Engaging Muscles

Engaging Muscles

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When your muscles function to the best of their ability, you'll find running requires less effort.
If you're compensating prior to performing a stretch or a movement-based exercise for low back pain, you're increasing compensation.
It's official, there's a new muscle that attaches to the coronoid process of the jaw.
When you do what allows for mobility without stability, you aren't changing what your brain perceives. So whether it's pain or an injury, for your brain to change, you want to do what will allow for stability throughout the new available range of motion.
To your mind, the pounds of pressure applied to the belly of a muscle with an elbow or foam roller can feel therapeutic. How your brain perceives the same outside force is a whole other story.
This is what I have seen in practical application. In other words, if you're assessing extension of the thigh at the hip joint with a straight leg, you aren't getting a clear read on how well the gluteus maximus is functioning.
If your goal is to avoid low back surgery, you have more than likely not done all there is to do. https://engagingmuscles.com/low-back-surgery/
If you would like to avoid low back surgery, this new post will provide you with plenty to think about.
I have a new post coming out tomorrow. Here's a snippet. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise. As popular as planks are in the world of gym science (a.k.a., bro-science), it is an exercise that fails to transfer to anything in your life. This is due to the fact that there is no outside force applied to any one muscle responsible for controlling the posture of your trunk and spine.
A short history of running shoes.
Engaging Muscles is located in Dallas, TX. The environment is designed in a way that allows deep work, #stretching, and second-layer knowledge to flourish. For consistent and significant growth to be attainable, all of these are equally essential. Since the environment and the massage therapy technique are in alignment with principles of human function, you'll experience the best results every time. It's a win-win.

I restore stability and improve function by addressing the underperforming muscles. With 26 years of experience as a licensed massage therapist, I blend the best of sports massage with the essential components of deep tissue.

Operating as usual

Text Neck, Pinkie Pain and Other Ways Phones Can Wreck Our Bodies 05/06/2022

Text Neck, Pinkie Pain and Other Ways Phones Can Wreck Our Bodies

I recently commented on this article in the NY Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/28/well/live/neck-joint-pain-phone.html My reply: When you have stability throughout your trunk and spine, you'll have stability throughout your extremities. What you just read is a principle of human function. And yet, the one-size-fits-all movement-based exercises regularly recommended in physical therapy and the group exercise classes found in corporate wellness programs increase compensation and fall short of increasing stability.

While corporate wellness programs and physical therapists continue to double down on movement-based exercises, the truth is performing joint motions before addressing compensation encourages more pain and injuries.

For decades, physical therapists and ergonomics experts have told workers they have a repetitive use injury, e.g., tendonitis. Then they follow up with cookie-cutter exercises that include more motion at the joints where the worker feels pain.

Movement-based exercise is a big reason for the hundreds of billions thrown at chasing pain in the neck and back.

As counterintuitive as this may be, it pays to prepare for a seated posture and improve your body's ability to oppose gravity without exercises requiring motion, i.e., isometric exercise (AKA isometrics).

By performing isometric exercises, you aren't giving your brain as much opportunity to find a workaround for pre-existing compensation. And unlike movement-based exercises, isometrics increase stability, which allows for more mobility and flexibility (that sticks around longer than twenty-four hours).

Text Neck, Pinkie Pain and Other Ways Phones Can Wreck Our Bodies Health providers say they are seeing more patients than ever with pain and joint ailments in their hands, necks, shoulders and upper backs — and that mobile phones are most likely playing a part.

These Advanced Stretching Techniques Can Actually Make You More Flexible 04/14/2022

These Advanced Stretching Techniques Can Actually Make You More Flexible

First things first, PNF is not stretching. Sure, you’re increasing range of motion. And unlike all the other forms of stretching mentioned, with PNF, you’re increasing range of motion in a way that is more than likely not a stressor for your muscles. [Sidebar: For 20 years, the research on static stretching has shown stretching causes muscles to be less responsive.

Ultimately, this is the case with all forms of stretching and foam rolling. It’s just that the research has not been done to show the correlation between all forms of stretching and foam rolling and the decrease in the responsiveness of muscles.] So if you stretch your calves or hamstrings before a run, for example, your foot will be on the ground longer, which is the one consistent reason for a running injury, e.g., iliotibial band syndrome (IBS).

