The Benefits of Collagen | Gut Health, Skin, Hair and Joints

There has been an increase in awareness and popularity with taking collagen supplements over recent years. Claims have been made that it can help with skin’s youthful appearance, increased bone density and decreased joint pain, along with other claims such as helping to heal your gut lining. For all of these reasons, it’s no surprise that collagen has become a widely sought-after ingredient in the wellness and beauty communities. But collagen’s efficacy is still pretty up in the air. Here’s what we know.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in the body. “Its fiber-like structure is used to make connective tissue. Like the name implies, this type of tissue connects other tissues and is a major component of bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. It helps to make tissues strong and resilient, able to withstand stretching.”1 As we age we naturally start to reduce our collagen production. This means that our bodies are not able to replace the collagen we are losing as quickly as it is breaking down. Starting in our 20s about 1 percent of our collagen production breaks down each year. External factors such as cigarette smoking (inhaling or second hand smoke), extended sun exposure, pollution, excess alcohol, lack of sleep and exercise increases the breakdown of collagen.

Collagen As A Supplement

The first appearance of collagen was as an ingredient in serums and creams. However, this topical application is not backed by science as collagen itself is not found on the skin’s surface but deep in the layers of the skin. The fibers in collagen are too large to penetrate through the skin’s layers, the same evidence goes for the shorter chains of collagen called peptides. So I wouldn’t suggest buying anything that claims the collagen in their creams will help with signs of aging.

Oral collagen on the other hand, in the form of pills, powders, and certain foods is starting to show some scientific evidence that it can be effectively absorbed by the body. As long as it is not the natural molecule of collagen. It needs to be broken down into smaller peptides as they can easily pass through our gut barrier and into our bloodstream. In theory the body can use the collagen peptides in areas that need repair the most.

Look out for collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen, as these are the two forms of broken down collagen that can be easily absorbed by the body. Collagen supplements contain amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. As additional nutrients, some supplements may also contain vitamin c, biotin or zinc. Also look out for any companies claiming their collagen as “plant based” as there is only animal based collagen to date, so this product will not contain any collagen. However, you can consume supplements that contain the primary amino acids that are involved in collagen synthesis – glycine, lycine, and proline.

What Does The Science Say? Does It Work?

The research is showing that taking collagen for many months can help with signs of aging on your skin, improve the health of your gut lining, and even increase the density in bone that are weakened naturally by age. However, most of the research being done is by companies who directly sell collagen themselves – so the information may be biased.

“Most research on collagen supplements is related to joint and skin health. Human studies are lacking but some randomized controlled trials have found that collagen supplements improve skin elasticity. [3,4] Other trials have found that the supplements can improve joint mobility and decrease joint pain such as with osteoarthritis or in athletes. [5] Collagen comprises about 60% of cartilage, a very firm tissue that surrounds bones and cushions them from the shock of high-impact movements; so a breakdown in collagen could lead to a loss of cartilage and joint problems.” 1

The scientific proof on collagen is starting to rise, and more and more research is being done to prove it’s benefits. The great news is all research that has been done has not been showing any negative side effects of taking collagen as a supplement. 1

There are more and more people starting to share their own personal experiences with taking the collagen supplement and the benefits they are experiencing from it. But do keep in mind, if you are going to give it a try, you need to take it every day for at least 1-3 months before you can really see and feel the benefits of it.

How Much Do You Need For It To Be Effective?

As of right now, health authorities have not provided any guidelines for how much collagen to take in a day. This will all depend on what type of collagen you are consuming. There are three types of collagen: hydrolyzed collagen, undenatured collagen, and gelatin.

Hydrolyzed Collagen

This type of collagen is derived from cattle, marine, poultry, pigs and other animal sources and has been broken down into a more digestible and easier to absorb peptide particle. It is the most common form of collagen supplement as it is in powder or capsule form and can be added to smoothies, hot and cold drinks, soups, baked goods and other forms of food.

A 2019 study has found that taking anywhere from 2.5-15g of collagen a day may be safe and effective.

2.5g per day: could benefit joint pain, skin health, and hydration 11, 12, 13
5g per day: can improve bone density 14, 15
15g per day: can help with muscle mass and body composition 16, 17

Undenatured Collagen

This is raw collagen derived from chicken cartilage, some human studies have suggested that taking daily doses of 10–40 mg of undenatured collagen per day may improve joint health. 18, 19

Gelatin

As all collagen is, this is derived from animal sources and is a form of cooked collagen. This type of collagen is not really sold as a supplement as it’s usually used as an ingredient in gelatinous desserts or foods. There is limited research showing daily serving sizes for gelatin, so it is best to refer to the packaging for the products recommended serving size.

Can you eat too much collagen?

It seems as of right now that collagen is a relatively safe product to consume without any side effects. However, always refer to the product packaging for recommended doses of that particular collagen as there has been reports of feeling overly full, unpleasant taste, and other stomach complaints. 20

Where Can Collagen Be Found?

Collagen is a type of protein and it can be found in your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, organs, skin, intestinal lining and other connective tissues. You can see why it is such an important component in our bodies as it helps to make tissues strong and resilient.

In food, naturally collagen is only found in animal flesh like meat and fish that contains connective tissue. However, there is a variety of both animal and plant foods that contain materials to help our bodies natural collagen production.

You can find easily digested forms of collagen in meat and seafood, supplements and even bone broth.

Lifestyle Habits That Can Help Collagen Production

Along with a well-balanced diet, here are some healthy habits that may help with protecting the collagen production in your body.

Reduce Stress: Chronically high cortisol levels in the body can decrease the production levels of collagen naturally in the body. So start mindful practices like meditation and breathing techniques to decrease the amount of stress you may have in your life.

Get A Good Amount Of Sleep: Among many other factors, sleep is extremely important for the human body. But not just any sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours a night of adequate sleep will help with many daily functions in the body.

Stop Smoking: There are many health concerns that we are aware of when it comes to a habit like smoking. But this also includes trying to avoid secondhand smoke whenever you can.

