Why do I forget to breathe during exercises?

Why do I forget to breathe during exercises?

Ever wonder why certain exercises seem to make you red in the face versus others?

It’s not just because you’re forgetting to breath, it’s because your body is telling you something about that particular exercise. Something about how your body is reacting to being under that specific type of stress.

So, what’s that mean?

In simple terms, it means that it’s hard! (which you already knew from almost passing out holding your plank or goblet squat). But it also gives us some great information to help you assess progress!

See the reason for your body “forgetting” to breath has to do with your body’s subconscious duties, otherwise known as your autonomic nervous system. Things like digestion, immune response and most importantly, breathing.

Within the nervous systems, which includes conscious and subconscious systems, there is only so much output your system can have. Think of it this way, if you’re doing a hard plank variation and you REALLY have to concentrate on keeping position, your brain is going to allocate as much effort towards working the right muscles as it can. When a drill or exercise is particularly difficult, sometimes that means that it will have to take away brain power from your subconscious, like breathing, to accomplish the task. When that happens, you’re forced to hold your breath until the task is completed.

So, what’s this mean?

The purpose of this information is to help you understand your progress. I want you to try this test. Try this side plank variation (video below) we use that commonly results in people holding their breath. Shoot for 3 sets of 8-10 reps per side.

Now, if you find yourself holding your breath that great! It’s challenging. Now you’re going to work on this drill for everyday for the next 5 days. As you practice and get stronger and more stable, you will see you can start to breath during the drill. That’s progress! That tells us your brain to muscle connection is getting stronger and more efficient.

This theory can be applied to any drill or exercise you’re having difficulty breathing with. I recommend for those specific drills, take time for 7-14 days to get better with it. Be aware of your breath and if it’s getting better or worse.

Awareness of your breath is another great tool to becoming a better, more durable mover and athlete. It’s easy to assess as demonstrated above and is another great way to stay consistently healthier.

If you have questions about breathing, you can reach out to me at brian@xcelmp.com. Thanks for taking time out of your day to learn a little more about how to enjoy your active life!

To your health,

Dr. B

Improve your mobility and stiffness with strength


Let’s set the stage. You’ve been dealing with tight shoulders or tight hips for months. You spend 10 minutes before you work out on the foam roller, then    another 20 minutes of stretching after your work out. It feels good for a while afterwards, but the next day you’re right back where you started. What gives?

The problem is many people don’t have a mobility problem but a strength problem. More specifically, a POSITIONAL strength problem. So, what does that mean? To help you understand, here is the definition of positional strength:

The ability to maintain the proper positioning of a joint through a given range of motion under stress from exertion and/or resistance.

So when your mobility and stretching isn’t working, it may be because you’re dealing with a positional strength deficit. The problem comes not when your stretching or rolling, but when you’re working out or training.

Let’s use your shoulder for example. You start with 130 degrees of elevation or overhead movement, which isn’t too bad but still not within a proper range. You do some stretching and now you have 170 degrees! Awesome! But now you go right into your work out with push-ups and pull ups. Afterwards, your range goes back to 130 degrees. The problem was your body didn’t feel comfortable in that newfound mobility, so it compensated. When under stress, your body went back to what it knows, 130 degrees not 175.

Now let’s use the same example with a different approach (and we see this work in the clinic everyday). Instead of stretching before your work out, you do some strength work (see below for video). Now you still get the 175 degrees before you train but guess what? Now you maintained 160 degrees! Your body is learning to stay in better positions and it maintained more. And the more you work on it the more consistent it stays.

So, what do you need to do?

The first thing you need to do is assess your movement. You can check that out in our blog on self-assessment here.



The other 2 highly effective drills that can help with shoulders and hips are below:

Supine swords

Knee hold bridge

So there you have it! Try these positional strength drills before AND after your work outs for the next 2 weeks and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much better your mobility can change.

We’d love to hear your success so be sure to tag us in any of your videos or send us an email with your before and after pictures! You can email me directly at brian@xcelmp.com.

You can also get in touch with me for any other questions regarding mobility or joint stiffness problems.

Xcel your health,



Top Three Supplements You Should Be Taking

There are so many different supplements out there with so many different claims as to how they can help you.  Take this and get rid of your pain!  Take this and improve your athletic performance!  Take this and become a superhero!  Ok, ok that last one may be a tad dramatic but some labels will basically say that without so many words.  If you have a supplement routine that you love and is working for you…great!  However, there are three supplements that you should consider incorporating into your daily routine (if you aren’t already).


#1 – ZMA 

ZMA is a combination of zinc monomethionine/asparate and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6. It’s strongly supported by clinical research to be an effective supplement for enhancing muscle recovery, boosting the immune system, and aiding in improved sleep quality.  Ideally taken 30 minutes-1 hour before bedtime on an empty stomach for maximal absorption.

