Clinical Athlete

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 4: Tips for a Better Push-Up

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 4: Tips for a Better Push-Up

Today's Episode of #TuneUpTuesday covers some tips and drills to improving your push-up.  The push-up is a commonly butchered exercise.  Read the full post to find out how you can get  the maximal benefits of this exercise. 

Cranky Elbows During Pull-ups?

Cranky Elbows During Pull-ups?

In this post, I go over the mobility pre-requisites for the pull-up.  By making sure everything moves well, we can help decrease the risk of injury, or help those shoulders and elbows from feeling so beat up.  

Clutter: Is It Bogging Down Your Exercise Program

Clutter: Is It Bogging Down Your Exercise Program

After reading the book "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser, I realized that writing and program design have a lot of similarities.  An example of this is clutter.  Clutter is an easy way to decrease the effectiveness of one's writing and one's program.  

4 Exercises To Keep You Feeling Young

When it comes to exercise - there are a few bang-for-your-buck exercises that will bullet proof your body and keep it feeling young for the years to come.  Until modern medicine figures something better out, it's safe to say these are the closest things to the fountain of youth we currently have. 

Here is a list of my top 4 exercises. When added to your program, these can help you build resilient tissues that can withstand whatever you throw their way.

 1) Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) - Part of the FRC system, CARs are the best thing since slice bread.  

CARs  are active, end range circular motions for a joint.  The reason why they make your body feel great is three fold.  

Quadruped Hip CARs 

  •  Movement is the body's best anti-inflammatory.  By constantly moving joints through all available range of motion, we continue to nourish the joint daily.
  • It allows us to maintain and expand our range of motion at a joint. By constantly taking our joints through full range of motion, we are able to maintain it.  One reason we lose mobility is because we don't spend any time there.  By doing CARs, we ensure that our joints are creating maximal movement - through the biggest circles we can possibly make - allowing us to hold onto our range of motion and even possibly expanding it. 
  •  CARs are a self assessment tool.  I think this is an extremely valuable aspect of CARs as it allows you to assess every joint in the body.  CARs can give you insight into when your joints may start becoming problematic; giving you insight into areas you need to address before pain/dysfunction is present. 

2) Turkish Get-Up - This is one of my favorite exercises because it promotes high levels of stability, mobility and strength and it's packaged into one power packed movement. 

Here are a few of the benefits that TGU's have to offer according to Brandon Hetzler:

  1. Promotes upper body stability
  2. Promotes lower body stability
  3. Promotes reflexive stability of the trunk and extremities
  4. Promotes cross lateralization (getting right brain to work with left side)
  5. Ties the right arm to the left leg, and left arm to the right leg
  6. Gets the upper extremities working reciprocally (legs, too)
  7. Stimulates the vestibular system (one of three senses that contributes to balance)
  8. Stimulates the visual system (second of three senses that contributes to balance)
  9. Stimulates the proprioception system (third sense that contributes to balance)
  10. Promotes spatial awareness
  11. Develops a front/back weight shift
  12. Develops upper body strength, trunks strength, and hip strength

If you aren't sold yet on why the TGU will keep you feeling young into your 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond - take a look at this study by Claudio Gil Araujo from Brazil.  The study said being able to stand up from a seated position on the ground was remarkably predictive of physical strength, flexibility, coordination at a range of ages. 

3) Carries - You have to give an exercise some major thought when Dan John categorizes it as one of the fundamental human movements: push, pull, hinge, squat, loaded carries and the sixth movement. 

When loaded properly farmers carries are an excellent exercise for core strengthening.  It is an easy to learn exercise that challenges your endurance, strength, stability and grip strength.  The ability to carry heavy loads gets our core to create super-stiffness.  Dr. Stuart McGill describes this super-stiffness as - the sum of the forces of all the muscles contracting is greater then what any individual muscle can provide.  This teaches you to build true strength that will aide you for any endeavor you wish to attempt. 

4) KB Swing - This exercise develops power in the hinge position.  Why is power important?  As you age, power decreases - so swinging consistently can help you maintain a power packed punch as you age - not to mention, allow you to improve your overall performance, strength, and endurance. 

What's even better than that?  The kettlebell swing is extremely beneficial for your lower back.  Having a flying bell not directly attached to your body forces your glutes, lats and core to work hard in order to control the bell.  This overall synergy of muscles will help keep your spine strong for years to come, as well as help you rehab from lower back injuries. 

Add these four exercises into your programs on a monthly basis and reap the benefits of better strength and performance; all while keeping pain at bay - even as you age. 

Move Well, Stay Strong.

 

Is Squatting Right For You?

 

 

Do you struggle with your squat technique?  

Is it difficult to get to the bottom of the squat?

Do your feet turn out at a certain depth?

Do you experience early butt wink?

Do squats cause you pain or stiffness?

 Have you plateaued? 

In my experience, many people begin exercising or attempt a new fitness goal (such as running a marathon or doing a handstand) without the proper prerequisite movement required to do said task.  

The squat may seem like a basic movement (I mean we learn how to do it as a baby), but many people train the squat and can't do a good one with their body weight. 

If this is you, there are 2 areas you should focus your mobility training on to ensure you can get "ass to grass":

1) Hip Flexion - In order to get parallel or lower in your squat, you need adequate hip flexion range of motion.  If you cannot actively flex your hip a minimum of 90 degrees, and preferably a hell of a lot more, then you will struggle squatting. 

Why does it need to be active?  

Lack of active control means you are unable to control that part of a range of motion.  If you go lower then what you can actively control you will be supported by passive structures (ie. ligaments and tendons and not your muscles.)  This will cause you to have to compensate to finish the movement.  

Try this drill to improve your hip flexion. 

  • Pull your knee actively towards your chest.
  • Put your hands on your knees.
  • Push your knee into your hands as hard as you can (resist with your hands and don't let your leg move).
  • Hold the contraction for 10 seconds.
  • After 10 seconds, pull your knee into your chest (without the help of your hands) for 10 more seconds.
  • Repeat this process 2-3 times.

2) Ankle Dorsiflexion - When descending into a squat our ankles go into dorsiflexion (lifting your foot up towards your shin bone).  If there is a limitation here, you will have to compensate in order to get deep into your squat.  

Here are some signs of lack of dorsiflexion: early butt wink, turning out your feet, trunk falling forward and/or your knees pointing inward.  

How much dorsiflexion do you need? About 5 inches.  Check out my blog post here about how to test and improve your ankle mobility. 

If these areas are severely limited, you shouldn't load your squat.  There are plenty of other exercises out there that can help you attain a training effect.

By improving these two aspects of your mobility, you will see improved movement capabilities and better ability to squat.  This will allow you to safely and efficiently squat so you can continue to build upon your fitness goals.

Move Well, Stay Strong!