No Excessive Time In The Sun: Now this does not mean hiding from the sun. The sun provides the vital vitamin D that we need for many functions in the body including the immune system. So aim to get 10-20 min of daily direct sunlight 3-4 times a week, but the rest of the time be sure to use sunscreen or cover up with layers and hats.

Exercise Regularly: Exercise is hugely beneficial in so many ways, but some studies have found that exercise can slow down cell activity involved with aging.2

What Are The Benefits Of Collagen?

Helps with gut health

Collagen can play a key role in helping with the repair and strengthening of the gut lining in our digestive tract. This is due to the amino acids it contains, glycine and glutamine. There is research coming out showing the benefits of collagen on the gut and specifically leaky gut. However, do keep in mind all of the research as of right now is all based on animals, there has not been much if at all any human research on this subject.

Although this being said, a research paper published in 2017 has shown that among IBD patients, there was an imbalance between the formation and breakdown of collagen fibres, and this was connected to inflammation. An older study from 2003 showed that IBD patients do have a decreased amount of type 4 collagen. As we know, collagen is a part of connective tissue, and this makes up our colon and GI tract. Therefore, increasing your levels of collagen may be a supportive environment for your body to heal.

Even though there has not been much human research being done on collagen and its effects on the gut, there has been recent human research of l-glutamine on gut health! Since collagen contains glutamine, this could be a step in the right direction. It can help with inflammation, “Several lines of evidence indicate that glutamine has an anti-inflammatory property by influencing a number of inflammatory signalling pathways.”3 As promising as this is, more human research needs to be done to know its full potential.

It can help with what is naturally lost through aging

Your body starts to produce less collagen as we age starting in our twenties, and collagen peptides added to your diet may serve to replace what your body begins to lack as you age, and support your overall health.

Collagen is a good source of protein and is easily digestible

For some people digesting proteins like chicken or beef can cause digestive upset and may be hard on their body. Collagen supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen is broken down. This means that collagen supplements may potentially be a more comfortable way for your body to digest protein. The process of hydrolyzing also means that the collagen supplement can be easily dissolvable in water which then can be added to everyday foods like water or smoothies.

Collagen may help with skin’s signs of aging

This is by far the most researched when it comes to the benefits of collagen. In a 2019 systemic review, researchers analyzed 11 randomized, placebo-controlled studies of more than 800 patients who took up to 10 grams (g) per day of collagen with the goal of improving skin health. The results? “Preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging. Oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.”6

Collagen may help to decrease joint aches and pains

There is no doubt that when you have joint pain, exercise becomes a much harder habit to follow. A study from 2017 found that athletes with knee pain who took 5 g of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks had less joint pain during exercise compared with a placebo group. Oral collagen may support cartilage repair and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Final Thoughts

Whether you decide to start taking collagen or not, don’t forget to also work on other collagen-depleting factors such as sleep, smoking, pollution, stress and exercise as mentioned in this blog post. Taking a supplement is exactly as the name suggests, you supplement with everyday lifestyle changes. Be diligent with quality control and do your research into the company you are sourcing your collagen from. Check to make sure the company is doing their part to source good quality collagen and following safe practices in how they manufacture their products. Also, be sure to follow the supplement’s recommended dietary requirements (RDA) to be sure you are not taking too much of it a day. Any supplement in high quantities over the RDA is not good for anyone, always follow the package directions when consuming supplements.

A Collagen Product I Recommend:

After my diagnosis of celiac disease I decided to try taking collagen to help the healing of my gut lining. Along with following a gluten free diet, I found taking collagen helped to improve my bowel movements, bloating, inflammation in the gut and in my joints and helped my hair and nails grow back stronger along with helping to heal the rashes I had on my skin.

Was it the gluten free diet or taking collagen that helped? I believe it was both, as I stopped taking collagen for a few years and recently just started taking it again. After a few days of taking it I’m starting to see a few improvements in my overall health again.

I am a proud affiliate with the Canadian company Organika, and I stand by their products as they are high quality, follow industry leading practices, they are backed by researched nutrition, mindful crafting and they really source out the best quality ingredients for their products.

They have won awards for Canada’s #1 collagen for a reason.

Follow this link to look through their wide selection of collagen to find the one that is right for you and be sure to use my code LEWSLIFE25 for 25% off site wide!

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.

References:

2) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acel.12341

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5454963/

4) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464620305028

5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28174772/

6) https://jddonline.com/articles/oral-collagen-supplementation-a-systematic-review-of-dermatological-applications-S1545961619P0009X/

7) https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/apnm-2016-0390#.X0v7bNNKjlw

8) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apt.14092

9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14600124/

10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31096622/

11) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31627309/

12) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24401291/

13) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22486722/

14) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25314004/

15) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29337906/

16) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26353786/

17) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31010031/

18) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24153020/

19) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19847319/

20) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22521757/


Stretches For Acute Lower Back Nerve Pain

There are a lot of stretches and exercises you can do to help loosen up your lower back. But when you have bad enough nerve pain that even putting on your socks or shoes is a real struggle, you’ll want to stay with more gentle exercises. My first tip is if your back pain is bad enough that it is lingering in your lower back or is potentially shooting down your leg, you need to consult an Athletic Therapist or Physiotherapist for in-person treatment. However, while you wait for your appointment with them, in this blog post I wrote up 10 exercises you can give a try when you have new (acute) and inflamed lower back nerve pain.

IMPORTANT: If you are suffering from sharp or shooting nerve pain in your lower back or going down your leg, this is your sciatic nerve. When a nerve is inflamed and in the acute stages of healing, the last thing you want to do is stretch that nerve even more as this may irritate the nerve. As you are doing any of these exercises, listen to your body and be mindful of how you feel while doing them. If there is any intense pain, you need to stop or not push as far into the stretch. Move slow when going into these stretches as any fast movement may pinch the nerve and cause pain. These should be PAIN-FREE when you are in the acute stages of your injury. Do not feel like you need to do all of the exercises listed, you can do a handful of them or all of them depending on how you feel until your pain subsides. With all of this in mind, let’s begin.

