The Psychology of New Years Resolutions

It’s almost that time of year again! On and around January 1st, many peoples’ thoughts will turn to what kind of 2018 they want to have and what positive choices they can make in order to improve their chances. In his article, “The Psychology of New Years’ Resolutions”, Professor of Behavioral Addiction Mark Griffiths lays out the following helpful tips:

Be realistic. You need to begin by making resolutions that you can keep and that are practical. If you want to reduce your alcohol intake because you tend to drink alcohol every day, don’t immediately go teetotal. Try to cut out alcohol every other day or have a drink once every three days. Also, breaking up the longer-term goal into more manageable short-term goals can be beneficial and more rewarding. The same principle can be applied to exercise or eating more healthily.

Do one thing at a time. One of the easiest routes to failure is to have too many resolutions. If you want to be fitter and healthier, do just one thing at a time. Give up drinking. Give up smoking. Join a gym. Eat more healthily. But don’t do them all at once, just choose one and do your best to stick to it. Once you have got one thing under your control, you can begin a second resolution.

Be SMART. Anyone working in a job that includes setting goals will know that goals should be SMART, that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Resolutions shouldn’t be any different. Cutting down alcohol drinking is an admirable goal, but it’s not SMART. Drinking no more than two units of alcohol every other day for one month is a SMART resolution. Connecting the resolution to a specific goal can also be motivating, for example, dropping a dress size or losing two inches off your waistline in time for the next summer holiday.

Tell someone your resolution. Letting family and friends know that you have a New Year’s resolution that you really want to keep will act as both a safety barrier and a face-saver. If you really want to cut down smoking or drinking, real friends won’t put temptation in your way and can help monitor your behaviour. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from those around you.

Change your behaviour with others. Trying to change habits on your own can be difficult. For instance, if you and your partner both smoke, drink and eat unhealthily, it is really hard for one partner to change their behaviour if the other is still engaged in the same old bad habits. By having the same resolution, such as going on a diet, the chances of success will improve.

The full article can be found at https://theconversation.com/the-psychology-of-new-years-resolutions-51847 .

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Pain or Numbness in the Shoulders and Arms? You Should Read This…

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – What It Is, and What to Do about It

Prof. Tyson LaRone, BJJ Black Belt and Registered Massage Therapist

For most of you, this will be the first you’ve heard of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. However, if you’re an athlete then there is a very good chance that this happy little guy has either affected you or one of your training partners at some point. When I was working full time as an RMT, so many of my clients presented symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that testing for it became part of my standard new-client assessment, especially with athletes and anybody with a desk job.
What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

fig1thoracic
Basically it refers to anything that causes pain, numbness and immobility in the chest, shoulders, back and arms by putting pressure on the brachial plexus – a cluster of nerves between the clavicle and first rib. In most cases it’s caused by a muscular imbalance. When the shoulders are constantly rolled forward, the upper back and rear delts can become stretched out and weak while the pecs and front delts become tight and swollen. Poor posture and unbalanced exercise routines are the two most common culprits.

If you experience pain or numbness in your chest, shoulders or arms – especially if the pain seems to start up close to the neck and refer down the arm, you are likely suffering from some form of TOS. The good news is that in the majority of cases, TOS is pretty simple to treat. Not necessarily easy, but simple. The main priority is to deal with the muscular imbalance.

What Do I Do?

If time and money allow, regular trips to some form of manual therapist will be your first and best move. A good RMT or ART will be able to palpate and identify which muscles are presenting the worst of the symptoms, then address them directly. Find one you trust, book 4-6 appointments and make them a priority. Get in the habit of staying properly hydrated, especially on days when you’re going to have treatments as this will have a significant effect on the inflammation and the effectiveness of the work.

When it comes to exercises, there’re plenty that could be helpful but the undisputed heavyweight champion of rear delt and upper back prehab/rehab is the band pull-apart. I would go so far as to say that no matter who you are, what kind of training you do or what kind of life you lead in general, it would be better if you did band pull-aparts regularly. You don’t need a very strong band, and bands can be bought cheaply just about anywhere. Here’s how you do them:

pullapart

1. Hold a band in front of you with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
2. Keeping your forearms parallel with one another, move your elbows apart to stretch the band.
3. Pause when the band touches your chest, and then bring your hands back out in front until your elbows are just barely not locked out.

That’s about it. This isn’t something you’re going to do with heavy resistance. It works best when you choose a band tension that you can handle for 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions. If you look up this exercise on the internet, you’ll find many examples of people continuing to stretch the band until their arms are straight out to the sides. This involves the triceps more than I would prefer, at least for our purposes but either one will do the job. Seriously though, do them. Even if you’re perfectly balanced and healthy they make a great addition to any routine.

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