Tag: recovery

Inspirational Member of the Month – Jennifer Gallagher

Jennifer is one of those people that is an example how perseverance and determination can surmount any obstacle. As an athlete, runner with the SAC Run Club and regular participant in many of the club’s group exercise classes, Jennifer set a new goal for herself. She wanted to complete her first FULL marathon (26.2 miles) in October.

Before she had opportunity to begin her new journey, she unfortunately experienced a physical setback; incurring a lower leg stress fracture which confined her to a boot for many weeks. This only made her more determined to succeed. She followed all protocols to facilitate her healing and continued to find ways to keep exercising within her limitations. She worked with our instructors to help rehabilitate her back to her level of strength and endurance while maintaining a focus and positive outlook that is testament to Jennifer’s personality. She continued to work hard towards her goal, transitioning back to running. She took one day at a time, with fierce perseverance, grace and a competitive spirit that got her back to training.

And she came back with a vengeance! Once her training began, she became a stronger competitor, leader as well as a source of inspiration and encouragement for her teammates. She was consistent, precise, diligent and committed; qualities that enhanced her success. On October 11th 2015, Jennifer competed in the Goodlife Fitness Victoria, B. C. Marathon, her FIRST full marathon and did so with a phenomenal time! She not only qualified for the Boston Marathon, but placed 10th in her age division! We think she surpassed her goal!!

Congratulations Jennifer! Your perseverance is truly inspirational.




Start the New Year Safely & Successfully in the Gym

Dr. Michael Li, DACRB

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday! Each January, most of us rush back to the gym determined to burn off some holiday season calories and work toward New Year’s resolutions to get into better shape. Unfortunately, some studies showed more than half of those who join in a gym or fitness club will drop out after 3-6 months. The common reason: injury.

I want to use this article to lay out some strategies that can help you avoid injury and reach your fitness goals any time of year. If you are someone who wants to stay fit for the rest of the year, this article is for you! Here we go.

Overtraining & Injuries

As we are enthusiastically starting our new year training program, sometimes we may do too much, too soon, and those usually lead to early overtraining, and increase one’s risks of injuries. How can you tell if you are over trained? Here are couple things to look for:

  • Test your resting heart rate in the morning or before you have breakfast & coffee. Is it higher than usual?
  • Did you find yourself still feeling tired after a good night of sleep? This can be an early sign of overtraining.
  • Soreness versus pain
  •  This is one of the most frequently asked questions I encountered and I hope the table below helps differentiate the two:


Muscles sores


Discomfort sensation: the area feels tender to the touch, and you feel a dull, tight achy feeling when you are resting Discomfort sensation: sharp pain at rest
Onset: during exercises or 24-72 hours after exercise Onset: during exercise or within 24 hours of activities
Duration: 1-3 days Duration: more than a week
Location: muscles Location: muscles or joints
Feels better with: stretching, some light movement Feels better with: ice, rest (or no relief from either of those)
Feels worse with: being static Feels worse with: any activities
Appropriate action: continue the exercises once the soreness subsides or to a point you feel comfortable Appropriate action: consult with a medical professional if pain is sharp and/or lasts more than 1-2 weeks


What to do?

Gradual increase in exercise intensity/volume.

  •   I found most folks injured themselves by doing too much, too soon. You may be away from training for a while, and thought you would just pick up where you left off. I would say to start off easily and ramp up gently. Start with one set of exercises for two weeks and see how your body response to it. Sometimes it takes time for your body to adapt to the new exercises routine, and you may not feel the good (and bad) effect from the exercises until 2-4 weeks later. Increase the difficulty of the exercises once you master the form and the movement.

Pay attention to your body

  • “Feel” the work you are doing with your body and watch your form. Quality movements always trump high volume and bad forms.


  • Good nutrition: make sure you eat and drink well and put good fuel back in your body after exercise.
  • Sleep well: your body grows when you are sleeping. Better sleep = better recovery = better growth!


Planning & ideas:

Set Goal(s)

  • Some folks train for a marathon, some exercise to prepare for a squash tournament, some just train to be healthier. No matter what your intention is, set a goal. You will commit to your exercises routine when you have a goal. Write it down. Put it at your computer screen or at your fridge. Ask yourself “why” you train/exercise and stick with it!

Make it practical

  • This one follows nicely after you set up your goal(s). Make your training practical to what you want to do. If you are training for a hike that you would do during your next vacation, make sure your training helps you directly with your hike. You will be more compliant with the exercises.

Cross training

  • You maybe training for the marathon, but it does not mean your training only involves running. Our body is a great adapter, both to good and bad stress. By doing cross training, you will train the weak stabilizing muscles you may miss during your regular training, and give the muscles a break. If you are a runner, do some weight training to helps support your joints to take on road.

