Activating the Hip Flexor/Psoas to Help the Lower Back

The iliopsoas, aka hip flexor, is. a commonly overlooked contributor to low back pain and hip pain. The muscle is often perceived as tight, not because it is overworked, but quite the opposite, it is underworked. That can lead to muscles of the lower back to overcompensate which creates a neurologic imbalance and shearing or pain in the joints. If you sit, or do a lot of hip flexion activities such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and cycling, these are great to do before and after a workout.

Neck Mobility -Man in the Mirror/Bow & Arrow

If you are suffering from neck pain, upper back stiffness this is a great mobility and movement approach to regain and then maintain optimal movement and decrease pain. The advantage of this movement is it can introduce movement into the neck without it stressing the tissue a d minimizing a threat response

1-3 sets for 10-20 repetitions as needed but daily

Healthy Hands

This video Doctor Todd gives you tools and techniques to treat your hands. People who use their hands for a living, who lift weights, spend lots of time on a keyboard or experience hand pain, this is for you. The information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always follow the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers about any concerns you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking any new husky regime modality or exercise program

The prescription and the dose most doctors aren’t prescribing correctly!

What if your Doctor prescribed you a therapy that would decrease your chance of dying by 70% and your chance of cardiovascular disease by 60%, would you be interested?

Studies have claimed that between 75-85 percent of death and disease can be related to lifestyle. You do not need a doctorate to understand that proper exercise, healthy diet, and mindfulness are they key ingredients to allow your genetics to present the best “you” that you can. There was a great study that tackled part of the equation above in terms of how much exercise in the form of running (one of our more organic and natural forms) is beneficial for health purposes.

woman runner

Here is the summary and take-aways from the study, attached is the link below for a full copy of the study.
“what’s the proper dose of running?”
-Maximal benefits of running occur at low levels, around 40 minutes or less.
Optimal frequency of jogging was 2-3 time per week, a combined 1 to 2.4 hours per week.

“What does running help protect you against?”
-People who ran at the dose listed above had a 68% reduction in mortality (less chance in dying)
-Runners had a reduction in all-cause and Cardiovascular disease mortality of 30% and 45% compared to non-runners
-People who ran a combined 1-2.4 hours per week was associated with the lowest mortality (71% reduction in death)
-Running and walking, but not other exercise, produces and equal “reduction” in Osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk
running heart

“Is it better to walk or run?”
Running vs. Walking: You have to walk 3 to 4 times as much as running for the same health benefit. 5 min running = 15 min walking, 25 minutes of running = 105 minutes of walking

For references and the full Proceedings from the Mayo Clinic, click here for the journal

“If I wanted to start running, what should I do to avoid injury?”

In my opinion, there are 5 components of running injuries and several training components that help minimize your risk for injury

1) Biomechanics, most running injuries stem from restricted range of motion in the feet or hips/pelvis. Professionally we help with treatment of the feet with our Functional Hallux Rehabilitation work, and chiropractic approach to the pelvis. Self care, you can work on mobility protocols for ankles and pelvis

2) Soft Tissue – Asymmetry (one side stronger than the other), trauma, and overuse can cause a thickening of the fascia, causing a restriction of the muscle, and friction between muscles, tendons, and joints. Professionally we use cutting edge techniques to restore and normalize tissue like Fascial Distortion Model, Active Release Technique, and Rapid Release Technology. Self care, you should employ mysofascial release tools like the foam roller, mobility bands, and tools like lacrosse balls and tigertails/sticks to keep the fasical system free

3) Neuromuscular Balance – Tight hamstrings and shortened hip flexors is a great example. Activities such as sitting or driving may alter our neuromuscular system which can affect performance. Chronic tight hamstrings, weak and sore lower back, sore shins may be a result of movement patterns of the muscles, not necessarily the muscles or joints. We employ neuro activation with several tools and approaches, self care is best done through cross training and body weight movements to address the imbalances

4) Footwear- There are many opinions and a lot of marketing in footwear. Find a good running shoe store and get fit correctly. If you go the minimalist route (barefoot) please slowly scale your distance and intensity. If you go the stability shoe and orthotic route, please don’t neglect to strengthen your feet with exercises and sensory input so you don’t become dependent on the support as much.

5) Running Form and Training-
Most beginners just run, and never consider there form. Although their is not one ideal form, there are techniques that can help minimize the impact on your body, and make you more efficient. Here are some tips and links below to help with form.

-Don’t run consecutive days, give your body a chance to rebuild and repair. maximum 4 days a week, with days in between.

-Don’t Increase your mileage or time too fast, experts say between 10-20% per week increase.

-Running speed and running down hills increases the pounding on your body

-Read the books or watch the videos on Chi-Running or Pose Method, great resource on posture and running.

