Monthly Archives: December 2017
Compensations are a familiar buzzword for most of the general population, but what does that mean? When compensation takes place, changes occur in motor control, joint stability, and movement patterns across the entire body. For example, if a person is compensating for hip extension, they may be accomplishing that movement by contracting something other than their glute muscles, causing an imbalance in the hip joint and also leading to an improper firing pattern during the movement of hip extension. As a regular gym goer, how many times have you performed a glute ham raise and ended up cramping in your hamstrings halfway through? Or as a trainer, how many times have you poked a client’s glute with your finger during a hip extension movement to get them to fire their glutes, only to find that their backside feels more like a pillow than a brick?
These are just a few examples of compensations that occur frequently in the average person. So why should you be concerned about compensations in the body? Here are three:
1) Compensations Can Decrease Your Performance
In the above examples of compensation in hip extension, the obvious question should be asked: “What happens to performance when the gluteal muscles are not firing correctly (or at all)? The answer is, your performance is obviously decreasing. To explain why, we can look at this example from multiple perspectives. One of the reasons that the body begins compensating is due to injury to the joint or a lack of stability in the joint. Imagine for a second you are behind the wheel of a brand new Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Under the hood is a supercharged 6.4 litre Hemi which gives you unlimited access to power to propel you forward. With just a mash of the gas pedal you can propel yourself from a deadstop to 60mph in less than 4 seconds and if theres enough roadway, likely all the way to 200+ mph. Now imagine you are driving along after a fresh ice storm in your sports car, you pull out of the garage and onto the tarmac and hit the gas. What happens next is something we don’t need to drive a souped up sports car to understand. The wheels instantly lose traction on the road and power is cut from the wheels. Why did this happen? Whether you knew it or not the high tech computer system in your car which is always monitoring a number 0f vehicle and road conditions through multiple sensors detected that the wheels were on an unstable and friction-reduced surface. Before the car can spin out of control and possibly wreck or ruin the engine, the computer engages traction control and slows the wheels by cutting power to the tires.
The above example is one of the reasons why compensations can reduce performance. The glute muscles are the main and most powerful producers of hip extension, and just like the supercharged Hemi, are used to propel us forward. In order for the body to do so safely, it must have stability at the hip joint. If stability of the joint is not first achieved, we are risking injury or accident to the joint when we apply a large dosage of power. Similarly to the traction control in a car, the body will dampen forces or even shut down muscles if there is a risk of injury from further applied force. This is one example of how our body can be shut down and decrease performance due to compensations.
Chronically shortened muscles can also reduce performance. Short muscles reach the end of their length before a normal length muscle, causing a joint to move sooner than normally required during an efficient movement pattern. This early, extraneous movement causes an energy leak at the segment that is moving too early or too much and decreases the amount of energy actually being directed where it was originally intended to go. This inefficiency leads to an apparent weakness, decrease in power, or decrease in speed.
2) Compensations Lead to Injury
Another reason to be concerned about compensatory movement in the body is the possibility of future injury. The best example of injuries that are caused by compensations in the body are chronic injuries (injuries that occur over a period of time without a specific cause) and non-contact injuries. To further explain how these injuries occur, we will stick with lower cross syndrome and compensations in the hip joint.
Let’s say an athlete develops a short psoas muscle. If the said athlete is a high school or college student athlete, this could come from the stress of prolonged sitting while at class or studying When this athlete extends the hip, the psoas muscle becomes taut sooner than is considered normal. In an attempt to achieve normal hip extension, the athlete compensates with an increase in low back extension. Doing this repetitively at high intensities or velocities can eventually result in abnormal wearing of the lumbar facet joint and low back pain.
Furthermore, long-term dysfunction of muscle-firing patterns, weak muscles, or short muscles can lead to altered joint movement and eventual loss of capsular mobility, leading to altered arthrokinematics. When joint function is altered, structures such as cartilage can be worn down, causing pain. With pain, movement patterns are altered yet again, setting into motion a cycle that is difficult to break.
Muscles need to fire in a very specific order for efficient movement. When compensation ensues in a joint, rather than a normal balance between agonist and antagonist to stabilize the joint, synergistic dominance occurs, placing undue stress on muscles and joints. When a muscle becomes a prime mover for a joint it was never meant to be a prime mover for, it becomes stressed and overworked. For example, we have all seen the athlete who extends the hip by extending the back. When the paraspinals and hamstrings become the prime movers for hip extension, they become overworked. A person with chronic low back pain or chronic proximal hamstring strains will continue to deal with these issues if he or she is unable to train the gluteal musculature to become the prime mover for hip extension again.
