Earn Your Edge Series: Fascia Treatment and Concussion Therapy with Dr. Simone Fortier

On our Earn Your Edge episode with Dr. Simone Fortier, we talked about all things fascia and brain health. Dr. Simone Fortier is an expert brain and fascia therapist and the creator and founder of the Fascia Training Institute. In recent years, fascia has been getting a lot of attention in the science and athletic worlds, but Dr. Simone Fortier has been studying fascia before it was trendy. She has been using fascia treatment as a form of rehabilitation to treat chronic pain and concussions.

What is fascia?

Fascia is connective tissue that protects, communicates, and responds to load. It can be thought of as a casing or suit made up of many layers with liquid in between. Fascia is a living organism and fascial fibers come together and apart every time you move. Fascia connects each and every part of the body together and creates space in the body.

Fascia and Brain Health

Fascia controls pain and the brain, and actually communicates faster to the brain than the nervous system. Although the study of fascia is fairly new, with it only being dissected for the first time in 2007, we are seeing that it plays an important role in brain health.

When the fascial system tightens, pressure is put on other systems in the body, such as the muscles, organs, and the brain. This pressure can cause pain, restricted motion, and structural misalignment, eventually impeding on day-to-day life and athletic performance. 

One of the most important things for fascia is posture. When you sit with your head down and forward, you are creating a new structure in the body that puts pressure on the brain, nervous system, and lymphatic system because your fascia is stiff. With more and more people keeping their heads in a forward position as a result of being on their phones and computers, this is becoming more common and is impacting brain health and concussion recovery time. Essentially, because of fascia, your head position can affect how the brain communicates. And so, when there is stress being put on fibers, your proprioceptors will be off and your brain won’t be functioning at its best.

Concussion Treatment

Over the past year, Dr. Simone Fortier has been conducting neurotransmitter program research to look at the small group of people who suffer from concussions, yet see no improvements even after they’ve tried and done every treatment modality imaginable, from acupuncture to surgery. Dr. Simone Fortier explained that the reason for this stems from neurotransmitters and fascia. In cases where people have a concussion and are not seeing results, their brains are stuck in fight or flight mode, which means they’re not healing. 

Dr. Simone Fortier’s concussion treatment protocol incorporates fascial stretch therapy to release fascia and create space in the fascia so that all systems in the body can operate optimally. This also has anti-aging benefits since fascia creates wrinkles and cellulite. Dr. Simone Fortier also created the FTI Brain Health Assessment to assess neurotransmitter deficiency in the brain, specifically for concussion and brain trauma recovery. This test can help determine what foods and supplements you may need to balance your brain.

As Dr. Simone Fortier informed us, nutrition is also an important factor when it comes to concussion treatment. The brain doesn’t like fasting and needs protein. It’s best to get the nutrients you need through food, but if your stress levels are high or you’re not getting enough nutrients through the food you eat because of your diet, soil depletion, or toxins in food, then you’re going to be deficient. This is incredibly important to consider especially now as we are all dealing with high levels of stress. For this reason, the FTI Brain Health assessment can also be a useful tool in preventing degenerative brain diseases, like dementia, It can also help athletes address neurotransmitter deficiencies that may be affecting training and muscle development. 

 

The Impact of Gut Health on the Brain and What This Means for Athletes

Athletes are prone to brain injuries, but what you may not know is that physical trauma is not the only culprit for an increased risk of head injuries in the sports industry. What’s going on in your gut can also make you more prone to traumatic brain injuries, as well as worsen symptoms. Dr. Stephanie Canestraro is a chiropractor and Functional Medicine doctor who works with high-performing athletes, helping them heal their guts to optimize performance and mitigate injuries at her Vagus Clinic based in Toronto. Recently Dr.Canestraro was a guest on JOGA “Earn Your Edge” IG Live series and spoke with JOGA founder Jana Webb, sharing with us all things gut and brain health and what the connection between the two means for athletes.

Dr. Stephanie first began looking at the importance of gut health early on in her chiropractic career because of her own health struggles. After suffering from intense gastrointestinal symptoms, panic attacks, and stroke-like symptoms and increasingly getting worse with no diagnosis, Dr. Stephanie finally learned that the root of all her problems was her gut. She learned that Celiac Disease, a lack of nutrient absorption, and leaky gut were causing her body to produce a full-blown inflammatory nervous system attack, and once addressing what was going on inside, her symptoms drastically improved. Noticing that many athletes were also experiencing similar symptom patterns, Dr. Stephanie began applying what she learned about the gut-brain connection with the players she works with.