Wall Ball Glute Release: Take a lacrosse ball or tennis ball and place it into the meaty part of your buttocks (do not place it on your spine). Lean against a wall, and push your body weight into the ball. Roll the ball slowly from side to side and up and down until you hit a spot that is causing a minor amount of discomfort (this is a trigger point). You only want this discomfort to be a 5/10 on the pain scale (1 = no pain, 10 = the worst pain you have ever felt). Stay on this spot until the pain subsides to a 1-2/10, this should occur within 10 seconds. If it does not subside, stays at the 5/10 or gets worse let it go and move to a new spot. Continue this routine for 3-5 min to give you a good chance to find all of your trigger points. Repeat this on the other side.

Standing Hamstring Stretch: As I mentioned above, we do not want to stretch the nerve right now, so be sure you slowly move into this stretch and only go as far as you start to get a comfortable stretch into your hamstrings (the back of your leg). Step one leg forward and point the toes and foot of that leg up toward the sky. Be sure you are bending through your hips and not your lower back, and lean forward slowly until you start to feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold this stretch starting with 5 seconds, engage your core and glutes and stand back up. Repeat on the other side and work up to being able to hold this stretch for 10 seconds.

Pelvic Tilt: Laying on your back with both of your knees bent, tilt your pelvis backwards as if you are flattening your lower back to the ground. Only go so far into this tilt that it is pain-free, but try to tilt further each time if you can, but DO NOT push too far into it where you cause pain in your back. Remember, you want all of these exercises to be pain-free at this stage. Repeat this tilt 5 times and build up to being able to do it 10 times.

TA Activation: This exercise is to get a gentle contraction to your abdomen, this will help to strengthen your spine. When your spine is injured, it needs the support of the surrounding muscles. Laying on your back with both of your knees bent, contract your abdomen in towards your spine and slightly up towards your heart. If you are having trouble with this movement, take a deep breath into your belly, as you exhale, continue that exhale in towards your spine and push all of the air out of your lungs. Now hold that contraction but breathe normally at the same time. If you can, add a pelvic floor contraction at the same time by doing a kegel. Hold the contraction and do 5-10 breaths, let it go and repeat 3 times.

Supported Lying Butterfly Stretch: Laying on your back, place two pillows next to your hips. Bend both of your knees with your feet touching the ground. Allow both knees to drop to the side so that your legs are in an open position. Your knees will be rested on top of the pillows, allow your legs to relax and let gravity gently stretch the inside of your thighs. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds, and when you are ready to come out of the stretch use your hands to help guide your legs back up.

Knee To Chest: Laying on your back let one leg extend out straight, and slowly move your bent knee in towards your chest. Use your hands and arms to help support your leg into your chest. Only go so far as you feel a comfortable stretch and no pain. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds, and when you are finished slowly lower your bent leg back to the ground, bend your straight leg up and then extend the opposite leg and repeat on the other side.

Laying Figure 4: Laying on your back, bend both of your knees and rest your feet on the ground. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee, and gently push the bent knee down until you feel a stretch. If you feel you can go further into the stretch, pull the leg with the ankle crossed over it up towards your chest. Be sure that this movement is slow and pain-free. Hold either stretch for 5-10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Lumbar Rotations – Windshield Wipers: Laying on your back bend both of your knees and rest your feet on the ground. Slowly and with control, engage your core (the TA activation you did above) to support your spine, and let both knees drop to one side. Only go as far as your body will allow right now with no pain. Be sure your core is still engaged and bring both knees over to the other side. Repeat going back and forth 5-10 times with trying to drop your knees closer to the ground each time as long as your back allows it.

Side-lying Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch: Laying on your side, bending your bottom knee for extra support and straightening your top leg. Now, slow and controlled, bend your top knee so your foot is going towards the same side hand. Grab onto your foot with your same side hand, gently pelvic tilt (as we talked about above), and be sure your leg is in line with your hips and not bent forward. You should feel this stretch in the front of your hip and leg comfortably with no pain. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Go for a short walk: With any lower back, leg or hip pain, you want to avoid sitting for too long. The longer you sit the more the muscles will tighten up and push on the nerves causing pain. Set a timer for 20 min and stand up, walk around for a bit or go for a short 10 min walk to stretch your legs and loosen up the nerve. You don’t want to go too far in the acute stages of your back pain, as you don’t want to be stuck not being able to get back due to pain.

There are many stretches and exercises you can try to help alleviate your back pain during the beginning stages of your back injury. Above are a few of them, I would also suggest having a bath or applying heat to your back to help loosen the muscles even further. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to go and see a healthcare provider like an athletic therapist or physiotherapist to help you heal correctly from your back pain. However, in the meantime, you can try the exercises mentioned above. Above all else, know that this will take time to heal, be kind to yourself and listen to your body knowing that pain relief is just around the corner.


The Benefits Of Electrolytes And When To Have Them

You may have come across these bright coloured drinks in the store before that range from blue to green and every other colour in the rainbow. They all claim to help you with physical performance and recovery. You may have picked this drink up to help with muscle recovery after a workout or maybe you are getting over the flu or another health condition. The real question is, are electrolyte drinks beneficial and worth all of the hype?

Many dieticians whom I have spoken with and research papers I have read have all mentioned that there is a time and place for them, but they can be beneficial.

What Is An Electrolyte And When Should I Drink Them?

Electrolytes are natural minerals that are found within your body, and their job is to regulate and control the fluids within your body. The job of electrolytes is to keep your overall system functioning along with regulating blood pressure and muscle contractions. There are three big electrolytes in the body:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium

You need to have the right amount of electrolytes in your body to have optimal functioning and performance. You can actually make your own electrolyte drink at home, but more on that later.

