As part of the strategy to reverse symptoms, functional movement coach Carl Reader, one of the primary coaches inside the Paddison Program For Rheumatoid Arthritis, shows some useful techniques to prepare the body for exercise.

Carl is part of the Rheumatoid Solutions Coaching Team. To learn more, watch this training

We discuss in this episode:

  • Waking up the body even before warm-up, to let the juices flow
  • Breathing
  • Being aware of our body
  • Exercises for the pectorals and forearms
  • Exercises for the core and hamstrings
  • Ankles

Clint – We’re at it again here to help you with inflammatory arthritis, to reverse symptoms and improve strength around your joints, to take the load off the joints. Also to help you with functionality and to have a better quality of life. Today we’ve got functional movement coach Carl Reader with us, he’s a regular on the show. I speak to Carl frequently because he’s one of the primary coaches inside our premium coaching service, where we transform people from where they’re at to where they want to go and hit all of their euphoric health outcomes. Carl is coming at us from South Africa, where he connects with our members via zoom sessions weekly live calls. He is ready to talk to us today about how to prepare for exercise, how to warm the body up. But for those of you who may not have seen Carl yet on one of our podcasts, Karl, welcome and give us a little bit of background on how you help people.

Carl – Hi, Clint, thanks for having me. Always great to be talking with you and the listeners. For those who don’t know me, I’m Carl Reader, I’m an exercise physiologist from Cape Town in South Africa. And spent the last 20 years just really working with people who are trying to reduce inflammation in their joints or have had joint replacements. It’s been wonderful working with the members, just encouraging them. And today I’m going to share just some of the insights that I’ve gained from working with members over the last almost four years now or three, four years with you, Clint. It’s amazing, time goes so fast. But it’s been a wonderful journey for me as well, just to share these little nuances and modifications and tips that a lot of members and people around the world have benefited from.

Clint – Thank you, Carl. And I want to say, that people love you like the people who work with you constantly give me feedback, which I value because anyone who’s part of our coaching team, I want to make sure that they’re delivering value. And that our customers are happy and they certainly love what you do. The word love comes up all the time. I love Carl, I love what he does, I love what he showed me. So, it’s really cool to be able to now share this with the wider community. So let’s get into it.

Carl – So I really like this title. It’s called Waking Up the Body. And people who exercise, they’re familiar with the word like warm-up, do like a warm-up before you get started. But this is taking it a step back before you actually even do the warm-ups so hence the word waking up. And it’s important because especially with rheumatoid arthritis, is that a lot of the time the pain kind of shuts down some of the systems. And what we essentially mean by waking up is we’ve got to get the, the not the juices flowing, but more like the electricity in the body. The energy flowing and getting the muscles that we’re trying to exercise, wake up, working up, and this term activated. So I’m just going to share a few things that are going to help get the how do you do that, and what does it mean to really get connected?

Carl – So the idea is that when you want to start exercising, you got to make sure that the muscles are actually, like functioning optimally or that they are connected. You’ve got to think of it like Wi-Fi. If you’re going to send an email or go on your phone and you’ve got like very low Wi-Fi signal, it doesn’t really work very well. If you’re on one G, not five G. And so like, you want to kind of just make sure that you’re, it’s one of those things when you’re on the internet, it says check your internet connections. That’s the first sort of like troubleshooting on Google. It’s the same thing with your muscles like checking your connections. And so before you exercise we want to just get that like ramp up that Wi-Fi or that connection. And one of the best ways to do that is easy, it’s just simple breathing. Remember that the tension in the body can be resolved. Many things can just be poor posture, it can be a mind-body thing like anxiety or whatever it is. But that tension is a hindrance or an impedance to flow or energy in the body. So simple breathing, just taking that time doesn’t have to be ten minutes, it can be like just two minutes, one minute, just connecting to the body, your mind, where you are emotionally, and letting go, and just breathing out and just really like taking like a deep sigh and just slowing the breathing down. Again, remember we are preparing the body for exercise, so that’s the number one thing. Even the mindful side you maybe can relate to as well. Just having to overcome, maybe fear of movement or just mentally. Am I ready to do this? And why am I doing this? Why is this important? Because I just noticed some people, they just get straight into it. They just sort of grab the band and start pulling. It’s a common problem. Like, did you do anything before this? Have you warmed up? No, they just just grabbed the band and pull them like, whoa, hang on a minute. We need to, like, slow down. You’re going to hurt yourself doing that.

