Addressing and Overcoming Foot Pain

Chronic foot pain can be one of the more difficult problems that individuals have to deal with these days. It’s all but impossible to avoid using your feet, they’re literally the part of your body that connects you to the ground and all of your body weight rests on. A typical solution for these problems tends to be getting a shoe with more support and padding to protect your foot and wrap it in a cushion, or to install insoles into your shoe that are supposed to create additional support by replacing the things your feet should be doing for themselves like creating an arch. It’s time we ‘take a step back’ from this approach and examine the function of our feet and what a long term solution to foot pain might be.

If you think about what your feet do and the amount of stress you put on them every day, from standing and walking on them, to the types of shoes we wear such as high heels, you might first think that they do in fact need as much protection as you can give them. But the reality is we will always put a lot of strain and pressure on our feet, so maybe a better solution would be to make them as tough and strong as possible in order to handle all that abuse. Because the truth is that when you have pain somewhere, 9 times out of 10 the main solution is going to be that some muscle needs to get stronger. And yes, your foot can be made to be strong.

First things first though, if you’re experiencing foot pain you need to start off by reducing that pain in order to work on foot strength. We have put together a straight forward, 4 step approach to reducing and eventually eliminating foot pain that can be used in conjunction with foot strengthening techniques. Since foot pain is generally caused by weakened and bound up muscles in the foot along with muscle tension in the general area it’s best to start off by reducing the muscle tension in the surrounding area in order to give a little extra slack to the muscles in your foot for when you start directly working on them.

The first thing you want to do is address any tightness in your calf by going after it with a foam roller. The calf connects to the Achilles Tendon which then attaches to your heel, leading into all the tendons and muscles of your foot. Do a thorough job of exploring your entire calf muscle on the foam roller looking for tight spots, from the bottom all the way to the top and from one side to the other. If you find any tight spots roll around right on that area while flexing your foot up and down until the muscle begins to loosen up a bit.

From here you now want to go after any tight or bound up muscles in your foot by rolling out the bottom of your foot on a lacrosse ball or tennis ball. A frozen water bottle will also work. Just like with your calf you’re looking for any excessive tension or tight spots with the ball. Move slowly through both edges of your feet as well as the front of your heel and the ball of your foot, all the while flexing and extending your toes. This will accomplish two main things; breaking up any muscle tension or muscle fibers that have gotten “sticky” and aren’t sliding very well, and also encourage blood flow into the area. Tight muscles means that blood flow is being restricted, which can prevent the muscle from healing fully.

I recommend following all of this up with a good calf stretch just to simply reinforce what you’ve done so far toward encouraging healthy calves and feet without excessive muscle tension. I think it’s helpful to note that there are two main muscle groups in your calf that you want to be stretching. The upper part of your calf will get a stretch if you keep your knee locked out during the stretch in the video, and the lower part of your calf, which connects to the Achilles, will get stretched if you do the stretch with a slightly bent knee.

Once you’ve done this and have hopefully reduced some of the foot pain you feel it’s a good idea to activate the tibialis, the muscle on the front of your shin. This muscle is involved with connecting to the tendons in the foot which help your foot maintain a natural arch. As you can see in the video this is a very simple exercise that does not require any weights, just some type of resistance that you can flex your foot into in order to activate and ultimately strengthen the muscle on your shin, the tibialis. Follow this up with basic glute activation to ensure that the main muscles of your hips are fired up and ready to move you around.

From here you’re off to the races with foot strengthening exercises. A basic towel grab with your toes will help activate the muscles of the foot and get them on the road to being stronger and more resistant to pain brought on by weakness. Single leg exercises like a single leg squat or balance reach will also go a long way toward strengthening the muscles of your foot while they get better at balancing you. And if you’re looking to work extra hard you can try combining the two by performing a single leg balance reach while doing a toe grab with the towel.

I strongly encourage you to get more comfortable with working on foot strength rather than trying to protect them from the harsh reality that is being a foot. Try walking around barefoot for half a day once a week, flexing your toes as you walk around. Over time your foot pain will subside and you will begin noticing a distinct difference in the way you feel and move through your feet.

