Posts Tagged ‘movement’

I have been a little sporadic as of late on blog posts, but do not worry I will be getting back after it.  My articles the last few years have focused solely on nutrition.  Those articles will continue, but I am going to add another critical piece and begin writing more frequently about the science of human movement.

Many of you probably do not know that my Master’s degree is actually in human movement and I have roughly 10 years experience as a strength coach.  Orthopedic surgeries cost the United States roughly $215 billion annually.  The majority of this is completely avoidable.  Low back pain, knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and the replacements and surgeries that come from these are caused from prolonged moving around with bad mechanics.

My articles will focus on the role of primitive movement patterns in developing adult patterns.  Every movement we make as a baby serves a purpose in the neurological development of more complex movements.  We can use these primitive patterns to help redevelop proper movement function.  Once we develop proper function we can begin to train to become elite in these patterns.

Too often exercise enthusiasts and personal trainers disregard the importance of proper movement and just train to become elite.  They may get bigger, stronger, and faster, but they are getting bigger, faster, stronger in compensatory movement patterns.  This will catch up to them with increased pain and increased risk of injury.  We even see this at the collegiate and professional levels.

Derek rose was an NBA MVP a couple of years ago.  He has barely played any games in the last two years due to a torn ACL and subsequent set backs post-surgery.  Derek Rose has suffered from anterior knee pain is whole life.  A good strength coach could have spared him a lot of pain and major injuries.  Non-contact injuries are on the rise in sports, and this includes youth sports.  These injuries are preventable and with proper movement training we can spare the future generations a lot of costly pain and suffering.  this includes athletes and non-athletes.

In my next post we will begin to gain an understanding of primitive patterns and how important diaphragmatic breathing is to movement skills.

As you all know I am a proponent of exercising based upon movement principles.  In essence work smart, not hard.  Too often people go to the gym and crush themselves in hopes of making up for other poor lifestyle choices.  This is ineffective for a couple of reasons.  For one, you are building physiological adaptations on a cracked foundation.  It is only a matter of time before the house caves in (see Derek Rose).  Also, exercise is a stressor and we are bombarded with other… stressors that we ignore.  This added stress of 4-6 intense workouts a week can throw us further down the rabbit hole.  We need to exercise the fundamental movement basics in the gym and then apply those learned skills by being more physically active day to day.  We sit in class to learn about math, and science.  Think of the gym as the classroom for your nervous system and skeleton to learn to move together in a way that will limit pain and disease.  This article by Katy Bowman is fantastic and explains the importance of moving more throughout the day.  If you decide to follow her great advice learning bracing techniques when standing can make a standing work station more effective, and then applying bracing techniques to a squatting position when we sit can further the movement quality of our lives.

This topic seems to come up quite a bit. This is advice I need to take into account myself. I understand it is difficult to listen to our bodies and understand that working out too much is a bad thing. We can not run away from stress and poor food choices.

Too often we take part in inappropriate physical activity when we feel hurt or we are injured. This is a really bad thing on a number of different levels. Firstly, pain alters movement. This is a defense mechanism to allow us to escape a predator. The problem is we are now more sedentary then ever and this causes musculoskeletal change and associated pain. Once our movement patterns are altered all kinds of bad things begin to happen.

Our central nervous system loses the ability to recruit muscular motor units at a high frequency. Ever been sore from a week of working out and realize you don’t run as fast or jump as high? This si what is happening. Add months and years on top of that and we have some serious issues brewing. We also lose the ability to co-activate the antagonist (opposing) muscle group. Also, due to the inability to properly contract the muscle, the muscle will eventually atrophy, become stiff, and lose range of motion. This then throws our central nervous system into another downward spiral. Constant improper movement will eventually lead to connective tissue wearing out, more pain, and more limited movement. This is where assistive devices such as wheel chairs, walkers, etc become a part of us.

None of us want to be in this situation. We need to go to the gym and train our bodies to move properly so that we can age gracefully and not painfully. Pain is not part of getting older, but instead it is an accumulated effect of poor posture and movement patterns.

