Archives for : Strongman

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

One common complaint in just about every Chiropractic clinic is that of the dreaded “Sciatica.” Contrary to many people’s beliefs “Sciatica” is not a diagnosis but rather a symptom. Sciatica simply means that someone is experiencing pain or discomfort in their back and leg. The question that the clinician must answer is always; “why is this happening?” Scatica can be the result of a few different diagnoses. It could be the result of a nerve being pinched by a disc herniation, it could be the result of arthritis, or quite commonly it is caused by tight muscles in the back, glutes and hips.

So what is “Piriformis Syndrome” and what does it have to do with sciatica? One common cause of sciatic nerve impingement is the piriformis muscle. This muscle lies deep to your glutes and works as and external rotator of the leg. In majority of people the sciatic nerve passes underneath the piriformis muscle, however in some the nerve passes through the muscle making it more susceptible to impingment. Most patients presenting with this condition complain mainly of deep, dull gluteal pain. This can also be experienced as burning and tingling in the leg which is noted by many people depending on position. One of the main causes of piriformis symdrome is poor biomechanics of the pelvis and spine. This could be due to muscle imbalances, poor posture, or simply an increase in training intensity or change in terrain. When the muscle becomes too tight, it spasms compressing the neve causing you pain!

Runners pay attention, this is one of the most common problems runners present with in my office! Why? Running is very linear, relying mostly on the glute maximus for hip extension and the quads for hip flexion. This means that the glute maximus will often develop trigger points causing spasms which will compress the prirformis muscle.

A few tips for prevention:
•Your body is like a high peformance car, it is very in-tune and even the smallest deviation can cause major problems. See a Chiropractic Physician! Poor biomechanics will always lead to issues.
•Warm-up before your work-out’s with light jogging or walking.
•Stretch your hamstrings, calves, and glutes

Think you may have Piriformis Sydrome ? We have successfully helped many runner’s and athletes with this condition. Give us a call! (781) 460-0939

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

Chiropractic Treatment of Tendonitis

Tendonitis is defined as irritation and resulting inflammation of a muscle tendon; typically resulting from over-use. Some of the more common types of tendonitis experienced include: Tennis Elbow (pain in the later part of the elbow), Golfers Elbow (pain in medial portion of elbow), Supraspinatus or Rotator Cuff Tendonitis (pain on the top of the shoulder or neck), and Plantar Fasciitis (Most commonly characterized by heel pain.) Statistically, many people will experience tendonitis at some point in their life. Many physicians still advise “waiting it out”, and report that many cases pass. While this is partly true, what happens in chronic cases that do not seem to remit, or seem to flare-up more often? Many people are left with little to no solution to their problem.

A better approach to treatment of Tendonitis:

While many people seem to recover rather quickly with little to no intervention, if you find that you are someone who has been dealing with tendonitis off and on for quite some time there is a good chance your problem can become chronic. What does this mean exactly? Chronic inflammation of a tendon is characterized as Tendonosis; or chronic tendonitis that has lead to damage at a cellular level. When you have chronic inflammation in a tendon over-time it leads to micro-tears in the muscle. These micro-tears cause the body to trigger a healing response. In an effort to quickly heal the body will produce Type III collagen fibers to “patch” the irritated muscle. Type III collagen is lacking the tensile strength of healthy tissue; making the tendon weaker, and more likely to rupture. Additionally, cases where tendonitis seems to “come and go”  are more likely to become chronic and lead to a greater chance of a more serious injury.

IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft-Tissue Mobilization) has been shown to promote healing and increase tensile strength of injured tendons and ligaments by promoting a healing response on a cellular level. By inceasing blood flow and fibroblast activity we can activate a healing response. Many people have even reported resolution of their tendonitis. IASTM in addition to stretching, spinal or extra-spinal manipulation, and specific rehabilitative exercise is an extremely effect, and cost-efficient solution.

Wondering if IASTM is right for you?  Click Here to schedule an appointment and start healing!


Keep Moving.


Dr. James Ellis

(781) 460-0939

The Top 3 Exercise’s for Sciatica

Sciatic nerve pain or “sciatica” is characterized by burning, tingling, or numbness in one side of the buttock or leg which is relatively constant. The cause is related to compression of spinal nerves as they exit the spine. ” Sciatica” is not a specific diagnosis but a collection of symptoms. The cause of sciatica is commonly due to other medical conditions such as a disc herniation, or degenerative changes of the lumbar spine which decreases the space impinging the nerves. Below are some common symptoms that people note during “sciatica”:

  • Relatively constant pain on one side of the buttocks and/or hamstring.
  • Hamstring or calve pain that is described as burning, tingling, or numb.
  • Pain that is worse when walking or sitting
  •  Possible progressive weakness or “dead leg.”