Have some fun!

  • Going to the gym can be a drag sometimes, especially during the days of 12+hours of darkness outside. Make it fun for yourself to go into the gym. Mix up the exercise routine after you build a strong foundation. Grab a workout buddy. Have a friendly pickup basketball game. Have fun with the exercises. Being healthy can be fun too!


  • Take advantage of the professionals in your circle and in the SAC. If you are dealing with an injury, get it checked out by me or other health care professional during the Wellness Tuesdays. Don’t know where to start on exercising programming, set up an appointment with a personal trainer.
  • The personal training staffs and I have worked together on numerous occasions to help a member reaching their fitness goals. When a member is injured and come to me, I always communicate with his/her trainers to create the best exercise plan for that member. Together, we can check your base fitness to support your desired activities level; identify training errors; correct biomechanical problems; provide an appropriate plan to reach your goals.

I hope this article helps giving you a great start to 2015. Don’t hesitate to email the Seattle Athletic Club’s fitness director Jacob Galloway (jgalloway@sacdt.com) or me if you have any questions. Have a great 2015!

Dr. Li has been taking care of the SAC staff and members since 2010. You can find him at the lobby performing injury screen for members every 3rd Tuesday of the month. His practice, Mobility Plus Sports Rehab, is conveniently located about 10 minute walk from the SAC. You can find out more about him and his clinic at mobilityplussportsrehab.com. He can be reached by info@mobilityplussportsrehab.com.     

Yoga & Strength Training, My Two Loves

I would like to take a moment to talk about my two loves, yoga and strength training. Yoga and strength training go together like peanut butter and jelly, like bacon and eggs, like the sun and moon. You get it, they complement each other perfectly!

I love lifting heavy; I can’t get enough of it. It’s incredibly empowering as a woman to feel strong, to be able to squat more than your body weight and to be able to bust out a few pull ups and dips. I love the high of a weight lifting session and I know that some of you reading this are nodding your head in agreement. Most athletes are no stranger to the constant aches, stiffness and limited range of motion associated with living an active life. Over time being active puts a great deal of stress onto your body. Eventually shortening muscle fibers and connective tissue creating tightness and adding stress to joints and reducing joint range of motion. Taking time to mobilize and stretch can greatly reduce the aches and stiffness that comes along with being active. How many of you practice yoga? If you are reading this and thinking I’m not flexible enough for yoga hogwash. That’s exactly why you should go to yoga!

As a yoga instructor and fitness coach I know firsthand how valuable a solid yoga practice can be for your mind and body. If you happen to be a gym junkie who loves beating your quads and glutes into submission, this article is for you.

Body Awareness
Flowing through poses in yoga while barefoot and without mirrors requires a great deal of control and focus. This control forces you to use and develop the oftentimes weak stabilizing muscles in the feet, legs and trunk. Because of the focus and control needed in yoga, you develop a profound sense of proprioception –a sense of position and self within movement. Proprioception helps tremendously when executing compound lifts like deadlifts and push-ups. The focus you develop during yoga will help you be more present and focused during your lifts.

Range of Motion
No matter how many times you tell yourself you need to stretch more, getting in a few more reps before rushing out the gym door sounds much more appealing doesn’t it? Thoughts and ideas of stretching and mobilizing go out the window when you are able to snag an open squat rack before someone else does.
Any great foundation of strength training starts with having good mobility and flexibility. There are many types of yoga, some focus more of flexibility than others. To increase range of motion try finding a yoga style like Yin Yoga that help increase the length of muscles fibers and connective tissue.

Controlling the Ego
Most active people are keenly aware of competition. We compete with our previous lifts, times and sometimes each other. While competition has its time and place and it’s great to be inspired, ultimately none of it matters, we are just fanning the fires of our ego.  Knowing your limit and pushing past it is a delicate balance. Yoga is a constant reminder that it doesn’t matter what you wear, what the pose looks like, or how quick you are, it’s about uniting your body, mind and breath. Yoga teaches you to listen to your body, to know when you are pushing too hard and when to back off. Yoga teaches you to develop contentment with where you are, because that’s exactly where you need to be. This is a unique and helpful tool to have when lifting weights, this will keep you centered, mindful and help prevent injury. It also helps you accept your progressions and to avoid comparing yourself to the person next to you.

