Laying Low

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“That each should in his house abide, Therefore was the world so wide.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Sometimes although we feel we want to keep doing what we normally do, whether it’s a specific workout routine, going out to enjoy the company of friends, eating and drinking the things we love, we are almost forced not to and do something different. Why is this you may ask? Our bodies tell us otherwise.

In a lot of cases, our bodies are smarter than we are and we don’t give them their due credit. Although we may not ‘agree’ with our body, we should listen to it for it can tell us things our mind will not. This can be experiencing anything from physical pains to a physical reaction, getting sick, to spontaneously having an aversion to something we normally used to do regularly. I used just ‘work through’ injuries for example when I was younger. Now I kind of question this attitude I used to hold dear.

It seemed if it wasn’t one thing, it was something else that I had to deal with injury-wise from the hard training in martial arts and pushing myself daily in my workouts. I rarely if ever took some time off to really allow myself time to heal, or ‘lay low’ even in the midst of a lot of pain. Sometimes this pain came as mental fatigue as well when I felt something should have went a different way or if I felt I ‘plateaued’ for example.

It’s tough because we feel like we are missing out, or like if we don’t do something we might regress. This is especially true if you are practically addicted to working out and physical activity like I am. It’s very easy to get angry at yourself and your body. This can also happen with the food we are so accustomed to eating. In order to heal, sometimes our bodies need a break from our usual diet to focus more on healing foods and medicines so they can really do their job. lonely house winter

I have learned to let these types of feelings go more and more though. It just means we can and should focus our energy elsewhere, at least for the time being while we are allowing our bodies to heal themselves. A good place to focus this energy is to go inside.

If we can do that, we can dissipate any kind of annoying or negative feelings to practically nil. In fact, we can rather quickly start feeling much better about ourselves. It really can open us up to new opportunities to do things differently as well, learn more about ourselves and discover new concepts and ideas we may have been putting off and always found interesting.

The fact that this is also winter time also helps. This is the best time of year to stay in and ‘lay low’ to not only heal on various levels, but to work on yourself in a more internal way. Just as nature and many animals withdraw for the cold winter months, when we do it as well it feels more natural for us on a deeper level as this is the natural ebb and flow of things.

Meditation is one of the best ways to going inside and delve deeper into ourselves. It also promotes healing on many levels. There are many other methods we can play with and throw into the mix, but meditation should be one of the core foundations to this process. Also practicing chi gong and different types of breathing exercises can be done in almost any state and this also can accelerate the healing process and goes hand in hand with any introspective and healing practice.

So in the midst of this cold winter, I highly encourage you to go ‘inside’ and lay low if you don’t feel well or just not right. Listen to your body and do some research to find a practice that resonates with you or resdiscover an old one you may have been neglecting.

Pushing Through

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Life comes with it’s ups and downs, pleasure and pain… and from an athlete’s point of view training hard and relaxing and recovering. They are not mutually exclusive. Knowing your body and knowing when to allow it to rest and heal is key to pushing yourrself to higher levels of performance. This always seems to come to mind when I am sore from over-training or taking on a new exercise regimen.

What’s funny to me is that no matter how good of a level of physical shape I think I am in, if I engange in some new exercise regimen or physical activity that I have never done or haven’t done in a while, boy do I feel it the next day… and especially a day later! I had this happen to me this past weekend from doing some new types of pull up exercises (including one-armed) as well as with some other activities I haven’t done in a long time, like chopping wood… a lot of wood!

It also reminded me of how impressed I am with some of my friends and family members that do a lot of manual labor in their jobs, namely in the construction business. You gain a natural, gradual all around body strength that is different from going to the gym for example or doing calisthenics for that matter.  It’s something that you don’t seem to lose either, because your job conditions you over time. I am not saying it is necessarily better, but different. I will still put my uncle (who is a mason) up against almost anyone in an arm wrestling contest though!

