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I started hiking in the White Mountains my first week living in New Hampshire over three years ago. I was inspired by a close friend and needed something to stay  busy with in grad school. I was new to the area and at first I didn’t know about the forty-eight 4,000 footers, I happened on them almost by accident.  The NH 48. It quickly became a goal of mine to finish “the list”. The incredible physical challenge of each peak followed by awe with the views of crags and ravines and basins and tiny life below. Little did I know that this list would become something much more, and a lesson that had only begun once I finished them in my last week living in New Hampshire.

At first I was full steam ahead. I met some friends who shared my interest in hiking. They took me on many, many adventures and joined me on over half of my list through the 48’s and others. They showed me that smaller hikes had beauty, the history of the Whites is full, as seen by old warplane wreckage, the experience of waking up before the sun and racing it to the treeline. They taught me the grit of trekking to the top at subzero temperatures with nothing but spikes on. I lived and breathed the mountains and wanted to spend my days nowhere else.

 

Then I got hurt. I ruptured my ACL in the mountains on a 17-mile journey into the Cannon and Kinsman world. Seasons changed and life got busy, but I didn’t forget about them. And I certainly didn’t stop getting injured.

I experienced failures, getting lost, bad weather turn-arounds, and never finding the trailhead. Some hikes you’d find me basically crying in panic on the slides because I chose a rainy day to scramble a cliff. One hike I ran three miles just to avoid massive clouds of mosquitos. Another, completely lost and off of the trail, crawling like a blind ass moose through thick spider webs, bushwhacking to find the trail again. Some days I was just totally sketched out by the dark lonesome woods that I turned around and went home. It was in these really unglamorous hikes I learned that this list wasn’t about just getting to the top to see the crags and ravines and basins and tiny life below. It’s about noticing things; what you see along the way. It’s about accepting the journey and letting it take you. It’s about learning you actually aren’t afraid of the things you thought. The list became less and less of a race and even less of a “list”.

 

Before the AMC 4,000-Footer Club formed, many of the peaks above 4,000 ft were trail-less. Not many were hiked, and the more popular Presidentials and Franconia Ridge were over-hiked. It’s amazing to see how big the list has gotten, and how many people you see trudging through it.  Each mountain range in the Whites has its own story. The logging trails in Franconia Notch, the avalanche history in Crawford Notch, it’s all fascinating. Each range has its own terrain and its own challenges. The Presidential ridge trails are scattered with beauty, the Carter Moriah Range is gut-wrenchingly unforgiving, and the Pemi Range in Franconia is mesmerizing with peaceful thickness. All are astounding in their own nature. I remember every hike because of this.

 

Some hikes you can experience a change of seasons. Spring, fall, and winter as you approach the summit, all in one day. When lost in the silence of the woods I love to notice the change in vegetation as you increase elevation. The smell in the woods turns to a sweet, sweet pine and evergreen. When you get to the top it’s a relief, I’ll admit. But on the way back you get to see everything with a new perspective. Your steps are more careful. It’s fun to think about how quickly the brain calculates what path you’re going to take without you being aware. As you think about something else, you’re subconsciously making hundreds and hundreds of math equations in your head to stay standing. As you step from rock to vine your foot folds over the surface to accept the load and create balance.

The mountains are humbling. They work your body, and your mind. They also cleanse your soul. Each one has a story, and though some of them I might not choose to see again, their memory and their lessons remain with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s rare to come across a person who can run pain-free.

The injury rate associated with running is incredibly high (up to 70% of all injuries in recreational and competitive athletes). But does it make sense that we can’t run without something nagging or hurting us? Why does the repetitive action of running create chronic injury in a body that was designed to run? We suffer from “shin splints”, “runner’s knee”, back pain… the list goes on… often times we find blame in the shoes we wear.

Depending on who you talk to it’s “absolutely vital to buy the latest pair of Hoka One One maximum cushion running shoes”, or  it’s- “buy the Vibram barefoot running shoe, it’s ‘zero-drop’ and that’s how we’re supposed to run”. Then of course you’ve heard the horror stories of people who ran in those minimal shoes and suffered from some injury.

running

Running & Walking Gait

Let’s back up for a minute and think about what’s going on during running and walking gait in the most simple explanation possible.

