Bounce Back After Injury

How to Bounce Back Stronger Than Ever After Injury [Podcast Episode #098]

"It's going to take 6-8 months for you to recover."


My surgeon delivered this news after I tore the ACL in my right knee. I was 26 at the time and had thought I was invincible. Nope.

Busting my butt in rehab, I returned to full strength... Only to tear the same ACL again, this time along with the cartilage and meniscus. Another 8-12 months of recovery​ lay ahead of me.

Our bodies are amazing. They can heal from just about any injury. But the mind is different. After my second surgery I had many questions: Can I do this again? Will I ever be active and fit like I used to be? 

How do you re-train your body and your brain after injury?​

Episode Resources:

How to Bounce Back Stronger Than Ever After Injury [Full Text]

Dave: Hey. Thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work Podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life. Injury. Put up your hand if you have suffered injury at some point in your life and I am hoping all … Well, not hoping but I suspect all of our hands are up right now.

What is it for you? What type of injury did you go through and more importantly, how did you come out the other side? Did your body bounce back? Did you go back to doing all the activities you did before you're injured? How is your mindset? Did you feel confident that you're able to do the things you want to do?

These are the sorts of questions that we’re asking today. For anyone who’s been listening to the podcast for a while, you've heard me talk a lot about injury. I've gone through so many different sports-related injuries over the years, particularly with my knees. Having gone through a couple knee surgeries and a ton of knee rehab, when I got this question from Rena, I just felt like she was speaking my language.

Here’s what she said. “When I was 31, I had knee surgery that stopped me from exercising for three months. Afterwards, I never got back into it. Part of it was fear of re-injuring myself but I also just got lazy after sitting around for so long. That was 11 years ago. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t got back into exercise since then. Now, my body is telling me that it’s time to do something. What do you tell someone whose heart wants to be fit but their mind tells them not to go for it?”

Rena, hopefully, you're listening to this. I really can resonate with that. Like I said, I've been through a couple of knee injuries and coming out the other side, I felt very similar to the way that you just described that idea of, “Can my body actually do this? It feels so much harder now because I haven’t been exercising the way I was used to. I feel like I’m starting from scratch? Where do I begin?”

We’re going to talk about a lot of questions surrounding ways to come back from injury but also some preventative tips to prevent injury from happening especially for anyone who sits at their desk all day long or isn’t super active right now and then also a little bit about the mindset, what do you need to think about in order to overcome those mental hurdles.

I’m really excited to introduce to you a guest who, he is an expert in pain management, in recovery, in exercise. This is his passion and he’s going to explain why it’s his passion, how he got into it as well from a personal story that he went through earlier on in his career. I’m excited to introduce to you, Michael Jones.

Meet Michael Jones

Dave: Hey, Michael. Thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Michael: All right. Thank you for having me.

Dave: Let’s start off by telling the audience where are you located right now because we’re operating many, many time zones apart.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely right now, I am living in Bangkok, Thailand. I've been living in Thailand for three years, one year in Chiang Mai up in the north and two years here in Bangkok. I operate a pain management clinic here in the city.

Dave: Obviously, you're not originally from Thailand. Where are you from and what brought you to Thailand?

Michael: Originally from San Diego, California, America’s finest city and basically, what brought me to Thailand was just something new. Many people and many people that I worked with, I suffered a burnout with job. It was a good thing.

I had too many people coming to me, so I just needed to kind of, I guess get away and reconnect with myself and my calling and what I wanted to do in life and take a break. I realized during that break that pain management and helping people truly was my calling, so that’s how I got started here in Bangkok with opening up my pain management clinic.

Your calling in life is always going to be based on helping others in one way or another

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Dave: Wow, and going strong ever since. No homesickness. You don’t miss being back in San Diego?

Michael: Not so much. I mean I have my moments. Of course, you miss friends and family. You see the pictures on Facebook and you're like, “Oh, I wish I was there,” but my life is pretty good. I’m not going to complain about that.

Dave: I was going to say I see what you're up to on Facebook and I’m always jealous of your pictures. I think you've got a pretty great thing going on right now.

Michael: Yeah. Like I said, I’m not going to complain. I’m not going to complain at all.

Practicing Pain Relief in Bangkok

Dave: I’d be interested to know about what your experience is working with clients on the American side versus in Thailand from a pain management perspective. Do they have the same sorts of issues or did you see a lot of differences just based on the type of lifestyle that they’re leading?