In her practice, Dr. Stephanie sees many professional athletes suffering from severe anxiety and chronic intestinal symptoms like diarrhea and bloating. She also has noticed that many retired athletes develop chronic diseases post-career. This all happens because of the health of the gut. Leaky gut and nutritional deficiencies are so common with athletes because they are always traveling and eating foods that may not be the best for them, such as loading up on carbs before a game. Athletes work in busy, stressful environments that cause them to frequently live in the sympathetic nervous system state. On top of this, athletes are encouraged to overuse painkillers, have higher levels of toxin exposure from flying a lot, and their circadian rhythms are off from inconsistent, unhealthy sleep patterns. All of these factors make for the perfect breeding ground for an unhealthy gut, which almost always leads to more serious health problems.

You may think that what you’re doing off-season or before or after a game doesn’t matter much, but everything is connected, whether it be performance, health, diet, or lifestyle. Nothing in the body is isolated. Moreover, most diseases and health issues can be traced back to the gut.

The gut has a microbiome collection of bacteria, parasites, and yeast. We are actually made up of more bacteria DNA than human DNA! For a gut to be healthy, you want diversity in the gut microbiome. The more diversity, the more calm and healthy a person will be overall. However, a lot of what we do, how stressed we are, and what we eat can cause imbalances in bacteria or parasites in the gut. This is when a person becomes more prone to disease and when athletes become more sensitive to the long-term effects of brain injury.

Every bacteria gives off metabolites that the body has to deal with. These metabolites could either do something good or something bad, so it’s important that we look at if there is an imbalance of bacterial overgrowth in the gut. When there are problems in the gut, it can drive you into the sympathetic nervous system, putting you into a state of stress. Furthermore, when the gut lining is compromised, such as with leaky gut syndrome, harmful bacteria and toxins can enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier. These toxins don’t always have to originate in the gut either. When someone experiences brain trauma, chemicals are released from the trauma, affecting the gut lining and amplifying this vicious cycle. This is why when a person has a traumatic brain injury, it can always be assumed that they also probably have a leaky gut.

When talking about gut and brain health, it’s important to look at the vagus nerve because it provides a direct connection from the gut to the brain and acts like a highway for metabolites to travel to the brain. The vagus nerve is the 10th and longest cranial nerve and is responsible for innervating almost every organ in the body. The vagus nerve is the parasympathetic side of the nervous system, aka your rest and digest response. Therefore, when lifestyle factors and problems in the gut drive you into the sympathetic nervous system, putting you in a state of stress, the vagus nerve can be used to offset this.

At the Vagus Clinic, Dr. Stephanie assists athletes in identifying problems in the gut that may be damaging their health and making them more susceptible to brain injuries. By getting rid of parasites, strengthening good microbiome, and creating a healthier environment for good bacteria to flourish, athletes can better protect their brains. Along with fixing diet and clearing out toxins, you can also bring the body back into a homeostasis state by activating the vagus nerve. In JOGA, we do this by using specialized breathing techniques. Dr. Stephanie also recommends turning on the vagus nerve by using supplements and different techniques like acupuncture, using a toothpick to tap pressure points like the tragus or fibular head, humming, gargling, gagging, binaural beats, red light, cold showers, and eye gazing. In understanding the role the gut plays in brain health and how to train the vagus nerve to increase wellbeing, we are not only helping athletes perform better, but also improving longevity and protecting overall health in the long run.

 

Pro Tips From Strength and Conditioning Leader Matt Nichol

Everyone wants to know how they can work with professional athletes and elite sports teams, so we thought why not see what it takes straight from an industry leader! Matt Nichol is a strength and conditioning coach with over 20 years of experience working with Olympic athletes and professional sports teams in the NHL, NFL, CFL, KHL, and more. He is also the founder of BioSteel Sports, the sports drink and nutrition company. 

As a trusted high-performance specialist who has put many dedicated years into the industry, Matt Nichol has a wealth of knowledge to share about finding success in the sports world. Matt was a recent guest on the “Earn Your Edge” Instagram live series with JOGA founder Jana Webb, Matt shared his career journey and the lessons and skills needed to get him to where he is today. In an age where we can look at social media and just see a finished project, it can become easy to think that success comes quickly and with little effort. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Success takes time and effort, and we’ve put together Matt’s pro tips to help you learn just what it takes to get there. 

PASSION

To be successful not just in the sports industry, but any industry, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. You should want to go to work every day because you love what you do. When you’re passionate about your work, you’ll be more willing to dedicate yourself to your work and remain consistent. You can tell the difference between those who are passionate about their work and those who are not because those who are passionate put their all into what they do instead of just giving the bare minimum. If you are passionate about what you do and are continuously striving to learn and become better, opportunities will come your way. People who truly care about the athletes they work with and the impact they are making are the ones who end up delivering the best results. 

DIFFERENTIATE

The sports industry is highly competitive and saturated, so it’s important to find what makes you different and special. Many people want to work in sports and may have similar expertise and training as you, so you need to find what makes you stand out. When exploring what unique offering you can bring to the sports world, you don’t want to just pick what you think is going to be the biggest revenue generator. It all comes back to passion. Focus on what you love and through trial and error, you will find out what you’re good at and discover your niche organically. At the beginning of your career, it is a great idea to say yes to everything because then you will start to learn what specific areas you’re good at and then better be able to align yourself with that vision.