Walking, a movement natural to the human body, involves having one foot in contact with the ground at all times. It involves the whole body, from head to toe, working as one… it’s not just your legs moving. Simply put, your whole body moves and rotates around the spine. In good walking form, the pelvis must move smoothly and when the foot contacts the ground there is a heel strike, a flat foot, a heel-off, and a toe-off. This heel contact in walking allows us to use our glutes and stronger hip muscles to stabilize the pelvis and move us forward over the ground.

(Here’s a good spot to think about the implications of a treadmill: a machine that propels your legs behind you rather than YOU propelling your legs behind you).

Weak and inactive glutes prevent the pelvis from stabilizing. When understanding an active posture, your glutes also act to stabilize the knee and ankle. If you look at a passive posture (silent glutes), you can see the knee collapse in and the arch of the foot drops into pronation. When we create torque in the hips and activate the glutes, you can see the knee rotate externally and the plantar surface of the foot becomes pulled up into a neutral arch (see video). This becomes important because if we aren’t properly using the glutes to create stability, it translates into repetition after repetition of a collapse of the knee and therefore over pronation aka collapse of the arch in the foot (read: overuse injury).

Running is actually a very different pattern of movement that involves having no foot in contact with the ground. It requires some serious forces to travel through your body and those forces actually work in an “up and down” (read: jumping) fashion rather than horizontal (distance) like it appears. Our bodies were designed to land on the forefoot (rather than the rear foot). This allows your calf muscles to eccentrically control and lower your body as it drives into the ground. This helps to dissipate loads placed on your body.

When the mechanical forces are analyzed, a heel strike running pattern (heel to toe) comes down to rapid, high-impact, dead on forces through your heel (up to 3 times your bodyweight). Ouch.

A pattern of landing on your forefoot (toe to heel), however, shows a slow rise in force with no distinct impact that can actually be measured. The forefoot strike prevents some pretty serious loads from jolting your body stride after stride. This is represented nicely in the graphs shown below, and the detailed analysis is also found here.

 

Take away: Walking is heel to toe. Running is toe to heel. Running on your heels is like driving your car with the E-brake on.

heelstrikepost

Fun Fact: When designing prosthetic legs, you might notice that the design makes it impossible for it’s ewearer to heel strike. This is because there is no way to design a prosthetic limb that can withstand the tremendous loads required for heel striking… Striking isn’t it?! Highly cushioned shoes is the only way to make a heel-striking behavior possible.

 

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Why Do We Heel Strike

So if it’s natural for us to forefoot strike, why do we heel strike?

 

Sitting

Deskbound-Kelly-Starrett-300x255In Kelly Starrett’s book Deskbound, he discussed the effects of sitting. When we look into a child’s movement, we know that when they are a toddler up until around kindergarten they maintain perfect, natural movement. They can run, squat, lunge, and move their bodies with ease. Watch any baby move and you will see what I mean. It was noticed though, that sometime after the kids entered the 1st grade, they lost their natural ability to run and their mechanics were completely different. They were heel striking. This is the time in our lives as kids that we  start our career as chronic sitters. Sitting affects our neurological and musculoskeletal systems to the point that our fundamental ability to run is altered.

 

Shoes

In the 70’s, athletic shoe design began a rapid revolution. It began with making the shoe clunkier, with a heel cushion to lift the heel in addition to orthotic structures like arch supports to create “stability”. But what really happened was this extra cushion and “support” completely silence the stability capabilities of the foot and ankle. Consequently, running mechanics began to change, supporting the heel strike. Unsurprisingly, injuries started to occur more often with running. Shoes make the foot dumb and blind, basically.

To accommodate the issue with injury and pain due to running, more and more high cushioned shoes were designed to accept the impact that running has on the body. The goal of the shoe AND the problem with the shoe is that someone who experiences pain with running in a light/minimal shoe can now run miles pain-free with altered running technique.