-Attend a running clinic or get a running coach. We have some gems in San Diego, one of my favorites is a wizard of running, Ozzie Gontang…checkout his clinic on Sundays at mission bay, I’ve sent over 50+ runners and they have all had amazing results.

-Experienced runners should find a good coach locally, and even get online or phone training schedules. Below are a few friends and clients I’d highly recommend:

Bernie Sydney- Both One on One Running, triathlon, and pilates. Online and phone programs. Click for contact

Sheri Mathews- One on One running Sessions, Spin, womens group run, and training programs. -Sheri Mathews Fitness Wellness Health” target=”_blank”>Click for Contact

Speed Training Coaching by James Sheremeta- Great coach for new and experienced runners. contact here

Get out there and move, have fun and stay healthy

Dr. Todd’s Top 5 Health App’s

Technology is growing at a faster rate and programs and applications that used to cost thousands of dollars in the healthcare field are now easily accessible, accurate, and inexpensive (sometimes even free). Now you have free access to formerly fancy expensive exercise and nutrition software & programs that were only accessible by Nutritionist and Exercise Scientist. Simple programs now replace high priced GPS watches would calculate your pace, and fancy timers and stop watches would assist your workouts. Below are my favorite applications (mostly iphone/ipod users….I’m an apple guy, but some can be found online and for android apps too).

So be smart with your smart phone, be more healthy!

My FitnessPal Calorie Counter
-Awesome application that allows you to count and track calories. Studies showed that people that kept a food journal lost more weight and kept it off. This tool is great, and its free. My favorite features is the bar-code scanner, saving meals, and tracking exercises. You can also connect with friends to help hold each other accountable.

Nike+Running Application
Turn your phone into a gps watch. Track your pace, distance, and workouts on this great app. Very cool interactive website that goes with it. Also plays music to help with pace.

Fooducate App
This application track calories, but offers a more education tool to help you make smart healthy decisions shopping and ordering.

Map My Run GPS
-This is a great application to not only track your runs or hikes, but to discover others. If you are traveling and wanted to find a 4 miler run near your location, search for routes that other users have submitted and published and learn their routes, terrain, distance, etc. Fun to track, log, and share.

Tabata Timer
-High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to get in shape, get more bang for your buck with cardiovascular training. Make a 12 minute cardio session feel and act like a 60 minute. The Tabata method has clinical studies showing the benefit of this specific interval training of cycles of 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Turn boring eliptical or recumbent bicycle sessions into intense heart pounding intervals. Can be used with burpees, pushups, running in place, stairs, jogging, and all of the cardio equipment. I prefer spin bikes.

Post Race Recovery Foods

Recovery is as important as training when it comes to performance. During a long endurance event, you break your body down and deplete your body of nutrients and reserves. To avoid deficits, and sub-optimal performance, follow the following recovery food list to help rebuild your body, detox from oxidation, boost your immunity, lubricate your joints, and extinguish inflammation.


Increase Protein
Greek Yogurt
Grass Fed Beef
Omega-3 Eggs

Increase Fats
Almond Butter
Fish Oil (Omega-3) Flax if your vegetarian
Macadamia Nuts

Increase Anti-oxidants
Frozen Berries-Blueberries
Greens Supplements, Tart Cherry Juice, and Non Alcoholic Beer???
Kale & Chard
Sweet Potatoes & Yams
Dark Chocolate

Increase Electrolytes
Coconut Water
Electrolyte Drinks

Increase Immune System
Pro-biotics (Whole Foods/Henrys) **Multiple strains
Whey Protein

Muscle Soreness
Magnesium Supplement (Calm is a good one)
Tumeric Capsule or Yellow Curry

Dr. Todd’s Recovery Drink
Coconut Water-Whey Protein-Blueberry-Banana-Flax-Dark Chocolate-Ice-Greek Yogurt

Holiday Survival: Avoiding Colds & Flus & Surviving Crowds

Holidays Season is a great time for family, tradition, giving and receiving. Sometimes it can be tough on our systems, both physically and mentally. Below is a great guide to staying away from the cold and flu season, and how to avoid physical and mental anguish while braving the holiday crowds.

