5 Steps to reduce Neck pain Quickly

You might be suffering from one of the most common causes of neck pain; poor posture, weak muscles, or too much stress. Use these 5 steps to identify and reduce neck pain!

Step 1 -Find the cause

rear view of man working in office
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Poor posture is the most common cause of chronic neck pain as we spend so much time sitting in front of computers and devices. This encourages a forward head posture, with the shoulders slumped forwards, a kyphotic, or rounded upper back and the head poking forwards. Once you identify poor posture and note which muscles are strained and which are weak, it becomes easier to prevent and treat them.

Is your desk set up to correctly? Can you stand up and take breaks frequently? Are you able to use a headset at work? Is the angle of your computer at eye level or are you craning your neck for periods of time? Sleeping with the head supported correctly according to your position is also something to consider. Is your pillow to soft or too firm?


Step 2 – Cool it down, then heat it up!

If you have acute neck pain, we want to reduce any acute inflammation with ice, then after some time, switch to heat. The heat encourages the muscles to relax. Taking an anti-inflammatory can also help reduce intense pain from the common causes of neck pain. Always consult a doctor or health professional for professional advice that is suited to your specific needs.

Step 3 – Stretch

buildings city girl outdoorsNow that you know what the problem is, and you’ve warmed and relaxed the muscle, the next step is to stretch, flex and roll your shoulders every hour or so. Stretching the muscles helps to release tight tissue and Sitting still is the real problem, so if you are at a desk or driving for long periods of time, try to take a break every 45 minutes or so to stand up, reach up and down slowly or to roll the shoulders backwards.

Stretch the traps and the muscles surrounding the neck by dropping your shoulders and extending, then flexing, then side bending the head to each side. Holding a weight on the right hand then side bending to the left (bring the left ear to the left shoulder) can help to stretch the upper traps which are commonly a site for tension caused by stress.

Step 4 – Relax

woman relaxing relax spa
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Changing how you rest can go a long way to feeling better again. Resting and relaxing those muscles allows them to lengthen, improve blood flow, and help you wake up feeling better than the night before.

Getting a massage is a great way to relax and lengthen muscles that are tight and causing pain. Massage therapy can also include stretching and fascial release, helping to release the tissue that keeps muscles around the neck tight.

Removing the thing that stresses you and actually builds tension in the first place isn’t always easy, but if it is at all possible, take time off of that stressor. Take an afternoon to yourself and get your body taken care of.

Step 5 – Strengthen

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Long-weak muscles and short-hypertonic postural muscles are to be blamed for bad posture becoming progressively more painful. The mid and lower trapezius muscles are a good place to start. Exercises like seated rows, scapular retraction, and bent-rows are great to combat poor posture. Practicing retracting the chin while sitting and holding for several seconds is another good way to train the neck muscles. Working with a therapist who has knowledge in biomechanics and strength training is an ideal guide to strengthen your way to a pain-free neck.



6 Unique Benefits of Massage Therapy!

There is more to massage therapy than feeling relaxed and reducing muscle tension. The circulatory system, immune system, endocrine system and mental health all benefit from myofascial treatment through massage therapy.


1. It affects endocrine system and hormones

The endocrine system controls hormones, which deal with every body function you can imagine from sex drive to sleep to appetite and emotion. A literature review examining the effect of massage therapy on stress showed a consistent finding of a reduction in salivary cortisol (a stress hormone), heart rate and blood pressure within a single session of between 20 to 30 minutes (Moraska, Pollini, Boulanger, Brooks, & Teitlebaum, 2010). Pain associated with stress was also reduced in patients treated with Thai massage according to a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (Buttagat, Eungpinichpong, Chatchawan, & Kharmwan, 2011).

There are many more studies in which massage is found to counteract mild and moderate depression and anxiety. The authors postulate that it is a combination of the relief of stress and human touch that elevates mood as it encourages the release of dopamine and serotonin into the system (Hatayama, Kitamura, Tamura, Nagano, & Ohnuki, 2008).

2. It can help your body detoxify

Everything comes down to circulation… Massage encourages blood to circulate better, improving oxygen delivery and in-turn, aiding in removing waste, lymph and swelling.

3. It counteracts the effect of sitting

Sitting all day is the new normal, but a seated position forces your body to create tension in the shoulders, back and neck. While exercise is a great way to counteract a desk job, the neck, head and shoulders require a little help to remove myofascial tension that exercise and stretches aren’t able to target.

