Mind Muscle Connection

Neuromuscular reprogramming is just fancy jargon for training the brain/body connection via the correct exercise stimulus.

We have our clients utilize a mirror for most exercises to point out when their form is compromised leading to injury and understanding why the way they perform certain functions causes pain.

The consensus is that their brain thinks the way they’re already doing it is right. But when they get a reality check in the mirror they can finally see (and feel) the cause and effect from improper movement.

Your brain is always going to prefer to stay in its comfort zone and move through the path of least resistance, which is what prompts your muscles to respond with inefficient patterns. A pro tip we teach our clients is to slow down the movement and focus on controlling the details. Your body will learn how to use your muscles efficiently to move correctly and retrain your brain in the process.

Come feel what our gym does differently from the rest in the industry. Set up your initial (no obligation) consultation so we can get to know your body and you can get a feel for our style of training.

Posture 2.0

Posture is often associated with standing upright with the shoulders pulled back and the chest opened up, but posture is more than just standing straight.

Your body can’t hold one particular posture when it moves, so your muscles need to learn how to change “postures” when it changes positions.

When you think about what it means to have “good posture,” consider how that relates to your body in motion, and the changes movement produces in your body’s alignment.

When you bend over to pick something up, your pelvis is going to be in a different position while you’re bent over, than when you’re standing upright.

Therefore, your posture changes. It’s not about staying stacked a certain way 24/7, because certain functions require certain positions. Your muscles need to learn to drive your skeleton into those positions and get you out of them, so you don’t get stuck in a certain posture.

Posture changes constantly, and it goes deeper than what your posture looks like when you’re at rest. It’s one thing to be aware of your posture when you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. But have you ever given any thought to what your posture looks like when you’re moving? Exercising, golfing, walking, hiking, boxing, dancing, running, etc.?

Good posture means your body can maintain integrity throughout its structure, when at rest and when moving. Structural integrity is achieved when your muscles are functioning correctly to support your alignment and intrinsically stabilizing your body from external demands.

The better your structure can withstand external demands, like gravitational forces and daily activities, the better your alignment will become at rest. Your body won’t be beat into a certain posture, or “comfort zone,” because it will be strengthened to withstand those effects and align into a “neutral zone,” always ready to change and adapt to balance the demands placed on it.

Not all training is going to respect the concepts described above, some exercises may even cause your structural integrity to weaken- making your body more vulnerable to the forces acting on it. The exercises you perform should enhance your body’s capability to withstand gravity and daily activities, without adversity.

If you want all the gravitational gains, without the compressional pains, set up your consultation with one of our biomechanics trainers today!

Reciprocity

What goes up, must come down, what goes left, goes right. Basic principles that can be used to train functions for the body, specifically with exercises that reinforce basic human movement patterns.

One pattern that accounts for moving your body is referred to as contralateral reciprocation. It’s primarily explained as your arms and legs working in uniform opposition- right arm swings forward as your left leg kicks back, and vice versa with the arm and leg on the other side of your body, to rhythmically propel yourself through space.

Watch any person walk or run (and even throw) and you’ll see reciprocal functions taking place throughout their body. Ipsilaterally and contralaterally. It’s a trait that the human body has developed as a result of its movement patterns.

Since the human body primarily operates through a series of reciprocal actions, you can use the principle of reciprocity and apply it to exercises in a way that replicates how the body moves in reality.

Realistically, walking is a, taken for granted, movement that your body does the most. If you want to get “strong” in a way that matters for the world you’re living in, get better at strengthening your body to master the mechanics behind walking, and running… (and throwing). That way you built your body to be resilient for what it endures on a daily basis, and to better withstand the damage from gravity and the force it places on your body.

Let’s reign this back in to, the title of this post: Reciprocity, and why it’s a piece of the puzzle to overall better movement.

If you study the patterns of human movement you’ll find that the body is constantly reciprocating, from basic examples like agonist and antagonist muscles- as one muscle contracts, the one opposite of it it, stretches. And the  timing of the inhale and exhale of your breathing mechanics. Then to the mechanics of contralateral reciprocation like walking, sprinting, kicking, punching, a golf swing, even a baseball pitch. And to more advanced reciprocation, like the micro sequences within oppositional motion. Like the Yin and the Yang, without one, you’d have too much of the other, and that would throw out the balance.

