Andrew’s Blog

Guy Voyer on the creation of ELDOA exercise Posted on October 07, 2014, 3 Comments

 

I've studied with Dr. Voyer for a while now, and the education never stops.  I'm headed to L.A. later this week for some more work with one of the men who has changed how I and other health practitioners around the world work with their clients and patients.  ELDOA, myofascial stretching, and many of the other techniques I'm learning under Dr. Voyer's tutelage are what the fields of rehab and performance have been missing.  As a SOMA practitioner, I'm happy to be able to provide them to the clients of Triumph Training.

Question from a Triathlete about back pain during the run portion of a 70.3 Race Posted on October 05, 2014, 0 Comments

Question:

I had a question about my recent fit on my Cervelo P3.  I just raced in the Superfrog half ironman in Coronado, CA.  After my bike ride I had pain in my middle back about where my kidneys are located.  It caused me to have breathing issues for the first couple of miles of the run.  It hurt to take deep breathes.  I have been following the exercises and stretching recommended in your recommended book, Holistic Strength Training for Triathletes.   I stayed aero for about 80-90 % of the ride.  I have not had any issues on previous bike rides, but those rides have been with a group and I have only stayed aero for about half the time.   Any suggestions?

 

Answer:

(I happen to know exactly who positioned this athlete on his bike, so I do not question his fit which would typically be the most obvious suspect).  The S.A.I.D. principle is a crucial aspect to consider in the training of any athlete, and I think its importance is highlighted in your case. Lack of aero time coupled with the higher intensity of a race environment is the most plausible scenario--especially if you had no history of previous issues in training and the pain resolved after a few miles of change in position during the run. You likely needs more specific stretching of the psoas (not shown in my book) which targets the fascia. I teach myofascial stretches to any of my clients who are not responding as well as I would like with the prescription of stretches in their programs.  However, the positions used are quite technical, and the psoas is probably one of the most complex.  These muscles originate on the lumbar spine in your area of complaint. They get worked and habitually shortened in cycling, and it's even worse in the aero position. Additionally, the psoas reflex to the adrenals which are highly taxed with endurance exercise.  So addressing the fascial restrictions specific to the psoas can have incredible resultss in both performance and in health.  Also, addressing nutrition and lifestyle (in and outside of training/racing) will give you greater tolerance for the demands of triathlon as well as better performance.  The last section of my book should help you dial in the Six Foundational Factors.  And the more consistently you apply them, the more pronounced the benefits will be. Following the proper development of an athlete is critical, too, of course.  Cycling is an expression of power which cannot be fully realized without adequate proficiency in the areas of flexibility/stability (i.e. core strength).  Thus, until these two areas are sufficiently up to speed, you may have to lessen your race effort or aggressiveness of your cycling position (or both).

Question from a PGA Client Posted on August 18, 2014, 0 Comments

Question:

My back feels great as evidenced by how I'm playing, thanks to you and your program.  But it's funny that I'm aware of tightness in my back after walking to the next hole and then being stationary for a while.  I've also noticed the same phenomenon among the students I teach.  Why is that?

 

Answer:

Walking takes specific muscles through a shortened range of motion. Couple that with dehydration on any level, and the importance of stretching pre, post, and DURING a round will be paramount. Any faulty length/tension relationships will be more pronounced over time/increasing levels of fatigue as the body gravitates toward a position of strength. Core deficiencies/dysfunction will contribute, too, of course. Both of these will likely take some time to resolve, especially as:

--the movement pattern of gait (walking) is much more deeply ingrained into the neuromuscular system than that of swinging a golf club/putting (unless you're Tiger Woods, perhaps).
--athletes tend to be "lazy" and present with more postural aberrations when doing something "simple" like walking than when performing a complex maneuver.

Hydrate.
Stretch.
Strengthen.

Do such simple concepts work?

The proof is in the putting...



Phasic vs. Tonic Muscles Posted on May 08, 2014, 4 Comments

To stretch or not to stretch? That is not the question. Not really. Though there are numerous studies debating the merits of stretching, the ones which find no benefit to the athlete are typically flawed. The authors researching the efficacy of stretching inevitably apply a general stretching protocol to the subjects in their study with a one-size-fits-all mentality. But different activities cause different responses in different muscles. This is simple to understand when one considers that not all muscles are created equal. For the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on the difference between Phasic muscles and Tonic muscles.

Phasic Muscles are composed of at least 51% fast-twitch muscle fibers. These are powerful muscles, but they fatigue more easily than do tonic muscles. Kind of a shame, too, as these muscles are primarily responsible for movement. The gluteals are good examples of phasic muscles.

Tonic Muscles are slow-twitch dominant, composed of at least 51% slow-twitch muscle fibers. As such, they are highly resistant to fatigue and have a greater propensity for work. The iliopsoas is an example of a tonic muscle group.

One of the major differences between phasic and tonic muscles that is of particular interest to triathletes is how these muscles respond to faulty loading. Loading is the resistance which the muscles of the body must overcome. In the gym, it may be a dumbbell. In life, it’s gravity. Thus, even if the only weight room you’ve ever spent time in is the wait room at your doctor’s office, it’s fair to say we all experience loading in our lives. Faulty loading can take the form of under-use, misuse, or disuse. But as triathletes, who swim, bike, and run for up to seventeen hours all in the same day, the form of faulty loading we are typically concerned with is overuse.

Tonic muscles respond to faulty loading by shortening and tightening. With a lower threshold for stimulation, tonic muscles need very little encouragement to turn on. This can, and often does, result in hyperactivity of a tonic muscle, limiting the motion at the joint(s) over which that muscle crosses. As mentioned in Chapter One of Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon (http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon) , this lack of flexibility (or more specifically, this lack of mobility) results in all the biomotor abilities being adversely affected.

Phasic musculature does the exact opposite. It tends to lengthen and weaken in relation to its relative antagonist(s) or opposing muscle (group). The problem is then magnified by the fact that muscles which are short and tight will hold their antagonists in a lengthened position. This can lead to what is commonly termed stretch weakness. Stretch weakness is defined by Florence Kendall in her book entitled Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain as

weakness that results from muscles remaining in an elongated condition, however slight, beyond the neutral physiological rest position, but not beyond the normal range of muscle length.

She goes on to say that “the concept relates to the duration of the faulty alignment rather than the severity of it” (italics mine). So is it any surprise that the aspiring triathlete, who may spend up to seven hours at a time hunched over the bike with a rounded back, has increased thoracic kyphosis and can’t stand up straight? Brick that with a swim where the pectorals and medial shoulder rotators get overworked during the course of an hour-and-a-half-pool session, and the source of the typical triathlete’s faulty posture becomes clear. Now the lengthened muscles of the thoracic spine are being pulled by the tight muscles of the chest, shoulders, and lats. This results in even more thoracic kyphosis.

Maybe you should just run, you’re thinking. Well, the increased lumbar curvature created by the tight, overworked quads and hip flexors of the average runner causes a compensation in the thoracic spine leading to… say it with me… increased thoracic kyphosis. So much for the benefits of cross training, right? Instead of one source for our orthopedic and postural aberrations, we triathletes have three. I guess we’re just S.O.L.

But no, we’re not out of luck. We just can’t rely on dumb luck when it comes to our stretching program. We can’t just do random stretches for every part of the body and expect our sport-specific muscle imbalances to be addressed. We need a specific course of stretching which actively targets the muscles we abuse when we swim, bike, and run.

The question then isn’t if to stretch, but when to stretch and how? If you perform stretches for every part of the body, you haven’t done anything to alleviate the muscle imbalance caused by your triathlon training. The tight muscles are still tighter than the loose ones. Your body is still out of alignment. And a body that’s not properly aligned moves and functions less efficiently, increasing its susceptibility to fatigue and, ultimately, to injury.

The bicycle wheel is a common analogy which effectively represents this idea. Ideally, thirty-two spokes running from the rim to the hub are tensioned appropriately to keep the wheel spinning true. Logging a lot of miles on the bike, especially under harsh road conditions with bumps or potholes, can lead to a wheel which wobbles as certain spokes get tighter while others become looser. Each imperfection in the road leads to the wheel wobbling worse and worse.

During college, I worked in a bike shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Some Mondays, guys would come in with their wheels after crashing at the weekend’s bike race to see if the wheels were salvageable. The head mechanic, a guy named Ray who worked wonders with the spoke wrench, would stick the wheel in the truing stand and spin it. The arms of the stand would tell him which spokes were in need of tightening and which should be loosened. He’d keep fine tuning the calibration of the stand—tightening a spoke half a turn here, loosening another with a quarter turn—until the wheel ran as straight and true as the day the cyclist bought it.

