Why you need to do unnatural things

The term “natural” gets thrown around all the time. It has many different contexts and meanings. One thing that has struck me recently is that people aren’t willing to do stuff to fix or optimize their bodies. I could speculate on the various reasons as to why. But, one thought struck me: people don’t realize that our environment, culture, and society are not set up to optimize their body and performance.

Let’s look at sitting as an example. To examine sitting, let’s look at why it is unnatural, how our environment/culture/society exacerbates this, how it affects us, and how to fix it.

Why: Our bodies are not designed to sit. In fact, they are designed to either move, squat low (ass to grass), or lay down. Sitting requires that our hip flexors are engaged while in a semi-lengthened state. Lot’s of sitting also causes compression of the lumbar spine, turning the glutes off, tightening hip flexors, and jamming your femur into the front of your hip socket.

How: In our society, for most jobs, travelling and most of our education, we sit! Unless we do something active as a job, most of our day is spent sitting.

Effect: Tight hip flexors can turn off the glutes, lead to lower back pain, hip pain, hip movement asymmetries. Lumbar spine compression can cause back pain and core dysfunction. Femurs jammed forward in hip sockets can interact with or cause the tight hip flexors, and then lead to all the same issues of tight hip flexors, thereby preventing full hip extension and flexion.

How to fix: Putting your spine into extension through the Mackenzie Push-Up, using the Egoscue method to reset your hip flexor tension, trigger point your glutes and hip flexors, stretch your hip flexors.

To undo the damage of doing something unnatural for your body (sitting), you need to do seemingly unnatural things (in terms of what our culture/society considers natural) to reverse the damage (trigger point, stretching, therapy). 

Let’s look at some other unnatural stuff in our lives here in the western world and seemingly “unnatural” fixes for them:

  • Distractions (phones, media, social media) and meditation/mindfulness
  • Shoes and foot exercises
  • Lights and sleep hygiene
  • Shitty quality food and supplements
  • Sedentary lifestyle and the need for crossfit or “exercise programs”
  • Desk jobs and shoulder mobilization exercises

Your life is full of unnatural things, conventions, and demands. I hope you’ll consider that with all this unnatural (for your body) stuff in your environment, you’ve gotta do some unnatural (for society/culture) stuff to fix it!

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Hardware vs Software: Part I – Quality vs Quantity

It seems that strength and conditioning coaches just want their athletes to perform lifts and exercises at a certain threshold of skill, and then they just don’t care anymore. At that point, they want the numbers of the training to reflect the results. By this, I mean that they’ll want the aerobic capacity, strength, power, and heart rate of an athlete to be the best values that they can be, with minimal concern over how that happens.
 
This is a fine tact to take. However, it operates on the assumption that we move perfectly, or close to it. The sad truth is that most of us do not move perfectly. We do not have the software to properly run our hardware.
 
Why don’t we move perfectly? Well because our environment and culture causes us to be sitting for long periods of time. It causes us to be hunched over while texting, or with our shoulders forward while typing.
 

Continue reading Hardware vs Software: Part I – Quality vs Quantity

Joe DeFranco’s Limber 11

Here’s a great idea from a well known trainer in New Jersey: The Limber 11. (Tim Ferris calls him the trainer of NFL Monsters)

I like a lot of these mobility and release exercises and definitely recommend them to hockey players. In the next few weeks, I think I’ll do my own version specifically for hockey players. In the meantime try these out to keep yourself nice and limber.

http://www.defrancostraining.com/ask-joe/44-flexibilitymobility/302-joe-ds-qlimber-11q-flexibility-routine.html

Tight vs Loose: What’s your set point?

I’m currently in playoffs, and I’m seeing a lot of tight bodies on my team. I’m seeing players going to trainers with sore backs, or sore hips, or sore shoulder. The most common thing that they say is “I’m tight”. I’m finding it a battle myself to keep all my tissues loose and relaxed with so much game play. 

In this article, I want to talk about the benefits and costs of having your muscles have a set point that’s loose vs tight.

Continue reading Tight vs Loose: What’s your set point?

http://fatiguescience.com/2013/09/03/infographic-why-athletes-should-make-sleep-a-priority-in-their-daily-training/

http://fatiguescience.com/2013/09/03/infographic-why-athletes-should-make-sleep-a-priority-in-their-daily-training/

Hip Mobility Exercises II

Here are some more hip mobility exercises that I personally complete, and have our athletes with tight hips do on a regular basis. They are designed to both stretch the musculature around the joint, but also to address the tightness of the joint capsule. My influences for these exercises come from “Stretch to Win” (which I’ve blogged about previously) and Dr. Kelly Starret’s amazing book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”. Enjoy and post any questions you may have. This video will be accompanied by an article talking about banded distractions and their benefit at a later date.