Clint – Okay. So, how does breathing and how does mindfulness then help us to get into the right state? Is it about posture? Is it about just being? Is it about thinking about the connection with our body and feeling through some gentle movements? Any restrictions before we get into it? Is that is that the main benefit?

Carl – Yeah, absolutely. And just being aware of your body like how is your body feeling, what feels sore? Do I feel like I’ve got energy? I’m able to give a little bit more today than yesterday. It’s just really just dialing into like those sort of like signals that the body’s giving you, your pain levels. And then like we said, like with the movements, when you do a movement, are you feeling the right muscles? Do you feel the quads? Do you feel the hamstrings? And I’m going to take you through systematically the body know how to activate. Do I feel my core engaging? And a lot of people say, no. Well, hang on a minute then, we’ve got to just go back again because we haven’t done the prep work. So there’s simple things, I’l give you an example like the pectoral muscles are one of the big powerhouse muscles of the upper body. And it’s amazing, especially with ladies that really struggle to activate theirs, the prime exercise for that is like push-ups. But for people with rheumatoid on their shoulders, elbows, and wrists, it’s just like a no-go zone. And so, how do you then strengthen that? We’ll get to that now. But just a simple thing, and it’s really interesting if you just like if you can if you’ve got neck problems. But before I go into these little techniques, if any of these techniques that I show are going to, you say you’ve got a sore neck and I’ll ask you to rotate to head, then just pick the ones that I give you that are going to feel good to you for now, that don’t go and do ones that are going to hurt you.

Carl – But for example, like just simply rotating your head left and right in a full range of motion a few times, that actually, just like touch your pec muscles on the top here now, like if you just move your arm back and forward, you’ll feel that it’s actually this activation. You can feel like actually there’s not there’s like life has come there. Because the nerves to the pec of in the cervical spine as well. So that’s a simple exercise to do, it’s not difficult unless you haven’t got neck problems. So then if we look at the arms, the forearms, a great one, is also like, you’ve given us finger flicks that you do. That’s a great way to activate the forearm muscles as well. Another one that I like to do is just put your arm, rest your arm on a table, and just massage. Just gently rub on the area of those muscles. Remember, those are the muscles that are controlling the fingers. So it’s before you start doing your finger exercises. These are simple things you can do, it’s not necessarily prodding in or like digging in to get pain relief. It’s more just a gentle fascia, it’s actually the fascia that we actually try to get after. For those who aren’t familiar with fascia, it’s the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and the organs in our body. And then you’ve got the other one, which is very good, and we use it a lot for all the body it’s a simple tapping. So if you just gently just tap on the muscles. You’ve probably seen the Olympic swimmers and a lot of the athletes doing that, but they don’t have to be aggressive and slap and like hurt yourself. But it’s just a gentle tapping, you can we’ll get on to the back as well. But these are simple things that you can do just to wake up the muscles.

Carl – One of my favorites for the core, which is a really important one to get going is if you’re sitting in a chair, legs wide apart, just to simply look down towards your left knee and allow your upper back to fold. That’s it. And then you look down towards your right knee and allow that upper back to fold. Don’t go into the lower back. The nerves to the core muscles are like T 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 so maybe seven going down. So when you do this, you’re actually opening up the connections to the core muscles. And very often when you do an exercise after doing this exercise you actually feel the core engaging. And again, the whole idea is that the power to the arms and the upper body and the lower body comes up through the core. So very, very simple. Also got a nice one to open up the neck. Someone’s got neck issues, they might find this quite strenuous. So just be aware that if you do have neck issues and you fall, going like that might aggravate it. So just obviously it’s so individualistic. But that’s where the coaching and everything helps you. And then a really good one for the hamstrings which is and glutes is just to roll the ankles. Now if you’ve got ankle issues or mobility here, it’s just very gently just rolling the ankles out to the side. So if your feet are flat on the ground, you’re just rolling your ankles out. You can allow the hips and knees to open and close as well. Very good to activate the hamstrings. If that’s too sore on the ankle, then you can also just do simple dorsiflexion plantar flexion with the ankles as well. So ankle rotations is another one I really like to give a lot. In fact I do that every day before I do any sort of sport. Just rotate the ankles backwards and forwards. Do you Clint sort of do this prep before? You probably do warm ups.