Let’s circle that back to exercise and “training” the body. Training doesn’t always need to be referred to as physical. With the right kind of exercise you should be training your brain and body, and using stimuli to condition the desired response you want for your body, or brain. If you understand that mechanisms in the body work in reciprocation then you can use exercise as form of stimuli to condition more harmony within the body. Exercises that revolve around the principles within gait (walking, running, throwing) involve contralateral reciprocation patterns of movement that communicate to the brain, that the body is in harmony with its biology- how humans evolved to move.

Think about it this way- an upright chest press, with a step, is reinforcing movement patterns that align with human movement, and reconditioning the neuromuscular system to achieve a more rewarding response. Versus, squatting with a bar on your neck, and lifting the weight up and down, or using a dumbbell to pump out 20 reps of curls for big arms- with no regard to what’s going on with the rest of your body. Have you consider that because the body works in harmony and integrates muscles to work synergistically at once, that isolating one muscle to work one at a time, creates disconnections in your neuromuscular system. So, which form of exercise do you think would create more symbiosis versus division in the body? No more Yin and Yang together.

While there is still much more to account for in terms of exercising, training, principles, function, and reciprocity, this was written with the intent to create a different way to think about exercise. And the effects it has on your body, function, wellbeing, and longevity. As we learn more about the human body and how it operates, we can finally become more intelligent with the way we exercise. No longer for sport or ego, because those aren’t healthy for your body and more importantly you can’t sustain the behavior.  So you spend a few years looking good, maybe even feeling good without joint pain, but eventually it’ll catch up to you and you won’t be able to move, you’ll hurt, you’ll put on weight, turn to dysfunctional behavior for comfort, and enter the hard to get out cycle of self sabotage. What if you could use exercise to get healthier as you age? Not to look good like when you were younger but to feel youthful, energized, and functional like when you were younger! It’s a red pill to swallow but one that can be rewarding in terms of wellbeing as you age. All the fears and self fulfilling prophecies of hip replacements, back pain, and immobile joints can all be avoided, if you decide to train smarter instead of harder. Set yourself up for the long run. The world needs strong and capable humans!

Yours in Health,

Michael

Human Biomechanics

We have said it before and we’ll say it again, we are not your typical gym with your average personal trainers. We incoproate Functional Patterns training methodology to train the human body the way it was designed to function. Our approach aims to undue the damages inflicted on the body from all traditional means of exercises and mobility that don’t respect the physics and tensegrity of human biomechanics.

Traditional training includes weightlifting, bodybuilding, olympic lifting, crossfit, cycling, yoga, pilates, gymnastics, animal flow, isolated stretching, functional range conditioning, H.I.I.T. training, spin class, and group classes with the objective of burning max calories and gaining (dysfunctional) muscle.

All these forms of exercise are the antithesis of optimal biomechanics and makes it very hard to create the muscle associations we need to make to alter your structure to the degree we could if you weren’t doing those types of training.

If you’re wanting to learn or do Functional Patterns training you’ll get the best results when you aren’t engaging or plan to return to any of the above mentioned methods, as none of them aim to enhance human biomechanics and therefore create a direct hinderance towards you getting the best and fastest results.

While the intent behind all of these methods is good, the application doesn’t deliver. All of the above mentioned methods cause a disconnect from human movement. When you think of “human movement” think of walking as a basic example, and then think about what all of the above mentioned forms of training look like, and now think about how they don’t align with the motions of human movement. So the deeper you go into those forms of training, the further away you go from the fundamentals of how the human body was born to move. And the further you go away from how you were born to move the less optimally your body moves and the more likely your body will suffer from pain and breakdown from injury.

We aren’t saying that these forms of training are terrible and that you should never do them, but what we are saying is that your body wasn’t made for these forms of training, which is often why people get injured, experience unexplained aches and pains, and become less inclined to move well the more they participate in these. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms and are participating in these styles of training, then in that case, we would recommend not doing them. At least for some time to decide if its causing you harm. In other words if you’re participating in them and then stop and your body starts feeling better, then you can see the correlation between these styles of training and the outcome on your body.

If you really want to heal your body, take it a step further and start participating in a training style that matches the way the human body moves, and accounts for all of the intricacies that make up human motion. Enter Functional Patterns training. A system that makes your muscles work (contract/ engage/ activate) during exercise the way they work in the real world. Translating the work you do in the gym to a stronger body in reality. But the key is that you need to train your body accordingly instead of just participating in exercise for the sake of exercise.