4. It boosts immunity

The body is always busy fighting infection from foreign invaders but when the system is overwhelmed in cases such as cancer, research shows that a measurable boost in immunity occurs following regular massage therapy. In a 2005 study, breast cancer patients showed a marked increase in lymphocytes, natural killer cells and dopamine levels following a 5-week massage therapy program (Hernandez-Reif et al., 2005). Several more studies in adults and children diagnosed with leukemia, diabetes and fibromyalgia all saw improved health measures.

5. It can improve sleep

Insomnia is common among many age groups, but according to research by Hachul, et al (2011), postmenopausal women suffering from insomnia who were treated with therapeutic massage showed better quality of sleep with fewer interruptions.

People in critical care or who are undergoing radiation therapy and chemo therapy may also experience difficulty sleeping. Several studies with these patients have shown that poor sleep quality can be improved with massage therapy.

6. It can counteract headaches

Tension headaches and migraines have long been treated with massage therapy. Muscles and the fascia that surround them attach to the upper neck and base of the skull are often tight and tense, aggravating a headache. A headache induced or exacerbated by stress may be a result of tight jaw or temporal muscles. One of the first randomized control trial published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed a clear improvement in migraine frequency, sleep quality, and perceived stress and coping efficacy in patients who received a weekly massage over a 13-week study (Lawler & Cameron, 2006).



Buttagat, V., Eungpinichpong, W., Chatchawan, U., & Kharmwan, S. (2011). The immediate effects of traditional Thai massage on heart rate variability and stress-related parameters in patients with back pain associated with myofascial trigger points. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 15(1), 15–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2009.06.005

Hatayama, T., Kitamura, S., Tamura, C., Nagano, M., & Ohnuki, K. (2008). The facial massage reduced anxiety and negative mood status, and increased sympathetic nervous activity. Biomedical Research, 29(6), 317–320. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.29.317

HERNANDEZ-REIF, M., FIELD, T., IRONSON, G., BEUTLER, J., VERA, Y., HURLEY, J., … FRASER, M. (2005). NATURAL KILLER CELLS AND LYMPHOCYTES INCREASE IN WOMEN WITH BREAST CANCER FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(4), 495–510. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450590523080

Lawler, S. P., & Cameron, L. D. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 32(1), 50–59. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15324796abm3201_6

Moraska, A., Pollini, R. A., Boulanger, K., Brooks, M. Z., & Teitlebaum, L. (2010). Physiological adjustments to stress measures following massage therapy: a review of the literature. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 7(4), 409–18. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nen029


The Ultimate Guide to Double Unders

This simple double unders guide will help you work through the little technical glitches that mess up your double unders!

Double unders can be one of the most frustrating workouts to use, but they are incredibly efficient when it comes to aerobic conditioning and stamina. Let’s be honest, using a skipping rope was only ever cool for boxers in the past. Otherwise, before CrossFit and other garage gyms re-popularized it as a viable and effective method of training, it was seen as a bit of a sissy activity!

Not anymore! Double unders, and even triple unders (we aren’t there, yet, don’t worry), are considered cool, smooth and sexy. The sound of a rope whipping around at rhythmical high speeds is a good thing! Just like any new technical movement, there is an initial learning curve. Unlike some of the other technical movements you learn at the gym, double unders cannot be done sloppily or half-zies. Scaling down a double-under is difficult as you have to actually do it in its entirety to get it!


To get better at double unders, you need to perfect two elements. One is quality and timing of the jump, the other is handling the rope. There are a few steps you will need to master that we outline below!

Let’s start with a quick problem solve guide- these are the five classic errors we see with double unders:

Classic Error #1 
Jumping from a narrow stance – feet glued together? Not optimal!

Fix: A simple fix… get used to jumping with your feet about shoulder width apart! You never jumped to great heights before with your feet glued so why would it be optimal now? Jump from a normal, comfortable stance and see what a difference it makes to your smoothness.

Classic Error #2
Letting your arms get away from you.

Fix: Keep your upper arms tight to your body! Falling into the trap of using your whole arm and shoulder to try to launch the rope is slow and inefficient. Get your elbows tucked tight and use the elbows and wrists to “flick” or “whip” the rope.

Classic Error #3
Wild feet or dolphin kicks – when you pike forwards or flip your feet back while in the air.