Put The Pull Back in Your Pull-Up

Pull-ups might be considered the hardest body weight movement exercise that exists. Not only does it challenge your back, arms, and shoulders to raise yourself up to the bar, but the most difficult element is probably how it challenges your core. Once you’re holding onto that bar and your feet leave the floor, gravity begins pulling your entire torso down from your hands. Your torso is now being stretched and lengthening by your own body weight, constricting your abdomen’s free space, leaving your lungs struggling to fill themselves up with air against the weight of your body and gravity pulling everything down and tight.

I’ve thought for a while now that the primary struggle people have with doing pull-ups is not just the lack of strength in being able to pull themselves up to the bar, but from the panic signals being sent from their brain when the lungs suddenly begin to struggle to get oxygen. There are not many exercises that place this demand on your body and mind. Therefore the trainers at Innovative Health and Fitness have come up with a routine to address building up both the physical strength needed to do a pull-up as well as the mental fortitude needed to control yourself in that position.

The best way to get started is by practicing the negative part of the pull-up, a.k.a. the lowering down part, with your feet on the ground. This will get you more familiar and comfortable with your pull-up position while building up strength. Use a smith machine or adjustable squat rack and set the bar at shoulder height. From here get your hands just wider than shoulder width on the bar and set your feet in a squat position under the bar. The pull part of the exercise has you coming out of a squat position bringing the top of your chest to the bar but your legs are doing most of the work. But as you lower yourself down don’t let your legs assist you, instead use your upper body as much as possible to lower you back down into your squat using a slow 5 second count. Practice doing as many reps as you can so you get stronger and feel more comfortable in both the top and bottom positions of your pull-up.

A very straight forward but effective way to build up basic pull-up strength is to do lat pull downs, which basically mimics the movement of a pull-up. Try doing both the traditional wide grip but also the closer, underhand grip, like doing a chin-up, to build up biceps as well.

Once you feel comfortable with the overall form of a pull-up you need to start adding in the element of core strength and stabilization. Inverted rows will address both strength in your back, shoulders, and arms while also challenging the core to keep you engaged and finding a breathing pattern that doesn’t leave your lungs struggling for oxygen. For these you will need to figure out what height to place the bar at depending on your personal strength level. But as you see in the video, your body should be as horizontal as your strength will allow as you row yourself up to the bar. You should be aiming for 10 to 20 reps for these.

Part of getting comfortable with your pull-up position is going to simply be getting used to the feeling of gravity pulling on you from that bar. So practice hanging from the bar. See if you can retract your shoulder blades and engage your grip and shoulders, so rather than “hanging” from you bar you are actually holding yourself in position with control. This is where you can practice breathing in the tight space of your abdomen as well has learning to control the small but deliberate movements of your shoulder blades.

If you notice that grip strength is more than a small issue for you try doing a couple sets of Farmer Carries in between your other exercises. These are pretty straight forward. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells, and with a straight back and engaged arms and shoulders simply carry them around the gym until your grip begins to give. When it does just put the dumbbells down, give your hands and forearms a quick rest and then do it again. These can be worked into any exercises and be used as an active recovery until your grip strength improves.

Lastly you will need to begin practicing your actual pull-up by using a resistance band for assistance. By this point you should be comfortable with the form of your pull-up, and have attained the grip strength necessary to hold yourself on the bar. Find a band that provides enough support where you can do between 5 and 15 reps. As you can see in the video, use a box or step up in order to safely get your foot into the band before you step off and practice your pull-up. Once you get comfortable with these it’s time to get rid of the band and try a full body weight pull-up, which at this point you will probably be happily surprised that you are much stronger than you expected and are able to perform several pull-ups.

Strength Building for Push-Ups

Strength Building for Push-Ups

There is a reason why push-ups are on a short list of physical requirements that must be accomplished in order to graduate from all branches of the military, as well as be accepted into the police department and other sectors of law enforcement. Push-ups are a standard indicator of basic strength and endurance, showing that you have the ability to stabilize and move your own body weight.

