. So I totally changed my desk position, ergonomics for anyone that wants to Google that, or look on my blog, you know, in the ways that you can kind of align everything there’s ways to be sitting at work. But talk to us a little bit about. How you can be sitting an unwind, literally it’s called unwind your tight elbows at work, which I completely understand.
Cause I was there. So talk a little bit about that and how that correlates to neck pain, what we can be doing for neck pain, what we shouldn’t be doing for neck pain. Yep. So if we look at how we’re structured and organized, just from a developmental and a neurological model, the neck takes her higher priority over your lower back or anything else by cause it’s closer to the brain.
The neck is also part of what’s called a cervical reflex to pivot quickly and look for threats. So anything that compromises one of these permanent survival reflexes takes priority, but if it gets compromised, if I can’t turn my head to the left, I can’t look for threats. So what do I have to do? I got a loop.
But guess what doesn’t rotate the lower back does not rotate. It’s not designed to do that, but also you’re like, I got this low back pain on the left side. Like, well, you can’t turn your head to the left. So we’re going to disorganize the system just from a pure survival perspective. But all the nerves, like the spinal cord comes out of the neck and it’s got to go down to the low back.
And then we have nerves going into our arms and all those nerves are designed to move and slide fully through their full range of motion to get nourished and to stay healthy. But if I’m stuck like this all day, I don’t care how ergonomically sound your desk is. It’s still going to wind up and lock up the system.
The ergonomics are fine, but it’s like putting a filter on a cigarette it’s kind of less bad and you can do more of it before you die. Right. The ergonomics. We want to kind of line and stack things up to not stress tissues. But the main thing when we’re working at a desk is to move regularly. Every 20, 30 minutes set a timer.
If we want to sit longer, I recommend sit on the. If you’ve got a laptop, because when you sit on the floor, you have to maintain perfect posture or else you fall over, you know, you can sit cross-legged and then when that gets uncomfortable, what does that signal telling us to do change position? All right, let’s go straddle now.
All right. Now we’re stretching your hamstrings as I’m working at the computer. Okay. That’s uncomfortable. Now. What about the standing desks? Fine. I am, but it’s the same thing doing too much of it causes problems. Yeah, those fitting compresses, the disks too much and stretches everything, but then standing, we’ll also tighten the hip flexors and allow us to sit on the joints in the back causing stenosis.
So my recommendation is if you have a standing desk, just every 20 minutes, Stanford, 20 sip for 20 Neo for 20, like just move, just make it a regular habit to change positions. Cause that’s really the best thing for us foreplay and Sheeran and dance. While you stand at your desk, I’m thinking through what I need to do.
That might be more. But even just when he’s on, you know, I get people we get in our zones. Cause I’m just like, time’s going by. But if we lose that self-awareness and we’re starting to ignore those signals, all of a sudden we stand up, we’re like, oh, where’d that pain come from? Well, if you were paying attention to what was going on, you would have caught that before it became.
But the best thing is to do is set reminders. If we’re 20, 30 minute blocks of focus, and the research says that when you get these really intense 30 minutes and then take a quick break and then 30 minutes take a quick break. So we’re never coming out of that fatigue, right? You’re not getting so ramped up and then crashing, and then we need more time to kind of recover from that intense bout of focus.
Um, so that’s a good solution to do that because it will improve focus, but it will also improve and may stave off a lot of the aches and pains from sitting or just stationary movements. Yeah. So that’s a great piece for those of you that are sitting a lot at your job, whether you’re at a standing desk or not move, set a timer for yourself, something that goes off every 30 minutes, do jumping jacks.
Dance to your favorite song, whatever, whatever the case is for those of us that have neck pain or who have those tight, obviously we know it’s all connected. Tell us about the stretch we should or should not be doing for our next. Well, for one, we want to see what our range of motions, like, so just doing something simple, like looking at, if you can get your chin to your chest without any pulling, and then the range of motion is good.
If we are looking up and as long as there’s no pinching us in the back, we’re okay. In the back. When you look up. Yeah. So you don’t want to feel any pinching. There might be a little bit of stretch here, right? So we’re just doing self-assessments. Can I get my chin over to my collarbone? Right. So set a baseline on both sides, right?
So you don’t have a tight neck, but if it feels tight, it’s probably unstable or some of the deeper muscles haven’t gotten weaker. So if these muscles start to fall asleep, like our core down below, then we start to draw a lot of tension in our neck or in the larger muscles that are the traps. And then we’re like, ah, my, my neck is here.