Fix: Don’t let your feet fly away! Pointing the toes too much into a hollow body jump is a waste of energy. The other classic is kick backs with the knees bending to bring the feet up and back an extra inch or two. It’s a huge waste of energy, and in the case of the kick backs, it puts you in a sub-optimal jump position to rebound back up from. You end up taking all this compression in the knees to make up for it.

Classic error #4
Poor timing – when you are regularly stomping down on the rope at the same time it passes, or when you speed up your jump rhythm for no apparent reason.

Fix: This can be hard to fix in one session! Your timing is something you’ll need to practice frequently to make it more automatic and natural rather than a conscious effort. If your problem is timing, you can work on it a few minutes every time you go to WOD to perfect it. There are a few drills we will get into down below that you can try out to help with this!

Classic error #5
Wild rope work – flailing, whipping, bucking, changing ropes 10 times…

Fix: Stick with one rope! …It’s not the rope, it’s probably just you, sorry to say. Learn the balance, speed and weight on one single rope rather than any old thing you find on the rack. Each rope is different and you won’t be able to adapt to them quickly enough as a beginner.
Finally, don’t go nuts on your doubles. Be calm, relaxed and patient as you deal with your frustration. A relaxed body will move more smoothly and rhythmically, exactly what you need to get the movement.


Drill 1: You might need to start by working without

…Finish reading me!

The Ultimate Guide to Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a great lower body and back strengthening exercise. Here is why it works, how to do it safely, and what to expect by deadlifting regularly.


Deadlifts are a compound exercise primarily working the legs and lower back. The exercise is popular because it is one of the big three lifts in powerlifting. Unfortunately, if done incorrectly, deadlifts can also lead to injury, which sometimes discourages people from performing it.

The objective of a deadlift is to improve strength in the posterior chain of muscles. These are the postural muscles of the upper and lower back, the glutes, the hamstrings and the gastrocnemius of the calves. This group of muscles spans many joints, and makes up a whole natural chain of movement. Anytime you bend over to pick something up, you use this chain!

By strengthening your body with deadlifts, you’ll have better posture, better lower leg strength and better back strength.


Standard deadlifts are performed with a barbell, so we will describe the movement in this variation.

Start with a barbell on the floor or 8’ off the floor (a standard Olympic plate height) Place your hands with a grip slightly wider than your shoulders with palms down. Extend your back so that your spine is neutral and straight. Ensure that the barbell is touching shins, with feet under the bar. Shoulders should be down and back, and your neck should be neutral and long- not staring up ahead!

The correct standard start position is with knees bent and hips slightly lower than your shoulders. If looking at yourself in a mirror from the side, you should see your back just slightly inclined.

To activate the deadlift, engage the abdominal muscles to hold your core in place. Extend the knees first. As the bar begins to move, push your hips forward, extending the hip and keeping the bar as close to your body as possible.

To finish the movement, extend to a straight standing position with shoulders behind the bar. Return to the start position using the same technique.


Once you have mastered the technique of a deadlift, the rest is all about improving strength. Performing sets of 8 to 12 deadlifts is a great way to master the movement. You might choose to perform one of the many variations of deadlifts to work the same group of muscles but with different tools and for different goals.

Roman Deadlifts

This is synonymous with straight-leg deadlifts. These eliminate the work of the quads in the initiation of the movement. To perform a roman deadlift, keep your knees straight- but not locked out- at the start position. Your back should be parallel to the floor. This version requires more mobility in the hamstrings and focuses more on strengthening them as well.

Single leg deadlifts

These are a common one for people who do not want to use a lot of weight. They are also a great way to improve ankle and glute strength while improving balance. Using little or no weight in each hand, stand on one foot. Descend into a deadlift keeping your back straight and both legs as straight as possible. Your working leg remains stable, working at the hip. The lifted leg follows a straight line with the body, lifting backward.


This is another way to target the hamstrings and glutes over the quadriceps.

…Continue reading 

The Ultimate Guide to Pull-Ups

This ultimate exercise of upper body strength is one of the re-emerging most popular functional exercises. Here is how you can improve your pull up, how to correctly perform a pull-up and how to progress towards being able to perform a pull-up!


Synonymous with chin-ups, this great exercise is a functional compound movement. The objective is simple; hanging from your hands on a bar or other object, pull your entire body upwards, lifting your head and neck beyond your hands.


To get this exercise done correctly, you’ll need a structure that you can completely hang from. Palms should be facing forwards for the purpose of this standard movement. Hands should be slightly outside your shoulder-width.