You will need to consume electrolytes through diet when these minerals are diminished within your body due to intense exercising, sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. Any amount of excessive fluid lost in your body at one time will call for consuming more electrolytes. The reason for this is your body at this point will be dehydrated, which in turn can cause muscle spasms and cramping to occur (this is usually one of the major signs in your body that you are dehydrated, next to extreme thirst).

How Do I Know If I Am Dehydrated?

Regardless if you know it or not, we have all been dehydrated at some point in our lives. There are many symptoms of dehydration such as dry lips and tongue, headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea and cramps. However, the biggest teller of dehydration is thirst. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Depending on how much intensity, fitness level, weight, humidity, duration of exercise and how much you sweat will vary how many electrolytes you lose during activity. The main electrolyte lost is sodium, even though sodium sometimes gets a bad rep, it is essential to help us retain fluids. Any type of sweating regardless of whether it is from exercise or from being sick, if you lose enough fluids you will become dehydrated.

An easy way to know how hydrated or dehydrated you are is by paying attention to your urine colour when you go to the bathroom. Also, paying attention to how many times you do have to go to the bathroom in the day. Chances are if you only have to pee 1-2 times a day, you’re not getting enough fluids in. A typical person that is staying hydrated will have to pee at least 6-7 times a day, but can range from 4-10 times as well depending on the person and if they have any other underlying health conditions that may be effecting their frequency to go to the bathroom.

What colour should my urine be?

As I mentioned, another way to know if you are hydrated enough is by paying attention to your urine colour. “Normal urine colour ranges from pale yellow to deep amber — the result of a pigment called urochrome and how diluted or concentrated the urine is. Pigments and other compounds in certain foods and medications can change your urine colour. Beets, berries and fava beans are among the foods most likely to affect the colour.”1 When you’re healthy and hydrated, your urine should fall somewhere between colourless and the colour of light straw and honey. When you don’t consume enough fluids, your urine becomes more concentrated and turns a darker yellow or amber colour.

Use this chart to refer to in order to have a better idea if you are hydrated or not:

Remember, we are not camels, we are meant to go to the bathroom multiple times a day to urinate. Some may find they “don’t have time” to go to the bathroom multiple times a day and so they purposely to not drink enough fluids. I think the benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day outweighs the “inconvenience” of having to go to the bathroom. You will stay focused, your skin will be more clear, and your body will overall function at its highest optimal level if you stay consistently hydrated throughout the day. Humans are mostly water at an average of 60% but can range up to 75% of our body. Why wouldn’t you want to stay hydrated with all of the benefits it brings us?

What Electrolyte Drink Should I Get?

There are all kinds of electrolyte drink options on the market nowadays. Ones that are in tablet form, powder form and ones that are already mixed into drinks that are ready to go. Which one you decide to go with is really all about preference and convenience. It’s nice to have the tablet and powder forms to take with you to the gym or on a hike when you don’t know for sure if you will need them or not, but you also don’t want to carry the extra weight of the liquid outside of regular water. However, if you are short on time and need electrolytes mixed for you in a liquid form, such as when you are travelling, then the premade drinks are for you!

A word of caution though, not all of the electrolyte drinks are made equal. Therefore, you must first decide if and how much you need. If you are working out for an hour or less, regular H2O will do and there is no need for a substitute. But if you are exercising for upwards of 75 min or more, especially on a particularly hot day, then a drink with electrolytes is a great idea to have during or after your workout.

Usually, a typical 8-ounce electrolyte drink has approximately 14 grams of sugar, 100 milligrams of sodium and 30 milligrams of potassium. You can even find drinks that are specifically for high endurance or ultra-endurance athletes with a higher amount of potassium and sodium along with other minerals like magnesium and calcium. Do keep in mind that these drinks are really high in sugar usually, so if you are going to be having multiple of them a day, try to choose the ones that are low-calorie or zero sugar. You should also look out for the drinks claiming any added immunity or high vitamin claims as they usually do not contain any electrolytes so they will not help with hydration in particular.

What’s The Deal With Coconut Water?

You may have heard that coconut water is a good substitute for regular sports drinks. This is partially true as coconut water does have a nutrient composition similar to traditional sports drinks, but they do differ in significant ways. The key nutrients for longer workouts are carbohydrates and sodium, however, regular or unsweetened coconut water has a fewer amount of these nutrients. Coconut water is an all-natural electrolyte drink alternative to your regular tap water, but it does have more calories and if it is sweetened it will have a much higher amount of sugar. The recommendation for athletes who are working out for a long period of time is to stick with the regular sports drinks as it will ensure proper hydration for maximum performance and recovery. But again, if you are drinking more than one of these drinks a day, I would opt for the low-sugar version of these drinks as they do contain a high amount of sugar. Always read your nutrition labels and research which drink is best for you.

How To Make A Homemade Electrolyte Drink

If you want to save yourself a lot of cash, you can make your own electrolyte drink at home with a few simple ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice (you can do freshly squeezed or orange juice from the store, but be sure it is 100% oranges, nothing added)
  • 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice (same as the point above straight from the produce itself or 100% the juice and nothing else)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp of honey or maple syrup (this all depends on how sweet you like it)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

By adding the orange juice and the lemon or lime juice, you will also be adding the extra minerals of magnesium and calcium along with potassium as well.

If You Are Looking For A Store Bought Electrolyte Recommendation…

I would suggest the Organika Electroylytes And Enhanced Collagen. I am not suggesting this company because I am an affiliate, but because I know it works. This powder has the three main electrolyte ingredients you need to rehydrate – magnesium 60mg, potassium 175mg and sodium 440mg. It also has the added benefit of collagen, which contains protein, and you need protein to help with muscle recovery after activity. On the added benefit, it conains no sugar!

On a nutrition stand point this powder is great to rehydrate you with all of it’s electrolyte properties, but it is not a nutritional supplement for after a workout. It is low in carbohydrates and has 5g of protein, after a workout you will need at least 10-20g of protein depending on your body weight. So if you are looking for a great electrolyte drink, this is may be the one for you! And remember as mentioned above, you only need electrolytes on a really hot day, if you have been sweating a lot, after the flu, or with 75 min+ amount of physical activity.