The other reason why we’ll recruit those as breathing, when we’re sitting the diaphragm, doesn’t have enough room to breathe or to move up and down. So we do this and I’m using my neck and my shoulders to help me breathe all day. Do you have any breasts. A lot about 22,000. So people come in and like, I got this headache and my shoulders are tight.
I’m like, well, you’re doing about 22,000 shrugs. So let’s stop doing that for one. And just getting our breathing down lower, it will relax the neck because our breathing is the first survival reflex and a for breathing like this all day, we’re constantly flooding stress, stress hormones into the system.
We’re going to change our physiology. We’re changing our neurology and we’re just going to create all this abnormal and unnecessary muscle tension in the body, which then gets exhausting. The breathing is the number one thing to do is just check to see where your breathing is. If you’re breathing in your belly.
Okay. We’re probably good. Instead of stretching, I like people strengthening and activating instead. So if I feel tightness on the back here, I’m just going to do a simple isometric and a little five second hold or one breath cycle as I’m looking down and then see if that relieves. And so you’re pushing it.
You’re providing pressure against your forehead when you’re doing yeah. To activate these muscles. And that reciprocally turns off these muscles. Okay. If I’m looking up and I feel a little pinch on the back of my neck, I’m going to back off from that. I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to look up towards the ceiling.
I’m pushing my head into my hands one deep breath, and then watch that release. So all this relaxes now, same thing to the side to side. So, and counter pressure basically towards the side that’s hurting. Yeah. If I get a pinch over here, if I’m getting a little pinchy here, it just might be, the muscles are weak, but they don’t know how to contract properly there.
And all of a sudden I apply and I activate them and all of a sudden look, my range of motion gets better. So it’s just a lot of it has to do with, there might be some strength in balance at certain ranges of the neck. And that’s why it feels tight because the body is trying to stabilize and protect that neck as best as possible.
And it will recruit big muscles to do so. Just like the low back. If I have my inner core muscles, aren’t working diaphragm transverse pelvic floor, my brain will try and use the erectors. It will try and use the hip flexors cause they crossed the spine as well. But we’ll try and use those hip muscles to try and stabilize that center point.
That is the most important part because we’re designed from top-down center. Okay, this is the most important piece for survival. And then it goes down on midline and then it works its way out. So the brain is happy to sacrifice an elbow or a knee or a foot to protect the back or the neck. Right. And that’s why training the core is my favorite because everything comes from the center.
And if the center is weak, nothing else works. Like watching our kids develop, they spent how long on the ground moving their arms and legs, but developing their center first. And then they figure out rolling, and then they’re on their tummies and they’re moving their arms and legs. And then they can get up into the quadrat bed onto her hands.
And yeah. So now they’re going spine suspended. So they’re starting to develop the curves of the spine for walking, and then they start doing locomotion and then they eventually learn, oh, I can come up into kneeling or into some half kneeling. And now they can stack the spine before they stand. So we develop from ground up, right.
As well as top-down center out. If we go back and we start fixing and getting back on the ground, then some of those more advanced patterns like squatting, I know I’ve kind of gone off, but some of those other things that we like to do, they actually get easier. Yeah. I just want to point out for those of you listening.
If you want to check out this YouTube video and get to the point where Tom’s giving the example of these head, he’s basically just applying counter pressure. This would be a great thing to do at your desk. And those 30 minute intervals is to stand up, do these counter pressure movements, especially if you’ve already done the whole ergonomically friendly desk setup.
This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Really? Any of these stretches that he’s talking about, you could incorporate into your movement. And even I do a, an ergonomics workshop, virtual workshop, where I teach eight strategies on how to improve or reduce pain at work while sitting at the thing at your desk.
Fabulous. Does that live on your website? Is that evergreen or is that life? No, it’s usually live. I’ll usually do it for, you know, school boards or corporations or whatnot. They’ll ask me to come in and. And so I get everyone to stand up. They touch their toes, they do a backbend, they check their shoulder to look at range of motion.
They look at me like, okay, first thing we’re going to do. Let’s go over breathing. I have to do some deep breathing to really expand. And then I get them to touch your toes and I’ll send like, wow, I can touch my toes. I’m like, but we didn’t stretch hamstrings. But we applied an input to the nervous system that the nervous system said, oh, I liked that.