Some wheels, and some cyclists, weren’t so lucky. One day a guy in shredded Lycra limped into the shop carrying his mountain bike. He’d gone down pretty hard on a training ride and his front wheel was so out of true he’d had to walk the bike to the store. The guy asked us if we could fix it enough for him to ride it home. Not much for words, Ray took the wheel from the guy, went behind the counter, and held it up at eye level as if he were reading which spokes needed attention. Suddenly, and with force which could be heard over the Chili Peppers playing on the shop’s stereo, he slammed the wheel down hub-first again and again. After a few seconds, he paused, repositioned the wheel in his hands like a guy making a pizza, and slammed it down on the counter a few more times. Finally, he stopped banging the wheel and gave it back to the cyclist, who looked a bit more abused than when he’d come in. But his face changed as he spun the wheel. It still wobbled. But if he could endure a jerky ride, the wheel looked like it just might get him home.

Throughout the body, ideal length-tension relationships exist which, when altered by chronic shortening or lengthening of certain muscles, result in faulty joint kinematics. It’s a matter of physics. Forces generated by movement or loading cannot be adequately dissipated in a joint which has moved away from its instantaneous axis of rotation. The resulting premature degradation of the joint itself inevitably hastens the demise of the triathlete’s competitive career. But if you stretch the right muscles at the right time and in the right way, just like a wheel in a truing stand, your chances of maintaining your orthopedic integrity increase exponentially. And though I can’t promise you that you won’t ever have to walk your bike home, with correct stretching you should never have to limp your body home.

What's So Important about Posture? Posted on February 11, 2014, 2 Comments

"Postural anomalies create fascial tensions, which interfere with visceral function."

- Guy Voyer, The ELDOA

General Advice Regarding "Degenerative Disc Disease" in the lumbar region Posted on February 10, 2014, 0 Comments

A friend of my wife who cannot get in to see me asked for my insight regarding a diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease.  Specifically, she asked me about chiropractic or anything else I might suggest.  My response is below in italics.  NOTE: I do not recommend any of the below activities without a thorough assessment by myself or another qualified professional. 
Chiropractic is likely not going to be the (permanent) answer. 
I'd suggest ELDOA (at least the one pictured and maybe my class when I start it up).  Here are the instructions for her:

Lie down on back with butt and heels against wall.
Dorsiflex and invert the feet.
Take arms overhead and in line with the shoulders and externally rotate them.
Push sacrum to floor.
Look down with eyes and flex chin down without lifting head.
Push heels up toward ceiling.
Push hands away from shoulders.
HOLD for 60s, continually checking to see if you're doing all of the steps detailed above. 

There are other ELDOAs she could use, but this is a good one with which to start.

I'd cut out all PUFAs or at least all veggie oils (including what's in processed food--read labels).  I'd also Minimize/eliminate alcohol, soy, and probably gluten.  Removing these things will help with inflammation (pain), core function (helping to prevent further degeneration), and blood sugar handling (healing).
I'd drink water with a pinch of salt to help with hydration, histamine (pain/swelling), and up regulation of thyroid (healing).  Stainless steel or glass and not plastic.  In fact, I'd get rid of all plastics so that the exposure to xenoestrogens is minimized (see list).  This will help prevent excess laxity when stability will be key.
I'd add bone broth and/or gelatin (www.greatlakesgelatin.com) frequently/daily.
Specific core work needs to be performed.  My book would be a good resource, but I would probably suggest:
--TVA work (daily)
--Lower Abdominal #1 (daily)
--Horse Stance Vertical (daily)
--Oblique Raise (i.e. side plank, every other day)
Variables such as reps/sets/rest intervals I haven't specified as I haven't assessed her, but I'd err on the side of conservatism and do less rather than more.

Possibly also Prone Cobra every other day, but without a full assessment I'd recommend caution.  All the above movements are available in my book which she can download off my website or we could get her a physical copy (http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon). 
Posture is key, of course.  So likely stretching of:
--Pecs
--Lats
--External Hips
--Internal Hips
--Hamstrings
--Hip flexors
--Quads
Again, all in my book.

Sleep from 10-6 would maximize anabolic/repair hormones. 
Nasal/Diaphragmatic breathing would help balance the ANS and keep her healing 24/7.
A lot of info and sans assessment, but I know much if not all would help her.
Hope she finds something useful.

My Mentor with Tips for Pain Free Driving Posted on February 05, 2014, 0 Comments



Pull Pattern Posted on November 05, 2013, 0 Comments

Another one of the seven primal patterns, pulling movements are often neglected or underdeveloped compared to their sister pattern, pushing movements. This is often because people don’t have vision for what they can’t see. When you “see” a tree, you don’t really see the whole tree. You don’t see its roots. You don’t see the other side of the trunk or the top of the canopy. Yet the tree could never be fully developed without them. So just because you can’t see the muscles of your posterior chain does not mean you should ignore them. You are more than just your mirror muscles. In fact, it is the predominance of anterior chain movements in triathlon which make pulling proficiency so important for triathletes to maintain postural balance along with orthopedic health.

NOTE: Anytime you do unilateral (i.e. single arm) Pull or Push Patterns, you are creating a rotational force and, thus, mobilizing the spine. This not only helps nourish the spine by pumping the spinal discs with the fluids essential for health, it’s also specific to the movement patterns involved in triathlon.

First Descent—Braced
Second Descent—Seated or lying
Third Descent—Seated or lying on fixed-axis machine

EXAMPLE EXERCISES

Low Row
1. Standing with Good Posture and holding a bar with a supinated grip, shoulder width apart, pull hands toward body so sides of wrists finish at rib cage as the bar touches the torso near the level of the sternum.
2. Return to start position and repeat.

Unilateral Row
1. Standing with Good Posture and holding a handle with a pronated grip, pull hand toward body, supinating the hand so the wrist finishes at the side of the rib cage at approximately the level of the sternum.
2. Return to start position and repeat.

High Row
1. Standing with Good Posture and holding two handles (or a bar if necessary) with a pronated grip, a bit wider than shoulder width apart, pull hands toward body while keeping the elbows high and the forearms in the same plane as the angle of pull. Wrists should remain neutral (i.e. not flexed) and finish movement at approximately shoulder level.
2. Return to start position and repeat.

High Row with Rotation
1. Stand with Good Posture, holding two handles with a supinated grip, shoulder width apart. Initiate movement by rotating torso to the non-dominant side. Simultaneously pull handle held by non-dominant hand toward body while keeping the elbow high and the forearm in the same plane as the angle of pull. Wrists should remain neutral and finish the movement at approximately shoulder level.
2. Return to start position and repeat on the opposite side.

Suspended Row
1. Maintain Good Posture while leaning back at the appropriate angle (difficulty increases as angle steepens) and holding the handles of a suspension system with a pronated grip, shoulder width apart.
2. Pull body toward handles while maintaining high elbows and forearms in the same plane as the angle of pull which should perpendicular to the body. Wrists should remain neutral and finish at approximately shoulder level.
3. Return to start position and repeat.

Pull Ups/Chin Ups
1. Stand with Good Posture while grasping a Pull Up Bar above the head. Grip should be swim width apart and pronated for a Pull UP or shoulder width apart and supinated for a Chin Up.
2. Pull body towards hands until chin passes over the bar. Legs should not swing forward at any time during the movement.
3. Return to start position and repeat.

Overhand Pull Down
1. Kneeling or seated with Good Posture holding two handles or a bar with a pronated grip, swim-width apart, pull hands toward body until handles go below chin level but not below the clavicle.
2. Return to start position and repeat.

Cable Pulls
1. Stand in a counter stance with Good Posture while holding a handle with the non-dominant hand and a pronated grip. The other arm should be pulled back so the wrist is at approximately shoulder level with the elbow high and the forearm parallel to the angle of the other arm.
2. Pull hand toward body while simultaneously rotating along the axis of the spine to the non-dominant side. Hands should switch places so that the non-dominant side is now at shoulder level with a high elbow and the other arm is outstretched in front of the body with the palm facing down.
3. Return to start position and continue for the designated number of reps before repeating on the opposite side.

Abdominal Specific Movements Posted on November 02, 2013, 0 Comments

EXAMPLE EXERCISES                          

 

Four-Point TVA Stance and Progressions

  1. Get on hands and knees with the hands directly beneath the shoulders and the knees directly beneath the hips.       Bend arms slightly at the elbow so that the back is parallel to the floor. I recommend use of a dowel to ensure maintenance of a neutral spine. The dowel rod should touch the sacrum, the thoracic spine between the shoulder blades, and the back of the head.
  2. Take a large diaphragmatic breath in through the nose and allow the belly to expand and the navel to drop away from the spine. Exhale and then activate the TVA to draw the navel in toward the spine as far as possible without flexing the spine/losing neutral spinal curvatures or compensating/cheating in any way. The only part of the body which should visibly move is the navel.       It may help to concentrate on activating the pelvic floor musculature. (Women: Perform a kegel.       Men: Pull your testicles up toward your head).
  3. Hold this position until it’s necessary to take another breath. Then repeat the process for the designated number of reps/breaths.