3) Compensations Impair Your Ability to Handle Stress
Compensations in the body are not only caused by physical stress, they are also a product of mental and emotional stress as well. Mental and emotional stress in the body are perceived exactly the same as physical stressors in the sympathetic nervous system. This means that the mental stressors of everyday life from work, family, posture, or school are causing the same response as the “bear in the woods” encounter that is commonly used as a sympathetic stressor example.
Furthermore, once these compensations are occurring, they can act as a positive feedback loop, creating even more physical and sympathetic stress! The best example of this is dysfunctional breathing or chest breathing. Chest breathing occurs when a person is improperly inspiring by breathing into their chest and upper airways rather than breathing in through with their diaphragm and pulling air into the lower airways. This compensation is very easy to spot and is marked by rising in the chest or sucking the belly in while breathing. Functionally, this motor pattern is marked by a deactivation of the diaphragm and initiation of breathing coming from the accessory muscles of breathing such as the intercostals, scalene and SCM.
In order to understand why this dysfunctional breathing pattern creates more stress, we need to look at a normal pattern of breathing. Normal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing occurs when the body takes in air by utilizing the diaphragm to create increased volume in the lungs. This is marked by initiation of breathing by the diaphragm and an expansion of the belly as it expands the abdominal cavity downwards. The expansion of the belly is why diaphragmatic breathing is also termed “belly breathing.” When we breathe normally using the diaphragm, we are able to do a few things. First, we are passively breathing which means more efficiency in the movement pattern. Secondarily, we are getting an effective breath of air which is greater than belly breathing AND air is being pulled into the lower portion of the lungs where there is the greatest opportunity for said air to exchange into the blood stream. Finally, in the sake of stress, the diaphragm is located close enough anatomically to the vagus nerve to effectively stimulate it. This is important as the vagus nerve is most known for its ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system can counter act the stressed state of the sympathetic nervous system and bring balance to the body. This is why the saying exists to “take a deep breath” when you are stressed out. However, this saying has left out two key details: 1) Make sure take a deep BELLY (Diaphragmatic) breath because 2) If you don’t, you will be further adding to the sympathetic stress on your body.
So how do we ensure correct movement that is free of compensation? Reinforcing proper movement patterns by prioritizing proper, pain free movement during recreation and everyday activities. Other options include utilizing performance techniques such as Reflexive Performance Reset to ensure proper function in the nervous system. For more information about RPR click here, or schedule an RPR visit today!
I probably start as many blogs at one time as I do books. Currently, I have 2 other blogs going as well as 2 books. I bought myself a couple of new books for Christmas, I started one of them and wanted to start the other, but I’m in the middle of an audiobook, so I thought I should finish at least one of those first. I don’t exactly know what this says for my brain, but it’s just the way it is. Anyway, I wasn’t inspired by either of my other blogs enough to post for the end of the year, so…here we are, writing a new one.
My Lasting Tradition
My all time favorite movie is, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ve watched it every year at Christmas time for as long as I can remember. Each time I watch it I cry when Mr. Gower hits young George so hard his ear bleeds, I smile at Clarence’s old timey underwear, and when old man Potter doesn’t tell Uncle Billy he accidentally left $8000 wrapped up in the newspaper, I get angry. It’s a pretty emotional roller coaster ride through the whole movie. I know how all of it plays out but I can’t help that it evokes all emotions inside of me. If you haven’t seen the movie, you definitely should!
The story basically allows George Bailey (who has contemplated suicide) to view life as if he had never been born. Without going into too much detail about the movie, there is one quote that gives me pause for thought every time I hear it. Clarence Oddbody (Angel 2nd Class) is sent to save George Bailey’s life and allow George to view the lives of the people he has loved, and the struggles (and even deaths) they each would have gone through, had George never been born. Clarence says, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
How it Began
Facebook reminded me today, that 6 years ago, I was preparing to open Wolf River CrossFit. My actual open date was January 2, 2012. Last night, I saw a photo that several friends commented on. Many of these friends do not live in this area any longer, but the common denominator for all of them was my old gym. That’s where they met several years ago. That’s where they became friends, and thanks to Facebook, how they have stayed connected.
Our world seems so fast paced that most days we don’t stop long enough to see the connections that we make or how our lives are connected to each other, or where the connection even originated. We take way too much for granted. Well, I can’t speak for you, I can only speak for myself and I know I definitely take too much for granted at times.
How Will We Approach 2018?
Most of us will go into 2018 with a fresh attitude. We are ready to lose those extra pounds, get on a better sleeping schedule, practice more gratitude, workout more, etc. We will do pretty well with making small changes. (Let me caution you to not set really big goals or make big changes. It’s hard to maintain those when starting out. I’ll talk more about that in my next blog, however.) There is something I want to charge you with going into 2018, and that is to simply stay connected to one another. Slow down, reach out more. Send a text or make a call when you think of someone. It can just say, “hey, thinking about you today, have an awesome day!” Those small things make a big difference in each of our lives. We must cherish the short period of time that we have here with one another. We all know that in the blink of an eye, we can lose someone we love and be left only with regrets.
