Movement is more than getting from point A to B. Movement is the blood flowing through your body (which takes roughly a minute at rest); it’s about light coming from the sun at over 186,000 miles per second to deliver photons of light into your body. This light helps you produce cytochrome oxidase within mitochondria which is essential for healthy thyroid function and vitamin D which helps you regulate calcium.
Movement is water running all over the world in a state of constant motion. We never step in the same river twice, nor are we the same mover we were only moments ago, we are either improving or declining. So when we look at movement let’s look at it from a much broader perspective than simple A to B. Movement is life and if you’re not moving, you’re not living.
Movement as Life…
I first began looking at “movement as life” as a child; simple truths and discoveries come to us in different ways, and I learn best through physical movement. I played sports, took up weight training as a teen, and have been fortunate to make a life and a living from something that I love. So when I talk about movement as life, I mean it. It is a literal concept for me and hopefully you can see it as such as we move through this topic.
Fundamental Lessons of Movement…
A fundamental lesson I learned (and apply daily) from Paul Chek of the CHEK Institute is the human reality of primal movement patterns. Primal movements are the movements that it takes to survive not only as individuals today, but through our history as a species. These movements are simple (if properly developed and maintained); push, pull, squat, twist, bend, lunge. We add to that the various forms of gait; walk, jog and sprint.
When we are deficient in any of these movements or disproportional in any of these movements, say you’re a much better pusher than a puller, that’s going to show up as asymmetries in the body. Asymmetries show up as over use, repetitive motion injury, strains and discomfort, and most importantly just a lack of movement efficiency. That is why we do a primal pattern movement assessment with each of our clients by watching them go through each of the primal movement patterns and looking for asymmetries and whether or not their movements are fluid.
This will help us design a program and assess what will work best on an individual basis.
A client may come in and knock out 15-20 pushups with great form, everything aligned, but they might not be able to do a pull up. We look at their body and see why they are such a strong pusher, but such a weak puller. We’ll look at the muscles involved in pushing and pulling; we’ll look at the sequences involved; and maybe we’ll even look into the emotional component of these movements. Pulling correlates with love and self-worth, and can be affected by our emotions, finances, and even past experiences from childhood. All of these things show up in how we move and carry ourselves.
We want to begin right now to embrace the concept that movement is a physical trait and need, and that it is the glue that holds our lives together. By doing this assessment, we are gaining perspective into our entire life. I encourage you to find out if your are out of balance in your primal movements and begin applying what you find not only to your movement practice, but to your core human needs.
Join me next week for the next installment on why not moving is not an option…
To stretch or not to stretch, that is the question. Stretching has become a hot topic in the rehab world as of late. If you would like to take a peek into the research these scholarly studies on stretching is a great place to start. For those of you who took the time to check out the studies you should have noticed one glaring consistency….inconsistency. When one digs deeper into the studies it becomes clear as to why stretching is such a controversial subject, variety and individuality.
Lets start with variety, ready, go! Static stretch, passive stretch, active stretch, PNF stretch, dynamic stretch, contract/relax stretch….the list goes on and on. Now lets talk about individuality, take a deep breath and go! Hypermobility, hypomobility, viscero-motor inhibition, type 1 fibers, type 2 fibers, vertebral subluxations, injury history, inflammation levels, daily activities, athletic history, free time, these are but a few of the factors that need to be addressed before deciding if stretching is beneficial or detrimental.
This topic strikes a nerve with me each time I release an athlete from my care into the hands of their high school and college athletic trainers that consider stretching an after thought. Most recently I worked with three soccer soccer players transitioning from high school into the world of division one college athletics. During their respective high school careers these ladies thrived, all state, all conference, state titles, and most importantly NO Injuries! During our time together we focused on dynamic multi-planar stretching paired with isometric and dynamic resistance training based on individual limitations. We treat the body like a finely tuned guitar, tighten the loose strings while stretching the tight ones. Once these ladies left for the University they were taught not to stretch and forced to due heavy powerlifting (this protocol has also leaked its way into the high school ranks). The results: a dislocated shoulder (in the weight room), a torn ACL (non contact injury), and a broken foot (non contact injury). So what happened to theses young budding athletes? The truth was stretched and their ligaments followed suit.
When I say the truth was stretched I mean that the studies showing stretching as detrimental were held in the highest regard while the studies showing stretching as beneficial were left in the shadows. This information bias completely eliminated the concept of individuality and threw many unprepared athletes into the fire of hypomobility and repetitive motion injury. While it may currently be unrealistic to perform individualized assessments and programs for all athletes on the current budget of most athletic trainers (high school and college alike), a few fundamental test could swing the pendulum back into balance.
Muscle testing can be learned relatively quickly and should be a part of all trainers repertoire. Why, because if you test a muscle and it responds as “weak” the last thing you want to do is stretch it. In this particular case the “tightness” is due to a lack of joint stability. Manual activation and isometric contractions work best in this precarious situation. If you find a lack of range of motion and the muscle test strong you are most likely looking at a muscle that needs some stretching to help reset the muscle spindles. I prefer contract-relax stretching followed by dynamic stretching in the limited range of motion. The bottom line is this: every body you deal with is a different as the fingerprints on it. As trainers we must learn to look past the sewing circle gossip of the latest trends, we must look past the opinions of our mentors and dig into the studies supporting both sides of an argument. Once we have done this we can apply our clinical experience and make an informed decision….to stretch or not to stretch!
BS Exercise Science, CHEK 2, MTA