 

OR

 

  1. Get in shortstop position with the hands on the knees. Knees should be bent slightly and spinal curvatures should remain in neutral (i.e. don’t round the lower back).
  2. Take a large diaphragmatic breath in through the nose and allow the belly to expand and the navel to drop away from the spine. Exhale and then activate the TVA to draw the navel in toward the spine as far as possible without flexing the spine/losing neutral spinal curvatures or compensating/cheating in any way. The only part of the body which should visibly move is the navel.       It may help to concentrate on activating the pelvic floor musculature. (Women: Perform a kegel.       Men: Pull your testicles up toward your head).
  3. Hold this position until it’s necessary to take another breath. Then repeat the process for the designated number of reps/breaths.

 

OR

 

  1. Stand with Good Posture.
  2. Take a large diaphragmatic breath in through the nose and allow the belly to expand and the navel to move away from the spine. Exhale and then activate the TVA to draw the navel in toward the spine as far as possible without flexing the spine/losing neutral spinal curvatures or compensating/cheating in any way. The only part of the body which should visibly move is the navel.       It may help to concentrate on activating the pelvic floor musculature. (Women: Perform a kegel.       Men: Pull your testicles up toward your head).
  3. Hold this position until it’s necessary to take another breath. Then repeat the process for the designated number of reps/breaths.

 

Lower Abdominal Series # 1—Pelvic Tilt

  1. In supine position with knees bent, feet on the floor, and a blood pressure cuff pumped to 40mmHg (or a hand) placed opposite the navel in the small of the back, gently draw in the navel.
  2. Flatten the lower back into the cuff (or the hand) by posteriorly rotating the pelvis using the lower abdominals to raise the pressure on the cuff to 70mmHg. Try to keep the hamstrings completely relaxed as they can also rotate the pelvis posteriorly. But if they do the work, the lower abdominals won’t.
  3. Breathe naturally as the pelvis is held in this position. Return to start and repeat for the designated number of reps.

 

Lower Abdominal Series #2A

  1. In supine position with knees bent, feet on the floor, and a blood pressure cuff (or a hand) placed opposite the navel in the small of the back, pump the cuff up to 40mmHg.
  2. Gently draw the navel in and then flatten the lower back into the cuff (or the hand) by posteriorly rotating the pelvis using the lower abdominals to raise the pressure on the cuff to 70mmHg.       Try to keep the hamstrings completely relaxed as they can also rotate the pelvis posteriorly. But if they do the work, the lower abdominals won’t.
  3. Pivoting at the hip, lift one leg up until the thigh is perpendicular to the body and the knee is at 90 (or less if the exercise needs to be made easier) while maintaining the pressure on the cuff at 70mmHg, varying no more than +/-5mmHg throughout the exercise.
  4. Lower the leg back to start position and then repeat the movement on the opposite side.

 

Lower Abdominal Series #2B

  1. In supine position with knees bent, feet on the floor, and a blood pressure cuff (or a hand) placed opposite the navel in the small of the back, lift the legs until the thighs are perpendicular to the body with the hips at 90 and the knees at 90. Note: the angle at the knee can be decreased to make the exercise easier if necessary.
  2. Pump the blood pressure cuff up to 40mmHg.
  3. Gently draw the navel in and then flatten the lower back into the cuff (or the hand) by posteriorly rotating the pelvis using the lower abdominals to raise the pressure on the cuff to 70mmHg.      
  4. Lower one leg back to the floor as you maintain the pressure on the cuff at 70mmHg, allowing the reading to vary no more than +/-5mmHg throughout the exercise.
  5. Raise the leg back up and perform the same movement on the opposite side.
  6. Repeat for the designated number of reps.

 

NOTE: All of the Lower Abdominal Series are best performed with a blood-pressure cuff placed opposite the navel and inflated to 40 mmHg (or 30 mmHg if lumbar curvature is deficient).  The athlete would then increase the reading on the dial 30 mmHg by posteriorly rotating the pelvis to increase the pressure.  For Lower Abdominal #2A and #2B, the leg movements should be performed with no more than 5 mmHg fluctuations above or below starting pressure (i.e., 60 or 70 mmHg). 

 

Forward Ball Roll

  1. In prone position with forearms on a physio ball, elbows at 90 and positioned underneath the shoulders, gently draw the navel in toward the spine.
  2. Push the ball forward by extending the arms as far as you can without losing the neutral curvatures of the spine. Lumbar spine will work but should not be the focus of the effort. Exercise can be descended by performing the movement from the knees as necessary.
  3. Pause at the end R.O.M. before returning to start position and repeating for the designated number of reps.

 

Oblique Cable Twist

  1. Standing with Good Posture, feet wider than shoulder width, and with a cable machine on the non-dominant side of the body, rotate torso so that hands are in front of the chest, grasping a handle attached to the cable. Dominant hand should be on first and non-dominant hand should be on top.
  2. Rotating along the axis of the spine, twist torso toward the dominant side. Movement should be initiated by the core, and the only reason the hands should move is because the chest moves first. Slowly return to start position by reversing the motion. Concentrate on a powerful positive and a controlled negative.
  3. Repeat for the designated number of reps before performing the movement with the opposite set up position in the opposite direction.

 

Oblique Raise

  1. Lying on the side of the body with the forearm perpendicular to the torso and the elbow directly underneath the shoulder, lift the hips off the floor until the body is one straight line from ankles to ears.
  2. Hold for the designated time period or do reps as prescribed. Note: exercise can be descended by bending the underneath leg which shortens the lever arm as the body is supported between the elbow and the knee.

 

Oblique Raise External Shoulder Rotation

  1. Lying on the side of the body with the dominant forearm perpendicular to the torso and the elbow directly underneath the shoulder, lift the hips off the floor until the body is one straight line from ankles to ears. The elbow of the non-dominant arm should be glued to the superior side of the body with the hand across the abdomen, grasping a very light dumbbell.      
  2. Hold this elevated position and externally rotate the non-dominant arm up as far as strength and flexibility will allow. Try not to let elbow deviate far from the body. Note: exercise can be descended by bending the underneath leg which shortens the lever arm as the body is supported between the elbow and the knee.
  3. Very slowly return the non-dominant arm to the start position and repeat for the designated number of reps while maintaining the elevated position.
  4. Perform the movement on the opposite side.

 

Oblique Raise Abductor

  1. Lying on the side of the body with the dominant forearm perpendicular to the torso and the elbow directly underneath the shoulder, bend the dominant leg at the knee so that the lower leg is perpendicular behind the body.
  2. Lift the hips off the floor while simultaneously abducting the non-dominant toward the ceiling as far as strength and flexibility allow.      
  3. Hold this elevated position and externally rotate the non-dominant arm up as far as strength and flexibility will allow.
  4. Pause end R.O.M. before slowly returning to the start position and repeating for the designated number of reps.
  5. Perform the movement on the opposite side.

 

Supine Lateral Ball Roll

  1. Seated on a physio ball, roll body down until the ball supports the head and shoulders. Feet are on the ground with the shins perpendicular to the floor. Arms should be out at the sides of the body like a tightrope walker or. A dowel rod can be placed across the chest and in both hands for cueing (it should remain level and in contact with the chest at all times.       Additionally, the thumbs should never be activated to hold onto the dowel rod). Maintain TVA function (i.e., navel drawn in slightly) to avoid over-recruitment of the lumbar erectors. Note: if lateral movement is sufficient to bring head off the ball, tongue should be placed on the roof of the mouth in the physiological rest position.
  2. Shuffle over to the non-dominant side while maintaining the hips in an elevated position and the rest of the body in perfect alignment. Pause at end R.O.M.
  3. Return to center and then shuffle over to the dominant side before pausing again.
  4. Move back to the center position and repeat for the designated number of reps.

 

Stabilizer Series

  1. In prone position with forearms on the floor, elbows at 90 directly underneath the shoulders, activate core musculature to maintain neutral spinal curvatures supported between the toes and forearms. This position can be held for time or progressing to the following steps if proficiency allows. If it’s difficult just to maintain the above position, descending the exercise can be accomplished by moving from the toes to the knees.
  2. Take dominant arm off the ground (and if strength will allow, the opposite leg, too) for the designated time.
  3. Return to start position and then repeat on the opposite side.

 

Bosu Prone Leg Lift

  1. In prone position with arms outstretched and hands placed shoulder width apart on a Bosu, lift one foot off the ground by extending at the hip (not the knee). Keep core activated so that lateral deviation of the Bosu/body is kept to a minimum.
  2. Return to start position and repeat the movement on the opposite side, alternating for the designated number of reps.

 

Push Up Row

  1. In prone position with arms outstretched and hands placed shoulder width apart and holding two dumbbells (the movement can be performed without the dumbbells, using just the hands if necessary), lower the body toward the floor until the upper arm is approximately parallel with the floor.
  2. Return to start position by extending the arms.
  3. Lift one dumbbell off the ground and pull it to the chest so that it just touches the rib cage. Keep core activated so that lateral deviation of the body is kept to a minimum. If necessary, move legs wider to give a more stable base of support.
  4. Return to start position and perform the movement on the opposite side before repeating the push up followed by the two rows again for the designated number of reps.

