The Body’s Interconnectedness

As we get older, we’re often told that aches and pains are just a part of aging. A twinge in your knee, restrictions in your shoulder, tightness in your lower back are all common, but not normal.

Pain in one area of your body potentially stems from another region, because of the interconnectedness of your fascial web and kinetic chain linking everything together.

The unexplained problems in your joints are likely a result of your muscles not supporting your joints. Strain in your shoulder may come from dysfunction in the pecs or the lats. Knee pain results from lack of the glutes working properly. The point being, that where you’re hurting, might not be where the problem is.

Our trainers work to get to the root of your chronic pain by addressing dysfunctional movement compensations, allowing you to simultaneously build muscle to provide your body with the strength it needs to keep aches and pain from creeping back in.

If you’re spinning your wheels spot treating pain at the source, then come meet with us to learn how everything in your body works (or doesn’t work) together to influence how you move, and how your movement plays a critical role in pain and injury if you’re moving incorrectly.

Pain & Anxiety Relationship

Suffering from chronic pain and anxiety?

Both correlate to the way your body handles stress, based on your physical frame aka posture. A slouched posture correlates to depressive episodes and high anxiety, because your fascia stores emotions- ie; childhood traumas, environmental stress- and those emotions influence the way you carry yourself.

It’s rare to see someone with a strong posture suffer from depression and unmanageable anxiety, because their structure cultivates a better response to handle those stressors. The goal is not to avoid stress, but to teach your body to handle it more efficiently.

It goes deeper, but if you’re on the fence about improving your health, learn Functional Patterns training. The results fix structural imbalances influencing your physical and mental health, producing a body equipped to handle stress.

Learn more here.

*pictures based on Functional Patterns Training Methodology Results from FP Practitioners world wide. Notice more resilient structures vs. body language before training.

We’re the only facility in San Antonio and surrounding areas that train Functional Patterns and have 3 Functional Patterns Practitioners on staff! If you’re not local to SA check out the Practitioner Map to locate someone near you, for results like these!

Pelvic Floor Function

The muscles of the pelvis and core, work together in harmony, and are often referred to as the pelvic floor.

The glute, hip flexor, and abdominal muscle groups are the main muscles that need to function correctly to move without causing pain in the pelvic floor region.

Pelvic motion without the core muscles driving the motion is a gamble.

Your pelvis can move, but the wrong muscles engage to move it, like your QL’s (lower back), or hip flexors and glutes contract incorrectly causing movement compensations.

Then you avoid moving your pelvis because it causes pain in your back or hips. But your pelvis needs to move, in order to integrate with the rest of your body to produce general movements.

The answer is to teach your muscles how to function/contract to support your movement needs.

Work with our trainers to build a strong pelvic floor- supporting a healthy pregnancy, faster recovery after delivery, a life without back pain or stiffness, prevention of urinary incontinence, and general function. You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from a functioning pelvic floor.

Less Pain Is Possible!

Is pain keeping your from the activities you enjoy? Have you been told surgery is your only option?

At SA Functional Fitness our pain management trainers restore the function of your muscles to support the integrity of your joints!

This is important because without proper muscle functions, your joints take on the stress from the force that your muscles should be absorbing.

Over time this leads to inflammation in the joints and causes pain from the joints working in a way they weren’t designed to.

Each trainer plans exercises to get to the root of your dysfunction causing adversity on your joints, or pain in general.

Most of the time surgery can be prevented, delayed, or faster recovery after surgery, from the right kind of exercise.

We work with numerous clients dealing with knee pain, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. Our goal as biomechanics trainers is to fix the underlying issue that contributes to pain in the first place. Sometimes this isn’t always possible, so our next goal is to mitigate the pain, or set your body up to recover from surgery faster and fuller with exercise before surgery.

If this sounds like something your body is searching for, then call us today to get started with one of our trainers!