Michael: Definitely lots of differences where coming from the States, we basically … A lot of us suffer from office syndrome, neck, back and shoulders, low back pain. Here, I've noticed everyone has problems with their ankles and knees.

Here in Bangkok, we have terrible streets, terrible roads, potholes everywhere so everyone is spraining their ankle, this and that and then you also have to walk a lot here in Bangkok, so a lot of wear and tear, like I say, on your joints. That’s basically the difference where I've seen in the States, like I said, more of the office kind of injuries and pains.

Here, I see the more traveling pains. Like I said, you're walking everywhere. You're tripping. You're falling. You're wearing your knees down. Those are the differences that I've come to see within these last two years being here and practicing here in Bangkok.

Dave: Isn’t that interesting, so in North America … because it’s the same in Canada as the U.S., is we suffer from inactivity and over there, it’s overuse injury.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely, here, I have to say people are a little bit more out and about. I very rarely see people walking with canes or any assistance where in the States, that’s quite a bit of us unfortunately.

What is the "Asian Squat"?

Dave: Recently, I was over doing some work in Vietnam. I’m not saying it’s the same culture wise as Thailand but similar part of the world. One of the things that I noticed is, hopefully, it’s okay for me to use this expression but everyone was doing what they call the Asian squat.

Michael: Asian squat, yes. Yes. Thank you.

Dave: I think you're familiar with this. For the listeners, if you don’t know what the Asian squat is, I didn't know what it was before but basically, people, when they’re just chatting or just hanging out, instead of standing or sitting on a chair, they’ll just do a really deep squat to the point where like their butt is an inch, two inches-

Michael: Above the ground.

Dave: Yeah. It’s right down at the ground. It’s funny. I was watching people do this and was joking around with some of the locals. “Oh, I can do that too, you know.” I can. I have pretty good mobility but sitting in that position for me after a minute or two, I’m exhausted. My quads are just burning.

Michael: Right.

Dave: Why can they do it so easily? Is it just practice or …

Michael: It’s practice. I mean it’s just something that you kind of just grow up with. Like I said, mom does it. Dad does it. Your friends do it. I've walked down my street. I could see a bunch of guys in a circle and they’re all squatting. I can walk back an hour later, they’re still squatting.

Dave: Which is fantastic, you know. In terms of overuse, I could see there’s maybe a little bit of stress on the joints that way but getting away from a lot of the poor posture stuff that we experience by sitting in chairs in our offices all day, that is solved by doing the Asian squat. We’re actually joking, “Hey, when we get back to work, we’re all going to just lower our desks and Asian squat all day,” but it’s way too hard.

Michael: Right. Give me, like I said, about a minute or two, I’m like, “Okay. Time to get up. Okay, wow, I don’t feel my legs anymore.”

Physical Injury and Emotional Trauma: How They Are Connected

Dave: It’s so funny. To transition into today’s question … When I got this question, Michael, I thought right away of you because I do know that pain management and helping people through those injuries is what you do and what you've been doing for a long time.

Rena writes in, says she had a knee surgery, she was in pain, she was afraid of re-injuring herself and that has completely thrown off her ability to exercise. It was cool because she sort of recognized some of it is actually physical pain but some of it is maybe the emotional trauma that came with injury.

Is that something that you've seen in your clients, people coming in with injury and even after they’re healed, they still struggle to go back to what they were doing previously?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely, because it goes into their … They’ve been so used to protecting themselves from doing maybe that certain kind of movement or protecting, let’s say their knees when they walk, that it just becomes second nature to them. They’re scared to go back to that physical condition that they were in.

A lot of times, like I say, when I work with people where I’m typically a little bit more successful than average person that works at pain management, I work on the physical but I also work on the mindset as well to ensure them like, “No, you can do this movement. You can do it safely now, so please go forward. Try it out. Stop trying to protect it so much. It’s better now.”

I've noticed just like the look in people’s faces when I say that. They’re like, “Oh, my God. I guess you're right. Let me try,” and then say the next time they come see me or we talk online, they’re like, “Wow, Mike! I actually went down the stairs and I didn't think about it and my knees were fine. I went up the stairs, down the stairs and everything was okay.” I’m like, “Yeah. It’s just you got so used to holding back and just protecting that that it just became a part of your life.”

