TRAINING THE BODY INTELLIGENTLY

It is great to see more and more tools appearing in our industry that are challenging the body in a far more intelligent manner. The end user is now demanding that new tools incorporate the “guiding principles” of movement to enhance the responses in the body required in everyday encounters.

Client movements need to mimic everyday life challenges throughout their training sessions for a successful outcome. Information in the past has focused primarily on the body’s “appearance” only and ignored what the body/brain really needs to be successful in life; happiness, wellness and movement!

The body/brain craves variation, gaining maximum stimulation in all responses when movements or exercises are constantly changing. Repetitive movements are what “dumb” the body and brain down and in many cases are the reasons for the pain  and discomfort we have in our bodies. Most people train to get “better” but in fact are doing just the opposite!

Some of the “guiding principles” of movement required for an effective efficient body are;  

  1. Integrate the entire body making sure that the ankle, hips and thoracic spine work together.
  2. Vector variation, the tissues require varying movements of force and direction
  3. Load to unload, eccentric lengthening of the myofascial (muscle & connective tissue) system to concentric contraction.
  4. Rhythm & Timing, stimulating the body to mitigate the stress effectively.
  5. FUN, decreases stress and inflammation in the body caused through cortisol.

One manufacturer aware of the necessity of these “guiding principles” is Hyperwear. They produce many products but I want to focus on the brilliance of one, Sandbell and how it provides great outcomes for all people whom use it.

The SandBell, at its most basic level, is the combination of strengths from some of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment— sandbag, dumbbell, barbell, grip bag, medicine ball, stability pod, gliding disk and kettlebell. 

These tools are filled with sand but they have a neoprene cover. The feel, texture and smell play a powerful part in the enjoyment of using these challenging tools on an emotional, mental and physical level.

The continuous shifting medium (sand) inside the SandBell stimulates a reaction from the finger tips (grip strength) through to the T Spine, Hips and Ankles constantly challenging and up-­‐regulating the entire system; loading the spine from the top down.

This makes the Sandbell ideal for any type of program goal, whether it is weight loss, lean body mass, wellness or sports specific. It can be used in every traditional manner but more importantly encourages creativity, freedom of movement and 3 dimensional strength challenges.

The amount of challenges/games that can be created is incredible and the hormone response achieved encourages the building of lean muscle and burning body fat. To see this happen with smiles on faces makes this extremely powerful in keeping clients motivated to continually exercising. Give it a go and observe how you feel!

Here are some simple exercises that you might like to try I am sure they will challenge your entire system. I would suggest that you start with a lighter weight first and get the rhythm of the movement, do it for 45-­‐60 seconds.

SIT & REACH- VERTICAL SWING TO TOES

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BENEFITS:

  • this exercise provides a rhythmical way to load the entire body in the upright position whilst increasing a hormonal response
  • a great exercise to condition the system for more challenging tasks in everyday life.
  • improves extensibility through the hips and thoracic complexes

MOVEMENT:

  • from the starting position, allow the SandBell to swing down to the floor (load) between the ankles
  • at the bottom of the swing (load) allow the SandBell to change direction and drive vertically towards the ceiling (unload) in a rhythmical manner
  • the SandBell  will stop above the head driving the client onto the forefoot of the ankles complexes
  • gently return to the bottom of the movement and repeat exercise

PRONE-­‐ SINGLE ARM PULL/PUSH WITH TRUNK ROTATION

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BENEFITS:

  • this exercise challenges the body greatly from toes to nose.
  • a great exercise to condition the system for everyday strength.
  • necessity for conditioning clients to rise from the floor

MOVEMENT:

  • with overhand grip pull the SandBell towards the chest
  • rotate the body and head and push the SandBell  vertically towards the ceiling
  • return to the starting position and repeat
  • keep the movement rhythmical and work within the clients bubble
  • once fatigue is observed stop, change sides and repeat

PARTNER, DOUBLE ARM MULTI DIRECTIONAL THROW/CATCHES

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STARTING POSITION

  • Standing opposite each other in a “sports position” (approximately 1 body length), one person holding the SandBell
  • Holding the SandBell with both hands

CHALLENGE

  • Throw the SandBell to partner with both hands in a gentle, rhythmic manner
  • Partner will catch the SandBell with both hands, allowing the entire body to accept the force and return it in a similar manner
  • As the exchange of throws and catches improves, change one or all of the following;
  1. direction 2) distance 3) height of the SandBell to progress the challenge Do this until one or both people fatigue or for a specific time (45-­‐60secs)

FASCIA: THE TISSUE THAT CONNECTS ALL

Fascia: The Tissue That Connects All 

Connective Tissue or Fascia as many professionals know it, has become a real buzzword of the fitness industry. It is popping up in loads of fitness magazines and numerous people appear to be highly authorized to talk about it but few seem to comprehend how to enhance this amazing tissue through application.

To gain optimal clarity, firstly let’s define the structure and role of fascia then look at the fundamentals of movement and complete the picture with some tips on how to apply this to our training programs.

Role of Fascia

Fascia is fundamentally comprised of collagen, reticulin, elastin and water, 70% water. If we pause momentarily, these terms glean important tips for us; this tissue can stretch/contract, requires great hydration, is incredibly strong and is everywhere in the body.

Fascia’s key role is to mitigate force throughout the body. Recently (the last 10 years) through great minds like Thomas Myers, our industry has recognized the essential role of fascia and started to change our view from an isolated perspective to a more longitudinal perspective, incorporating the entirety of the body. Tom has dissected abundant cadavers discovering approximately 14 lines of fascia that literally run from the toes to the nose.