Auto Mechanic vs Body Mechanic

When your check engine light comes on in your car or you hear an unfamiliar sound when you’re driving it, you know something is wrong and you take it in to the shop for a mechanic to evaluate what’s wrong. You wouldn’t chance driving a malfunctioning car at 70 m.p.h. because there is a lot of risk if something is wrong with your engine or your brakes aren’t working properly when you’re driving at high speeds. So why do you treat your body any differently? When your knee hurts when you walk, or your shoulder hurts when you carry a bag, or your lower back is in pain every morning when you get out of bed, that’s your body’s “check engine light” and it’s telling you that something is wrong and you should get it checked out.

The same way a car mechanic addresses the problems with your car, that’s how our team of trainers views and treats the problems with your body. We don’t want you operating at “high speeds” when your body isn’t functioning properly to support your movement. We aim to correct what is wrong so that your function doesn’t create more problems in your joints from faulty body mechanics. The human body was born to walk, and eventually run, literally the way our species evolved was by using our muscles in this fashion. So if you can’t perform one or both of these fundamental functions without some form of ache or pain, then your body isn’t functioning optimally. When your body isn’t functioning optimally it can still find ways to move and mask the pain, learn to live with the pain, or avoid the problem entirely. But this isn’t conducive to overall health and fitness.

If you took your car to the car mechanic and they told you everything is fixed and working now…as long as you don’t drive over 50 m.p.h., make a left turn, or put your car in reverse everything will be fine. You’d likely except them to keep working on it until you can use your car safely on the roads. When we initially meet with you, we take an intake of what functions you have problems performing and we work with you to fix these dysfunctions in order to truly function without any consequences or restrictions. If someone comes in with shoulder pain, we wouldn’t say don’t raise your arm past your shoulder, drive with that arm, or carry your groceries with that arm and everything will be okay. That would be the same issue with your auto mechanic not fully fixing your car. We would be teaching people to avoid the problem and not getting at the root to fix it.

When working with us you should feel as though your mechanical dysfunctions, joint problems, muscle aches, etc., are on the path to getting resolved as we troubleshoot what is causing the malfunction rather than just having you avoid the issue. Avoiding the issue doesn’t do anything for your function in the real world, avoiding bending your knee, twisting your spine, or raising your arm overhead when you are performing exercise might make you feel like you’re getting stronger but it’s because you’re not allowing your body to encounter these problematic functions. But what happens when you need to bend your knee, or twist, or raise your arm up in real life? Dysfunction and pain! It’s time you start addressing these issues when you exercise to start creating a better path of movement without restriction.

Book your initial consult to start learning what muscles function and what muscles don’t, and how revealing this is the first step towards regaining your freedom of movement…without having to remind yourself not to use a part of your body so it doesn’t hurt, that’s not true function. You, or your trainer, or your therapist are avoiding the problem if you aren’t actively testing ways to address and correct it, and while we don’t guarantee an over-night fix of the problem, we will do what’s necessary for your body to start fixing the underlying issue and get on the path to healing. This is what separates us from your typical gym trainer, we have tools on our tool belt that nobody else does. The sharpest tools in our shed come from Functional Patterns! So stop spinning your wheels with what the mainstream fitness and rehab field dish out, hoping pain relief and function will come back when you need to start taking steps to make it happen, we will help guide your steps down a sustainable path towards health and fitness. Come check out the less beaten path at our gym!

Joint Health

A joint is only as strong as the muscle supporting it.

A muscle functions to uphold the integrity of the joints.

A dysfunctional muscle impairs movements, misdirecting force transmission to the joints.

A joint wasn’t designed to absorb force. Train your muscles to fulfill their purpose.

A functional muscle equates to a healthy joint.

A training plan that reinforces the contralateral connections throughout the body instead of isolating the muscles is a good place to start. This will ensure the joints aren’t being used as levers and teach the muscles how to leverage weight.

How To Prevent Pain When Exercising

Age is not only a product of time, but also lifestyle choices. How you live your life now, manifests when you’re 30, 40, 60, 80, etc.

Those achey knees from barbell back squats or faulty running mechanics may worsen and require a knee replacement when you’re 50. But it’s not because you’re getting older, it’s because time is catching up with you from the way you behaved/lived/exercised leading up to your present age.

Experiencing pain or a hurt [insert joint here] after activity is your body telling you something’s wrong. It’s not about pushing past it with the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Push past your ego and admit your body isn’t the specimen you thought… and get to work on fixing the problem.