You can get so used of holding back that you convince yourself, "I can’t." It's a lie - just start trying again

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Dave: You know, that’s interesting that you say that because when I read Rena’s question, it resonated so strongly for me because I've had two knee surgeries and, Michael, exactly what you just said, coming out of both of those even after my surgeon gives me the thumbs up like, “Dave, you're allowed to go, say start running or you can play sports again,” it took a really long time for me to believe that that was true.

Michael: Absolutely. Absolutely because again, you don’t want to go back to where you were at.

The Step-By-Step Recovery Process

Dave: Exactly. Yeah. Once you've been through a recovery, you don’t want to do it again. What is the … Let’s start with the mental process then. What is that mental process? You said, okay, just trust you can do it and go ahead and try. That might be a big step though. If we sat down with Rena and said, “Hey, just try doing your exercise,” is there something that can work her up to actually feeling confident in that?

Michael: Right. I always start with baby steps. I don’t tell people, “Hey, your knees are better. Go run a mile.” I’m like, “Say, hey, you know, you're still walking. Let’s kind of maybe go into a brisk walk, getting the arms moving, speeding up your walking and then when you feel comfortable, maybe do that for maybe a week or two and you feel comfortable with that, just keep start speeding up little by little by little and eventually, you'll get back to that run again.”

I always go within baby steps because again, I feel like if you drop them off and be like, “Hey, go run fast now,” they’re going to be like, “Oh, no. You are crazy. I am not.” If you tell them, “Hey, I want you to start off with a brisk walk,” they’re like, “Oh, I can do that.”

Dave: Yeah. Baby steps totally make sense. What about including strength training. Rena doesn’t specific say what type of exercise that she used to do and what she wants to get back into but is that something that you prescribe or do you leave it up to your clients to figure out?

Michael: No, no. I definitely prescribe it and suggest it to anyone that I work with on the rehab process because again, when you're on the rehab process, muscles temporarily can get limp. They’re not as strong as what they used to be so you have to strengthen them.

I make sure that I give my clients the proper exercises that they need and walk them through it because there’s so much stuff online. There’s so much stuff. It’s a good chance they can pick the wrong exercise that’s not for them, ending up hurting themselves again.

I’m very hands-on. Like you said, when I work with people and also on my programs, I make sure everything is customized and tailored to what they have going on and that’s why I said there’s such a high success rate with that.

Dave: Google is awesome but it can be problematic. I heard someone this week refer to it as Dr. Google and …

Michael: Dr. Google and I tell people to stay away from Dr. Google because Dr. Google can have you feeling even worse.

Dave: Honestly especially when it comes to exercise. You go onto YouTube and there are some amazing resources on YouTube but like you said, there are some disasters waiting to happen on YouTube. Yeah, the idea of having a professional walk you through corrective exercise or rehabilitative exercise just makes sense.

As you build these programs specifically for strengthening people after injury, are there exercises that you tend to come back to a lot? I don't know if there are basic movements that really help prevent pain or ease pain but what do you find you're prescribing a lot?

Key Exercises Everyone Needs

Michael: There’s definitely, I always have to prescribe hamstring stretches because again, I deal with a lot of low backs and knees and things like that. Many people don’t know like we’re sitting down all day, those hamstrings, they take a beating. There’s lack of circulation going on in there.

I tell people definitely lots of hamstrings stretches and one of my favorites that everyone hates, plank. I mean plank is an amazing exercise, straighten … improving your posture and also kind of helping yourself like, say build your back, the muscles in your shoulders and your arms. It’s amazing and you can do it anymore but as soon as they hear the word plank come out of their mouth, they’re like, “Oh, no, no, no.”

Dave: Okay. This is a perfect opportunity here because we just finished talking about being careful what you see online. Planks are everywhere and you always see these plank challenges and there’s all different types of them but like some of them are crazy. Work your way up to doing a 10-minute plank or whatever it is. Can you walk us through some basics for a proper plank? What should people be thinking about?

Michael: Well, proper plank, you definitely, you want to make sure your form is correct, no slumping or your stomach somewhat sit in the ground or like make sure you kind of keep yourself aligned and work your way up. If you never did a plank before and you’d tell somebody do it for 30 seconds, that’s quite a jump.