Being unable to perform a push-up can be frustrating, and it might even cause you to put yourself in an unstable or incorrect position just so you can do something that resembles a push-up but is actually probably making the situation worse by not actually addressing the muscle weaknesses that are holding you back from your push-up.

Read on and watch the videos to see how you can progress yourself from where you are now to a full body weight push-up. A push-up is a very synergistic move, meaning it requires several different muscle groups working together in order to perform. Arms, chest, shoulders, core, and back are all on deck for your push-up. For this reason I have never been a big fan of performing push-ups from your knees since it almost entirely eliminates one of the most important stabilizing muscle groups; your core. It’s better to train your body to achieve the full push-up position, even if that means creating an easier position by doing it on a higher incline.

If you have access to a squat rack or smith machine this means setting the bar in the rack higher up so you can put yourself in a push-up position but push off the bar instead of the floor. You might have to play around with the height you set the bar until you find the right setting for your strength level. If you don’t have this equipment you can start by using a counter top, table, chair, sofa, anything with a high enough incline so you can perform about 10 to 20 reps.

If you’re struggling with how to set up your position try this hack: the bumper plates in a gym by the lifting platforms are all designed to be the same size in diameter so when people are using them the bar is always the same height off the floor no matter what the weight of the plate is being used. Grab one of these lighter plates, 10 or 15 pounds, and lay down on your back on a flat bench, holding each side of the plate at its widest point. Imagine that the hole in the center of the plate has a pole running through it that’s coming out of your sternum, the center of your chest, and as you push the plate off your chest it has to slide straight up and down this invisible pole. This will help you maintain a good position for your elbows as you press and lower it down as well as remind you to tuck your shoulder blades down and together rather than have your shoulders shrug up to your ears. Just remember that in a regular push-up your hand position will be different, with fingers pointing forward, not in toward each other.

Practicing this plate press will not only help you understand your push-up position but it will also help you build up basic strength toward your push-up. Once you feel comfortable with your position try switching out the plate for dumbbells in order to continue getting stronger with your push but now building up more shoulder stability with unstable dumbbells. Combine this with your incline push-up which you should be slowly making a lower and lower incline as you feel stronger.

One last tip is working on up-downs. This will help with your push strength but also on core strength and stability. Start in a forearm plank and then press yourself up into a straight arm plank, alternating back and forth between which hand starts the push from forearm plank to straight arm. As with all exercises it takes time, practice, and a willingness to challenge yourself and push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to progress and see changes. Set realistic goals and work on this at least one to two times a week.

Core Exercises: Where to Begin and How To Progress

Core Exercises: Where to Begin and How to Progress 

Watch the video HERE:


While there are certainly no shortage of core exercises posted on webpages and social media accounts, it’s sometimes hard to get a baseline on where you should begin and which of those exercises are appropriate for you.

For that reason we’re posting a series of videos that will help you determine if you are a beginner, experienced, or a master of your core.

A beginner level core exercise is a side plank hip raise. This will help build up core strength while also helping your balance and shoulder stability. Simply start on your side, forearm on the ground, and raise your hips up off the ground, attempting to hold the top position for 3 seconds for 10 reps. As you progress with this and are able to maintain the top of your side plank you can advance it by now tapping your hip down to the ground. And a final stage of difficulty would be to add a twist while you reach under with the top hand after performing the hip tap.

For the intermediate or experienced level of core training let’s look at the inchworm and some progressions on that. Named the inchworm for its resemblance to the movement of an inchworm, you are simply starting in plank, walking your feet in toward your hands so your hips hike up in the air, and then walking your hands out to return to your plank. So you will be inching forward as you perform these. Once you have a solid grasp on this movement you can kick it up a notch. Instead of walking your feet in toward your hands, give 3 little hops in and then 3 little hops back out to return to your plank. For these you will be staying in place. A great way to make these extra challenging is to go 3 hops in and 3 hops out for 20 seconds, then switch to 2 hops in and 2 hops back out for 20 seconds, and then finish with one big hop in and one big hop back out for the last 20 seconds.