Bodyweight Strength Training
Lifting heavy and pumping iron is great but there is something very humbling about bodyweight training. Yoga puts your body into positions you wouldn’t normally get into at the gym. Being able to control your breath, stabilize your core and balance your entire body on your hands like in handstand or crow takes a great deal of control that you cannot achieve with equipment. The skill and strength transfer from the yoga mat to the gym room is unlike any other. Putting your body through precarious movements and holds using just your body only builds a greater understanding of the movements performed in the gym. Yoga also moves through basic movements like pushups, lunging and planks. Being able to master your own body weight is a great skill to have.

Rest and Recovery
Hitting the yoga mat on a rest day can be a great low impact way to keep the body moving on your rest days. Yoga can also help your body detox on rest days. Yoga is designed to compress, lengthen, wring out, push and pull various parts of your body, this sends a signal to your brain to turn on the “detox” mode in your body. In addition to detoxifying your body, a great benefit of yoga is a detox of your mind. Yoga and meditation can help you control your stress levels and feel more relaxed between gym sessions.

As an active person, if you can find a way to incorporate a regular yoga practice you can prevent loss of range of motion, become a calmer happier person in all aspects of your life including the weight room.

Now Offering Craniosacral Therapy at the Seattle Athletic Club

What is it?

Craniosacral is a form of manual therapy that focuses on the pulse of cerebrospinal fluid and the subtle motility of the cranial bones.

Where did it come from?

Originally it came out of Dr. William Sutherlands osteopathy in the cranial field in the 1930’s and later evolved into craniosacral therapy around the 70’s. It was headed at the time by John Upleadger and has continued to evolve over the years.

Who would best benefit from it?

People who have sustained head trauma or any kind of trauma that prevents them from receiving or tolerating deep touch. It is also very helpful in addressing headaches and jaw pain.

What can it do for me?

It uses many mainly gentle techniques on the head, face and spine to address held tension or trauma. It also implores the use of intraoral techniques to address deeper structures of the jaw.

Jessie Jo recently completed a 260 hour formal training in CST. If you have any questions about this new-to-the-club style, feel free to be in touch.

Initial Injury Treatment

Musculoskeletal injuries are extremely common in sports. What you do with in the first 24-48 hrs can help or harm you. Immediate first aid efforts should be directed toward controlling hemorrhage and associated swelling. The primary goal directly after sustaining an injury is to reduce the amount of swelling resulting from the injury. If swelling can be controlled initially, the amount of time required for injury rehabilitation will be significantly reduced. The initial management of musculoskeletal injuries should include these 4 techniques: rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE).

  1. Rest
    Rest after any type of injury is an important part of any treatment program. Once the body is injured, it immediately begins the healing process. If the injured part does not get to rest and continues to be stressed then the healing process never gets a chance to do what it’s supposed to do. The time for rehabilitation is extended the longer it takes the body to get the healing process started. Give the injured area at least 72 hours of rest before a rehabilitation program is started.
  2. Ice
    The initial treatment of acute injuries should be the use of cold. Get ice on the injured area soon as possible. If heat is used in the initial injury phase then the amount of swelling will increase. The ice/cold will help to decrease pain and promote local constriction of the vessels, thus controlling hemorrhage and edema. The cold will slow down metabolism and the amount of cellular death in the injured tissue as well as help protect the healthy tissue. Ice/cold is also used to decrease muscle guarding which accompanies pain. Its pain-reducing effects are probably one of its greatest benefits. A good rule of thumb is to apply a cold pack to a recent injury for a 20 minute period and repeat every 1-1.5 hours throughout the waking day. Depending on the severity of the injury this process could last from 72 hours up to 7 days if needed. Be careful to not leave the frozen type gel packs directly on the skin for prolong periods of time. The gel has a lower temperature hand stays cooler longer than ice and can cause a burn if left on too long.
  3. Compression
    It is extremely important to get some compression on the injured area soon as possible. Immediate compression on an injured area will assist in decreasing hemorrhage and hematoma formation by reducing the space available for swelling to accumulate. An elastic wrap applied to the injured area can be just as important in the fight to decrease swelling as the use of ice. It may be helpful to wet the elastic wrap to facilitate the passage of cold from ice packs.
  4. Elevation
    Along with cold compression, elevation reduces internal bleeding. The injured part should be elevated to eliminate the effects of gravity on blood pooling in the extremities. Elevation assists the veins, which drain blood and other fluids from the injured area, returning them to the central circulatory system. The greater the amount of elevation of the injured body part the greater reduction in swelling. The injured part should be elevated for most of the initial 72 hour period after injury. It is particularly important to keep the injury elevated while sleeping.

Even with proper conditioning, equipment and other precautions you may still get injured. The initial treatment (RICE) will give your body the most optimal environment for it to do what it does extremely well and heal its self. If you choose to ignore your injury and just hope for the pain and swelling to go away on its own, you may end up with a chronic problem that could end up sticking around for a long long time.

