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Posts Tagged ‘Pain Relief’

Interview with Wendy Cole (Function First)

Monday, August 16th, 2010

TG: Hi Wendy, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

WC: Thanks for inviting me, it is a pleasure to be able to discuss our ever evolving business I am  a late arrival to the actual wellness industry. I have always had an interest in the human body and all of the spectacular things that it can achieve, on many levels. When I was in high school I was very active in sports (1500 m in track and gymnastics) but my first love was  the human mind, and how it communicates with the body. I followed the psychology trail in my advanced education. Although I never completed my formal education, movement and the mind had always facinated me. Perhaps that explains how I wound up at Function First. Realizing the huge impact that motor control has over our every day functions, and how that influences wellness, and of course, pain.

TG: You have worked helping clients overcome injuries, what do you find are the most common problems that people come to you with?

WC: I have in my brief career had the opportunity to work with a variety of challenges. Being that I did study and sit for the ACE Clinical Exercise Test and certification, it opened a whole world of different diseases and dysfunctions within my scope of practice. It has been a real journey of discovery. I have had the ability to help individuals with back pain, knee problems, as well as many shoulder issues. The largest volume of challenged clients seemed to have back issues. As we well know, statistically  a staggering 85% of people will experience low back pain at some point or another.

TG: Low back pain is a commonly occurring problem, what steps to you take to help people overcome back pain?

WC: When it comes to low back pain issues, or ant issues for that matter, I am in full agreement with what we would refer to as Hypothesis Testing. This is where an individual would come in for an appointment and we would discuss various postures that seem to either help, or hinder their situation. We would discuss their activities of daily living, and I would observe the client in a variety of different situations. ( an example would be their seated posture, or maybe even walking.) Am impression is formed form this interview. A health history from is also part of the pool of information that goes toward the consideration of the program to follow. This can also lead to a recommendation to see a more qualified professional. Next, based upon this information. other assessments are used to produce a program specifically for this individual and their very specific needs.

TG: What do you feel are the most common causes of Low Back pain?

WC: The statistics indicate that 85% of back problems are of an “unknown etiology” (McGill) I am of the impression that back pain is more of a “cascade effect”, there is no one thing that  creates tissue breakdown, unless it is a traumatic injury such as in a fall, or something of that nature. Some of the contributing factors that contribute to this “cascade” would be anything ranging from repetitive stresses, to cigarette smoke, to improper diet/hydration, to additional undue stress of any nature, to those extra few pounds around the middle, to overexercising, exercising one side of the body more than the other creating asymmetry, to motor control problem to a completely sedentary lifestyle. These are only a few elements that can contribute to painful conditions of the back. Some of these things are under our conscious control and others are not- none the less the tissue eventually yields and compression is created. I think there is a much bigger picture than a single episode that create pain in the body, it is the result of a much bigger picture.

TG: You have worked with clients with a range of disabilities, how important do you feel it is that we as fitness professionals provide services for special populations?

WC:When I became certified I had sort of an ah-ha moment when I stopped to read the actual certificate. It stated that I was certified to work with “apparently healthy” individuals. Upon completion of the health history form(s) that I have my clients fill out, I promptly discovered I was not really qualified to work with very many people.

We seem to live in a world of relatively unhealthy people. Hypertension, diabetes, back pain, cancers, the list is really endless. Very sad. I felt a huge need   to increase my knowledge, and scope of practice,to serve my clients better. What I don’t know in many aspects could very much hurt someone. My goal is to help people, not hurt them. I don’t think you can know too much when it comes to the human body and function. As a service industry, we need to stay on top of the educational ball, especially with so many challenged clients and potential clients out there.

TG: What would you say are the three most important exercises people should do to improve their ability to live in the modern world?

WC: Everyone is different and has different needs when it comes to programming.  I follow the “for who” and “for what” train of thought when it comes to exercise- inspired by my mentor, Anthony Carey. I rarely ever suggest  an exercise without any form of assessment. However, there are some “basics” that we could improve upon to improve our quality of life. Simple things, like learning proper breathing techniques, that can impact our lives in big ways.