It’s kind of difficult, so I tell people give me 10 to 15 seconds. I’ll say each week, let’s add on a few seconds, another five seconds. Work your way up and people just … The look of relief that comes over their face because they think of the guy, the Guinness Book of World Records where he planked for, what was it, like seven to eight hours, something like that, something crazy.

Dave: Is that actually the record? Seven or eight hours?

Michael: It was something ridiculously like you just don’t need to do it that long. There’s no rule written that you should do that but yeah, that’s what I tell people. I say, “Just work your way up. I don’t expect you off the bat to be doing plank for 30 seconds or even a minute. Give me 10 to 15 seconds. Bam. You got that down. Okay, let’s move it on to 20 seconds. Okay, next week, 25,” and just that progression. You make sure the person you work with, your client feel really good because they’re making progress.

The best way to avoid injury during exercise is to start small and work your way up

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Dave: Yeah. I like the emphasis in not diving in too quickly because it can be … Not only there’s a chance of injury if you do something that your body is not conditioned for but it does feel like a bit of a failure if you say, “Okay, my goal is to do a plank by the end of the week and you can’t.

Michael: Yeah. You're injuring your spirit. Then, from there, you're like, “I’m not doing this anymore.”

Fifer Scissors: Easy, Effective Core Activation

Dave: Yeah. You mentioned hamstring stretching, planks for strengthening. I see you post videos fairly frequently talking about stretching and working on flexibility. Can you tell us some other go-tos that people that you work with or any of the listeners really should consider?

Michael: Okay. Plank, definitely hamstring stretching and like I said, going back to core with plank. I’m a big fan of Fifer scissors. One leg kind of slightly off the ground, another one straightened up and you're just switching back and forth, up and down, that is really great because it works the entire core, like you're getting quads, you're getting a little bit of the knee in there, you're getting the groin muscles, you're getting hips and you're getting core.

So I’m a big advocate of that because those are the areas I target when anybody comes to me who wants to improve their posture. I strengthen the quads, get the core nice and strengthened and also I’m working on bringing the shoulders back. Those are like some really key areas that I focus in on and people’s … their posture definitely improves quite quickly just focusing on those unique areas.

Dave: Just for me to clarify. It’s in a plank position, so on your elbows and on your toes and lifting one toe off the ground and just holding that off the ground for a few seconds and then putting it back down?

Michael: Yeah. You could do that but Fifer scissors is a totally different exercise. You're actually going to be laying on your back and you’re actually going to have, let’s say have your right leg slightly elevated above the ground and your left leg is going to be straight up, well, high as you can and you alternate back and forth, so one leg up, one leg down.

It’s such an effective exercise especially for posture because it goes really deep inside those core muscles. Usually, when people, when I start them out doing that particular exercise, they’re like, “I felt that really deep inside my stomach. When I stand up, I feel a little taller and straighter.” I’m like, “Yeah. This is the point of this exercise.”

Dave: Okay. I didn't know that that was the name for it before but yeah, I use that all the time in yoga classes that I take. What do you recommend for people to do with their hands? They’re lying on their back, one foot straight up in the air and then the other foot is just hovering off the floor and then alternating, where do their hands go?

Michael: Hands can be on your sides because you kind of need that little support sometimes. Definitely, I always tell people try to keep your back on the ground as much as possible. You don’t want that arch in there but definitely try to keep it as much on the ground as possible.

I find out when people are pressing their hands on the ground, it helps with the back and also when you're trying to get through the exercise, you kind of need that support as you're sweating.

Dave: Totally. Actually, I’m glad you mentioned that because I do see people all the time in yoga class and they’re doing that exercise and have a huge arch in their lower back and I’m just cringing but I’m not the instructor so I don’t feel like it’s my job to go-

Michael: Yeah. You're off. You're off right now, right?

Using Wall Squats to Strengthen Your Glutes

Dave: Exactly. You started talking about core strengthening and how that’s so important for avoiding injury. Years ago, I took a course and I’m sure you’re familiar with the term lower cross syndrome.

For the listeners, basically, it just means you imagine an X across your lower body and one arm of the X points at your abs and then the line goes down and points at your butt. That part of the X is saying that those are the areas that you need to strengthen to avoid injury, so your abs and your butt. In the opposite part of the X, parts at your hip flexors and your lower back and those are the areas that generally we need to release or to stretch.