 

 

The problem with high cushioned shoes
  1. Bandaid on a bigger issue274889120-13153212-1

I think it’s great that these shoes allow
people to run farther to get their heart rate up and 
exercise, however the bigger picture is what gets me. The body is still heel striking, and loads and undue stress are still being placed where they don’t belong. Accumulatively, that’s millions of “bad” reps over miles and miles and miles. The body is resilient. It can take it… and take it… and take it… until it simply can’t. A part will break down eventually. More issues will manifest elsewhere. Relieving the pain and discomfort of running by adding a cushion does not address why you have pain with running in the first place.

  1. Stability

Our feet are the one point of contact we have with the earth (unless we’re walking on our hands). We have hundreds of thousands of proprioceptors in our feet that let our brain know where we are, what we’re walking on, and what our legs are doing. Our feet are the most-sensory rich parts of our body. For a reason. When we add 2- 3 inches of thick foam to that, stability is lost. The brain can receive almost no information from our feet in this environment. The shoe becomes a cast for our 33 foot joints (yes! 33… more on that later) and the 4 different layers of (10) intrinsic muscles of our foot become atrophied. These muscles control fine motor of the foot.  When these muscles atrophy, posture of the foot changes and just as with any postural change, you can imagine how this can become a problem.

  1. Anti-Mobility
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Doesn’t this look a lot like a cast?

Even just standing with shoes with a heel to toe rise alters our posture and standing mechanics. And let’s just think about the implications of standing with our heels raised. If we are constantly keeping our ankles at a shortened position, our muscles shorten and adapt to that position (read: tight calfs). Its the same concept with our hip tightness and sitting in a chair with our hips stuck at 90 degrees. When we then ask for that range of motion that we lost, it puts a ton of stress on structures like our achilles tendon. Who wants to have that rupture? We’ll talk more about what shoes do to our feet later. But for now understand the global concerns with the shoe in terms of altered posture and mechanics of running.

How to transition to barefoot shoes:

SLOWLY.

The main issue with barefoot shoes is that people transition far too quickly (asking joints to move in places and muscles to work that haven’t been called upon in YEARS). Chances are your foot has lost a ton of mobility, and the muscles in your feet are likely atrophied and weak (at least some of the important ones).

Don’t freak out.

Stay tuned to learn how to rebuild your foot and transition into pain-free running 🙂

 

References

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

There’s a reason I am always reminding you to breathe.

Often times when I see people come into the rehab clinic expressing difficulty in movement whether they can’t squat deeply, touch their toes, experience pain etc., the findings simply don’t add up. When we start to break down their movement and their mechanics, very often we can see that there is full and pain-free range of motion in the hips, knees, ankles, and other joints necessary for the movement or task at hand….So why can’t these athletes achieve clean movement patterns?

They have a faux mobility problem… it isn’t actually their MOBILITY. This is where we start to see the influence that respiration has on core stability and motor-control.

Core stability, a buzz word in the fitness and health industry, is the bulk of how you stabilize your spine. Your core isn’t just your washboard or six pack abs. It isn’t even just one muscle. Your core is actually your diaphragm (the muscle that controls breathing) in conjunction with several other muscles including the abdominal wall, pelvic floor, and deep posterior muscles in your back that surround your spine to protect it.

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The brain has a dramatic influence on how the core is functioning. The core and the diaphragm are an extremely complex system that work together with the central nervous system signalling to the brain whether or not we are safe. If there are bad signals coming from either direction, things start to become pretty murky. In our overworked, overstagnant culture, it is rare that we have a well-oiled, perfectly functioning core.

 

How the diaphragm works:

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As we inhale the diaphragm contracts and pulls the air into the lungs using negative pressure (roughly 75% of the work). The ribs become slightly elevated but the diaphragm is active here. We see disfunction when the ribs and sternum excessively elevate and the diaphragm contracts too little or incorrectly. The diaphragm can basically shift into a “bad position”… more on this later. We should be able to maintain a neutral spine as we inhale and exhale. During exhalation, the diaphragm pushes the air out as it returns to its natural, relaxed domed shape. During normal breathing, this exhalation is passive and much slower than inhalation.