Most of us hyperventilate. One of my clients actually phrased it the best, “we are afraid to breathe.” We are chest breathers, this keeps our sympathetic nervous system engaged. We need to learn to slow our lives down,and our breathing down. Huge benefit can be gained from engaging our parasympathetic nervous system by breathing more slowly and deeply.  This has a global effect on everything from back pain to digestion to sleep disorders, to energy production to an overall feeling of well being. Cortisol, which is related to stress, has been linked to the inability to loose those extra pounds, also.  Proper breathing has more implications than I can even begin to cover here!

Another element of “wellbeing” that I feel is highly overlooked is our ability as humans to get up and move.We do not need permission, or an excuse. Exercise does not only happen in the gym! I like to remind my clients that I am only a small part of their actual world. They need to move more than few hours a week that they see me. If they have a desk job, I like to encourage them to get up and move through out the day. I remind them that I am a small piece of the puzzle. I try to challenge them into other FUN activities that they can do with their family, or dog. ANYTHING! We need to set the bar a little higher for our clients. I like to give “homework, ” depending on the goal/s we are focused upon.

My last suggestion continues with this  more holistic approach. We cannot separate ourselves from our diet. Even though we “workout,” we need to be more aware of the foods we eat, and the quality of the food we use to fuel our bodies, minds and spirits. We need to take the time to pay attention to our needs versus the many “tasty” temptations that are out there. We need to think about the results of the coffee’s , the deserts, the processed foods, the stop for “happy hour” drinks. These ALL impact our quality of being. They too are accumulative. I have worked with diabetics that have lost limbs, and still would not step away from their diet issues. We all have choices,but we have to remember there is always cause, and effect. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/healthy fats and other whole foods are part of the key to good health, longevity, healing and long life. Genetics also have a huge part of this, of course. But, naturally, it is up to each and every one of us come to a place where we can own our own path to health.

TG: How do you suggest people who are mainly desk based in their working environment train to counter act the impact this has on their overall posture?

WC: I see that a majority of our modern world is desk based. The ideas presented above would be a great base for feeling better. Naturally, a personalized workout/fun program with a qualified personal trainer is the missing key from the above mentioned. I would advise anyone that has isn’t moving and loving it- to find a qualified professional to get them on the road to living a fuller, healthier, more invigorating life. It is important to realize that life is more than just work and home and sitting. We have to get up and participate in our lives,and in our health. We can’t sit on the side lines and wonder why we don’t feel good. We need to seek those who are qualified that want to help bring us to the life we visualize.

TG: What do you feel are the most important traits of a good personal trainer?

WC: To me, one the most important traits of a personal trainer are the ability to focus- really focus. We need to be able to set ourselves aside when we enter into a session. Only the now, and that client exist. We need to focus on that person, and that person alone. We need to use all of our senses to help the person learn things correctly for the right adaptation. We need to focus on hearing what the client has to say and how they “feel” things. To often we walk into a session with a preconceived  notion about we WE expect from the session. We need to hear and see our clients and realize their needs and abilities in order to serve them better, and reach their goals.  We need to turn off our cel phones, cut the chatter and stay in the moment!

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?

WC: I feel extremely blessed to be here in San Diego, at Function First with Anthony Carey. I  plan to be here for the next couple of years learning more about human function and corrective exercise. An amazing opportunity. As I mentioned earlier Anthony has been a huge influence in my career to date. I was fortunate enough to have attended his workshops and seminars early in my career.

While I am here, we are hoping to expand the personal training aspect of the facility. We are launching a new program based upon the NEWSTART principals that I focused upon at my facility in Avalon.(More on these principals can be found on my blog This program is going to start on August 2, 2010. it will be an exciting, inovative 6-week program. It will target individuals that are focused on losing 10-15lbs, already existing exercisers who are bored with their “routines,” and individuals who are experiencing challenges in their ‘diet.” Naturally we will be incorporating full body exercises using the TRX and the Core-Tex, as well as  other modalities. We are calling this series the Workoutwithwendy X-treme, X-Factor Six Week X-erFun Camp! Hopefully some you might come out and join us!!

Next summer we are also hoping to add in some summer fun camps for the youth population.

Thank you so much for including me! All the best to you ,Tom!

TG: Thanks for your time Wendy, and we wish you all the best for the future!