Finally, for our advanced readers who have some really solid core control, we have progressive toe taps in plank. Start at one end of a yoga mat in plank. Start by tapping your foot up by your hand and then return it back to plank position. Tap the same foot out about a foot further out on the yoga mat and then back, and then tap the same toe all the way out as far as you can on the yoga mat and then back. And now reverse the taps, starting with the tap all the way out, then middle, then up by your hand. From here, perform up-downs to get yourself to the other side of the yoga mat and repeat the same progression with the other foot. See how many times you can make it back and forth across the mat before your core burns out. And don’t forget to stretch after!

Why You Should NOT Switch Up Your Exercises in The Gym

I’m sure you’ve heard it a dozen times, “you need to always switch up your workouts in order to keep making progress” or “you shouldn’t do the same exercises every workout, switch them so you can shock your muscles to grow”.

Although this may make sense to you coming from your local gym rat; scientific studies show that you will continue to make long term progress if you focus on compound lifts and sticking to those same movements for long periods of time. This will train your body to become efficient in these movements, forcing adaptation (muscle gain, power, stability, etc.) of the body. In fact, if you are always doing something different every workout – it may cause decreases in muscle, strength, and endurance over time.

Heres why:

There is a term called progressive overload that applies to every single form of exercise, whether it be running, weight lifting, dancing, etc. Its the concept of adding more weight, reps, time under tension, or any form of a challenge to that exercise on a weekly or monthly basis. A simple example is if you were bench pressing 135lbs for 5 reps this week, next week you may want to go for 6 reps.

This simple concept forces your body to keep adapting to your increases in demand over time – leading to greater results in the gym. If you are always switching up exercises, you will never be able to keep progressing at specific movements and will have no way to judge if you are actually making progress.

How To Properly Program a Workout:

After you’ve determined what your goals are in the gym, you need to pick exercises that are the best bang for your buck to getting you to your goals. For example, if your goal is to be a power lifter – you’ll want to focus mainly on barbell movements and do them over and over again, throughout many weeks to assure you are efficient at those movements. Increasing workload over time will increase your strength and muscular recruitment during those movements.

Once you’ve chosen the few movements you’d like to work on the most – begin each workout with those exercises, making them your primary focus. These are the exercises that become “staples” in your training sessions – you won’t switch these up. You’ll focus on adding intensity and workload to these specific movements over a number of weeks.

Once you have completed the “staple” exercise – you can now move onto “accessory” work that will further get you to your goals, as well as help you get better at the main exercises you’ve chosen to focus on. A simple example would be – following your main exercise of bench press with a Tricep extension to increase the strength of the Triceps during the bench press.

Need help? Drop us a line below!

Chalk Up a Better Squat and Deadlift: Glute Activation Tips

One of the biggest issues we often see are people performing a good exercise but not understanding the goal behind it or the main muscle groups they want to be using. For instance, if you’re a runner, hip health is going to be essential in your ability to tap into and optimize your strength, energy, and endurance to get the most out of your run. It’s a misconception that runners shouldn’t lift weights. While it’s true that runners want to be light, and therefore aren’t going to bulk up with big muscles, strengthening lean muscle mass should definitely be a priority. Exercising lean muscle mass is simply making sure that the muscle you do have is as strong as possible, as opposed to trying to make it bigger. The point is simply that runners, just like everyone, will benefit immensely from having healthy hips. And the easiest road to healthy hips is practicing squat and deadlift.

There are several different muscle groups that make up your hips, but if you want to talk strength, endurance, and power it’s going to be glutes. Your butt. These are the primary muscle groups driving you through your squat and carrying the majority of the workload. Unfortunately for many people, their glutes are in a weakened state from sitting on them all day, and our quads in the front of our legs have become the dominant muscles propelling us around. Entering into your workout in this state will almost definitely lead to one thing; leaving your glutes inactive and your quads to do all the work. If you’re squatting and your quads start burning and you don’t feel any activation in your butt then this is for you.

There are a lot of steps that go into executing a good squat but just to get you started off we’re going to go over two things you should focus on in your warm-up; stretching out your quads and activating your glutes. If your quads start burning pretty soon into your workout that generally means they’re doing too much work and were probably tight to begin with. Foam roll your quads, stretch them, mash them out with a bar or kettlebell; these are all acceptable ways to get the muscles in the front of your legs to release some tension. How painful this is will depend on how tight your quads are.