We should probably do that before. And then we go into the eyes like, okay, if that didn’t work for you, let’s try this. Let’s just flick our eyes left to right as fast as possible, stretch our gaze because our eyes are too centered and we go up and down. Well, when the eyes flick left and right, it activates the cerebellum, which controls all the spinal muscles.
So when I look left, it’s sending a signal to my left cerebellum all the way down my left side, to initiate a role, to look to my left. But if I stretch the gaze and I do this quickly, and then people just like, oh my God, I couldn’t touch my toes. I’m like amazing. And all we do is stretch your eyes. We didn’t even stretch your legs.
And then we go into neck reflexes and we’ll go into tapping and we’ll go into all these different inputs of kind of calming down or activating certain parts of the nervous system. And B it was like, wow, I can move better. And I feel better. I’m like, and we didn’t stretch anything. And it took 30 seconds to do one of these.
Um, and this is where his certification comes in people, if, and if you’re listening and you’re like, huh, this is so fascinating. Don’t worry. We will give you that resource, that link. Yeah. And we utilize in my certification, we do all the orthopedic. We do a lot of orthopedic assessment in the beginning and then level two, we get into a lot of the functional neurology of utilizing visual vestibular breathing and then into higher, higher capacity, higher functioning exercise prescriptions.
Yeah. Super fun. Well, let’s end with the core, the chorus. I still have a podcast coming on this, my clients hear me talk about this. People hear core exercises and there’s two things that I always like to clarify. When we talk about the core that I would argue, the core is not the same as abs. When we talk about abs, we’re usually talking about the external muscles that we can see, and it is not necessarily the core.
I will also argue from a fitness nutrition standpoint that you can be at a healthy body fat percentage and not necessarily have defined. Abs. I say that abs are aesthetic, but a strong core is essential. Yes. And Tom is going to explain why these are two very different things and why we need to understand there’s a difference between core and abs.
So again, for my purposes, Saying the core are more so that inner muscles that we can’t necessarily see, abs are the external from a societal standpoint, when we refer to them, that is how we should be understanding them. Yes. You talk about how core exercises are not only essential for really just day-to-day movement, but especially eliminating back pain.
One of the most common, common causes of just general body aches and pains that we can think of, but just talk in general, to me about core exercises, just expand on that a little bit in the importance of. Core. And again, remember abs are not essential. Their aesthetic, a core strong core is essential. Yes.
So if we break down kind of, we have two systems that help stabilize their spine. We have the local system or the inner core, which consists of your transverse abdominis. It’s like a corset that wraps around your diet. Pelvic floor and they have these little muscles on the low back called the multi-fit eye.
Now their job is to essentially they work reflexively and it’s mostly with breathing. When we breathe in and we read out with purse lips, you can feel that course it cinch up. That’s the inner core activating. First, when we lift something heavy, that is going to be your global core or the exterior core, which is your rectus, abdominis, your obliques in your quadratus lumborum and all the big outer muscles.
Their job is create global stabilization. So when we need to pick up something heavy or we need to take a punch, or we need to transmit forces, those are the muscles that take over, but the inner core needs to come on first at a reflex level, because if we get the inner core on it, decompresses the spine first to create space before the outer core comes down and compresses down onto it.
But if our strategy is to brace and lock down every single time we’re going to compress the disks and we’re going to wear things down that. So people will get cotton to I bent over and I picked up some. You know, I just picked up my shoe. Well, because you didn’t allow the spine to bend and reflexively stabilize, you were using probably a bracing strategy that compressed it.
And then you tried to move on top of that. And that’s where people will kind of tweak their backs and it’s from a poor timing and sequencing of the inner core versus the outer core. Most people, the outer core. Functions fine, but there’s a timing problem with the intercore and if we’ve had a low back pain or if we had postpartum or C-section or surgery or anything along those lines, it shuts off that signaling pathway from intercourse to brain.
And it doesn’t come on at the right time. So about the muscles that are often affected, some of the things that you said are common, like, especially for women, the C-section, et cetera. Just talk for a second about what muscle really are we addressing there that is kind of disconnecting in a sense. So it’s that transverse abdominis, that one that comes around the front and wraps around for the muscle.
It’s the course that muscle on top of cutting through the lower abdominals that help with pelvic control. And that’s a surgery, there’s a disconnection from the fascia and there’s a disconnection from the electrical activity that can happen, not with everyone, but if that those lower abdominals, you can have contractions.