Without trying to confuse anyone let me clarify how fascia connects all. Fascia encases every muscle and nerve of the body, so really it is the neuro (nerve) myo (muscle) fascial system. The fascia has to transmit the force throughout the entire system; if we lose optimal communication in the system greater force will be distributed to a location, which becomes limited. This will cause huge prospect for pain, discomfort, or injury. Fascia runs through the entirety of the body.

For anyone who runs, when the foot strikes, gravity and ground force collide. Then add momentum and mass and there is huge force (1-1.5 times your body weight) to be shared amongst the remainder of the body by means of the neuromyofascial system. If this is successful major complexes (ankle/hip/thoracic) will be given permission to repeat the motion pain free; if not conditions like plantar fascia or pain in the ITB, knee, shin, hip, lower back or neck may appear.

Principles of Movement

Lets take a brief look at some of the fundamental principles required for optimal movement.

Can’t Move Can’t Load

Common sense really! If we can’t go through fundamental movement patterns (sit & reach, step & reach, gait) successfully (without compensating, hurting or feeling robotic) without load then applying load is going to compromise the system. This will result in pain, discomfort or injury. The patterns mentioned are everyday challenges, a sit & reach is exactly that…not a squat! They may look similar however a sit & reach is allowing the body to move to where it feels comfortable, permitting you to feel what may be restricted or glued. By introducing some simple tweaks to the pattern you will notice that these regions will ease or disappear. Almost instantly you will feel how the body moves and feels better.

Perform three Sit & Reaches to where you notice the first stretch or tension in your body…calves, hamstrings, back etc. Stop and return to the starting position. Then perform this movement and retest.

Vector Variation

This refers to the line and application of force in the body. Fascia loves variation in movement and forces, in fact when you see it live under microscope it is constantly moving and changing shape. Traditional programs that we have all done, have overloaded locations of the body through repetitive stress to the tissues. This has been evident through joint degeneration, injuries and poor performance. Take a look at how farm boys move and how strong  they are, no matter how well we condition the body through repetition the body will become overloaded and perform below par.

Here is a traditional movement for conditioning the body, notice the direction of forces, always coming back to the chest repetitively.

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Now take a look at two of my kids playing AFL my daughter has a similar position but in a standing position, where are the forces going to be? What about my son, similar position of the arms but what direction are his forces travelling? Will these forces be repeated over and over exactly the same each time in life? The body isn’t that dumb!

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Rhythm and Timing

Rhythm and Timing is one of the most important components of movement. If each of the major complexes moves efficiently and effectively the body will have good overall timing. If all 3 of the complexes have good timing then the body’s rhythm will be optimal.

This means that conditioning the body with R&T will

  • Optimize energy system consumption, meaning that you won’t run out of fuel when competing in your sport or challenge.
  • Eradicate energy leaks. This is vital because energy leaks can create overuse of fuel from the energy system or even worse injuries.
  • Eliminate injuries. The body loves to move and it is vital that is does for many reasons. To be able to move with force and load in a safe and effective mane is critical for quality of life. Playing with our kids can create some of the biggest forces possible yet, is that how we train?

A great way to start to improve Rhythm and Timing is diaphragmatic breathing. Most people due to their occupations have poor breathing patterns (just another form of rhythm) because of sitting, bending or standing. These positions are similar and will cause loads of compensations in the body. Before you start your session lay on the floor and place a hand on your chest and tummy. Inhale and see which region moves the most, if your chest rises more than your tummy you are not absorbing an optimal amount of oxygen. If you are unsure ask one of the Personal Trainers for some guidance.

Application

Fascial Mobilizers are movements that enable any one to move and feel better. A subtle, rhythmic movement that directly affects the fascial system, the are aimed at specific locations that become glued up in the major complexes.

Through everyday repetition, occupational hazards (sitting, standing, bending), dehydration, under recovering, tissue overload will/can cause gluing of the tissues in certain locations. Mobilizers feed non-intimidating, intelligent motion and gentle force into the body to allow the tissue to regain rehydration, mobility and stability in motion. Mobilizers are a great way of reintroducing rhythm and timing back into the body and also improving breathing  patterns!

For more information contact www.ptacademy.com.au or view these links:

Conclusion

Fascia and Mobilizers are some of many important components of the body; if you have questions or would like to know more please contact PT Academy or your trainer. PTA is the leader in Australia of education and application in the health and fitness industry. They have access to many of the world groundbreakers and are at the cutting edge of systems, science and tools for trainers and coaches of all levels.

89.9 Light FM Interview with Ian O’Dwyer

89.9 LightFM Interview: Ian O'Dwyer joins Craig and Jane LIVE

Ian O'Dwyer, the founder of OD On Movement, joined Craig and Jane live in the studio to talk about functional exercise and the importance of getting people equipped for life.

There isn't much information about functional training, but it can be defined as conditioning the body for every day challenges such as picking up the kids, getting up off the floor or reaching for a cup. These actions are often outside the movement threshold but we are able to learn how to do it safely and effectively.

Ian's job focuses on the practical, feeding the body the missing ingredients it craves to move and feel well, and enabling clients to regain responsibility of their body’s wellbeing. Here he not only discusses the importance of functional training but also explains the implications that can occur as a result of poor health, and also answers some listeners' questions about their own health.

Listen to the interview below!