The author leads the reader to believe PNF “works”. What is not mentioned is that within twenty-four hours, the range of motion goes back to being what it was before the isometric contraction was performed with the target muscles lengthened in one plane. To say the same thing differently, until the brain recognizes that the agonist (AKA mover) muscle can generate tension and pull to the best of its ability, the opposing muscle will remain tight to protect you from an injury. https://lifehacker.com/1848791278

These Advanced Stretching Techniques Can Actually Make You More Flexible I tried some PNF stretching, aka PAILs and RAILs—and it works.

Mechanical work accounts for most of the energetic cost in human running - Scientific Reports 01/15/2022

Mechanical work accounts for most of the energetic cost in human running - Scientific Reports

When your muscles function to the best of their ability, you'll find running requires less effort.

Mechanical work accounts for most of the energetic cost in human running - Scientific Reports The metabolic cost of human running is not well explained, in part because the amount of work performed actively by muscles is largely unknown. Series elastic tissues such as tendon can save energy by performing work passively, but there are few direct measurements of the active versus passive contr...

Blame Your Brain For Low Back Pain 01/10/2022

Blame Your Brain For Low Back Pain

If you're compensating prior to performing a stretch or a movement-based exercise for low back pain, you're increasing compensation.

Blame Your Brain For Low Back Pain For a few years now, science has shown that pain is an output of our brains. So the billion-dollar question is if the pain is an output of our brains, why are most practitioners still chasing the pain we feel in our lower backs? Well, as it turns out, history leaves clues.

The human masseter muscle revisited: First description of its coronoid part 12/29/2021

The human masseter muscle revisited: First description of its coronoid part

It's official, there's a new muscle that attaches to the coronoid process of the jaw.

The human masseter muscle revisited: First description of its coronoid part The masseter muscle is considered to be bilayered, consisting of a superficial and a deep part. However, a few historical texts mention the possible e…

11/22/2021

When you do what allows for mobility without stability, you aren't changing what your brain perceives. So whether it's pain or an injury, for your brain to change, you want to do what will allow for stability throughout the new available range of motion.

Hi this is going to sound like a stupid question. Can you do any damage to your spine by touching it frequently ? 10/11/2021

Hi this is going to sound like a stupid question. Can you do any damage to your spine by touching it frequently ?

To your mind, the pounds of pressure applied to the belly of a muscle with an elbow or foam roller can feel therapeutic. How your brain perceives the same outside force is a whole other story.

Hi this is going to sound like a stupid question. Can you do any damage to your spine by touching it frequently ? Rick Merriam's answer: Under normal conditions, it’s unlikely you would damage your spinal column by touching it with your bare hands. However, If you were to add leverage, you would increase the chances of damaging your spine or the surrounding soft tissues. To your mind, the pounds of pressure.....

Timeline photos 09/20/2021

This is what I have seen in practical application. In other words, if you're assessing extension of the thigh at the hip joint with a straight leg, you aren't getting a clear read on how well the gluteus maximus is functioning.

During hip extension, the gluteus maximus displays greater activation when the knee is flexed (such that the leg is bent) compared to when the knee is extended (such that the leg is straight). This is likely because a straight leg position allows the hamstrings muscles to contribute more effectively. This has important implications for predicting which exercises are likely to be best for training the gluteus maximus.

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09/20/2021

If your goal is to avoid low back surgery, you have more than likely not done all there is to do. https://engagingmuscles.com/low-back-surgery/

Why Low Back Surgery Isn’t Avoided Enough 09/06/2021

Why Low Back Surgery Isn’t Avoided Enough

If you would like to avoid low back surgery, this new post will provide you with plenty to think about.

Why Low Back Surgery Isn’t Avoided Enough Did you know the total health care spending in 2016 added up to 3.1 trillion? That dollar amount was up 1.7 trillion from 1996. In 2016, the highest payout was for low back pain and neck pain. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated 134.5 billion was spe...