If you’re trying to live the life you want, pay attention to the little details that cumulate over your lifetime. That bum ankle slowly causes dysfunction further up the chain and 5-10 years later you wonder why you can’t function and perform like you used to.

Remove yourself from the injury cycle of exercising foolishly, hurting yourself, not exercising for several weeks, then going too hard for your body to keep up, making the old injury worse, sitting out for a month, and repeating this as a “normal” way of life. Work on preventative measures that are sustainable, no matter how old you are or what your current fitness level is, to keep yourself in the game called Life.

Unique, Different, Relevant

A lot comes to mind when users experience the style of training we implement, it’s “weird, unconventional, confusing” yet “applicable, practical, sustainable, and for a purpose.”

We utilize Functional Patterns techniques and methodologies to produce changes on the human body that forms of traditional training and therapies aim to do, but can’t. It boils down to what is relevant and what is not… aka useless.

Are back squats, bench presses, mini band walks, and clam shells making the most of time spent exercising or rehabbing? From personal and observational experience, no. They might help, a little bit, for some strength and general movement to avoid being a couch potato, but the risks outweigh the benefits, and the carry over is minimal compared to what the human body actually needs.

As pictured, the way humans move most is via contralateral reciprocation- opposing limbs connecting. When one leg is forward, the other is back. When the leg is back, that same arm is forward. Exercise patterns should aim to respect this fundamental concept of movement, as it relates to the human body. IF we only had an upper body, then the isolation of the bench press would be more appropriate. Rather our pec muscles connect through fascia across our body via the oblique slings, to the opposing leg muscles of the hip and inner thigh. Isolation destroys these connections and teaches the body to work in isolation, when in reality it integrates to function as an efficient unit.

The human body evolved to walk, run, and throw. Thus our muscular connections developed to support these functions, so training the body in isolation continuously without training the entire muscular chain, and the chains it connects to, is a recipe for a degenerated body.

Integrated movement is one thing, but integrating your muscles through exercise patterns that mirror the way the body moves in real life is the recipe for a fully functioning, high performing body in life outside of the gym.

Moving to stay healthy and avoid a sedentary lifestyle is beneficial, and as mentioned earlier, the benefits are enhanced when the proper training stimulus is implemented. The risks of training your body the way the mainstream gym culture advertises leads to some muscle strength and overall muscle mass, but at the expense of joint pain, lower back stiffness, having to wear a knee brace, and a general decline in your capabilities in activities outside of the gym.

Whereas movement that replicates the way the human body moves on a day to day basis enhances your quality of life in the real world. Recreational activities like golf and tennis can be played without aches and pains, your muscles learn to leverage your motion rather than unnecessary strain on the joints as levers, and an overall freedom with your everyday movement manifests. In other words, the benefits of exercise extend far beyond the exercise itself and last long after the exercise is over.

The way we integrate the muscles during movement has a lasting impact and carry over to reality is because our focus is on human biomechanics. Relevant movement that conditions the body according to your biological blueprint rather than arbitrarily lifting weights balancing on one foot and raising a dumbbell out to the side at the same time. There are multiple ways to train multiple muscles at once but only one way to train the muscles for a purpose beyond exercise.

The arbitrary exercise pattern has minimal carry over other than simply challenging your coordination, balance, and some multiplanar muscle activation. The intent is right but the execution won’t support the desired outcome. Creating a movement sequence to build tension from the ground up, rotating your body to create a lever to lift the weight overhead at the end of the rotation, and raising an opposing leg to the weight over head to counter balance the tensions and produce contralateral connections throughout the body. While maintaining proper core pressure, leg, arm, pelvis, and ribcage alignment before, during, and after the movement. Following a sequence to produce the right muscle tensions at the right time. All through patterns that your body moves through daily, so your muscles are programmed to work automatically rather than having to consciously be aware of your glutes firing properly during a run or on the tennis courts.

Wow that’s a lot to think about! And it’s necessary, if you’re legitimately concerned about aging well, performing optimally, and living life without working through pain. We don’y mindlessly count reps, every rep is corrected to make the most of the movement and connect your brain and body in new ways. Over time your body learns to self correct the fundamentals of human movement and we are able to add more variables to the mix and maximize the muscle function and carry it over to your daily living.