Differentiating your offerings also requires being humble and accepting that you can’t do it all or be the best at everything. You need to know when to bring other people in who will be able to offer things that you can’t. Many strength and conditioning coaches, like Matt Nichol for example, will bring in a JOGA coach or refer athletes to JOGA to help with mobility work since this may not be their area of expertise. Building connections with people in the industry whose backgrounds can complement your own offerings will help amplify results and make you more successful and respected at what you do. 

WORK YOUR ASS OFF

When it all comes down to it, your success in the industry will be dependent on how hard you work. And when we say work your ass off, we mean all the time. You should be trying to do the best job you can no matter where you’re at or who your clients are. Yes, you may aspire to work with professional athletes; however, this comes by treating everyone as if they’re a championship-winning athlete. If you’re doing it for ego or fame and think that amateur athletes don’t deserve your highest level of focus and attention, then your intentions are in the wrong place. The most successful people in the sports industry are the ones who are eager to take on new opportunities, learn, and give it their all because at the end of the day, what they care about is maximizing performance. 

 

Why Don’t Athletes Recover?

These factors can get in the way of how well you’re recovering and performing.

 

Most of us now understand that as an athlete, what you’re doing to recover is just as important as your training. Recovery is when your body heals, repairs, strengthens and adapts to the stresses being asked of it. Here at JOGA, we’re in the business of recovery. We’re focused on helping athletes hack the subsystems of the body to recover more efficiently so that they can optimize performance. We primarily address recovery from a movement, breath, and nervous system point of view; however, recovery is not just something that happens in a gym, it is also influenced by your lifestyle, and despite popular belief, athletes tend to be unhealthy. 

 

Sports are not about health, they’re about performance. Athletes work in physically and mentally demanding environments that ask a lot from their bodies. Athletes need to be healthy to perform at a high level, but unfortunately, many athletes haven’t been taught the proper lifestyle habits that will help them sustain good health amidst the severe demands of their jobs. These are habits like eating well, sleeping well, and supporting mental health. 

 

In a 3 part Instagram live series looking at how athletes recover and train, JOGA founder Jana Webb talked with Roland Pankewich from Designs For Sports specifically about the role nutrition plays in an athlete’s life and career. In this series, they looked at the importance of stress management, sleep, and performance habits in an athlete’s overall health. Roland Pankewich is the creator of the Applied Nutrition for Strength Coaches and Trainers course and expertly shared with us how nutrition can both hinder these lifestyle considerations, as well as be used to support them. Below, we will summarize the main takeaways from the series and the best practices you should be thinking about when it comes to using nutrition to aid with stress, sleep, and performance to ensure you are recovering, playing, and feeling your best.

 

STRESS

We often only think of stress as something that affects us psychologically, but stress actually also wreaks havoc on the physical body. When you’re stressed, the body will trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, forcing you into survival mode. Physically, this manifests as symptoms like an accelerated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and inhibited digestive activity. When you’re chronically in this state, which many athletes are because of the nature of the job, nearly every system in the body is disrupted and you’ll begin to experience consistent inflammation, leaky gut, and even a weakened immune system, which just leads to more stress.

 

In JOGA, we give athletes breathing exercises and relaxation tools they can use to combat this sympathetic nerve mayhem. However, to completely put an end to this self-perpetuating cycle, you need to address its cause – lifestyle. Not only are athletes under a lot of stress because of pressure and expectation, but they are also constantly on the go. When we look at how this affects eating habits, we see many athletes who regularly eat fast food or eat in a distracted rush. Therefore, your digestive system is both being compromised because of the sympathetic nervous system response being brought about by stress, as well as how you’re eating and what you’re eating.

 

Using nutrition to combat stress means being conscious of how the food you’re eating is feeding your body’s stress response. Stress puts you in depletion mode, so to counteract this, you’re going to want to make sure you’re getting in more vitamins and minerals through your diet. Drinking enough water, improving the quality of the food you’re eating, and diversifying your food choices with colourful vegetables are also important steps to take to minimize stress and its effects on the body. If you are experiencing digestive issues related to stress, take note of your symptoms, such as whether you’re experiencing heartburn, bloating, or constipation, and consider taking probiotics or digestive enzymes to help with this. 

 

SLEEP

As we’ve already mentioned, an athlete’s job can dramatically impact everyday habits, including sleep. Athletes are constantly traveling across time zones and often don’t know how to unwind after a game, and as we’re all aware, lack of sleep eventually starts hindering how well we can operate and perform. One of the main factors influencing sleep is circadian rhythm because we are governed by light. Insomnia, trouble falling asleep, or not getting restful sleep are all so common today because our sleep cycles have been disrupted by our external environments. When we stay up late working or are on our phones and watching TV late into the night, we send the message to our bodies that it is still daytime because blue light energizes and awakens us. 