09/05/2021

I have a new post coming out tomorrow. Here's a snippet. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise. As popular as planks are in the world of gym science (a.k.a., bro-science), it is an exercise that fails to transfer to anything in your life. This is due to the fact that there is no outside force applied to any one muscle responsible for controlling the posture of your trunk and spine.

Engaging Muscles updated their information in their About section. 08/08/2021

Engaging Muscles updated their information in their About section.

Engaging Muscles updated their information in their About section.

08/08/2021

A short history of running shoes.

08/01/2021

Foam rolling and rolling on a lacrosse ball feel therapeutic. That's also the case with most hands-on techniques. The problem is none of those approaches allow for more stability throughout the new available range of motion, and that is why muscles tighten again (and again).

Why is my left shoulder more sore than my right shoulder after working out? My right hand is the dominant one. 06/17/2021

Why is my left shoulder more sore than my right shoulder after working out? My right hand is the dominant one.

Because of muscle imbalances and your body's ability to compensate, movement-based exercises are not as productive or therapeutic as they feel.

Why is my left shoulder more sore than my right shoulder after working out? My right hand is the dominant one. Rick Merriam's answer: The fact that you are right-hand dominant has nothing to do with why your left shoulder is sore. When it comes to movement-based exercise programs, the reality is muscle imbalances are present before the repetitive motions. When there are muscle imbalances, you will have c...

Your Gym Teacher Was Wrong — You Don't Have to Stretch Before Working Out 05/28/2021

Your Gym Teacher Was Wrong — You Don't Have to Stretch Before Working Out

This article sums up the reasons why you don't want to spend time performing static stretches. Not only before you go for a run, but also for plantar fasciitis, etc.

Your Gym Teacher Was Wrong — You Don't Have to Stretch Before Working Out In some cases, static stretching might do more harm than good.

Foot Orthoses and The Compensation that Follows 04/04/2021

Foot Orthoses and The Compensation that Follows

I updated this post. If you want the short version, orthotics don't align your feet. They also don't slow down pronation.

Foot Orthoses and The Compensation that Follows Foot orthoses don't increase stability. Instead, custom orthotics increase compensation by allowing for a different workaround.

04/01/2021

Orthotics don't slow down pronation. Instead, they eliminate your foot's ability to initiate shock absorption. https://youtu.be/Wb4aU1-C2JM

03/21/2021

If you've wondered why it's been difficult to move beyond plantar fasciitis, many of the reasons are covered in this video. https://youtu.be/KfTBZX0HWJ8

What happens if weakness occurs after knee replacement surgery? 03/10/2021

What happens if weakness occurs after knee replacement surgery?

When you go through rehab, it's worth knowing that a physical therapist cannot address what they don’t know to check. https://qr.ae/pNL60R

What happens if weakness occurs after knee replacement surgery? Rick Merriam's answer: When you have undergone a knee replacement, there’s a high probability you will have quadriceps that are not receiving optimal feedback from the brain and spinal cord. Note: your quadriceps are a group of four muscles, that together, encompass your thigh. A few years ago, .....

02/22/2021

If you've wondered why your shoulder mobility isn't improving, it's more than likely that nothing has been done to restore stability. https://youtu.be/8UIdsA5Jc-M

How Femur Length Affects Squat Mechanics 02/15/2021

How Femur Length Affects Squat Mechanics

If you look around a group exercise class, you'll see each person performing a squat differently. I learned this in the 90s. It turns out it's still relevant today.

How Femur Length Affects Squat Mechanics Meet Maren and Brett, the two latest Glute Squad members. They are the same height, but their torso and femur proportions differ markedly. Maren has a longer torso and shorter...

NEW Video and Much More 02/15/2021

NEW Video and Much More

If you aren't subscribed to the newsletter, here's the newest edition. https://app.tidings.com/newsletters/12878/preview

NEW Video and Much More In this edition, you'll find a NEW video covering massage for the obturator internus muscle. Watch and subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Massage for Obturator Internus – A Deep Hip Rotator Muscle and Piriformis’s BFF 02/01/2021

Massage for Obturator Internus – A Deep Hip Rotator Muscle and Piriformis’s BFF

Much like your piriformis muscle, the obturator internus is rarely tight. https://youtu.be/n58IkEzNd7M

Massage for Obturator Internus – A Deep Hip Rotator Muscle and Piriformis’s BFF Massage for Obturator Internus – A Deep Hip Rotator Muscle and Piriformis’s BFF Related article: http://bit.ly/piriformispain Palpation of the obturator inte...