Above the scar that’s happening, but you can have complete inhibition below that. And it’s because the electrical signaling or the feeling has been lost. And now mum can’t find the right pelvic position and she keeps driving into her lower back, creating compression and instability. So it’s important that we get that pelvic floor to stabilize from the bottom, the diaphragm to stabilized from the top and the and the transverse abdominous to stabilize on the side.
So we create a box it’s this box of compression that needs to be established first, before we bring in the global, if any one part of that box is open, all the pressure is released and now we’ve got compression through the structures that will just eventually start to cause. Hmm, I have a quick question for you in terms of, so one of the things I personally noticed is I was very, very unaware of the whole diastisis rack dire situation with my first daughter, which is crazy.
I was in medicine and so many things about being pregnant childbirth, that most of us are clueless about whether we’re in medicine or not until we actually experience it. And then my second kid, I had a lot of friends that experienced it and I was like, oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t really have that issue the first time.
So I was really intentional. Through my second pregnancy and my third about continuing to do core workouts, the entire pregnancy. And I added a yoga block to my exercises and I’ve done it ever since, but I’m curious from an expert standpoint in my head, I’m pretty sure I know what I was doing with it and how it was affecting me physiologically, but I’m convinced it is partly what helped create such a strong pelvic floor and not having some of the issues after childbirth, that many of my friends did.
I added a yoga block to almost anything that I possibly could from. AB standpoint on the floor. So I’m trying to think of an example. Like I lay on my back and I’ll do a hip bridge and I’ll squeeze a yoga block in between my legs while extending legs individually. When I do Russian twists, actually I always add a yoga block and I don’t cross my legs.
So there’s even compression or abduction there. What is that actually working from a yoga block standpoint? Can you speak to that at all? Because I saw a difference and I’m pretty sure I’d be able to explain it, but I’m curious, so everything runs on circuits. So the groin muscles, the adductors that you’re activating with the yoga block, they help with the postage, they touch to the pubic, the pubic bone area, but so does the lower abdominals, right?
So you have this factual connection, this common. And the lower abdominals do, what’s called a posterior pelvic tilt where you kind of do a tail tuck, but the ad doctors also assist with that. So what you’re doing with a yoga block by activating the abductors, you’re engaging greater contraction from the lower abdominals to maintain a posterior pelvic tilt, to protect the local.
So it’s a great exercise. If lower abdominal engagement is the goal or using those doctors, but some people they’re over facilitating abductors and they need to do glutes. So those for those individuals, I recommend put a band around your knees. So you connect the outer glutes and it depends on the person, but for you, it worked, it created more comfort, greater activation.
Then that was the thing you needed. But if they’re coming in, you’re like, oh, I’m getting me pain. Or I have this, a lot of pressure, too much pressure around my pubic bone area. Like, okay, maybe we need to turn on the glutes on the opposite side with some abdominal. That’s what’s happening there is because they run on the same circuit and they’re facilitating a lot of the same fascial compression and muscle activation.
Well, that also be consequently strengthening pelvic floor as well. And the transverse abdominis are primarily they can, but we can also also seen if there’s complete inhibition of the pelvic floor, some people might use that as a compensation for pelvic floor and it could make it worse. So it depends if we’re doing kind of that conscious little bit of that key goal at the same time.
And as long as it’s, you know, reflectively coming in, I’m not a pelvic floor specialist. I work with pelvic floor specialist and they’re like sometimes doing the key goals can be the worst thing because there might be kind of this hypertonicity on one side that needs to be released first, before we start retraining and bringing them back in.
So somebody who’s hyperactive on one side of their pelvic floor or a couple of their pelvic floor muscles doing key goes could be the worst thing they could do and actually destabilize further. And how would they know that, uh, it’s just not going to work. It’s not going to feel good, like doing more abdominal work.
They’re like, ah, like I’m getting hip pain. It feels pinching. Like nothing, everything just feels tight. Right. I’m going to use the air quotes again because they’re going to get this sensation of tightness. And it was like, I need to stretch my hip flexors. I need to stretch my grind. I’m like, it could be that you’re locked down in the pelvic.
And I’ve caught these before. I’ll tell you a quick case. So I had a client, she had two years of, of hip pain and she’s seen specialists. She’s seen physios or GP did a cortisone injection. They’re like you have an FAI, a hip impingement. And she came and saw me the first time. And she’s very active in her job, requires her to be physical.
And I’m feeling her hip I’m like, you don’t have a hip impingement, like I’m doing a special test to scare him. There’s no hip impingement here. I’m like, so I’m asking more questions and I’m testing muscles on like the muscles or alternate. And then I’m checking her nerves. So I check her myotomes. So those are the nerves that come from the low back that supply the hip and the pelvic floor and whatnot.
