January 28, 2011

Avoid Training Setbacks with Muscle Activation Techniques

Just a little MAT plug and some helpful info for those running into barriers with their exercise routines.


March 6, 2010

Prevent Tendonitis with Muscle Activation Techniques

Has anyone been diagnosed with tendonitis–which sometimes manifests as that nagging shoulder or elbow pain that just doesn’t seem to go away?  Have you ever wondered what’s really going on?  We often don’t think about how muscles help stabilize our joints.  In fact, muscles not working properly may cause tendonitis.  Muscular imbalances may lead to abnormal joint wear and tear, resulting in pain and potential injuries.  Next time your shoulder or elbow begins to hurt, don’t just ice it down–get to the root of the problem.  Muscle Activation Techniques can help with this.  It helps identify and correct muscular imbalances that may lead to sore joints.

January 22, 2010

Running Injuries

Flip through any health-related magazine and you’ll find study after study highlighting what to do and what to avoid.  I take these studies lightly because the next week I inevitably read another study contradicting the first. With so many studies and conflicting results, which one are we supposed to believe?

I was flipping through the IDEA Fitness Journal and found another study—this one observed running-related injuries (which many of my clients come in with). The article cites that other research has reported that 70 percent of runners sustain some form of running related overuse injury, with 80 percent of injuries occurring at or below the knee.

According to the lead author, “Based on the literature review, it appears that foot pronation and inadequate hip muscle stabilization are the top categories for injury.  Hip muscle weakness especially appears to lead to atypical lower extremity mechanics and increases forces on knees and feet while running.”

Here’s an easier way to look at it.  Your knee is a reactive joint; it does whatever your hip and foot tell it to do.  If your hip is unstable, your knee will have to work overtime in order to compensate.  If your foot is unstable, the same thing can happen.

When I see clients experiencing knee pain, often times one of the first things I check is the stability of their hip.  If the hip is stable and not causing the pain, I see if I can find any imbalances in the foot.  Remember, the site of pain is typically not the source of the problem.  Another important note here is that the source of the pain could be coming from anywhere.  We mention the hip and foot, but those could just be starting points.  Could a limitation in your shoulder affect your knee?  You betcha!

That’s the goal of Muscle Activation Techniques: to address muscular imbalances that lead to pain and injuries.

May 9, 2009

GW Classic Pics

A couple of weeks ago, I was a vendor at the GW Classic 10 miler in Old Town Alexandria.  We had a really great turnout and I  talked to a bunch of runners about Muscle Activation Techniques™ .  After conducting range of motion evaluations  and performing muscle testing, it was amazing to see how quickly the runners responded to MAT.  Check out the photos from the race–hope to see you next year.

March 10, 2009

To Stretch or not to Stretch– THAT is the Question

As far as I can remember, athletic coaches, gym teachers and my parents have always told me to stretch. I was very active growing up, playing basketball, soccer, baseball and swimming so I just thought this was the right thing to do.

Now that I work in the fitness industry and have taken classes addressing these questions (Muscle Activation Techniques™ (MAT) and Resistance Training Specialist), I have reconsidered my position on stretching. In The New York Times article, Stretching: The Truth, the author takes a look at stretching and proper warm-up techniques. Below is an excerpt from the article:

“You may feel as if you’re able to stretch farther after holding a stretch for 30 seconds,” stated Malachy McHugh, the director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “So you think you’ve increased that muscle’s readiness.” However, typically you’ve increased only your mental tolerance for the discomfort of the stretch. The muscle is actually weaker.

I’ve experimented with this in my office using MAT and the results are quite surprising.

For warming up, I recommend simulating the activity you’re about to do. For example, on the treadmill, start with a walk, move into a medium paced walk, a fast walk, a slow jog, medium jog, fast jog, slow run, medium run and finally a fast run.

With weights, I see a lot of folks stretch their chest muscles before bench pressing. They put their arm up against the wall. Although many people think stretching will relax their muscle and increase range of motion, it doesn’t make sense to relax the muscle right before contracting it. Next time you are bench pressing, try beginning with a light weight and gradually getting heavier.

Another thing to remember: jogging for 10 minutes doesn’t prepare you for the bench press; it prepares you to jog for another 10 minutes. Remember to simulate the activity you’re about to do.

