We have a couple short term fixes to get you through the grey days of the early winter. These are only available this weekend and must be activated upon purchase.
We have a couple short term fixes to get you through the grey days of the early winter. These are only available this weekend and must be activated upon purchase.
In part 1 I discussed the ABC’s of movement as it applies to our principles of movement based evaluations and programming. If you missed part 1, you can find it here. Today I am going to tackle “B” which stands for Breathing. Despite the fact that we take about 20,000 breathes per day, we rarely think about how we breathe. For the most part, it’s on autopilot. For those with a background in singing, yoga, freediving or even fire breathing, you will have a better understanding of the importance of breathing well.
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale..simple right? Well, believe it or not, most of us are pretty lazy breathers. But I’m here to say it’s not your fault. You were born that way. We were all born that way. I’d even go as far to say, we were set up to fail! Although our bodies seem balanced…left and right arms, legs, eyes, lunges, etc., when you take a look under the hood, things aren’t quite the same. Perhaps the architect that designed us was having an off day. Take a look at the picture below and notice the asymmetries.
Most notably, our heart and pericardium sit to the left side, our right lunge is larger and has 3 lobes, the left is smaller and only has 2 (that is to make room for the heart), and our diaphragm is larger and more domed on the right compared to the left. Not seen in the picture, is a big honkin’ liver that sits on the right side and our diaphragm has three spinal attachments on the right side and only two on the left.
So, with years of taking 20,000 plus breathes per day and just going with the flow, our bodies will adjust or adapt accordingly. Think of it as taking the path of least resistance. By hanging out in a position that facilitates our anatomical imbalances, it makes breathing “easier”. The good folks at the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) have identified these anatomical imbalances and correlated them to common postural patterns. The most common that we come across is known as Left Anterior Interior Chain/ Right Brachial Chain patterning. Basically it looks like this:
The right shoulder sits lower than the left, the right hip is internally rotated and there is a rib flare on the left side. This comes from standing like this:
You may not realize you stand like that but now that you have seen it, keep it in the back of your mind. I can guarantee you will start spotting the pattern on others. They’ll be in the line at the bank or the grocery store or waiting for the light to turn green at the cross walk. Their weight will be shifted to their right, the left leg will be ahead of the right and their right shoulder will droop. It’s our bodies way of modifying posture to accommodate for the anatomical imbalances, the net effect is that we shift to the right. To keep this post light in terms of anatomy and physiology I am not going to delve into the deeper explanation surrounding the right stance pattern. But do understand that our Autonomic Nervous system plays a central role and can be considered as our body’s way of best supporting a role of survival by way of the fight or flight response. Our brains have situated our resting posture to react and move to the right automatically so that in the event we have to flee quickly, there is no time delay in the response which could negatively affect our chance of survival.
By now you are probably thinking, so what! It’s a natural posture that benefits us should we ever have to run away from danger and it’s easier to breathe! Well, going back to part 1 about alignment, I’ll connect the dots. Recall how poor postural alignment can lengthen some muscles and shorten others and cause imbalances that can result in painful syndromes? The right stance posture is a long way from neutral and unless we are aware of it, you can’t fix it and it all starts with learning to take control of how you breathe.
I want you to stand in front of a mirror and take a deep breath. I mean really deep. Keep an eye on the muscles at the top of your chest and then run up your neck. Do they tighten up and flare out? Does your chest rise and fall with each breath? If so, you would be considered and apical or chest breather. Basically you don’t use the big muscles of the diaphragm to draw in and expel air. You use the small muscles of the upper chest and neck to do the work. Those muscles are supposed to be accessory muscles to assist in breathing, not the primary movers.
Now, put your hand on your belly button and this time when you take the breath in, try to fill your belly with air so it pushes against your hand. If it’s hard to do, don’t worry. Most folks have never been taught how to use their diaphragm to breathe. However, it’s the first step in learning how to breathe properly. It’s easier to try it while lying on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Muscles that are used to stabilize your spine while upright can relax and so you can focus on the belly breath. The video below is a great example of both types of breathing patterns and what they look like.
Ok, so now that you know how you should be breathing, I want to tell you why. When you chest breathe and your ribs flare out, you are essentially accommodating those asymmetries I talked about. From a functional perspective, chest breathing drastically reduces the bodies ability to stabilize your core. It’s referred to as losing your zone of apposition where you can’t use your core musculature to “clamp down” and brace in order to stabilize the spine during movement. The pic below illustrates the point.