Stay Healthy And Avoiding Colds & Flu’s

1) Boost your Good Bugs

Probiotics have shown to help with the immune system as well with helping with digestion. Most of us have had bouts of infections and sickness which in turn means bouts of antibiotics if we have entered traditional medicine. Antibiotics are like napalm, they destroy all flora, even our naturals flora. Many of our meats have been doused with antibiotics and our produced irradiated. Studies have shown our ancestors had very high levels of probiotics and gut flora as compared to our levels today, especially the strain Lactobacillus plantarum299v. I recommend beginning to boost your population. When exposed to germs and bugs, they will have to compete with this natural flora as well as your immune system. It’s a great 1-2 punch!
Good Belly Juice and Yogurts at Whole Foods or Sprouts.
A great guide and list of Probiotics at Whole Foods
Want to buy them online, here is a high quality and good company: Innate Choice (

2)Lot’s of Enemies, So Amp up Your immune system

Our immune system fights battles on many fronts. Give your body the “fire-power” it needs to ward off foreign invaders. Below are some vitamins, herbs, and foods that will help!

Chiropractic Manipulation has been shown to prime the immune system and put your body in an optimal state to defend yourself. Want to read the study, it’s not an easy one but here you go (Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects)

Vitamin D. It’s not just for your bones anymore. Some recent studies show it boosts our immune system and regulate autoimmunity. Many of us are Vitamin D deficient, thankfully most primary providers are now testing for these levels. We naturally produce this hormone/vitamin while absorbing sunlight, but many of us are trapped indoors strapped behind our computers or bundled up in clothes we don’t get the necessary levels of sunshine. So get out and get sunshine, or supplement with 1000-2000 IUs of Vitamin D through these winter months (careful…you can take too much D so don’t over Do it). Here is a study on Vitamin D and Influenza
Zinc is another supplement that helps boost the immune system at the preliminary stages of getting a cold. Zinc Lozenges or Airborne are good sources of this
Most natural or folk therapies have not been tested in rigorous controlled trials in diverse populations, and for those that have, studies have often had mixed results. It is prudent to ensure good hygiene,adequate rest, and adequate fluid intake, while avoiding deficiencies of essential nutrients. Taken prophylactically, echinacea can reduce the risk for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI) in adults by 58%; some data also support the use of garlic, American ginseng, pelargonium, and probiotics in adults to prevent or treat URTI. In children, some data suggest that vitamin C and echinacea can help reduce the risk for prolonged URTIs.

3) Your mother knows best, Wash your hands and don’t pick your nose!

Sounds way to simple “Wash your Hands and don’t pick your nose!” The most common form of transmission is from our hands to mouth or nose. Cold weather does equal more crowds indoors touching more things, so transmission of “germs” is more likely. It’s the equivalent to playing in the middle of the freeway versus a city street, you are more likely to get exposed/hit with something in a well traveled area. So wash your hands frequently with soap and water, not just anti-bacterial wipes/sprays/gels. The physical act of scrubbing helps (article here). And don’t point at your brain, pick a winner, or dig for nose goblins…just blow your nose (especially when your driving for those of us commuters).

4) Put the germs on a diet!

Sugary diets, with refined flours and inflammatory foods is like throwing a gas on the fire. If you feel the sniffles, or the itchy throat…avoid sugary foods, snacks, juices, and starchy snacks. Go gonzo on the green veggies, organic low sodium chicken broth, healthy fats (nuts/avocados) and moderate fresh fruit.

Shopping and Braving the Crowds

5)Don’t Commit Shoe-a-cide!
If you know you are going to brave the malls or spend the day “out and about”,remember to treat your feet well. Proper footwear will help your knees, hips, back and so on. Ladies, leave the high heels in the closet if you know you are spending 2+ hours on your feet. And sorry San Diegans, flip flops sandals all day long are almost as bad. If you know you will be standing in lines or walking a bit, please don’t be vain, be practical and wear proper shoes. Here is a great article on the effect of high heels…
Don’t commit Shoecide please!!!

Heels and Heavy Bags are a bad combo

6) Minimize and balance
As a health practitioner I always cringe watching the size of the bags/purses/satchels etc. some people carry around. Try to be a minimalist and not lug around 82 lbs. of “just in case”. Heavy bags can lead to neck strain, shoulder pain, back pain. If you buy items, try to balance the goodies in each arm instead of lugging them around, or go to the car and put them in the trunk and then walk back (sneak in a bit of cardio)

7) Stay Hyrdated

Dry air, sweating more in the warmer clothes, increased coffee consumption this time of the year (I’m a bit guilty of that) can get us dehydrated. Make sure when you go out to the malls, bring a bottle of water or coconut water if you need a bit of flavor. Avoid the sodas, energy drinks, and sugary drinks.