The next step is to get your glutes fired up and activated so they’re ready to be heavily involved in the exercise. One of the easiest, most straight forward ways to activate glutes is a glute bridge. Simply lay on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Your goal is going to be to drive your hips straight up off the ground without any other movement, so the finish position is a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and your shins completely perpendicular to the ground. In this position you should be squeezing your butt and mimicking that you are pulling your heels in to engage your hamstrings. Try doing ten reps with a three second hold at the top on each one.

Another effective and easy glute activation exercise is a band walk. Try using a Slingshot or Hip Circle or a moderate level resistance band and put it either around your ankles or just above your knees. Get into a mini squat position and simply side step in each direction, opening your whole hip up against the band to get glute activation. Try doing this one for time, side stepping each direction for 30 seconds, focusing on keeping a straight back and tight core and glutes.

The clam shell is also an effective band activation exercise. Keeping the band above your knees, lay on your side with your knees bent and slightly tucked in. Keep your feet together and your hips facing to the side and push the band apart with your knees. Do 10 to 20 reps on each side, slow and controlled focusing on squeezing your butt and keeping your glutes activated.

These exercises are designed to stimulate and activate muscles that you want to be using during your squat and deadlift, and suggest ways to address any tight or overactive muscles that might be interfering with your performance. It is important to note that addressing any tight or overactive muscles is not only beneficial for correctly performing an exercise, but it is also the pathway to pain and injury prevention.


How To Train Your Core: More Than Just Crunches!

When basic crunches aren’t enough for your workout routine let’s look at some alternatives that will optimize your core strength and increase your balance and ability to generate power.

By now you probably know that your core is more than just your abs. It’s the trunk of your body that both stabilizes you and also allows you to rotate around with control. And applied correctly your core also braces your spine to protect it from any unsafe movements that could harm your central nervous system. Another thing I think is important to understand about your core is that it is the foundation that all of your extremities attach to. So while your legs allow you to run, and your arms are swinging a golf club around, these extremities attach to the trunk of your body and need its support in order to move effectively. These extremities are attempting to generate power when they do certain things, whether it’s kicking a ball, swinging a bat, or throwing a Frisbee; and the strength of your core will determine how much power they can generate and then transfer to your movement.

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A staple of core strength is going to be a plank. Whether it’s performed with your hands on the ground or your elbows on the ground, a plank is a straightforward way to assess core strength. But once you’ve gotten control of your plank it’s important to start implementing the variations that will keep you getting stronger and also from getting bored. Side planks, performed on one arm or hand and with the hips facing out instead of down, are a great way to kick up the challenge level and add balance into the equation. From here you can then try tapping your hip to the ground to see if you can maintain your balance and control while moving. Try tapping your hip to the ground twice and then holding in side plank for two seconds, with a goal of being able to do this ten times on each side.

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Dead Bug is a great flip on the traditional plank for people who are beginners and can’t maintain a plank, but also for people who struggle with stabilizing their back and keeping it from arching or rounding. Appropriately named for the way dead bugs tend to look, you lay on your back with hips and knees bent to 90 degree angles. With your arms pointing up to the sky, hold an object against the front of your knees; a stability ball, a big pillow, whatever you can get your hands on and hold against your knees. Maintaining your back flat against the ground, extend an opposite arm and leg out away from the ball as far as you can control them before bringing them back up to the ball and switching sides. A good goal here is to be able to do this 20 times on each side.


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If you have access to a cable machine then you can work on generating power as we mentioned earlier in more specific movements. In the same way you would swing a golf club or baseball bat, doing cable rotations will help you increase core strength and generate power in your movement. You will want to start off standing perpendicular to the cable machine, both hands gripping the handle and holding it at arms length in front of your chest. Keeping the handle out in front of your chest will help ensure that the emphasis is on your core and isn’t being taken over by your arms and shoulders. It helps to imagine that you’re in a glass tube, so you can’t rock forward or lean backward, you can only rotate around. Your goal here is to rotate your torso around pulling the cable with it and then controlling it back to the start position. Pick a weight that will allow you to do 20 to 25 reps on each side, each one mimicking the way you would swing an object, focusing on your ability to generate strength and power in that rotation.

