As boot camps, cross fit, and many other HIIT training methods continue to saturate the fitness industry, it is easy to get caught up in the “harder is better” mentality. The fore mentioned HIIT training techniques are great ways to to increase fitness and strength levels, but can also lead to injuries due to imbalances of tonic and phasic musculature. These injuries can often be relieved/prevented with the inclusion of isometric exercises into your routine.
Isometric exercises simply generate a force through the muscular system with out changing the length of the muscles. These isometric contractions strengthen the alpha motor response that initiate/sustain muscular contractions. Any given motor unit that does not receive an alpha response is likely to call on surrounding motor units to do its job. For example anyone doing a push up and experiencing back pain is likely missing the alpha motor response from the transverse abdominals (TVA).
When the TVA does not receive its signal, it asks the low back muscles to do its job, a job they are poorly equipped to perform and hence the production of pain. Isometric exercises increase the stability of the joint(s) that the involved musculature crosses. This increase in stability leads to an increase in force production and a decrease in the likelihood of injury. So try adding 20-30 minutes of isometrics 2-3 times per week into your current routine (even if you have to cut back on some of the dynamic movements for a while) and experience more strength and flexibility than ever before.
BS Exercise Science
CHEK Practitioner 2
Pierce Family Wellness
Far to often we are satisfied with the summary of information. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear “I read a study that……”. To which my response is always the same: who conducted the study? Who funded the study? What oppositional view studies were excluded? What was the methodology of the study? And of course, did you read the entire study? The fact of the matter is that studies are subject to corruption and error. The next time you come across a study, take the time to read it in its entirety (especially the funding) otherwise it’s simply conjecture. For example, Time magazine recently declared that dietary fat is healthy (something I’ve been proclaiming for years), which is in direct opposition to studies they quoted years ago that dietary fat causes disease. Another overlooked factor is metabolic individuality, meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. Some people do great with dairy, for others it’s poison. Ones genetic make up, current climate, and current stressors largely determine the effects food and exercise have on the body. A study is often times just another form of advertising, make sure that you investigate before following recommendations that may not apply to you.
The old adage “crawl before you walk” is a perfect starting point for understanding infant development patterns. Motor engrams develop in a hierarchical pattern, so if you have a faulty motor engram at a developmental level you are likely to see a faulty pattern in a higher level movement pattern. This occurs due to imbalances in the tonic/phasic properties in the muscular system. These imbalances can occur for a number of reasons. If you do not spend enough time in the crawling phase, the tonic (stabilizing) properties of your oblique musculature can be underdeveloped, which can effect your gait pattern due to an inability to stabilize your pelvis. Other causes can be viscero-motor inhibition, trauma to the muscles/nerves, or simply from disuse. If the cause is viscero-motor you must first address your diet, then you can follow a developmental motor engram program. In the video below I demonstrate three developmental movement patterns. The first exercise is inchworm, this pattern recreates the scoot pattern. The second exercise is fetal flip, this pattern recreates the roll pattern. The last exercise is a crawl pattern, which is self explanatory.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy0gErwrMGc]
These movements are more than just rehabilitative, they are a killer core workout as well. If you are healthy, start with 2 sets of 1 minute of each movement with no rest in between. Good luck and any feedback is greatly appreciated.
BS Exercise Science
When your muscles are not firing optimally, moving from point A to B is the least of your worries. When deficiency is present in any movement pattern we must remember that muscles aren’t just for movement, they help pump vital fluids. They help your heart pump blood and lymph through your body. After all, the heart is a muscle, but like all muscles it works more efficiently as part of a team. So taking what we have learned from the pushing and pulling example, if someone is a weak puller we can assert that there is some weakness in their back musculature which will affect the way they pump cerebral spinal fluid and how well lubricated their spinal discs are. We will see stagnation in the lymph system secondary upper cross syndrome (a tightening of the muscles that round the shoulders and pull the head forward).
Are you starting to see that movement is so much more than getting from point A to point B? It really encompasses our whole being, health, and life.
As we continue to look at muscles as a pump, we need to look at how movement affects digestion. Dr. Guy Voyer has a specific abdominal series for digestive issues based off of the way that the abdominal muscles help with peristalsis! Being able to perform a full squat is essential for digestive health, as this motion creates compression of the colon, further facilitating elimination. Let’s not forget how the diaphragm (which is also a muscle) creates a massage effect on the organs, again facilitating digestive health (more on this in the breathing chapter).
Back to our example of the strong pusher and weak puller; lets examine how that’s going to affect the joints. The muscles creating a push motion (triceps, pecs, deltoids, etc…)are going to undergo hypertrophy, meaning that they are going to be larger, and produce more torque on the joint than the muscles that pull. This is going to create issues with joint torque, cause trigger points in the musculature, affecting blood flow, and muscle pH balance—which all create further dysfunction throughout your being.
Movement really is life! If your movement is imbalanced, your life is as well.
stay tuned for part 3 next week……