 

Many people like to use coffee to feel awake when they don’t get enough sleep, but the problem with this is coffee is an artificial enhancement that stays in the system for a long time. Caffeine may stimulate us, but it doesn’t actually give us energy, rather, it just masks the feelings of fatigue. Because of this, coffee can also prompt a stress response in the body.

 

Another poor nutrition habit people have that interrupts sleep is eating too late. Eating right before bed is not ideal because when we’re sleeping, our digestive system isn’t as active as when we’re awake. This can lead to acid reflux and indigestion, worsening your quality of sleep. If you are going to eat close to your sleep time, make sure you’re avoiding foods that are going to elevate blood sugar and slow digestion.

 

To help your body calm down and fall into a restful, rejuvenating sleep, there are five sleep hygiene practices you should be following:

  1. Finish eating 2-3 hours before sleep
  2. Limit coffee and alcohol intake before bed (one glass of wine with dinner may be okay if it helps wind you down, but any more can interfere with your sleep)
  3. Limit exposure to artificial light right before bed (you can invest in blue light glasses or use the night time feature on your phone to do this)
  4. Make sure you’re sleeping in a completely dark room
  5. Consider taking supplements that help with sleep, like magnesium or melatonin

 

PERFORMANCE

How intensely and often you’re training and performing, will also play a part in how well you’re able to recover, and ultimately how healthy you are overall. The biggest problem we see with athletes when it comes to this is overtraining. Overtraining fatigues the body and mind and puts you in this sympathetic, fight or flight, the nervous response we’ve been talking about. So how can you avoid this and help support your body during training and off days? By adjusting your lifestyle and eating habits to suit your training and recovery schedule! Ultimately, you need to look at your entire diet and habits, not just the ones you have directly before and after a game. 

 

When you’re in training mode and ramped up, you should be increasing your intake of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to fuel the activities you’re doing. How much and what you’re eating will also depend on your age, body, and kinetic environment. It’s also important to dispel the myth that you need to load up on carbs with a big bowl of pasta before a game. Yes, whatever you eat your body is going to turn into energy, but there is a difference between calories and nutrition. When you’re physically exerting yourself, you’re burning more energy reserves, so want to up your carbohydrate and protein intake. However, simple carbs raise your blood sugar and result in a spike then crash. Instead, you want to be eating nutrient-rich foods that will raise and sustain your blood sugar while you’re training and playing. 

 

When it comes to post-training nutrition, it’s best to wait 30 – 60 minutes after a workout before eating. This is because right after a workout, you’re still going to be in a sympathetic state, so your digestion is still going to be inhibited. When you’re not training, you should be in a rest and digest state. You don’t want to do or eat anything that may compromise performance when game day comes around. You may also want to use supplementation, like  L-Glutamine, to help facilitate recovery. 

 

Black History Month – Celebrating the Achievements of Black Athletes

In support of Black History Month, we are showcasing three black athletes we have been honoured to work with as JOGA clients. We admire each of these athletes for their power, strength, and achievements not only in sport, but in shaping history and culture.

 

Caris LeVert

Shooting Guard, Indiana Pacers

Caris LeVert is a Canadian/American basketball player, playing as Small Forward and Shooting Guard for the Indiana Pacers. Though born in Brampton, Ontario, LeVert grew up in Ohio playing basketball in high school. He then went on to play in college with the Michigan Wolverines. He was almost redshirted in his freshman year, but his coach saw potential in him and finally put him in to play. LeVert was expected to be a 2015 NBA draft selection in 2015, but due to a foot injury, this was halted until a year later. Amidst growing doubt and speculation about his ability to come back from his injury, LeVert sent a letter to the NBA general managers before the 2016 NBA draft. In this letter, LeVert spoke of his ongoing resiliency in the face of adversity, from losing his father at a young age to his injury. LeVert went on to be the Indiana Pacers’ 20th pick in the 2016 NBA draft and made his professional debut playing against the Denver Nuggets. 

 

LeVert is known for his advantageous height, athleticism, intuitive skill, and above all else: his hard work and determination to overcome anything that is thrown his way. Most recently, this courage was proven again as LeVert underwent surgery to treat a small mass found on his kidney that ended up being renal cell carcinoma. This mass was discovered during a team physical being done before the finalization of his trade to the Brooklyn Nets back in 2016. LeVert is expected to make a full recovery with no further treatment needed and was traded back to the Indiana Pacers in 2021. LeVert’s confidence and toughness is an inspiration to us all to continue working toward your dreams despite what obstacles you may face and we wish him a speedy recovery!