There are probably hundreds of ways to train and strengthen your core, with crunches being just one of them. Just remember, core strength is about control and stabilizing, so you can protect your spine but also generate force. If you want to do crunches, think about your back staying straight and sitting up onto your tailbone. Rounding your back, the way most crunches are performed, is the opposite of how you want to train your body. Like always, know what you’re trying to do, focus on the muscle groups you’re trying to use, and don’t sacrifice your form and ability to keep yourself stable just to get in a few more reps. Quality over quantity will win out every time.


Written by Jamie Maguire


Stretching and Mobility: Pre or Post Workout?

For Merrill, may her hip impingement rest in peace

So much stretching, so little time.

I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Some days I get to the gym a little later than I planned because that meeting or that phone call lasted a little longer than it was supposed to, or traffic was particularly brutal that day, or maybe I’m just one of those people who take forever to get myself ready. Either way, something is now going to pay the price, but will it be my warm up, my workout, or my cool down? And I’ll be honest, some days my warm up/stretching/mobilization takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. I know some of you right now are thinking, well that’s just crazy, I only have an hour to get the whole thing done, not just stretch. Believe me, on the list of things I fully understand this is at the top, which is why I try to do most of my stretching and mobilizing in my down time. ‘Try’ being the operative word. The best advice is to do your best to stay on top of your stretching and mobilizing as frequently as possible so that you can just do a quick stretch and warm-up, and then start your routine. But as we all know this isn’t always the way it happens, so let’s go over some general information so you have a good place to start.

Let’s break down a few key terms so there’s no confusion. Particularly mobilization, or mobs, as some people will call them. In general mobilizing basically means to gather together all the forces at your disposal in order to accomplish a task. A general would mobilize his army in order to go to battle successfully. While the concept of mobilizing your joints and muscles in order to do an exercise is somewhat different than going into battle, the ultimate goal is going to be the same; for the task to be accomplished successfully. The more adept you are at mobilizing effectively, with thought and purpose, the more likely you are to have a successful campaign.

With exercise, mobilization basically means to get your muscles all working together in a state where they are activated and able to shorten and lengthen without compensation in their intended range. This translates to your joints being able to move comfortably and without impingement through their intended range of motion so that, for example, you can successfully execute a squat. In a squat you want your hips, hamstrings, quads, calves, and glutes all activated and moving properly in order to avoid the joints connected to those muscles being pulled out of position. Side note: if you’re barbell back squatting you also need your shoulders and back mobile in order to get your arms to the bar behind your head otherwise you’ll end up arching your back to get there and not know why.

Another side note to stretching and mobilizing; try thinking of it like this: the muscle’s natural response to being challenged is to tighten up, and as you challenge it more and more through your workout all that tension is eventually going to cause it to fatigue. That’s the end of your workout. Now if you start your workout with tight muscles that’s like starting at a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. You now have from 5 to 10 to get in whatever work you can, get stronger, burn calories, etc. But if you stretch beforehand and get yourself down to a 2 or 1, then you can get much more work done and calories burned because you have all the way from 1 to 10 before you hit fatigue.

Now, there are all kinds of ways and means to stretch and mobilize, and almost all of them will depend on what’s personally going on with each of us individually. It would take a lot of time to go over all of the stretching and mobilizing techniques that exist. What we can do instead is come up with a good way to self diagnose the problem areas in order to then figure out what stretching and mobilizations you should focus on.

