mobility

Tune-Up Tuesday Episode 45: How To Use CARs As An Assessment - Part 1

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) is one of the fundamental tools within the Functional Range Conditioning system.  Outside of maintaining articular health and range of motion, CARs can be an assessment tool for your body. 

It can help you identify areas that need improved mobility, rule out joint dysfunction, and help you create a specific mobility plan based off your needs keeping you from wasting hours on stretching areas of your body that won't offer you the most bang for your buck.  

In part one of this series, we will discuss the difference between opening angle pain, closing angle pain, and what is okay to feel throughout the process.  Each one of these things tells us something different about our bodies, and should be the first thing we pay attention to when going through our CARs routine. 

Part 1: How to do Hip and Shoulder CARs and determining if opening angle pain, closing angle pain.

Part 2: Rotational deficits active vs passive, and if needed how to attack the joint capsules.

Part 3: Based on active mobility with no closing angle discomfort, start working the directions that feel most limited.  Address Cramping.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, and concerns let me know!

Move Well, Stay Strong.

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 3: Ankle CARs

Today's Tune-Up Tuesday covers ankle CARs.  Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) and are an integral part of my mobility training, as well as my clients'.  If you want to learn more about CARs you can read my previous blog post about them here

Here is a recap of the importance of CARs:

1. Maintains joint health. 

2. Maintains joint range of motion.

3. A tool to assess your range of motion and overall function of the joint.

Keep the following in mind while performing your ankle CARs:

1. Each circle you draw should be the biggest joint circle you can possibly make WITHOUT compensating. 

2. Move slowly, with control in order to stimulate the receptors within the joint.  This is what allows this exercise to offer the many benefits it does. 

3. Do them daily.  If an apple a day will keep the doctor away, CARs every day will help keep pain away.  

Give these a try, and let me know your feedback in the comment section below.

Move Well, Stay Strong.

 

Cueing the Arm Bar

Cueing the Arm Bar

In this post, I talk about how to properly cue the arm bar, and some steps you can take to get more out 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.  

Controlled Articular Rotations

Controlled Articular Rotations

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) have been all the rage lately.  This is because they offer many benefits to your body.  Want to move better?  Have decreased pain levels?  Prevent loss of mobility as you age?  Want to decrease your risk of injury? Then CARs are for you!

Touching Your Toes. Are Your Hamstrings Too Tight?

Can't touch your toes? It's probably because you have always had tight muscles, or you have gotten too old.  

When you were a child you were able to touch your toes, squat perfectly and move in all sorts of ways you no longer can.  This is not because you have gotten older that you lost your movement patterns, but rather we get stiff and tight because we sit down and stop moving. For many it can start with school. 

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There are multiple reasons why someone would lose the ability to touch their toes.  The two most common are mobility (the ability to move your joints freely throughout a full ROM) and motor control (timing, stabilization and coordination of movement) issues.  

That being said the ability to touch your toes is usually NOT a hamstring tightness problem.  

Muscles can often have the perception of tightness when poor movement patterns exist, or when there is a lack of stability to an area. In the case of the toe touch, if your body feels unstable while trying to bend forward and touch your toes, it will activate the hamstrings and lumbar extensors to protect and limit the movement.  This is when you "feel" that your hamstrings are tight.  

Touching our toes is an essential movement that we NEED to be able to do if one plans to be active.  Whether it is running, deadlifting, squatting, sports, hiking or anything else in the spectrum of movement.  If you can not touch your toes, dysfunction is present.  

Common Flaws:

1) Decreased active straight leg raise (ASLR):

  • Will prevent you from touching your toes.
  • Impede your ability to hip hinge either bilaterally or unilaterally. 
  • Affect your running stride

2) Decreased ability to posteriorly weight shift.

3) Decreased ability to flex the spine while bending forward. 

The video presents 3 simple ways to improve your toe touch.  If none of them improve it, or worse cause pain take it upon yourself to have it looked at by a trained professional (either a physical therapist or personal trainer).  If they do help, well enjoy touching your toes!  

