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Your head to toe roadmap to moving better and feeling better!
Have you ever thought…I wonder if my neck is causing my arm pain or my prior foot injury is now causing my hip pain? This is EXACTLY what the Green Zones test! This is the ultimate entire body screen for your spine and extremities.
What if you could get real time test of how your body moves and the interpretation of your brain at the SAME TIME? That is the purpose behind the 6 Green Zones. We call it the moving MRI — just without the radiation or cost!
The 6 Green Zones are 6 movements to test for symmetry, proper muscle activation and balance. These movements are necessary for modern human lifestyle to minimize joint degeneration and compensation that can lead to chronic pain. Improving your Green Zones will give you a map and help your chronic pain!
Very simple — they can be performed at home without any equipment. All it takes is to move and determine where and how you feel the movement.
Therefore, you just need to bring YOUR body and YOUR brain.
Of course you can have a water bottle and towel too!
Our spine has opposing curves to allow for erect and proper posture. Our daily lives interfere with it escalating degeneration and pain. 3 of the 6 Green Zones test for entire spinal alignment so it can be corrected.
Proper strength and stability to assist in centering the pelvis keeps you from being imbalanced. 1 of the 6 Green Zones tests for pelvic alignment and symmetry of this important structure so it can be corrected.
Maintaining a functional and comfortable horizontal gaze is necessary for daily life. 1 of the 6 Green Zones tests for alterations causing deviations from normal cervical postures so it can be corrected.
Efficient walking is necessary for us to reach the goal of 10,000 steps per day. It all starts with the calf muscle. 1 of the 6 Green Zones tests for proper calf activation and connectivity to maximize efficiency to find compensation patterns so it can be corrected.
Muscles and nerves in the arms can get tight and short with our daily life on the computer and phone. 1 of the 6 Green Zones tests for proper movement to identify relationships with neck and shoulder pain so it can be corrected.
Upright posture is ergonomic but not when high energy expenditure is required to sustain it. An optimal arrangement of sagittal cervical, thoracic and lumbar profiles is necessary for daily life. 3 of the 6 Green Zones tests for alterations causing deviations from normal spinal postures so it can be corrected.
Think of it like this — when you eat your favorite food, you have feelings about it, right? It looks good, it tastes good, it makes your belly not give you hungry feelings and ultimately after the meal, it doesn’t make your belly hurt so you run to the restroom! Your belly and your brain are on the same page and both happy ?
In relation to movement, the signals from the body area and your brain should be on the same page and make you happy.
When these do not match up, then you feel pain (i.e. tightness, soreness, achy, nervy, clicking, popping, etc). Therefore, where and how you feel the movements can be the difference in a happy or unhappy body!
Unhappy bodies are ones that are in chronic pain — ones that no one knows what to do to help you — ones that surgery or pain pills or injections didn’t help!
For instance, think of it this way:
Have you ever been told to do a stretch and it hurts while doing it? Then, you feel worse later?!
This is the most common answer we heard from persons to most exercises that are prescribed! The reason the stretch didn’t work is two-fold:
Therefore, knowing where and how you feel a movement is the key to success or not success!
We have created 6 movements that are similar to your favorite food!
To understand why we chose the 6 data points, you need to understand two major purposes of human existence in relation to movement. These are:
Humans are the only vertebrates to maintain an upright, bipedal position. We are also the only ones to perform this daily for reasonably long periods of time. Think of how often your dog lies down during the day compared to us. We may sit in a chair, but ~2/3 of our day is in an upright position! That is a ton!
This means out of all of the animals on earth, we function in a totally vertical position to live — think walking to get from point A to point B, communicating with another person in front of you, staring straight ahead while driving, and even standing upright to work on your computer.
The adaptation of these postures does place excessive stress on several areas of the body. These areas get “picked” at consistently through the hours, days and years.
These areas that get “picked at” are usually in the spine (think degenerative disc disease or disc herniations) but can be in the extremities too (think osteoarthritis of the hip and knee). When these areas are not being taken care of, an already risky region for arthritis and degeneration gets accelerated.
Therefore, when you aren’t feeling these zones where and how you should, you are just pouring gasoline and on a fire!
To avoid continuous signals from these areas to the brain, we shift our bodies to place mechanical stresses elsewhere, leading to mannerisms and compensation patterns. We are ultimately trying to avoid nocioceptive signals (i.e. pain signals) in these areas so we can continue to function day in and day out.
Ultimately, the compensation patterns fail at some point. This is why other weak links appear and ultimately lead you to get help — such as shoulder impingement (rotator cuff disease), headaches, tendonitis, bursitis, and “non-specific low back pain”. The medical diagnosis that you get is from the area of pain and this area jumps up at you for multiple reasons, but could be due to postures, morphology, your central nervous system (how you’re wired), and even your stress level!
These functions that we need to have day to day that we compensate for are what we spoke about earlier:
1. Horizontal gaze (think of looking straight ahead)
2. Bipedal Locomotion (think of walking)
Therefore, we hinder the sagittal alignment of the cranium and pelvis. We walk with our knees more bent and feet spread out. We find it comfortable to lie down on recliner vs stretch backwards. All of these lead to the medical route of imaging (i.e. x-ray and MRI) and pain medication.
None of which will have the actual goal of improving how we move our bodies without support and without significant muscle activity.
Therefore, the 6 data points are movements that test 6 musculofascial and neural areas in the body so we can continue to move for the two major purposes of humans.