With perfect breathing, we want to achieve whats called the Zone of Apposition, or ZOA, which is basically a normal, dome shaped curvature and normal movement of the diaphragm. The ZOA allows our muscles to be in the most optimal position to accept gas exchange (respiration) which is controlled and balanced. If we start to look at what a sub-optimal or poor ZOA looks like, we can see a change in posture: the ribs are flared out, the curvature of the lumbar and cervical spine becomes overly extended, the scapula is shifted out of position, and the head becomes more forward on the spine due to the change in it’s curvature. Check out the picture below and see if you can notice a difference in the skeletal alignment. These postural changes can become problematic quickly.

ZOA

*It is important to note that our body also has natural asymmetries that are not due to postural compensations (ie. three lobes in the right lung, two on the left, the right diaphragm is higher and has more muscular attachments, the left side has a heart to accomodate, etc.) Large amounts of research has been done by the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) to study the effects of these imbalances and specifically the respiratory influence on asymmetry and posture.  Respiratory dysfunction can have resounding effects on this delicate system if persistent and consistent.

So what are we doing that’s leaving us with a sub-optimal ZOA?
There are several reasons we can develop dysfunctional breathing, some of them include: 
  • Stress
  • Chronic sitting/slouching
  • Over-use of “core” exercises (read: Hypertonicity of the abdominals and Pelvic floor)
  • Mouth breathing/ hyper- ventilation, or shallow breathing
  • Chronic Pain (read: stress)
  • Sleeping on the belly
  • Abdominal surgeries/ Pregnancy
  • Poor posture
  • Movement patterns (read: unilateral sports, sport specificity)
We know that most of us are exposed to at least one or two of those causes quite frequently. When we start to examine the effects of a sub-optimal ZOA we find several different functional and pathological conditions and mechanical issues associated with this dysfunction. Some of those include:
  • Pelvic pain
  • Incontinence/pelvic floor dysfunction (Do you pee when you do double unders??
  • Functional intestinal disorders (ie. IBS)
  • Hip impingement/pain/instability
  • Shoulder impingement/pain/instability
  • Sports hernias
  • Groin/hamstring Strains
  • Low back pain
  • SI pain/dysfunction
  • Plantar fasciitis
Now that we know the basic fundamentals of breathing and what can go wrong, let’s look at some very simple qualities of optimal breathing, and what we can do to get us there.
Qualities of Normal Breathing
  • Abdomen rises first, then the chest rises slightly.
  • Little to no accessory movement in the neck muscles, slight elevation of the ribs.
  • Inhalation through the nose, exhalation through the mouth.
  • The exhalation phase lasts twice as long as the inhalation phase of breathing. 

Are you doing this? Or do you find that you are in the dysfunctional category?

Let’s think about it. We breathe on average 12-14 breaths per minute. There are 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day…

That’s around 20,000 breaths a day.

That’s 20,000 repetitions a day… in a poor position

That’s 20,000 “bad reps”… a day.  

There are several different ways we can start to address resetting the diaphragm and breath. The following two exercises are the very first go-to drills I put my clients through to start the process and are usually quite effective.

Super easy exercises to practice:

Lying Belly Breathing

  • Lay down with your feet up. Hips and knees at 90 degrees.
  • Place your left hand on the belly, right hand on the chest.
  • Focus on breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • As you inhale, fill the belly as much as you can rising the left hand. The right hand should only rise minimally at the very end of the inhalation, if at all.

4-7-8 Belly Breathing

Once the first drill becomes smooth and natural practice 4-7-8 breathing.

  • Inhale deeply for 4 seconds into the belly
  • hold the breath for 7 seconds
  • exhale for 8 seconds.

Repeat these for 4-5 breath cycles at a time throughout the day, and soon enough they will become natural. 

