Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More Sports Science; Techniques to train post injury and the importance of full body stiffness, (that's right stiffness).

By Dr. E Serafim
I don't want to train you; I want you to train better, so listen up.   

Are you looking for a quicker, more challenging routine but less Weight? Or, perhaps you were injured enough to limit you but not keep you from working out?  Today's post features different workout techniques that lets get more done with what you have, using less weight. It incorporates some isometrics and some isotonic(no movement) exercises. This style of workout is great for changing things up (i.e. Sports periodization),  works best for those with shoulder or back problems, anyone with endurance issues, workers with physical labor requirements in their jobs and athletes who have plateaued. Even if you're injured you can still look like Superman by adding the concept of irradation (when a contraction begins in one spot & begins to radiate throughout the area.)
So if you're injured but still want to continue some exercises? Consider adding the concepts of irradiation, stiffness and rooting!
The front (anterior) chain is dominating here, there's a very high probability of shoulder and neck issues when this individual tries to start a program.

Coming back from injury? Consider this; move less, work more!
Imbalance of muscle groups and movement chains commonly leads to injury. Understanding how our muscles are situated(and work against each other) helps us appreciate the importance of balance. Here's where we turn our attention to those who are feeling the effects of overuse or are finished with a supervised rehab program (but haven't fully recovered from their injury).  In this installment we're going to look at some ways to use less weight but actually work very hard by carrying and pressing, but first we need understand some concepts. 
Exercise working the frontal plane

Exercise working the Sagittal plane   

Planes & Chains

Understanding how muscles work together and against each other is essential when considering the contributing factors to injuries and overuse. Movement occurs in 3 planes, and when considering any program it's important that these chains of muscle are  balanced for so many different reasons. When the individual "loads"(adds weight or reps) imbalanced patterns, injuries occur.  It's like working out hard and fast with really bad form; it's just an injury waiting to happen. 
We discussed these dynamics in previous posts here  and here.  Kinetic chains are the muscles situated along the different sides of the body(anterior, posterior and 
lateral/rotational). Having a  balanced frame will allow you to work harder, longer and safer in not only your exercise but also in your daily living activities.  Many of the workouts I see only consider one plane; forward to backward (sagittal), so it's no surprise why the rate of injury for those who work out is prevalent. Also consider that a large percentage of those who get injured do not return to their exercise routine. 

Muscles working together for a full body contraction;  
My Blogs are all about movement & how the body synchronizes movement to help out adjacent parts. Irradiation is an essential rehab & performance concept. As the body works harder the muscles along the same kinetic chain contract together. A perfect example of irradiation would be lifting up a heavy suitcase.  The lift begins with a hand grip, then the contraction spreads to the arm,  shoulder, then to the core and entire body.  Our muscles do not act alone; but moreso are part of a symphony, all performing together.
By activating more muscles we benefit from all of the physiologic effects of resistance training on a larger scale. This leads to more muscle growth, more calories burned & shorter intervals until you've exhausted the target group---workout complete! Pavel Tsatsouline frequently discusses irradiation and Professor Stuart McGill developed the concept or abdominal bracing and  the  his concept "Super Stiffness". A Radiating Muscle Contraction

Bottoms Up!  
By holding a weight on it's end or using a Russian Kettle-bell we can accomplish this very beneficial whole body contraction. The Kettle-bell carry is a common exercise in Kettle-bell training.  Typically carries are performed with a walk, if you have a a painful joint, as long as walking is okay, this exercise can still provide a challenge. It can be performed stationary(isometrically) or as part of a movement pattern(isotonically).  Some of these moves I've developed & others have been around since Pavel created the kettle bell workout. The main point is as long as you understand the concepts you can add your own movements. The idea behind irradiated contractions is to squeeze the weight like you want to crush it. Here's some bottoms up basics for irradiated tension & stiffness.

The Racked Position; 

This is the basic starting position for any carry or press position-being a position of strength it should serve as the starting & ending point.

-Elbow: locked into your body (imagine holding a piece of fabric between your arm & armpit-or have someone tuck one in & try to remove it against your resistance)

-Forearm: perpendicular to the ground

-Wrist: neutral

Once you can perform this position you're ready to turn the weight upside down.

Pavel demonstrating the correct racked position. Note the contracted abdomen, neutral wrist, perpendicular forearm  and the need for some new shorts.

Anterior Chain Exercises; 
Now that we have the basics we can load our correct patterns. Keep in mind I'm using stiffness as well as a very hard grip to help create the full body stiffness. Form is absolutely everything with exercise so use a mirror or have a qualified exercise/movement pro supervise you until you got the hang of it. Perform 2-3 sets per chain, 6-8 reps per exercise, for the carries, walk with the weight for at least 15 seconds up to a minute.  Most importantly keep in mind NO BAD REPS!

The double bottoms up carry
Overhead double bottoms up carry
Bottoms up overhead deep squat(a) with rooting of the feet.

Bottoms up overhead deep squat(b)
Bottoms up push up (a)

Bottoms up push up(b)

The un-horned Goblet squat
The Lateral/Rotational Chain Exercises;
 Carries are excellent for resetting the shoulder blade which essential for correct shoulder function, they're also a whole body exercise.
The asymmetric bottoms up carry
Overhead asymmetric bottoms up carry
Bottoms up arm bar (a)

The arm bar is an excellent choice for those who sit all day
Bottoms up arm bar (b)
Bottoms up windmill (a)

Bottoms up windmill (b)The Posterior Chain Exercises;
These exercises are predominantly lower body exercises and are excellent for runners, bodybuilders as well as anyone who sits for long periods. Many of these exercises have already been popularized by the RKC and Strong First.

The Bottoms up Romanian Dead lift (a)

The Bottoms up Romanian Dead lift (b)

Full body contractions through irradiation are common;
In Yoga;  
The Yoga People Had it Right...The benefit we get by gripping hard with our hands is applicable to the feet. The Yoga concept of “rooting”  improves stability, power & arch support. Incorporating this concept in your workout can be done through barefoot training (which is the only training I do).  It's a great way to get the most out of rooting, stiffness & irradiation. Dragon Door.com does a nice job of explaining rooting-the basic premise is to screw your feet into the floor or try to split the floor between your feet. Bringing awareness to your balance.

In physical medicine rehab,  
A Good Stiffness; The Abdominal Brace
Mastering the abdominal brace is the latest and most proven method stabilizing your core and protecting your spine. This technique will improve your power and increase the amount of work done (reaping more stength training benefits). The easiest cue to help someone understand is to have them bare down like they were going #2. Other ways is to have them stiffen like they were a statue and push against random body parts. Consult with your movement specialist or qualified trainer to ensure you have mastered this before using it, fitness professionals can learn more here. I can assist if you want to reach out.
The following exercise will provide new challenges & activate muscles that will stabilize both joints & core muscles. You don't need fancy equipment to do these exercises; kettlebells are perfect or as a second choice a dumbbell held on its long side will also work for the concept of Irradiation.

 Today we provided principles, so you can adapt your own protocols, don't hesitate to contact us with questions. Please like or comment if you stop by, so many have told me they enjoyed my blog, but there's no way for me to know without posting, sharing or liking.

Dr. Serafim is a Rehabilitation and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He lives and works in the Exton PA area and has devoted himself to furthering his understanding of movement related disorders. He teaches continuing education and operates a private practice. More information can be found at Kinetx.org and feel free to like us at our facebook page.

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