Change It Up

So where am I going with this?  Simply that you need to push through your training but be smart about it. Change things up! In this case changing things up in the exercises you engage in or doing new ones altogether. Expect to be sore or more sore than usual. But this diversity in your training is a good thing. It is the antidote to one of my personal (and many other athletes and martial artists) greatest nemesis — hitting plateaus.

Monument Valley, Utah, USA

I remember in the past when I have hit plateaus in my martial arts training, I got so discouraged that I almost did not want to do anything and even wanted to miss my classes which I went to religiously. I almost get lazy about my training. I must say this is natural though and will happen to almost everyone sooner or later. It will probably even happen several times in your life.

Why does this happen? It comes from doing the same training regimen over and over, which for some people who have never done it would be quite difficult. But for you it’s relatively easy because your body is used to doing it and has adapted. Also understand, that your mind also can get run down from doing the same thing over and over and that it’s all connected (The Mind-Body Connection). By changing things up so you can push through plateaus in your training, you will re-ignite and add excitement back in to it.

Take a Break & Disconnect

The other key in this equation to pushing through is taking a break and allowing your body and mind to recover and disconnect for a few days or more if need be.  I did this the first time it happened to me in the martial arts, I felt compelled to take some time off and my teacher at the time said it was a good idea for me to do so as well. It worked wonders for me when I came back almost a week later excited to train hard again. But be careful though, this can be a slippery slope and can be used as an excuse to get lazy.

After taking a break you will be refreshed both physically and mentally.  Changing things up applies to all areas of your life really, not just your physical fitness level. It is natural to hit plateaus in your relationships, work and even in your spiritual practice as well. Most likely you will. Find new ways to push through. If you’re a martial artist for example, take on a new art that you have always been interested in but for whatever reason have not.

Another thing that can help a lot is taking a trip somewhere new or somewhere you haven’t been to in long time to disconnect from the norm and gain some new perspective in any area of your life.




What is DMSO?

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DMSO or Dimethyl Sulfoxide has an interesting history dating back to 1867 where it was first isolated by Russian chemist, Alexander Saytzeff. It is a byproduct of the paper making process and is a natural compound that comes from trees and has been used as an industrial solvent for over a century. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a strong odor.

When medical researchers started looking into this multi-faceted compound in the 1950’s, DMSO’s ability to protect cells from freezing damage was discovered. As research continued, other medical applications of possible use came to light. This is where things start to get really interesting. In the 1960’s, DMSO was hailed as a miracle drug by the press and more clinical trials of the compound began.

The Healing Properties of DMSO

DMSO was found to relieve pain, act as a diuretic and rapidly be able to penetrate human skin. This is where DMSO’s amazing ability to work as a transport agent come into play. It will transport other substances with it as it penetrates, including other pain relieving ingredients. DMSO can be taken orally mouth, used topically or intravenously. The most common use is topically though, where it is known to help speed up wound healing, decrease inflammation, pain and swelling.

Naturally, it can be used to treat medical problems such as arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and sports related injuries such as joint and muscle pain and inflammation. Furthermore, DMSO is said to also have potential to be effective in treating various types of cancer and aid in various cancer therapies, treat skin conditions such as scleroderma, as well as fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

DMSO-400Dr. Stanley Jacob, who pioneered much of the early and on-going research on DMSO has found that it also holds great promise in treating severe closed head trauma. He claims he has found it to reduce brain swelling and increase blood flow and oxygenation. Unfortunately, in 1965 clinical trials were stopped by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of questions of its safety. Many advocates and scientific researchers, including Dr. Jacob pressed the FDA to re-consider in light of the depth of research and data compiled regarding this amazing compound. Advocates and researchers pressed that the safety issues were unfounded and only minor in humans.

The vast treatment potential the compound has for such a wide range of conditions almost makes it seem to be too good to be true, but with clinical trials being cut short this could not be verified at the time.  Eventually the FDA approved the use of DMSO and lifted the temporary ban on human testing. The approval was only for one rare bladder condition though – interstitial cystitis, which causes inflammation in the bladder. Besides that, it has only been approved for use as an anti-inflammatory treatment in dogs and horses.