Growth That Means Something
One of the greatest decisions I have ever made was to start Wolf River CrossFit. I look back on all of the relationships that were created there and how those relationships created relationships. I am so thankful for each and every one of them, it is how we are where we are today. Making the move to NBS, has also been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. I now look around at even more relationships that have been created and I find myself again in deep gratitude.
How Success is Truly Measured
We will be moving into our new building soon and I am looking forward to adding more members, and watching more relationships grow. Go with me into 2018 and lets hold on to the people we love, and let’s continue to grow in our friendships and learn to love more abundantly.
Another great quote from, It’s a Wonderful Life is at the end. Clarence leaves George Bailey with the words, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” Isn’t that the truth?
It’s that time of the year again: the “new year, new me” saga. How often are those words said with real intention but no real commitment. So, how can we actually achieve these New Years’ resolutions?
- Set realistic goals – ensure that you don’t set yourself up for failure.
- Write them down – Statistics show people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them. Take your vision and turn it into a written list of concrete goals.
- Choose an accountability partner – someone you can trust to keep you on track and hold you accountable. Set a specific date and time workout schedule and commit to meeting on a weekly basis to review your goals. The important thing to remember is that you are creating new habits, developing a new routine.
- Set a definite timeframe for each of your goals. Ensure that you make both your short term and long term goals. Understand the difference.
- Utilize all available tools, trainers, videos, blogs – don’t buy fake marketing tools, secret pills and formulas.
- Be sure to pace yourself – don’t overdo it. You are more likely to not achieve your goals if you hurt yourself and are unable to take the next steps.
- Find the right trainer – visit NBS and take advantage of the free assessment with trainers to ensure that you gather enough information so that you feel secure that you are working in a supportive and helpful environment.
If you follow these steps, you can be assured of reaching your new year’s resolution, which as we know, is one of life’s most sought after achievements. And, most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself. There might be days that you will want to avoid these tips but I am confident that if you stay strong and hold the course you will be successful. Wishing you the best of luck in 2018!
Banded crab walks are one of my favorite exercises to preform on lower body days. The purpose of this exercise is to build strength and glute activation in both gluteus medius and maximus. Normally I like to perform this exercise before squatting or deadlifting to make sure my body is primed for the exercises. Follow this set/rep scheme 3×10. Go ahead and give this exercise a try!
I’ve lived that day in my head no less than a thousand times. The day I got a call that my brother had been in an accident and that “he may not make it.” In that moment, I feel to my knees. How. Why. Why Gregg? I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t think, all I could do was cry.
That was March 31, 1998 and it may as well have been yesterday.
Gregg would come to Memphis yearly on December 23rd. Often, he would come straight from the woods and in his hunting clothes. Since he was a bachelor (and had done no Christmas shopping) over the years that became our tradition. We made his list, squared the kids away with Steve for the evening and Gregg and I hit the stores. Hours would go by but it always seemed like minutes. We would stay up half the night wrapping his presents so he would be all set for the Christmas festivities. We were kids again and we loved our time together.
1998 was the first year I chose not to go home to Brinkley for Christmas. My kids were at the age where they wanted to be at our home on Christmas Eve so we could develop our own traditions. Needless to say, the family didn’t take it well.
On Christmas Eve morning, I was on the phone bickering with my ex mother in law over the exact time the kids could be picked up that day. Gregg was getting ready to leave, even though he didn’t want to go to Brinkley either. Our family was nothing but turmoil and it was unpleasant to be there, holiday or not. I insisted Gregg leave as soon as possible so our dad wouldn’t be upset any further. Looking back on it later, the phone call to the X-MIL was so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Why I couldn’t see those insignificancies at the time is beyond me.
Gregg kissed me on the cheek and said, “I’ll see ya later”. That was the last time I saw him or heard his voice.
After four years in the Air Force post high school, Gregg landed in Brandon, Mississippi. He worked at the Baptist Hospital in Jackson, had a Golden Retriever named Duke, and lived a simple, yet joyful life. He went to work on March 31st just like any normal day. Mid morning he was called to help someone who had dropped their driver’s license into the elevator shaft. Gregg responded to the 1st floor with his PVC pipe and duct tape (he had obviously done this before) ready to help. That was his nature, he was so friendly and always willing to give a helping hand. He sent the elevator up, opened the doors and reached in with his PVC pipe. On another floor, someone hit the elevator button. Gregg made what proved to be a fatal mistake that day. This process had become so routine that he didn’t lock out the elevator. When it was called, he was jolted and down he fell, hitting a metal beam on his way down. If only he’d locked it out.