I recently just had a glutening experience at a restaurant and because I am celiac this threw my immune system through a loop. Usually after an exposure like this, all we can do is stay hydrated and let it run its course. I have been drinking this supplement to help with recovery as I had extreme sharp pain and muscle contractions in my gut, and as mentioned above electrolytes help in rehydration. But I find with it’s added benefit of collagen, this may help with gut repair as collagen has been shown to help with gut healing.

If you are wanting to give it a try, I have a 25% off code! Click the link above and use LEWSLIFE25 at the checkout.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urine-color/symptoms-causes/syc-20367333


How To Level Your Hips At Home

Did you know that your hips can become unleveled? I’m not saying they are ‘out of place,’ because if they were you would be making a trip to the hospital as they would be dislocated at that point. What I’m talking about is how your hips can be tugged and pulled on by the muscles that attach to them causing the bones in your hips to rotate front to back. Usually, the culprit can be one quadriceps muscle or hip flexor that is really tight on one side and a hamstring muscle can be really tight on the other. Or the same situation but above the pelvis where your lower back muscles may be playing tug of war with your abdomen and adductor muscles. There is also a condition called, ‘lower cross syndrome’ that can also play a part.

Lower cross syndrome:

As referenced from Physiopedia, “The lower crossed syndrome (LCS) is the result of muscle strength imbalances in the lower segment. These imbalances can occur when muscles are constantly shortened or lengthened in relation to each other.“1 This in turn can potentially cause your hips to have a misalignment and rotate to the front and to the back. As shown in the photo to the right, usually this is caused by weak abdominal muscles and gluteal muscles, along with tight hip flexors and back extensors.

This can all be corrected with the right muscle strengthening, mobility and stretching for long-term benefits, however, there is a way to correct your hip alignment with a bit of PNF stretching. If you have not read any of my other posts, “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is an advanced form of flexibility training, which involves both the stretching and contracting of the muscle group being targeted. PNF stretching is one of the most effective forms of stretching for improving flexibility and increasing range of motion.“2

How to do the exercise:

Hips level: Place your hands on your hips – where the top of your pelvic bones start, above it is soft tissue. Then rest your fingers down on a 45º angle to find the ASIS (boney ridge on the front of your hips that feels like it has a dip and shelf – shown in red to the right). Look at yourself in the mirror and see your two finger levels on the ASIS. If they are even and at the same level across your hips they are good. If there is one higher and one lower, your hips are rotated and need to be corrected before physical activity or a daily routine.

To correct the quad and hip flexor groups: The side that has the ASIS down (the finger that was lower than the other), you will be stretching that quad and hip flexor group. In a runner’s lunge, keep your chest up and pelvis tilted forward then lunge forward until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 8-10 seconds then lightly contract your bent knee into the ground as if you are moving the limb into hip flexion. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds, stop the contraction and move further into the stretch and hold the stretch for another 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence 2-4 times. Stand back up and check your hip levels in the mirror, if they are still not level you must work on the opposite hamstring.

To correct the hamstring: Place your leg on a bench or chair with your leg straight. Bend forward through your hips until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold the stretch for 8-10 seconds then contract your heel into the bench or ground to contract the hamstrings. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds then stop the contraction and move forward into the stretch and hold the stretch for 10 more seconds. Repeat this sequence 2-4 times. Stand back up and check your hip levels in the mirror.

Another way of stretching the hamstrings I demonstrated in a previous blog post where you use a yoga strap on the ground following the same PNF pattern as above. That blog post can be found here.

The quick and dirty way of doing this:

An easier, quicker but not as precise way of correcting the hips goes as follows.

Hips Level on back: Laying on your back and legs up in the air, place your right hand on the front of the right knee and the left hand on the back of the left knee (into the hamstrings). Contract your right knee into your right hand and contract the left knee into your left hand. Your legs will be contracting into opposite directions. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds then switch hand positioning and repeat moving in the opposite direction as before and contract for another 10 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times per side.

Be sure to watch the video below from my Instagram account showing you how to level your hips.

References:

  1. https://www.physio-pedia.com/File:Crossed_syndrome.jpg
  2. https://stretchcoach.com/articles/pnf-stretching/

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


What Movements To Do When You Are Sick

We all know when we are sick, regardless of whether it is respiratory or stomach, all we want to do is lay on the couch and sleep. Granted, the first few days, that is exactly what you should probably be doing. But what if I told you moving your body gently for a few minutes a day may be more beneficial.

Doing gentle movements to open up your chest if you have a respiratory cold and movements to get your bowels moving if you have the stomach flu can be exactly what the doctor ordered. I’m not talking movements to get you sweating, just easy movements to relax your nervous system and help your immune system fight whatever bug it is that you have.

Don’t feel the need to do all of these exercises, pick 1-3 of them if you aren’t feeling your best. Or if you are more at the end of your cold or flu and you have the energy, feel free to try them all out. The world is your oyster!

Diaphragmic Breathing

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This is probably the most important exercise to do when you are sick or not, as it helps to level out your nervous system and gets one of your main organs, your lungs, working at their top productivity, among all of your other organs as well. This is due to the vagus nerve that runs right through the diaphragm muscle and innervates with all of your organs.

Directions: Lay on your back and place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath in and see what your baseline breath is, see what hand moves first and what hand moves the most. If you are all stomach or all chest, we need to correct the way you breathe. The proper diaphragmic breath is having your stomach (the diaphragm) be the first movement in your breath, and as you continue to inhale, a small movement will happen second in your chest. Then you exhale from the chest into your stomach and repeat. This can be a challenging movement to perfect, so starting to practice this laying on your back with your knees bent is recommended. Be patient as this will come around and become easier the more you practice it. Really try to expand through your whole ribcage, the back, sides and into the front.

If you are an imaginary person, think as if you have a balloon in your stomach and you are inflating it from your stomach into your chest then slowly letting the air out of that balloon as you exhale. The movement will happen first in the stomach then as that “balloon” expands the movement will be second in the chest.

