Wake and Break

As the shrill scream of your morning alarm slices through your dreams of flying over tall buildings, and otherwise saving the world from destruction, you realize that your peaceful respite from wakefulness has unceremoniously come to an end.

Morning has broken and it’s time to start your day.

You slowly rub the sleep from your eyes, fling the warm, enveloping covers off your body and allow the frigid air of your bedroom to jolt you further from your reverie.

“Why does my back feel so stiff?” is your first, fleeting thought as you hunch forward on the edge of your bed, pawing for your fuzzy slippers with your feet. Your sleep-drunk legs have trouble locating their targets so you bend farther forward through your back to get a better look. From this forward bent position, you’re finally able to find the foot-hugging sanctuary of your slippers and your daily routine carries on.

You pull yourself to a somewhat upright position, stumble to the bathroom on your unsteady legs, turn on the tap, bend down to the sink and splash the last vestiges of sleep from your being…

So maybe you don’t dream of saving the world, and perhaps you don’t have fuzzy slippers. Heck, you might not even wash your face. But if you’re like most people, you likely go through some of the same movement patterns described above.

What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that your intervertebral discs (yup, the same discs that are often erroneously described as “slipped”) are actually in a hydrated state which unfortunately puts them at higher risk for injury with certain types movements, according to Dr. Stuart McGill’s research.

Why do the discs “inflate” overnight?

After having spent six to ten hours in a horizontal position while sleeping, the effects of gravity are minimized through your spine. So instead of being compressed (as they are when you’re upright), your discs are unloaded to a certain degree and actually suck up fluid like a sponge. This is why you’re actually taller after waking.

What can you do about it?

This is the simple part. Avoid flexion (bending forward) through your spine until the discs have had a chance to lose some of that fluid. See, I told you, simple.

McGill’s research suggests that it will take about an hour after waking for this to occur. After that golden hour, it’s safer to bend that way.

Now the hard part: avoiding flexion means you’ll have to modify how you get out of bed, how you sit on the edge of your bed, how you wash your face, brush your teeth and even sit on the toilet.

And depending on how fast you are at getting pretty in the morning, it would also mean you’ll have to avoid slouching at the breakfast table, if you even eat breakfast.

Yup, these are all automatic habits you’ve been reinforcing for years. It’s not going to be easy to change them, but as many former low back pain sufferers will tell you, they much prefer dribbling toothpaste down their chins than having bolts of lightning shoot down their legs.

Yours in movement.

Team Primal


Primal Patterns: How Do You Stack Up?

I don’t know about you, but we at Primal Human Performance take our biomechanics very seriously.

We don’t just go to the mall to hang out, we go to watch, observe, and learn from the huge variety of movement patterns people have; all of these patterns vying to complete typical daily tasks from walking to carrying groceries, to going up and down stairs.

In actuality though, if you deconstructed every single of movement that we humans use throughout the day, you’ll notice that there are simply just a few Primal Patterns that keep cropping up, either independently, or in combinations with each other.

Dr. Stuart McGill, one of the world’s premier spine researchers, describes (by describe, I mean lists) them as follows:

•    Squat/Lift
•    Lunge
•    Twist
•    Push/Pull
•    Gait
•    Balance

Now what if you did one of these, or a few of these, incorrectly?

And what if you repeated that faulty pattern over and over again without even knowing it, day after day, week after week, year after year?

What if your compensation movements just so happened to be in your low back? Or your shoulder? Or your knee?

Perhaps every time you sit down in a chair?

Or every time you go out for a run or lift weights at the gym?

Or every day as you sit in your car, wait for the bus, or do what you do at work?

Gold star for you if you’ve come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, your faulty movement pattern may be wearing your body down before its time.

You only have one body. Be nice to it.

Fix your faults.

In the next series of posts, we’ll go through a couple of simple exercises that you can easily incorporate into your day to work on each of the 6 Primal Movement Patterns listed above.

Yours in Optimal Health and Ultimate Performance.

Team Primal