 

Prone Low Crawler             

  1. In prone position with forearms on the two physio balls of equal size, elbows at 90 directly underneath the shoulders, activate core musculature to maintain neutral spinal curvatures supported between the toes and forearms.
  2. Push the ball in contact with the non-dominant arm forward by extending the non-dominant arm.
  3. Return the arm to the original position and repeat the movement with the dominant side.
  4. Bring the dominant side back to the starting position and then repeat for the designated number of reps.

Squat Pattern Posted on October 30, 2013, 0 Comments

SQUAT

 

You don’t know squat. But you should. One of the seven primal patterns, squatting was essential for survival when we were cavemen and -women. And while evolution has developed our Texting pattern such that many of us have a thenar eminence the size of our bicep, our squatting skills have suffered in kind. Because of this, over 80% of people will endure an episode of back pain in his or her lifetime. And triathletes aren’t immune. So squat! It’s good for your back. It’s good for your knees. And it’s good for your triathlon performance. The only thing it’s not good for is your orthopedic surgeon’s bank account.

 

First Descent—1 dowel-rod support                         

Second Descent—2 dowel-rod supports                   

Third Descent—Swiss Ball on wall as support          

                                   

EXAMPLE EXERCISES

 

Back Squat

  1. Stand with a barbell on shoulders (not the neck) and with chest out, shoulders back, and navel in (this is Good Posture and gospel for every exercise as it emphasizes proper body positioning and activation of the TVA). Hands should be as close in on the bar as flexibility will allow. Feet should be positioned a little wider than hip width apart and either straight ahead or slightly externally rotated.
  2. Inhale to charge the thoracic cavity and then descend into a squat position by leading with the glutes as if sitting in a chair.       Go down as far as possible without pain or losing the lordotic curve in the lumbar spine.
  3. Return to the start position by pushing through the heels and exhaling through pursed lips after passing the sticking point of the ascent. Ensure knees track over feet throughout the movement.

 

Front Squat

  1. Stand with arms crossed, elbows facing forward, barbell on the shoulders and the thumbs of the hands, and with Good Posture. Feet should be positioned a little wider than hip width apart and either straight ahead or slightly externally rotated.
  2. Inhale to charge the thoracic cavity and then descend into a squat position by leading with the glutes as if sitting in a chair. Go down as far as possible without pain or losing the lordotic curve in the lumbar spine.
  3. Return to the start position by pushing through the heels and exhaling through pursed lips after passing the sticking point of the ascent. Ensure knees track over feet throughout the movement.

 

Step Up         

  1. Stand with Good Posture with non-dominant leg placed on a box/bench of appropriate height.
  2. Step onto the box/bench by pushing through the heel (think about pushing the box/bench away). Knee should track over the foot and torso should remain upright throughout the movement. Additionally, hips should not swing out to the side but should remain directly above the foot and knee.
  3. Return to the start position by descending under control, maintaining pressure through the heel so that glutes and hamstrings remain activated.

 

Crossover Step Up

  1. Stand with Good Posture behind and to the side of a box/bench of appropriate height.
  2. Beginning with the non-dominant side, bring the outside leg across the body and onto the outer edge of the box/bench.
  3. Step onto the box/bench by pushing through the heel (think about pushing the box/bench away). Knee should track over the foot and torso should remain upright throughout the movement. Additionally, hips should remain level throughout the movement.      
  4. Cross the non-dominant leg behind the body to descend back to the floor on the opposite side of the bench/box.
  5. Repeat in the opposite direction.

           

Unilateral Squat

  1. Stand with Good Posture on top of a box/bench.
  2. Take the dominant leg off the box/bench and bend the opposite knee to descend the body toward the floor.
  3. Maintain pressure through the heel of non-dominant leg, allowing knee to track over the foot and chest to remain elevated and hips to stay level throughout the movement. .
  4. Go as far as strength will allow with proper form and then push through heel to return to the start position.

 

High Step Up            

  1. Stand with Good Posture with non-dominant leg placed on a box/bench taller than knee height.
  2. Step onto the box/bench by pushing through the heel (think about pushing the box/bench away). Knee should track over the foot and torso should remain upright throughout the movement. Additionally, hips should not swing out to the side but should remain directly above the foot and knee.
  3. Return to the start position by descending under control, maintaining pressure through the heel so that glutes and hamstrings remain activated.

Foot pronation is not associated with increased injury risk in novice runners wearing a neutral shoe: a 1-year prospective cohort study Posted on October 14, 2013, 0 Comments

Abstract

Objective To investigate if running distance to first running-related injury varies between foot postures in novice runners wearing neutral shoes.

Design A 1-year epidemiological observational prospective cohort study.

Setting Denmark.

Participants A total of 927 novice runners equivalent to 1854 feet were included. At baseline, foot posture on each foot was evaluated using the foot-posture index and categorised into highly supinated (n=53), supinated (n=369), neutral (n=1292), pronated (n=122) or highly pronated (n=18). Participants then had to start running in a neutral running shoe and to use global positioning system watch to quantify the running distance in every training session.

Main outcome measure A running-related injury was defined as any musculoskeletal complaint of the lower extremity or back caused by running, which restricted the amount of running for at least 1 week.

Results During 1 year of follow-up, the 1854 feet included in the analyses ran a total of 326 803 km until injury or censoring. A total of 252 participants sustained a running-related injury. Of these, 63 were bilateral injuries. Compared with a neutral foot posture, no significant body mass index-adjusted cumulative risk differences (RD) were found after 250 km of running for highly supinated feet (RD=11.0% (−10% to 32.1%), p=0.30), supinated feet (RD=−1.4% (−8.4% to 5.5%), p=0.69), pronated feet (RD=−8.1% (−17.6% to 1.3%), p=0.09) and highly pronated feet (RD=9.8% (−19.3% to 38.8%), p=0.51). In addition, the incidence-rate difference/1000 km of running, revealed that pronators had a significantly lower number of injuries/1000 km of running of −0.37 (−0.03 to −0.70), p=0.03 than neutrals.

Conclusions The results of the present study contradict the widespread belief that moderate foot pronation is associated with an increased risk of injury among novice runners taking up running in a neutral running shoe. More work is needed to ascertain if highly pronated feet face a higher risk of injury than neutral feet.

How Can I Train My Abs Without Doing Crunches? Posted on October 07, 2013, 0 Comments

Squat

Dead Lift

Lunge

Step Up

Clean

Snatch

Turkish Get Up

Shoulder Press

Push Up

Pull Up

Row

Abdominal Hollowing

Lower Abdominal #1-#4

Plank

Side Bridge

Upper/Lower Body Russian Twist

Supine Lateral Ball Roll

Supine Hip Extension

Supine Hip Extension Knee Flexion

Swim, Bike, or Run

Good Ole Belly Laugh

Daily Bowel Movement

Simply Stand Up

Breathe Properly

Etc.

Posture and Swim Speed Posted on July 15, 2013, 0 Comments

There are two simple ways to swim faster:

increase your stroke rate (SR)

or

increase your stroke length (SL)

In other words, SR x SL = swimming velocity.  But Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion, holds that increasing SR is self-limiting because energy cost goes up by a cubic relationship.  Taking your SR from two times per second up to four times per second results in you burning through your limited energy supplies eight times faster (2 x 2 x 2 = 8).  Laughlin goes on to state that “faster swimmers take fewer strokes than slower swimmers—at every level from Olympic finals to lap time at the local Y.”

But what if your pelvis is tilted anteriorly (a condition exacerbated by the tight lats which result from lots of pool time)?  What if your upper back assumes a position of kyphosis eerily similar to your seated workplace environment?  Then the short, tight muscles of the pectorals and deltoids will inhibit your reach, thus decreasing stroke length.  The only way to make up for this deficit is to increase your turnover, which costs you energy you cannot spare. 

In addition, the forward head carriage associated with a kyphotic posture puts your melon deeper in the water and greatly increases drag.  Ask the best swim coaches in the world and they’ll tell you that reducing drag will produce greater dividends in the water than anything else you can do.  You want to swim through the smallest cylinder possible.  But that’s hard to do when your cranium is virtually scraping the lane line at the bottom of the pool while your upper back breaks the surface of the water like the dorsal fin of a shark.  

 

That’s some serious drag you’re creating.  And it’s all because of your faulty posture.  Even worse, if you cannot extend the thoracic spine because you’re stuck in a position of kyphosis, every stroke you take will put excessive strain on the muscles and connective tissue of the shoulders.  As the prime movers involved in swimming become fatigued and their movements become less efficient, the four tiny muscles of the rotator cuff become overworked in an attempt to dynamically stabilize the glenohumeral joint.  Ten thousand meters a week later, and you’ve developed a nice case of swimmer’s shoulder. 