8 ) Replace Consumerism with Humanism

Have one of those people that are always hard to find a gift for? They have everything and don’t want anything. Donate to a charity in their name. Do they really need a third fleece sweatshirt? With our economy the past few years, there are some great non-profits locally and nationally that could really use some holiday giving. Great Gift Idea! Here are a few of my favorites, if you need some ideas

Girls on the Run
Father Joes Village
Environmental Working Group
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society-Team in Training
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Chrohns & Colitis Foundation of America-Team Challenge
National Parkinson Foundation

Pay it forward

Chi Running

If you were to spend 4 hours a week golfing, you would probably take a lesson or a tip or two to learn to golf. If you were to fish 4 hours a week, you may ask the Bait shop which rod to use and what the fish were biting on. If you were to start sailing, entering tennis tournament, or skydive…you might want to learn how to do it before investing your time and health.

For some reason people begin to run and assume they do everything naturally. There is a huge gap in human movement in our society. If you are an elite super athlete, then you get instruction and training. If you are injured and in Rehab or Physical Therapy, you get instruction and training. If you are not an super athlete, or not injured, many people still need and Movement Instruction due to improper posture, poor coordination, or old injuries.

Chi Running is great for people looking to learn a system of running form. Pose method is also a similar and very good technique and form.

Chi Running blends the powerful movement principles from T’ai Chi, with running, to create a revolutionary approach to effortless and injury-free running.

The cornerstones of Chi Running are postural alignment and relaxation because the combination of the two is the best way to run faster, farther and injury-free. Chi Running includes: landing with a midfoot strike, using a “gravity-assisted” forward lean and engaging core strength for propulsion rather than leg strength. This approach makes your running easier and healthier for your whole body.

Below are some great videos

How to Get the Sleep You Need

As some of you may now know, I am a new uncle. Watching my nephew Alexandro learn and experience life is fascinating and there is a lot we can learn from the little guy. Sleeping, he does a lot of, and my sister and brother in law don’t get as much of. Sleep patterns are crucial for health. For thousands of years, our sleep patterns were dictated by the time of the day the sun would set, and darkness and exhaustion from a day of physical labor would sit in. Times have changed and our sleeping patterns are suffering this sudden shift. “We’re shifting to a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week society, and as a result we’re increasingly not sleeping like we used to”

Sleeping Like a Baby

Sleeping Like a Baby!

Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body

-An analysis of a nationally representative sample of nearly 10,000 adults found that those between the ages of 32 and 49 who sleep less than seven hours a night are significantly more likely to be obese.
-Reports from the Harvard-run Nurses’ Health Study that has linked insufficient or irregular sleep to increased risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
-Physiologic studies suggest that a sleep deficit may put the body into a state of high alert, increasing the production of stress hormones and driving up blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
-In addition, studies show sleep-deprived people tend to develop problems regulating their blood sugar, which may put them at increased risk for diabetes.

Lets Discuss Solutions

Calm yourself with meditation and other relaxation techniques.

When done effectively, as little as 10 minutes of daily meditation can help your clear a cluttered. There are many different types of meditation, including tai chi, and yoga for those active, and guided muscle relaxation and guided meditation.
Click here to learn Guided Muscle Relaxation
Click here for a link to my favorite Free Podcast for Guided Meditation.

Gentle massage is also beneficial for both insomnia and chronic pain. In a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, participants who had two 30-minute massages a week for five weeks experienced better sleep and less lower back pain. Don’t have time or money for massage, try self myofascial release using a foam roller. Click here for instruction and for a free “
Foam Roll Handout

Sufficient Exercise

Regular exercise can improve both pain and sleep issues. However, activity within three hours of bedtime can keep you up, so the earlier in the day you work out, the better. For pain, the best exercise is moderate and low-impact. Try walking, yoga, or swimming, cycling, etc.

Additional tips for improving sleep include:

-Forgo long daytime naps or limit yourself to a brief 10- to 20-minute nap in the afternoon.
-Take a warm bath or shower before bed to wind down.
-Lull yourself to sleep with relaxation CDs that play a babbling brook, gentle waves, or other soothing sounds.
-Remove all light-producing appliances from your bedroom, including the TV; if you must have them, choose ones that emit red rather than blue light.
-Abstain from alcohol in the evening; it may help you fall asleep, but the effects of a cocktail quickly backfire, disrupting sleep cycles a few hours into the night.
-Run a fan or other non-specific white noise machine in your bedroom to dampen street or other sounds.
-Avoid caffeine, which disrupts sleep patterns; if you must have a caffeine boost, enjoy it before noon.
-Do not exercise or eat within three hours of going to bed.
-Avoid utilizing any light producing electronics 2 hours before bed (TV, computer, cell phone)
-Journal, write down your day and your thoughts
-Get healthy fats in your diets, omega 3’s
-Try and watch the sun go down

There are a number of treatments available, including chiropractic, physical therapy, and talk therapy. Consider tracking your sleep habits in a sleep journal. This simple tool can give your doctor valuable information about your quality of sleep and how many hours you log each night.

Dr. Todd

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