When dealing with sciatica it is important to first visit a Chiropractic Physician or other spine specialist in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Contrary to past beliefs, “resting” the area more than a few days is not recommended. Resting more than a few days may lead to deconditioning of the surrounding muscles which may increase pressure on the irritated nerve(s) making symptoms worse. Additionally, the intervertebral discs in your spine serve as shock absorbers. There is no blood supply to the discs since they consist of cartilage. They rely on movement in order to imbibe water keeping the discs full, healthy, and nourished preventing desiccation and degenerative change. By incorporating the appropriate exercises (and eliminating some bad ones), you can strengthen the surrounding muscles, effectively decreasing pressure on the spine and preventing further occurrence’s or exacerbations. Below are 3 of my personal favorites for bracing the abdomen:


  • Begin on all four’s.
  •  Take a deep breathe in through your nose slowly filling your belly with air.
  •  Arch your back dropping your belly to the ground slowly; head up.
  •  Begin to exhale slowly drawing your hips under your body by contracting your abdomen; hold 2-3 seconds.
  • Repeat cycle (1 cycle = 1 rep)

2.) Press-Up’s-

  • Begin by lying face down on a soft surface
  • Place your palms down as if in push-up position.
  • Leaving your thighs on the ground, begin to slowly press-up, lifting your upper torso off the ground; hold 2-3 seconds, then repeat.

3.) Pelvic Tilts-

  • Begin lying on your back face-up, knees bent.
  • Take a deep breathe in through your nose, arching your back slightly pushing your stomach out.
  • Exhale slowly, pushing your belly button through the floor by contracting your abdomen; hold 2-3 seconds, then repeat cycle (1 cycle = 1 rep).

As always, please consult a health professional before attempting to self-treat.

If you are currently experiencing sciatica pain, Click Here to schedule an appointment and start healing today!

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

Fix Your Posture- Part 3

If you have not been following a long I have been discussing the beginning stages of what some may consider as an epidemic; “postural syndrome.” So far we have addressed two very important groups of muscles that are necessary for proper postural alignment.  If you missed these posts simply click on the links to catch up (click here for Part 1, Part 2). It is important to not that these changes however do not just affect the head and neck but rather the entire spine. Moving down now to the mid-back we will begin to discuss the Rhomboids.

As discussed previously, many of us develop these postural changes due to our daily lifestyles. It is important to continue to stretch and strengthen these muscles, as many of our daily habits are fighting against proper posture; remain patient! In the image to the left we see the relative change in weight of the head due to the “slumped” posture. This position will pull he shoulders forward neurologically inhibiting the Rhomboid’s. The rhomboids are composed of a major and a minor. They are responsible for scapular retraction (pinching the shoulder blades together) and rotation of the scapula (the opposite of the picture to the left.) The rhomboids are very important for scapulothoracic rhythm ( raising your arm above your head without impingement) so Cross-Fitter’s tune in! Many people will develop rotator cuff issues due to inactivity of these muscles. Pay attention to how you are sitting currently, you will probably notice that your shoulders are pulled forward. This position means that the rhomboids are not currently active. The issue with this is over-time many of us will adapt this posture no matter what the position, seated or standing, walking, running, working-out etc. This is a recipe for disaster for anyone who is actively into working out. In fact, many of you probably do not even know how to properly contract your rhomboids. With over activity of the upper trapezius and levator scapulae the rhomboids often forget how to work properly so it is important to include rhomboid work into your routine on a weekly basis even after you have began to notice improvements in your posture.

Want to learn how to fix your posture? Click Here.


Dr. James Ellis

Fix Your Posture- Part 2

In last week’s post I discussed the beginning stages of a “postural syndrome” that occurs due to many of our sedentary lifestyles. I addressed the upper trapezius, and levator scapulae muscles which become increasingly tight in many of us pulling our shoulders forward creating that “slumped” postural appearance and forward head carriage.

It is important to begin stretching these tight muscles immediately if you are experiencing back or neck pain. If these muscles stay in this abnormal strained position no matter how many times we mobilize the joints the muscles will be pulling everything right back.


Be patient! These postural distortions did not happen over-night and will not be fixed over night. Much like your muscles make the necessary connections to learn to ride a bicycle or a skateboard, your body will also adapt to abnormal postural stress’s creating a “postural syndrome” seen above.

Now that we have began stretching the tight, over-active, muscles, we must also address the muscles which have become under-active due to these compensations. The group of muscles that we will address today are known as the Deep Neck Flexors. Due to the forward head carriage (see above) these muscles become increasingly under-active due the over-activity of the upper trapezius and levator muscles, among others we will discuss.

