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 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.

Action shots from our hard working clients

All ages and stages of life working with our trainers to learn how to improve their biomechanics, to move better in life outside the gym!


The only gym in San Antonio certified to teach your body Functional Patterns!


Our trainers teach exercises that go hand in hand with your body’s natural movement. Allowing your muscles to get strong, mobile, pliable, and supportive simultaneously!


Most importantly, the gains made in the gym translate to life outside of the gym. Achieve real world strength to help your body everyday. Whether you’re looking to improve your general fitness, prevent injuries, rehab existing ones, or manage chronic pain- our gym is your one stop shop!

Always Injured?

If your personal trainer is always injured and they’re teaching you how to work around your injuries without achieving pain free status and return to full function, it’s time to consider that your trainer doesn’t know how to train the intricacies of the human body.

Maybe they’re just a meathead that likes to workout and they’re okay being injured because they think it makes them look cool or tough. But you shouldn’t have to work around their shortcomings. Get yourself a trainer that aims to be better as a trainer for themselves, so they can be a better trainer for you!

Our trainers work through fixing their own muscle dysfunctions, rehabbing old injuries, and finding solutions to nagging aches and pains so they can learn what works for them and break it down in another way to teach their clients that are dealing with the same issues, how to resolve them!

The old saying, “you are who you hang out with” can be said similarly to reflect your fitness. You’re only as “strong,” “functional,” “pain free,” “limitless,” fill in the blank with your own goals, as your trainer. In other words, if your trainer is always hurting somewhere (and it’s not getting better) it means that what they are doing for their own body isn’t worth pursuing because it’s going to lead you down that same path eventually.

In this day in age a skilled personal trainer can also serve your body with the rehabilitation that it needs to get back to working properly. When your body works properly it obtains function that helps it operate without having to avoid certain activities due to pain or injuries restricting its movement.

If your trainer can only give you a workout session- getting your heart rate up, making you sweat, fatiguing your entire body (joints included), by working out around pain and injuries, that’s not going to solve your physical problems. What do you think is going to happen? That magically your body will eventually heal when your trainer hasn’t paid any attention to the areas that need healing, and need very specific detailed work…

Our trainers pay attention to the details to get you off the sidelines and back into the game! Restoring your functions that your body needs to exist and live the life you want, without suffering from pain and being debilitated with an injury. Once the little details are taught and your body’s motor system understand what to do, then we can get your body sweating, your heart rate pumping, and your muscles working and fatiguing in the right places to give you that “good” workout- without avoiding your problems, causing something the flare up, or risking an injury- because your body has been thoroughly prepared!

If you want to workout and simultaneously rehab your body for your future benefit, then ditch the trainer that’s working around the issues that matter to your body in life outside of the gym, and try your introductory session with one of our trainers! Just like when you try on multiple outfits when you shop, or test drive multiple cars before you buy, not all trainers are created equal. Shop around until you find the right one that helps you work through the nitty gritty to fix your physical limitations and achieve pain free function!

Neuromuscular Exercise

Your brain naturally defaults to the neural pathway that represents what you’ve done before. These pathways are created based on habits and behaviors, ei; how you move, what muscles you use to move, what your muscles are doing when you’re not moving, etc.

The brain prefers the path of least resistance- the easiest route to avoid working hard. Since the brain (nervous system) controls our physical actions (muscular system), our function is at the mercy of this path. The way we move is determined on how hard the brain wants to work to coordinate the movement, dictating correct biomechanics versus dysfunctional mechanics based on how your brain is wired.

If your habits and behaviors wire in neural pathways that reinforce the easier path, then your body systems won’t work optimally and over time this becomes normal, and you aren’t even aware of the dysfunction. Using movement as an example… your daily habit of leaning on one leg and popping your hip out to one side when you stand creates a neural pathway, that your brain thinks is normal. Now when you go for a walk, this pathway that was created from your repeated behavior starts to manifest. Every step you take, your hip pops out to the same side as it does when you stand but you aren’t aware of it because your brain has wired this pathway as “normal.” Just because something is normal doesn’t make it right, because a hip that shifts asymmetrically when you walk creates a chain reaction that leads to compensations elsewhere in your kinetic chain. Causing force to pound into your hip joint leading to a hip replacement, unstable hips lead to an unstable spine and overworked knee joints, leading to neck and ankle problems, etc. Think about what else happens during other movements if all this is happening just when you walk.

