Regress to Progress

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To quote Pat Flynn from Chronicles of Strength (love this simple, yet effective way of summing up this whole blog post in 3 small symbols)...

"- = +" :-)

The golden rule in movement:  REGRESS TO PROGRESS!...

For the trainers out there:  please don’t expect your client to “get” movement by handing them a weight they’re not ready for and just expecting them to move correctly by shouting out a few cues to them…it ain’t gonna happen!  

The only thing that happens is they learn bad movement and possibly land up with an injury.  

For the fitness enthusiasts out there: you have to break down movement and work on the weaknesses within a movement pattern in order to progress a movement. Don't just think that practising single leg squats or pistols is going to get you better at doing pistols...it's only gonna get you injured.  There is a reason why you struggle with certain movements, you need to find that reason and work on it!  Maybe your ankles aren't mobile enough; maybe your hips are unstable; maybe you lack good sequencing in your inner unit (core); maybe you have flexility issues in either certain muscles or joints; maybe fear is holding you back; maybe all of the above! :-o  There are a number of possible, likely reasons but you need to find yours.

Just because your mate did loads of hamstring flexibility and went from finding pistols difficult to being able to achieve them, doesn't mean that's going to work for you.  We're all individuals here and you need to treat yourself as one.  And holding a kettlebell out in front of you is not the answer, yeah, you might feel more stable but maybe, just maybe that is because you have core issues and the kettlebell is forcing your body to react to the weight by engaging your core before you descend, but what happens when you try again without the kettlebell?  

I'd suggest ditching the kettlebell and stepping away from the pistol for a while to work on core sequencing...once you've made progression there, find ways to progress.  I'm just using pistols as an example, this applies to anything in life.  And it takes time, you're not gonna fix things overnight.

So please, think before you cause yourself harm.  If I gave you one Golden Rule of advice it would be CHECK YOUR BREATHING!  This is highly important for any form of stability work.  If your'e unsure, my stability exercise page has a great description of how to check your breathing and how to correct it, I have video links on Youtube to help as well & my facebook page has a link to an awesome interview with Dr Perry Nickleston & Julie Wiebe on the pelvic floor & breathing...Check it out!  Core function begins with breathing!

I repeat:  Regress to progress…Perfection before load…Get assessed if you're unsure...

Previous injury is the biggest player in the movement game!

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One of my clients, who is a keen diver, tells me whenever he swims or dives he usually always gets pretty bad cramping in his right hamstring towards the end of the swim/dive and wandered if there was anything he could do for it.

After a couple of minutes of assessment I had discovered he had a hamstring to quad dysfunction & his hamstrings were compensating for his medial quadricep (Vastus Medialis) predominantly. His VMO muscle (Oblique fibres of the Vastus Medialis that form the teardrop muscle at the knee) was particularly weak and had some noticeable wasting. His quadriceps in general on the Right side were slightly wasted in comparison to the Left.

He then precedes to tell me when he was 15 years old (+-50 years ago) he tore his medial quad & never got treatment on it, there was a noticeable dip in the muscle bulk as well which had been there ever since (a give away for a full tear or a possible partial tear). EUREKA!  

So our findings related back to an ancient injury from decades ago that has manifested as dysfunction in his right side and causing him problems at this time.  He admitted never having issues after the injury healed and kept playing footy for years.

Moral of the story, even though his injury was decades old and he'd adapted to it in a way that enabled him to get away without too much trouble for many years, it eventually comes back to bite you in the ass!  Some cases being worse than others but don't ride on dysfunction for too long as it will always win!  Post injury compensations stay with you for life, unless of course, you seek help to change them!

Movement...what it really means!

 American Turner Gymnasium 1860

American Turner Gymnasium 1860

An online lecture I saw recently given by Dr Ed Thomas, an expert in the foundation of Physical Education, drove me to analyse what fitness is today in comparison to what it was historically.  Historically, there are three fundamentals of movement and fitness, these are Progression, Variety & Precision.  

Now from what I can tell and have observed over the years is that the majority of fitness enthusiasts seem to do well to take care of the Variety aspect of fitness, it's not hard to keep workouts varied.  Progression seems to be mostly adhered to, it's quite simple, you learn a movement to a satisfactory level until it becomes quite comfortable and then you progress that movement, either by adding weight, increasing reps or challenging the movement to a higher level of difficulty (i.e. advancing from a squat to a single leg squat progression).  Now, I have to take a pause here, although progression seems to be quite evident in most fitness programmes, there is a little issue that is quite niggling…this would be the over-eagerness to progress.  This is a huge issue that is present within our field, you may have someone who is recently able to squat their own bodyweight comfortably but then wants to throw 40kgs onto their back and continue to squat, or a personal trainer who wants to make a client sweat more by handing them heavier weights resulting in a less precise movement pattern.  You can't expect the body to move as efficiently with extra load in a movement pattern that is newly learned with only bodyweight or that is challenging enough with the current weight used.  This brings me to the third and final (and I personally believe the most important) fundamental...Precision.