The deep neck flexors are a group of muscles consisting of the Longus Colli, Longus Capitis,  Rectus Capitis Anterior, and Rectus Capitis Lateralis. This group of muscles is responsible for forward and side bending of the head and neck. They serve to support the weight of the head, and stabilize the head and neck; similar to the abdominal core making them essential for proper posture.

Click Here to read he full article!

Dr. James Ellis

Getting to the Source of Your Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common complaint in today’s society where many of us spend far too much time sitting in front of the computer, whether it be for work or for pleasure. Many people find themselves experiencing neck pain that seems to come out of nowhere. Statistically, most people cannot recall the exact incident that caused their pain. Many find that certain activities may aggravate their condition and it may even seem to “come and go”, ultimately becoming more frequent over time.

When trying to determine the cause of your pain there is a few questions you can ask yourself before even seeking help from a provider. When did it start? What seems to make it worse? Does the pain travel or is it a local pain? There are a couple different scenarios that are most common in individuals that I will cover.

If the pain is a local type of pain without radiation below the shoulder it is likely a muscle and joint issue. Many people with this issue may report stiffness in the AM and a tired and achy feeling at the end of the day. Typically, a postural exam shows a forward head carriage and rounded shoulders creating an over-all “slumped” posture. The mechanism of injury is a matter of micro-trauma (sitting, bending, lifting). This will create joint dysfunction over-time. When normal joint movement is lost the muscles will become short and tight further restricting movement. This lack of movement eventually creates an inflammatory response resulting in pain. The discs in your spine that act as shock absorbers rely on movement for nutrition since there is no blood supply. Lack of movement leads to disc desiccation or “drying up” which may aggravate arthritic change or even spinal nerves.

Another scenario which typically has more of a memorable onset is nerve involvement due to disc injury. These patients are often between the ages of 20-40 and are typically active (or getting back into being active.) The same posture discussed above may be present creating that “slumped” appearance. Even a small shift in your head position can increase the amount of force directed through your spine putting you at greater risk of injury. The disc may begin to bulge over-time due to the increased pressure through poor posture or trauma and put pressure on one or more of the nerves exiting the spine. This condition is typically noted as producing burning or numbness that will typically travel below the elbow to the hand. Many patients report that it only affects certain fingers, and they can distinctly define the borders of numbness and/or pain. This may lead to permanent motor or sensory loss.

Left untreated, scenario one may progress to a disc/nerve issue described above. Consult your Chiropractic Physician for a postural analysis and a thorough examination to determine the cause of your pain. By freeing up the joints and muscles and correcting poor posture many people find immediate relief and increases in range of motion. Most importantly, you are taking strides towards better health and preventing future problems. Prevention is key!

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

Joe Grossi – 2015 NA Strongman Nationals write-up

It’s been almost two weeks since NA Strongman Nationals, and there have been numerous other write ups, but now that things have settled down, I figured it’s a good time to put this out there.

I last competed in NA Strongman Nationals in 2013. There were approximately 70 very strong other Middle Weight men competing along side me then, and about just as many this time in 2015. My goal entering nationals this time was not necessarily to come out on top, but to be competitive. My 2013 performance was sub par, placing around 40th over all. And heading into 2015 nationals, I had some pretty big set backs.

Life happens, and like many of my strongman brethren, I’m an ambitious guy. I frequently bite off more than I can chew… but as a perfectionist and an engineer at heart, I chew it and swallow it and make my way through everything as it comes at me.

My days are busy. Dropping my little girl off at the bus stop at 7:30am, the day doesn’t end for me until I get home between 9-10:00pm at night. Sitting in traffic for 2-3 hours/day, working 9 hours in IT, while being on call 24/7, preparing for my wedding, doing diets for several people, managing and running ToreForce, not to mention squeezing in training and helping my training partners, it’s an exhausting day. But I’m not complaining. There are many others like me. Many of the most successful strongman competitors are just as ambitious and busy.

Don’t sleep!” – Wise words of a successful business man and fitness icon, Marc Lobliner.

Then 5 weeks out – my last heavy deadlift session before specificity SPP training, I hurt my lower back on the bottom of what was FEELING like a light 600lb deadlift. My left lower back/hip was black and blue. I couldn’t get dressed without help. Getting in the car took several minutes. I couldn’t even carry my work laptop into the office without being in agony.

How was I supposed to lift hundreds of pounds in 5 weeks?!