When defined as “significant shoulder pain that interferes with training or progress in training,” 35% of elite and senior level swimmers report episodes of swimmer’s shoulder.  What they are experiencing may not technically be swimmer’s shoulder but a similar condition called thoracic outlet syndrome.  The thoracic outlet is the space between clavicle and rib cage through which nerves and vascular structures pass from the neck and thorax to the arm.  The symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome are similar to swimmer’s shoulder and numerous other clinical diagnoses, but they all have one thing in common.  As Kendall states,  “treatment should emphasize increasing the space of the thoracic outlet by improving the posture [and] correcting the muscle imbalance… that adversely affect the posture of the head, neck, and upper back.” (Italics mine.)

STRETCH: Sub Occipitals, Levator Scapulae, Pectorals, Anterior Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi, All Hip Flexors 

STRENGTHEN: Deep Cervical Flexors, All Scapular Adductors, Lower Abdominals, Glutes

Other actions would likely need to be taken, too.  But the above prescription is a good place to start.  And just like posture, if you begin in the right place, you have a greater chance of ending in the right place.  

Machine Training Faults: Stabilizers Posted on July 07, 2013, 0 Comments

Weak or untrained stabilizers can be overloaded quickly, sending inhibitory signals to the prime movers of a specific movement and resulting in decreased neural drive to those muscles.  In other words, your nervous system will not allow the prime movers to fire at 100% of their capability when they are not protected by the stabilization provided by the machine.  

See, your body is smart.  It realizes when the structural integrity of the joint over which that muscle crosses is compromised, even if you don’t.  So you may be able to perform a squat on the Smith Machine with two hundred pounds.  But your brain, just like when you were first learning to drive, won’t allow you to utilize that power when your legs aren’t guided through the motion like the thousands of reps you’ve performed in the past.  There are just too many other things going on with which your machine-trained body is not familiar—like gravity, balance, and unguided motion.  You simply will not be as strong as you thought.  Strength training’s detractors will cite this as evidence that lifting weights is of no benefit to sports performance.  And if you continue to lift incorrectly, the only thing you really end up strengthening is their argument.

Go prove it to yourself.  After a couple of warm-up sets, do eight reps of a bench press at a weight which makes the last repetition a challenge.  Have your training partner spot you to ensure we don’t find your decaying carcass trapped underneath the bar a few days later.  When finished, admire yourself in the mirror as you recover and stay loose for your next effort.  Now, lie across a physio ball like the subject below (though, personally, I'd advise having the head supported by the ball, too--otherwise you'll overdevelop the SCM's and perpetuate forward head posture) and perform a set of dumbbell chest presses with the same amount of weight. 

 

I doubt you could complete another set of eight.  You may not have even been able to get the weight up off your chest.  Don’t feel bad.  You just received a valuable lesson in neural drive which should feed your desire to train correctly.  And if not, you can always get back on one of those machines and feed your ego!


Your Body on Sabbatical Posted on July 01, 2013, 0 Comments

You probably know where your glutes are.  Thanks to your job, you have extensive knowledge of the seated workplace environment.  But just because you sit on your glutes when you work doesn't mean your glutes work when you sit.  In fact, working your ass off is a phrase which was probably motivated by the detrimental effects of the workplace environment.  Sit on those cheeks long enough, and it won't matter which one you turn.  You won't find either of them, because sensory motor amnesia has put them on a permanent lunch break.

Sensory motor amnesia is a term first used by Vladir Janda to describe a muscle which no longer works.  Via either pain or disuse, the muscle has "forgotten" how to function.  And the longer any muscle is turned off, the harder it can be to turn back on.  But before you get your panties in a wad--oh, wait...you can't since your butt is purely hypothetical at this point.  So maybe you won't even be phased to hear that your ass is likely not the only part of your body on sabbatical.
That's right.  Two other areas commonly prone to sensory motor amnesia are the abdominals and the scapular adductors.  Now, if you don't have a Budweiser tumor, I'm sure you're at least familiar with the look.  It's about as ubiquitous as it is unattractive.  And while highly correlated with alcohol consumption, even teetotalers can be prone to this look as there are many sources for dysfunction here.

Scapular adductors on the other hand, may be testing the limits of your anatomical knowledge.  These are a group of muscles which, as the name implies, adduct your scapulae.  When you stand up straight, lift your chest, and externally rotate your shoulders, these are some of the muscles responsible for that action.  Unfortunately, most people don't stand up straight, lift their chests, or externally rotate their shoulders.  Thus, the majority of folks, even if they can locate these muscles, will find that they're inhibited.   
How do we bring these three key areas of the body back on line?  Well, the first step is simply to touch them.  Palpating a muscle helps you become aware of that muscle.  When I'm working with a client who cannot fire a particular muscle, one of my strategies is to continually tap the inhibited muscle while they perform a movement involving that muscle.  If the client actually gains awareness quicker than I annoy the absolute crap out of them, then the potential to fire that muscle increases exponentially--especially if the muscle is responsible for a right cross to my nose.  And once the client can activate a muscle, then we can finally work the muscle.  It's kinda like the brain in that respect: use it so we don't lose it.  

 

For additional insight into the cause of as well as the cure for sensory motor amnesia, read the following post: http://triumphtraining.com/blogs/blog/6364218-365-ways-193-why-your-lower-abs-are-absent

Should I Shoe or Shouldn't I Posted on June 12, 2013, 0 Comments

 NOTE: my emphasis of Dr. Rossi's points can be found in bold.

Why Shoes Make "Normal" Gait Impossible

How flaws in footwear affect this complex human function.

By William A. Rossi, D.P.M.


Each year, consumers spend hundreds of millions of dollars for "walking shoes" promising to help the wearer walk "right" or more comfortably. Each year, additional hundreds of millions of dollars are spent for orthotics designed to "normalize" foot balance, stability, and gait. Podiatrists and other medical practitioners are constantly applying therapies and ancillary products to correct gait faults and re-establish "normal" gait.

While such therapies provide some relief from gait-induced distress symptoms, they are largely ineffectual in re-establishing natural gait. Why? Because natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person. Natural gait and shoes are biomechanically incompatible because all shoes automatically convert the normal to the abnormal, the natural to the unnatural. And no therapy or mechanical device, no matter how precisely designed or expertly applied, can fully reverse the gait from wrong to right.

Let's now see if these seemingly presumptuous statements can be substantiated by the evidence of the shoe/gait conflict.

Gait is the single most complex motor function of the human body. So complex, in fact, that it is the only motor function for which a definition or standard or "normal" does not exist. It involves half of the body's 650 muscles and 200 bones, along with a large share of the joints and ligaments. And despite all the serious gait studies that have been done since Hippocrates to the present, all the mysteries at human gait have yet to be revealed.

First, it's important to distinguish between "normal" and "natural." Normal is defined as an accepted standard, a mean or average. For example, everyone occasionally catches a cold, hence the common cold is "normal," though it is neither healthy nor natural. Conversely, natural means the pristine, ideal state, the ideal of form and function stemming from nature itself. Hence the difference between normal and natural is essentially the difference between what is and what can or ought to be.

Applying this to human gait, we can say that in shoe-wearing societies many people have what appears to be "normal" gait, while in shoeless societies they have "natural" gait. And there are pronounced differences between the two both in torn and function.

In shoe-wearing societies a visibly faulty gait can often be corrected and made normal, but it can never be made natural as long as conventional shoes are worn. It is biomechanically impossible because of the forced alterations from the natural in foot stance, postural alignment, body balance, equilibrium, body mechanics and weight distribution caused by shoes.

Let's now see some of the specifics of how these inevitable gait faults are caused by shoes.

The Role of Heels

The role of heels or heel heights has been given much attention in the literature because their influence is so obvious, especially on heels two or more inches in height.

Barefoot, the perpendicular line of the straight body column creates a ninety degree angle with the floor. On a two-inch heel, were the body a rigid column and forced to tilt forward, the angle would be reduced to seventy degrees, and to fifty-five degrees on a three-inch heel. Thus, for the body to maintain an erect position, a whole series of joint adjustments (ankle, knee, hip, spine, head) are required to regain and retain the erect stance.

In this reflex adjustment scores of body parts -- bones, ligaments and joints, muscles and tendons -- head to foot must instantly change position. If these adjustments are sustained over prolonged periods, or by habitual use of higher heels, as is not uncommon, the strains and stresses become chronic, causing or contributing to aches of legs, back and shoulders, fatigue, etc.

But the alterations are internal and organic, as well. For example, when standing barefoot, the anterior angle of the female pelvis is twenty-five degrees; on low, one-inch heels it increases to thirty degrees; on two-inch heels to forty-five degrees; on three-inch heels to sixty degrees. Under these conditions, what happens to the pelvic and abdominal organs? Inevitably, these must shift position to adapt.