Where would muscles attach for the flexion of the knee joint? 01/26/2021

Where would muscles attach for the flexion of the knee joint?

To flex your lower leg at the knee joint, you need muscles that cross your knee joint. https://qr.ae/pNqheo

Where would muscles attach for the flexion of the knee joint? Rick Merriam's answer: To flex the lower leg at the knee joint, muscles have to cross the knee joint and be posterior to the invisible frontal axis (a.k.a, mediolateral axis). Three muscles are posterior to the knee joint and attach to the femur from below. The popliteus is the only one of thos...

12/24/2020

If you're interested in piriformis syndrome or the new label, deep gluteal pain, this article will give you a little bit to think about. https://tomjesson.substack.com/p/piriformis-syndrome?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=twitter

Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Systems 12/15/2020

Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Systems

This 26-hour free course starts today. If you complete it, you'll receive a certificate. There are also flexible deadlines. https://www.coursera.org/learn/anatomy403-1x?recoOrder=10&utm_medium=email&utm_source=recommendations&utm_campaign=i3N6YD4yEeuTnfsZ4aha4w

Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Systems Offered by University of Michigan. In this anatomy course, part of the Anatomy Specialization, you will learn how the components of the integumentary system help protect our body (epidermis, dermis, hair, nails, and glands), and how the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, and skeletal muscles) pr...

12/05/2020

Explore the role of your piriformis muscle. https://youtu.be/tVR-Mq6xs9s

12/03/2020

If you're considering what's been described as a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves retracting your piriformis muscle, you'll want to read this. https://ryortho.com/breaking/how-much-force-will-damage-piriformis-muscle-shockingly-little/

11/30/2020

I updated this image for my site today. When we started the process, we had no idea it would play out like this. https://www.engagingmuscles.com/

Does it mean anything if my massage therapist says my muscles are very tight? 11/25/2020

Does it mean anything if my massage therapist says my muscles are very tight?

When one of you is going by feel, you won't get the level of results you're aiming for. https://qr.ae/TWvVTh

Does it mean anything if my massage therapist says my muscles are very tight? Rick Merriam's answer: Tight muscles do indicate something. Just not what MOST massage therapists are taught in massage school. The best way to explain the tight muscle fallacy: correlation does not imply causation. "Correlation does not imply causation.” is a mental model that’s often used to ....

An answer to What causes muscle "knots" in the neck? 11/24/2020

An answer to What causes muscle "knots" in the neck?

If you've been told that you have pain because of a knot, a trigger point, or scar tissue, there's a strong possibility that someone is being fooled by randomness. https://qr.ae/pN91db

An answer to What causes muscle "knots" in the neck?

Our Story

Prior to each session, I first want to see what each and every muscle that crosses a particular joint is capable of. To do this, I’ll put your joints in positions where one muscle is emphasized more than any other muscle.

The goal: I’m asking each one of your muscles a super specific question. As you might have already imagined, it’s a challenge that each one of your muscles hasn’t been presented with.

The question goes like this: When all of the other players are taken out of the equation, are you (read: a specific muscle) capable of pulling your weight?

When the answer comes back as NO, then, I know the muscle in question is not performing to its full potential. See, when your muscles are presented with a super specific challenge, you’ll know whether or not they are capable of meeting that challenge.

Videos (show all)

Massage Therapy for the Piriformis Muscle
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis (PF) Pain
Trunk Muscle Stability Equates to Shoulder Muscle Stability
This Kneeling Yoga Twist Can Be Used To Assess Thoracic Spine ...
Anybody want to take a guess as to what muscle I'm palpating?
How This Client with Plantar Fasciitis Progressed In Just 3 Se...
Palpating Obturator Internus
Client Testimonial

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12700 Hillcrest Rd Ste 125 #143
Dallas, TX
75230

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Tuesday 8am - 9pm
Wednesday 8am - 9pm
Thursday 8am - 9pm
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