Clint – I used to do more of it. I used to spend probably the first ten minutes at the gym warming up. With the increased number of kids, the warm up has reduced. But now when I go into the gym, I just start getting straight into it. But just doing those movements that you’ve just walked us through, from the tapping and the rubbing of the hand of the forearms, and especially the one where you lean like I’ve been doing that while you’ve been talking. I don’t know if you’ve been watching me. That’s beautiful down the side of the back of the neck there where I tend to get some scapula sort of vulnerability area that I always have like a little bit of a spot there. So that feels really good. And actually after I did that, I was able to definitely rotate my neck further after I’d done that.

Carl – Just grab your pecs, just grab it quickly when you squeeze your can you feel can you feel activation. That’s like the muscle is activated now when you move, if you push your arm against your body or if you like, can you feel how that’s you can feel that activates.

Clint – But it’s my neck that feels immediately better after doing this.

Carl – Yeah. Remember when the nerves come out the neck? So that’s actually why you have a better-improved connection through the body. This is actually such a simple exercise and it has so many effects. So you’ve just felt the neck, but you’ve already improved the shoulder muscle connectivity. But it’s the number one thing for activating the core.

Clint – Yeah. Good man. I love I love those ones. And I’ve just been doing the ankle ones. While you’ve been saying.

Carl – Ankle ones are really important. The other one is quite popular. Like if you stand shoulder width apart, bend your knees and then just bend down from the pelvis and touch the floor with your hands like a yogurt. A lot of people do that in the shower. They’re just very simple, just bending down and just opening up the lower back, that really activates. So I’ll give you an example. If you just if you stand on one leg and just on your left leg for a moment, just stand up tall like, stand tall like stand and soften the left. Okay. What muscle do you feel is supporting you there?

Clint – I feel glute medius, which is side of the butt. I feel glute Maximus. I feel actually everything, especially the hamstring. Hamstrings are very engaged.

Carl – You know, I wonder if that’s improved. Did you do the ankle rolls before you did that?

Clint – I’ve done the ankle rolls. Yeah.

Carl – Yeah. So you see, that might have activated it. I didn’t do a pre and post test on you but I’m assuming that’s very good by the way. That’s fantastic stability there. But the exercise that opens the glutes up, if you just stand shoulder width apart and just turn sideways to the camera so the viewers can just see. So you want to just soften the knees and then do like a mini squat and just bend down and touch the ground with your hands. Like just touch the ground, let the back fold like look down, look down, look down, look down towards the ground. There we go. Like a yogurt. There we go, just without the legs being dead straight. And you can feel that gets into the hamstrings, the buttocks and the lower back. You’re perfect. And you can see Clint is gradually extending and straightening his leg. You can do that if you feel comfortable in the knees. Um, that’s very good, by the way. That’s great that’s very advanced what Clint’s got there. But you want to work to what Clint is doing there where you just really just getting into that. How does that feel, Clint?

Clint – Amazing on the hamstrings. But I do this all the time.

Carl – Yeah. You’re in good position there. So for those who feel a sharp burning pull down the back of the legs, you want to maybe just bend the knees slightly more or widen the stance if you’re struggling to do that, if you’ve got lower back issues or maybe your knee can’t straighten like Clint’s can there. So but if you go back to that single leg squat quickly, just not squat. Single leg workout. I know you felt the glutes already, but you’ll notice if you just balance there on the left side. Again, sorry. So we can just compare. I know you felt the gluteus Maximus a lot, but you feel more activated maybe through the glutes and hammies it feels more.

Clint – This is a posture in Bikram yoga. So this is an area where I have like a long history. And in Bikram, you reach down, you grab under the foot and then you kick forward. So it’s very, very, very advanced and challenging. In yoga, they say you got to think of that leg like a lamp post, like a solid pole with no knee as solid from the hip right down to the foot. And so what I’m trying to do is engage all that through there.

Carl – Yeah, just a variation. Is your knee slightly bent or are you straight as a pole on the left leg?

Clint – Uh, it’s it’s straight as a pole. Okay.

Carl – Are you activating muscles when you do that? Are you squeezing muscles or is it happening naturally?

Clint – I’m not, I’m not squeezing the knee now. I’m actually just. Okay. I feel all that through the muscles.