It took 30 minutes to extract him from the elevator shaft, as all precautions were made for a spinal injury. He was awake and spoke to the 1st Responders during that time, stating, “just get me out of here”. My brother was quite the flirt and this fall didn’t distract him from flirting with the nurses once they got him out of the elevator shaft. After his initial assessment, he was immediately taken to surgery. His liver had been damaged beyond any repair and while the doctors gave their best effort, it was not to be. He was gone.
He Didn’t Need to Speak the Words
Upon receiving the phone call about Gregg’s accident, we left immediately for Jackson, Mississippi. We didn’t have a cell phone at the time so we borrowed my mother in laws. I don’t remember much about the drive, except that I just knew we were going to walk into his hospital room and see him sitting up in the bed, leg in a cast, flirting with the nurses and eating chocolate pudding and I was going to punch him for scaring the life out of me! This was my hope and I made myself believe it. I didn’t create any other scenario because I couldn’t imagine anything but his survival. My sister had tried to reach the cell phone we had borrowed, but since there were fewer cell towers back then, we never received her call. I’m glad we didn’t because I don’t think I could have handled the news while on the road.
Steve pulled into the emergency entrance and I jumped out and ran inside. The only face I saw was that of my dads as he walked toward me. No words were exchanged and my eyes couldn’t leave his as I read his expression. Slowly, he nodded his head left to right, I knew we’d lost him.
For the next several moments, days and weeks, life was a blur. I felt like I was receiving a constant punch to the stomach. I grieved hard and I mourned his loss deeply. He had protected me and loved me so much, and I, him.
Death Makes People Uncomfortable
Death came too soon for Gregg and none of us were prepared to live our lives without him. I can’t feel cheated however, I must always remain grateful. Yes, I would have loved more time with him. I would have loved to know what he’d be like today, at 50 years old. I wonder if he would be married or have kids. I would have loved for Jackson to know his Great Uncle as well, but I am so grateful to have had Gregg in my life for almost 31 years. I am so grateful for the time we shared together as children, teenagers and as young adults. I am so thankful for the love he showed me that I can’t even begin to share here. He was the one love in my life when everything else (when I was a kid) was so unsettling. We endured a lot together and I could talk about him for hours.
Death is a part of life. When we share our stories of loved ones who have left us, people are often quite sorrowful and sympathetic….and uncomfortable. I’ve often wondered why that is. I know people never know what to say at the time of someone’s death, and that’s understandable, however, we should get to a place where we encourage each other to share the memories of loved ones lost.
The World Keeps Spinning
I’ve had this letter written about my brother for a long time. I never really thought about sharing it until today. Someone reading this may be feeling the same as I do. You may have lost someone you treasure deeply and the holidays may be a very difficult time for you. I personally have been unsettled on how to spend December 23rd of every year since 1998. But, we have to keep going and keep creating experiences and memories.
Its painful to have some of our loved ones no longer with us, but it’s more painful to not be able to share the love we had for them. Yes, if we tell you a story we may shed some tears during the story telling, but don’t be uncomfortable. Let us tell you. Ask us what our favorite memory is. Don’t be afraid of upsetting someone more. Frankly, the loss of someone we love leaves the heart broken, but being able to share something about them helps the heart smile through that brokenness. Afterall, all we truly have in this world is each other, and we can’t always be full of joy, not if we have truly loved, and who here hasn’t loved….and lost.
Try doing a 2.1 mile Christmas Tree Carry!
PVC pipe pass throughs are one of my favorite shoulder and postural mobility exercises. This exercise is great for increasing shoulder mobility and strength, while also developing proper overhead posture. Make sure you’re keeping a neutral posture and keeping that rib cage pulled down. Go ahead and give this a try.
A few weeks ago, I was privileged with the opportunity to sit down with the Three Amigos over at the Iron and Lead Podcast. We enjoyed some fantastic whiskey, jammed to the metal minute(ish), and attempted to unpack some of the the current problems facing America in the health care industry. I also presented on why most injuries occur and some tips you can do to help avoid injury in your everyday activities.
This is a podcast that I keep up with frequently and share a lot of interests with, so I was excited to have the opportunity to come on as their guest. I think one of the biggest takeaways that I have from the podcast is that there are likely many people that are interested becoming a better, healthier human being. I think that the will of many people to be better as a person health-wise is there, but that the bigger issue at hand is developing a path as to how to make that will a reality. For some, they can seek out the right information and apply those changes by themselves, but for most, the answer to becoming a better version of yourself will lean on being able to surround yourself with a team of professionals across multiple industries to help you reach those goals. There is much to be learned from coaches in the fitness industry as well as health care professionals to help put you on the right path. Many of which, are simple concepts that are easy to understand and apply.
To download and listen to the full episode of the latest Iron and Lead Podcast, click here! Also, if you’re already a fan of the show, or just a red blooded American who loves freedom, guns, and being a badass, don’t forget to buy your very own Iron and Lead Podcast “Stomp Yourself” T-shirt!
After this short blog post about sitting back and doing nothing while someone killed themself with bad habits, I had a long talk with David about what we could do. After very short deliberation, we have decided that I am going to open up my own books to take a few clients that fall in the “general population” category. Shortly after, we have our monthly continuing education presentation, where David talked about the importance of proper planning for GenPop, and it gave me a lot to think over.
Certainly, non-athletes make up an enormous population. With the same certainty, I can tell you that most personal trainers do not give these people the attention they deserve. The truth is that to some degree, at the beginning stages of any training program, nearly everything works. This can lead to a lazy approach by trainers where coaching is done to their comfort level with very little thought involved. I insist that this is unacceptable.
I believe there is a blend of athletic training concepts that can absolutely lead to a productive, engaging experience that yields massive results for everyday people. If you don’t believe me, just look into the success of Crossfit. While there are many factors that make Crossfit successful, topping the list is that it introduces people to a relatively thorough athletic approach of health and wellness, regardless of their starting point.
That said, Crossfit isn’t for everyone. This is where personal training can be the answer for those looking for a bit more specificity and guidance as they dive into fitness. At NBS Fitness, we aim to make sure we have the best customer experience for everyone, and the general population training will be no exception. Below are a few steps we are taking to make sure this is the best training money can buy for the non-athlete.
1.) A thorough assessment:
The first step to making any fitness plans is understanding exactly where you are at and where you want to be. This involves goal setting. While I can help you establish goals, I am more interested in your genuine desires and what has led you to seek help in the first place. We make no assumptions out of what you want from your body, but we can help determine realistic expectations and a time frame to get there. You can be as specific or vague as you’d like to be. Your goals are likely going to be a bit fluid as you get moving, and expressing changes to what you want is acceptable at any point. I am not here to put my goals on you, but rather help you express and achieve your own wants.
From there, an anthropometric assessment is a bit of a must, but can vary based on what the initial conversation reveals. If you aren’t a numbers person, we might not focus on numbers but instead get into physical indicators that carry more significance to you. If measurements/weight/numbers ARE important to you, we can track those as well. However we decide to go about it, these starting points are the metrics we will use systematically to track progress. Anthropometric measurements are important and tracked, but the data we choose to focus on will change from person to person.
Lastly, we have to get a baseline on where you are physically. Not to sound like a broken record, but this assessment will also vary from client to client. I would like to get a movement screening out of the way to note any wild imbalances that need attention as we progress. Now, this is where I differ from a lot of coaches: I think a lot of imbalances can be worked out as primary goals are also in progress.
2.) Transparent planning/periodization
David gave a great presentation about how to periodize training programs for the general population client. For the sake of brevity, a periodization model is simply a plan and frame work that covers an extended amount of time. It addresses short term goals, long term goals, the foundations of those goals, and allocates “blocks” of time for those steps. I think this is an important process to explain to each client so they have a bit of understanding and motivation going into each training session. All blocks, training days, exercises, and stressors should have a clearly defined purpose that is digestible by the client. Doing conditioning at the end of a brutal leg day isn’t always the first thing clients want to do, but if they know this is an important step in finally seeing abs pop through for the first time in their life, this can be hugely motivating.
Furthermore, a periodization model can set mini deadlines around the clients life. Unlike professional athletes, general population clients need a training plan that allows for a greater quality of life. Setting mini deadline goals can provide structure and a sense of urgency that might otherwise be lacking. Some mini-goal deadlines I like to use for clients showing up at their physical best:
These are just a few, but always a very satisfying part of training for the client. Who doesn’t want to show up to their 20 year class reunion looking like a million bucks?
Additionally, structuring your training around roadblocks is equally as important. There are just some events in life that require extra strategy to get around. I try to get a feel for:
–Seasonal health concerns (allergies/SAD/heat or cold limitations)
–Busy Season at work
–extraordinary family obligations
This isn’t to say training stops during this time, but perhaps we take a little additional time strategizing around these events is necessary. With general population progamming, the training often continues into infinity, so having these natural deloads can be worked in around these times.
3.) Creativity in the form of preference:
Its been said a million times: the best training plan in the world is the training plan you look forward to. All of the above principles can be carried out in a way that the client enjoys. If you don’t enjoy running, I have great news. There are about a hundred billion other ways to get some cardiovascular work in that don’t involve running. If you have a bone or joint anomaly that skews your movement pattern and makes benching uncomfortable or dangerous, we can modify the training program to entirely eliminate benching and still meet almost any objective. Truly, you dont have to be married to any one exercise that you hate. The key to making the most of your training is communication. The more we communicate and decide on what modalities make the cut, the more custom and effective your experience can be.
**note**: This does NOT mean you can simply eliminate the highs and lows of being physically active all together. Hating running and hating being out of breath are two very different things. You don’t have to run, but you do need cardiovascular fitness. Similarly, hating squatting and being weak are also two different things.
4.) A hefty dose of flexibility:
For general population clients, the idea is to create a higher quality of life through physical readiness. This distinctly means I cannot isolate a client, require them to stay away from family functions, or encourage skipping ou
t on work/family functions to come to the gym. Doing those things would actually bring the clients quality of life down, as training them becomes a chore that competes for time for critical tasks. Setting up a training schedule that is reasonable and not overly ambitious is step 1. Scheduling training before or after work usually works best. Being able to foresee hectic weeks also helps strategize around also helps keep the wheels on the bus when time is low. Lastly, I think its important to keep cumulative stress in mind. While I do think people are much more capable than we give them credit for, all stress is stress. Having an extraordinary amount of life stress often bleeds into training, and theres some attention that needs to be paid there. Again, communication is key.
Our aim is to give people the ability to achieve their physical goals through the best training in Memphis. Its more than showing up and running you through whatever machines are available at that time. A proper training regimen is thoughtful and client focused with results based backing. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from the planning that goes into each program.
I Gotta Pee!
If you’re a female, do double unders, squat heavy or perform other high impact exercises for any length of time and you soon find it very difficult to not pee your Lulu’s. If I’m being honest, for me, it’s the one thing that breaks up a consistent string of double unders every single time. Well, that, and tripping…. Allll savvy CrossFitting females know not to wear light gray pants on a day you need to complete a bazillion double unders!
In the early years of CrossFit, I thought I had this problem because of giving birth to 3 children. While there may be some truth to that, over the last several years, there has been a rise in young females who haven’t yet had children, but are having the same issues. Even the elite level CrossFitters. I’m quite sure the problem crosses over into other sports as well.
So, what exactly is the problem?
Let’s Chat About the Pelvic Floor
Before we go too far, let’s identify the Pelvic Floor muscles:
Pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that (provide) support (for) the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic organs are the bladder and bowel in men, and bladder, bowel and uterus in women. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. Your pelvic floor muscles help you control your bladder and bowel. They also aid in sexual function.
The sphincters give us conscious control over the bladder and bowel so that we can control the release of pee, poo, wind breakage, as well as, allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxing the pelvic floor allows passage of said pee, poo and wind.
With regard to sexual function, in men, a strong pelvic floor is important for erectile function and ejaculation. In women, voluntary contractions of the pelvic floor also contribute to sexual sensation and arousal.
Back to Identifying the Problem…
Creating external torque in the squat and in the deadlift (think grabbing the floor with feet and twisting out), targets the rectus abdominis (which is the six pack muscles) and the erectors along the lumbar spine, simultaneously. They reinforce each other and as one gets stronger, so does the other. All this tension is necessary and essentially great, but it is pushing down into the external obliques, transverse abdominis, and basically the pelvic floor.
While the External Torque chain (rectus abdominis “six-pack” and erectors) becomes stronger and capable of greater performance, the Internal Torque chain (external obliques, transverse abs, and pelvic floor) gets neglected. The stronger the ET chain becomes, the more we default to those muscles to accomplish a movement, therefore causing imbalances or atrophy of the IT chain of muscles.
So What Do We Do?
Fortunately we can work to fix this problem and create balance with Internal Torque. We can do that with the following 2 exercises.
External Oblique Opener
External Oblique Leg Raises
Put It to Practice!
I’ll be practicing these and I hope you will too! Let me know if I can help you!
(Source – Strongfit)
Man! I have been sucking at getting these things out in a timely manner, but you know what they say…better late then never! So, this next riff comes from who many would consider the godfathers of metal. Damn straight! Black Sabbath! This band holds a dear and special place in my heart. I can remember being in high school and driving around with my two buddies listening to a double live album from them called past lives. We felt unstoppable as we would drive through our town on a Friday night in the summer with the windows down and the music cranked all the way up! I will never forget those times. The thing that I love most about Sabbath is the simplicity. Just about every other metal band around today is basically just playing old Sabbath riffs faster, slower, heavier, or backwards. I have too many songs to choose from that I wanted to play from them, but this is one that I never knew, so I figured I would give it a go. I actually tuned my guitar down two whole steps just to try to re-create the same sound that they had. It’s crazy to believe that a band back in the 60’s and 70’s were playing that heavy. I believe that is what truly gave them suh a unique sound. Anyways, the song I chose was Into the Void. Off of their album Master of Reality which was released in 1971. I’ve got plenty more to come, so crank it up and enjoy some Sabbath on this holy day!