 

Jamal Mayers

Former Professional Hockey Player

Born in Toronto Ontario, Jamal Mayers is a former professional hockey player who played 15 seasons with the NHL. Mayers began skating at a young age and joined youth hockey programs in Toronto while growing up. He then went on to become a star player at Western Michigan University. Mayers’ professional career began when he was drafted 89th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1993 Entry Draft. During Mayers’ prosperous career, he also played with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, and Chicago Blackhawks, winning the 2013 Stanley Cup as a member of this team. 

 

Mayers is recognized as being part of an important shift for inclusion of Black hockey players in the NHL. Throughout his career, he promoted diversity issues in the NHL and worked to increase opportunities for inner-city hockey players. Mayers is also a good friend of JOGA, having taken our certification and participating in our Home Team Together initiative. Mayers now works as an analyst for the NHL Network and NBC Sports Chicago and continues to heroically advocate for race and gender representation in hockey.

 

Givani Smith

Professional Hockey Player, Detroit Red Wings

Givani Smith is a Canadian professional ice hockey player born in Thornhill, Ontario. Before beginning his professional career, he played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. Smith currently plays for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League as a prospect for the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. He was drafted 46th overall by the Detroit Redwings in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

 

5 Habits That Should Be A Part Of Your Post Workout Ritual

After an intense training session, sometimes all we want to do is collapse – but that’s not the best thing for your body! Some people think that a good fitness routine just looks like getting in a sweat, but your routine shouldn’t end there. Just like how you prepare for a workout and what you eat can impact your performance and progress, what you do post workout will also impact results.

After a workout, your body and mind are in a fatigued state. Your heart rate has risen, adrenaline is pumping, and your muscles have torn. Exercise is a shock on the system. When you’re done, the body must work to return to its normal state, so the habits you have post workout can either hinder or help this recovery process. If you want to get the most out of your training sessions and help your body and mind refuel, it’s best to practice a post workout ritual that will help you achieve these things. Here are 5 post-workout habits that you can start practicing to boost recovery:

 

1️. COOL DOWN

We know it’s important to warm up to prepare the muscles, cardiovascular system, and lungs for exercise. Similarly, it’s important to cool down to allow these systems time to recover and regulate.

Cooling down after you workout gives your heart rate and blood pressure time to gradually decrease. It also helps to remove toxins, like lactic acid, that may have built up during exercise. Cooling down often means slowing down movements and reducing intensity before coming to a stop. This can then be followed by some static stretches that will promote relaxation, increase blood flow, and improve range of motion.

2️. HYDRATE

After you’ve built up a sweat, you want to replenish the liquids you’ve lost. Dehydration is very dangerous and can contribute to muscle fatigue or even lead to dizziness and heat exhaustion. Good hydration assures that your energy levels stay balanced and your body and mind are functioning normally.

Hydrating after a workout will also help with recovery as water regulates your body temperature and restores minerals that may have been lost while exercising. Drinking water will help lubricate your joints and transport nutrients throughout your body.

3️. TAKE A BATH

Not only does taking a bath calm the central nervous system, unwinding your body and mind, but it can also stimulate healing. The warm water from a bath helps increase blood flow, reduces inflammation, and improves oxygen intake. Adding epsom salts to your bath is another great way to relax and soothe your muscles.

4️. SELF MASSAGE

Although we all would probably love to get a massage after every workout, that’s not always possible. However, there are various techniques for you to relieve muscle pain and tightness at home.

The reason a massage feels so good after a workout is because it helps improve blood flow and circulation. This in turn helps reduce muscle soreness, stiffness, and inflammation. Foam rolling or using a massage ball to roll out muscles are just some effective ways you can find myofascial release at home.

5️. REST

A healthy sleep schedule can make or break your training results. Getting enough sleep is crucial for recovery because during sleep is when your body repairs itself. When we get quality sleep, the release of the body’s growth hormone is at its highest and this growth hormone is what helps build and recover muscles.

 

10 Tips to Calm Your Mind

How to relax your mind and ground yourself in moments of stress.

With increases in stress and anxiety amongst the population, stress management has become an important topic. We all experience fear and worry from time to time so we are familiar with how they can disrupt thoughts, behaviours, and sleep patterns. A little bit of stress every once in a while is normal, healthy even. However, issues arise when this stress persists or we are unable to calm ourselves down.

Because of our busy lifestyles and demanding careers, chronic stress is becoming a major problem. For example, many athletes struggle with anxiety and burnout because they don’t have the proper tools to manage the stresses and pressures that come with the demands of their jobs. The current Covid-19 pandemic has also been a cause for higher levels of stress and anxiety, which can be dangerous to a person’s overall health, especially those with preexisting mental health problems. 

