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.

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!

Surgery Isn’t Your Only Option

It’s unfortunate that so many surgeons push surgery to correct injuries and pain brought on by mechanical dysfunction. Surgeons are crucial for emergency surgery, but when it comes to addressing bone malformations, joint replacements, spinal fusions, etc., they fix the joint at fault but don’t take into account what led the joint to get to that point in the first place, or how that newly fixed joint is going to mesh back into movement with the rest of the structure. Sometimes surgery fixes the issue you’re complaining about but creates another one.

Sometimes surgery is the only option, but if you’re like us and want to prevent surgery or approach rehabilitation from a non surgical route, then your training should address what is causing the problem. Exercise no longer has to be exercise to lose weight or sculpt a ripped physique. The right kind of exercise can provide rehabilitation to old injuries, while simultaneously building muscle where your body needs it, to prevent future injuries!

Don’t get trapped in the mindset that you need to exercise to lose weight (that’s mostly influenced by your dietary habits anyway) and then because you’re dealing with pain or suffering from an injury, you need to carve out more time to go to physical therapy. As mentioned, the evolved way of exercising takes into account therapy that the body needs to mitigate pain and injuries while you exercise.

But exercise can’t be performed the way you’ve always trained, or the way you see most others exercising or being trained, because those same exercises are likely leading to worse mechanics that cause your body to be more prone to injuries and deal with aches and pains. Exercise needs to be pinpointed to simultaneously build the strength and muscle you desire, to support your body, without causing poor movement patterns that lead the body to pain and injury that require surgery.

Circle back to why you need surgery in the first place, and what options you have to heal. Surgeons are always going to look at the problem and what surgery can do to fix it, occasionally you’ll get sent to physical therapy, but usually it only delays surgery or the surgeon will only see surgery as the only option to fix the issue. We want you to know, there are likely other options to fix the issue. Because sometimes the issue you complain about, isn’t the underlying issue. Sometimes it goes deeper than having knee pain and you need a new joint. Sometimes building a strong core and glutes will help support your pelvis better and influence the movement of force in the knee joint. Sometimes building a strong upper body will help your lower body move better, leading to less stress on the knee joint. Sometimes it’s a combination of things that improve the health of your knee joint. We work to get to the bottom of what your body needs to improve your overall health and function.

If you’re on the fence about surgery to fix an issue, you might want to consider the recovery from that. Using the knee for example, if the issue is with weak glutes or a weak upper body, surgery magically gives you a new knee joint, but if you don’t address the weakness in your body, in a few years you’ll be back in the same predicament. Your new joint will take the same force that your real joint used to take on because the rest of your body wasn’t built up to support your movements.

We are the only personal training studio in San Antonio that trains this way. We don’t like to call ourselves personal trainers because we get lumped in the category with the rest of the industry’s trainers. We are Functional Patterns Human Biomechanics Specialists. If you’re not familiar with Functional Patterns, look it up. It’s what sets us apart form the rest of the trainers out there and it’s the way we conduct our training sessions- to improve the current body you have, naturally and non invasively. For obvious reason we don’t display the corrective exercises that rehab your body, what you see on our website and social media is a tip of the iceberg of what we do. We only showcase the dynamic exercises that reinforce the corrective exercises we do behind the scenes.

Sure, it will take time, but with the work we put your body through, the results will last over time and not offer temporarily relief, but relief that is here to stay! Come find out more about our style of training and why it’s changing the fitness and rehab industry.

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!

The Only Gym In San Antonio With…

We’re the only gym in SA to offer a 25 FOOT pulley machine to train the specifics of the human body in motion. This new piece of equipment allows our trainers and their clients to truly test their body’s function!

This pulley machine has a 25 foot cable length and provides resistance for dynamic exercises that mirror walking and running. Plus other aspects of human motion like rotating and throwing. This cutting edge piece of equipment will allow us to continue treating clients with pain, compression, scoliosis, joint restrictions, movement impairments, muscle atrophy, joint replacement rehab, athletic performance, injury prevention, general function, better movement, and more!

Call us today to set up your initial consultation with one of our Human Biomechanics Specialists! 210-947-4597 or safunctionalfitness.com

Ankle Sprains

A dysfunctional muscle in your lower kinetic chain will disrupt the interdependence of your neuromusculoskeletal system and cause dysfunction further up the chain.

Malfunction at your ankle causes your knee and hip to move poorly and compensate around the misuse of the ankle, the spine shifts to make up for the lack of proper mobility at the hip, which distorts the position of your ribcage and shoulder blades, causing your head and neck to be pushed out of alignment.

If left unresolved, movement compensations cumulate over your lifetime and signal to your brain and body that your dysfunctional alignment is “normal.”

Misalignment that stems from dysfunctional muscle, can’t be corrected for the long term with remedies like chiropractic adjustments alone. Your muscles are signaling to your nervous system that they “like” this position, no matter how damaging to the wellness of your body it is, and any time the spine gets realigned passively from a chiropractic adjustment the muscles intuitively pull you back out of optimal alignment. The objective should be to override the muscles keeping your body in malalignment, and through proper strength training, reprogram better muscle function!

A body that suffers from pain, doesn’t move well, and being stuck in a poor posture is not normal. Malalignment is a key risk factor for joint deterioration because the muscles are no longer in a state to support the joint in its proper position, leading to unnecessary force absorbed in the joint.

Stop looking for short term fixes, and passive manipulations, thinking they will help your body the way they’re advertised. Your body (muscles) and your brain (nervous system) are the only tools required to reprogram the function you’re missing to help your body regenerate.

FIX YOUR BODY… it’s the only one you have.