Thoracic rotations on the floor

Why do this exercise when you are sick: If you have the energy to roll out a yoga mat this one is for you. The thoracic spine is the section of your back that is just under your neck and right above your lower back. It is where your ribcage connects with the spine. If you have restricted movement in your t-spine, this can also restrict movement in your ribcage which will, in turn, restrict the space your lungs need to inhale and exhale. Therefore, getting more mobility into your t-spine will help with lung expansion, and this can help with getting out any of that phlegm that might be sitting in your lungs.

Directions: Lay on one side and bend your knees to a 90-degree position towards your chest. Now place your head on a pillow and extend both of your arms out in front of you with your hands together, like you are making the head of a crocodile. You are going to take a deep breath in as you extend your top arm further out, and as you exhale you will be pulling that top arm back across your body like you are pulling a bow and arrow back. The goal is to rotate through your back and get your top shoulder to touch the ground without over-extending through your shoulder. As you breathe in again you will bring your arm back over your body to your opposite hand where you started and repeat. Be sure to do this on both sides.

Lumbar rotations:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: If you have stomach sickness, it’s important to help your body heal by getting your bowels moving. You can do this by drinking a lot of clear fluids like water, but you can also do this with gentle movements like walking or certain stretching and mobility movements. By dropping your legs side to side you are gently massaging your bowels, lower back and hips. This in turn can help to get your bowels moving and your stomach flu out of your body.

Directions: Laying on your back with both of your knees bent and feet rested on the ground, slowly start to drop both of your knees to one side, back up and to the other side. This exercise is also known as ‘windshield wipers.’ You only want to drop your knees as far as is comfortable but where you may also get a nice stretch as well.

If you wanted to advance this exercise, once you are in a double knee drop, you could put your bottom foot over your top knee and hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds between lumbar rotations to get a stretch into your lower back, glutes and into the side of your leg.

Child’s pose:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This stretches your lower back and hips. The pressure from your bowels can push on your lower back and pelvic muscles and vice versa. By stretching your lower back and hips, you are loosening the muscles and taking some pressure off of your bowels. In the matter of a head cold, if you have phlegm in your chest, as mentioned above, getting movement to your ribcage and t-spine can help to expand your lungs to push that phlegm out. Some of your lower back muscles attach to the ribcage, so loosening them up will get more movement to your ribcage, lower back, hips and t-spine (midback).

Directions: Sitting on both knees on your mat, you can have both of your knees closer together for more of a lower back stretch or have both of your knees out to the width of your mat for more of a hip stretch. Choose which one feels right for you at this exact moment in time. Once you have chosen your knee position, reach both of your arms out in front of you as far as you can and rest your chest and forehead onto the mat. Once again, make sure you are comfortable in whichever position suits you and hold this stretch for 10-20 seconds or longer if you prefer. You can also reach out to both sides as well to get a nice side stretch through your back and hips.

Walking

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This is a simple and effective way to get your heart pumping and bowels moving. Going for even a 20 min walk can do wonders for your body even outside of a cold or flu. Going for a walk will help to get your bowels moving and expel the bug from within if you have the stomach flu, and usually, we have head colds in the winter, so going for a walk in the cold air will help your body make your nose run and push out any phlegm that can be sitting in your nasal cavity. Only go for a walk for as long as you seem fit for that day, you have to listen to your body and not overexert yourself.

Reclining Spinal Twist:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This stretch loosens up your back, shoulders, hips, and the side of your legs. As mentioned before, loosening up the muscles around your pelvis and chest and mobilizing the bones can help to take pressure off of your lungs and bowels.

Directions: Laying on your back, bring your right knee up towards your chest then use your left arm on your right knee to twist that knee to the opposite side rotating through your lower back. Now place your right arm out and rotate your head towards the extended arm. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and switch sides.

Seated Spinal Twist:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This stretch loosens up your back, shoulders, hips, and the side of your legs. As mentioned before, loosening up the muscles around your pelvis and chest along with mobilizing the joints can help to take pressure off of your lungs and bowels.

Directions: Sitting on your mat with both of your legs extended out, bend your right knee and cross it over your left leg. Now place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee and twist through your back so your right hand is placed on the floor behind you. Breathe into this stretch and hold for 10-15 seconds then repeat on the other side.

Bridge Pose:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This exercise opens up the front of your chest, hips and abdomen while strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and back. It will take pressure off of the front of your body, especially from all the time we usually spend laying on the couch or in our beds when we are feeling sick. This will help to open up your chest and abdomen and take pressure off your bowels and lungs.

Directions: Laying on your back bend both of your knees and place your feet as close to your butt as you comfortably can without strain. Engage your core by bringing your belly button in and up, squeeze your butt muscles together, and push through both of your heels to lift your pelvis off the ground to a comfortable height for your back. If you want to advance this you can also bind your hands under your back on the floor under your bridge. Hold for 10-15 seconds and slowly come down back to the mat one vertebrae at a time.

Legs Up The Wall:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: “The main benefit of viparita karani is that it puts back into circulation the bodily fluids stored in your legs,” Dr. Saper explains. “By inverting and holding that pose, it allows the return of blood flow and reduction of lower-leg swelling.” When we are sick our bodies are already working really hard to fight the bug you have caught. Why not help your body out and get your blood circulating just a bit better to get out with the old and in with the new blood. This pose has also been shown to help with de-stressing, which we all know how stressful it is mentally and physically on the body being sick. It also gives you an opportunity to work on that diaphragmic breathing we talked about at the beginning of this blog post – wink wink, nudge nudge ;).

Direction: Laying on your back close to a wall, put both of your feet on the wall and extend your legs so they are straight against the wall. Bring your butt as close to the wall where you have a comfortable stretch and you are not feeling any strain in your legs, hips or back. Close your eyes and work on the diaphragm breathing that was mentioned at the beginning of this post for 5 minutes or longer.