Does the wearing of low, one-inch "sensible" heels prevent these problems of postural adaptation? No. All the low heel does is lessen the intensity of the negative postural effects. Hence, the wearing of heels of any height automatically alters the natural erect state of the body column. (Note: millions of men habitually wear boots or shoes with heels one and a half to three inches in height, such as on western boots or elevator shoes.)

But shoe heels have other, lesser-known influences on gait. For example, any heel, low to high, requires a compensatory alteration or forward slant on the last, which is translated to the shoe. This slant is known as the "heel wedge angle." This is the slope or slant of the heel seat, rear to front, to compensate for the shoe heel height. The higher the heel, the greater the angle.

On the bare foot there is no wedge angle. The bottom of the heel is on a level one hundred and eighty degrees, with body weight shared equally between heel and ball. Inside the heeled shoe the wedge angle shifts body weight forward so that on a low heel body weight is shared forty percent heel, sixty percent ball; and on a high heel ninety percent ball and ten percent heel.

Under these conditions the step sequence is no longer heel-to-ball- to toes and push-off, as with the bare foot. On heels two or more inches in height little weight is borne by the heel of the foot, an step push-off is almost wholly from the ball.

On medium to higher heels, due to the reduced base of the heel top-lift, the line of falling weight shifts, causing a wobbling of the less-secure ankle, which tilts medially. The shift in the body's center of gravity alters the equilibrium of the body column and prevents a natural step sequence,

One consequence is that heel strike moves to the lateral-rear corner of the heel top-lift. This is not natural. The heel of the shoeless foot receives its initial heel strike not at the lateral-rear corner but in the center at the site of the plantar calcaneal tuberosity. The natural plantar path of the step sequence -- heel to lateral border to ball to hallux and push-off -- is forced to shift, further affecting natural gait.

Let's add one further influence of shoe heels, low to high. The shoe's elevated heel shortens the Achilles tendon and accompanying shortening of the calf muscles. Both the tendon and the muscles are, of course, vital to step propulsion and gait stamina -- which may help to explain the performance dominance of marathon runners from nations where the barefoot state is common from infancy to adulthood.

The heeled shoe "steals" much of this propulsive power from the tendon and leg muscles. This not only places more stress on them to achieve needed propulsion, but power must be borrowed from elsewhere -- knees, thigh muscles, hips, and trunk. A small army of anatomical reinforcements must come to the rescue of the handicapped tendon and calf muscles.

Thus a shoe heel of any height sets in motion a series of gait-negative consequences, making natural gait -- meaning the barefoot form -- impossible. But this is only the beginning.

Toe Spring

If you rest a shoe, new or old, on a table and view it in profile from the side, it reveals an up-tilt of the toe tip varying from five-eighths to one inch or more. More on worn shoes. This is known as "toe spring" and is built into the last.

On the bare, natural foot the digits rest flat, their tips grasping the ground as an assist in step propulsion. Inside the shoe, the digits are lifted slantwise off the ground, unable to fulfill their natural ground-grasping function.

So why is toe spring built into the last and shoe? To compensate for lack or absence of shoe flexibility at the ball. The toe spring creates a rocker effect on the shoe sole so that the shoe, instead of full flexing as it should, forces the foot to "roll" forward like the curved bottom of a rocking chair. The thicker the sole, such as on sneakers or work boots, or the stiffer the sole (such as on men's Goodyear welt wingtip brogues), the greater the toe spring needed because of lack of shoe flexibility.

With toe spring, the toes of the foot are constantly angled upward five to twenty degrees, depending upon the amount of shoe toe spring. Functionally, they are "forced out of business," denied much or all of their natural ground-grasping action and exercise so essential to exercising of the whole foot because 18 of the foot's 19 tendons are attached to the toes.

The combination of the up-tilted toes caused by the toe spring, and the down-slanted heel and foot caused by the heel wedge angle, create an angle apex at the ball where the two angles converge. The angle apex has a dagger-point effect on the ball. This is certainly an important contributing cause of metatarsal stress symptoms and lesions.

But equally important, the natural gait mechanics are affected. Because the hallux and other digits are largely immobilized by their uptilted position, the step propulsion must come almost wholly from the metatarsal heads. This not only imposes undue stress on the heads, but forces an unnatural alteration of the gait pattern itself.

Gait Hazards of the Last

The shoe's last, the form of mold over which the shoe is made, is not visible to the consumer. but it bears much influence on the shoe and gait. There are several built-in design faults with most commercial lasts, but two in particular have relevant influence on gait.

First, almost all shoe lasts are designed with inflare, whereas almost all feet are designed on a straight axis. This automatically creates a biomechanical conflict between foot and last (or shoe). This is the prime reason why virtually all shoes go out of shape with wear -- because foot and shoe are mismated. If, because of this conflict, the foot cannot function naturally inside the shoe, it cannot take a normal or natural step.

A second common fault of the last is the concavity at most lasts under and across the ball, which is automatically "inherited" by the shoe at the same site.

Why are lasts made with a concavity under the ball? Tradition. About 80 years ago a shoe manufacturer discovered that the foot could be made to look smaller and trimmer by allowing it to "sink" into a cavity in the shoe n a cavity that no one would see -- thus reducing the amount of foot volume n n visible above. It was so successful in its mission of smaller-looking feet that it was quickly adopted by other manufacturers. It has long since become a standard part of last design.

This cavity is further accentuated by the construction of the shoe itself, wherein the space between outsole and insole must be filled with a special filler material (ground cork, foam rubber, fiberglass, etc.). However, the combination of the foot's heat, moisture, and pressure forces the filler material to compress and "creep," deforming its original flat surface.

The combination of the concave-bottom last at the ball an the compression and creep of the filler material sinking into the cavity, creates a sinkhole into which the three middle metatarsal heads fall as the first and fifth heads rise on the rim. We thus have the classic "fallen" metatarsal arch. The application of a metatarsal pad, whether in the shoe or via an orthotic or strapping, provides relief -- not because it "raises" the arch but simply by filling in the cavity and returning the heads to their natural level plane.

Thus the important role of the metatarsal heads as a fulcrum and the toes as grasping-gripping mechanisms for step propulsion is seriously diminished. The step push-off is now almost entirely from the ball, and weakly so because the metatarsal heads are pushing from a cavity rather than from a flat surface. A propulsive energy must now be drawn from other sources --legs, thighs, hips, the forward tilt of the trunk and shoulders -- with undue strain on all those body sectors. The gait loses natural form and function.

Shoe Flexibility

On taking a step, the foot normally flexes approximately 54 degrees at the ball on the bare foot.

But all shoes flex 30 to 80 percent less than normal at the ball. This obviously creates flex resistance for the foot by the shoe. The foot must now work harder to take each or its approximately eight thousand daily steps. The required extra energy imposes undue strain and fatigue on the foot.

Why are most shoes inflexible? First, the average shoe bottom consists of several layers or materials or components: outsole, midsole, insole, sock liner, filler materials, cushioning. This multiple-layered sandwich poses a formidable challenge to bending or flexing. Second, many types of footwear -- athletic, sneakers, work and outdoor boots, walking, casual, etc. -- have thick soles which add further to inflexibility.

Many elderly people whose feet have lost elasticity and flexibility over the many years of shoe wearing have difficulty climbing or descending stairs. They must use stair rails for pull-up power and security.

The National Safety council reports that in 1994 (latest figures) 13,500 fatalities occurred from stair falls -- and 2,500 of the victims were over age 65. An even greater number or casualties from stair falls resulted in serious injuries (fractures, sprains, etc.), occurring with people of all ages. Climbing and descending stairs requires both foot flexibility and the lift power from the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. If both have been diminished and handicapped by habitual shoe wearing, then the stability and security of the gait itself are diminished and handicapped.

Most people, including medical practitioners and shoe people, test for shoe flexibility in a wrong manner, by grasping the shoe at both ends and bending the sole. But that flexes the shoe behind instead of at the ball. If the foot were flexed in the same manner, the five metatarsals would be fractured.

To properly test for flexing, rest the shoe sole down on a table or counter. Insert one hand inside, using a couple of fingers to press down on the ball. With a finger of the other hand, lift the toe tip of the shoe. If the toe end, tip to ball, lifts easily, the shoe is flexible. The degree to which it resists toe lift is the degree to which it is inflexible.

The more inflexible the shoe, the more flat-footed the gait manner. With inflexible or semi-flexible shoes (which include most) the step push-off is almost wholly from the ball, thus fulfilling only half to three-fourths of the natural step sequence.

Shoe Weight

Most shoes weigh too much. The average pair of dress shoes weighs about 34 ounces; a pair of wingtip brogues about 44 ounces; some work and outdoor boots up to 60 ounces or more. Women's dress and casual shoes average 16-24 ounces a pair; women's boots about 32 ounces.