Michael, it’s so interesting because you're an expert in pain management. Right away, what do you say strengthen your core muscles? What do you recommend for an exercise for the glute part of that?

Michael: I love wall squats. It’s funny because the gym where my practice is, there’s a lot of CrossFit that goes on so I see this guy doing deadlifts and all this crazy stuff and they come back down to me and they’re like, “Okay. I hurt myself. What should I do?” I’m like, “Wall squat.” They’re like, “Why? I don’t like this. I need weights.” I’m like, “No. Just press your back against the wall and slowly start to start going down a little further and a little further.”

The funniest thing is they can’t even do it. It’s so funny. It’s because they’re used to all these weights and stuff. When I actually have them just use their own body weight, their own resistance, it’s the funniest thing to me but like I said, strengthening glutes, it has to be wall squats because you have that support on the wall. You're not going to hurt yourself. That’s my all-time favorite when it comes to strengthening the glutes, is wall squat.

Dave: That’s a perfect one for Rena, like anyone talking about knee injuries and not that you and I are prescribing specific workouts here but probably, that would be an effective one for her.

Michael: That would be an amazing one for her, is find a wall and again, like all the exercises that I suggest to people are things they can do at home and while they’re on the go because like I say, I work with busy professionals.

A lot of the times, we don’t have an hour or two, whatever how long it is to work out but I say dedicate a good solid “20 minutes”. Hey, do a wall squat. Even if you're traveling, there’s a wall around in your hotel room, right? Do it there or even at work, there’s a wall. Just give me maybe two sets for 30 seconds and you're doing your body such a great justice. You're really strengthening yourself.

The best exercises can be done anywhere. You can be your own gym.

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Dave: Yeah. It’s neat that you talk about the efficiency of this stuff. Think about what we talked about so far. Do some planks. Do some wall squats. Stretch your hamstrings. You could do that entire routine in five minutes easily.

Michael: In five minutes and that’s what I say. I really try to give them exercises that they can really incorporate into their lifestyle because, well, as you know, the first thing somebody says, “I don’t have enough time.” I’m like, “Oh, you have five minutes, right? You're talking to me right now. Let’s do this.” They’re like, “Oh, well, that’s not that bad.” I’m like, “Yeah. I’m not asking you to go to the gym for two hours. Just give me this time. This is really going to make you better.

Stretching: A Preventive and Rehabilitative Measure

Dave: In particularly, when we’re talking about injury and so for anyone who’s listening and maybe you're saying, “Well, this isn’t relevant to me because I've never bene injured before,” if you work at a desk or if you're seated a lot during the day, chances are you're going to get injured at some point. Wouldn’t you say that’s true, Michael?

Michael: Yeah. You definitely increase your risk of injury almost kind of like by 40% just by sitting at a desk for more than four to five hours a day.

Dave: Something we’ve been talking about now, this can be preventative as much as it can be rehabilitative.

Michael: Absolute. Absolutely. Again, the people who come to me, they’re just saying like, “Wow, I totally have kind of changed the way how I kind of live. I know now to start getting up more often,” or, “Now, I know it’s like when I get up, maybe do a nice little stretch for my shoulders or I go down and touch my toes or try to touch my toes.”

It just really has people thinking again and taking care of themselves. That’s the most important thing, is taking care of ourselves. We become so busy that the person that we should care about the most, ourselves, we tend to forget.

Dave: I want to continue with the advice you've been giving because this is great. In terms of strengthening, we’ve got our two go-tos right now, the wall squat and the plank. You mentioned hamstrings and you just said right now, you could bend over and touch your toes or touch your knees or touch your shins. What do you have people do? Do they hold that for how long?

Michael: Yes. For stretches like, say touching your toes or well, trying to touch toes 20 to 30 seconds.

Dave: Okay, so super simple.

Michael: Super simple. Try to maybe, three times and okay, there’s 30 seconds. Kind of rest a little bit. Go down. Do it again. Go down. Do it again. Took you a minute. That’s it.

Dave: Easy. Super easy.

Michael: Easy. Super easy and effective.

Dave: What, because I’m not a routine guy and so I’m picturing this in my head as a routine. I do my planks. I do my wall squats. I do my hamstring stretches. What would be another go-to stretch that has to be there and then we kind of have a nice little routine and people can run with that?