Zinc is know to boost immunity/fight colds, help with nutrient absorption,  has anti-inflammatory properties,  and acts as a powerful antioxidant agent.

Magnesium is involved in hundred of biochemical reactions in your body, may boost exercise performance, help regulate the nervous system, and can help relax you; therefore, improving sleep quality.

B6 is one of the 8 B vitamins that our bodies use to convert the food we eat into the energy we need to function.  B6 specifically keeps the brain and nervous system functioning properly.  It is also involved in the process of hemoglobin, the protein in your blood that carries oxygen throughout the body.  B6 also helps the body make serotonin (mood boosting hormone), norepinephrine (stress coping hormone), and melatonin (sleep regulating hormone).

Purchase here:



According to the U.S. Library of Medicine the average ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids has increased from as little as 1:1 to 30:1 respectively.  Omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) are crucial in preventing heart disease and potentially lowering blood pressure.   Some studies show that it can also help in managing inflammation, improving eye health, skin health, and focus.  It can be tough to get enough omega 3’s via diet so supplementing with fish oil is ideal.  Be sure to get a quality supplement; unfortunately, a lot of the knock off brands contain a ton of fillers which will still make it tough to meet your daily need.  Liquid fish oil is absorbed better by the body making it more ideal than the capsule form.  I like SFH fish oil best.  Not only does is have sufficient EPA and DHA but it also provides 1000 IU of vitamin D3; most of us lack vitamin D and SFH tastes delicious so its a win, win, win!

Purchase here: 


#3 – Turmeric Curcumin

Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as not only a spice but also a medicinal herb.  Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric.  It has very powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed by the bloodstream so simply spicing your food with turmeric is not sufficient enough to reap the medicinal benefits.  This is where supplementing with turmeric curcumin comes into play.

Fun fact: if you take a black pepper supplement with your other vitamins/supplements they will be better absorbed by the body as black pepper increases absorption.

Purchase here (this one has black pepper included!): 



We all have different health and supplement needs, but across the board these three will help you to feel well, sleep well, and overall be well!  ZMA boosts your immune system and improves your sleep quality.  Fish oil helps prevent heart disease and fights inflammation.  Turmeric curcumin also fights inflammation as well as being a strong antioxidant.  Sounds like three key ways to supplement you in your quest to leading a healthy lifestyle.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us via our contact page.  We hope this helps you to #feelwellwithxcel !

-Sarah Homer, Recovery Specialist


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Your Guide to Anterior Shoulder Pain

Anterior Shoulder Pain: What you need to know to be shoulder pain free

Shoulder pain can be very limiting when it comes to staying active. Especially when it occurs in the bicep tendon, or the anterior (front) of your shoulder. It plagues being able to perform daily activities like getting clothes on/off, reaching for things, even sleep! Let alone work outs or training.

There are a few factors that need to be considered when addressing anterior shoulder pain differently from other types of shoulder issues. The reasoning behind this is due to many times the more intense irritation that occurs to the front of the shoulder. In this article, we will discuss how to eliminate the irritation, and focus on the major contributing underlying factors for long term relief.


Why do I start hurting?


The major reason for anterior or bicep tendon pain is due to the over activation of the bicep with shoulder movements. Activities such as swimming, push-ups, bench press, pull ups, even bicep curls if done incorrectly can cause irritation to the insertion point of the long head of the bicep.


This over activation is due to the fact that the shoulder complex is not getting enough support from the shoulder blade muscles. Basically, a muscular imbalance has occurred. The back side scapular stabilizers such as lower trap, and serratus anterior are not holding the shoulder blade in good position. When this happens, the front of the shoulder takes on more force to continue to perform the movement. When done repetitively, irritation and inflammation occurs.


How do I eliminate shoulder pain?

To eliminate anterior bicep tendon pain. The key is to address underlying hyper active muscles. Reduce tension in the lats, the pecs would be primary. A video demonstration is below.

Secondly, you can do some light work to the actual pain area in the bicep tendon. Proceed with caution, however, as you do not want to continue to irritate already irritated tissue. See below for some more reasoning as to why you shouldn’t put a lot of pressure on the bicep tendon.

How do I keep my shoulder pain away?

Now the money question, what’s the magic to keeping this pain away? It’s simple. We know that the bicep tendon gets irritated from muscular imbalance of the wrong muscles firing during work outs and daily activities. So we need to reprogramming the muscles and movements to improve the muscle balance. We want to perform simple drills that are about creating tension in the shoulder blade, and NOT in the bicep or front of the shoulder. Once we are able to perform activities pain-free without weight, you can start adding resistance and progressing back to work out activities such as push ups, bench, cycling, swimming and boot camps! Take a look below at some of our go-to drills we use in our programs to help people with bicep tendon pain get long term relief.