By keeping the ribs down and expanding through your midsection when you take a breath, your Alignment improves dramatically. To demonstrate how much rib positioning actually affects shoulder mobility, Mike Reinold uses a PRI corrective technique below to improve shoulder rotation by simply helping the client to breathe properly. I have set the video to start at the 53 sec. mark because that is where he explains the technique. Just understand that your shoulder blade must glide around the ribs smoothly in order for your arm and shoulder joint to function properly. Now he is a bit wordy but be patient. The result is amazing and it is directly related to breathing. Once corrected, so is postural alignment which allows for things to move the way they should.
I think you now have a better understanding of how much breathing can affect alignment and mobility. My final comment is to give you a bit of a sequence to use when working out. The order in which I coach clients to lift or move is to first inhale or breathe in, then brace at the core and then finally move or lift. This helps to create stability around the spine and promote better movement. Breathe>Brace>Move, and that leads to “C” (part 3) in our approach to moving better.
Thanks for sticking in there and reading all the way to the end 🙂 Part 3 will be a bit shorter but pieces it all together.
Our NEW look unveiled in this edition of the Bulletin.
Check it out here==> The Body Fit Bulletin November 2017
By Eric Noyes
It’s no secret that the prevalence of low back pain is incredibly high. Approximately 80-90% of the population will experience a bout of low back pain at some point in their life. As a trainer, the majority of clients I work with or have worked with are experiencing pain in their low back. Whether the pain stems from an injury such as a car accident or sport or as simply as feeling pain while sitting or tying your shoes, the high prevalence of low back pain is staggering.
Stuart McGill is a former professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. He is considered a leading expert in spinal health research. McGill has published over 240 peer reviewed journal papers detailing his research, published 4 books pertaining to the topic of low back health and has spoken at over 600 events worldwide on the topic of low back health. Throughout his research, Dr. McGill has concluded that disc herniation is closely linked with repeated flexion and extension of the spine.
Research suggests that increasing the range of motion in the spine may actually increase the risk of future back problems. While performing exercises such as the back extension and the ab crunch, you are placing large amounts of force on the discs of the lumbar vertebrae that may lead to a disc herniation.
To learn more about low back health, please join me on Sunday November 19th at 11am as I will be diving deeper into the science and research of how commonly performed ab exercises may actually be doing more harm than good. Sign-up at the front desk today.
Just about everyone in every market will have an acronym they use to help you remember the why’s, what’s and how’s. We are no different. One of the main principles we adhere to when going through a Functional Movement Evaluation are the A B C’s of our Intergrated Functional Movement System. Today I’m going to talk about…
A = Alignment
We see all sorts and in this post I will speak to alignment as it pertains to posture.
Here is the interesting part; most healthy people (no pain, no symptoms) would tell you that they were standing up straight…until they see their picture. On a quick side note, I had a conversation with a member this morning who mentioned that their partner had visit with a kinesiologist and went through an assessment similar to what I have been talking about in my recent posts. One issue had to do with alignment. I asked if they took pictures or had their partner remove their shirt to check posture. The answer was no. For obvious reasons I don’t assess women without shirts but I do have them wear loose sleeveless tops or t-backs so I can see their shoulders. But guys, shirts off please. If any of the clients above had their shirts on, do you think you could have identified the imbalances, particularly with the man in the middle? Look close and you’ll see I land marked his spine at T2 and the top and bottom of the medial boarder of his shoulder blades. He is far from neutral but you could never have seen this with his shirt on.
Anyway, alignment during static posture can raise red flags that when pieced together with movement impairments and passive tests can help identify the actual cause of the clients pain or problem. Rarely is the case where the site or area of pain or discomfort is the site of the problem. From the last post where I quoted Dean Somerset saying, “The reduction in hip internal rotation is merely a symptom of something else not working properly…” applies to a host of other issues and I want to give you an example that is very common. It’s called Upper Crossed Syndrome. In simple terms its an imbalance of overworked and underworked muscles of the upper chest, back, neck and shoulders.
Postural alignment is a large contributing factor that leads to Upper Crossed Syndrome. Typically the person will complain of upper back and neck tightness and possibly head aches. When asked if they have done anything about it, common answers include massaging the back and neck, stretching the back and neck and taking muscle relaxants. When asked if they have seen any benefit from their treatments, they tell me it’s short term relief. In other words, they have been treating the symptom, not the cause of the problem. This is a perfect example of why stretching the tight doesn’t fix the problem.