This is why we prioritize the “mind muscle connection” during training because your body becomes blind to how it’s moving, when your brain has been controlling it a certain way for so long. Our trainers work to uncover if your movement patterns are serving your body for sustainable function or wrecking your body and expediting the aging process.

Contact us if you want to evolve your training to achieve a more practical outcome, instead of just exercising through that path of least resistance.

Physical Fitness

If physical fitness only means big muscles and a 6 pack to you then you’ll likely encounter other detriments to your health over time. Fitness has more to do with your ability to function and perform in any given scenario without suffering from aches and pains- during and after.

Without prioritizing function in your training plan your health can suffer. Dysfunctional muscle mass compressing your ribcage can smash your intestines together and lead to GI issues. Or your lungs can no longer inflate properly so your basic nature to breathe becomes a big problem. Overly developed pecs compromise your posture, pulling your head forward out of alignment, leading to “unexplained” headaches that you’ll likely be prescribed meds for, entering the detrimental cycle of side effects that you’ll need another medication for…

You can’t have health without function. Prioritize function during your workouts to develop physical fitness and physiological well-being in the long run.

 

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.

*Client Testimonials*

We do things differently here at SA Functional Fitness. We aren’t riding the fad on “functional fitness” to attract a specific market of customers, we’re codifying the entire spectrum of muscle function as it relates to the way humans move most and setting you up for real world function. This methodology allows us to simultaneously build muscle, increase strength, improve flexibility, and mobility when and where it counts. A byproduct of learning how to exercise correctly and using the right muscles enhances posture and alignment, restores muscle imbalances, eliminates joint pain, and fixes the body’s structure down to the biomechanical dysfunctions that cause pain and inefficient movement patterns in the first place, allowing for efficient recovery.

We train the entire spectrum of total body function to ensure your body is getting the proper stimulus to illicit the results you paid for! We practice what we preach, and we teach you the importance of the little details, and how, if left unresolved, the little things add up to major dysfunction throughout the entire kinetic chain. We’re patient and passionate personal trainers that enjoy teaching to all levels of function and fitness, with an emphasis on human biomechanics to restore optimal function to the body and the way it performs on a daily basis.

We aren’t your typical gym, we don’t waste time with arbitrary exercises, we develop your fundamentals of movement as it relates to the human body and the way it was designed to move, and then take it to the next level as your body adapts, increasingly challenging your structure with exercises in the gym, to help your body navigate reality with ease!

Don’t take our word for it; read what our clients are saying about our methods!

 

Now vs Then; Posture Results

The importance of posture is gaining more recognition as our society becomes more sedentary. Rounded shoulders, hunched back, sway back, and “text neck” impact most of us on a daily basis. Our environment shapes us, literally. If you sit behind a desk all day, you more than likely have rounded shoulders and a forward head posture, because you’re confined to a computer screen for 8 hours a day. Posture is problematic if you’re body gets “stuck” in that particular position and your body can’t get out of it when you move. Whether you’re exercising or grocery shopping, your posture will manifest during movement. Posture training goes deeper than just reminding yourself to stand up straight and pull your shoulders back. In order to truly get yourself out of that “stuck” position and move better, you have to reprogram your nervous system to allow for the long term fix.

Long term improvements to your posture orient from integrated exercise, not training the posture itself. Remember, the nervous system needs to be involved in the process so the body can intrinsically maintain the changes while at rest. So when you’re working all day, your body no longer accepts that familiar “hunched over” position as normal. Now you don’t have to constantly be conscious about sitting up straight with your shoulders back, you’re body will default to that new “stuck” position. Ideally a better position for your body. When the correct exercise stimulus is provided for the body, it will adapt to that stimulus. This is when the nervous system gets involved and connects with the muscular system, as it does in the real world. Exercise that aligns with this notion has the power to reconnect missing links in the muscles and reprogram the nervous system, making you “unstuck,” allowing for long term changes in alignment.