Leave a comment down below on your experiences being able to, or not able to touch those feet. 

 

 

 

Ankle Mobility

Early on in my career, I have had a handful of patients that regardless of what I did, their squat technique was always off.  I would work for months and months and I could only make so much change.  Banging my head against the wall, it took me way too long to start to look at the ankles during my assessment process.  

The ankle joint is one of the most overlooked joints in the body when movement dysfunction or pain exists. Poor ankle mobility can cause poor movement patterns, knee pain, inability to squat to full depth and a slew of other problems.   

HOW TO ASSESS ANKLE MOBILITY

Before you start randomly throwing ankle mobility exercises into your programs, first start with this simple assessment from the FMS/SFMA.

By assessing the ankles you now have an objective measure that will A) tell you if you have a deficit and B) is an objective way to retest your mobility to see if you are actually making improvements.

ANKLE MOBILITY FIXES

There are a ton of very good ankle mobility correctives out there.  The following are just a few of my favorites placed into one location for your convenience. 

Since the calves are always in use with walking, standing, jumping, running etc... they have the potential to develop trigger points and tightness.  In order to address this there are 3 things we need to focus on. 

1) Self Myofascial Release: To Your Calf and Plantar Fascia. 

Using a foam roller or a lacrosse ball (any ball will do really) roll the entire length of the muscle for 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you find any tender points along the way, stop and keep pressure on this area for 5 deep breaths.  

Note: The plantar fascia is part of the superficial back line.  It had a direct fascial connection with the gastroc, therefore rolling both out can offer greater benefit than one alone.  

2) Stretching - There is a lot of chatter going on in the field of health and fitness that stretching is overrated, and we do too much of it.  As there is much merit to this, focused stretching to areas that NEED to be addressed is beneficial.  Bottom line here: Don't stretch a muscle just because it feels tight.  Use objective measures that assure you that what you are stretching (like our DF assessment) is actually improving your mobility and movement. 

There are many ways to stretch this area of your body.  Just make sure that when you stretch, you hold the stretch for 2 minutes without coming out of it.  Research done from Dr. Andrea Spina and the FRC courses suggests that tissues need at least 2 minutes of constant communication to effectively make positive improvements. 

3) Ankle Mobility - These are best served as movement prep for your workouts, and to help improve ankle joint mobility.  Here a couple of my favorites below:

Ankle Mobs to Wall

Mulligan Mobs with Movement

Calf Rock Backs

Whether or not you feel your technique is good or not, take 2 minutes to assess your ankle mobility.  It can potentially help you find limitations that can help improve your technique and performance. 

Hope this was helpful, please leave your comments and feed back below. 

 

Four Hacks to the Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a highly technical exercise that requires attention to detail for proper execution.  Last week I wrote about how to properly perform the TGU, you can read that here.  This week I will take this a step further and discuss 4 common technique flaws and how you can fix them. 

 

1) Set Up -

During the set up, we want to have enough space to work with.  I often see people set up with their legs too close together.  This decreases your base of support, making you less stable and increases the difficulty of the first step (see number 2 below). 

2) Leg Kicks Up -

This happens when we do not produce enough tension during the initial step or if you are using too much weight.

3) Misplacing the Moving Leg -

During each stage of the get up, there are optimal places to put your extremities so all your joints are properly aligned.  Often times people put their legs in places that decrease their base of support which makes this exercise harder.

4) Not Hinging From the Hips -

When people are reversing their get up, people often have difficulty with the transition from 1/2 kneeling position to placing the hand on the floor.  People like to bend from their spine and flop to the floor.  You must maintain your core stiffness and push your hips out to the side.  This keeps the spine in a strong position and trains hip mobility in the frontal plane.

Try some of these quick fixes and let me know in the comments section below if they were helpful.   

 

Hinge Your Way Free of Back Pain

What's your plan of attack when your back aches? Painkillers? Stretching? Ice and heat? While these might provide temporary relief, we're missing the bigger picture if we don't address the way we move through our hips.