Case Study:

Below is a client who had complaints of hip pain/ impingement referred to the rehab clinic for mobility prescription.This picture is showing progress, each 2 weeks apart. Roughly 90% of the work put in across all 4 weeks consists of breathing, motor control drills, and nervous system down-regulation (read: brain-breath connection). As you can see in the picture, hip flexion, knee flexion, ankle dorsiflexion and easy of movement has improved. The athlete is now pain-free with movement.

Keep in mind, this athlete had full passive range of motion in all of these joints (I could move the joints freely), but when given gravity and active movement, the athlete could not achieve an optimal position.

IMG_2084-1

 

Are you breathing correctly??

“If you can’t breathe in a position, you don’t own that position. You can’t survive in that position.” -Gray Cook

 

References

Cook, G., Burton, L., Kiesel, K., Rose, G., Bryant, M. (2010). Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening Assessment, Corrective Strategies. Lotus Publishing.

Mullin, M.(2014, July 16). Respiratory Influences on Core Stability. Online Webinar. https://www.nata.org.

Hruska,R. (2005). Zone of Apposition (ZOA). Postural Restoration Institute. https://www.posturalrestoration.com/resources/dyn/files/1051512z69443dbe/_fn/ZOA.pdf

Swanson, A. (2016, March 24). Understanding the Difference Between Low and High Threshold Strategies. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://www.functionalmovement.com/articles/Fitness/712/understanding_the_difference_between_low_and_high_threshold_strategies 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a little over a year since my injury first started. A long, gruelling, painful year that I would never take back for anything.
A little case history:

This all started subtly… not even as pain. It felt like a tight muscle. I would keep going, though, hit it with mobility work to no avail (even though it never helped). Usually once I warmed up I would be good enough to go though. Sounds harmless, right?

Days would pass and nothing improved. In fact, it’s state was declining so fractionally that the “tight glute” eventually turned into a “tight hamstring”. I started modifying workouts to avoid putting my suspect leg on tension. Throughout the day I would be feeling okay, but as soon as I got out of bed the next day, it would be back. Groundhog’s Day. Everyday a tiny bit worse.  Still, I continued on. I’m an athletic trainer, of course I had some differential diagnoses in my head about the truth but I did not want to believe I could have a back injury. Modified workouts turned into modified daily activities. 

Finally one day it all came crashing down. I tried getting out of bed and as soon as I put

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My MRI May 2015

weight on my left leg, I fell. My muscle’s seized in excruciating pain, and I fell. It felt like I was paralyzed and being tased at the same time. I had never been tased, but that is what I imagined. I finally got an MRI and got a copy of the scans so I could look at them right away. I had herniated my Lumbar L5-S1 disc to the point of extrusion (contents of the disc material seep into the spinal column). The pressure and inflammation on the sciatic nerve was affecting the muscles it innervates. From this point on I settled in knowing I would be out for a very long time. Perhaps need surgery? I never thought I would be able to lift weights or do anything I love again.

Action

At first my steps were small albeit important. I had change the details of how I moved through out the day. I slept on the floor every night, flat on my back. Not only is sleeping on the floor an easy way to mobilize, but it keeps your spine and hips aligned. This actually became very comfortable.  My “resting” position was with my back on the floor, my feet propped up and my hips and knees at 90 degrees. This put some gentle traction on my spine and felt very nice. Driving was the ONLY time I would sit (it still is), and I keep the backrest down, with a rolled up towel behind me so I have to sit up tall. This prevents me from sinking into a poor slouching position which irritates my symptoms.

Of course I did my fair share of moping. Hard to avoid that. I let this thing define me. Whenever I would see someone or meet someone new it was as if I would say “Hi, I’m Sam. I hurt my back so don’t touch me, or ask me to sit, or judge me when I move like a cement block, and definitely, definitely don’t ask me if I’m okay.”

I couldn’t will myself to do anything. If I couldn’t lift weights or do anything fun, what was the point, right? One day my coach stopped me told me I needed to seriously get my shit together. And if you knew my coach, it was said with enough firmness to scare the shit out of you, but get you moving anyway. That was a turning point.

