As we discussed last week, most of us spend a large majority of the day hunched forward either driving, working at a computer, preparing meals, writing, folding laundry, etc. This constant forward flexed posture is a set up for neck, back and even shoulder pain. In addition, the majority of exercises we incorporate into our daily routines do not directly focus on our back and neck musculature.
The back muscles can be divided into three different layers: the superficial, intermediate and deep muscles.
The superficial layer of back muscles is composed of the muscles that we can see. Many of the more common shoulder exercises target these muscle groups. In general, these muscle groups function to move the scapula or shoulder bone of the back. The muscles in the superficial layer include:
– Trapezius (traps)
– Latissimus dorsi (lats)
– Rhomboids (major and minor)
– Levator scapulae
– Splenius capitis and semispinalis capitis (neck extensor muscles)
Some common exercises which target this layer include:
– Pull ups
– Dead lifts – with weights or a barbell
– Chin ups
– Overhead pullovers with weights
– Roll outs with the stability ball
– Shrugs
– Weighted rows
The next group of muscles in the back is known as the intermediate layer of the back. This group is composed of the serratus posterior superior and the serratus posterior inferior. These muscles are primarily involved with moving the the upper ribs upwards and the lower ribs downwards during breathing. In addition, they assist with extension and rotation of the back as well as stabilization of the trunk (thorax). This layer is a little more challenging to target given that these muscles primarily function as breathing muscles. However, exercises which extend the back such as superman back extensions may be able to activate these muscles.
The final group of muscles in the back are known as the deep layer. This layer is composed of three different groups of muscles
– Spinotransversalis (splenius capitus and splenus cerivcis)
– Erector Spinae (Iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis muscles)
– Transversospinalis (Semispinalis, multifidus, rotators)
In general, all the deep muscles of the back function to move and stabilize the spine. Movements include back rotation, extension, and lateral bending. These muscles are the most overlooked with regard to exercises. Just as time is dedicated to other muscle groups of the body such as the biceps, triceps, shoulders and chest, so to, should time be dedicated to these muscle groups as well.
Some exercises which specifically target these muscle groups include the
– Back extensions or hyper-extensions (Superman)
– Back extensions with simultaneous single arm and leg raises
– Single leg or arm raises on all hands and knees
– Dead lifts
– Back extensions while on a stability ball
The back muscles are a very frequent source of pain and suffering. Often times back pain can be a result of decreased flexibility, muscle imbalances, chronic systemic inflammation, leg length discrepancies, viral illnesses, disc herniation, as well as arthritis. Of course, there are other causes as well, which can range from benign etiologies to life threatening. The majority of back pain though, thankfully is benign.
For most causes of pain, movement rather than rest is the best medicine because movement increases blood flow which flushes out cytokines (substances) which can further drive inflammation. Often times back pain is referred and is actually a result of a problem somewhat removed from the actual site of pain. Usually most acute back pain is self-limited, especially if you continue to move through your pain. With my patients, I often find that immobility and overprotection of the painful area are often the leading contributors to the development of chronic pain.
In addition to movement which includes both stretching and strengthening the painful area, heat, ice, anti-inflammatory medication and TENS units may be beneficial. There is evidence to support the use of certain supplements such as Omega 3 fatty acids, turmeric or curcumin, magnesium, and vitamin D3. While there are various dosing recommendations for each of these supplements it is important that they are tailored to meet your individual needs and that you inform your health care provider what other medications and supplements you are taking to make sure the dosage is correct.
Some topical preparations such as ben gay, ice hot, capsaicin cream, and Bio Freeze may be beneficial as well in alleviating pain. Focusing on proper posture, proper ergonomics at work, while driving and during your daily activities will also help to improve your pain. The back and neck musculature play a very important role in posture, stability, prevention of chronic pain and must be exercised to prevent muscular imbalance.
Disclaimer. The information provided here is not intended to substitute for medical care and should not be used for treatment or diagnosis. If you have, or suspect you have a problem concerning your health please consult with a licensed healthcare professional.


Being a MAX Challenge multi-unit franchise owner allowed Angela to create the lifestyle she had always wanted. She now gets to do the things stay-at-home moms do with their kids every day.