The Takeway

When it comes to bicep tendon or anterior shoulder pain. The process goes as follows:

  1. Decrease irritation to the bicep tendon by reducing tension of surrounding larger muscle groups
  2. Reprogram muscles and movements to correct imbalances
  3. reintegrate new movement philosophies into work out or training specific movements

If you perform these 3 things you can successfully conquer these pesky shoulder symptoms. For any questions about any of the steps or to get more specific help from our team of shoulder specialists, just click below to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help you overcome pain, stiffness and performance loss faster.

Click here to fill out our form and one of our customer care team members will contact you to schedule.

Your Guide to Sciatica

One of the most common diagnosis for low back and leg pain is sciatica. Unfortunately, we find that many people who come to us for help who were given this diagnosis, do not truly have sciatic symptoms. The intention of this article is help educate and make you more aware of what is truly causing your symptoms and how to find relief with a long-term solution.

Far too many people are afraid to get back to the sports, work outs and activities they love because of this diagnosis. We’re here to help you understand more about your symptoms to gain knowledge and confidence that you can get back to your desired lifestyle and goals. Read through our comprehensive article and let us know if you need more help with your specific symptoms. We’re here to help active gym goers and endurance athletes who are frustrated from “sciatic” symptoms and want to finally get back to their routines without limitations.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica, can be the irritation to the sciatic nerve. This nerve, which runs from the lumbar spine all the way down to the foot, is irritated. This irritation causes symptoms such as burning, tingling, numbness and progressive weakness throughout the nerve ending.

Sciatic symptoms can be caused by compression of the sciatic nerve at different points along the pathway. The two most common are are the exit from the spinal cord and the piriformis. At the spine level, compression of the associated disc (shock absorber between vertebrae) can compress the nerve root as it exits the spinal column. The common location is in the pelvis area. The piriformis muscle, which connects from your femur to your sacrum (tailbone), can become hyperactive and compress the nerve as it passes behind the muscle.

Regardless of the location of the compression or irritation, the neurological symptoms associated with sciatica can impair an individual’s ability to sit, bend forward, squat and even sleep at night. Symptoms trace along the nerve pathway, as seen from the image above.

Why it is Commonly Misdiagnosed

The pelvis complex is well….complex. Along with your spine, you also have the scarum AND hip joints involved with every movement. Because of this, many times “sciatica” symptoms may travel a similar path of the sciatic nerve but are not coming from it. For example, muscular dysfunction can cause referral pain in the pelvis are and down the leg. Below is a chart used to demonstrate the referral pathways of trigger points (or unhappy, dysfunctional muscles). The same knots you experience in your neck happen in any muscle and are particularly active within the 3 gluteal muscles.

You can see from the chart that when we look at the glute medius in particular the red area demonstrates where people had experience numbness, tingling, and radiating pain. Sound familiar? This is why in our experience, MOST people do not have sciatic nerve irritation and rather have muscle dysfunction or imbalances.

How Do I Know Where It’s Coming From?

First thing first, if your symptoms are persistent enough to disrupt daily activity then you should have it assessed by a movement expert. That does NOT mean you need imaging! The only time imaging should be the primary assessment is if you are having quick progressing weakness, loss of sensation and loss of bowel and bladder control. If you do not have that then identifying the source more conservatively will save you money, frustration and most importantly, time.

A simple test you can do to help determine if it is your hip area is below:

With this test, you can determine that if your symptoms are present during hip rotation, then you have a hip joint/muscles problem. If this does not make your symptoms worse, then there is still further assessment to be done. It’s recommended at this point to reach out to a movement specialist who can give you more information based on a thorough examination.

How Do I Begin to Get Relief?

There are 2 things that will help you on the path to relief and return to activities: mobility and muscle reprogramming. We want to reduce the stress and irritation to the impacted structures and tissue, and then reprogram muscles to fire correctly. This can be achieved by performing mobility work followed directly by motor control drills to reinforce the change in movement we desire.

Below are a few drills we commonly use to decrease irritation and then reprogram movement to initiate return to full activities pain-free.



What You Need to Do Right Now To Get Better

First thing is to assess the severity of your symptoms. If there is nurological problems, as described above then you need immediate attention and imaging. If your symptoms are not creating these issues, then perform our test to help determine the root cause. Following, performing the mobility and muscle reprogramming drills pain free would need to be initiated.

If these steps are provided relief but it is not consistent, or symptoms are affecting daily life and reduction in work outs and training, then it is recommend to be assessed by a specialist. If you are in the Raleigh-Durham area, you can schedule your free discovery consultation with Dr. Campbell or one of our other specialists to help give you pertinent information to help you decide the best solution for you.

Click here to fill out our form and one of our customer care team members will contact you to schedule.