Carl – Perfect. Oh. That’s great. So, I mean, it’s difficult to say that that activation, the people have to trust me on this. But that ankle rolling of the ankle really grabs the hamstrings. And it’s a very important thing for a lot of attention is given to the Maximus and the medius muscles for balance. But the hamstrings are actually where the I’m a surfer as well. So I don’t think you have any rheumatoid people surfing right now, but the surfing that can actually those hamstrings really provides balance. And you can feel as you were standing that whole chain going up the back of your leg was activated. So that I do with the ankle rolls back and depends on where people’s ankles are at. So we have to that’s where again the coaching is like let’s try to activate you in a safe zone or a comfortable zone.

Clint – Well, one thing that I’ve been there’s a couple of members who we’ve been talking about this. So we’ve started for the ankles. If we just stay on the topic of ankles. With like tibialis and calf muscle stuff. So below the knees we’ve got the tibialis raises which we call the toe raises up against the wall. For people not sure, that’s basically like lean against the wall and then you bring the toes off the ground, like, well, gee, it’s hard to show because.

Carl – No, that’s good. You can see that. Yeah, I can see that.

Clint – And so you’re leaning against a wall and you bring your toes up like this and then of course, the calf muscles are of course, like that. But then what we’re talking about at the moment is because the ankles do so much stabilizing to compensate for weak glute medius, if we can work on the hips and strengthen the hips, it should help the ankles, right?

Carl – 100%. And just while we’re on ankles, there was a lady that reached out to me on the forum and she was talking about riding the bike, and one side of her ankle gets sore. And that’s a classic example of before you get on the bike, just go and do some of those, maybe toe raises, the heel lifts or mobilizations and then jump on the bike. It doesn’t have to be a ten minute warm up, but literally 30 seconds or even a minute of that can already help the mobility and the cycling action. So these are little, little things that we often overlook or, you know, as you said, have time for. But they don’t have to be long, and that’s what I tell a lot of the clients. Some clients like they’ve got the time, they like the ten minutes it’s really warm everything up. Do something like this, you can do qigong or you can do some just gentle movements or even some yoga. Just gentle mobility, easy movements before you get into it. But it’s just taking that time to be aware. Like the first thing I asked Clint, what do you feel and can you activate it? But a lot of people, when they stand on their legs, will say, I feel my ankles, exactly what you just said. And I’m like, you don’t want to be feeling your ankles, you know?

Clint – And that’s no, you shouldn’t feel your ankles. You should not feel your ankles. You should be feeling the upper leg muscles, including the butt.

Carl – Yeah. And a little bit of core, as you can add weights to that and that’s all the different progressions. But you’re, you’re a good model there Clint, that was very impressive. That stretching is really good by the way, for those who’ve got lower back issues and stuff opening up where the nerve exit the spine is called foramen. It opens up, you get a nice neural stretch. It’s good for the ligaments. But it’s another one you want to ease into, you don’t want to just jump straight into your straight leg bend because it takes years like you’ve done in yoga. Yeah. So it’s just progressions.

Clint – Absolutely. As I said, I work on it all the time. I find it makes my knees feel amazing. So I’m very blessed and happy at the moment that my knees feel sensational. And that’s one of the techniques that I use to I believe help with achieving that is just that starting with exactly as you described. Bend your knees, bend forward, touch the ground, and bend as much as you need to, and then just gently see if you can straighten your legs. It’s taken years to get it to where it’s at at the moment. And I enjoy it, I’m going to keep working on it until it gets even better.

Carl – So that tension that you feel is what we call neural tension and there’s obviously fascia tension and then there’s muscular as well. But often that just to clarify for the listeners and the viewers, is that that burning feeling that you get down the back of the leg is often nerve. You just want to be careful of trying to push that. Um, there is an idea or a approach that says it’s good to stretch nerves and there’s a time for that. But just to be easy, you don’t want to like, you know, be careful with stretching nerves. That’s the that can be quite painful, but that does ease up as you experienced.

Clint – So 30, 45 seconds, maybe a seven out of ten, seven out of ten intensity, and I think everything’s good. So these things are great Carl, what else have you got? Anything else on the agenda for us?