I starting hitting mobility as much as I could, until I started to notice a change. Then it was small tasks I could handle pain free like rolling on the floor and working on my breathing. Then it was balancing on one leg, ball tossing, and addressing really basic movement patterns. Touching my toes, lunging, walking, walking backwards and sideways, carrying a light kettlebell. I put in work everyday, even if it was a little bit here and there, it adds up.


One thing I do know for certain, is that I started feeling 10 times better once I began moving. On days I sat still, I hurt. To this day I still work on the basics, and am humbled by them everyday. I can’t yet say that I am 100% symptom free. I might not ever be able to say that. But I can say that I am way stronger and move much better than my pre-injury self. This experience taught me the importance of movement… It’s much more comfortable to be able to squat without “warming up” for thirty minutes, touching my toes feels natural, and cheating range of motion because I don’t have it is a damn good indication to get it. That’s my goal. I now know so much more about human movement. I learned how powerful it can be to get to the root of things to create change, rather than masking problems and poor habits and riding out the storm. I learned how hard work, focus, and lifestyle changes can go a very long way in proving that  “I will never _______ again.” is such a lie.

Fix dysfunction, teach your body and your brain to work as a unit, and never ever stop practicing.

L E S S O N S  L E A R N E D
  • Be patient: Chances are, if it’s a chronic injury, it took a very long time to happen… It’s probably not going away overnight. Mobility work is also a long and gruelling process, and it’s work. To make permanent changes, stick with it… it’s worth it.
  • Change your Lifestyle: Include more movement into your day (subtract conveniences)… challenge yourself to remodel habits that are getting in your way. This is a game changer.
  • Let it be a lesson: But don’t let it define you. Once an injury happens, the ball is now in your court. Learn why it happened and address those reasons so that your body is prepared for whatever you and life are asking it to do.
  • The Basics: No matter who you are, fundamentals are what counts. Sure, you can snatch 120 pounds, but can you balance on one leg with your eyes closed? You can kip 100 pull-ups, but can you actively hang on a rack with one arm?  Your foundation is what allows you to get to the big stuff.  
  • Set-backs are okay: If it hurts, don’t do it… but…if you push it too far, it’s not the end of the world. Now you know what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be further addressed.
  • Breathing: This is huge. Not only does injury stress you out, but pain can change your breathing mechanics, similar to how an ankle sprain creates a limp. Learn how to let your nervous system feel safe and keep your diaphragm working well. 
  • Quality First: Take your time. Think twice before flying out of the gate at the first sight of freedom (this was one of the hardest things for me if it wasn’t for my coach. I had a few set-backs along the way). Until you can control yourself, practice quality over quantity.
  • Have support: If you need help, ask for it and accept it. Period.
  • Don’t Compartmentalize Your Injury: If you hurt your back (knee, shoulder, etc), don’t just address that part. Your body works as a whole system. Chances are if your knee hurts, the reason it hurts is coming from a host of other issues. If you experience pain somewhere, evaluate how you’re moving or find a specialist that can look at your movement as a whole, not just by its diagnosis. Once I started looking at my ACL-deficiency and poor shoulder mobility and addressing those links as well, my symptoms improved dramatically.
  • Train the position that broke you: That’s your weak link. Pay attention to it and take ownership over it. If you ignore it because you “can’t do it” or your “body wasn’t built for that”, chances are, it’s going to break you… again.
  • Accept and believe that you can be pain free and fully functioning: It’s going to take a lot of work, and dedication. Comfort and your quality of life improve so much when you can move, not the other way around. It’s not so much about bad movement or bad positions, it’s about how much your body is prepared to handle those situations, especially under speed and load. Rebuilding your body to move naturally is entirely possible. With some effort you can teach the body and brain to work together. Once you’ve mastered that, you will become injury-proof.
  • Don’t be a hero: The final lesson. Listen to your body. Period. There isn’t such thing as just a “tweak”. It is a warning sign about your movement; there is always a reason behind it. Taking a couple days or a couple of weeks off to do some corrective and mobility work is a much better option than taking a year + to put the broken pieces back together again.
jerkinjurypost

Symptom Free PR  4/24/16

Why is the Get-up so powerful for strength, mobility, stability 

Part 1: The shoulder.