Exercise is good, but not all exercise is created equal or produces the same outcome. Some of the above mentioned training styles become just a social hour (albeit a healthier social hour than drinking at the bar) or a way to fit in because everyone else is going to the local gym or workout class. But you should ask yourself, just because those people are working out, are they absent of pain, are they capable of moving without restriction, are they only good at exercising or can they perform in any given scenario?

Hopefully after reading this you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding about how exercise can benefit you if you exercise in a manner that respects the way the human body was designed to move. If you don’t, then sure exercise will have some superficial benefits that your doctor may recommend like lowering your blood pressure if you’re a couch potato and stimulating your muscles as opposed to letting them waste away, but if you don’t exercise the right way then the harms can outweigh the potential benefits. For example, sitting on a spin bike 5 days a week disconnects your upper body from your lower body, places your spine in a kyphotic posture, and doesn’t strengthen your core muscles. This can result in lower back pain from lack of core support, problems when you walk because your only training your body in a seated position, severed muscle chains because you aren’t training your kinetic chain for the way your entire system operates naturally, and a poor posture that makes it look like you’re depressed because you’re always hunched over, eventually maybe leading to some form of depression because your posture will influence your mood- via the emotional links with your fascia… see how health and fitness goes WAY deeper than just exercising your muscles?

These are just examples to start making you think about why we are still such an unhealthy society, with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and still have to have joint replacement surgeries and live with lower back pain even though people are exercising. It’s because nobody is taking the time to educate how complex exercise really is and the way the human body should be trained. Most of us are still working out with a structure from P.E. class or collegiate athletics or what your doctor recommends or what you see on T.V. The problem is that these exercises just keep you running in circles on the hamster wheel instead of solving problems with your body to make you a better functioning human without pain and risking injury when you move, play sports, move furniture, walk your dogs, chase your kids, grocery shop, do yard work, and live life.

If you’re tired of exercising without any applicable, noticeable benefit then contact us to take the first step toward exercising with a purpose so the results extend beyond body composition, weight loss, muscle tone, and cardiovascular health, but start to include a stable posture, a strong body for doing what you do most, and most importantly achieving fitness without pain so you can have a body that handles the demands of real life!

Functional Anatomy Part 2

In our previous blog we went into great detail highlighting the importance of what function means as it relates to your physical wellbeing. In this blog were simply going to teach what you need to know about your anatomy and how to move it so when you start training with us, you have a basic understanding!

Let’s first start off explaining the basics of spacial proximity, your body’s ability to sense where it’s at. This is important because to correct biomechanical dysfunctions, the brain has to have an understanding of where the body currently rests (or the posture it defaults to) and then learn how to control the body into a better position- to illicit proper muscle contractions, to support better alignment. You must understand how to move your structures forward (anterior), backward (posterior), and sideways (lateral), up (superior), down (inferior), in (adduct), and out (abduct). Once your know the general directions of how your body can and should be capable of moving, then we get into the specifics of micro directional changes of the structures themselves.

Imagine your skeleton, and now think about shifting your ribcage laterally to the right, like you’re trying to stretch your right side of your torso. Or think about shifting your pelvis laterally to the left, like you’re doing The Bump. Those are lateral shifts, but you can also shift your pelvis back (posteriorly), like sticking your butt back, or your ribcage forward (anteriorly), like you’re puffing out your chest. Shifts can apply to other parts of your body, but at the onset we focus on your ribs and hips, since these are two big structures that have influence of your upper and lower extremities. Shifts can also apply to your weight, you can distribute your weight back, in your heels, forward, in your toes, or left and right, as you lean heavier on one leg. In reference to our last blog, if someone’s skeleton is stuck in an anterior pelvic shift (hips humping the air in front of them) we’d first teach them (body and brain) how to shift their pelvis back, into a posterior pelvic shift.

The next structural change you need to understand is tilts. A posterior pelvic tilt and an anterior pelvic tilt are the most common, but tilts can apply to the ribcage as well. A posterior pelvic tilt is in reference to the back of your pelvis tilting down, like your tailbone rolling under you, like a dog tucking its tail between its legs. An anterior pelvic tilt would be the opposite, the front of your pelvis tilting down, like you’re untucking your tailbone. So if you’re stuck in an anterior pelvic tilt, initially we’d teach you how to posteriorly tilt your pelvis to start reprogramming better muscle function in your posterior chain to alleviate the pressure you feel in your lower back because your pelvis is jamming up into your spine.