And those are all turned off. So I’m like, okay. And her range of motion was great, but nothing was tight. I said, okay. Um, you know, I said, any pregnancies, any babies? She’s like, well, yeah, 17 years ago I said, okay. I said, well, any urinary incontinence? She’s like, well, yeah, I had lots at the time, but that’s fine.
Now. I’m like, well, do you have any urgency? She was like, yeah, I still get that. Ah, we have a pelvic floor problem. So everyone was treating this as like an external. Orthopedic issue. I’m like, this is a pelvic floor problem center to a pelvic floor therapist next door. Two sessions. Okay. Yeah, she was completely shut down on that.
One side came back, did core exercises the proper way. And all of a sudden your hip pain went away in two sessions. And this poor woman was dealing with hip pain for two years because nobody thought to ask, well, you know, that trauma, you know, the hardest thing a human can do that you did 17 years ago. It left some compensation.
Yeah. It left some compensations there that you’ve been living with, but now those compensations have failed and now it’s presenting as hip pain. So she was able to compensate for the last 17 years. But then her system obviously got to a point saying, Nope, I’m done. Right. I’m going to create and just to round it out, you said, learn how to do core exercises the right way really quick, just to listen for us.
How do you do, what do you mean by you do core exercises the right way? Yeah. So to activate the inner core, the best way to do it is to go through breathing. So we talk about the diaphragm. It’s the first reflex, first of all, we’ll reflect, but it’s also the first core muscle we use. So when we breathe in through our nose and we exhale with pursed lips very slowly, and we fully exhale, you’ll feel the ribs come in and everything cinches up very simple.
And then we can add on a compression on top of that. So we’re working on the timing and sequencing. If we got that set into place, most of the time, all the other core muscles will come in and play with it nicely. Sometimes at least with the pelvic floor, sometimes that doesn’t come into play. And that needs a little bit more specific attention.
I have a video. I think it’s the three exercises you should do after massage, because what massage does it relaxes everything. So if we have all that exercise after massage, I’m like somebody bring me a drink. Somebody drive me over here. I’m not moving. We’re not doing exercises. We’re doing activation.
There’s the difference. Okay. It’s activation. It’s just a less strenuous turning it all back on because what happens is anytime we do manual therapy, we’re changing the inputs to the nervous system. We’re, we’re making it feel safe. We’re relaxing. It feels good. Right. But what if you’re using that muscle tension to protect something?
What if you’re using those hip flexors to stabilize your back? And now we just took that. You get up off the table, be like, oh, I can’t move. Right. You feel worse. You feel like, ah, I can’t move because I was laying on my stomach for a period of time, all the muscles in my low back relaxed and everything got jammed up.
And then you go to move and everything walks back down quick. So if that’s the case with some people now, whether I do acupuncture manipulation, it doesn’t matter. Like you’re always changing inputs and whether it’s good or bad, we need to know. But we should always add in some kind of new integrate new movement with some muscle activation after some kind of intervention to lock it back into place because we’re changing the inputs.
We got to change the outputs, which has movement. And if we don’t do that, your body defaults back to what it knows, which is the old crappy movements. What are you talking about? The breathing? Just make sure I’m understanding it correctly. Are you saying. Specifically, if we’re talking about a core workout, I’m trying to think of a good core workout example right now, but the idea of being that on control muscle contraction, whatever specific muscle contraction you are doing, that you are engaging your breathing with that contraction.
So let’s just say we’re doing a bicep curl as you curl your you’re also tightening. Is that kinda what you’re saying? You’re activating the breathing with the. You want to do it before? So especially if you’re picking up something heavy, like if you’re picking up something light, most of the time, the core should just reflexively turn on.
Okay. If you’re approaching something deadlift or kettlebell swing or something like that, you need to be a little bit more conscious to maintain that compression. So you don’t get pulled out of position, but yeah. Getting back on the floor, doing something simple, like dead bugs, the dead bugs, a side plank and the bird dog.
Those are kind of the three primaries that we teach a lot of so that people can feel the front core, the sidecar in the back porch. And it’s just creating that connectivity, but because they are in. These more permanent positions laying on the ground and on all fours, it’s easier to feel those muscles and engage the right position so that okay.
