Friday, March 21, 2014

DVD Review - Prehab/Rehab 101: The Groundwork Progressions

The Functional Movement Screen has certainly revolutionized the landscape of S&C over the past decade, but it has left some coaches confused. Where do I start? What can I have my athletes do today? Do I need to write 20 different training menus to cover all of my students' needs? The answers are simpler than you might think, and Dr. Cheng's newest work provides an clear access route to improved mobility and stability that most coaches would miss - groundwork progressions.

Let me be perfectly honest, I loathe corrective work. Like most gym-rats at heart, I like to lift weights and anything that can be described as "twisty", "bendy", "unilateral", "contralateral", "prehab", or "rehab" has a way of very quickly falling out of my exercise rotation. I can put on a happy face when I'm coached through it, but it's just NOT what I want to do in the gym.

That said, I know I need to do it. Dr. Mark Cheng's DVD made it all seem laughably easy to incorporate into my existing "restorative work" (which usually consists of lying around on the floor and stretching). The deceptively simple patterns that I did while watching silly television very quickly had my hips and shoulders (and by extension, neck and knees) feeling better.

If you are a coach or trainer that works with populations that have hip and shoulder issues (which is most of us), then this DVD is a must-see. It is also easily applicable for the self-coach struggling to find the right mix of correctives in their training.

Give some the ideas in the clips below a try in your own training and I think you'll see how effective a small dose of good movement medicine can be.

Prehab/Rehab 101: The Groundwork Progressions

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Play and The Beginner's Mind

I have a wonderful memory. I am on the Serengeti Plain, watching a pride of lions. They are mostly belly up, sleeping and yawning after a big feed. Suddenly, two adolescent lionesses who have been wrestling and rolling around with each other begin a wild ballet. At first, it looks like a fight, but then I see that it is a full-blown, rough-and-tumble dance, choreographed intrinsically by play. It is rhythmic, gorgeous, dominated by curvilinear movements and rat-a-tat slaps. There are no signs of aggression. The cats make "soft" eye contact, their hair is smooth instead of bristling, their claws are retracted and their fangs covered. They make sounds - low shrieks of joy - that are particular to this, and only this, behavior. I almost need a slow-mo camera to catch the intricacy of the movement. And I feel something deep inside me. A visceral thrill, something pure and primal. My linear thoughts get overridden by the epiphany of this moment. It seems as if a spirit of divinity has infused these magnificent cats. A spirit of joyousness in physical form. Something more than reflex, something intrinsically creative. I am reminded of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, when the title character is at the limits of his endurance in his struggle with a giant marlin. All of Santiago's dreams of storms, fish, women, and fights fall away, leaving only a dream of lions playing on the beach, like cats in the dusk. That is the essential nature of play. It remains when the importance of so much else has fallen away. 
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown M.D., pp. 195-196
As I've said on the blog before, your training should be playful as often as possible. I hate to bring up that topic again (and who isn't sick of hearing about it?), but one of the reasons for CF's success is the re-introduction of elements of play into what had become an atmosphere of sweat, discomfort, and (largely male) aggression.

Related Squat Rx Posts:
The Opposite of Play is Not Work, It's Depression

Monday, March 17, 2014

Okay, Fine. Let's Talk Knees-Out (again...).

September of last year, I posted 30 Days of Squat (Day #18): Don't Push Your Knees Out?. I thought it was an interesting topic, but nothing earth-shattering. I still think I said about all that needs to be said in that short little post. Apparently, the topic became huge soon thereafter - fitness and S&C bloggers from all corners came out with pages and pages and hours and hours of endless writing, speaking, and diatribe on the topic... Honestly, I didn't even know what "valgus" was before all of this hubbub.
If you haven't been following all of this nonsense, please, let me save you a lot of time and exasperation and repeat something that Mark Rippetoe talked about to me on the phone about seven years ago and I've said numerous times on the blog: Cues are cues. They are NOT technique. They are prompts to move the trainee in the direction of proper technique. 
People seem to forget the difference between cues and technique. And there IS a difference.
The problem with confusing the two is that you end up with exercise tutorials that look like this:

What's wrong with that? Well, nothing I guess, but if what you really want is the foot, knee, and thigh all in alignment with slight external rotation to provide some spiral tension, then (imho) that can be demonstrated without exaggerating the "knees-out"/"toes forward" to an extreme.
I reviewed Kelly Starrett's Becoming a Supple Leopard. I liked it a lot. I think it has real genius within its pages. But, I think Kelly's gone overboard in his defense of the book. If he had simply said "It's a cue. Nothing more. Nothing less." and left it at that, it would have been less confusing to the average trainee. But, being simple and clear doesn't sell as well as complication and controversy, so what the hell do I know?

Here are the videos, posts, and articles that speak to the controversy. The only one I'd recommend spending any time with would be the article by Greg Everett:
The Knees-Out Discussion - Takano Athletics (blog post)
Community MWod Videos: The Knees-In Squat - Kelly Starrett (videos)
Offline, Episode 4: The "Knees-Out" Cue - Kelly Starrett, Lon Kilgore, Quinn Henoch, Jacob Tsypkin (video)