After The Rebook Record Breakers meet I realized I needed to step away from the barbell focused on powerlifting. I love the sport but, it put much negative energy into it over the past year. Yes, I did acquire my best total during this time at the 181 weight class but with the recent decisions in my life concerning my approach to strength, I need to start from the bottom up.
Plain and simple, I need more muscle. I have not been in a Hypertrophy stage of training for almost a year now and It shows. I am having a terrible time keeping a solid contraction without “throwing” the weight through a range of motion using other muscles to aid in the movement. This ties into a topic that Bobby recently wrote about, “King of the Accessories“. Powerlifters are really good at getting their whole body to move the weight, they would do themselves a world of good learning how to UNLEARN that during a hypertrophy phase.
I am unlearning bad habits of just, “moving weight” right now and my body is trashed by it for days on end. I can already tell if I learn this aspect of muscle contraction by itself THEN configure all these isolation contractions to sync together while doing compound movements my strength and powerlifting will be in a much better place. Cheers to an achy body and to bodybuilding without getting on a stage, which does not make me a bodybuilder at all.
Attorney Kathryn Demere was one of NBS first members back in 2012. Her consistent hard work has yielded awesome results, so we’re featuring Kat as our latest Member Spotlight.
What are your current goals and training?
Since March, I have been on a quest to lose body fat AND build muscle! This means four days of weight training and more cardio than anyone would ever want to do (you’ll often see me upstairs on my Stairmaster perch watching Netflix). It also means counting macros, which has been the greatest challenge of my life. All while working and staying connected to my husband and children.
Any recent PRs or milestones?
After three months on my training regimen and nutrition plan, I lost 4% body fat and saw dramatic changes in my fasting blood sugar and cholesterol (total cholesterol down 30 points, triglycerides down 77 points, S-LDLP down 193 points, LDL-P down 100 points), insulin, and c-reactive protein levels. I could never have done any of this without programming by Christian Anto and constant encouragement by my husband and fellow long-time NBS member, Jim Demere.
What’s your favorite thing about NBS?
NBS is incredibly dynamic with so much personality. And I have never seen so many dedicated folks in one place! It is truly inspiring to be surrounded by a group of people who are genuinely interested in learning, growing, and improving in all aspects of life.
The plot of zombie movies is pretty basic: human kind slowly gets taken over by lifeless creatures that turn each person they bite into another zombie and the small percentage of surviving humans are struggling to survive. It’s a scary concept but clearly fiction; definitely not something we have to worry about….right? Well, I’m here to tell you that the zombie apocalypse is upon us. Not in the undead trying to eat our brains kind of way but in the human race slowly turning into an unstoppable mass that will one day take us all out.
Fat People: The New Osama Bin Laden (sarcasm, please don’t sue me)
Obesity has recently been named a threat to national security. One third of Americans cannot qualify for the armed forces based on their weight (that’s not including the ones who can’t qualify because of their lack of fitness). On top of this, the military has seen a 61% rise in obesity since 2002 and spends $1.5 billion a year in treatment for obesity related health conditions. And with medicare and medicaid being the largest item on the national budget at just over a trillion dollars (almost twice that of defense spending), generals are starting to worry that the cost of obesity, about $147 billion a year, could start cutting into their budgets.
Diabetic comas for all!
If the obesity numbers weren’t scary enough, the diabetes statistics are sure to fill the gap. One in ten adults have diabetes with 1 in 3 having pre-diabetes, of which 90% don’t know they have it. The costs of diabetes in the United States is about $100 billion more than the costs of obesity alone. The number of Americans with diabetes is expected to triple by 2050 according to the CDC.
Pain bad. Drugs good.
If all of these statistics are making you feel depressed, don’t worry, there’s a drug for that! One in six Americans take some type of psychiatric drug, primarily anti depressants and anti anxiety meds. And for those needing more of a relief from physical pain, one in three Americans use some type of prescription opioid with about 2 million Americans reporting a full on addiction to these types of drugs.
The future looks a little bleak
The worst part of all is that all of these numbers are on the rise. Obesity, diabetes, and prescriptions for opioids and psychiatric drugs are all expected to increase dramatically over the next couple of decades. Despite the fact that we have more information and resources than ever before to live healthy lives, why are more and more Americans becoming less and less healthy? Why are Americans on more anti depressants than anywhere else in the world despite having a standard of living higher than anywhere else on the planet?
I can do it! Can I do it? I can’t do it 🙁
The reason that many Americans are struggling with their health is because it is part of our biology to choose the path of least resistance. That’s why we invented the wheel and eventually the Segway. That is why we invented clothes lines and eventually washing machines. We are constantly seeking ways to make life easier on ourselves and in most cases this means less and less physical demands. To add to this fact, we have an innate addiction to calories. We are hard wired to crave foods that are high in calories, high fat and high sugar foods that taste oh so good. The fight against obesity, diabetes, and pain pills is a fight against our biology. It’s a fight we can’t win.
