Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Recovery - You Need It

Have you heard the one about the attorney that represents himself? Turns out he has an idiot for a client.

Sound familiar? Well I resemble that joke more often then not but sometimes I take my own advice. This week for example I am taking a few days off from hard exercise and doing nothing but joint mobility and flexibility work.

Whaddaya know, it makes me feel like a million bucks...

The past two weekends I've been doing cyclocross racing, which is not only hard on the energy systems, but quite hard on joints too. My low back was really feeling the brunt of 40 minutes of max effort pedaling, running, and jumping while in a kyphotic posture. Who knew? ;)

It has also given me a good excuse to revisit some exercise DVDs in my library. In particular Bill Hartman/Cressey/Robertson's Assess and Correct. I can watch the DVDs a hundred times and still pick up gems of information immediately applicable to my clients and myself. It's also wonderful to put it on and go through each mobility drill as it is shown. 30 minutes later and you'll feel like a new person.

Needless to say every trainer should have this on the shelf and refer to it often.

Another one I've been enjoying is Collision Course, a mega-workshop put together by my friend Mike Mahler in 2009. Jon Hinds and Tom Furman both have great presentations on that DVD set on movement quality and mobility.

Today I'm planning on revisiting Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburns mobility sections on the Age of Quarrel DVD set. Mahler was kind enough to invite me to the workshop and am in the video, which makes it kind of weird - doing the exercises along with myself on screen. Although it's cool to see how poorly I do them compared to that freak of nature Cotter and Ken.

I posted a review of the workshop back in 2009 here.

Continuing along the lines of movement quality I'm excited about the Natural Movement Seminar we are hosting at Edge next weekend. We have some very smart podiatrists, physical therapists, soft tissue therapists, and writers coming in to educate us all on minimalist/barefoot training.

I have been wearing and training in Frees, Five Fingers, barefoot for 4 or 5 years now and feel the difference. And now I'm testing a super-secret Adidas minimalist shoe that may hit the market next year - so far so good. I like it more than the Frees.

Our Speakers:
Dr. Daniel Howell Author of The Barefoot Book

Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee Co‐authors of Barefoot Running

Dr. Ray McClanahan, Podiatrist, NW Foot & Ankle and Correct Toes

Dr. Suzanne Lady, Chiropractic Physician

Chris Bathke, MA, CSCS, Director of Personal Training, Edge Fitness

Leif Rustvold, MA, MS, Physical Anthropologist & Barefoot Ultrarunner

Kim Cottrell, MS, Feldenkrais Practitioner

Aaron Gustafson, LMT, CAMT

If you are in the Pacific Northwest come check it out.

For now I'll leave you with some images of the Cross Race this past weekend. Now that I'm put back together I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Becoming Unstable

Catching up on research here while I have a few minutes to dig into the latest Journal of Strength and Conditioning. Among those that caught my eye was a piece of research out of the Univeristy of Valencia, Spain.

The purpose of the study was to see if "core" muscles were better stimulated by placing someone on an unstable surface, or on the ground.

Before getting into this the disclaimers are that there are studies showing unstable training does show positive results, and studies showing it does not. Surprise.

Obviously there is a time and place for every tool, and the bosu etc... are good tools for the appropriate goal, but if we are talking increased activation of the core musculature then this study says sorry, standing on a bosu or T-Bow (sort of wobble board) while deadlifting will not.

A previous study by McBride (22) showed a 45% reduction in force when squatting on unstable surfaces compared to flat ground, so how about deadlifting.

The researchers attached electromyography electrodes to 31 subjects and had them perform a barbell deadlift on flat ground, on a T-Bow, and on a bosu.

The data shows a 8.8% decrease when standing on a T-Bow, and a whopping 34% decrease when standing on a bosu. Seeing as the bosu is more unstable than a T-Bow the lesson we can draw here is that the more unstable a surface the less force muscles will be able to produce.

Referencing work by Gray Cook, Dr. McGill, Eric Cressey, and others the reason is that when on an unstable surfaces the body's top priority is to remain upright. In order to do that muscles that might normally act as prime movers may be called upon to function as stabilizers.

Therefore those muscles will not be able to produce as much force - in other words if the goal is to get stronger and improve force production in core muscles, then unstable surface training may not be ideal.

So while a person may find it more "challenging" to perform an exercise on unstable surfaces the reason may not be because of weak stabilizers, but due to the joints and associated muscles having to prevent the person from losing balance.

To put another nail in the coffin Dr. Stuart McGill has noted that sitting on a swiss ball increases compression on the spine - not what the majority of people need that typically sit in a chair for many hours a day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Move Better, Feel Better, Look Better

It's been a very busy few weeks at Edge Performance Fitness getting ready for a series of small group training programs to launch. Tonight is the first session of our Movement program.

It's been years in the making, by which I mean I've been going to lectures and workshops of Gray Cook, Lenny Parracino, Dr. Lee Burton, Bill Hartman, Dr. Greg Rose, and other individuals much more educated and knowledgable than I for years now. And although I've still much to learn, at least I'm going to jump in and help some people move better in a focused program not concerned with body fat, building muscle etc...

Needless to say Gray describes the why's better than I can: