Fascial Stretch Therapy (or FST), is a type of stretching that targets not only the muscles, but the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints.Read More
It’s amazing how good we are at fooling ourselves. Once even more amazing is how we do it so much that we can’t even tell that we are doing it half the time. As a trainer I can tell when my clients need to be pushed and when what they are doing is too easy for them. The funny thing is, their view and experience of what’s going on is very different from what I view from the outside. So when I see my client can safely complete a given set of reps, the weight generally goes up. This continues to happen until we find a weight that challenges the body enough to elicit the response we are looking for ie. strength, muscle development, fat loss etc.
The big disconnect comes when I ask them to increase weight to something they’ve never done before. I get “Are you sure?”, “You can’t be serious, I’ve never lifted that, I can’t do that”. Now, I can tell that what they’ve just lifted isn’t heavy enough. I can see their technique, how heavy they are breathing, how much they are sweating. So to their statement I ask “Why do you think you can’t lift this weight?” and the answer is almost always “I don’t know”. Somewhere along the way they become afraid of lifting passed a certain weight but when asked why, there is usually no actual reason. They just have never done it, and by default assume they can’t do it. It’s not that something actually happened one day and they got injured or that they have attempted it and know they physically can’t do it. Not even close. It’s just in their head they’ve created a story in which this particular weight just can’t be lifted.
We do this ALL THE TIME. We create stories in our head about something and keep telling it to ourselves over and over until we actually starting living our lives based on the FAKE story we’ve made up in our head. Think about that. It’s like watching the a TV show, convincing yourself that’s how real life is, and then living your life based on the TV show you watched. Go around for a day and act like the Kardashians, it’ll take you about eight seconds before you get punched in the mouth. It’s not real!
Your brain will create limitations based on passed experiences. So if you never lifted more than 30lbs for a goblet squat then you’re always going to think that’s what you can lift. However what you brain says you can do, and what your body can actually do are two different things. The whole trick with working out is pushing back that mental limit just a little bit every time you work out. Because that day you decide to pick up that 35lbs dumbbell squat your butt ass to grass, guess what just happened. You pushed your limit back. Because now, the next day, your brain knows it can do 35lbs, so you repeat your effort until it becomes less difficult. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.
Do not think that you are incapable of doing something simply because you haven’t done it before. Free your mind and you shall free your body. And for the love of god stop watching the Kardashians.
How you move is going to dictate how your perform. If you move like crap, you’ll perform like crap. For this reason, whenever an athlete comes to me for training, every program starts with a movement screen. I always tell my clients that their health is like a house. It doesn’t matter how nice the house is, if the foundation sucks, the house will fall apart. Same goes with your body. If the foundation of your movement sucks, your body will fall apart, especially during sport.
Alignment through the ankles to the hips is crucial for power development and injury prevention. One of the most dangerous and power draining issues I see is a Valgus knee. This is when the knees cave in towards each other under load.
Now upon landing and jumping back up, the knees should be tracking over the toes.
See the difference? If this is your pattern you’ve most likely been doing it for the majority of your life and don’t even know it. It’s like turning on the light switch in your bedroom. You’ve done it so many times that you don’t actually have to consciously think about it for it to happen. This also doesn’t just affect jumping. it will effect any movement that requires developing any power with your legs. Walking, sprinting, lunging, side shuffling, going up stairs, skating etc.
Now if this happens in a controlled scenario like the jump test above, what do you think happens in a game or practice where things are high speed and you’re not focusing on your legs but on the game instead. Your poor built in patterns take over and the risk for injury goes through the roof and your power development drops through the floor.
So how do we fix this issue?
First things first. If you haven’t been assessed properly or your team doesn’t have a strength and conditioning coach or someone else qualified to do this. Find someone, or get your coach to find someone who is qualified and has a good reputation. This is your best option. If this option isn’t available to you then here are some tips to help correct Valgus knee.
Correct any mobility issues. Often tightness in the hips quads, hamstrings and calves will force the body to move incorrectly do to limited range of motion. Without proper range of motion, you will very limited in power production, so address this first.
Once you’ve addressed tightness in the joints and muscles performing corrctive exercises in a controlled deliberate manner will help start to develop new brain patterns to override the old ones. Again if you have no idea what to do here, find a qualified trainer and do it right. It makes no sense to continue damaging your body and performing poorly because of a few bucks. How much did your shoes cost?
Once patterns are corrected start adding speed and/or weight to your exercises to further test the patterns. Issues you may not have seen before always show up when the exercises become more difficult.
So you just started working out and are quickly realizing your mobility has nearly disappeared over the years. Don’t worry you’re not alone. If there is one common denominator between all those who return to the gym from a long hiatus, it’s their lack of mobility and restricted range of motion in most, if not all joints. To help here are a few things to consider.
Restoring range of motion.