Seated Forward Bend:

Why do this exercise when you are sick: This stretch will loosen up your lower back, hips and hamstrings into your calves. As mentioned before, loosening up the muscles around the hips, lower back and chest can help open up your lungs and get your bowels moving.

Directions: Sitting on your mat with both of your legs straight out in front of you, slowly start to bend forward to try and reach your toes but only go as far as you comfortably can and where you start to feel a comfortable stretch. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.

Cat/Camel: This exercise can be completed seated or on the ground on all fours.

Why do this exercise when you are sick: Just the same as with the thoracic rotation exercise, this will help to mobilize your thoracic spine. Just this time you are working on flexion and extension of the spine instead of rotation. Getting mobilization to your t-spine will help to get your ribcage moving as well which in turn will help your lungs to inhale and exhale easier to push the phlegm sitting in them out of your body.

Directions:

On the ground: position yourself on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale as you curve your spine down towards the ground and extend your head up and back. Exhale as you bring your belly button towards your spine, in and up, and arch your spine up towards the sky and tuck your head down. Move with your breath and transition between these two movements 5-10 times.

Seated: Just as above but now you are seated. Sitting in a chair or on the couch, place your hands on your thighs closer to your knees and inhale as you curve your spine forward and tilt your head back as you are looking up. Then as you exhale, arch your spine back and tuck your head towards your chest. Now transition between these two movements as you move through your natural breath.

At the end of the day, motion is lotion, even when you are not feeling your best, but always remember to listen to your body. If you need a rest day, take it. But these are just some suggestions of gentle movements that you can do while you are healing from a cold or the flu.

Here is the video showing how to do these exercises from my IG account:


Tight Chest? Tingling And Numbness Into Your Arms and Hands? Try The Wall Angel Exercise.

With everyone sitting in a forward posture where your shoulders are rolled forward, the upper back is curved in a flexed position and you have a forward head posture, it is very common to have a tight upper back, chest and neck. Due to the chronic pressure you are placing on your skeleton sitting in a forward posture, a lot of strain is placed on the muscles of the upper back, chest and neck. This, in turn, can eventually develop into neurological symptoms like tingling and numbness in the arms and hands.

To avoid this from happening, you can give this simple exercise a try every day to open up your chest and correct your posture.

The Anatomy Basics

To keep things simple, but understandable, there is a line of nerves and other major stuctures like blood vessels that run under a few bones, along with a few neck and chest muscles. Therefore, when these muscles become tight from improper posture, an injury like a fracture to the clavicle, or with other musculoskeletal factors that can occur, those blood vessels and nerves can become compressed and cause symptoms into the head, neck, shoulder, arm and hand. This compression can occur in the neck, chest or even into the arm. This condition is called “Thoracic Outlet Symdrome,” as seen in the photo to the right.

How To Do The Exercise

This is a super simple exercise where you only need yourself and a wall.

  1. Stand with your back facing a wall – preferably a wall without pictures or shelves on it as you will be moving your arms up and down and you don’t want to bump into anything.
  2. Having your feet a few inches from the wall will be an easier position, whereas, standing with your feet up against the wall makes this exercise just a bit more challenging.
  3. Once you have your footing in place, be sure that your upper back and hips are leaning against the wall. Now place your arms at shoulder height with your elbows touching the wall. If your elbows cannot touch the wall, move your feet away from the wall slightly and try again. If you can now touch your elbows to the wall the next step is to externally rotate your shoulder by placing the back of your hands against the wall with your elbows at a 90 degree angle (as shown in the photo). If you are having trouble resting your hands against the wall, then you will be working at going into internal and external rotation of the shoulder for now until your arms can reach.
  4. Once you can have your elbows and hands rested against the wall you can move your arms up and extend them over your head all while keeping your elbows and hands against the wall. If you feel your hands or elbows lift, that is as far as you move your arm above your head, stop and go back down to the starting position and move through that range of motion adding a few inches each time you raise your arms up if you can.
  5. Do this 5-10 times and step away from the wall and feel how much more open your chest feels and how much taller you can stand. Magic.
  6. This exercise can be repeated multiple times a day.

Here is a video from my Instagram Account that you can reference for the full explanation of how to do this exercise correctly:


Neck And Upper Trap Pain? Try This Easy Ball Release

I think it is safe to say, we have all been there with ongoing neck pain that seems to never go away. Along with correcting muscle imbalances in your body, using a ball to release your upper trap and neck muscles can be beneficial and give you the neck relief you need.

An Anatomy Lesson:

First things first, what are the upper fibres of the trapezius? This is the muscle you can see connecting from the neck into the top of the shoulder. It generally becomes a problem when it becomes tight and starts to pull at its origin and insertion. This can cause tension headaches and pain in the shoulder as well.

The traps themselves actually have an upper, mid and lower fiber. For the sake of this blog post, I will be focusing today on just the upper fibers.

Origin: 1 inch behind the mastoid process, superior nuchal line, ligamentum nuchae, SP of C7, external occipital protuberance.
Insertion: Posterior boarder of the lateral 1/3 of the clavicle and the acromion process of the scapula.
Layman’s terms: It starts in the head and neck and ends in the same side shoulder.

How to release your neck with a ball:

This discomfort can be corrected with muscle imbalance corrections, by decreasing the body’s dependency on the upper trap engaging and strengthening the midback muscles instead. However, if you are looking for a way to massage this muscle yourself, this can be done easily with a ball and the corner of a wall!

  1. Grab a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball. A tennis ball is a lot softer and will not dig as deep, so it may be more comfortable for some. My personal favourite is using a lacrosse ball as I find it has better grip and can dig deeper into the tissue.
  2. Place the ball onto the top of your shoulder over the upper trap muscle.
  3. Step forward with one leg and lunge into the corner of a wall. DO NOT lean over with your back as this can put strain on your lower back.
  4. Comfortably push your body weight against the wall and roll the ball around until you find a tender spot, this is called a trigger point.
  5. You can hold onto that point and breathe it out until the pain goes from a 6-7/10 down to a 3-4/10 (1 being no pain and 10 being the worst you have ever felt). Or you can actively side bend your head away from the wall to give that muscle and active release.

