Alignment 101

The position of (fill in the blank) influences the rest of your alignment. Because our body is interconnected, one structure’s alignment will influence another’s. For example when your pelvis is out of alignment, it pulls your spine out of its natural alignment. The spine’s position effects the position of your ribcage, head and neck, as well as further down your chain in your knee and ankle joints. Basically your center of gravity is thrown off.

When you’re misaligned, muscles pull you in directions you otherwise wouldn’t be in, to fight for “balance” and trick your brain into thinking everything’s positioned where it needs to be. You’re alignment (or lack of) influences how well you stand and move, and that influences how your body responds to its environment, functionally or dysfunctionally. The latter leads to pain and injury.

How To Move Better

Tension built in the muscles takes pressure off the joints, ligaments, and bones and allows the muscles and tendons to work as the support system for the body.

This all sounds ideal, especially if you’re someone suffering from pain and restrictive movement because of pain. However it’s not guaranteed to happen if you do exercises that compress your structure. Squatting with a bar on your back causes compression on you vertebrae, bench pressing limits the range of motion of your shoulder girdle and disconnects the pec muscles from the powerful oblique muscles, deadlifting causes your lower posterior chain to work but neglects the upper and causes your lumbar spine to overwork.

All of these are very common exercises that are prescribed to build strength, but often what you aren’t aware of is it’s at the expense of your joints, spine, bones, and ligaments. The physics behind these movements causes the muscles to load exclusively through one direction of force, whereas in reality, the same muscles are constantly being used through multiple angles of force.

There are a few problems with this way of training. The movements themselves don’t allow the force to be balanced out through other angles, and so while the muscles are being worked, the nearby joints and ligaments are also being strained. The movements also don’t allow other muscle chains to integrate with the targeted muscles, which leads to overuse and fascial disconnection from the rest of the chain. Finally, since the movements only train one force at a time, when you go to use your body in the real world, the muscles aren’t thoroughly prepared to be resilient against the multiple forces acting on it.

These movements do make your muscles stronger, but only within the context of the exercise itself. Once your body is off the bench, or the bar isn’t on top of it, your muscles have not been conditioned to withstand other forces. Additionally your muscles have not been conditioned through integration and all the built in connections are not linked efficiently so muscles are working on their own to help support you. Like you’re in a canoe with a group and you’re the only one doing all the paddling- the group should work together to make the paddling easier and the water more enjoyable. Your muscles should learn to work the same way.

Another point to consider is that the exercises themselves cause strain on the joints, ligaments, and bones from the dysfunctional mechanics during the movement. But the exercises can indirectly affect the joints, ligaments, and bones later down the road, by not offering the right support from your muscles when you move in the real world. In other words, the exercises aren’t preparing your body for reality.

Exercise should be used to build resiliency to life outside of the gym. This concept is one that our trainers always remind our clients of when we teach them exercises that align with this principle. The result is a stronger body, leading to less pain and old injuries being resolved in the process.

Come to our gym and learn what is best for your body and how you should be exercising to promote longevity and sustain your fitness.

How Do You Train Your Pecs?

Did you know your chest muscles (the pecs) dominate movements like punching, throwing, and even running?

The pecs were designed for these functions via human evolution- throwing spears, pumping the upper body when running from danger, and fighting for survival.

These muscles also connect into multiple kinetic chains and when we move, they function together with the rest of the chain to produce more power and efficiency. For example, the pecs share functions with the nearby oblique muscles and function more often through rotational mechanics, like throwing, instead of exclusively pressing motions.

Traditional chest training like the bench press and pushups will make your pecs stronger, but not the rest of the chain your pecs connect to. Therefore you’re only strong at the bench press and not functional activities that require you to use your pecs the way they were designed.

The bench press is one exercise we were taught to make our chest stronger, but the chest predominately functions in different patterns than the bench. When we go to use our pecs the way nature designed them, but we’re unnaturally training them, they aren’t prepared for reality and injury risk goes up.

Come work with trainers who know the way your muscles need to be trained, and how to teach exercises that go hand in hand with their natural function(s). At our gym, your muscles are prepared for real life so your body can function without pains and injuries, the true meaning of strength.

Come As You Are

We aren’t the typical gym that advertises chiseled abs and huge muscles. We welcome the unfit. That’s why we exist to help you become a fitter, and better functioning, version of your current self.

If you can’t function well, then your ability to thrive in your environment (the definition of fitness) is diminished. That’s why we emphasize the importance of using your muscles the way there were designed to function.

In the process, weight loss, muscle mass, strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and mobility come along for the ride. As your body relearns functions, old injuries, aches, and pains also get rehabbed simultaneously.

Chiseled abs and appropriately sized muscles are what we work toward, but not until the prerequisites of fixing your mechanics have been established. This sets your body up for achieving these goals, without pounding your joints and compressing your spine in the process. First things, first.

When you want a trainer that prioritizes the same goals as you, without hurting in the process, then we’re the gym to help you!

Note: this is a process and not a magical over night fix. It takes time to undo the damage your body has been through from dysfunctional exercise habits, injuries, and pain that comes on from both of these. Once we undo the dysfunction then the possibilities are endless. Just ask our current clients!

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.

Why We Do What We Do

A lot of you have been asking what we do, and the simple answer is we want to bring value to our customers lives. Whether that’s helping them out of pain, building muscle and strength, aligning their posture, or getting them to move better to reduce their risk of injury. All of which go hand in hand.

The fitness world is littered with trainers that promote getting stronger but usually at the expense of your posture, muscle strain, joint pain, and movement restrictions. We opened our doors to be a solution to this approach to getting fit, by teaching alternative techniques that simultaneously build strength and mobility without damaging your joints or exacerbating muscle imbalance.

We are Functional Patterns practitioners providing training that your body needs to function without adversity. Come try our gym to experience where personal training meets physical therapy. We help you reach goals you thought weren’t possible!

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!

Without This, Physical Activity Suffers!

activity like this, requires muscles that work, in order to perform without aches, pains, or injuries.

Without proper muscle activity, physical activity suffers.

If your muscles don’t work when you work, your body picks up the slack in deficit ways.

The body is king/queen at compensating, which means if you want it to achieve a range of motion it will do it, but it will use whatever muscles it can to get there.

When you don’t use the correct muscles to move your body, you risk injuring yourself or triggering pain from improper mechanics.

Your mechanics are directly related to your muscle function, so muscles that don’t work are going to cause your body to move inefficiently.

Walking the dogs, playing tennis, exercising, standing, and general movements all require functional muscles if you want to perform these activities without consequences.

The consequence for dysfunctional muscles, is poor body mechanics, poor body mechanics contribute to movement compensations, which lead to aches, pains, and injuries.

Let our team of trainers help teach your body how it needs to function, to move without pain!

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!

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!