If you’ve found you are feeling more anxious or stressed out than normal lately, it’s important to address these issues before they take a greater toll on your health. There are ways you can help your mind and body relax in times of stress. It’s all about finding the best relaxation methods that work well for you and making a habit of practicing them. Once you know what works for you, you’ll have strategies to turn to when you feel your anxiety taking over. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you calm your mind the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

 

1. Breathing Exercises

Have you ever noticed that when you’re anxious, your breathing becomes shallow? When you’re stressed out, your body enters fight or flight mode. This means that the sympathetic nervous system becomes activated and sends signals to the body to prepare for danger, quickening your breathing and heart rate. By taking longer and deeper breaths, you can tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, activating your rest and digest response to calm the body and mind down. 

One effective breathing exercise you can use to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems is belly and chest breathing, practiced in JOGA. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and place your right hand on your lower belly and your left hand on your chest. Isolate the breath by first breathing only into the belly for a count of 3, hold at the top, then exhale for a count of 3. Repeat this 3 times, then switch to breathing into the chest only. Once you’ve completed 3 sets of breathing into your chest, you’re going to combine both breaths. Begin by inhaling into the belly for 3, then continue inhaling into the chest for 3. Hold at the top, and then exhale as an entire unit for a count of 5. Repeat this twice, then reverse, starting with the chest first.

2. Exercise

Moving your body is a great way to quiet your mind, as exercising releases endorphins, helping to improve your mood. You don’t have to do a high intensity workout to start to feel the positive effects of movement on your mental health. Just going for a walk or doing some active recovery, like a JOGA session, will work just as well.

3. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts is one of the easiest ways to better understand your anxious feelings and work through letting them go. When you feel like your mind is running a mile a minute, try getting out a journal and just let the words flow out of you. You may find that by seeing exactly what it is that is stressing you out will allow you to feel more in control.

4. Getting Fresh Air

Nature has many proven benefits on mental health. Getting some fresh air, exposing yourself to natural light, and interacting with the land around you has been seen to reduce stress and anxiety and boost mood.

5. Stimulate the Senses

Using the 5 senses is a common method for treating anxiety. Focusing in on your 5 senses will help distract you from the thoughts in your head, grounding you. One way you can use the 5 senses to help calm you down, is by simply acknowledging what you can see, smell, hear, touch, and taste in moments of stress. Alternatively, you can try appealing to your senses to calm you down. For example, you can light your favourite candle or sip on a soothing tea.

6. Take a Bath

There’s a reason people love to take baths after a long, hard day. A warm bath not only relieves tension in the body, but it also calms the nervous system and induces feelings of comfort. To make your bath even more relaxing, add a few drops of a calming essential oil, like lavender oil.

7. Meditate

Meditation has been used for centuries to improve self-awareness and promote mindfulness. When you meditate, your brain relaxes and becomes more alert, so if you’ve been running on autopilot and feel removed from yourself, meditating can be a great way to become conscious of the sensations and feelings going on in your mind and body. There are many different ways to meditate, so if sitting cross-legged in silence is not your thing, don’t fret! You can try following a guided meditation or even try concentrating on being present and conscious of your mind and body when performing a simple task, like washing the dishes.

8. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool when it comes to minimizing stress and boosting mood. By taking the time each day to show gratitude, you’ll develop a healthier dialogue with yourself and begin to rewire the brain to notice the positives more in life.

9. Use Pressure Points

There are various pressure points in the body known to relieve stress and anxiety. Seeing an acupuncturist to address your mental health concerns is an easy way to access these points or you can try massaging these pressure points on your own. In JOGA, we activate one of these pressure points when in child’s pose. The next time you’re in child’s pose, place your head on 2 stacked fists and gently rock your head side to side. This will activate a pressure point between your eyebrows that can reduce anxiety, induce relaxation, and improve sleep. 

10. Talk to a Loved One

Sometimes, one of the best things we can do for ourselves when we’re feeling stressed or anxious is to vent out all our feelings. Especially if you are feeling isolated and alone, talking to a loved one will help you feel supported as you release some of the negative thoughts and feelings you’re holding onto. Always remember, you never should be afraid or ashamed to reach out when you need help or support!

 

JOGA Founder Jana Webb on the Curious Competitor Podcast with Connor Carrick

Jana Webb talks about overcoming injury, battling concussions, and how her experiences have helped guide her in a life of entrepreneurship with JOGA.

When Jana Webb enters a locker room to work with athletes before a game, she is often recognized by these three roles: an entrepreneur, a leader in the sports fitness world, and a hockey mom. However, not many people know the story behind Jana or how and why JOGA was created. Jana Webb didn’t just wake up one day and decide she wanted to work with athletes. In fact, when she was asked what she wanted to do when she grew up as a child and young adult, she had no answer. Jana Webb got to where she is today through a series of twists and turns, and on the Curious Competitor podcast with Connor Carrick, Jana delves into just how these courses of events led her to creating JOGA – the successful movement system that is now used by the best athletes and sports teams in the world. 