Light Up Your Body Like a Christmas Tree with M.A.T.

By now you may have seen the massage table with the MAT poster by it in the lobby. Many have seen me working with clients but don’t really understand what it is that I am doing with them. Is it massage? Physical Therapy? Chiropractic manipulations? No, I’m not doing any of those things. I am doing Muscle Activation Technique and here is an analogy that might help you understand what’s going on.

Muscle Activation Technique is like your Christmas tree lights. Every year you pull out the same strands of lights and plug them into the wall to check if they still work. Inevitably there is at least one strand that has only half the lights working. Are all those lights really burned out? Perhaps, but it’s more likely only a few of those lights are causing that strand to not be spectacular. So you methodically pull out one light at a time until you find the ones that are worn out. You replace it and PRESTO! The whole strand magically lights up again. Just like new!

Using the Muscle Activation Technique, I test your individual muscles to determine if they are firing or not, just like those LEDs. Except I don’t replace the worn out muscles with new ones: That would be illegal (which would not be good). Instead, I have the client do a specific series of light isometrics to reengage the muscle until it can fire without hesitation.

Are Your Movements Causing You More Harm than Good?

From the day we are born, humans are constantly learning how to move. Most people learn fundamental movement patterns such as reaching, crawling, squatting, walking and running in succession and these skills serve as the foundation for movement throughout life. These movements are learned through many hours of trial and error and become solidified with more and more practice. But over time, the movements can be forgotten due to a lack of practice or even replaced with faulty patterns as a result of practicing bad habits. A great example is a deep squat. A curious baby can comfortably stay in a deep squat for minutes at a time while exploring an object on the floor but many adults find a deep squat uncomfortable or even impossible. Patterns such as the deep squat can be “unlearned” as a result of injury, exercise history, vocation or choice of hobbies. With so many potential ways for a pattern to break down, it can be hard to tell which fundamental patterns a person has maintained and which they need to regain. Furthermore, movement patterns are not related to skills or conditioning so athletic ability, strength, and fitness are very poor predictors of movement ability. Movement ability contributes to efficiency and safety, especially in challenging situations such as lifting weights, going on a long run or playing sports. Before engaging in any of these demanding activities, it is imperative to determine which patterns you can accomplish well and which patterns have limitations.

Movement screening is a systematic evaluation of basic movement patterns that can be used in a logical way to observe movement ability. Without screening, a workout can be like a shot in the dark with the trainer forced to throw out exercises at a vaguely defined problem. But screening allows for a scientific process that quickly determines which exercises are helping to improve the client’s most significant limitation and which exercises are not. Since movement ability is a matter of learning, dramatic results can be achieved within one session if the client is able to experience a well-tailored series of challenges. A more permanent adaptation will be made within 2-4 weeks as the brain and body are required to deliberately practice the new pattern. Furthermore, the “goal” of training movement ability is not to achieve perfection in every movement but rather simply to reach an acceptable level that will serve as the base from which to pursue a specific goal, such as increased fitness, weight loss or athletic performance. The rapid rate of neurological adaptation and the simple goal of attaining only a minimum standard ensure that hours of workouts are not spent trying to get “perfect form” on various exercises. Instead, investing a relatively small amount of time into learning fundamental movements will contribute to a natural ability to meet any challenge your body confronts.

Movement ability can be compromised as normal patterns are forgotten or replaced with bad habits but regular, consistent screening allows for the implementation of challenging exercises to resolve movement limitations. Once effective movement is achieved, training for increased physical performance can resume. By serving as the base for effective training, competent movement ability releases the body to train at a higher level and achieve previously untouched levels of performance.

If you would like to talk more about motor learning or movement screening please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer. If you would like to better understand the necessity of movement screening and implementation of a movement screen, see the book Movement by Gray Cook.


Hypermobility is when a joint moves easily beyond the normal range. It is sometimes referred to as loose joints or being double jointed. The joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments are formed more lax. There are simple mobility screenings your doctor can do to diagnose hypermobility; however it is usually benign. Hypermobility Syndrome can be diagnosed if it causes pain in the joints, particularly knees, fingers, hips and elbows.

There are a couple of theories behind what causes one to be hypermobile; one being the heritable gene polymorphisms that effect the development of collagen, elastin, and fibrillins. It is also hypothesized to be a genetic connective tissue disease. It can be a feature of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, causes a higher risk for dislocation, sprains, scoliosis, osteoarthritis and is commonly seen in people with Down syndrome.