Michael: When you lay on the ground and bringing the knees up to the chest, that’s one of my favorites.

Dave: Both knees like hugging them in?

Michael: Yeah, hugging them in, kind of doing nice little rocks, nice massage on the spine. It really loosens up that low back. It just really feels good. Like I say, you're going to get a little stretch on the glute as well and again, that’s another way … It’s so easy. I tell people when you wake up first thing in the morning, give yourself a hug. You put those knees on the chest and you just hug it out.

Dave: I love it. Again, going back to my yoga training, we do a lot of that at the end of the class and I always like it mentally because it tells me class is over. I’m done the hard work but I think also, it does feel so good rocking a little bit back side to side when you're in that egg position is such a nice massage.

Why You Need to Exercise in the Morning [It Takes 4 Minutes]

Michael: It really is. It gets the synovial fluid going all throughout the spine. It’s a really great thing. Just try it out. Like I said, most people, the onset of pain happens when they wake up in the morning. They wake up stiff from the night because God knows what we do when we’re sleeping.

You wake up, your arm’s like numb and so I tell everyone, it’s like … Like I said, bring the knees into the chest, hug it out for maybe a minute and get up. I've had like the biggest results just with that. They’re like, “Wow, I will do that for the rest of my life. I can actually get out the bed now without my first step being a painful one.”

Dave: Yeah. When you're bringing up the idea of doing this first thing in the morning, I had a podcast maybe a couple months ago. It was an author of a book called the 4-Minute Fit and he basically had done all this research trying to figure out what is the key variable that will help people get in the best shape as quickly as possible. It wasn’t just making this up. He had actually done tons of research finding out that it took four minutes of exercise and it had to be done first thing in the morning because of the metabolic effect that that would have just moving your body as soon as you get up.

Michael: Yep.

Dave: He had a really neat sort of ideas. He said we all get up in the morning and who doesn’t brush their teeth before they leave their house, right? We all do it. He said before you brush your teeth, commit to doing this four minutes of fitness. Then, brush your teeth and then it becomes routine. What you’ve just described, that’s a routine that people could do easily like four to five minutes, then brush your teeth.

A complete fitness routine can take as little as 5 minutes per day. You can find the time if your fitness really is a priority.

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Michael: Yeah. That’s it. Like I say, it’s all going back to taking time and taking care of yourself. To a lot of people who take care of yourself, you don’t have to see me.

Dave: You're putting yourself out of business.

Michael: Right. It’s like above all, I want you to get better. I want you to get better. That’s my goal. Anybody I worked with, my goal is to work with you till you get fit and functional. When someone comes to me, that is my number one goal, get you out there, get you going, get you back to living life how you used to live. Like I said, after you do that, hey, come see me for a little bit maintenance if something happens down the road. That’s fine, and refer. That’s it. It’s simple enough.

Dave: Yeah. You were saying that you left San Diego because business was too busy for you.

Michael: It’s too busy.

Dave: When you are helping people actually achieve their goals and use the word refer right now and referrals naturally come when someone provides a good service, you don’t have to worry about business of people … you putting yourself out of business by helping people actually succeed because you know that they’re going to be able to refer someone to you.

Michael: Yeah, exactly. I know that they say they saw the results and everyone knows someone who’s hurting. Plain and simple.

The Paralyzing Fear of Re-Injury

Dave: I want to go back to Rena’s question again. Her last line was powerful. She says, “What do you tell someone whose heart wants to be fit but their mind tells them not to go for it?”

Michael: Oh, gosh.

Dave: What did you think when you read that?

Michael: Like you said, it’s very powerful and unfortunately, that, doing the work that I do, is something that I hear quite a bit where people come in … A lot of time … but it has to do with injury, your spirit is also hurt as well, not just physically. Your spirit is hurting.

To really sit there and when you have to sit down and talk because again, I always take time to talk to anybody that I work with because I find out talking’s where you’re going to get the most information, not the form that they fill out, when you're actually sitting down talking to them.

Then, we could really get down to the nitty-gritty of it, it comes down to like, “I know I need to do this. My spirit is hurt. I know if I were able to get up and I’m able to, let’s say run or just do something for just 10 minutes, this will make me feel so much better.”