One of the simplest methods is to focus on the specific exercise you’re going to be working on that day. Almost all of the exercises we do will break down into two distinct positions, your start position and your finish position. Without worrying about the movement between the two or any weight involved just put yourself into both of those positions. Can you stabilize yourself in both places? If you can’t then forget about the movement between the two and focus on the problems you have in those positions. Let’s look at squat. The start position for your squat is standing up in your braced position, neutral hips, foot to hip socket engaged with the floor (if you don’t know what your bracing position is please research or contact us for a free consultation). Your finish position for squat is loaded up glutes and hamstrings, straight back, weight over your mid foot, with your hips just below the knee joint. Typically the finish position tends to be the more problematic. So get down in that position and assess what’s going on. This is where exercise becomes more than just working up a sweat and being out of breath. Do your hips feel tight? Are they pinching in the front? Do your calves feel tight and you want to rock back on your heels? Are your quads on fire and desperately begging you to stand the hell up? This is where it becomes your job to learn and listen to your body and recognize where the weaknesses, compensations, and overactive muscles are, and with that information then fix the problems.

Your next moves are pretty straight forward. Any muscles that are tight or overactive (burning right from the start) need to be addressed with either stretching or foam rolling until the tension subsides to at least a moderate level. The more you practice these techniques the faster your muscles will lose their tension and to a higher degree, but like with anything it takes practice. Once you’ve done that to any tight or restricted muscles you should try your positions again, with the result hopefully being that you now can stabilize and control yourself in these positions. I’ve found that it’s also extremely beneficial to identify the primary muscles you’ll be using in the exercise and do an activation exercise that isolates the desired muscle or muscle group. For example doing a floor bridge is a great way to isolate and activate your glutes for deadlift or even squats.

The breakdown is this: almost all moves have a very straight forward start and finish position. Before you begin make sure that you can effectively put yourself in both of those positions, and use any feedback you receive from your body to come up with a stretching and mobilizing plan to fix any problems before you begin. Wrap it all up at the end with a solid 5 to 10 minutes of stretching or foam rolling to help flush out any built up lactic acid in order to aid your muscles in a pain free recovery. Please contact us if you have any questions or find yourself struggling to assess and correct your joint and muscle tension.


Written by Jamie Maguire




How Training Like an Athlete Can Lead to Greater Results in The Gym

How Training Like an Athlete Can Lead to Greater Results in The Gym: Your Body is Made to MOVE!


Being new to the Innovative Health and Fitness team I thought it might be a good idea to introduce myself for this blog post, and discuss a topic that might help you get to know me a little better and the approach I take to training. And hopefully mix in a little information at the same time.

I’d like to discuss the topic of treating everyone like an athlete.

When you think of an athlete what generally comes to mind is someone who plays a sport. And someone who doesn’t might automatically think, well I don’t play any sports so I’m not an athlete. Maybe your requirements are a little tougher and you think a real athlete needs to get paid to play their sport, or make the team at a Division I school. Either way you have to stop and consider why this person is being compensated for being good at playing a game. You can definitely make a case for biology or genetics and say that some people are just naturally gifted. But even the best players have to train at their highest levels if they want to compete with other talented athletes willing to work twice as hard to make up for any natural talent they think they’re missing.

I worked for a while with a retired professional strength and conditioning coach and we would talk a lot about the work athletes had to put into their training and how at that level it required tremendous energy and focus just to see the smallest increases in strength or speed or agility. These guys were already so close to the top of their game that any gains took countless hours and training. But here’s the thing, the foundation for all of this is the same for everyone. He used to say, there are countless ways to apply the principles, but at the end of the day the basic principles are always the same. How you get there might be different for everyone, but where you’re going will always be the same.

Every athlete you see today had to start off learning basic body mechanics; how to move properly, effectively, and efficiently. If you can’t properly execute a squat or a deadlift or don’t understand the essential principles that the movement requires, then it doesn’t matter if you’re a lineman coming up from the set position to protect your quarterback or simply picking a box up off the ground, sooner or later your movement pattern is going to break down and lead to joint and muscle pain and possibly injury.

The principles are always the same. We teach people how to squat because it is the basic movement of getting up and down out of a chair, something we do countless times throughout the day. We teach deadlift because it is the movement of safely and efficiently picking something up off the ground. Overhead press teaches you to stabilize your shoulder and shoulder blades while holding something above you, meaning you’re less likely to injure or strain your shoulder the next time you have to pull something off a top shelf or from the cabinet.

