Quick Movement Prep for the day – Jan 17

Quick Movement Prep for the day

My morning appointments have either canceled or rescheduled due to the icy conditions. Which means I get a free morning to play, practice and get some work done.

Sometimes five minutes is all it takes. This is a little five-minute movement session to prep my body for the day and to take notice of anywhere things aren’t moving smoothly. This is like movement caffeine awakening my body and mind. What a great way to start the day.

Deep Squat Mobility

This is a really nice deep squat mobility routine that I love. They have really helped develop my deep squat. Just a couple years ago, I couldn’t even get into this position without falling backward. Once my clients can get into a deep squat without pain, we start to integrate these types of movements to open up their squat even more.

I begin with my heels on the 2×4. My deep squat is not super clean with heels flat on the floor. The 2×4 is a bit of a cheat. It allows me to find my “perfect” deep squat. I like to find where I move well from and then grow my movement from there.

Here are brief descriptions of each movement:
-Cat/cows – moving my spine through flexion and extension. As I come into spinal extension, I am trying to be as long as possible through my spine from hips to the top of my head.

-Deep shoulder rotations – I drop my shoulders as low as I can. From this deep shoulder position, I lift one shoulder to the ceiling while looking up with my eyes alternating between shoulders.

-Overhead reach – Stacking hands on the floor, I reach my arm up towards the ceiling (feeling the opening of my ribcage and abdomen) with my eyes following my fingertips to the ceiling.

-Twist – Sitting into both heels, I place one hand on the floor behind me and reach as far as I can with the opposite hand, alternating side to side.

-Hip Openers – Sitting as deep and tall as I can in my squat, I reach my knee out to the side allowing my foot to roll to the lateral side. I alternate hips and if I’m feeling really open, I’ll do both hips at the same time.

I then do the same movements without the 2×4. Off the board, my squat is not nearly as clean looking (or feeling).

Ten minute Balance Challenge

I came up with this ten-minute balance challenge as an exercise to strengthen my legs to support my knee.

I had knee surgery the day before Thanksgiving 2016. I have regained 99% of the function back to my knee, but that last 1% is a painful and easily aggravated space. That 1% of pain prevents me from any kind of significant loaded lifting. I just can’t place heavy load and repetition on a joint that is easily inflamed. I felt like I needed to strengthen full body movements around my knee to give it the support to hopefully release that last bit of recovery. Since I can’t do loaded work, the only other option is body-weight work, but I would need high repetition, and that is seriously boring.

So I came up with this challenge. Something that took my mind off the repetition and is fun. Plus it does so much more than just strengthen my legs. There is also a significant vestibular challenge, core integration, and flow potential.

In this session, I’m focusing on getting as many squats, split squats, and deep knee bends as possible. It’s a bit less flowy than other sessions. I find that when I am in a split squat with my left leg behind (surgery leg), I feel it opening the space in the medial meniscal compartment where the 1% of pain is located. It generally relieves some discomfort, restriction, or tightness I may feel in that area. Which feels beneficial.

If you’re up for the challenge, give it a try. The goal is 10 minutes per day for 30 days balancing on a 2×4, balance bar, slackline, or other balance tools (variety is your friend). If you’re up for it, film it, and share it. I’d love to see and hear about your progress.

Would you like to see this video at a slower or faster speed? Please send me a comment. I’ll post the link in the comments.

Ice-day equals free movement day

I did not move as much as I wanted today. It was supposed to be the first day of class for the Spring semester, but everything was shut down due to ice. No school and all my clients canceled. It felt like a free day. An extra day added to my holiday. It was glorious.

I got to sleep in till 8:30am, sipped some hot bulletproof coffee and moved very slowly from there. This is a short little movement session that I had to force myself to do before getting sucked into computer work. I was hoping to get a bigger workout in, but the day slipped away from me. It was still good though. I hiked over to pick up my son from his momma’s house. We hiked back to my house to hang out and read and then I hiked him back. I love being outside when it’s below freezing. Water and ice create such cool effects.