To initiate the movement, start with your shoulder-blades pulled down your back, stabilizing the shoulders. Then continue to pull your weight vertically, bringing your chest towards the bar.

Avoid swinging, kicking and any other movement that might give you momentum. Keep your abdominals tight and feet together. Once you have passed the bar, lower yourself down with control, to a fully extended hanging position.


Pull-ups are on the most-wanted list for men and women. There is something about the ability to pull one’s own weight around that spells ‘Fit’. There are several progressions that you can do to learn to do a pull-up. Being predominantly a strength movement with very little technique, two things matter most: Your strength – more strength means being able to move more weight.

  1. Your strength – more strength means being able to move more weight.
  2. Your weight – your bodyweight is what you have to move, making every pound count. If you are carrying a lot of extra weight it can take longer to get your pull up.

Here are the progressions to get to a pull-up from the most basic (lightest load) to the more specific. Work your way through each one, mastering it, then moving onto the next. Unfortunately, improving strength and to get your pull-up is not always linear. Expect bumps, setbacks and a lot of repetition.

Step 1: Low Bar Pull-Ups

This involves pulling your weight up but keeping the weight of your legs and lower half supported. Imagine using a barbell on a squat rack, and pulling yourself up using that bar, with your feet resting on the floor. This de-loads the weight that you will have to move but you still get the same exact muscle recruitment because the position of the body is virtually the same.

To master this technique, perform 3 or 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps. Place your feet farther away to increase the load in your arms. Once you’ve mastered this, try a band pull-up.

Step 2: Band Pull-Ups

This involves using giant elastic bands designed to hold a lot of weight, supporting you as you dip, alleviating some of the weight to be lifted over the bar. Anchor your band to a chin-up bar. Different bands have different levels of resistance which is usually indicated by a color. Try out a few if you aren’t sure how much help you will need. Place one foot into the band and the other crossed over the outside. You will feel a considerable amount of weight lifted as you pull yourself up.

To improve here, perform band pull-ups to failure at 5RM or so. If you can easily whip out 7 or more repetitions, the band is likely too strong, making your body too light to see strength improvements.

Step 3: Negative Pull-Ups

Negative doesn’t refer to any emotion here, just to the actual action you’ll be focused on! What is referred to as “negative” is the eccentric contraction of the movement? This is the descent part of a pull-up. This is contrary to the “positive” or concentric contraction when your body moves upwards.

Stand on a platform, and suspend yourself in the finish position. That is, with your chin over the bar. Start here, then, with control and precision, lower your body downward on a count of 4 to 5 seconds. Move smoothly and evenly. Perform 3 sets of 5 negatives to master the negative pull up.

Step 4: Weighted Negatives

If you have mastered steps 1 to 3 with no improvement, you can try to add a layer of difficulty by strapping or carrying extra weight as you perform negative pull-ups. This can he…Finish reading here!

The Ultimate Guide to Squats

Get the best out of your body by mastering squats. This guide will describe why you should be performing squats to enhance performance, lose weight and improve overall strength.


Squats are a compound strength movement that is generally considered the ultimate lower body strength exercise. Squats are so effective because they are arguably the most natural movement for the human body, besides walking and running. Toddlers sit and play in a deep squat position without fatiguing for long periods of time because it is the natural human seated position.

A squat can be done in a dozen unique variations, all using the same technique. Start in a standing position with feet comfortably apart and toes turned out. Your stance will be unique to your abilities and physiology.

To activate, dip down, pushing your hips slightly back, then bending at the knees. Imaging dipping to sit on a very low stool… Your hip should dip below your knees while your back remains neutral and erect.

Your knees can’t pass…what? There is an old myth that the knees should not pass forwards beyond the feet. This is biomechanically impossible and has been debunked over the last 15 years. Still, the myth persists. Your knees should actually follow your toes, in both width and direction. Keep your heels on the ground throughout the movement and you’ll be just perfect.

There is another myth that squatting at depth (hip below knees) is bad for the knees. This has also been debunked, and people who squat to the end range with correct technique have much stronger, more stable knees than those who do not.


The first benefit of squatting is improving your lower limb mobility:

The squat movement requires mobile hips, a stable lower back and flexible calves and hamstrings. Adults who are unable to perform squats at all are the unfortunate result of a lifetime of sitting in chairs which leads to a loss of mobility. Those adults who are flexible enough are fortunate to have genetics that allows them to have mobility and flexibility without ever having practiced.