In strength sports, it’s not IF but WHEN you get injured. How you handle the injury and recover from it is just as important as your skills in competing and dieting. Ice, heat and every liniment known to man, weeks off from training did the trick. Marrying a massage therapist was also probably the best decision I’ve ever made 🙂

I got a couple light weeks of event specific training in, going a little heavier each week, and even tough pain was still there, I was able to compete!

My training partners drove out, but my wife and I flew out to Iowa. I’ve been to the mid west before, and it’s a beautiful place. For the most part, people are friendly and laid back.

I was walking around at 234 the night before. I had to drop a few pounds of water weight to get under 231, so I ate little and drank almost nothing the flight out. I was hoping to make weigh ins that morning at 10am, but my connection flight was delayed! It’s a miserable experience being dehydrated and hungry waiting at an airport. Not to mention exhausted on only a few hours of sleep since we had one of the earliest flights!

We got to Iowa late, and had to wait to the PM weigh ins. It felt like an eternity to wait, but made weight at a low 226 lbs! Food and water never tasted so good!

We revived ourselves that night, and went to bed good and early, ready to kill it!

I’ve competed in over 20 contests in my strongman career, so I wasn’t as nervous. It still hadn’t registered I was at “nationals”. It just felt like I was at home, among many familiar faces and all the other crazy people like myself who enjoy lifting heavy ass weights!

I took my 3 scoops of pre-workout, ToreForce BATTLE MODE Pre-Workout (click here) a little ibuprofen to help with the back pain, stretched out a LOT, and was ready to roll!

LOG PRESS – 275lbs275log
In training, I had hit 275 for 2, with one clean. And this log was supposed to be much harder. I put up the first rep, and to my surprise, it felt easy! I banged out a couple more, and my cardio was hurting. I noticed taking a week off from lifting seems to do something to my cardiovascular skill until I really warm it up. I rested enough time to bang out one more rep, and ended with 4 reps. A PR!


In training, we had a skinny bar yoke, and I could barely manage 500lbs, and would have pretty banged up biceps tendons afterwards. When testing out the yoke, it felt easier than training. When I was up, I remembered my favorite yoke quote “whatever you do, DO NOT STOP!” I took my grip, and walked it with no drops in decent time.

I’ve used Beast Metal farmers walks before, and remember well how slipery those powdered handles were. I chalked up very strategically, extra chalk around the outside surfaces of my palms, and chalked up the handles. Got a solid grip, and ran for it. No drops, and made a decent time.

At this point, I checked the score sheet. I was in total disbelief. I was in 12th place out of 70 competitors! I was trying, but not expecting to do nearly this well! I had a chance at the arnold! Going into day 2, I was just as nervous as I was focused.

I was relatively confident on this event. I knew I had to focus on the dumbbell stabilization and speed. I hammered out 6 reps of each, PR for me, and was eager to see the score sheet.

In 7th place now! I was so close to the Arnold, I could taste it. I wanted it more than ever now. I had one event left… and I knew there is no room for error. Not in nationals, and not in a class of 70 hungry and strong athletes.

SANDBAD LOAD MEDLEY – 220/240/260 lbs 60ft
My weakest event for certain, as I had only built and acquired sandbags a few weeks out from nationals. I had to wait over an hour for almost every other competitor in my class to go, since I was placed so high, and they re-arranged athletes by order of placing, first place goes last.

I was tired by the time I got to go, and back was killing me despite the globs of horse liniment, menthol, capsaicin, turpentine, methyl sulfate and other compounds I had rubbed into it. During warmups, we discovered the sandbags were very tightly packed, and it seemed ideal to pick them up horizontally. So I gave it a try. I lapped the 220lb, ran it down and loaded…. 240, lapped it, ran it down and loaded it.

I trained with Magnus Ver Magnusson a couple weeks prior to nationals, and his advice was to run back to the next implement as fast as possible. Even if you’re slow carrying the implement, always try to be the first person back. Don’t conserve energy on that sprint.

Finally, I lapped the 260lb sand bag… then things went awry. I started blacking out and falling forward. It took everything I had, but I managed to sit down and lap it without dropping it. I repositioned my hands, got up and loaded it… but at over 50 seconds when everyone else was in the 30s, I had just lost my seat to the Arnold.

I know where I slipped up. Blacking out was a hindrance, yes… but I should not have lapped each sandbag during the pick up. The fastest athletes picked up the sand bag and used that momentum to “catch” it, and ran with it. Skill, speed and cardio.

All said and done, I placed 15th out of about 70 competitors. Top 11 went to the arnold. Still, MUCH better than I had imagined I would place considering I couldn’t even DRESS myself a few weeks prior! I learned a lot, had tons of fun, and will be back again to shoot for an even better placing next time! Now to transition into a nice off season with lots of corrective exercises and prepare to see you all next year!