We need to find a way back to basics and get the population moving well and precisely again, we are so far away from our own mind-body connection that most people just go through the motions of exercise without ever making a conscious connection to how they are moving, why they are moving or how they are breathing.  There was no sloppiness in movement back in the 1800's & most of the 1900's, precision was the key focus and the fitness just followed.

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In Gray Cook's book, "Movement", he talks about the origins of Martial Arts and sums up what fitness should and used to be.  Somehow recent generations have managed to distort this approach and turn it on it's back.  Current jobs and lifestyles have a huge role to play and make it hard for the body to hold onto fundamental physical fitness, but not impossible by far!  "Purposeful movement perfection was the focus, and physical conditioning happened as a natural side effect".

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Modern day gyms are stacked full of equipment promoting dysfunctional movement.  The use of fixed machines encourage your body not to utilise it's core stabilising musculature and instead, rely on your large, global muscles for movement.  In our daily lives we need to be able to squat, lunge, push, pull, reach, run, bend and rotate, all done whilst fighting gravity (not sitting locked into a machine).  This is when our bodies are moving as intended.  These are the movements we need to perfect and do with precision in order to be healthy, fit individuals avoiding injury.

Look at gyms from ancient times and see if you can spot a hamstring curl, a pec deck or a leg extension machine anywhere?  They only use anti-gravity equipment in the form of ropes, rings, parallel bars, ladders etc and hand weights in the shape of dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine balls and clubs.

Train functional movement patterns and make sure you do it with Precision, Variety & Progression in order to achieve true fitness.  Don't rush into a new movement before you have perfected its predecessor and don't load up a movement pattern before being comfortable and strong enough in doing it body weighted first.

No Excuses Not To Squat

Determination and a positive attitude go a long way in life!

Julia is one of our longest-standing clients. Squats were always a tough movement for her. When she first started training with us we did them up against the wall with her back on a fitball. Due to her Right-sided Cerebral Palsy, her Right heel would always lift off the ground as she lowered into a squat. Her squat depth was usually only to 90 degrees (hips level with knees).

Slowly, we have progressed to the rings for support and worked more on depth, now Julia is able to do deep squats using the "TRX" and her heel no longer lifts up. Movement at the Right ankle is much freer and her hips allow her to lower deeper into the squat!

 

Any movement you may be struggling with now, can get easier with time. You just have to stick at it and put in the hard yards!

Dynamic Deep Squat

Following on from our previous post. Here is an example of how you can improve your deep squat by making it more dynamic (adding movement). Try these movements out for up to 30 seconds per movement. 

~ Rocking forwards and backwards.

~ Rocking side to side.

~Rotating one way and then the other.

Slowly you will feel your joints and muscles loosen up and feel more comfortable in the bottom of the squat.

How To Work Towards The Deep Squat

We all could squat at some stage of our lives. Over time, unfortunately, some of us have lost the ability to get down into a relaxing deep squat. Whether this is due to injury; poor movement habits or sedentary lifestyles.

All is not lost though. It is still possible to train your body to be able to squat again. 

There are many benefits to enabling your deep squat!

Improved hip & ankle mobility / Improved lower back flexibility / Improved abdominal stability.

There are also some common reasons why a deep squat may currently be out of reach:

Tight calves / stiff or immobile ankle joints / stiff hip joints / tight hip musculature / stiff, immobile spinal joints / weak, dysfunctional abs.

There are ways to work around these issues to help you gain your squat back!

When you're able to squat effectively, it crosses over into your daily life and helps you to avoid moving in awkward ways which can avoid a number of potential injuries that otherwise may have occurred. 

Practising the deep squat:

 Starting Point Option One With Heel Raise

Starting Point Option One With Heel Raise

 Starting Point Option One Without Heel Raise

Starting Point Option One Without Heel Raise

 Starting Point Option Two

Starting Point Option Two

Option One:

Using a door handle for support and heel raises (door stoppers from Bunnings) if ankle mobility is an issue.

Holding onto the door, slowly lower into a squat to a depth that feels manageable. Hold for up to one minute. Start slow, if a 10 second hold is all you can manage, that's ok.

 

 

As above, but if it is comfortable enough to do without needing a heel raise assist then use this version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Option Two:

Using a doorway for support and heel raises (door stoppers from Bunnings) if ankle mobility is an issue.

Holding onto the doorway, slowly lower into a squat to a depth that feels manageable. Hold for up to one minute. Start slow, if a 10 second hold is all you can manage, that's ok.

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Alternative Depth:

If lowering deep into the squat isn't comfortable at first, then start at a depth that is. 

Take your time with this, slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the squat and then work on the depth. If you're using heel raises then aim to try and slowly wean off them (by having your feet further forward on the raise until you no longer need it) as it gets more comfortable. 