This isn’t your typical gym, we educate our clients on the importance of why moving intentionally is necessary, how to manage your pain by reprogramming better movement capabilities, what parts of the body connect with other parts to make up an efficient whole, when to move a muscle to create a contraction and a pairing with the opposing muscle, and who is in control of it all- your mind and your body.

Nuero-Muscular Efficiency

Your ability to move well in all planes of motion depends on how effectively your nervous system communicates to your muscular system, and vice versa, and how efficiently both systems respond to each other.

If communication is disrupted the muscular system starts creating its own movement pathways and efficiency declines because the nervous system is no longer sending the correct command signals for optimal movement.

Eventually the compensatory movement patterns lead to muscle dysfunction, in one muscle or multiple, which then sets off a chain reaction of muscle imbalances throughout the rest of the body.

Global muscle connections throughout the neuron-muscular web lose their ability to work properly and at the proper times- agonist muscles and their antagonists, groups of muscle synergies, and stabilizer muscles, that make up entire chains of muscle, begin to misfire and disrupt the body’s ability to move in an ideal state of function.

The less functional your body becomes, the more problems start to arise. Physical function will effect physiological function. Physiological function will effect Psychological function. The physical inability of the body to lengthen certain muscles of the stomach will interfere with the physiological inability to digest food properly, from over-shortened muscle tissue decreasing the amount of space between the intestines and the rest of the organs. Potentially leading to constipation, and an altered mental state, when you’re in pain because you can’t poop.

Biomechanical efficiency is optimized when the brain and body are able to communicate clearly. The right signal from the mind to the neuron-muscular network will promote the correct response, and the most optimal form of movement for the body. The better the body becomes at movement, from exercise to everyday motion, the less aches and pains are experienced.

Reprogramming the Nuero-Muscular network to associate better biomechanics as the “new norm” is a process that slowly unfolds as more muscle dysfunction is exposed, and over time, corrected.

 

Big and Strong

My name is Michael, and I am the owner of SA Functional Fitness. I used to think that lifting heavy weight and having big muscles made you strong, it does and it doesn’t. It does make you strong when you lift that particular weight in that particular pattern, however the strength I gained in the gym didn’t translate to reality. The way my body moved when I was in the real world, never represented the way I moved my body in the gym, so that strength in the gym only applied to the gym- never to my lifestyle.

I ended up with various aches and pains in my early 20’s that I wrote off as “no pain, no gain” and continued to do what I thought, at the time, was the correct way to train the human body. As time went on the aches and pains got worse and little injuries started to pop up, first as nagging, then as something that required me to alter my training program and seek traditional methods of healing. I tried chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, cryotherapy, Airrosti, foam rolling, stretching, mobility exercises, body weight training, and more. They all served a purpose toward managing my pain, however nothing truly fixed the underlying issue- I didn’t know how to move well. Poor movement over time started to break my body down due to various compensation patterns I had developed to offset my aches, pains, and injuries.

I finally connected the dots that the way I had trained my entire life was inadequate and what led to my body becoming disconnected, and essentially useless for the way I wanted to live- pain free! It wasn’t solely the heavy lifting, but the exercise patterns that I was moving my body through when I lifted. When the human body moves, at it’s basic function, muscles on one side of the body shorten and muscles on the opposing side of the body lengthen, to propel the body through space. This is called contralateral reciprocation- connecting opposing limbs with each other, right arm/ left leg. It’s easily observed during the most fundamental human movement, walking. When I went to the gym I was squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing, doing isolated muscle work on machines, and ultimately trying to activate individual muscles to make them stronger and balance out the body. None of that worked as I intended. I discovered that muscles can never be isolated, unless your surgically separate them, due to a web that surrounds our body and unites every muscle with each other, called fascia. In other words, when one muscle is working, multiple muscles elsewhere in the body are also working to achieve the intended action. The way I was originally taught to exercise didn’t account for any of that. Over time, my body become out of synch with all the moving parts that make up efficient movement, and little things like walking my dog, playing frisbee, getting in and out of my car, and living life started to become hard because my body wasn’t prepared for the various forces encountered in reality.