At my facility we have changed how we do things quite a bit in a short amount of time. This made people raise questions and scared some away. I feel it is necessary to explain my evolution as a strength coach and help people understand why these changes have been made.
I started my career in this field about 6 years ago with a typical self-study certification. These certifications preach simple exercises for all muscle groups. I loved it right off the bat and decided to attend NPTI, a 500 hour program with hands on experience as well as classroom lectures on basic anatomy and exercise physiology. This broke the body up into isolated segments and gave information on how to increase physiological components of the human body through exercise. Both are important, but missing a huge piece, functional human movement.
I was getting bored with my workouts and so were my clients. This is where I stumbled upon Crossfit. I drank the Kool-Aid for Crossfit right away. The workouts were really tough so it had to be good right? Crossfit’s explanation of “constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensities” made sense and there explanations were logical. They said to change workouts everyday to prepare you for the dynamic quality of life, everyone squats and deadlifts on a day to day basis, and I am breathing hard and sweating so I am definitely getting a good workout in a small amount of time. Plus it is fun.
I decided to finish up my undergrad. I graduated with honors with a B.S. in health and wellness with a nutrition concentration. This was a combination of stress management, exercise science, and nutrition classes sprinkled amongst general education courses.
My degree was focused on holistic health so it was here that I was introduced to the paleo diet. General education courses are the majority of undergrad I came to realize and my knowledge on the subject matter specific to my career was minimal. Having all the different areas of focus in my degree did allow some overlap in metabolic mechanisms as well as physiology.
I soon realized my inability to answer questions and started researching more on my own. This is when I started applying the paleo diet to my life and I decided to get my Master’s degree in human movement..
In undergrad the focus of my exercise classes were on exercise physilogy. This is an explanation of the changes that can occur in the body in response to strength training and conditioning. We were taught anatomy and joint actions and a kinisieological approach to exercise. These principles are important and also further embedded my trust in the Crossfit way of doing things.
Through my grad school experience I have gained an enormous amount of information and specifically to functional human anatomy. It is one thing to know muscles and movements, but an entirely different thing to understand how they act during different human movement patterns. I have learned in a detailed manner how to assess and address poor movement quality. When we exercise or play a sport we are moving. Logically, don’t we want to move well first before anything else?
Most exercise programs claim to get you bigger, faster, and stronger. This is America and we are always looking for the quickest and easiest way to do everything. If we move poorly how big, fast, and strong can we truly get before the foundation on the house cracks?
My favorite examples in these situations are professional athletes and noncontact ACL injuries. Wes Welker a couple years ago tore is ACL just cutting with no one else around him. He may have been moving well initially, but over the course of the year I am sure he was suffering pain and minor injuries. Pain and injuries cause movement to change. This is a defense mechanism that has allowed us to escape predators in the past, but actually hinders us now. His movement patterns were probably dysfunctional due to the nagging injuries and it caused a loss of stability in his legs. Wes Welker is an elite athlete and now has all this speed, strength, and power sitting on a cracked foundation of dysfunctional movement. He plants and changes direction and now the joint gives way because it cannot withstand his ability to create force and the torn ACL occurs.
This is what is happening in gyms across America. People are getting beigger, faster, and stronger on weak foundations. This for one will limit performance and continuously increases our risk for injury? What if we have had a previous injury and do this? This is where some serious issues that can cause permanent damage can occur. Most trainers are truly there to help their clients, but there is a serious lack of education in the fitness field. Trainers get paid a lot of money to get you “in shape” and healthy and may be doing more to derail the integrity of your joints. For the amount of money training costs there should be a baseline level of education required, but this is a topic for another day. With that said they are not entirely wrong in what they are doing, but just missing a giant piece of the puzzle and if they added this piece in would have a much improved product.
Understanding these concepts I have now brought us back 6 years and began doing stuff that we should have been doing from the start. We are going to assess and address all movement dysfunction to build strong foundations. Once movement patterns are corrected we will start to add on the physiological components of strength and conditioning. This will allow us to increase performance and decrease injury risk and allow us to age gracefully instead of in a chronic state of pain. Scaling weight and just going through the motions does not improve movement. In the end it is just discouraging dysfunctional movement and speeding up the degradation of everyone’s fitness foundation. For the majority of my training career I have been going about things in an inapproriate way. I was missing a giant piece of this puzzle by not addressing proper human movement. I encourage all to get movement screened and fix any problems before taking part in any exercise program. Once the problems have been adjusted do what you have fun doing whether it is Crossfit, bootcamps, or sports. Get reassessed for movement periodically as well so any changes can be addressed. All sports cause movement problems so keep this in mind. I hope some people here this message and seek some quality help before continuing down what may be a risky path.

No Pain No Gain

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

This slogan seems to be the driving motivational force behind coaches, athletes, and every gym hero. To be honest as a strength coach, give me a whole gym of these people, at least they have the right attitude. The problem though lies within the mantra.
Pain is our body’s way of protecting itself. It lets us know when we need to rest and recover. However, we still have defense mechanisms that allow us to function well enough to escape a predator. It does this by changing movement patterns to make them less painful. You change movement patterns and the result can be detrimental. This is how people get hurt.
Our body’s also can inherit the new movement pattern as normal movement. This can lead to wear and tear of joints and painful movements in the long term. If this happens it is almost a guarantee that at some point you will need to take some time off from the gym.
Listen to your body. If you are sore or injured it is in your best interest to rest. Fatigue also effects movement quality. You come to the gym tired and sore and fight through a workout that makes you more tired. Imagine what this is doing to your movement quality. Rest when you need rest!
Lastly, please do not rush through exercises. Everywhere I go I see gyms selling more and more boot camps, and circuit training classes, and other programs that are done as fast as you can. To decrease injury risk and increase performance we must correct movement patterns first. Workouts should not be creating pain and making us move with compensations.
Here is a link to one study showing lower back pain substantially decreased voluntary muscle activation There are many more out there as well. Think about these things when looking for a gym or a trainer. They should be teaching you how to move better and not just looking to crush you every time you come into the gym.