NHL Defenseman Connor Carrick started the Curious Competitor podcast as a way to talk to some of the world’s highest performing people about how they curate and execute their craft and the lessons they have learned along the way. When it comes to Jana Webb and the creation of JOGA, many of these lessons were learned as a result of some traumatic events that led to inspiring opportunities.

On the podcast, Jana Webb reveals how she first got into yoga as a form of recovery after a car accident. Jana immediately enjoyed the mental component of yoga, but coming from an athletic background with a stiffer body, recognized that there were physical limitations to the practice. This was what Jana refers to as her ‘aha’ moment that pushed her to design a program that combined the science of yoga breathing and relaxation with the biomechanics of sport.

Jana shares with Connor Carrick how she was able to build an empire, despite having little theoretical knowledge or a background in athletic therapy. Rather, she inspires listeners by stressing that what you need to succeed as an entrepreneur is a passion for what you do, the motivation to invest in yourself, and the curiosity to never stop learning or surrounding yourself with people who know more than you.

On the podcast, Jana Webb goes on to talk about how to this day, she is still looking at setbacks as resources and opportunities to better herself and her business. Currently recovering from another car accident that almost paralyzed her and left her with a brain injury (which she attributes the strength she has gained from JOGA for saving her life) and navigating relocating JOGA online during the Covid-19 pandemic, Jana and Connor expertly touch on the pursuit of growth during challenging times. To listen to the full podcast, click here.

JOGA vs.Yoga

What’s the Difference?

Chances are, you’re familiar with Yoga and can immediately bring to mind what a yoga class looks like and sounds like when you hear the term: long held stretches, tapping into your chakras, sitting in contemplation for hours…Well, JOGA is not that.

Yes both JOGA and Yoga are mind and body practices, but that’s where the similarities end. So what exactly makes JOGA different than Yoga?

YOGA

Yoga is a mental, physical, and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. The goal of traditional Yoga was not only to become more flexible and to train the body and mind to sit in contemplation for long periods of time – as we commonly think of Yoga in the Western world today – but to discover an understanding of the connection between mind, body, and spirit. Traditional Yoga is deeply rooted in this philosophy of practicing self-awareness and enlightenment.

True to its heritage and beginnings in Hinduism and Buddhism, Sanskrit, the ancient language of South Asia, is still used when teaching and practicing Yoga today. Just like the word ‘Yoga’ itself, which comes from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning ‘union’, most Yoga terminology ties back to its foundations in these ancient schools of philosophy. Ultimately, Yoga is a discipline with deep roots in achieving spiritual harmony.

JOGA

Similar to Yoga, JOGA involves physical postures, breathing, and relaxation techniques. However, where the goal of Yoga is to become more flexible and spiritually aware, JOGA’s aim is to enhance performance, improve concentration, and reduce recovery time within the context of an athletic environment.

Athletes don’t need to be flexible, nor do they need to be able to torque and hold their bodies in bendy positions. In fact, performing many of the passive positions found in Yoga can actually do more harm than good for an athlete as athletes have to be tight to some degree to produce power and speed. Therefore, JOGA is a three dimensional neuromuscular system intended to build muscle memory and balance joint mobility/stability. It’s not just ‘yoga for jocks’ or ‘athletic yoga’. Through emphasizing the kinetic chain and a combination of dynamic and static positions, JOGA addresses common muscle imbalances, overuse injuries, and mobility/stability weaknesses that appear in an athlete’s specific kinetic environment.

The specific breathing and relaxation techniques in JOGA are used to support a more balanced nervous system so athletes can be better equipped to manage the high-stress demands of the job. From learning how to stay calm and non-reactive while executing plays to practicing calming the mind for better sleep, JOGA’s breathing and relaxation techniques educate an athlete on how to connect their breath to their core and become more self aware.

Which One is Right for You?

If you are looking to become more bendy and find inner peace, then take a Yoga class. But if you’re an athlete who needs to be moving at high speeds and loading the joints, then JOGA is for you. With JOGA, you get the physical and physiological benefits of Yoga, but in a way that is individual to your body and cohesive to the biomechanics of your sport.

In JOGA, we’re not going to tell you to lift your heart to the sky or ask you to connect to your third eye. We’re going to use language that resonates with an athlete’s mindset, like agility and proprioception, so you can understand how what you’re doing is helping you build more efficient movement patterns and giving you more gains for you to go out on the field or court and namaSLAY. 

No Bake Gingerbread Bodylogix Protein Balls

A healthy, holiday treat that is perfect for athletes on the go!

Forget about making and decorating a gingerbread house or gingerbread man this winter. These no-bake gingerbread Bodylogix protein energy balls are quick and easy to make, packed with protein, and taste just like a gingerbread cookie!