What is the Turkish Get-Up?

A Little History

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, if you planned on becoming a Strongman, they didn’t care about how much you could squat, or bench press… they wanted to know if you could take 100 pounds from the floor, to standing up, with one arm…over your head. If you couldn’t complete a 100-pound turkish get-up on each arm, you weren’t even allowed to begin training for Strongman. Seems fair enough, right? To them the get-up was the best depiction of strength.

This movement really is a complete picture of strength, mobility, and stability.

get-up

Okay, so what is the get-up, you ask?

The most common turkish get-up variation is a seven step movement:

  1. Roll to press– uses a fundamental movement pattern (skill we are born with) of rolling. Proficiency in this step represents a properly reflexive core stabilization.
  2. Press to elbow– requires shoulder mobility, stability and a healthy core reflex.  Shoulders by the ears are poison, always remember that.
  3. Press to hand-The shoulders should be on tension, and the bell is stacked overhead. You’re looking up at that bell, right??
  4. Bridge- Mostly about the hips, but the demands on the shoulders change as the center of mass moves and the grounded shoulder accepts more weight bearing load. Cross-body coordination is also necessary here.
  5. Bridge to Knee- All about the hips, and coordination… Mobility, mobility, mobility.
  6. Knee to Lunge– Balance: getting the chest tall requires driving the hips toward the opposite direction of the bell to counterbalance, but you also have to accommodate through the shoulder to keep the bell stacked.
  7. Stand- Stand up, take a deep breath and reverse the order going back down to where you started.

 

So, what does that all have to do your shoulder joint?

First, a super quick and simple anatomy blurb about the very complex shoulder: It’s a shallow ball and socket joint. You may have heard the “Golf ball and a tee” analogy. The shoulder should move smoothly through great ranges of motion in every direction, and  should work in conjunction with the shoulder blade. Bottom line, healthy movement of the shoulder requires a healthy relationship between the joint, its muscles (the rotator cuff and friends), and the shoulder blade in order to move like it should. Injury and weakness come when one or all pieces of the puzzle don’t play their part.

The Get-up requires massive stability of the shoulder… what this really means is, all of the players are in the game. The rotator cuff is turned on throughout the whole movement as the kettlebell constantly changes in position, sending input from proprioceptors (sensory receptors) in the shoulder to the brain (read:balance…stabilization!).  The get-up also requires weight bearing through the upper extremity which adds more demands to the “nonworking” shoulder.

 

For this to be successful, the body must:

  • stabilize the weight overhead
  • control hip, shoulder, and thoracic spine mobility
  • translate strength across the body through the left and right sides
  • differentiate the movement of lower extremity from the upper
  • use balance/coordination
  • maintain core stability
  • withstand single extremity challenges

… I could go on and on.

How can you truly make the most of this movement?

1- Go Slow! The Get-up is not a race. How smoothly can you do this without missing any of the steps. Can you breathe at each step without skipping one? How slow can you do one… Not: How fast can you do many.

2- Create tension in your belly. The leg should stay grounded on the press to elbow. If your leg pops up to get your momentum forward, it’s a sign you’ve lost stability in the core from the get-go.

3-Don’t slouch! Always think about pushing the shoulder away from your ears. If you’re sinking into the grounded shoulder, it means that you’re resting the weight on your bones and ligaments, and not using muscles to stabilize.

4-Eyes up– vision has a huge influence on balance, keep your gaze on the kettlebell.

5-Breathe– This lets your nervous system know that you are safe and allows you to own and control the movement.

6-Stay stacked– keep good alignment through the shoulders and spine.

7-Use it as a rehab tool. Check out the video and try out the drill to increase stability and rotation in the shoulder!