Alignment, posture, structural integrity, stability, however it’s referred to, plays a role in movement and therefore repeat injuries, chronic muscle aches, and nagging joint pain, which then influences movement further. If your alignment is flawed when you’re just standing or sitting, imagine how that “bad posture” will manifest during movement. Your body is going to compensate poorly when it moves leading to the vicious cycle of injury, aches, pains, and eventually lead to even worse movement quality. Whether you’re moving in the gym or around town, your body isn’t adequately  prepared for life and so it breaks down under all the varying forces. From climbing stairs, running, playing with your kids, walking your dog, GRAVITY! If you want more resiliency against these forces then, when you’re in the gym exercising, you have to prepare your body for life outside of the gym. Your body needs a reference to operate better in the real world by utilizing real life Functional Patterns of movement that translate to the way humans were designed to move. Functional Patterns is a training system that respects human evolution and integrates the muscles in accordance with how the muscles are actually, anatomically, connected. When muscles are isolated during exercise, those muscle connections are severed and over time the nervous system recognizes this dysfunctional state as the new normal. Leading to the bodies inefficient relationship with gravity. As you reprogram the nervous system with the right stimulus, from patterns that actually respect the way the bodies connected and tap into those connections during exercise, then better movement manifests in life outside of the gym. Better movement means less compensations and a solution to your nagging aches and pains.

Below are some results one of our clients was able to achieve, after working together once a week for 10 weeks, toward improving his posture for the long run. These changes are only skimming the surface and we have more work to do, but the only cue given during these photos was to “relax, take a deep breath in and let it out.” No other positional cues were given during the photos so we could see how the posture was actually influenced at the neuromuscular level- hence the structural changes even though he’s resting in all the pictures. Even though both poses are relaxed, there are visual differences between the poses because the posture was influenced at a nueromuscular level. In other words, we woke up some muscles that have been asleep (influencing the posture negatively) and put them to work in order to change the structure of the body at a deeper level, rather than just “standing up straight.”

Before (right) ; After (left)

Side view
Increased intra-abdominal pressure (fuller looking belly) so more muscles in the core are being engaged while at rest to support his new posture at an intrinsic level. Decreased forward head posture (height of his nose and angle of his neck) achieved, not from teaching him to pull his head back, but from waking up his deep front line.

Rear view
Overall spinal decompression (less scapular winging, lengthened spinal column) because of overall ribcage decompression. More space between his body and his arms hanging by his side, because his shoulders were pulled out of their chronic internal rotation.

Front view                                                                                                                                   Intra-abdominal pressure and spine/ribcage Decompression  (positioning of his pecs and height of his ears) resulting from an improved resiliency to gravity and an overall taller Rene. Less rib flare (hands pulled to side of his thighs rather than resting at the front of his thighs), due to the ribcage opening up.

As a result of changing the “alignment” at a neuromuscular level, Rene was able to diminish his lower back pain that he’s been living with for years! Since we aim to lift up the structure of the body during exercise, Rene reported feeling “taller” after every session which is a result of the spine and ribcage decompression, and a more efficient relationship with gravity. Decompression is only achieved at an internal level when the right exercises stimulus is provided, when the body becomes decompressed, the normal resting posture changes. It’s important to note that we did not spend any time after his first session focusing on posture- these changes in alignment were created by focusing on corrective exercise with proper breathing mechanics and body mechanics. It’s all about teaching the muscles to work together in harmony so the body learns how to function as one integrated unit and balance the forces influencing it everyday.

Don’t just change your posture for the short term by pinching your shoulders back and standing up straight. Address the mechanical issues of your body and, in the process, your posture will be changed at a deeper level. Stopping the vicious injury cycle and automatically opening the doors to better movement and pain-free living. Contact us now to set up your consultation and introductory posture assessment. Mention this post and we’ll waive your consultation fee so you can come see what steps you can take toward improving your posture and pain for the long term!