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.

Training For Life

Traditional exercise techniques yield strength that is limited to the exercise itself and has minimal carry over to the dynamics of reality. Often with aches and pains coming along for the ride. If you want to sustain fitness without the damaging side effects then the way you train must coincide with the way your body naturally moves.

Squatting with a bar on your back or over your head, isolating your arms or legs on a machine, spinning your legs in circles on an exercise bike are all very common exercises. Just because everyone is doing them doesn’t make them the most beneficial because they put your body through mechanics that alter the way your body naturally moves.

This builds muscles that move your body inefficiently and contribute to poor mechanics during what you do most, like your gait cycle. If what you do most becomes poorly executed then injury or pain is likely. We combat the norms of traditional exercise and program mechanics that reinforce the way our muscles were designed to function and the natural movement they produce. This approach allows us to live pain free lives and get back to enjoying freedom of movement.

If you want your life back before aches, pains, and injuries limited you, then try a year training the way we do. You’ve already tried the other way. How’s that working for you?

A Purpose Of Exercise

Keeping as many muscles on the body engaged as you move through an exercise is crucial to reinforcing the way your body functions outside of exercise 🦾

Creating and maintaining tension is priority to prevent going through the motions with a flaccid structure 🥀

Just like a flaccid 🍆🙉doesn’t work, a body void of muscle tension won’t work optimally either. This is what sets the stage for pain and injury down the road 🤕

If you expect to live life without dull aches and debilitating pains, all of your muscles need to function the way they were designed to, to support your body the way you want them to🏃🏻‍♂️

Work one-on-one with our team of trainers to build your body for the life you’re living! Contact us today to get started!

210-947-4597 OR info@safunctionalfitness.com

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.

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!

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

A Different Kind Of Gym

What makes our gym different from other gyms? Why do our trainers utilize the Functional Patterns training system? We’ll answer that by looking at the way humans were conditioned through evolution.

Over millions of years the human body evolved to do 4 things with precision, that other animals can’t do. As humans, we stand upright on both legs, we walk and run upright on both legs, and we throw overhead.

These functions were necessary for survival- running from predators, throwing spears to kill prey and feed ourselves, and walking long distances to migrate to better climates, all while standing upright.

As a result of these movements in our early years, our muscles learned to contract a specific way to support these necessary actions and the repetitive contractions shaped our muscles and gave them the tone that we have today.

The reason our trainers learn and teach Functional Patterns is because the foundation of this training system, recognizes and respects these 4 fundamental functions with all of the exercises. It’s a system that was created for humans that reinforces the way the human body evolved to move and exist.

As we train these fundamental functions, our bodies learn to move in line with our ancestral movement patterns. The result is strength on a wide scale because the body is learning to create muscle to support the way it moves everyday- the same way humans have moved everyday for several million years.

We run into trouble when we perform exercises that break the mold that shaped us. Our muscles learn functions that it doesn’t need and forgets functions that supports the way the body naturally moves. This results in aches, pains, and injuries because the body is out of its element and muscles fight through and compensate in ways they didn’t evolve to.

Working out, exercising, training, lifting, whatever you want to call it should NOT cause pain or only make you strong in the gym. It should enhance your natural functions, so other functions come along for the ride, and without all the drama. It’s not normal to wake up with aches every day, live with pain, or chronically work around injuries.

The right kind of training (backed by the 4 fundamental human functions) will provide strength, mobility, and endurance for any scenario. Once your body is functional (by the above standards), that function carries over to activity, performance, and general movement to support your body without fearing pain or risking injury. That is what fitness is.

If you want to be functional and fit for your life apart from the gym, now and in the long run, train with the above in mind. If you need help figuring out what exactly that means, and you want to feel what an exercise feels like when executed correctly, instead of just copying the movement from YouTube or a “fitness” app then contact us today. Call, stop by, or book online to try your first introductory session!

What Does Your Exercise Regimen Do For You?

You know exercise is good for you, but is the way you exercise helping enhance your ability to function as you age? Whether you’re 30, 50, or 70 exercise has the power to optimize your function as the years roll on. The caveat is that your muscle network needs the right kind of stimulus to produce the results you’re after.

Mindlessly sitting on an exercise bike after sitting at work all day, or lifting weights up and down without mechanisms that mirror human motions is just going to lump you in the “I’m just getting older so my knees hurt and I just can’t move like I used to” category.

Your functional capacity is a byproduct of your exercise regimen, or lack thereof. Lifting weights up and down to build big muscles is shortsighted if you don’t consider the function of the muscle, and how it works to move your body when you aren’t exercising. Muscle mass built on a compromised structure turns into dysfunctional muscle because its main function(s) isn’t it’s only job anymore. It’s having to hold your body in positions that aren’t preferable or natural but now it’s stuck there because you trained the muscle to associate its function “this way” instead of the way nature designed it to.

Lift weights and exercise to train your muscles in the context that your body uses them the most, because your future function is at stake every time you exercise. You’re 25 or 35 years old now and your body feels alright, but if its barely hanging on now and you’re starting to feel joint aches creep in then you need to ask yourself what state your body will be in 10 years from now if you continue exercising the way you’re exercising now. Real functional exercise has more to it than meets the eye. Our gym focuses on how the human body evolved to function and how it moves on a daily basis to create an exercise regimen to provide a sustainable way to workout, without succumbing to aches and pains accompanied by traditional gym exercises.

If you want to learn more and treat your body right, now, so it treats you right, later, then schedule your initial consultation to get started on the path to pain free, unrestricted movement, and enjoy the activities that are part of your life!

What Does Functional Training Look Like?

We often get asked “what exactly does your training look like?”

“Is it stretching?”

“Is it mobility work?”