Bottom Line:

Fundamentals are SO important. It’s often a misstep in training; most of us want to get right to the good stuff, or speed through it for quantity, not quality. The shoulder has an incredible capacity for range of motion that is unfortunately lost due to well, not using it.

Master the Get-up with good control through the body and the breath and you will unlock massive shoulder mobility and strength.

 

 

 

 

References

You are how you move

We move everyday… but do we really? Why is this even important? This topic is so deep and complex that it’s hard to find a place to start. But, we’ll start here:

How many times have you seen someone move so fluidly that it was majestic? Maybe they had a gorgeous squat, or they could raise their foot above their head, or better yet, could do the splits… and the first thing that you thought was “I could never do that”.

Yeah, exactly. The thing is, we all have bodies and even though each and every one of our bodies experiences the world differently (ie. gets fuelled differently, gets carried differently throughout the day) we are all engineered to MOVE. You guys, we literally ARE HOW WE MOVE. How we think about ourselves and our mood, what we wear, what we eat, and what we do throughout the day dictates how our bodies move. Why is that important? Well, because we live in a world designed for convenience, and convenience means ease of living, and consequently, not moving. Interestingly enough, not moving leads to Dis-ease.

The definition of disease as found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary states “ a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms”. A body that doesn’t move well, or isn’t prepared to move experiences pain, and worse, gets injured. Makes sense right? As a culture, we are at an unprecedented level of disease and injury. But wait, there’s a pill for that, right? Wrong.

When people ask what I do, I talk about Flux, a practice we run out of Carpe Diem CrossFit that utilizes an alternative approach to correcting poor movement and aiding injury recovery and prevention.  A very typical response is a sarcastic “Oh, great, surprising, CrossFit created it’s own industry for healthcare”. I kindly respond with no. People who become injured as a result of exercise do so because of life. It’s not CrossFit that hurt them, it’s that the majority of their day is stagnant and stationary and spent sitting, actually. Insert rant about how it isn’t CrossFit that’s dangerous, it’s regular people attempting to get through “complex” (read:functional) movements when they move very poorly. When you don’t use your range of motion, you lose your range of motion. When you then try to use this lost range of motion (ie. during exercise), much of the time that range of motion is stolen from a host of other compensatory actions. You may see how this can become problematic.

Sitting has changed the way our body (that were designed for movement) works, because we are no longer moving. If you don’t believe this information applies to you, pick up the book DESKBOUND, by Dr. Kelly Starrett, Glen Cordoza, and Juliet Starrett. Or visit Standupkids.org to read the mounting facts science has towards the harmful effects of sitting.

If you spend fourteen hours of your day sitting, but still make it to a hard 1-hour workout, every day, you are still considered a sedentary individual, and chances are that 1-hour workout doesn’t negate the 14 hours you spent sitting.

Do you experience pain when you run? Do you have chronic back pain (at the ripe age of 25)? It’s time to take those steps to become a mover once again.

You are how you move.

Trust The Process

So far at FLUX.

During a WOD one night:

“I’m dying.” says my client. “No, you’re living.” I tell her.

After that WOD we had a late night Flux Mobility Session. Flux has helped us learn about ourselves. We highlight weaknesses, yes, but then we iron them out… (sometimes literally).

Since the beginning our approach has been this: What can we indirectly add or eliminate to the situation to create positive change. An old adage, a tight hamstring doesn’t necessarily mean a hamstring problem…

This individual had suffered chronic knee pain. She had bizarre foot pain that could not be explained by anyone, or fixed by any medication she tried. She suffered from fluctuating back pain and a bone spur in her hip. She could barely move without feeling miserable. We monitor her symptoms and how she feels within her body to adjust the plan as we go. Two full hours of courageous fluxing a week, plus diligently adhering to a home program, this individual has become pain free. Her feet do not hurt and she can get out of a chair without pain in her knees. Her hips? Stronger. Balance? Better. Her posture has improved and so have her spirits. How cool to see something so complex evolve with hard work, time, and dedication.
This is why we trust the process.

 

 

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