Is their any hope?
It’s a fight that most individuals can’t win. Sure, there is a percentage of Americans that will realize the health risks of a poor diet and lack of exercise and will do something about it but they are the exception, not the rule. I believe that being part of the fitness community makes us forget this fact. We tend to think that more people are like us than not but the truth is that healthy people are becoming a smaller minority every day. So what can be done? Are we just f’d or is there actually something we can do?
I don’t have all the answers but I do have some ideas. There are multiple levels of changes that need to occur. The government will need to make some changes, corporations will need to make some changes, and individuals will need to make some changes. I’ve made a list of just a handful of examples. This is definitely not an exhaustive list but I do believe these things would at least help us take some steps in the right direction.
-Prevent advertisers from advertising junk food to children. We wouldn’t allow cigarette or alcohol companies to advertise on children’s cartoons but far more kids are going to die from obesity than they are from smoking or drinking.
-Prevent pharmaceutical companies from advertising directly to consumers. The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow this. We are taught that a drug can fix everything. Instead of dealing with the root cause of issues, we are satisfied with just masking the symptoms.
-Insurance needs to cover preventable costs. It is far cheaper for health insurance companies to pay people to have trainers, nutritionists, gym memberships, life coaches, psychologists, etc than it is to pay for all the costs associated with preventable diseases.
-Let insurance companies charge based according to health. It is not fair to force healthy individuals to share the increasing costs of preventable diseases. People should be rewarded and supported in increasing their health and held financially responsible when they don’t. A healthy 30 year old shouldn’t have to pay a $400 a month premium with a $7000 deductible for a plan that covers 80%. That’s freaking crazy.
-Overhaul the educational system with regards to health. The fact that we are willing to grade kids based on their ability to memorize the capitals of all the states (performance based) yet we do not grade children based off of their performance in PE says a lot about how we prioritize health in our educational system. If school is really meant to prepare kids for a productive and happy life, then physical activity should be part of every school day from kindergarten through at least high school. And for the love of all things good, pizza should not be considered a vegetable.
As a member of the fitness community, it can be difficult to empathize with folks who don’t do anything for their health. But, we’re all in this together. If we don’t fix this issue we’re all going to be in really big trouble in the next twenty to thirty years. I have hope that we will make it happen. But just in case we don’t…remember the number one rule of Zombie Land: CARDIO
How do you Recover Outside of Training?
The first installment of this series was basically me telling you all that I love to drink. Well, not entirely. I enjoy a good drink, unlike some of you all who prefer to drink fruit-flavored stuff spiked with alcohol or beer that takes like water ‘cause you are watching your figure. I recently just got done competing in my last “main meet” of the year. Meets take a different kind of toll on your body, and sometimes your soul, which I think requires a different kind of recovery.
Back when I first started powerlifting, I followed David Allen’s suggestions to a “T” when it came to training. I’ve always been raised to take a week off after a meet. As the years have gone on, this amount of rest has not been enough. I still remember the first bout of “powerlifting depression” after a meet. After reflecting I think this was due to it being my main focus day in and day out, so I decided to extend my “week break” for almost three weeks! I was not going to touch a barbell or even work out. I wanted to “be normal” and just goof off. This mindset has not entirely changed now, but I approach it differently. Some of you may find this beneficial for yourself when loved ones do not understand your passion for the sport.
Post-meet recovery for me now ALWAYS involves a trip or vacation. I am not just talking about a day trip, I’m talking about an extended weekend or a full-week trip to be with family and loved ones. Last year I took a 12-day trip to Japan after my “Main Meet.” (I ended up partially tearing a Hamstring trying to work out there, a great reminder to JUST STOP and let your body be normal for a second.) This year I have loaded my schedule post-meet. I flew out to California to compete. When I returned, I took clients all week but didn’t even as much move a weight, unless it was for a client. Then I hopped right back on a plane to visit my girlfriend in Indiana where I could enjoy her company and not think about work or training. Then 4 days after landing back in Memphis, I hopped another plane to New York to be with my family for Thanksgiving. For all of these trips I DID NOT follow a strict diet nor did I train on a schedule.
Our bodies can be pushed to insane limits, but your body is magnificently designed and needs to recover. This recovery does not happen overnight. I am not telling you to throw training and nutrition out of the window, I am just saying give yourself a break. This is a hobby for 99% of us unless you are making $1000+ per competition. (And if you are reading this, chances are that ain’t you.) So enjoy family and friends, take a big hop-skip-and-jump away from training every so often, and see how well your body reacts.