Shoulder stability training

A while back, when I first started the TRX 40/40 challenge I noted, during the TRX atomic pushups, that my arms were wobbling too much.  My shoulders have always been my Achilles’ heel. The weakness in my shoulders may explain why I have often had aches and pains when performing different exercises that emphasis the shoulders (shoulder press, lateral raises and bench press).

I know that by strengthening my rotator cuff muscles, as well as my scapular muscles, my performance on the atomic pushup should improve.  Strong stabilizing muscles means that more of your energy can be put into performing the task at hand.

Here are the exercises that I have been doing to help strengthen my rotator cuff muscles and my scapular muscles:

  1. TRX body saw
  2. TRX side plank with reach under 
  3. TRX T’s, Y’s and W’s – Aka Letters
  4. Kettlebell Turkish Get-up
  5. Kettlebell Windmill 

    I often treat patients with shoulder problems.  Addressing their stabilizing muscles is often a key component to their treatment success. These are more advanced exercises and I do not prescribe my Chiropractic patients these exercises until they have developed better control of their scapular stabilizers and rotator cuff muscles.  I prescribe non-TRX and Kettlebell versions of these exercises unless my patients are considering purchasing a TRX and kettlebell.  If they are interested I send them to the Fitness Anywhere website or to another trusted seller (there are fake TRX’s out there).

    I hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time,  make a concentrated effort to develop a healthy change in your life.

    Dr Notley
    Winnipeg’s only duel credentialed Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist

    Get healthy in less time: High Intensity Interval Training (AKA Burst Training)

    Spinning the night away...

    As a Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist I see a number of people with varying degrees of fitness levels.  It doesn’t take much energy to convince someone who works out that exercising helps with your health and pain levels. It’s the sedentary people who experience chronic pain and ill health that are more difficult to convince that an exercise program is required for improving their health, injuries, and aches and pains.  Most often the excuse is that they don’t have time but with Burst training there is no excuse.
    Burst training is the newest buzz in the fitness/health industry.  Another name for it is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  I prefer calling it Burst Training. It is quicker to say and it sounds less harsh than High Intensity Interval Training. This is not a new method of training but it has definitely been getting more press because of the health benefits that are being revealed in the research journals.
    The Training Method
    The premise behind this system is to train hard (greater than 80% of your maximum heart rate) for a short time and then have a recovery period.  Researchers have used three different approaches to burst training.  Some have used 4 sets of 4 minute high intensity exercise followed by 3 to 4 minute recovery periods. This has been used most often with the elderly population.  Others have used 8 to 12 sets of one minute exercise followed by one minute recovery.  The most popular method has been 4 to 6 sets of 30 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by four minutes of recovery. Recovery, in the research typically has beeb lower intensity activity such as light cycling or walking.
    This method of training stresses the anaerobic energy system. This is the energy system which predominantly uses glycogen, the stored form of glucose, and does not use oxygen to aid in the production of energy. Using this energy system results in the formation of lactic acid and also an increase in hydrogen ions which results in that burning feeling in the muscles.  The added benefits of burst training are that more calories are required to recuperate from the training session.  This is when the aerobic system works more using free fatty acids as energy and this explains the heavy breathing which occurs after the workout. Despite being relatively short duration, Burst training’s effects are starting to show better benefits than continuous moderate intensity aerobic exercise (CME) programs which last much longer.
    Why would anyone want to perform such a gruelling program, feeling exhausted and having your muscles burning?  My question to you is, “Would you rather spend an hour in the gym or 20 minutes in the gym and get the same, if not better,  benefits?!”
    Similar benefits to Aerobic training
    Burst training has been shown to have similar benefits in improving your V02max than CME. VO2 max is the gold standard for rating our aerobic energy system. The higher your VO2max the more efficient your body is at using oxygen for energy.  So the person who exercises for 60 minutes on the treadmill could have received the same benefits in aerobic endurance as the person who sprinted on a bike for a total of 3 minutes (6 sets of 30 seconds). 
    Improving Your Whole Health.
    Burst training takes your health beyond the benefits of improving your aerobic endurance. It maybe an important piece of the puzzle in helping with a serious health condition called “Metabolic Syndrome”.  This is a syndrome where you have elevated cholesterol levels and triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity and insulin insensitivity resulting in higher blood sugar levels (Diabetes Type II).  This is not an uncommon occurrence in our society.  It is also a major strain on our society and we are see a growing number of people with these signs and symptoms.  Both as a whole and individually each of these signs and symptoms can affect your overall health.
    Burst training appears to be part of the solution for many of the health conditions that are common in our Society.  I have listed here some of the benefits that Burst Training has shown to improve.
    1. Reduced waist circumference –  Burst training has been shown to have 4.7 times greater effect on abdominal circumference than continuous moderate exercise
    2. Similar weight loss to CME, likely due to its icrease in lipid oxidation, even though the volume of exercise is significantly less.  This is also due to more calories being burned because the body needs to use energy to recover from the more intense workout.
    3. Significant decrease in abdominal, visceral, cutaneous fat.
    4. Increases insulin sensitivity – The higher the intensity the greater the effect on insulin sensitivity. Increased sensitivity means better control of blood sugar.
    5. Decrease in blood pressure – There is a 13.3 times great improvement of systolic blood pressure and a 2.7 times greater improvement in diastolic blood pressure.
    6. Protects the lining of the blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide (expands the blood vessels), which is not seen in CME and causes an exercise intensity dependent production of antioxidants.  Researchers have concluded that it is the intensity and not the duration that protects the body from cardiovascular disease
    7. Reduced LDL, the bad cholesterol, and increases HDL, the good cholesterol, especially HDL-C which is association with protecting the blood vessels from arteriosclerosis.
    8. Increase in muscular strength, compared to CME which is likely due to it causing an increase in Growth Hormone and Testosterone. Growth Hormone and Testosterone are both associated with muscle growth and thus muscular strength
    9. 46% of those with Metabolic Syndrome were no longer diagnosed with metabolic syndrome after one research study on Burst Training.
    How to Get Started
    I must first preface this with a warning. This form of training can be very intense.  Make sure you contact your health care professional before starting such a program. 
    Here a few ways you can perform a Burst Training program. Choose an exercise that will be safe even as you fatigue.  Using a stationary bike is one of the most preferred tool for the researchers but swimming, running hills, skipping, burpees, kettlebell exercises or even speed squats can be used. Personally, I am not a big fan of running on treadmills especially if fatigue becomes a factor. One false step can trip you up and off you go off the back on the treadmill. I recommend this only for someone with experience with burst training.
    For those who are sedentary, begin with going as fast as you can for a short time, say, 10 seconds and then go slowly for about 50 seconds.  Perform this for about 6 to 10 times.  As you feel comfortable build yourself up to the 30 seconds with 4 minutes or recovery.