Since humans are also athletic and are reaching more milestones with our abilities, the 6 green zones can also improve how we generally develop strength and aerobic capacity. Here are some examples:
There are about 600 muscles in the human body so testing all of the muscles would just not work! Therefore, we had to cut down the testing time quite a bit.
We finally developed 6 tests that ultimately give the best data points for ultimate efficiency of the human body to determine:
Think back to your favorite food analogy that was described above. We have created 6 movements that are similar to your favorite food, We want you to not only like the way each movement looks, but feel good during and after the movement.
To make the movement your favorite food, you need to feel it where and how you should.
To explain this, let’s create a circumstance.
Have you ever done a pec stretch, or attempted to do a pec stretch, but felt the stretch in your shoulder instead of your pec? Or better yet, your hands started tingling while in the stretch?
Well, we would consider that to NOT be a green zone! Meaning, you did not feel the stretch where and how you were supposed to!
Instead, what if you did the stretch and you felt a good muscle pull just above your nipple region in the chest? Well, that would be a GREEN zone! You feel it exactly where and how you should.
If you take this example, then the person who feels the stretch tingle in the hands and in the shoulder would be considered in the red zone. This person is not happy. The pec stretch is not effective and the strategy is to not just do more pec stretches, but figure out why the stretch is in the shoulder and makes the hand tingle.
The person who feels the stretch in the green zone would ultimately get the most out of the exercise to feel good and open up the chest the way the stretch is intended to do. This person is happy.
Therefore, the green zone is the exact location where you should feel the movement. We are very particular with this concept and the location of the movement feeling can mean the difference between success with relieving pain or no success!
Over the span of 15 years working in the physical therapy and fitness field, we have learned many ways to screen, test and treat the musculoskeletal system. Most of these approaches simply looked at range of motion or strength by pushing on a body part to test a set of muscles.
We also found that traditional physical therapy was more reactive than proactive, meaning physical therapists would do a great job at rehabilitating a patient after an injury. We know we do a great job at rehabilitation but realized we can be a great asset to helping prevent injuries as we age and with athletic performance.
When we opened PhysioFit of North Carolina in 2018, we entered a competitive field of fitness and rehabilitation in the greater Triangle area. To be competitive, we had to think more outside the box as our cash for service approach not only made it challenging to compete with other physical therapy practices, but we also realized cash services would compete with other industries, such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, functional medicine doctors and fitness trainers.
We would frequently see patients who would see ALL of these providers PRIOR to seeing us and would enter our office with the hope we would be the ones to fix them! This really made us aim higher and higher for better and better results.
During this time, we also were raising two young children and just like all our human companions, we are making our way around the sun ?
As we started again and taking care of young children; our asymmetries, mannerisms, postures, and bad habits could not compensate any further and “adult pain” sat in. Stiffness in the morning, not feeling the strongest and best with our fitness routines and the constant need/want to stretch and self mobilize our bodies just did not sit well with us.
These factors escalated our outside the box thinking and ultimately led to an entire-body testing and treatment approach. We started to address the asymmetries that came with life, tackle the commonly stress/degenerated areas of our spine and became more efficient with energy expenditure with the two major movement purposes in life:
Improving the imbalances from mechanical forces led to more comfortable positions, less pain and ultimately a better quality of life. We got better at our workouts, felt younger and have more meaningful strategies to feel better vs just going after the hurt area.
Testing ourselves to find our compensatory consequences, weak links and imbalances in the extremities, pelvis and spine was the first step. We have now put that into 6 tests that we are now sharing to help others feel great too!
Unlike other programs out there, diagnostic tests and static imaging, you will actually move (yes, its a movement test!), AND you will get direct feedback from where and how YOU feel the movement.
There is no one else saying you are out of aligned, or this joint feels here or there — it is YOU, YOUR body, YOUR brain and how YOU feel.
What better science is there?
The push-up is great at building pec muscles! However, this closed-chain movement also requires appropriate symmetry of the shoulder blades to move and reverse of thoracic kyphosis. 1 of our 6 Green Zones tests these movement patterns so you can build the pec muscles and not put excessive stress on your shoulders and neck.
The squat is by far one of the most popular leg building exercises. However, this closed-chain exercise also requires appropriate symmetry of the hips to move, lumbar lordosis and mobility of the ankles. 3 of the 6 Green Zones test for pelvic, ankle and low back symmetry for this movement pattern so you can build the leg muscles and not put excessive stress on your knees, hips and low back.
Lacing up and moving on the treadmill, trail or pavement is a great way to get a great workout and build endurance. However, running does require appropriate muscles to help with the constant vertical reaction forces to land on one leg and propel forward. 2 of the 6 Green Zones test for connectivity and capacity of these muscles so you can be efficient and not put excessive stress on your body.
The purpose of any diagnosis or test is to create a solution, prescription and prognosis. When Green Zones aren’t feeling where and how they should, then a specific plan of care will help make this happen!
Engineering consists of finding problems and figuring out solutions. Finding the problems with the Green Zones creates a game plan and strategies to make change, which then helps chronic pain!
There are 44 areas in your brain responsible for pain! Feeling the Green Zones where you should is the ONLY musculoskeletal screen available that incorporates the nervous system and mechanical imbalances.
A green check mark is utilized to describe exactly where the movement should be felt. A green light is good and this means you are on the right track!
A red X mark is utilized to describe where you should NOT feel the movement. A red light is not good and this could be why you are having pain.
The two elements above are examples of how movements should NOT be felt. The top left depicts a sharp pain and the bottom right depicts a stuck sensation.
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