Post Travel Movement Re-integration – Jan 15

Traveling is tough on the movement practice. No doubt about it. We left early morning Thursday for New York and returned early morning Sunday. It was a stressful, fully packed, and incredibly fun trip.

I left with a focus on maintaining my movement practice as much as possible through the trip, which I feel I did pretty well at. I got a lot more movement at the beginning of the trip, but as sleep deprivation, lack of movement space and time, and just overall exhaustion elevated, the movement became harder to come by. This is just the reality of travel. It will always be harder to focus on what my body needs than when I’m in the luxury of my regular life.

I made a point to squat and move as much as possible every opportunity I had. It made a difference. I am worn out from the trip but no worse for wear than when I left. My neck is still uncomfortable in specific movements but overall improved.

This video is the from Sunday evening after getting back. I’m exhausted and just want to go lie down in bed. I did a ton of walking around the city with my son and mom, which means I played the pack-mule with a 30-40 lb backpack filled with food, water, and clothes for each day. My knee and back are tight and achy. I know if I didn’t get at least a short movement session tonight, I’ll be paying for it over the next several days or weeks.

My focus is on mobilizing the entire body with the micro joint-by-joint movements and integrating into the macro full body. It really felt good to connect movements from my hips into my neck and head. I was going to add some balance play but felt this was enough for the night.

Happy New Year from Tao-Fit

Happy New Year! It was an incredibly challenging, but an overall excellent year. 2017 brought loss and grief; a lot of hard work; some amazing connection with people and friends; and many success stories. I finished my first year back as a full-time student with straight A’s for the first time ever! Feeling proud. Being a fulltime student; dad to a very energetic ten-year-old; and maintaining a private practice has been the most challenging endeavor of my life. I’m incredibly thankful for it. I’m grateful to have another year moving forward on this planet. 

One of the biggest challenges I had last year was with my body, maintaining my personal movement practice, recovering from a sixth knee operation, while maintaining a parenting-school-work-life balance. Taking a full load of classes required sitting and studying for long periods of time. I had to be very intentional about movement and I wasn’t always successful. These are the realities and hardships of real life. Incorporating movement throughout the day is vitally important so that it doesn’t fall out of the schedule entirely. 

Movement Video Diary

Outdoor obstacle course - Happy New Year from Tao-Fit One way I created more space last year was building an outdoor obstacle course and setting up a slackline in my backyard. It added a really nice outdoor space to focus on movement and play. I feel that a huge step in cultivating a mindful movement practice is to create a dedicated space to move (see Establishing a Movement Practice: Where to Begin). As a way to challenge myself to move more, regardless of how bogged down I feel with school, work, and life commitments, I have started a new project. I have started a Movement Video Diary. This is a very intimate project for me. I will be documenting something that I have never really shared with anyone else,  my personal movement exploration practice. This is my self-care with descriptions of how I feel each day and my process for exploring my body through movement.

If this is something you’re interested, here are the places I will post regular updates:

Goals and Intentions for 2018

I have set my goals and intentions for the year to move my body as well as grow my homestead and movement space. In 2018, I’m committed to:

  • Two different kinds of persimmon trees and a loquat tree - Happy New Year from Tao-Fit
    Two different kinds of persimmon trees and a loquat tree

    Another year of straight A’s

  • Planting three fruit trees (already done)
  • Finish my chicken coop and get chickens
  • Build a backyard garden
  • Moving more, with less pain, and getting back to doing some of the fun things I could do easily before my knee surgery–running, climbing, roughhousing with my kid, etc. (see Movement Video Diary below)
  • Be inspired

I spent NYE in my gym getting back in touch with my body. For New Years Day, I did a 3-hour hike and followed it all up with a 30-minute movement restoration session. What a great way to start the new year!

I’d love to hear some of your goals for the new year! And if I can help you reach your movement goals in 2018, I’d love to connect about that, too

Happy New Year from Tao-Fit!