Listen to Angela share how being a MAX Challenge franchise owner transformed her life and how she now helps thousands of people live longer, happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives!

For franchise information and available territories please contact EricTaylor@THEMAXFranchising.com or call him direct @ 732.410.2669 or visit our website.


The Importance of stretching!!

Most of us spend a large portion of the day hunched forward.  Think about when you are working on the computer, cooking, driving or even relaxing.  Your typical posture during these activities is head and neck forward, shoulders rounded forward, back curved and hips flexed.    When you remain in this position for an extended period of time, the muscles in the front of the body tend to shorten or contract, while the muscles in the back of the body tend to weaken.    This can be a set up for back, neck and shoulder problems and in addition, tends to make you look shorter, heavier and less confident.

Stretching before and after exercise as well as during the day is often overlooked in the rush to “get your workout in”.   Stretching however, has numerous benefits.   According to a study published in the Annals of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine in September 2016, by I Fekhfekh, et al, dynamic muscle stretching of the knee musculature actually resulted in an increase strength gain in those muscles.  Interestingly, this study also found a decrease in the postural stability of the knee after stretching.    In English, it appears that stretching helps your to build strength, but may decrease the stability of the muscles you stretch at least temporarily.

In general, stretching helps to improve flexibility, joint range of motion, and usually is helpful for injury prevention.    Stretching helps by increasing blood flow to the muscles stretched.  This increased blood flow carries important nutrients to your muscles to allow for muscle growth and repair.  In addition, the increased blood flow helps to wash away muscle “waste” which leads to decreased soreness and inflammation of the muscle.

If allowed to remain in a contracted position for a prolonged period of time, our muscles will shorten.  For example if you spend a large portion of your day sitting in a chair or driving, the muscles in the front of the hips, your hip flexors will shorten.  These muscles have a direct effect on both your posture and your back health.

So what should you do?

It is important to stretch the muscles in the front of the body at least daily.

Exercises that focus on the hip flexors:

-Kneeling hip flexor stretch  – in the position of a lunge, allow your back knee to touch the floor and drive the hip of your front leg forward.  This will stretch the hip flexor of the knee on the floor

Pigeon stretch – extend your right leg straight back and bring the heel of your left leg underneath your right hip.  Then drive your hips forward towards the ground.  Stretch and repeat on the other side.

Yoga poses such as: low lunge, crescent lunge, upward facing dog, and revolving side angle pose

Stretches that focus on the chest muscles and prevent rounded shoulders:

Door Frame stretch- stand in a doorway or at the corner of a room with your arms up like you were going to stop traffic.  Line your arms up from the elbow to the hand with the doorframe or in the corners of the wall.   Step towards the door and you should feel a stretch in your chest (pectoralis “pec” muscles) and hold for 20-30 seconds.

Wall slides – stand with your back to the wall and keep your shoulders against the wall.  Walk forward 1-2 steps and slide your arms up and down the wall and squeeze your shoulder blades together.  You should feel a stretch in your upper chest muscles.

Shoulder squeeze stretch –  clasp your hands together behind your back and slowly try to lift your hands.  Squeeze your shoulder blades together to stretch out the chest wall.

Yoga poses include : bridge pose, camel pose, cobra pose and cow face pose

Stretch for your neck:

– Chin Tucks (Neck Retraction) – keep your shoulders back and your head in a neutral position (eyes facing forwards, chin level) slowly move your head backwards until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck.  Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat.  If needed you can apply a gentle pressure on your chin with your fingertips to press your chin backwards and deepen the stretch.

Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine will help to prevent shortening of the muscles in the front of the body which leads to poor posture and often pain of the neck and back.  As always, if you are having pain which persists you should be evaluated by a certified health care professional to ensure that these exercises are safe for you.

This week we primarily discussed stretching exercises to prevent muscle contraction, and next week we will discuss the importance of strengthening the back muscles to further combat the issues of a hunched posture.

Disclaimer.  The information provided here is not intended to substitute for medical care and should not be used for treatment or diagnosis.  If you have, or suspect you have a problem concerning your health please consult with a licensed healthcare professional.

If there is a topic that you would like Dr. Miller to address, please click on the link below to submit your question.