As the person that works with them, their health coach, I’m the one that helps them get up again and let them know that they can do it. Don’t talk yourself out of this or anything like that. You honestly can do anything your body wants you to. You can really do it. You can talk yourself into it. Like I said, it’s a lot of mindset that goes into when you're recovering from an injury.

Dave: That idea of telling ourselves that we can, I know that sounds simplistic but sometimes, that’s exactly what we need, is just our own vote of confidence.

Michael: That’s it. That’s it. Like I said, with the question of Rena, and it sounds like maybe like I said, the spirit is hurt a little bit. The confidence is low so it’s just like, “Now, it’s time for you to get yourself back up and get to it because you can do it. You honestly can do it.”

When You’re Told You Can’t Exercise

Dave: I know speaking from my own experience again with knee injuries, and Rena, hopefully you're listening because my heart really did go out to you. When I had my second knee surgery, so I had torn my ACL cartilage meniscus like I did the really, really bad surgery and coming out the other side, my surgeon, he said to me, “Dave, you won't be able to play this sport, this sport and you won’t be able to run anymore.”

Michael: Yes.

Dave: It hit me so hard because it was a loss of identity. All the things that you just told me that I couldn’t do were who made me a big part of who I was.

Michael: Exactly.

Dave: There was, I would say even maybe some depression thinking, “Oh, geez. I can’t do what I love in life.”

Michael: Exactly.

Dave: Is that something like … Do you see that with clients you work with?

Michael: Yeah. Like I said, every day. Every day. Every day. Like I say, it’s a blow to the spirit when your doctor tells you you can’t do something that you love, that’s brought you so much joy for so many years. They’re like, “No.” I always tell my clients, I’m like, “Okay, well, that’s his opinion and you know, now it’s up to you to either validate that or not.

I’m definitely not telling you to don’t listen to your doctor but also, you know your body better than anyone, any physician, anybody you go to. You know your body and you know what you can do more than anybody else, so at the end of the day, it’s up to you.”

Dave: I love that you just said that because when I think back to my surgeon, I’m not discrediting him at all. I know what he was doing, is he was looking at people who had gone through the same knee surgery and said …

Michael: Exactly.

Dave: … they ran afterwards and so therefore, Dave, you probably shouldn’t run either. The matter of fact is, Michael, all the advice that you've given, that’s exactly what I did and started very small, started rebuilding muscles that had been weakened through inactivity, months and months of inactivity and it took me a while. I didn't probably run for about a year after my second surgery but I run all the time now and I feel great.

Michael: There we go. There we go.

Dave: What you said, it’s that belief that you can.

Michael: Yeah. That’s all it is. The human spirit is a powerful thing.

Michael’s Wake-Up Call

Dave: Personally speaking, have you gone through any injuries yourself or physical setbacks where you had to kind of go through some of the stuff that you teach to so many other people?

Michael: Oh, gosh, that’s why I’m doing what I do now. I have to say I used to tell people when I first … My first degree was in marketing. I, like I said, worked in marketing, did the whole corporate thing. I was so unhappy. For me just sitting there being inactive, being somewhat miserable at my job, I adopted this wonderful back and neck problem. I mean it was something like I have never felt in my life.

From that, the pain, turned into … had me up at night, was turned into insomnia, which in turn, had me kind of gave me these anxiety attacks. It was just like this huge cycle that I was going through, this no sleep pain, panic attack and this was my daily for about a year. It just came to a point where I have my wake up calls. I was like, “I cannot do this anymore. I need some help. I really need to get down to the nitty-gritty of this and get myself better.”

That’s what it was. That’s when I found out that my huge stressor was my inactivity and my not really liking what I do. I was one of the few that really took on full force, I said I’m going to get myself better and I’m going to really truly find out what I love. Like I said, by being hurt, I was seeing all these wonderful physios and acupuncturists and massage therapists and it totally opened my eyes to this whole world of healing. I never knew these people even existed

! From there, that’s when it just sparked my interest and said, “You know what, I am not very interested in doing this marketing job. I want to do that.” I immediately really threw myself into it and that’s why I’m here today.

Dave: So many of the fitness professionals that I speak with on this podcast or just out in social circles have a story like that. There’s a reason why you ended up specializing in helping people overcome pain and it’s because you were there and you needed someone to help you.