So when asked how to improve mobility the answer that most people assume; “You have to stretch”. This is true, however this is only part of the answer. It’s not just about stretching, it’s about how you’re stretching, what you’re stretching and what it is you’re stretching for. Are you stretching in a structured way that makes sense or just watching what everyone else is doing? Are you stretching the muscle only or are you opening up the joint capsule as well? Are you stretching as part of preparation before competition or as part of your recovery? These are all questions that should be addressed when it comes to your mobility routines.
Groove the pattern.
As a result of limited mobility you’ve probably been moving in dysfunctional patterns for most of your life. Now those patterns may not seem so harmful outside the gym however when you start adding weight and increasing movement and speed, things change very quickly. Creating the new range of motion is step 1, but grooving a new pattern in the brain to recognize and use that new range, is step 2. The brain learns through repetition but it does not distinguish between good and bad patterns. Whatever you do most, is what it will become efficient in doing. Unless you practice (groove) the proper pattern enough, when you’re tired and weak ¾ of the way through your workout you will default to that old dysfunctional pattern.
If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
You weren’t born with limited range of motion, you lost it over a lifetime of moving less. Just because you go through the trouble of increasing your range and grooving new patterns it doesn’t mean it will stay forever. You have to continuously work on your mobility the same way you would your strength, power or anything else. It’s important to keep your mobility as much of a priority as your weight training. You can get better at mobility without weight training, but you can’t get much better at weight training without improving your mobility.
Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist and happy father of three has a blog that I've just discovered. As a father with a 9 month old baby girl, his words in this letter describe how I feel every time I see her.
Dear Little One,
As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of our local Target store. A friend recently texted me from a different makeup aisle and told me it felt like one of the most oppressive places in the world. I wanted to find out what he meant. And now that I’m sitting here, I’m beginning to agree with him. Words have power, and the words on display in this aisle have a deep power. Words and phrases like:
Instant age rewind,
Choose your dream,
Nearly naked, and
When you have a daughter you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house—a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.
But words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of her own worthiness and beauty.
A father’s words aren’t different words, but they are words with a radically different meaning:
Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.
Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.
Naked. The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your gloves off. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.
Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.
Age defying. Your skin will wrinkle and your youth will fade, but your soul is ageless. It will always know how to play and how to enjoy and how to revel in this one-chance life. May you always defiantly resist the aging of your spirit.
Flawless finish. Your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. May your years be a preparation for that day. May you be aged by grace, may you grow in wisdom, and may your love become big enough to embrace all people. May your flawless finish be a peaceful embrace of the end and the unknown that follows, and may it thus be a gift to everyone who cherishes you.
Little One, you love everything pink and frilly and I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you. But I pray three words will remain more important to you—the last three words you say every night, when I ask the question: “Where are you the most beautiful?” Three words so bright no concealer can cover them.
Where are you the most beautiful?
On the inside.
From my heart to yours,
Life can sometimes be a ridiculous crazy ride where it seems like you’re blindfolded, going backwards and have no idea what the hell is happening. Over the last 5 years I would say I have felt this way probably more than a few times. At one point, which seems like a lifetime ago, I was an engineer. For 5 years I sat in an office for about 9.5 hours a day, staring at my computer watching videos of sewers for majority of the time.
Now before landing this mind numbing, yet well paying job, I was a lifelong athlete and gym rat. I played sports all through school, and once I got out and got into the workforce all that competitive and team sport atmosphere just kind of faded. I played rec soccer once a week but it still didn’t seem like it was enough. Then a friend of mine happened to mention something called CrossFit. Lucky for me there happened to be a gym not too far from where I was living at the time and I checked it out. I took one class and then paid for 1 year up front. Jam done, I was hooked.
The one thing I didn’t expect was how obsessive I got with training, the human body, recovery, food and all the other things involved. When they started telling me about food and it flew in the face of what I knew at the time, I started wondering “jeez, what the hell else am I doing wrong?” This lit an inextinguishable fire within me that eventually brought me to the realization that health and fitness is my calling. That’s where I belong. Not in front of a damn computer looking at sewer pipe.
I had 1 job for 5 years and once I decided to stop living someone else’s idea of what I should be doing, things got real crazy, real fast. In the 5 years since I’ve had 4 jobs, none of which I thought were going to lead where I am now, but now that I look back they were all MASSIVELY important to how I got here.
I can’t even begin to tell you how scary and confusing it can be chasing your dream and really having no idea how to get there. Especially when that dream is creating something or going against the grain. The people I’ve surrounded myself with from friends to family are the reason I’m able to do what I do. Creating my dream job is the greatest and hardest thing I’ve ever done and am still doing. I thought I knew what people meant when they talk about the grind and how hard it is to build a business because I worked “hard” at my old job. I had no idea.
I’m still scared and there is still so much unknown and uncertainty but I have amazing people going through this journey with me who are just as invested in its success as I am and with all that, things sometimes seems just a little bit easier. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and do the things you love. Don’t let other people or situations dictate what YOU should do with your life. Take a chance, go through some nonsense, learn some lessons and find out what truly makes you happy.