Let’s look at how people with UCS will typically stand:
This young man is only 14 years old and from my experience, represents the typical forward head posture of many young people. This constant forward head posture can lead to a rounded upper back where the shoulders will tend to roll forward. When you place that person on their back to do a Pec Minor Length Test, it will look like this:
Normal distance from the acromion process (red dot) to the table is about 1 inch. (Sahrmann S. Diagnosis and treatment of movement impairment syndromes. London: Mosby; 2002). I commonly see 2-3 inches!
Over time, the muscles of the upper back and neck get lengthened and the muscles of the upper chest get shorter. As a muscle lengthens to a point where it exceeds it’s capacity, the myofacial tissue will lay down trigger points. (Etiology of Myofascial Trigger Points. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 16(5), 439–444. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-012-0289-4) This is a way that the body protects itself and to correct it, we must first understand the cause and then reverse it.
So, we know that the muscles in the upper back and neck are lengthen and the muscles of the upper chest are shortened because we took pictures, made landmarks did some tests and recorded the results. Now we know that we are no where near neutral alignment. To get back to neutral or as close to neutral as possible, we need to shorten and strengthen the muscles of the upper back and shoulders and lengthen the muscles of the upper chest and avoid text neck by bringing the neck back into alignment with your shoulders.
To shorten and strengthen the upper back and shoulders, do exercises like rows and prone trap raises…no that table in the gym is not for massages!
Then to lengthen and loosen the upper chest, try Doorway Pec Stretches and Pec Rolling with a ball…
These simple exercises may be part of one persons routine but to another, it would be a form of corrective exercise. Regardless, my point is that everyone is different but getting back to neutral alignment may be key to solving life’s aches and pains. In the next post I’ll cover “B”. It’s something that we do on autopilot but in most cases, that pilot could use some retraining:)
If you are interested in having a Functional Movement Evaluation done, just give us a call and we’ll get you booked in!
From the fall of 2009 through to about the beginning of 2014 we were using Grey Cook’s Functional Movement Screen for a large portion of our Assessment protocol with new and existing members. If you ever went through an assessment with us you will recall the process from the picture below:
For us at the time it was a fantastic tool to help identify and score very specific movement patterns. Once an individuals screen was scored it served as an indicator for asymmetries that would, if they haven’t already, result in functional movement deficiencies. From there we would proceed to incorporate corrective exercises to address these impairments. Professional sports associations even use this same screen as part of their combine testing to help identify potential risk of injury based on the imbalances identified by the screen. All in all, it’s a pretty cool tool and was light years ahead of the typical step test, sit and reach, sit-up test, push up test etc. that unfortunately many clubs and associations still use today. The reason I say unfortunately is because many of those tests have been proven to be unreliable for testing what they are supposed to be testing. For example, the sit and reach was defunct in this study by world renowned expert and fellow Canadian Dr. Stuart McGill back in 2003: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/h03-013#.Weons7WQy2w
Fast forward to the beginning of 2014 and I was reading a blog post from another fellow Canadian, Dean Sommerset. He is a Kinesiology Grad and spends a lot of time in the trenches as a Trainer but also keeps up on current research. He shares a great deal of what he learns and in his blog here: http://deansomerset.com/side-plank-internal-rotation-question-answered/, I had that light bulb moment.
The video he was referring to in his post really inspired me. So much so that I have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours relearning from some of the very best in the industry including Dean. What Dean did with that woman’s hip seemed like a magic trick. The FMS testing we were doing provided insight into Functional Anatomy but never could it ever help me learn about how the body works like what I have learned since watching that video.
It’s been over 3 years since Dean posted that article and despite the fact that I am a believer in the science behind the outcome, I just had to prove it to myself that what he did wasn’t a trick. That the woman wasn’t faking her lack of range of motion. So, once I was confident in my ability to identify the impairment and rule out structural or mechanical restrictions, I had someone grab a video camera and give it a shot.
But before you watch the video, I need to preface the situation. I was working with a 14 year old athlete who upon evaluation had very limited Internal Hip Rotation. Normal ranges are upwards of 35 degrees and this boy was locked at about 10 if that. The main reason behind this demonstration was to prove that just because someone is tight or lacks range of motion, doesn’t mean that stretching will help. He has a functional impairment. One of my favorite lines from Dean’s post is,
“The reduction in hip internal rotation is merely a symptom of something else not working properly. Because of this, we could stretch it as much as we like and never see any difference. As a result, we have a generation of people focused on the kinesiology of “stretch the tight” without asking the best question possible: why is it tight in the first place? Muscles don’t just get tight on their own, they’re told to be tight. Figuring out the why helps to target in on the reason, which will help to give better results than simply banging your head against a wall and wondering why your headache doesn’t go away.”