    Here is an example of Burst Training being performed by Dr. DelRae Messer, a Chiropractor, from Northwestern Health Sciences University.  It looks like she is performing 1 (one) minute of high intensity sprinting on the treadmill and one minute of rest in this video.

    Like any exercise program it is best to start out slow and then build up once you get used to a new form of training.
    I highly recommend this form of training especially for those who have little time but want to maximize their gains. 
    Remember, it’s not the volume of work performed but the intensity at which it was performed that matters.
    Until next time
    Dr Notley,
    Winnipeg’s only Chiropractor/Athletic Therapist

    Back Injury Care and the One Arm Kettlebell Swing

    Taking care of you back injury should not be solely a passive approach.  It should combine both passive and active forms of care.  Ensuring that the joints are moving well (chiropractic adjustment), muscle tightness is minimized and there are no adhesions between muscles, ligaments, and tendon (Active Release Techniques) is crucial to ensure the body is functioning at its best. This only helps you so far.

    An injured ligament, tendon, or muscle needs to be strengthened once healed. The scar tissue that has formed needs to be conditioned to handle more than the strains of daily living.  It takes approximately a year for the new scar tissue to adapt and fully mature. It will never be as strong as the original tissue but it can be strengthened with progressive resistance exercise.  Not continuing with a rehabilitation program is a detriment to the care of your back and is likely a major cause as to why your back continues to be re-injured.

    In addition to strengthening your injured back muscles you also need to discover which muscles are predisposing you to injury. There may be weak muscles or tight muscles elsewhere leading to greater than required strain to your back muscles. Seek out a Chiropractor, Athletic Therapist, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, or other health care provider who is knowledgeable in the care of back injuries so they can determine what might be predisposing you to your injury.


    I’d like to introduce to you an exercise that I enjoy performing with my kettlebell which can be an excellent way to strengthen the back, improve strength, improve power and improve the ability to lift without straining the back.   Take a look at the video.

    This is what I like about this exercise
    • Trains the small muscles in the spine. By holding the kettlebell with one hand you are training the core of the body to stabilize itself against asymmetrical forces.  This means those little muscles, which seem to be the culprit to many back injuries, have to work more and thus they become stronger. Thus creating a stronger back.
    • It teaches proper lifting technique. Using the hips and knees to lift the weight keeping the back in neutral spine is often the recommendation of proper lifting.
    • It develops strength and power. Quick movement of the hips and knees results in the kettlebell apparently effortlessly swinging up in the air.  If the movement is not performed quickly or there is a lack of strength somewhere within the movement chain will result in the failure of the kettlebell from rising high up.
    • It develops cardiovascular/endurance health. Though a kettlebell program is not the same as a cardiovascular program there is a significant improvement in cardiovascular health and endurance health. Many of the large muscles in the body are being used therefore more calories are burned and the heart and lungs are being well worked.


    Before taking on this exercise I suggest you see a Chiropractor, Athletic Therapist, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, or other health care provider who is knowledgeable in the care of back injuries so they can determine what might be predisposing you to your injury.  Once you have gone through a full rehabilitation program of the back you can the consider performing this exercise.  I also suggest that you contact someone who is certified in performing kettlebell swings. If you need a name of a certified kettlebell instructor you can contact me.  I know someone not too far from my Downtown and St. Vital Chiropractic offices. Once you do start using it I am sure you will find it fun and challenging.

    Until next time

    Dr Notley
    Get you moving so you can get moving