Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cleaning Up Movement Faults and The First Rule

One of the most important traits I emphasize with clients is to develop quality movement patterns.  This important trait is so often overlooked and undervalued.  However, it keeps coming up again and again with everyone.  If you don't move well, you are putting yourself at risk of an overuse injury (plantar fasciitis) or traumatic (rotator cuff strain, or tear).  Or just limiting your potential and progression.
You don't see many people in the gym with this hip mobility

We all have some movement faults, some more prevalent or significant than others.  Our bodies adapt to the demands we impose on them.  For most of us, that includes 8-12 hours of sitting per day.  Simply jumping on a machine to workout does nothing to improve your movement faults.  Nor does running or grabbing a weight to lift.  Most people don't know that they have  movement faults, therefore don't know how to fix them.  An experienced trainer or therapist can pick up on even very subtle movement faults and compensations.  Several 'screening' exercises can be done.  Personally, I like the Turkish Get-Up and Windmill exercises (I use many others, too)  to assess full-body movement quality.  It can be done with just body weight for beginners, then the resistance can be increased to discriminate with more advanced clients.  These two exercises provide a great amount of information.  Below, I perform the Turkish Get-Up and Windmill with a 70lb (32kg) kettlebell.  Again, it is not just about doing the exercise, it about how you do the exercises. 

A very simple way to gauge whether you are doing any movement correct is to apply my

First Rule: Stay Out of the Fetal Position.

A submissive, weak, and tired, posture
The fetal position is a very weak, submissive, and tired posture both metaphorically and physically.  Due to the effects of gravity on our bodies and the extensive amounts of time we spend sitting, our bodies gradually end up in a fetal position unless there is an intervention (an appropriate exercise training program to reverse these effects).

When the physical demands are increased on our bodies (the exercise intensity or duration increases) we default back to the fetal position.  We can't continue with the appropriate technique, so we devolve into these compensation patterns.  The compensation patterns (fetal position) are characterized by: internally rotated arms, a rounded back, and flexed hips.  These joint positions are not ideal for handling physical stress and usually are associated with shoulder, lower back, and knee pains.  See picture below.  Why would you want to reinforce these faulty movement patterns?  Your training program should correct these faults, not add to them.

Notice the devolution into the fetal position (head forward, arms rotated inward, spine flexing) as she fatigues.

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