Once that’s been practiced enough, that starts to become the default position and the default setting for when you go do something more advanced. But if you can’t do those three basics, then why are we doing planks? Why are we doing all these other fancy things? When the intercourse is getting left behind these exercises are teaching people to engage that inner core and they can find that I think it’s are those movements, is it under core exercises?
Is that how somebody would find it? If they’re wondering what this looks like. If you look at the tags, it should be under core exercises. Yeah. So just search core exercises or on his website as well. Whichever your preferred, I mean, you guys, I could talk to Tom for another hour and pick his brain while probably longer than that.
But the point is this, there is so many resources, no matter where you are at in your movement journey, maybe you just need to start moving. Period. Maybe that’s first step number one, he offers tons of workshops you offer. So certainly there’s the advanced movement training. Certification, and we will make sure that is there, but you also have a home training program where people can sign up and specifically say, get fit, reduce pain, and increase strength and flexibility, and they can sign up for that.
It’s a digital purchase. So it’s a five week program. There’s six workouts that you can do each day. So there’s, if they’re only 20 to 30 minutes and they’re broken up into your fundamental practical strengths days, and then your mobility balance core. So the mobility balance core days are kind of focusing on flexibility, balance control and the center.
And then your functional, fundamental practical strength is looking at, you know, squats, dead lifts, push pull, like your larger muscle groups, but it’s a five-week progressive system that you don’t need much appointment. If you have a Swiss ball, like one of those exercise balls and a resistance band, that’s.
Yeah, walked through it. It’s all set up videos. And it’s, you got an ebook with it that you can track your progress. It also tells you how many reps, how many sets you should be doing each week. And if you have extra weights, then you can load those on. So you can do five weeks, take a week off and then recycle through it again, just by adding more resistance.
I created it because everyone got trapped at home and nobody was going to gyms and my clients were coming in and like, I gained 15 pounds. I don’t know what to do. I’m like, okay, look, here’s a program I’ve got, yeah, I’ve got a discount code for all of your viewers for 50% off. Yeah. So everyone can get access to that and I’ll get that to you.
Awesome. Okay. Yeah. I’ll definitely include that in the notes and what I really like, you know, even if you’re part of another program, I would say this even to my clients, a lot of the stuff that Tom has, what is, I think unique about what you offer is you really, really hone in on that mind to muscle connection and a lot of fitness programs.
I would argue even the one that I coached for sometimes. You just go through the motions, then you have to really, really, really be conscious about making that mind to muscle connection where I think what you do so well is. Literally and figuratively help people learn how to make that mind to muscle connection.
So I think all of that is very beneficial for anyone to check out. And is there anything else where else can people find you? What else do they need to know about certification or anything else? If you’re in the healthcare field, the AMT, you can sign up for that for the subscription list, uh, everyday the health care field or who can join.
I initially speak to physios because that’s the realm I come from, but this can be used with osteos chiros, massage, anybody who works in kind of the healthcare, personal trainers, trained coaches, anyone who wants to learn how to kind of better assess your clients and then also prescribing and know how to treat and when to treat this is the certification that gets them there faster.
It really organizes and systematizes everyone’s process so that they can get to better results. And I think what’s cool about it guys, if that’s you and you would be considering that is that I think it just adds feather in your cap. If you will, it’ll give you a much more in depth approach to your clients that most people are not going to have, which is certainly only going to benefit your business longterm.
Yeah. Anything else? Where else can people find you? Instagram swells dot Tom? Um, my tech talk is the AMT guy and YouTube is Thomas whales and my Facebook is swales performance systems. So there’s pretty much all the major channels I’m up on there. And I post all kinds of different content teaching people how to self-assess to increase self-awareness and then self-correct any problems that they may have.
Yeah, I’ve personally saved multiple of your videos slash sent videos to my husband, so, and other people. So he’s a great one to follow lots and lots of very practical, relevant information. Tom, I pray God’s richest blessings over you, Kylie, your kiddos, your business. If anyone wants to visit Ontario. Yeah, check out concept amendment we’ll we’re here.
We’ll be here for a long time. Awesome. Thanks Anna. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. It is my honor to be here with you. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. If you were watching on YouTube, be sure to click the subscribe button below. So you don’t miss a show and leave a comment with your thoughts from today’s episode below.
If you are listening via your preferred podcasting platform, would you help keep us on the air by rating our show and leaving an honest review of your thoughts from today in case you haven’t heard it lately, your story matters and you are loved. This is your host on a former, and I will see you here next time on the, in perfectly empowered podcast.

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