Mindful vs. Mindless Exercise

More humans are starting to recognize and adopt the importance of regular exercise and general movement in their daily lives. With an increase in technology, transportation, and general automation there is less of a social requirement for being physically fit. However there is still, and always will be, a physical requirement for being fit and functional. If you are not, your body will let you know, in the form of aches and pains. Pain is not a normal sense that your body should become used to or learn to live with just because you’re getting older. Yes you may be getting older, but it’s important to realize that you’re not feeling worse as you age because another year has passed, you may be feeling worse because you’re moving less, moving inefficiently, exercising arbitrarily, and contributing to a poor posture with the exercise and lifestyle habits that you’ve created as the years pass.

It’s fair to say that age is only a number, and how you live your daily life is going to influence how you feel, no matter your age, or your physical condition. The human body is long over do for a relevant way of training that promotes wellbeing in life outside of the gym. Mindlessly exercising for the sake of performing a specific exercise better and getting stronger at a particular lift is irrelevant when it comes to enhancing your overall function in life outside of the gym. Sure, there is some carry over to general strength if you lift weights, but the carry over is minimal and the rate of injury or unexplained pains (“I’m just getting ‘older'”) usually increases. Unless you’re a genetically gifted human, the way most of the population trains is damaging in the long run.

Most of us know that weight machines are like training wheels for your bicycle and don’t really serve much of a purpose other than isolating muscles, but why would you spend time in the gym isolating muscles, when in reality, your muscles are programmed to integrate as a unit to facilitate movement. Hence the arbitrary, irrelevant way of training that the fitness industry has mis-created. Even the free weights are misused by most gym goers because the lifting patterns don’t respect human evolution- ie; walking, running, and throwing. The muscles of the human body were designed around these fundamental functions and every rep that you do of an exercise that doesn’t enhance these functions is detrimental in the long run. Detrimental to your overall health and wellness, from knee pain to poor digestion.

Most exercises prescribed in the commercial gym culture and traditional physical therapy practices is patch work for a failing structure. When gravity is compressing you all day long and then you go and squat with a bar on your back, that exercise only adds to the compression or your vertebral discs and eventually lead to overall compression- from your visceral organs (hence, poor digestion) to your muscles and tendons being a compressed mess (hence chronic muscle tightness and stiffness). If you can learn how to decompress as you exercise (hint: Sling Training) then you’re becoming more efficient at movement that matters and your body becomes less compensatory- physically and physiologically. No amount of digestive enzymes, knee braces, or arbitrary exercise will fix your body and your body’s problems, it will only treat the symptoms. Much like a band-aid on a gun shot wound would work…

If you’re the kind of person who priorities their health and wellness and wants to genuinely fix whatever issues you’re dealing with, whether chronic and nobody has been able to help, or acute and you are looking for long term relief, contact us today. Our consultation/ evaluation process is low cost and worth your time to evolve the way you exercise, recover, and live. We’ll teach you the difference between exercising to exercise, and utilizing exercises that actually translate your time spent in the gym, to being adequately prepared to adapt your body to the ever changing environment outside of the gym.

Sling Training

Myofascial Sling Training is a way to train the human body that respects the way it evolved to move. It’s not based on arbitrary exercise tasks, but rather on movement patterns that translate to everyday function. Sling training refers to the Myofascial Sling Systems that connect the upper body with the lower body and are responsible for supporting the body during day to day performance. Whether you’re an elite athlete, amateur golfer, a 5K’er, weekend gardener, construction worker, walking the dogs, playing with the grandkids, and just existing in the real world. Whatever kind of movement you’re doing, your myofascial sling network is producing the movement. In order to move well, you must train the muscles in a manner that reinforce the way the sling systems function. Isolated movement doesn’t fulfill the requirement because when the body moves, it functions as one integrated unit- so total body integration will start to potentiate the muscles involved and teach them how to work together to produce efficient movement.

At first glance sling training is falsely mistaken as exercise that doesn’t accomplish strength gains. However once the proper foundation is built, slinging has the potential to build mass proportionally across entire chains of muscle, create strength during movements that replicate the way we function in reality, provide lengthened potentials (flexibility/mobility) for tight and overactive muscles, and unite multiple systems of the body to work together in harmony and promote a cardiovascular workout as well as strength that manifests in everyday movement. Obviously other modalities promote this as well, the issue that we’ve found is that the traditional means are often temporary gains riddled with aches and pains and are not sustainable.

The more efficiently you can move, the less energy you waste and the more muscles you have working for you at one time to provide a safer way to move your body while minimizing the risk of injury. As humans, we typically walk upright on two feet and other movements branch off of walking patterns, so when we train, we should be training the slings to become better during movements that we go through on a regular basis. While some argue that the squat is a staple movement because children often times squat when they play, they’re not recognizing that the way the squat is typically trained… with a bar on top of your cervical spine, compressing your discs, as you lift heavier and heavier weight, in a repetitious fashion… is damaging. The strength gained in the glutes and lower body is often overshadowed by lower back pain, knee pain, hip pain, or general tightness that, over time, begins to interfere with everyday movement. The squat can be functional, but it’s during movement patterns that promote connectivity between the sling system and the rest of the myofascial meridians. The more connected your muscles are, the less compression you’ll experience in the joints because the muscles are working towards a greater contractile potential to absorb the force.

Our gym offers training that enhances the human body and builds it up, rather than breaking it down through pointless exercise tasks. Instead of coaching you to become better at specific exercises, we teach your body specific exercises that are going to help you perform better in life outside of the gym. Our goal, as trainers, is to create a workout program for you that is sustainable as you age, while still allowing you to make progress and challenge the body as your muscles learn new motor skills to enhance everyday movement.

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!