January 26, 2009

Think twice about wearing those high heels


This is a very cool article from the Washington Post Health section, describing the physical impact on your spine, legs and feet from wearing high heels. It also discusses how walking in high heels impacts your posture and the way you walk. Although this article probably won’t stop you from wearing heels, it might get you thinking about how your body responds to this type of footwear. The human body is complex, and Muscle Activation Techniques may help restore balance after walking in these all day.

January 14, 2009

Preventive Check-Up

Like many folks, I take my car to the shop every 3,500 miles for a tune up and oil change—even though nothing may seem to be wrong. After just 30 minutes, my oil is changed, car inspected and I’m on my way. It gives me piece of mind to make sure everything was in good shape under the hood.

And who goes to the dentist twice a year? I do, and not just when I have a toothache. It’s a preventive measure to make sure my teeth and mouth are healthy.

Here’s my question: Why are we less likely take preventive measures with our bodies when it comes to exercise?

It seems like we wait until something hurts—like a foot, back or joint—to seek help. Instead, we should think about preventing injury with regular muscular “tune ups.”

Visiting a muscle activation specialist is like taking your car in for a tune up or going to the dentist—it’s a great way to make sure your body is prepared for exercise—or just everyday activities. If we treat our muscles like our cars and teeth with regular check ups, we just may prevent an injury from occurring in the first place.

January 14, 2009

Back Pain

Seriously people: no pain no gain? After a quick Wikipedia search, I learned we can thank Jane Fonda and her exercise videos for that phrase. Even though it should be as outdated as the big hair and spandex of the 1980s, I still hear this phrase at least once per week. Simply put, pain indicates dysfunction—your muscles aren’t working right.

I hear so many people say they just “work through the pain.” If you’re running and begin to experience knee pain after the first few minutes, do you stop? Or, do you just work through it, and figure it will go away?

Even if your knee stops hurting, does the problem really go away? In a word: no.

You may think you can alleviate knee pain by adjusting your stride, but it’s likely that your body just compensates for the muscular instability causing the discomfort. The human body is incredibly smart, and will do whatever it takes to get from point A to B. So, other muscles that are firing properly will pick up the slack for those that aren’t working as well.

Let’s say, for example, you use 20 muscles to run on the treadmill (which really isn’t even close). Don’t you want all 20 muscles working properly? I sure would. Could you run with only 15 muscles firing? Sure, but you might have a little hitch in your giddy up. 10 muscles? You could give it a try. Five? You might be safer staying home on the couch.

Have you experienced pain while running—such as plantar fasciitis, low- back pain or knee pain—and wondered what was really going on? Shoot me an e-mail and maybe I can offer up some thoughts.

Remember, the best way to prevent pain and injury while exercising is to make sure your muscles work properly.

January 9, 2009


After graduating from James Madison University with a Computer Information Systems degree and two jobs in software sales, I knew the cube farm was not for me. I needed a career change. Caity Davis, my sister and co-owner of FitOne, suggested I try personal training part time to see if it might be a good fit. Since joining her team, I’ve enjoyed working with clients to achieve their health and fitness goals. Like poker, I went all in—and never looked back.

Since becoming a certified personal trainer in 2003, I’ve watched many of my clients experience pain—before, during and/or after working out. Although I knew many people deal with achy shoulders or sore backs, I began to contemplate the most safe, effective ways to train these folks. For those with bum shoulders, was I just supposed to avoid overhead presses? Altering workouts to avoid pain seemed simplistic and more like a short-term solution.

Just as I began to seriously grapple with these questions, my friend enrolled in a Muscle Activation Techniques™ (MAT) internship and raved about it. After explaining MAT and taking me through a hands-on demonstration, I was hooked and enrolled in the internship. After just one class, I saw how valuable MAT would be for my clients both inside and outside of the gym. It was just the tool I needed to help them maximize their training sessions and everyday lives.

After several years of practicing MAT, I’ve opened Restored Fitness LLC to continue helping clients prepare their bodies for exercise and a healthy life. I’m looking forward to beginning a dialogue with you on health and fitness. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have—and welcome to my blog!