So Where Does DMSO Stand Now?

The FDA only approved DMSO for one human medical condition –  interstitial cystitis up until this writing. More research is needed to test its safety and effectiveness for other medical purposes. It is legal and easy to purchase, as well as inexpensive. It is available through some health food stores, mail order catalogs and readily available on the internet (I’ve seen it on even).

Since most people use it as a topical liniment for pain relief, it is most commonly sold as a cream, gel and liquid. In some cases it is mixed with other natural ingredients to enhance its pain relieving effect for muscle and joint pain. This is where I saw the value of what DMSO could do to help to relieve my muscle and joint pains from hard training in the martial arts.

When we created Warrior Rx Muscle & Joint Pain Relief, DMSO seemed like a perfect fit to tie all of the other powerful pain relieving ingredients in it together. Indeed that ended up being the case and we included it in our pain relief rub. You can learn more about the role DMSO plays in our topical rub on our store blog here.

5 Daily Rituals to Have More Energy, Promote Lean Muscle Mass & Muscle Recovery

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I will cover in this article 5 basic daily ‘rituals’ if you will, that will help you have more energy through out your day, help you get leaner & more muscular & promote recovery from your workouts. These may seem simple, which they are yet are powerful.

Daily Ritual #1 – Getting Enough ‘Proper’ Sleep

This seems simple and obvious enough, but many people do not get nearly enough sleep or in some cases too much! How much is enough? I am sure you’ve heard the old 8 hours of sleep a night is what’s needed and this is fairly accurate. We are all wired differently and studies have shown that 7 hours is usually enough.

Even if you are getting your 7-8 hours a night, a nice 20-30 minute nap during the day will do wonders for you and have your refreshed & re-energized if you get tired mid-day like I do sometimes.

Also, the quality of sleep is important. What this means is, getting enough REM sleep & the more, deeper restorative stages of sleep is key. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol & other drugs such as diet pills & decongestants stimulate parts of the brain and can prevent you from hitting the deeper sleep stages or even cause insomnia. Be sure to keep this in mind and limit, if not eliminate these substances if possible, especially in the latter parts of the day.

Also it is helpful if your room or ‘sleep zone’ is as quiet and dark as can be. Wearing a sleep mask, ear plugs & heavy blinds can really help to achieve this. Disengaging from your work & everyday tasks 30 minutes to an hour before bed is great to promote a healthy sleep cycle. Taking a short walk, meditating or doing some light reading (non-work related) before going to sleep help calm the mind & prepare you for a good nights sleep.

Daily Ritual #2 –Drink Enough Water

Our second daily ritual seems almost as obvious as the first one. But again like sleep, most people do not get enough water either. Hydrating our bodies properly is so important for many reasons. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water which says a lot in itself. So why is water so important?… here are some main reasons:

  • Removes waste/toxins from the body
  • Helps you to lose weight & decrease your appetite
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Digest food more efficiently
  • Increased organ function
  • Lubricates the joints & decreases muscle soreness
  • Decreases water retention (believe it!)
  • Overall improved health

Also, the best way to start your day after you wake up is to drink a tall glass of water in the morning, (Tip: drink preferably warm water with some lemon juice for added detox benefits). This helps get your organs/internal system moving and ready for the day ahead of you. How much water should you drink? Depending on your weight of course this will vary a bit, but if you are active (which if you are reading this you probably are) a gallon of water a day should be your daily target.

Daily Ritual #3 – Have a ‘Real Energy’ Drink Each Morning

So after you drink your glass of water in the morning, a nutrient packed health shake/smoothie should be an addition. A drink like this will give you steady, sustained natural energy, unlike most so called ‘energy drinks’ or highly caffeinated drinks which you usually feel a crash from or the need to keep up the intake of.