Often times when your back hurts it is often due to lack of stability and/or mobility at joints.  This makes sense when we review Gray Cook and Mike Boyle's joint-by-joint approach to the body.

When we look at this model we see that the body alternates segments of stability and segments of mobility.  These areas align themselves so that we can stabilize in certain areas in order to move freely in others. An example of this (not on the chart above) is learning proper scapula stability so we can enjoy all the range of motion the shoulder provides.  If the scapulae aren't stable, compensation patterns inhibit optimal movement of the shoulder joint.  

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With repetitive stresses or lack of movement over time, bodily joints have the potential to lose their inherent mobility. Once this happens the body has to compensate for this lack of motion by creating motion at the segment directly above or below.  What this ultimately does is flip-flop the order of mobility and stability.  One of the most common examples I see of this is through the loss of hip mobility.  Most people, especially those who sit at work all day lose the ability to hinge at the hips.  This loss of hip mobility causes either the lumbar spine or the knees to move excessively while moving. Whether bending over, squatting, deadlifting, or picking up your child to name a few examples, the ability for your body to maintain the joint-by-joint approach is imperative in order to prevent muscle tightness, stiffness, weakness and pain.  

Based off this information, one of the first things I assess when having a patient with low back pain is their ability to hinge.  Most often than not, their hip hinge is not up to par... and that's putting it nicely.  Even if you don't have pain, the inability to hinge from the hips will rob you of strength, power, mobility, and overall quality of life.  

Check out the video below to see some hip hinge hacks.  They will make you a better person.  

If these helpful tips helped you out, or if you just plain hated them leave me a comment below and tell me all about it!

Feel Better In 5 Minutes A Day

If I told you that in 5 minutes a day you could decrease pain, increase energy levels, and decrease stiffness in muscles and joints, would you do it?

Is this some sort of magic pill that will make you feel like you just drank from the fountain of youth? No, not quite. The "pill" I speak of is what I like to call movement variability.

Movement variability is defined as, "repetitive movement that is not repetitive" (insert confused emoticon here).  To simplify this definition, you should simply move in ways that are different than what you are currently accustomed to. 

For most people, sitting at a desk is a reoccurring stimulus on an everyday basis. For marathon runners, this repetitive movement is constant running in one direction without ever moving within any other planes of motion.  Over time as we continue to load the same patterns over and over, pain can develop due to multiple factors.  If we spent time moving with variety throughout the day it is possible that both our perception of tightness and pain can be diminished.

Here's the crazy part. 

In order to start moving and feeling better, all you need to start with is five minutes of movement.  For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know that I love Max Shank's 5 Minute Flow.  I've done this since June and honestly feel better now than I did in my college days.  Since initiating in a daily five minute flow, I've dramatically decreased pain in my lower back. I feel much more limber and mobile throughout the day, which has boosted my confidence when lifting weights. I also feel more energized to start my day, after just five minutes of free and random movement!

Max Shank states that you should, "move for five minutes in a way that gently pushes your flexibility but keep moving.  Don't worry if you get stuck somewhere, retrace your steps while you think of the next movement.  If you're into martial arts or yoga throw your own blend of that together."

Everyone can find five minutes in their day, whether it be in the morning, during a lunch break or sometime in the evening.  If you claim to not have time to flow, you need to take a better look as to why you really are not doing this. Not having time is an underlying translation for, "I don't want to do it." Give it a chance, I promise you, in just a few days, you'll feel like you're reliving your youth.

HOW TO:

  1. Set a Timer for 5 minutes. If you have a favorite song that's exactly five minutes, use it.
  2. Find an open space where you don't have to worry about banging into tables, or having anything fall on you.
  3. Just move continuously. Do any stretches, mobility drills or yoga poses for 5 minutes straight. The only rule is to constantly move. 
  4. Commit to 30 days.  Try it for 30 days, see how you feel, and keep doing it afterwards if it makes a positive change. 

Below is a 5 minute example.  The video is time lapsed, if you would like to see a full version you can click here

Get your Joe Flow on and let me know how you feel in the comments section below.