The 2nd Annual MAX Challenge Convention is happening on Saturday, October 29th @
iPlay America in Freehold, NJ.


Get ready for an even BIGGER RED CARPET WORKOUT. That’s right, we have moved this custom workout into Warehouse 100, a 20,000 sq. ft. space big enough to spread out and hit your Level 10!

In 2015 Bryan Klein taught you how to CRUSH your goals for 2016. Now that you have CRUSHED them, what’s next?

Here it is: DON’T STOP BELIEVING! Bryan Klein is going to set you up for 2017! You WILL walk out of the event feeling CHARGED UP and READY TO WRITE THE NEXT CHAPTER IN YOUR STORY!

What’s new at this year’s convention? This year we will be awarding the MAXer of the Year! Contest rules will be sent out via Facebook Secret Group, Weekly Newsletter, and sent directly to your center’s Owner & Manager, so don’t worry, you will know the details in order to submit your entry!

BUT WAIT FOR IT… THE BEST PART: MAXER FOR LIFE RAFFLE!  You are instantly enrolled in the MAXer for Life Raffle once you register for the 2016 MAX Convention!  The winner is to be selected at random at the conclusion of the Convention. Please note – you will need to be a current MAX member & in attendance to be eligible for this.

Take It To THE MAX!

Click here  to purchase your tickets today.


As THE MAX Challenge quickly approaches awarding it’s 100th franchise in less than four years, we are attracting a wide range of candidates from very diverse career and life backgrounds.  The one common theme among all of our franchise owners is their intense passion for THE MAX Challenge and helping people transform their lives.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to own your own business, spend more time with your family, enjoy a higher and more rewarding quality of life, while still meeting your financial needs, THE MAX Challenge franchise opportunity might be a perfect fit for you.
On Thursday, October 13th at 6:00pm, Founder & CEO Bryan Klein will host an informational webinar so you can learn how to become a MAX Challenge franchise owner.
Bryan will speak in detail about what it takes to become a MAX franchisee, the benefits of owning your own fitness business and our 5 STEP orientation process for learning about THE MAX Challenge franchise opportunity.
To attend, you must meet the following criteria:
  • Realize THE MAX is more than a gym or a place to lose weight
  • Be committed to “Paying it Forward”
  • Be energetic, out-going and sociable
  • Have a minimum of $90,000 to $150,000 in liquid or readily available capital
To register for the webinar, please click on the link below and complete the form. A reminder email will be sent 24 hours prior to the webinar.
We look forward to seeing you on the webinar and sharing more information about THE MAX Challenge franchise opportunity.
Take It To THE MAX!
Phone: 1.800.670.0263
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Take it to THE MAX!
Eric Taylor
Chief Breakthrough Officer


One of the most common causes of hand and wrist pain is a condition called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.   This condition is usually the result of the median nerve getting trapped and compressed in the carpal tunnel as it courses towards the hand.

The carpal tunnel is a “tunnel” in which the bottom and sides of the tunnel are formed by the carpal or wrist bones and the top is formed by the transverse carpal ligament.  This ligament or fibrous band connects the top two carpal bones.  Inside the carpal tunnel is the median nerve as well as 9 of the flexor tendons for the fingers and thumb.  The purpose of the carpal ligament is to stabilize the carpal bones and anchor some of the tendons for the hand muscles (finger flexors) to enable them to work correctly.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs due to compression of the median nerve running through this tunnel.  The compression can be due to swelling of the tendons, inflammation of the tendons, overall fluid retention in the body (due to pregnancy, allergies, or other inflammatory conditions) and over-use injuries (such as typing).

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.

Mild carpal tunnel presents as primarily sensory symptoms with numbness and tingling of the fingers and hand.  As the median nerve gets more compressed the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome becomes more severe and the motor component of the nerve gets involved.  When this happens, weakness and atrophy (muscle wasting) can be seen.

Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:


– Numbness, tingling or aching of the thumb, 2nd, 3rd, and part of the 4th fingers

– Nighttime hand/wrist pain and numbness

– Difficulty typing, or with fine finger movement involving the first 3-4 fingers

– Numbness and tingling which worsens when the wrist/hand is bend at a right angle (either flexed forward or extended backwards)

– Electric shock sensations radiating into the hand

– Pain that radiates from the wrist upward towards the elbow

Moderate to Severe: (in addition to above symptoms)

– Weakness in hand grip

– Dropping objects from the hand

– Muscle wasting in the palm of the hand, especially at the base of the thumb

For mild symptoms the use of a wrist splint at night will be helpful.  These splints can be purchased over-the-counter at a pharmacy or medical supply store.  The splint should have Velcro or adjustable type straps and should have some sort of support or rigid material on the underside of your wrist and palm, that will prevent your wrist from bending forward too much.   The splint should be worn at night to prevent inadvertent wrist bending, and can be worn during the day if symptoms are continuously present.

Certain exercises may exacerbate carpal tunnel syndrome such as push-ups, planks, and low jacks.  Any exercise which puts pressure through the wrist while it is at a 90 degree angle from the arm can further compress the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.   Helpful exercise modifications include doing push-ups on your fists and keeping your wrists straight, or doing the push-up on an incline (with your head higher than your feet) so you are putting less weight through your wrists.

In addition, activity modification may be indicated if the above interventions are not helpful.  If cleared by your doctor, adding a small amount of Vitamin B6 (<200mg/day)  is beneficial for improvement of nerve function.  Vitamin B6 acts a a diuretic (decreases swelling), helps the body to make neurotransmitters and helps with the function of the immune system.

Foods which contain B6 include:

  • Wild caught tuna
  • Bananas
  • Salmon
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Spinach

If dietary, activity, and exercise modification are not successful in treating your carpal tunnel syndrome in conjunction with the use of a wrist splint and occasional anti-inflammatory medications, it is important to be evaluated by a health care professional.  In addition, if your symptoms progress, are not localized to your first three fingers, or are associated with any other symptoms, make sure to get checked to rule out other causes of hand/finger numbness.

If conservative treatments fail, other interventions such as physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, prolotherapy, platelet rich plasma injections, or surgical release may be indicated.

Disclaimer.  The information provided here is not intended to substitute for medical care and should not be used for treatment or diagnosis.  If you have, or suspect you have a problem concerning your health please consult with a licensed healthcare professional.




THE MAX Challenge Is Coming to Hoboken, NJ!

“Clap It Up and MAX High-Fives” for Cassandra Wilson on being awarded THE MAX Challenge of Hoboken, NJ. With her infectious smile and magnetic personality, we are certain Cassandra and THE MAX Challenge of Hoboken will transform thousands of lives in North Jersey. Please help us congratulate and welcome Cassandra to THE MAX Challenge family of franchise owners! THE MAX Challenge continues to lead the way as one of the fastest growing fitness programs in America.

If you are local to Hoboken, NJ and would like to be kept in the loop on our Grand Opening schedule and learn more about how THE MAX Challenge can help you achieve your fitness goals, please visit www.THEMAXChallenge.com

For franchise information and available territories please contact EricTaylor@THEMAXFranchising.com or call Eric direct @ 732.410.2469.



Angela fell in love with THE MAX Challenge program as a member over 3 ½  years ago.  She followed her heart, took a leap of faith as first time business owner and opened THE MAX Challenge of Piscataway. Today, Angela and her team are successfully running and transforming lives at THE MAX Challenge of Piscataway and Sayreville, NJ. She also owns the rights to Wayne, Fairlawn and Paramus all on schedule to open in the near future! Please help us in congratulating Angela and her team with a MAX Challenge “high-five” as they celebrate their 3 year MAXiversary!    



THE MAX Challenge is quickly becoming the fastest growing fitness concept in America!

 With 86 units awarded in 8 states, THE MAX Challenge is transforming thousands of members lives and helping our franchise owners create a lifestyle they’ve always dreamed about.

For franchise information and available territories contact EricTaylor@THEMAXFranchising.com or call Eric direct at 732-410-2469.



In this video, MAX Challenge franchisee Amy Potpinka shares how she became a business owner without any prior business experience. THE MAX Challenge franchise system has a proven success process that allows virtually anyone to be successful, regardless of their past experience in business. For franchise information contact Rubin@THEMAXFranchising.com or call him direct at 732-702-3005.

Watch Amy’s Video here