Nothing fancy is needed, most blenders do just fine in addition to the vegetable greens & fruits you blend up. Feel free to experiment on your own different combinations. I have found that mixing fruits with vegetables is the best way to go. Water or organic almond, rice or help milk can be used as a base. Also if you can, buy organic.

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Banana
  • Strawberry

A favorite combo of mine is vanilla almond milk, blueberries, a banana & a tablespoon of peanut butter… so good!

Tip:  adding some wheat grass powder or barley grass powder to ‘boost’ up your energy drink is a great idea.

Daily Ritual #4 – Deep Breathing / Internal Exercise

It almost goes without saying that you should be doing some type of daily exercise regimen. I will touch upon here in this article though, an exercise that is different from the type of aerobic (cardio) exercise(s) that you are most likely used to and engage in. This ritual is truly amazing because it can cause dramatic improvement in your energy level and overall health in general. Deep, controlled, concentrated breathing is also widely known as chi gung, chi kung, qi gong, etc. in the east which originally hails from China.

Many cultures though, have their own forms. As a martial artist I have practiced several forms and there are literally hundreds of methods or styles, from the simple to the complicated. I would suggest of course starting simple and to add it into your morning ritual.

I will offer a basic deep breathing exercise anyone can do that is easy and pleasant. The key when breathing in is deep belly breathing, inhaling and filling up both entire lungs, including the lower lobes which most people, unfortunately neglect to do, especially as they get older, thus being the root cause of many health problems.

  • Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hips & tail bone tucked under to flatten out the lower lumbar region of your spine (as if you are almost sitting on the edge of an imaginary chair). This elongates and straightens the spine, which promotes energy flow.
  • The arms are held out as if holding a ball with a small space between the hands, finger tips facing each other. The chin is slightly tucked in, head is held up as if hanging from an imaginary thread so as to pull up the spine. The tongue is to the roof of the mouth behind the teeth & eyes preferably closed.
  • Breathe in through the nose deeply (as described above), hold for 2-3 seconds when full and exhale out through the mouth slowly. Now on the exhale engage your stomach muscles to sink the breath and help push out all the air until the lungs are completely empty. When the lungs are almost empty, you can also pull up on your perineum as you flex your stomach muscles to really engage your entire core, almost as if you are squeezing all of the air out.

When complete, relax again as you inhale to start your next cycle and repeat. Start with 9 breath cycles to start. I highly recommend doing more research into this area as it can do wonders for your health & fitness.

Daily Ritual #5 – Supplement with Vitamins & Supplements

This is by far the easiest of the 5 daily rituals to do, since it really takes almost no effort. Most vitamins are taken orally by pill form which works fine. Liquid forms are preferable though as they are absorbed by the body more readily. Taking vitamins, minerals & supplements is important as we just don’t get all the nutrients we need from diet alone.

Also, we may want to take supplements to increase performance in a variety of areas we may be lacking, or to help get that edge as athletes.  Being an athlete and a martial artist, I am always looking for that edge that will help boost my performance, energy level & recovery time and yet do it naturally… especially as I get older. There is a variety of supplements out there that can help you do this but I am going to just mention one I have been taking the last few months that has given me great results – Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet Extract .

I’ve heard a lot about deer antler velvet, especially that allegedly Ray Lewis was taking it his last year playing football to help him recover from a triceps injury. Whether he took it or not (he said he didn’t), I looked into it since I hurt my shoulder in a soccer related injury.

I have been taking Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet daily since & have seen great results in other areas of my performance and training as well. In addition to my sped up healing, I look leaner and more defined than ever & my overall strength has definitely gone to a new level.

I simply take it with my other supplements and vitamins as part of my daily regimen and it’s a liquid/spray which is a bonus over pills or powders. I hope you can apply these tips or rituals as I like to call them in to your daily life and get some killer results like I have.