Jesse James Retherford

Travel day – Still need to move

Kimberly Vogelsang, LMT, PMA Certified Pilates Instructor - Travel day

Today is a travel day. Traveling to the big apple. Yesterday was not a great movement day. I was busy with morning sessions, midafternoon errands, getting packed for NY, and meditation workshop. I did get a much-needed massage from my good friend Kimberly Vogelsang of Birdsong Bodyworks & Pilates.

With such a busy schedule, it has been a challenge to get bodywork. There are only a handful of people I allow to work on my body. Kim is one of my favorites. If you are in the Austin area, I highly recommend getting a session with her.

My neck feels much better after the massage yesterday, but the pain is still there. Overall, I feel decent. Pain level today is around 3-4 on a scale of 10. As soon as we got to the airport I found this little space and spent a couple minutes moving. It is amazing what two or three minutes can do to awaken my body. It’s like a physical dose of caffeine.


When traveling, it is incredibly easy to just sit. It is what everyone is doing. I like to find the little open spaces in the airport and move. I may look weird to everyone else, but I have to live in this body. A day of traveling without moving today will equal a much more painful day tomorrow and the next day.

This video is from our layover in Nashville after two hours on a plane. This is just five-minute movement session, but it feels like a body saver. As the day wears on, it will be harder and harder to take the time out to move. So fitting it in when I can is super important.


My mom lives on the ninth floor. I could take the elevator… or I could take the stairs. Whenever I have the option of stairs and I am physically capable of climbing stairs… I take the stairs. Cause that’s how I roll!

Flight of stairs - Travel day

Neck still hurts movement sessions Jan 9

I woke up this morning still feeling pain in my neck, but it has reduced down to about 30-40% from yesterday. The fun thing about chronic pain is that there is always something that hurts. Last week it was my back and this week it is my neck.

The challenge is how to continue to move and grow in the face of pain. My natural inclination is to retreat, lie down, give in to the story of pain, and do nothing. The reality of my life is that I don’t have the option to give in. Life moves forward whether I am in pain or not.

Last year I gave into the story. I was too busy with school, I had to study, had to see clients, had to do homework, had to do, and had to do. Everything was more important than taking care of me, the basic human. I didn’t move enough. By the end of the year, I was a wreck recovering from knee surgery, shoulder and elbow tendinopathy, as well as neck pain and back pain.

This year I have “accidentally” happened upon this movement video diary project and so far, I am incredibly grateful. In a little over a week, I’ve moved more than I normally would have and my body feels really good because of it. I still obviously have pain, but I also have relief, I can find flow, I can be playful, and I feel human. Pain is not the only story today… For this I am thankful.

I spent all day yesterday explore movements in relationship to my neck. It made a little bit of difference, but not enough. This suggests to me that the neck pain problem isn’t coming from my neck.

In this short 15 minute session, I am focusing less on my neck and more with how my spine and hips move/feel. I spent a little time on the foam roller partly to mobilizing my spine, and also to see where there was muscle tension. I’m noticing some restriction in my left side lumbar area with rotation. This will be a focus throughout the day. I finish the session with some nice deep squat opening.

This was a really fun session. I did a 30-minute bike ride earlier in the day. I haven’t ridden the bike in months. It felt really good on the legs.

I still have pain in my left side neck with a couple of specific patterns. I worked on exploring the edges of my non-painful neck mobility. I am being really soft and gentle in these edges, pushing the discomfort to a 3 out of 10.

The V-sit exploration felt amazing through my hamstrings, hips, and back. Especially followed by the frog stretch, get up play, 3D stretching.

I look ridiculous through much of this one and it was super fun and hard. After going through some intense movement restoration, my vestibular system felt challenged. My focus in this session was squats and chaotic flow. Considering this body has experienced six knee operations, I felt pretty good about this session. I was sweating by the end of this one. I’ll update tomorrow if my knee gets angry with me.

Have you tried this 10-minute 30-day 2×4 challenge? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Neck Pain Movement Restoration Session

I experience daily chronic pain. Every day something hurts, although it isn’t always the same thing, nor at a consistent pain level. Most days, pain is low on the spectrum (1 or 2 on a scale of 10). Other days, it can be high (8 or 9). It stems from a laundry list of insignificant to majorly significant injuries throughout my life (I detail them a bit in my about me page on my website).