It’s possible you’ve seen these exercises performed before in the gym or at a weightlifting competition or even at the Olympics. You might have been impressed by how much weight some of these people were lifting, or maybe you thought it was ridiculous that people were trying to lift that much. Either way the lesson from this is simple; whether you’re trying to deadlift 800 pounds off the floor or simply pull a stubborn root out of the ground, it’s important to understand that all of these movements are based on the same principles; learning to stabilize yourself in order to safely and efficiently move yourself and probably an object from point A to point B.


Written by Jamie Maguire 

NASM Certified Personal Trainer


Have questions? Drop us a line below and we will get back to you within 24-48 hours!


Reduce Pain and Increase Strength: Hip and Shoulder Stabilization

Hip and Shoulder Stabilization

The general function of exercise, or weight training specifically, is learning to stabilize yourself in order to move weight from point A to point B safely and effectively.

Main reasons for having a goal of stabilization:

  • Safety – by learning to stabilize yourself and properly engage muscle groups responsible for moving heavy loads you will be protecting the more vulnerable parts of your body that cannot handle heavy lifting and are prone to strain and injury, such as your knees and lower back.
  • Strength – by engaging these larger, more capable muscle groups you are ensuring that they do the brunt of the work and therefore become stronger. This leads to a progressive cycle whereby these muscles are able to move heavier and heavier loads and become even better at protecting vulnerable joints and muscle groups.
  • Functional Movement – in the fitness world this term generally means two things: prioritizing spinal stabilization and then initiating movement from the hips and shoulders; and secondly, movements that translate to everyday life. In the simplest terms, learning to properly squat teaches you how to effortlessly get in and out of a chair, and deadlift teaches you how to safely and effectively pick something up.

As you move throughout your day, understanding and prioritizing stabilization will help you keep you pain and injury free. This also includes sitting and standing still.

Purpose behind hip and shoulder stabilization:

Both the hip and shoulder joints are what are referred to as “ball in socket” joints. This joint system allows for tremendous range of motion and an almost unlimited ability to move freely. But with that freedom of movement, also comes with the opportunity for an injury, especially when the joint is loaded or under tension.

Stabilizing the Hip and Shoulder Joints

These ball in socket joints have the capacity for both internal and external rotation within the socket. A result of this impressive range of motion is that it leaves a great deal of slack in the socket in order to allow these movements. In order to prevent injury while these joints are loaded or under tension it becomes necessary to “take the slack” out of the joint; stabilizing and securing it prior to movement.

Cues for stabilizing the hip socket:

  • Screw your feet to the floor; right food goes clockwise, left foot goes counter-clockwise
  • Imagine there is a crack between your feet and you’re trying to spread it apart.
  • Imagine your feet are on plates and you’re trying to spin them out away from you.

It is important to understand the meaning behind these cues:

  • Your feet are not actually moving.
  • When you say “screw your feet into the floor”, what you are really trying to create is tension in the hip socket through external rotational force of the femur into the pelvis (hip socket) using the floor as resistance.
  • Not only does this tension with the floor create a stable hip joint, but the muscle group responsible for externally rotating your leg is your Glutes, the primary divers of your squat, so by initiating this force of external rotation of your hip you activate your Glute muscles and help organize your squat mechanics.

Cues for stabilizing the shoulder socket:

  • Break the bar in half
  • Screw your hands into the floor
  • Draw your shoulder blades down and together

Defining the cues for shoulder stabilziation:

  • Your hands are no actually moving and you are not physically trying to break a bar in half.
  • The goal is to generate tension in the shoulder socket by attempting to externally rotate the humerus bone into the shoulder socket, using the floor or an object as resistance.
  • Your humerus bone connects to your shoulder blade, therefore tension that is created also stabilizes the shoulder blade and activates the Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), a major muscle that attaches to your shoulder blade and is responsible for movement and stabilization within the shoulder system.

Written by: Jamie Maguire 


If you would like to learn more about how stabilizing your Hips and Shoulders can improve your strength and reduce injury; feel free to drop us a line down below! We will get back to you within 24-48 hours!