As one gets older, you may become less flexible and thus decrease your tendency to being hypermobile. A positive benefit of hypermobility is greater agility to perform certain physical activities. If you are someone with an increased range of motion within some joints (usually females) you may want to change how you exercise and move. Your whole body should aid in the movement (bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons); you should not allow your joints and bones to take the brunt of all the forces. Exercises should be tailored to avoid injury to joints and work on stabilizing and strengthening.

  • Proprioception – This can be addressed by working in multiple planes of motion and applying resistance coming from different directions.
  • Balance – Postural control and balance activate stabilizers to help strengthen around the joints. Try implementing a type of stability device into more standard exercises.
  • Strength – Working on the overall strength of large muscles will shorten the muscles and tendons surrounding the joints and add the majority of external support to the joint, so this is just one more reason to lift weights.

Hypermobility is not anything that is threatening to your body, but you should be aware of whether your body has an increased range of motion. If you do then just be aware of your movements and make sure that you keep the musculature and supporting connective tissue around the joint tight. Try working on proprioception, balance and strength to increase this joint awareness and thus safety and you can enjoy safer joints for longer. If you have any questions about how and what exercises to perform to help alleviate hypermobility, contact Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz.

Aches and Pains

Do you ever stop to think about how long your knees have been bothering you or how long that shoulder injury has been tormenting you? Well you are not alone. I’m sure more than 80% of your fellow gym go-ers have the same nagging injuries you do. Why is that? Why is it okay to walk around every day in pain and continue to ignore it? Sometimes maybe you take a break from your favorite sport (knowing how much basketball kills your back) and maybe sometimes you ice but when was the last time you actually made an effort to heal yourself? When was the last time you took a good long look at yourself and decided you would still live if you gave up squash and did some cross training for one month? I’m guessing if you are still living with those same aches and pains every day that it’s been a while since you’ve let yourself heal.

Now is the time and here are a few options to help you get started on the road to recovery no matter what your injury is;

  1. Cross train!!! If you knowingly go to Body Pump every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and every time you walk out of there with a sore shoulder then perhaps it’s time to give something else a try. You still want to sweat and you still want to come into the gym at the same time so what can you do? Try swimming, try Yoga, or try a different class that has more to do with lower body than upper. Try something new out, maybe you’ll find something you like better and hurts less, double score!
  2. Take a break! I know it’s hard but instead of enjoying long runs during the lunch hour maybe you take a week off and either do nothing or take that time to work your legs in a different fashion, hill walk instead of your 4 mile run. It’s okay to rest for a week or two, I swear you won’t lose everything you’ve built up and you won’t become obese!
  3. Seek help! If you haven’t been to the doctor go! If you meant to get to PT and just never got around to it go! You haven’t magically fixed it on your own; it’s time to get some professional help. Maybe it’s just a massage or two, or you finally get in with your favorite chiropractor. Just make sure you are being proactive and seeking assistance when you need it.
  4. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Being in pain is no badge of honor. It’s unhealthy and “fighting through it” will result in bigger injury down the road, trust me!
  5. Work with a trainer. The Seattle Athletic Club has an amazingly knowledgeable training staff and everyone has different specialties. If you have an injury (or two or three) and you want to workout but don’t know how to do it safe and effectively it’s time to get a coach. Many trainers have backgrounds in physical therapy and or have their own personal experience with a wide range of injuries. Invest in some training time and get some one on one attention to find workouts that work specifically for you. It’s great knowing you are working hard and recovering at the same time!
  6. Warm-up, stretch, cool down, and ice! All that prep and finishing stuff will only take 10-20 minutes and could save you much pain. Take some extra time to efficiently ready your joints, heart, and lungs for a workout and make sure to have some spare time at the end for recovery with ice. Decreasing inflammation is key in healing your body and decreasing pain!

If you would like to know more about injury prevention and recovery talk to the fitness staff or Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown and get back on the road to good health!

Hip joint restrictions

Hip joint restrictions can lead to back pain, leg and knee pain as well as neck pain. It can also lead to injury due in part to improper body mechanics during workouts attributed to limited range of motion.

Whether you cycle, run, play squash or lift weights, the benefits of massage and stretching should not be underestimated. If you have restriction in the hip joint you are working against yourself, your movements are playing tug-of-war. With tightness in the back of the hip you have to pull harder with your hip flexors and your abs to bring your leg forward. Restrictions in the front of the hip leads to back tension and too much external rotation on your kick back. It can also cause knee pain due to the pressure pushing the quad over the knee during squats and lunges because the hip joint is not dropping down and back as it should.

Keeping your hip joints unrestricted will help you perform better and keep you from getting fatigued as quickly.