Yesterday I spent an hour and a half on my motorcycle and another hour or more in the car. I did explore movement a bit, mainly balance play on the balance bar and slackline, but I did not do a Movement Restoration session. Today I woke up with a decent pain spot on my left side neck. It hurts to turn my head to the right and a few other movement patterns elicit pain. When I do not do at least a few minutes of full body restoration movements each day… I pay the price the following day.

My first appointment canceled due to illness which gave me the opportunity to move and reset my neck. In this session, I am exploring movement through my spine paying attention to how it relates to my neck. I popped out my trusty Theracane to work on some sticking points in the neck and then reintegrated movement.

My neck is still a bit twingy, but the discomfort was reduced by 60-80%. I’ll continue to work on it throughout the day. I expect by tomorrow it will be down to 10% of what I felt today.

Balance Sessions

What do you do when you’re watering the trees and it’s amazeballs beautiful outside?

Evening Routine

The neck pain is still bothersome. It mainly hurts turning my head. Thankfully, it isn’t the kind of pain where it just bears down on everything. All the residual tension associated with the neck pain is gone. It’s been reduced to a very specific spot around the scalenes on the left side.

When I shot this video, it was 10p, it’s been a long day, and I’m ready for bed. I got a decent amount of movement today, but because of the neck, feel like I need a little more before turning in for the night. I took a nice long hot bath prior to starting this session, so my body feels heated, soft, and relaxed.

In this session, I focused on shin box explore (which felt amazing), exploring the full range of motion of my neck through multiple positions (including off the floor), and finished up with a little deep squat work.

Even though it’s late and I’m tired, I felt so much better after this session.

Night time Slackline snack – January 6


Went on a 5-6 mile hike today after a full morning with clients. Spent some time during the day with deep squat work and balancing on the board, slackline, and balance bar.

This was a super fun little night time movement snack on the slackline. The left knee is still quite wobbly compared to my right. I put a little extra time and focus on it. I felt like I was able to find a bit more control through the session.

Such a beautiful evening to play outside in the backyard.

Movement Restoration

This was a really nice little ten-minute restoration session with a focus on ground-based movements through the hips. Some left hip instability got my attention, so I focused on it. There is also a small range of motion that still smarts the left knee. I have to move slowly and safely through that bit.

Balance and Climbing Play Jan 5

The first part of my balance work for the day is on a bar. This is my backyard. With the combination of cold and wet, I haven’t been outside to play very the past few weeks. And with my school schedule, my outside practice took a big hit.

My knee feels much better than it did yesterday. The achiness I’d associate with inflammation is gone. All that remains in the last remanence pain that hasn’t gone away since the original injury.

I’m definitely rusty and my left knee is super challenged compared to my right. I’m also wearing my hiking boots which add to the challenge. I like to train both barefoot and shod.

Balance Play

Climbing Play

With the shoulder issues I’ve had over the past 5-6 months, I’ve had to cut out all pulling work, at least anything pulling through flexed elbows. Since finishing the semester and having three weeks to focus more on my body; almost all the elbow pain is gone, and most elbow function is back. This was a fun little climbing session.


I generally try to get a few minutes of slackline balance drills each week. It’s been hard getting out here over the past few months from the combination of weather and school schedule. I’m rusty.

I could really feel the benefit of this on my left knee. It was super challenged. I felt like I was able to push it just enough without irritating it. If my knee responds positively, I will make a better effort to come out and play more each week.


Dead hang Bar Play – January 4th

I’ve been dealing with a combination of shoulder impingement and tendinosis in the elbow over the past few months. With my head stuck in the books with school, I couldn’t get any sessions with my trusted therapists.

I’ve had to cut back a bunch on my climbing work. Since school ended, I’ve gotten my elbow and shoulder to about 90-95% better with just a bit of nagging in the Right elbow and thumb. In this session, I’m just feeling it out with some nice stretching and nerve flossing followed by challenging my body with grip work. Super fun session.