Carl – No, I think that’s it for now. Just to get people into the mindset of preparing for exercises. And when you’re moving and you go, hang on, I’m standing on my one leg like Clint, and I don’t feel any of those muscles engaging. Then is to go back into roll the ankles and just go through. Maybe I should put like a checklist that you can maybe send that we can attach onto this podcast. I think people can go, okay, what do I do if I want to activate my ankles or ankles, activate the hamstrings, just something that they can run through. But this is something that we talk about a lot in the live calls. For those of you who want to join that or, um, in my personal training, it’s just guiding you through these different points to help you activate and get the body ready for exercises.

Clint – It’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good. And of course, uh, in terms of the actual process to build strength around the glutes, build strength throughout the quads and the hamstrings. Our members, we’ve got a complete curriculum around the exercises to go through. But why don’t you give us your number one? We’ll give us maybe one good exercise for hips, quads, hamstrings, because we’ve already talked about calf muscles. Okay. So what about those big three? What do you find works well with our clients here?

Carl – So the legs standing on the one leg like that single leg balance that you were doing is really, really good for everything. If you do manage the squats then that’s obviously it’s my go to and just easy squats. Try also doing it wider apart, that also helps some clients. Some clients like the wider, some like it narrow. But it all is individualistic but just going down to a very gentle feeling. It’s the muscles. That single leg is actually even in my, because I also work with elite athletes as well. That’s becoming a very popular exercise amongst them, and I give them weights too. So even if you hold it like a 2lb weight on the side and balance, it pulls the body off balance. So the glute medius and all those muscles have to work. It’s very simple, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s really, really effective. I quite like as well for people who really aren’t this advanced, the isometrics as well. Just simply squeezing the butt muscles, seven-second hold, relax, squeezing in a chair. There’s a super effective and again people may find this hilarious, but even the athletes are getting into these isometric stuff, so it’s super effective. There’s this I’ve found that to be very helpful.

Clint – That’s really encouraging. Yeah. That’s great. So I wonder how many people right now are squeezing their butt as they’re listening to this.

Carl – I mean if they connect, they’re probably like trying to squeeze their buttocks and their pecs activating, you know what I mean? You laugh, but it’s like they just it’s amazing when you even, like, I don’t even know how to, like, contract those muscles. Um, you know, even if you have to ask someone, like, just activate hamstrings, they’re like, I know it’s there, but I don’t know, how do you get it to work? You know, and that’s what we want to improve. So hopefully that was helpful. I know it’s been a great help for a lot of the clients and members.

Clint – Yeah. Awesome. And how have you found the coaching we’ve talked about this very briefly before we hit record, but, you. How have you found what do you find, is sort of most satisfying or most effective? Anything, any insights you can give about working with your weekly coaching with the rheumatoid arthritis members?

Carl – By this. I think the great thing is, especially those who come weekly is they can give me feedback, and that feedback is very powerful. And I can say, hang on try this or great or they’ve tried this and they’re really feeling better or that’s made a huge improvement. And then they can share that across the listeners which is fantastic, and then they can try it. So there’s this great community and just everybody’s, just and I sort of plot where everyone is at and. Sometimes there are set backs that’s not related to exercises. And it’s again, people can encourage them. And so it’s just yeah, it’s so it’s super helpful. We’re not supposed to be doing this on our own. And so I think that’s why people are in the community. But just for those who are new or maybe considering joining these calls, it’s very encouraging and helpful.

Clint – Good on you. Yeah. Thanks very much, Carl. If you would like to connect with Carl and obviously myself on a regular basis, access medical doctor, coaching community. Then I’ll put a link below this video, or you can head over to You can book a call with myself or one of my team, and we can talk about, where you’re at, where you want to get to, and what’s needed to get to your health goals. And then if you like the plan, I can explain what it looks like in terms of working with us and see if that’s a good fit. Of course, you’ll get to meet Carl and, uh, and the team, um, or you can reach out to Carl directly and see if you’d like just to work with Carl. Carl, what are your details? If you want to just take on personal clients.

Carl – Yeah, just my email is the best. So, Just reach out on email or even on the forum. If you’re on Clint’s forum, you can just reach out to me there and we can take it from there.

Clint – Awesome. Thanks so much, Carl. I hope everyone has found this helpful. These warm-up exercises, ways that I found especially to be helpful for scapula, and a little bit of cider neck stuff I have going on at the moment. Those hamstring stretches and also like the strengthening of all through the glutes and hamstrings with the single leg standing. So this is helpful and we’ll see you on another call. Thanks so much for this, Carl.

Carl – Thank you. See you soon.

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