Warrior Rx Helps Me Recover (Again)

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Thought I would write a quick post about a recent injury I sustained playing soccer. Now because I am very active in a variety of sports and especially because of my martial arts training, getting hurt is common and part of the game so to speak. Two weeks ago I pulled a thigh muscle (which I never did before) & I was back 100% in just a few days.

I attributed this to not drinking enough water due to a recent job change. That was no big deal, I adapted in no time (I used some Warrior Rx pain rub as well) and am up to drinking about a gallon a day again which is a good amount to drink on a daily basis, especially if you are very active as it helps to hydrate the muscles. I stretch all the time so I know that not stretching was not the cause.

Unfortunately Accidents Happen 

So then last week, during yet another soccer game I hurt myself much worse, making my previous thigh muscle pull seem like a walk in the park. Basically what happened was I lost my balance (a slight push from behind didn’t help) and landed on the left side of my chest with my left arm outstretched, thus hyper-extending my left shoulder.

Once I hit the ground I knew it was bad. What kills me is after all these years of martial arts training, especially in the arts of Judo & Shuai Jiao (Chinese fast wrestling) where throwing and falling are the foundational aspects I couldn’t believe I fell this awkward & ungracefully.

But it happened, so I knew I was hurt pretty bad, I  just wasn’t sure of the extent of my injury. I massaged my shoulder using Warrior Rx when I got home to help lessen the pain. That night I felt okay, hoping it wasn’t too bad. The pain was so bad when I woke up the next day that I took myself to the emergency room and got checked out, including having x-rays done.

I knew I didn’t break anything, but this is standard procedure and it’s never a bad thing to be 100% sure no bones are broken. Really, I was just hoping I did not tear any ligaments.

The toughest part for me through all of this, is the inactivity and no exercise for days!  I was told it’s most likely just a bad sprain and would be back to normal in a week or two. I was in a sling for about 4 days, applied ice at the proper intervals and was given pain killers and anti-inflammatory pills which I took in the beginning but stopped shortly as I am not a big fan of pain pills (they didn’t seem to really help much anyway).

I did apply Warrior Rx pain rub daily with vigorous massage which did help a lot & I felt much better every time after I was done doing so. Now as a topical muscle & joint pain relief rub, it’s not going to completely knock out the pain of an injury of this extent, but it will help expedite the healing process, cut down on recovery time and lessen pain significantly.

Use Warrior Rx Instead of Dangerous Pain Pills

Like I said I avoid pain pills as much as possible because of the negative side effects and the tolerance one builds very quickly to drugs in general, so Warrior Rx is a great alternative. You get immediate relief to the area and there are no dangerous side effects… only natural ingredients (there are twelve) that actually help expedite the healing process which other topical rubs really don’t do.

I use it for injuries both large and small and will continue to do so. When I say Warrior Rx helped me recover again, I mean it because when I broke my ankle a few years back from a bad fall, I was using my fair share of this awesome topical muscle rub daily and that was the worst injury I ever sustained in my life. It really helped me through it all.

I am still not back to 100% yet with my shoulder injury, as it hasn’t even been a week yet, but I am recovering steadily with noticeable improvement. I will get an MRI done soon to make sure there are no tears so I am not out of the woods yet.  I am rehabbing it now with some Tai Chi and Chi Kung so I know I’ll be back better than ever in no time.



Best Natural Ingredients for Muscle & Joint Pain Relief

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Pain relief seems like a good topic to write my first blog post about, since it’s something we all deal with as humans and especially as athletes.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties when I started training much harder in martial arts and pushing my strength training to a new level, did I look into what was available on the market for pain relief that was safe and natural.  When I was a kid and a teenager, I never bothered taking anything as I didn’t think much of pain because I just played through it and healed much quicker back then it seemed.

Once I started to have to deal with pain more often because of my increased training, sustained injuries and increasing age, I wanted only to use only natural ingredients that could help me and have no side effects. So naturally I looked into all kinds of natural ingredients and herbs that could help me to hasten recovery from bumps, bruises and strains in training and of course lessen the pain.