“Is it rehab… or exercise?”

“Is it strength and conditioning?”

“Is it performance or injury prevention?”

Simply put, it’s all of the above!

When you move well, you are “stretching” parts of your body, while “strengthening” another.

Learning to move well also means that you learn to position your joints in a way to produce maximum mobility, while still being safe and beneficial for your body.

When you train your body to move well, you are in fact doing “rehab” while still building strength and training to perform better.

You can’t separate flexibility from strength and you certainly can’t separate rehab from performance either.

Training your body to separate those elements won’t get you long term physical wellbeing because your body operates as one complex system. Train it according, and if you can’t, we can!

How To Tell If Your Workouts Are Paying Off

No it’s not just that your losing weight (that’s mostly diet anyway), or that you’re lifting more weight, or you can touch your toes. All of that should come along for the ride, but what if all of that happens at the expense of your well-being, and you can lift more weight but you blow out your knee joints, or shoulder joints, or you’re losing weight by beating your body up with chronic fast paced interval workouts that you won’t be able to sustain when your body finally crashes (hence why dietary habits are more important for sustainable weight loss), or you’re more flexible but touching your toes is over stretching your hamstrings and now you can’t contract them like you should and they no longer support your body.

The way our trainers educate our clients to know if their workouts are actually yielding a return on their investment is if they’re able to move without guarding or restriction, they no longer have chronic pain when they exercise or move about in the real world, and they can function the way they need and want to without having to avoid certain activities. Of course all of this is a process and not an overnight event, but those are the goals our trainers have for all of our clients, our intentions behind every workout is to build muscle and strength that carries over to life away from the gym. After all, the gym shouldn’t be where you spend hours a day but instead get in, do your work, and get out to enjoy other activities that our gym has prepared your body for!

We are a unique boutique fitness studio that focuses on human biomechanics and our niche does’t entertain all the fluff in the fitness industry because we’ve been there and we’ve done that, and we finally realized that it was ego driven and unsustainable. We beat our bodies up at the expense of looking good, and we realized that if we continued on that path, we’d be right where the rest of gym goers were, wearing knee braces, avoiding certain lifts because it hurt, working around problems, on the path to knee replacements and back surgeries, and eventually blaming old age on a problem that was created years prior from bad fitness habits. We realize not everyone is about longevity and sustainability but for those of you who want something different, and something that will last, we’re here for you!

Once we can undo the damage done to your body from past exercise habits and old injuries, then the fun can start and you can obtain that rush of endorphins and the higher intensity cardiovascular workouts but you won’t injure yourself because your body will have been primed for advanced movements. And if it’s not, your body will tell you and we’ll stop and correct what needs correcting before blindly proceeding with an exercise that you might need more coaching on. The difference is by that point you and your body will know what feels right and what is going to produce damage, because we like to educate you along the way so that you learn the purpose of an exercise and how it should carry over to your overall function- inside and outside of the gym.

We spend time in the beginning learning foundational concepts to apply to basic exercises that involve structures like your pelvis and ribcage, that effect other structures like your arms, shoulders, and neck, as well as your legs, knees, ankles, and feet. When you learn the functions of these structures and how to move them to contract muscles and then what those muscle contractions should feel like, then we can go on to the next level. We don’t like to get ahead of ourselves or rush your progress, but we do want to push you to get your body functioning the way it needs to be. How ever long it takes, we have patience to safely progress you and ensure we aren’t going to force you into exercises your body isn’t ready for. As we keep moving you through the levels, that’s when efficiency starts to manifest and we are able to make the most of your time in the gym. Rather than keeping you in a routine that works on stretching first, then strength training, then cardiovascular exercises, then core strengthening, then mobility, then endurance and time under tension, we are able to do all of that at once. Not in one workout but in one exercise! Then not only does your time become efficient but so does your body and the way it moves.

Efficiency is key because in the real world your brain and body don’t have time to think of how to move, it just happens automatically. So the idea of mentally “squeezing” a muscle breaks down at some point and your body needs to learn how to contract a muscle by positioning your bones at the correct angles. Don’t worry, we teach you this. And we take it a step further by matching those angles to the angles that replicate basic human movements like standing, walking, running, bending over, and even throwing, so when you go to perform these movements, you don’t have to think because your muscles already know how to contract during those functions. Again, all of this takes time, depending on how dysfunctional your body has become from improper exercise habits, arbitrary workout classes, old injuries, chronic pains, and whatever else we have to fix to start retraining the brain and body to connect better.

If you’re local to San Antonio and the surrounding areas, we’re your future gym. Not to toot our own horn (because we’re humbled everyday by unique cases like scoliosis clients, clients with chronic pain that hasn’t been helped by physical therapy so they turn to us as their last ditch effort, and other problems that the fitness industry prefers to avoid or work around), but we’re the only place that trains this way. Sure other gyms might claim to do this or have the same intentions, but chances are they are not providing the same service and techniques. The human biomechanics field is a very small, up and coming one, and the Functional Patterns institute that teaches these techniques doesn’t promote weekend or online training seminars, but instead we spend weeks learning these methods to ensure that first, we get them right, so we can properly teach our clients.

So, stop getting stuck in the stretch, lift, cardio, stretch routine and start learning how to become more efficient with exercise, to become more efficient in the real world. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation/ evaluation and learn what your body does well so we can build off of that, and also what it doesn’t do well so we can correct that! You have your entire life ahead of you, are you going to spend it in pain and unable to move like you used to (what your doctor says is just old age) or are you going to do something about it? It’s time to regain your freedom to move and take control of your lifestyle and the way the human body was meant to move, no matter your age! This gym exists for that reason! Come find out what we do differently from the rest of the fitness world, and why we do it!