Rotation is another function that your anatomical structures need to be capable of, especially because rotational forces drive our body during movement. Rotating your pelvis to the right, like your pulling the back of your right hip bone backwards and the front of your left hip bone forwards, creates a turn in your pelvis and activation in your glutes! The same can be said of rotating your ribcage to the right, think about pulling the back of your right should backwards and the front of your left shoulder forwards to create a turn of your ribcage and an activation in your obliques! Can you start seeing how learning to move your structures, can create an automatic muscle contraction? This is helpful because how we teach your to move your structures, is how your body actually moves those structures during basic human functions like walking. So you don’t have to think about squeezing a muscle when you’re busy moving about in the real world, because your structures have already been primed to move like that with the exercises we teach you. And when your structures move the way they should, and they aren’t stuck in a position, your muscles learn to contract to support the ebb and flow of positions that your body moves through, to move!

Flexion applies in most cases to your spine and your extremities (arms and legs). If you flex your elbow, think about doing a bicep curl or trying to touch the front of your shoulder with your palm. If you flex your hip, think about brining your knee up like you’re going to touch your chest. If you’re flexing your knee, think about bending your leg like you’re trying to touch your heel to your butt. If you flex your spine, think about hunching over and rounding your upper back.

Extension would be the opposite of flexion. Spinal extension would be like you’re lifting your chest up and leaning back. Arm extension would be like a tricep extension, or straightening your arm. Hip extension would be like you’re reaching your leg back behind your body. Knee extension would be like you’re straightening your knee, like you’re going to kick someone in front of you.

Adduction is moving toward your midline, like you’re crossing your right leg across your left leg when you kick a ball, or bringing your arms to your sides like a standing military position. An easy way to remember this is, you’re “adding” something to your body.

Abduction is the opposite of adduction, you move away from your body. Like you’re raising your arms up to make your body into a “T” or you kick your leg out to the side like a roundhouse kick. An easy way to remember this is, you’re taking away (“abducting”) something from your body.

Protraction is when you move a structure forward, in reference to your shoulder blades protracting, your scapulae are spreading away from your spine, like your shoulders are getting wider. If you’re doing a pressing motion with your chest, you would extend your arm straight and let your shoulder blades push forward.

Retraction is when you move the structure back, again when thinking about your shoulders blades, you’re pulling/pinning them back (not too much, but some is necessary), like you’re trying to stick your chest out. If you’re doing a pulling motion you would bend your arm and let your shoulder blade pull back as needed.

Additionally, elevation and depression are useful to understand when thinking about the shoulder blades again, you can lift them up (elevate) and pull them down (depress), to allow certain functions to happen in the rest of the shoulder girdle and arms. For example, if you’re reaching over head, you’d need to learn how to properly depress your scapula… too much can cause an adverse compression in your lumbar spine. Elevating them would be useful in other exercises to help activate your upper traps properly… but not just shrugging them like an old school bodybuilder… lol.

All of these are a simplified explanation of basic mechanics that we teach you and the more you understand, the more capable your body becomes. Just because it’s a function doesn’t mean it is a function that your body will need at the start. For example, if you’re stuck in an anterior pelvic tilt, we wouldn’t want you performing an anterior pelvic tilt because that is just confusing the brain and telling it to keep reinforcing the position you’re already stuck in. So functions need to be calculated to benefit your individual body and the way it needs to get better at specific movements. If you need help learning what will benefit your specific needs, contact us to set up your introductory session!

Dysfunctional Muscle

Work around dysfunctional muscles and movement impairments cumulate. Work through the nitty gritty of retraining the kinetic chain to optimal function and expect a return to quality of life and freedom to move!

The way you train determines the outcome. Proper exercise patterns that respect human movements, or arbitrarily lifting weights the way you see in most gyms or fitness ads.

We aren’t your typical gym, we don’t push you to your limits of already poor movement, we push you to the edge of learning (mentally and physically) how your muscles should function, and why.

Contact us today to start reprogramming your brain and body for the reality it lives in. Otherwise, poor movement compounds and eventually leads to overuse, pain, and injuries that make life in the real world harder to live with.