If you have lower back pain, try this way of releasing instead:

  1. Just as above, place the ball on the top of your shoulder.
  2. Now you will lay on the ground and place yourself beside a corner of a wall, and have the ball between you and the wall.
  3. Apply your desired body weight pressure against the ball and breathe it out as mentioned above or side bend your head way from the wall.

What better way to explain it than in a video!

Here is a video from my Instagram account @lewslife_ for a video on how to do both of the trap ball releases (be sure to turn up the volume as I’m verbally describing what to do as well as showing how to do it):


How to Shovel the Snow without Hurting your Back

It’s that time of year again where the snow starts flying and we need to shovel it off of our driveways and sidewalks. The only difference for this year is we are not going to injure our backs while doing it!

Here are some tips on how to decrease the likelihood of injuring your back while shovelling the snow:

1) Bend through your hips and knees INSTEAD of bending through your back and keeping your knees and hips straight. This is a recipe for disaster even outside of shovelling snow.
2) Engage your core by contracting your belly button towards your spine and remembering to breathe. Hold this engagement throughout the whole movement.
3) Make sure to keep your shoulders back and down with a good chin tuck and keep your chest up rather than pointing towards the ground.
4) As you are in your deep squat, before picking the snow up from the ground, engage your glutes (squeeze your butt muscles together) then power up using your legs instead of your back.
5) Toss the snow to the side using your whole body NOT just your arms. Push through your legs and core to toss that snow off to the side.
6) Above all, have an active lifestyle where you work on your strength, mobility, flexibility and functional movements to prevent any future injuries. This can include a regular yoga or pilates practice, going to the gym, walking outside, hiking, or whichever movement floats your boat. Any movement is better than no movement.

Now go play in the snow ☃️❄️⛷️🏂🌨️

Here is a video from my Instagram account on how to do this properly:


How To Release Your Hamstrings With One Stretch | Step by Step Process

Technology these days has us sitting in front of a computer, tablet or phone all day, and it also has us sitting in transportation like a car, train, plane or all of the alike. The problem with this is most of the time we do not correct the muscle imbalances that can occur with sitting for too long in our day-to-day lives. There are many musculoskeletal structures that can be placed into an imbalance with chronic sitting, but for the sake of this write-up, we will be focusing on the hamstrings.

The hamstrings are located on the back of your legs just underneath your gluteal muscles. There are many different reasons why they can become tight but here is one technique you can try to decrease the tension in them.

This is a contract/relax technique that is also known as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). This is a technique you can use almost anywhere in your body to increase mobility in your muscles and joints and therefore increase your range of motion (ROM).

What you need:
a) A mat to lay on
b) Yoga strap, towel or rope

How to do the stretch:

  1. Bend down from a standing position to reach for your toes and test to see how far you can reach. Can you get to your thighs, shins, ankles, toes? Remember where you can reach as you will be testing this again after the contract/relax stretch.
  2. Lay comfortably on your back on your mat, and place the yoga strap around the middle arch of one foot.
  3. Now lay with both legs straight on the ground and use your arms to pull the leg you have wrapped with the band up so that your leg is straight in the air. Only pull it up high enough that you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your leg (you can feel this in the bottom and top of the back of your leg or one or the other). The other leg stays laying straight on the ground.
  4. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds. Breathe through the stretch, it should feel like it’s starting to relax near the end of the 10 seconds.
  5. Once the 10 seconds is over, now contract your leg into the rope as if you are pushing your leg to the ground without it moving, and hold this contraction for 5 seconds. You’re only pushing about 5 pounds of pressure into the rope – do not push as hard as you can into the rope. Just enough that you are getting the muscles contracting.
  6. Once the 5 second contraction is done, pull the rope and your leg closer to your body to another and new comfortable stretch. Now hold this new stretch for 10 seconds and follow it with another 5 second contraction.
  7. Repeat 4-5 times, then proceed to do the same stretch and process with your other leg.
  8. Stand back up and measure how far you can reach for your toes again to feel the difference in your range of motion.

Give this a try the next time your hamstrings are feeling tight!

Here is a video on how to do this from my Instagram account:


How To Reach Behind Your Back | Step By Step Process

With our world functioning within the advancement of technology, we are all typically sitting all day in a forward head posture and rolled-forward shoulders (In fact, I’m doing this as we speak). This in the long run will cause a lot of difficulties and will cause chronic pain and injuries. One of the first functional movements that go in the shoulders is being able to reach your other hand behind your back. If you cannot do this movement, it will make the functionality of your life a bit more difficult, such as reaching to be able to put on your bra or scratch that really itchy part of your back.

One fun trick to be able to give yourself mobility with internal rotation of your shoulder is to do something called contract/relax. This is a Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) technique and is super easy to use almost anywhere in your body to increase mobility in your muscles and joints and therefore increase your range of motion (ROM).

Follow the steps below to give this technique a try!

  1. Grab a towel or yoga strap and place it in one hand, then put that arm over your head and behind your back (like the picture shows below).
  2. Grab the end of the towel or strap with your other hand at hip height.
  3. Pull up with the hand above to cause the one below to come up and cause a stretch in the shoulder of the bottom hand. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds.
  4. Once the 10 seconds is done, now you are going to pull down with the bottom hand but the top hand is going to resist the movement, causing an isometric contraction (contracting the muscles without moving the joints). Hold this contraction with your bottom hand for 5 seconds.
  5. Now repeat this process of contracting and relaxing between the two hands for 4-5 reps.
  6. Then let the rope or towel go and try reaching for your other hand again and experience the magic of science!
  7. Repeat and try this with your other shoulder.

Pretty cool eh?

You can use this concept almost anywhere in the body. Be sure to follow my Instagram account, Pinterest, or this blog for more fun tricks like this and more!

Here is a video of how I did this, the full video can also be found here.