It’s not surprising that it turns out that some of the natural ingredients I used individually for topical pain relief I ended up using as part of our formulation of our Warrior Rx Muscle and Joint Pain Relief product.  One of the first that I researched and looked into was Arnica, a natural herb used in homeopathic medicines for pain relief since the 1500’s.  This herb grows in the mountains of Europe & Siberia and is used topically in a variety of forms to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation & heal wounds.  I remember using it when I started doing judo as the first few weeks I got some good sized bruises from training, it definitely helped reduce my pain and speed recovery.

Another all natural ingredient I heard about and began to use was Wintergreen Oil (also known as Methyl salicylate).  Wintergreen oil is used in many topical pain relieving products, as its chemical makeup is essentially that of liquid aspirin. It is very potent on it’s own and must be diluted if used as a topical standalone product. Blended with other essential oils, it can help relieve arthritis and reduce inflammation in joints and muscles dramatically.  At the time, I bought some popular topical products that had Methyl salicylate as the main ingredient in them (which is a safer bet than diluting or blending the oil yourself). I did buy Wintergreen oil eventually as a stand-alone product when I started looking deeper into pain relieving herbs and into this amazing oil.

I found that Menthol is used a lot in conjunction with Wintergreen oil in many pain relieving products and is another amazing natural ingredient I use and recommend.  Menthol is a compound primarily derived from peppermint or other mint oils.  It is similar to Wintergreen (methyl salicylate), as it is an anti-inflammatory and causes a cooling sensation when applied to topically.   An effective pain reliever, menthol has been shown in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology and the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity to be among the world’s most effective pain-relievers for osteoarthritis.

I’m sure you have heard of using Cayenne Pepper as an addition to flavor dishes to make them spicier and hotter. It also has a rich history of being used for medicinal purposes. Native Americans have used it for over 9,000 years for healing and ceremonial use. Cayenne acts to eliminate, or “burn up,” substance P – a compound that carries pain messages to your brain. Capsaicin is the principal active ingredient of cayenne pepper. Capsaicin has been shown to be effective for easing pain caused by arthritis and nerve conditions when applied topically as a liniment or taken internally as a supplement. When I learned about this, I started looking for topical ointments and creams that contained cayenne and even tried taking it internally as a capsule.

Another natural ingredient I started looking into and ultimately using was Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is a natural, safe and odorless sulfur compound found in the human body.  It has essential sulfur and methyl groups that are used in healing and repair processes such as supporting connective tissue repair and regeneration. MSM is known to speed relief from inflammation and promote lasting healing. It is also naturally cleanses and detoxifies and ultimately promotes healthy circulation by neutralizing free radical molecules. It is normally taken internally but can be used topically with DMSO which transports any other ingredients it is mixed with directly to the source of pain.

The last ingredient I will mention in this post is Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). DMSO is known to multiply chemical reactions in combination with other ingredients as it is a near perfect solvent and transporter. It is also used alone and is an organic, sulfur-rich substance found in the woody part of trees. I found out from a friend who recommended it to me and eventually gave me some pure DMSO that it is commonly used in veterinary medicine as a liniment for horses!  Well if they used it treat race horses for pain relief I figured it could help relieve my muscle and joint pain too!

It has an amazing range of uses (can be taken by mouth, used topically, or given intravenously even) but I will only mention here as it is related to topical treatment for pain relief.  I found that DMSO is used topically to decrease pain and speed the healing of wounds, burns, and muscle and skeletal injuries. DMSO is also used topically to treat painful conditions such as headache, inflammation, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis… truly an incredible natural compound.

That’s it for now, I will write about some other amazing natural ingredients that you could use to help relieve muscle and joint pain in future posts.  Of course, these super effective ingredients can be found in Warrior Rx Muscle & Joint Pain Relief Sports Rub.