So, without further delay, here is the magic that can happen when you understand Functional Anatomy…
So now you have access to all this extra space, but WHAT do you do with it? That seems to be the underlying question of many that enter the newly turfed area. Golf comes to mind for some;) FORE!!
To explain WHY we have opened up the space, I want to introduce a new perspective on a term that has been over used and misunderstood by both the general public and personal trainers alike. That term is Functional Training. If you Google it, you will get a billion hits but generally speaking, Wikipedia defines it as, “Functional training is a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life.”.
It’s a start but it’s missing something. Here is the way I believe it should be defined, “Functional training is a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the WAY activities SHOULD BE performed in daily life. My point here is that the fitness industry and the internet is cluttered with misinformation and so much of it that it becomes very difficult to determine what or who is credible and what or who is not. And that brings me to the reason behind our WHY. Our goal for anyone who walks through our doors is to help them move better in order to feel better and ultimately perform better by educating them how to do so.
With respect to our goal of moving better, you need room to do so. Machines have their place and for many of them, in my opinion, they are best suited to rehab and post rehab unless you have a very specific reason to train one muscle group in one single plane of motion while sitting! If you think about it, it’s been said that sitting is the new smoking. So does spending most of your time in the gym sitting on a machine to get your exercise make a lot of sense? Our bodies were designed to move in three planes of motion, forward and back, side to side and rotationally. Much of the time we will move in multiple planes at the same time. You can’t do that with most machines.
Getting back to my definition of Functional Training, moving the way you should be moving requires an understanding of HOW your joints were designed to move and an understanding of what “Neutral” or Normal” looks like or used to look like…
As we get older, we adapt to the demands that have been placed on our bodies. Generally speaking those adaptations take us away from neutral and we develop movement impairments which for many, can lead to pain. So simply doing exercises that mimic what we do in daily life can compound these impairments. Just going through the motions or line of pull that the machine takes us, doesn’t really help. What trainers should be doing is identifying your individual impairments and getting you back to neutral as much as possible. I am not suggesting that every compensation or adaptation can be overcome with corrective exercise because we need to take into consideration the pathology behind the impairment. However, identifying movement impairments and knowing what to do about it is the key to helping a person move better before you get them moving more. My next post will get into how we identify these impairments along with a cool video of how our body compensates but how a simple corrective exercise can bring you back to neutral.
In the mean time here are some suggestions to help you use the space. Incorporate these into your warm-up along with some foam rolling and you’ll be off to a great start!
Overhead Lunge Walk…
Labour Day Holiday Deals
Introducing the 9 Month Membership
We know that lots of folks like to take the summer “off”. In other words, take your workouts outside of the gym during the summer months 😉
To help accommodate, we are introducing the 9 month membership that will only be available for purchase during the month of September. Priced right between the 6 month and the annual, it’s the most affordable option that covers you for the uglier months of the year😉
It can be purchased in full or by monthly payment:
Special 9 Month Introductory Labour Day Price:
Labour Day Deals New and Current Members:
Referral Rewards are Doubled!! If you bring in a new member and they purchase a 6 month or annual membership on September 4th, you get 2 MONTHS added to your current membership!
(Referring member must be in good standing and hold current membership prior to September 4th.)
Double the term of your current summer membership for 20% OFF!
Youth (17 and under)
Sale prices valid on Monday September 4th Only! Call in to purchase
if you can’t make it in personally.
Add HST to prices above.
On Monday August 7th and Tuesday August 8th we are offering the best deal of the year! We are calling it the Cash and Dash Sale.
Our BEST deal of the year……The Two Day Cash and Dash
6 Month Memberships:
For Current Members:
If you would like to take advantage of this special BUT are in the middle of your current membership plan, we can help you out. Just speak to the front desk for details.
And don’t forget about our entire summer Personal Training Sale. You can save up to 75% off of your sessions! For details, click here: Canada 150 Training Sale
Sale prices valid on Monday August 7th and Tuesday August 8th Only!
Add HST to prices above.
Check it out for current news, summer Training Specials and Free Workshops…
View it here==> July 2017