When you’re on the go from practices to training sessions, being able to have a delicious and healthy snack in your bag that’ll help you keep your energy levels up is everything. As athletes and trainers with very busy schedules, you probably also don’t have loads of time to be spending in the kitchen baking, cooking, and meal prepping. That’s why these no bake gingerbread protein balls are perfect. They have simple ingredients, are gluten free, taste like dessert, and only take 10 minutes to make.

To make these energy balls, you’ll only need a handful of ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. The base of these energy balls is made using rolled oats. Rolled oats are filling and a great source of fibre. Nut butter is used to help bind the balls, while also providing you with a dose of healthy fats. To replicate that aromatic and memorable gingerbread flavour, you’ll use a blend of warm spices and maple syrup for sweetener. And of course, you can’t forget to add a high quality protein powder that’ll help your body build muscle and repair tissue.

High protein snacks are popular amongst athletes who are always on the go, but store-bought protein bites and bars can often be loaded with sugar and hidden artificial ingredients. With this no bake protein ball recipe, you can have a satisfying, nutritious snack while knowing exactly what’s in it. This gingerbread protein ball recipe is great for before or after a JOGA session when you need a quick boost of energy or are trying to increase your protein intake. 

Protein Powder

In this recipe, we used the vanilla bean flavoured whey protein powder by Bodylogix. The Bodylogix Whey Protein powder is made with a blend of whey protein concentrate with protein sourced from grass-fed cows. With no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners, and non-GMO, Bodylogix delivers safe and clean ingredients to athletes for performance-driven nutrition.

Tips and Modifications 

This energy ball recipe is super simple, but we wanted to give you a few extra tips first that’ll help you make sure your gingerbread protein balls come out perfectly!

If the texture of your mixture is coming out like sand and you’re having trouble forming it into a ball, just add a few teaspoons of water until the mixture has reached your desired consistency.

The Bodylogix Whey Protein powder is suitable for vegetarians. However, if you want to make this recipe vegan, simply swap the whey protein powder for Bodylogix’s Vegan Protein, which also comes in the vanilla bean flavour.

To make prep and make time even quicker, you can opt for using a store bought gingerbread spice instead of using a blend of your own spices. 

No Bake Gingerbread Protein Balls

A simple recipe for a high protein snack that tastes a lot like soft gingerbread cookies! 

Prep time: 10 mins   Total time: 10 mins   Servings: 14 balls

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats

¼ cup almond butter

¼ cup Bodylogix Natural Whey Protein Vanilla Bean

1 tbs maple syrup

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Pinch of cloves

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

In a food processor, combine all ingredients until mixed together. The mixture should be sticky and firm enough to roll into balls.

Using a spoon, scoop a small amount of the mixture out and form into a ball with your hands.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or the freezer for up to 3 months. 

 

TESTIMONIALS

“What benefited me the most is the way we worked on my posture. In addition to that, my hips and hamstrings were always tight in the past. Now they, never get tight and I feel very fluid.”

CHRIS CARTER

Linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL

TESTIMONIALS

“To be successful on the field, you have to be both physically and mentally prepared! I believe JOGA is the perfect blend of recovery, performance, and conditioning. I love JOGA because it not only makes my body feel better, but it allows my mind to let go.”

CHAD OWENS

Wide Receiver and Kick Returner, Toronto Argonauts, CFL

TESTIMONIALS

“I was looking for something new and that made sense with how my players move. This is when I was introduced to JOGA, a movement based program to help my players recover and maintain strength and mobility without sacrificing time. I felt it was an effective way of training”

BILL BURGOSS

NBA Orlando Magic Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

TESTIMONIALS

“When trying to establish a foundation of strength JOGA segments 1 and 2 are very good for teaching the athlete balance and body control. This helps to increase strength and explosive power down the line.”

ANTHONY HARVEY

NBA Detroit Pistons Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

TESTIMONIALS

“JOGA is different than a traditional yoga class as it takes into consideration how athletes move, train and digest information. It’s program based and encompasses all of the physical properties needed to support elite performance.”

MUBARAK MALIK

NBA New York Knicks Director Of Sports Performance

TESTIMONIALS

“When I started with Jana this past summer I noticed an immediate improvement in the way I felt physically. She paid close attention to the way my body was built and my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to work on and improve strength and mobility that would immediately help me as an athlete. The work was very specific and tailored to my position. I’m very confident that it helped me on the ice when the season started. I’m looking forward to working with her again in the future.”

DEVAN DUBNYK

Goaltender, Minnesota Wild, NHL

TESTIMONIALS

“Yoga can be an integral part of the off-season training of any athlete. It is important, however, to find an instructor who understands the demands of your sport and the strength and conditioning program. Jana and the JOGA staff have a done a great job of tailoring a program to meet the needs of my athletes and are willing and able to customize their sessions based on my feedback.”

MATT NICHOL

Strength and Conditioning Coach, Creator of BioSteel Sports Supplements