Once you have spent time (and it may take a lot of time, even a year or so) on your deep squat and feel comfortable enough to try without any assistance, start working on an unassisted deep squat.

 Last Progression To Full Unassisted Deep Squat

Last Progression To Full Unassisted Deep Squat

This is the final destination of the deep squat journey! This is where you want to try and aim for eventually and then work up time spent in this position.

Once comfortable to do this you can gently rock side to side and forwards and backwards as well as gently twisting either side to try and create more movement through the ankles and hips in this position. Click here for a video demo.

Start your deep squat journey now! I would love to know how you go so feel free to post a pic of where you're at with the squat on our facebook page!

PLASTIC FREE JULY: DAY 31

Day Thirty One:

Do you often grab take-out meals & coffee? Have you thought about the impact all that packaging can have on the environment?

The 31st and final blog on Plastic Free July. I hope you have all taken something from our efforts of sharing ways to lead a less plastic life. I'd like to thank everyone who shared; commented or liked the posts and hope that there have been a few "AHA" moments as I know there were for me along my journey of discovering a less plastic existence. It is never easy to change and it does take time but very small changes slowly turn into habits and before you know it you look back and see how far you have come. You are not always going to get it 100% but even if everyone made a 2% effort to reduce their use of plastic it would have a massive impact on our earth!

adelaide personal training physio trainer

Next time you need to grab some breakfast or lunch and you are not in a pressurised rush to get to where you're going then why not just take a breather, slow down, and dine-in. This way you will save on the take-out packaging and your sanity. Slowing down is something our society does not do comfortably and it is adding to stress-related illnesses. Alternatively, of course, if taking out is a must then don't be caught without your re-usable coffee mug; re-usable water bottle; re-usable cutlery and depending on the kitchen, you could even try and take your own container with you to put your food in, leaving zero footprint ;-). Now that's making a difference!

Make a change...
Re-think your thinking...

PLASTIC FREE JULY: DAY 30

Day Thirty:

Do you often grab breakfast or lunch on the go? Have you thought about the impact all that plastic cutlery can have on the environment?

personal trainer physio rehab

Why not always carry a set of cutlery with you for those days you grab something "to go". Keep it in your handbag or in the glove compartment of the car. That way you are never caught without it and don't have to rely on plastic.

Make a change...
Re-think your thinking...

PLASTIC FREE JULY: DAY 29

Day Twenty Nine:

Do you love sushi? Have you thought about the impact all those plastic take-away containers can have on the environment?

personal training adelaide physio

Next time you plan to have take-out sushi, why not take in a tupperware/steel/glass container with you to put your sushi in and save on all that plastic being manufactured.

Make a change...
Re-think your thinking...

PLASTIC FREE JULY: DAY 28

Day Twenty Eight:

Do you own a credit card? Or several? If so, have you thought about the impact all those plastic cards are having on your wealth as well as the environment?

These little suckers have a large negative impact on the environment in a round about way...not so much about the physical plastic of the cards but more so how they enable us to spend; spend; spend...mostly on unnecessary items that we don't really "need" but do really WANT! Feeding consumerism at its best and creating a large amount of waste (not to mention financial stress) at the end of the day.  We should be spending our money more wisely, or rather, not spending our money as much...which is really wiser! Next time you reach for your credit card to purchase an item, ask yourself this:

  • Do you really NEED that item?
  • Is it going to positively impact your life in the long term and in a healthy way?
  • Is it in line with your long term goals?
  • Is it the most environmentally friendly option or are there better options you could be looking at?
personal trainer functional fitness physio

If you're interested in saving yourself financially when it comes to credit cards and loans etc then a friend of mine introduced me to "Barefoot Investor", this guy will tell it like it is and cut through the BS that you get fed from banks and large corporations. He may sound offensive at times but it's probably what we all need to hear. Listening to his wise words will save you money in the short term and long term. It is worth sitting down and looking at all your accounts/credit cards/loans and seeing if there is a way to reduce the amount they are costing you. That is what I did last night and I was able to cut up the credit card that was costing me the most simply by paying it off using another account of mine with a lower interest rate. And I will be cutting up a second one today! Even though I haven't technically paid it off yet, it felt great to do and I know I have saved myself in the long run. I also stopped using any of my credit cards about 6 months ago in order to pay them off quicker. There are many ways to reduce the impact of debt: consolidate your credit cards on the lowest interest rate possible; apply for a balance transfer and make SURE you pay it off in the timeframe given; STOP spending on your cards! You will never pay them off if you keep using them. Make sure you put on more than the minimum amount each month. A lot of you are probably already on top of this but my emphasis is on all the spending we do as a society that is just not necessary. There is a very small amount of people rubbing their hands together and just getting richer whilst the poor get poorer. Don't sell your soul to consumerism...as the Barefoot Investor says: "Tread your own path!"

Make a change...
Re-think your thinking...