These experiences led me to discover a training system called Functional Patterns, that’s geared toward training the human body and the mechanics that compose its various movement patterns, and then getting the body stronger when it moves through those patterns. After employing these new techniques into my training I immediately felt the benefits and saw the logic behind the system. Unfortunately I was still incorporating some of my old traditional exercises into my workouts because I thought it would compliment the new techniques. So some days my body would feel great and then the next day I could be in the same state that caused me to seek out alternative exercises in the first place. Finally I decided to abandon the traditional methods that didn’t serve my function, but only fed my ego and body image. After a few weeks of solely training with the new system I noticed that something felt different. I didn’t wake up with a stiff lower back, my knees didn’t hurt climbing down stairs, and I felt taller, lighter, decompressed, whatever you want to call it, my body felt like it was healing.

At this point, I had been a personal trainer for a few years, peddling out the same exercises to my clients that I had been doing for years. None of my clients complained because, like me, they thought it was all just part of the process. Some were in pain and we’d work on traditional rehab exercises that I had learned from physical therapy, and others just wanted a good workout and we’d work on traditional strength training exercises. Neither instances ever improved my clients pain to the point that it was gone, only diminished for a couple hours or days, nor improved my clients functional strength, only to the point that they could lift heavier dumbbells or more plates on a machine. In fact, my clients who were getting stronger in the gym were starting to complain about little joint aches and muscle twinges that they hadn’t reported when we originally started working together. I knew something was missing but I never had a long term solution to fix their pain or improve their performance without causing minimal amounts of adverse tension. Until I found and experienced the Functional Patterns training system. I decided to start implementing some of the exercises that had helped me and cut out the exercises that I thought were doing more harm than good. Slowly but surely my clients started to feel more lasting relief from their pain and felt better outside of the gym when doing things like playing golf, running errands, and even keeping up with their grandkids. I knew this system was a game changer and I wanted to learn more. I purchased some of their online materials and books to start with and felt my understanding of the human body and movement increase. Then I decided to seek out a practitioner to get training first hand by someone with more experience. My perception of what I thought exercise was about, was crushed- in a good way, and the doors to physical and personal growth opened wide.

At the time I had been working at a local personal training studio, that when I had started, their training methods made sense. But as my body and the bodies of my clients slowly deteriorated I realized that I had to leave the traditional fitness culture behind and spread the knowledge I had acquired to more people. This led me to open SA Functional Fitness to make a lasting impact on helping people move better, without causing pain in the process. Fast forward and I am now a Functional Patterns practitioner, still learning from fellow practitioners that have been incorporating this system longer, and learning from each client that I see. Every body is the same, as we all have the same underlying muscles that are designed to function a particular way, however every body requires different exercises to stimulate the muscles in a way that is going to undo the compensation patterns they’ve gotten themselves into. For example, as humans, we should all have the ability to drive our body forward when we walk by utilizing the glutes, as well as other muscle functions. Sometimes we lose that ability, for various reasons like too much sitting or old injuries, and we end up moving our body with only our calves, or hiking up one of our hips. The muscles must be retrained to activate the glutes during that particular movement, but not by doing squats or clamshells with mini bands, those are the wrong patterns. We teach you the correct movement patterns that are going to engage the glutes and integrate them with the rest of the body, in a fashion that mirrors real life movement, like walking or running. Over time your body will learn to move better at the things you do most, and if you move better, you aren’t victim to aches or pains that develop from improper movement.

Ultimately, if you’re in pain, that’s your body signaling you that it needs help. It’s key to get to the root of the muscle malfunction early before your body starts to move around the pain. Your body will avoid the painful stimulus and adapt your posture and eventually the way you move to allow you to “live” with the pain. We believe that’s no way to live and so we exist to help you find a long term solution to improving your movement- to mitigate pain and improve your posture. If you’ve been living like this for years and years, it’ll take more than a few weeks to undo the damage, but with your hard work and the right techniques, we’ll teach you a recipe to improve your quality of life, and sustain it.