A lightweight pair of 16-ounce shoes amounts to a cumulative four tons of foot-lift load daily (16 ounces times 6,000 foot-lift steps). If the shoes weigh 32 ounces, daily foot-lift load is eight tons; 44 ounces adds up to 11 tons a day. every added four ounces of shoe weight adds another one ton to foot-lift load.

These foot lift loads impose an energy drain not only on the foot but the whole body. It is a common though little recognized source of foot and body fatigue -- which is why, after a lone day on one's feet, one arrives home feeling "dog-tired" and kicks off one's shoes.

You can walk several miles carrying a four-pound weight on each shoulder. But you can barely manage 100 yards with the same weight attached to each foot. The reason is simple physics: the farther the load from the center of gravity, the heavier the energy and "lift" strain.

No footwear, with certain exceptions, should weigh more than 12 ounces a pair for women, 16-18 ounces for men.

Excessive shoe weight forces an alteration of natural gait form. The drag effect and energy drain of the shoes creates alterations in the natural step sequence -- a smooth, easy movement heel to lateral border to ball to toes is disrupted. The common descriptive expression "dragging one's feet" aptly applies here.

Shoe Fit

There is substantial and incontestable evidence that no commercial footwear fits properly, regardless of type, brand, style, or price. This is because of a combination of inherent faults in the lasts, shoe design and construction. Even the shoe sizing system itself is riddled with faults (we are, incredibly, still using the "system" introduced 630 years ago and "updated" 117 years ago).

One example is width fit. A recent study was conducted by Dr. Francesca M. Thompson, chief of the Adult Orthopedic Clinics at St. Luke's Hospital, New York, involving several hundred women. The average measurement across the ball of the foot was 3.66 inches, but the shoe measurement at the same site measured less than three inches. Thus, almost all were wearing shoes 20 percent too narrow at the ball.

Too-narrow or "snug" width fit occurs with about 90 percent of men's and women's shoes alike. In the stores it has long been the contention that snug fit is right because the foot needs "support" and also because the snug fit allows the shoe to "conform" to the foot with wear. It is also regarded as proper fit by most doctors and consumers.

Snug or narrow fit has a negative effect on gait because the natural expansion of the foot with each weight-bearing step is prevented. The normal plantar surface at the ball is diminished, affecting foot balance and the security of the gait itself.

Reduced Foot Tread

One of the most insidious of the numerous negative effects of footwear on gait is loss of foot tread surface. With the shod foot, 50 to 65 percent of the foot's natural tread surface is lost, This is easily seen by examining the sole surface of a worn shoe. Most of the wear is concentrated at the rear-outer corner of the heel top-lift and the center or medial undersurface of the ball. The rest of the sole is usually unworn or only slightly worn. A footprint will show 50 to 70 percent greater tread surface.

Under these conditions we automatically have an unbalanced foot receiving excessive strain on small portions receiving the brunt of the wear. It is impossible for such a foot to "walk right," meaning with natural function and full tread.

A dog (or any other four-footed animal) has a much greater and more stable base beneath its body than does a human. We humans stand erect with a relatively tiny base beneath us and with the center of gravity about hip high. The dog has a much lower center of gravity, plus a much larger base area beneath its body balanced on four legs.

It's the difference between balancing a small cube in the palm of your hand, then trying to balance a long, thin pencil on its end in the sane manner. This is why half of the body's 650 muscles and 208 bones (plus most of its joints and ligaments) are required just to stand and walk. They are necessary to keep that long pole of body erect.

To further jeopardize this fragile balance of the body column by denying it half of more of its base tread surface is pushing the biomechanics of gait to extremes of risk. Yet, that is exactly what happens because of the various tread faults of the shoes we wear.

Sensory Response

Podiatry, unfortunately, along with all the other medical specialties, has given little attention to the role of the earth's bioelectromagnetic forces relative to sensory response of the foot, which bear enormous influence on gait. It is a field begging investigation by podiatry, because the foot is so intimately involved.

The soles and tips of the toes contain over 200,000 nerve endings, perhaps the densest concentration to be found anywhere of comparable size on the body. Our nerve-dense soles are our only tactile contact with the physical world around us. Without them we would lose equilibrium and become disoriented. If the paws or feet of any animal were "desensitized," the animal could not survive in its natural environment for an hour.

Says orthopedist Philip Lewin, "The foot is the vital link between the person and the earth, the vital reality of his day-to-day existence." City College of New York anatomists Todd R. Olson and Michael E. Seidel write, "Because the sole is so abundantly supplied with tactile sensory nerve endings, we use our feet to furnish the brain with considerable information about our immediate environment."

Thus there is a sensory foot/body, foot/brain connection vital to body stability, equilibrium, and gait.

Yet, much of it is denied us because of our thick-layered, inflexible shoes that shut off a considerable amount of this electromagnetic inflow and our sensory response to it. B. T. Renbourne, M.D., of England's Brookside Hospital, has done considerable research in this field. He writes, "Modern shoes give good wear, but they also impair the foot's sensory response to the ground and earth, affecting the reflex action of the foot and leg muscles in gait. This sensory foot contact is essential for stable, sure-footed walking."

It is well known by both common experience and clinical testing that infants are able to walk with much more confidence and stability barefoot than with shoes on. In fact, thc same can be said of adults. This is not only because of the foot's biomechanics (flexing, toe grasping, heel-to-toe step sequence, etc.), but also because of the neural energy assist from the sensory response.

However, when several layers of shoe bottom materials are packed between foot and ground, a certain amount of sensory blockage is inevitable, and the gait loses some of its natural energies and functional efficiency.

The Role of Orthotics

The foregoing comments concerning natural human gait require a completely fresh perspective concerning the use of foot orthotics -- especially those designed to establish or re-establish "normal" foot balance and stability of gait.

To put the conclusion first: natural gait is impossible for the shoe-wearing foot -- at least shoes as traditionally designed and constructed. And it is equally impossible for any orthotic to achieve "correct" foot and body balance and gait stability with the orthotic inside the gait-negative shoes, no matter how correct and precise the biomechanical design of the orthotic.

A secure, stable superstructure cannot be erected on a design- defective base or foundation (the Tower of Pisa is a classic example). In regard to "restoring" natural gait, shoe and orthotic are biomechanically incompatible. While orthotics may assist as therapy in more extreme gait faults, they are not suitable therapy to correct or stabilize gait and return it to its natural, unadulterated state.

Summary

We have always assumed that most people in modern shoe-wearing societies walk "normally." It is true only if we use the term "normal" in its liberal context, meaning to conform to an accepted standard or general average.

But natural walking -- the pure manner without faults of form or function -- is quite another perspective. All ambulatory creatures in nature walk naturally, hence with maximum efficiency. That includes all shoeless people, who are the only "pure" walkers on the planet. All the rest of us, by grace of the shoes we wear, are defective walkers in varying manner or degree. And who knows how many of our foot problems stem, directly or indirectly, from those shoe-caused postural and gait faults.

Does all this suggest that the only means of retaining or regaining the natural state of gait is to go barefoot? Unfortunately, yes. That is, until the "ideal" shoe, devoid of all the faults of design, construction, and performance of traditional footwear, is made available. But, throughout all history to the present, nobody has yet designed such a shoe while at the sane time providing the esthetics and styling desired by consumers.

But how about modern custom-made, custom-fitted shoes? Certainly they should permit natural gait. Not so, While they provide custom fit they also include the usual biomechanical faults -- the use of heels, lack of flexibility, toe spring, excessive weight, etc., which largely nullify the custom fit.

Ironically, the closest we have ever come to an "ideal" shoe was the original lightweight, soft-sole, heel-less, simple moccasin, which dates back more than 14,000 years. It consisted of a piece of crudely tanned but soft leather wrapped around the foot and held on with rawhide thongs. Presto! custom fit, perfect in biomechanical function, and no encumbrances to the foot or gait.

The vital importance of the foot to gait is only too obvious: no feet, no gait; the lower the functional performance of the feet, the lower the functional performance of the gait.

But the foot's role in gait has even greater significance which most podiatrists themselves don't fully realize or appreciate. The foot's architectural design and its consequent biomechanical function was responsible for our distinctive erect manner of gait, walking on two feet with a stride.

That accomplishment -- perhaps the single most significant development of bioengineering in all evolutionary history -- was responsible for making us human in the first place and the spawning of the human species. More than any other distinctive human capacity -- the huge brain, language, conceptual thinking, etc.- our unique form of gait, unduplicated in all evolutionary history, was the very seed of our humanity.

The noted anthropologist Frederick Wood-Jones states, "Man's foot is all his own and unlike any other foot. It is the most distinctive part of his whole anatomical makeup. It is a human specialization; it is his hallmark, and so long as man has been man, it is by his feet that he will be known from all other creatures of the animal kingdom. It is his feet that will confer upon him his only real distinction and provide his only valid claim to human status." To that, Donald C. Johanson, paleoanthropologist and chief of the Institute of Human Origins, Berkeley, California, adds, "Bipedalism is what made us human," Thus, man stands alone because only man stands.