Another benefit of squatting is improving lower limb strength:

The quadriceps are the main winners when squatting, performing knee extension. They are aided by the glutes, which perform hip extension.

The upper and lower back, abdominals, as well as the calves and tibialis muscles (front of calf) are working to stabilize the body through the entire movement to keep you balanced, and support any weight you might be carrying.

The hamstrings and calf muscles are working eccentrically to control the descent of the body, during hip and knee flexion.

As you can see, the great number of muscles and joints involved in a squat make it nearly a full body exercise. You can expect sore muscles, improved strength, improved mobility, and improved lower limb muscle endurance by working squats.


We love squatting because it is such a diverse exercise while still being safe, functional and effective. Once you have mastered the movement of 10 to 12 air squats in a row with no weight, you might want to try adding some level of difficulty. Here are a few variations you might want to try:

Back Squats: Performed with a barbell behind your neck. Great for strength training… Continue reading here.

6 best queues to improve your snatch

Time to improve your snatch! So let’s look at the most common queues I use with athletes of all levels who are looking to improve any of the snatch parameters. Snatch parameters include things like speed, mobility, acceleration, power, etc.

Let me also add, right off the bat, that none of these things are made up by myself. I learn from my coach of 7 years (John Margolis) and pass it on. I learn by researching work by Bud Charniga, and pass it on. I learn by watching what all sorts of great coaches say and think and pass it all on. Coaching is sharing information, which we should all do more readily if we want to advance the sport! Okay, enough rant, we move into the queues!

           Snatching this week

My 6 Best Queues to improve your snatch:


1. Stop pulling high and get low!

The power lifts are great to practice pulling high, but we find that most people instinctively pull high already! Improve your snatch by actually getting under the bar. Learn to get under the bar by queing yourself to get your body to pull down on the bar

2. Lead with your shoulders

The initial pull is where people seem to get tripped up when they get nervous, particularly at 85%RM and more. I like this queue because it keeps your hips from popping up. “Lead with your shoulders” means keeping the chest out and the spine as extended as possible through the beginning of the pull. If you are leading the movement with your shoulders, it also helps with keeping them covering the bar, which brings us to the next point…

3. Cover the bar

Well, this is nothing new, but if you set up a camera to watch yourself, you’ll see the mechanics of your movement with more clarity. No matter the level of the athlete, there is always a coach somewhere, yelling “cover the bar”! So, watching from a lateral angle, you’ll notice that your hip extends too soon, bringing your chest vertical earlier than is ideal. Remember that when the bar reaches the crease of your hip, you still want to have both the power of the knees extending and the hip extension! That means that the bar should be tucked in tight with the chest leaning slightly forwards until the last moment.

If you notice that you hit your pubic bone with the bar on the way up, it’s a good indication that you are not covering the bar long enough!

4. Lock the mechanism before pulling

Inconsistent at reasonable loads? This is another one for those of you anxious to pump out big lifts, but can’t seem to be consistent at 90%. Lock up your training mechanism by pausing, and quickly going through a mental checklist…

-Quads… Abs… hamstrings… glutes…lower back… upper and lats…

Then loosen your arms to be sure you can whip the bar around. By pausing and intentionally locking up, you’ll be tight throughout your pull. Make this a habit and you are guaranteed to become more consistent at those heavier loads!

5. Bring the bar to you

Bringing the bar in is the mechanics of a snatch means that at some point, the bar has lost contact with you. This is as it passes the knees and on most athletes, is slightly off the thighs. Rather than trying to shove your hips into the bar, you should be pulling the bar to yourself. This means engaging your lats, which perform shoulder adduction and extension. Pull the bar in, bringing it to you.

This ties in with #4, Your lats should be wound up, prepped to pull the bar horizontally into your waist, locked into position.

6. Train what you want to improve

There is no secret to lifting… this is what my coach, John Margolis, repeats over and again to his athletes. If you want to improve your snatch, then snatch. Stop box snatching, hang snatching and power snatching and focus on snatch. Considering the very low volume of training lifters are able to do in a week (or month), who has time to waste sets and reps on lifts that are not what you want to improve!? Accessory movements should be treated as such, something to add to training to tweak a few small techniques here or there, or to change up a boring program. Beginners, remember that you’ll need a solid year of repetition, 3 times per week, minimally, to really learn to snatch!