Michael: Absolutely. I can only return the favor because I mean, it’s made such a world of difference for me, I guess, that I can’t even imagine living that life. Sometimes, I look at old pictures. I was like, “Oh, that old Michael. I remember him. He wasn’t very happy. This Michael, I like. He’s very happy. He loves …” Like I said, I go to sleep at night. I’m completely content that I know I was able to help someone.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: So cool. I hope that’s inspiring to the audience here. I do want to wrap up this show with what we call as our Make Your Body takeaway. That’s, Michael, just for someone like Rena who’s experienced injury and maybe her confidence is low or their confidence is low and they are not able to get back to exercise the way they want to be exercising, what’s the one most important step? What can they do today?

Michael: Well, definitely go visit my website, and click on the stretching tab and that’s where you can download my pain-free stretching cheat sheet. It has some great stretches for neck, back, shoulders and hips, kind of the areas I find out that people suffer with pain and discomfort the most. Start right there.

Many people forget and don’t know it takes more force to stretch the muscle than to strengthen it so just really, just trying to stretch your muscles is really doing your body such a world of service.

Just starting with stretching for a few minutes, you'll start feeling good. That’ll get you up and then you'll start getting more into your exercise. Like I said, it’s all a cycle, so just start by taking that first step and just stretch. You'll definitely see a world of difference in your body.

Dave: Okay. I love it. I’m glad you said that. I didn't know what your answer is going to be but stretching … I couldn’t agree more. I think that most people need strengthening but everyone needs stretching.

Michael: Everyone needs to stretch. I always say these big old buff guys that I work with a long time, they cannot stretch. They have no range of motion on nothing. Then, when they start stretching, they’re like, “Oh, my God. My world has changed.” They’re like, “God, even my muscles look better. I have more energy. I feel more circulation in my body. What was I doing?”

Most people need strengthening but EVERYONE needs stretching

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Dave: I've been there. Not that I was ever a big buff guy but I spent a lot of time lifting weights and have been completely … My eyes have been opened over the last 10 years to the importance of balance. For the audience, I've watched Michael’s videos, his stretching videos and they’re awesome. They’re just so easy. You're such a good teacher. They’re so easy and it’s stuff that you can do…

Like we talked about, you can do it in the morning. You can do it in your office. You can do it wherever. I’ll put a link in the show notes directly to that stretching download, the tutorials. Audience, definitely go check it out. If you go to, there’ll be a link there to Mike’s website and as well as to some of the other resources that we talked about in this episode. Michael, I really appreciate you taking the time and staying up. I think … What time is it there for you, right now?

Michael: Right now, it’s 10:30 p.m. on Friday so I think about maybe you … four hours ahead of you.

Dave: Eating into your weekend. I apologize. Well, no, I don’t apologize. I thank you.

Michael: It’s fine.

Dave: I thank you.

Michael: I definitely really appreciate being on this podcast. Like I said, definitely, I’m here to help and this is what I love. I always tell people pain is my passion.

Dave: Awesome. If anyone wants to contact you, the best way that they can do that is through your website?

Michael: Yes, at

Dave: Thanks again, Michael, for staying up late on your Friday night and being with us to talk about injury, about rehab, about approaching exercise even after we’ve had a setback. Most of all, just thanks for the really practical tips, giving us exercises and stretches that anyone can do any time, no excuses. Thanks to you who tuned in to listen to this podcast. Hopefully, it was inspirational.

Hopefully, you came away believing that you can, whatever it is that’s held you back so far from achieving the fitness or the exercise or whatever it is that you want to achieve, you can do it. I know that sounds cliché. Maybe you hear that thrown around a lot but it’s true. You can do it with the right baby steps and with the belief that you can take control of your body.

I’m hoping that you came away with that one golden nugget. What is it from this podcast that you're going to implement in your life to prevent injury, to overcome your injury, to start building back into the strength that you want to have, to start taking up the exercise that you want to be including in your life? What’s the one thing that you're going to do?

Thanks, Rena, for writing in. Really appreciate your question. If you have a question for this podcast, write me any time. I absolutely love hearing from you. You can reach me at

Even if your question doesn’t become an episode for the podcast, I respond to every single e-mail that I get and like I said, we’d love to hear your story and we’d love to chat with you and help you overcome any questions or any problems that you're facing. That’s it for today’s episode but I’ll be back again with another great topic, another great question, another great guest, so I can’t wait to see you here against next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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