It took four million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot. We have converted a beautiful thoroughbred into a plodding plowhorse.

True, despite all these shoe-induced handicaps or gait, the human species is doing fine. But we might make our lives a shade better if we could find a way to regain our natural manner of walking and at the same time keep our shoes on our feet.

Original article found here: http://www.unshod.org/pfbc/pfrossi2.htm

Breathing during Strength Training Posted on June 08, 2013, 0 Comments

Breathing is of critical importance to a successful strength training program.  Optimal breathing patterns will minimize the risk of injury while maximizing the benefit of the athlete's time in the weight room.  Specifically, inhalations should occur during movements where the body moves out of or away from the fetal position; while exhalations should be reserved for movements that move the body toward or into the fetal position.  

This is exactly how the body works.  Try it: take a big breath in and notice that you get taller as your spine elongates into extension.  This is the exact technique we used when my son went to Disney World for the first time.  Not blessed by age (he wasn't quite five years old) or genetics (his dad is 5'4"), he was just under the minimum height for some of the better rides.  But when I had him take a big breath in--presto!  He was good to go!  If only I had known about this trick when I was his age...

Now blow the air out of your lungs and feel how you get shorter as you literally compress into flexion.  In a properly functioning body, inhaling is coupled with axial extension, abduction, and external rotation.  Exhaling is coupled with axial flexion, adduction, and internal rotation.  And lifting with proper breathing mechanics will help you be stronger during the lift.

The one exception to this rule is when lifting at intensities that necessitate holding one's breath.  The body does this naturally as a way to stabilize the diaphragm so the muscles of in the Inner Unit have a solid foundation from which to apply force and support/protect the axial skeleton.  Failure to do so would send excessive loads through the spine, eventually resulting in injury.  Thus, using a heavy back squat as an example, optimal breathing for a safe and successful lift would proceed in the following order: 

1--INHALE to charge the thoracic cavity.

2--Gently draw in the belly button to activate the TVA.

3--Descend in a controlled manner with knees tracking over toes and your pressure through the heels.

4--Once at parallel or at the appropriate depth based on the ability to maintain a lumbar lordosis, begin the ascent.  EXHALE through pursed lips after passing through the sticking point as you return to the start position.

5--Begin as explained in step one and repeat for the designated number of reps. 

Posture Check Posted on May 14, 2013, 0 Comments

Use a stop watch set to “beep” every 15 minutes.  Every time the you hear the watch chime, no matter what you are doing, you should check your posture and correct it as necessary.  The typical person, awake for 16 hours of the day, will have 64 chances through out the day to practice good posture and change any faulty postural habits.

 

What can I do to counter bad posture from sitting all day? Posted on March 11, 2013, 0 Comments

from J.McGarrison

Answer:

Stand!

And I'm not (just) being a smart ass.  The seated workplace environment is killing us.  As I say in an earlier post, you can't spell OBESITY without S-I-T (http://triumphtraining.com/blogs/blog/6364524-365-ways-341-can-t-spell-obesity-without-s-i-t).  The one "real" job I had was my freshman summer in college when I worked at an office as a temp.  Doesn't sound glorious, I know.  But I had my very own cubicle and even wore a tie (which someone tied for me, of course).  And even though I wasn't deep into the study of health back then, I knew the office chair was doing me no favors.  So I drank a LOT of water and made lots of trips to the bathroom--on a different floor--just to have an excuse to get up and move around.

As a cyclist who spends countless hours in the seated position, I have personal experience with trying to counter the effects of excessive hip flexion.  As a therapist whose clientele spends a large majority of the day in the seated workplace environment, I spend a large portion of my time reversing the postural aberrations which are incurred by sitting in an office from 9 to 5. 

In general, you want to stretch what's tight and strengthen what's weak.  For those who sit for long durations, this would likely entail:

STRETCH

--sub occipitals
--levator scapulae
--pec major/minor
--latissimus dorsi
--hamstrings
--hip flexors (psoas/TFL/rectus femoris)
--probably any of the "deep six"

STRENGTHEN

--deep cervical flexors
--scapular adductors
--lumbar erectors
--abdominals
--glutes

The above could be detailed into a small book, but you asked for some simple movements.  The first would be a McKenzie Press Up:

--In prone position with hands at shoulder level, palm down, extend arms to push the torso up.
--Move into (spinal) extension while keeping the lumbar erectors relaxed.
--Only move as far into extension as possible while keeping the (anterior superior iliac spine) ASIS on the ground.
--Take a breath in (through the nose) at the top of the movement and then exhale on the way down. 
--Repeat 10 times.

This movement stretches some of the muscles mentioned above while, more importantly, mobilizing the lumbar spine and re-centralizing the discs.  Lumbar curvature should be between 30-35 degrees.  However, extended periods of hip flexion/sitting can decrease the curvature and create dysfunction/pain due to loss of optimal orthopedic alignment.

A second exercise would be to simply keep your head on the head rest when driving a car.  This will train the deep cervical flexors which counter the pull of muscles such as the sternocleidomastoids (SCM).  When overdeveloped in proportion to their antagonists (thru sitting, excessive flexion exercises, etc) the SCM's pull the head forward.  Where the head goes, the entire kinetic chain follows.  This can and often does lead to excessive rounding of the thoracic spine (which should again be between 30-35 degrees), resulting in concomitant changes (i.e. pain/dysfunction) in the lumbar spine and associated musculature.  So position the rear view mirror where you can use it while your head is on the head rest.  Anytime your view is sub-optimal, you'll know your driving position is, too. 

My Stance on Stilettos Posted on May 15, 2011, 0 Comments

I'm 5'4".

So you may want to take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. But I don't believe women should wear high heels. And I know what you're thinking--I'm obviously biased. But, truly, it pains me to say that women shouldn't wear high heels as I love how you women look when you're rocking a pair of stilettos. I guess you could classify me as a leg man. Yet all you really need to know is...I'm a man--URGG! Me like leg, me like arm, me like whole woman!

And it's because I love the female form so much that I feel compelled to offer my insights as to the detriments of high heel shoes.

Most of your have feet which are connected to the rest of your bodies. Thus, if you affect the feet, you'll impact the entire kinetic chain. Indeed, for every inch of rise in the heel of a shoe, it throws the body forward by 11 degrees. So a two inch heel inclines the body forward 22 degrees. If you wear a 4 inch heel, you're inclined 44 degrees. And if you wear a 6 inch heel, well...quite frankly--you're a prostitute!

So what happens when the body is do dramatically positioned out of the norm? It compensates, of course. One of the key compensations occurs at the neck. See, back when we were cave men and women, food was scarce...and danger was abundant! Thus, the human body evolved such that the eyes would always maintain horizontal, binocular vision. After all, if you couldn't see, you couldn't find anything to eat. And if you couldn't see, you couldn't find whatever might want to eat you!

In the case of the high heeled hoochie mama, inclining the body forward positions the head looking down. In order to keep her eyes level with the horizon, she must activate the sub occiptals to bring her head up. This shortens the sub occipitals, leading to forward head posture. For every inch the head travels out of ideal alignment, it doubles in mass as the lever arm gets longer and the weight gets farther from the fulcrum. Since the head weighs 8% of the body weight, a 120lb woman with 3 inches of forward head posture has a head which effectively weighs 29lbs!!! That loads the bejesus out of poor, tiny, little neck muscles which were never meant to be loaded like that.

Can you say trigger point? I knew you could. What about altered respiratory mechanics? Faulty occlusion? That's a mouthful (pun intended).

Additional compensations include a hyperextended back--"hello back pain." Or Hyperflexed knees coupled with a flat back--"ah...back pain, so nice to meet you again." Or hyperextended knees leading to knee, hip, and eventually back pain.

Wearing high heels also positions a woman up on her toes. And, unfortunately, pushing through the forefoot over utilizes the quads, putting more stress across the patella. What's worse is this creates an inability to push through the heel. That turns off the hamstrings and glutes; and if you don't use it--say it with me, people--you lose it! Wear high heels long enough, and these critical muscles begin to atrophy. Causing what is clinically called no-assitis.

And, trust me, women--us men--we're looking for bedonk-a-donks! And for once you can't blame us. It's literally programmed into human genetics. Why do you think women develop a wag in their walk? See, as the female approaches puberty, nature has programmed a release of hormones in her body which create laxity in the ligaments that attach at the hip. This creates a side to side sway of the glutes. And that enticing movement not only gets our attention. It causes an uncontrollable urge to procreate in the male so that the species can continue!

So get back on your feet ladies! If you won't do it for me--PLEASE, please, I beg you--do it for the human race! Why are you always standing on your tippy toes anyway? What are you trying to see way over there? What are you looking for? There's nothing you want over there. Anything you could possibly ever need is standing right here in front of you.

You may just have to look down.

Cause he's 5'4"