The Daily Quest

INSIGHTS

Spineless society

As a movement coach and rehabilitation professional, I must agree with spine specialists, there are far too many people with bad posture! Everywhere we go we see people burying their heads down into their electronic devices. It’s severely abnormal for the human body to be placed in such high degree of spinal and skull flexion for an excessive period of time on a regular basis. Why do I say that? Well.. Fetal or Pronated positions are one of our foundational primal patterns for human beings. Pronation, widely known as Flexion, pulls the Human Movement System (HMS) into the midline of the body. We excessively sit or are constantly in a Fetal or Pronated position every day of our lives. Working, eating, commuting, television, the list is bountiful. This epidemic of a sedentary lifestyle is reeking havoc on the functionality of The Human System.
The load that is placed on the spine from excessive flexion can irritate the disks in between the vertebrae and cause Subluxation (Herniation of the disks). This causes severe pain surrounding the spine, spasticity and even nerve impingement can occur. Additionally, we create a cascade of dysfunctional Inter-muscular Coordination – The ability of the neuromuscular system to allow muscles to work together with proper activation and timing between them (NASM essentials of Personal Fitness Training third edition). Moreover, it manifests gross Arthrokinetic dysfunction – A Biomechanical and neuromuscular dysfunction in which forces at the joint are altered, resulting in abnormal joint movement and proprioception (NASM essentials of Personal Fitness Training third edition).This is why Chiropractors, Movement therapists like myself and others are so busy! People are in more pain than ever because of their cell phones.
Compensatory movement can be viewed similar to this: The Human body is perfectly designed to function and keep us alive by allowing us to get from point A to point B. Or even from point A to point G or X. As we encounter stress on regular basis, those we are conscience of and those we are not conscious of, effects the body and as a result, forces the system to adapt its movement based on the joint dysfunctions acquired by stressful stimuli or insult.
Studies have shown that traumatic stressful events are stored in the memory center of the brain called the Hippocampus. From a survival stand point, this is an extremely logical process to possess in order to continually allow our bodies to adapt to our ever changing environment. For example, it’s more vital for our brain to recall not that, ‘there’s a lovely tiger lily field behind that rock over there’, but it should recall that ‘there is a Cobra den behind that rock’. Makes sense right? I mean we get the biggest releases of dopamine (Neurotransmitter that is responsible for making us feel good for things that cause pleasure), several of them being staving alive, eating, sleeping, having and passing on our genes. Our industrialized lifestyle forces us into daily activities that deteriorate our movement capabilities.

Excessive sitting is now the new smoking. Type two diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/). We are like zombies addicted to our devices and over stimulated with LED pixels that our brains cannot shut off because it does not know the difference between night and day despite still releasing melatonin (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side). Tight pectorals, carpels (anterior portion of the forearm), and over developed fingers from excessive systemic texting and typing are causing more pain symptoms. Despite our technological and scientific advances, we as human beings are moving worse than ever before.

The Industrial Paradox.

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games displayed amazing feats of athleticism and competition. Leaving viewers with questions as to what these world class athletes do to boost sport execution. Conversely, athletes are constantly striving to find the elusive edge to boost performance.

Having been in the fitness and rehabilitation industry for over thirteen years,  I have seen and experienced many trends come and go. A particular technique created a frenzy, reasoning  that if it works for them, it must work for me.

The modality had claims to give athlete’s the cure that suffered from chronic pain. I recall in the early 2005 when “Self Myofacial Release” was introduced as the tool to eliminate pain, tightness, and weakness that plagued many people. Described as, applying self weighted pressure throughout an area of soft tissue where tightness and plain is located. Sometimes it could increase range of motion or sometimes it would worsen. Inconsistencies abounded and overtime it became scrutinized and disregarded as a true restorative protocol.

Not long thereafter a movement screening test was introduced as a ground breaking protocol to identify and correct faulty movement patterns. Using a series of movement deviation tests to objectively grade movement quality. An overall score would then determine that person’s risk for injury. Furthermore, generalized corrective exercises would be prescribed for certain scores. Many trainers and participants found themselves performing the same so called corrective exercises daily for months and even years without consistent results. If a tool is professed to be truly corrective, should it not correct the issue at hand and not require habitual exercises? The approach became harshly criticized and dismissed by many industry leaders.

More and more systems and protocols spawned with mixed or inconsistent results that are not in harmony with Bio-mechanics, despite the best of intentions results prove to be scanty. Industry professionals have an obsession with addressing only the outcomes of the Human Movement System. Attempts to improve motor control by prescribing motor learning programs is subjective and inconsistent. If poor mobility is an issue, then prescribing mobility exercises or soft tissue releasing techniques is chosen. Strength deficits? Implement strength building exercises. These examples may seem like the correct approach however, rather than looking superficially at outcomes a more profound strategy is required.

Perturbation or irritation of homeostasis is stress. Insults to homeostasis can come in multiple forms such as physical, environmental, emotional, mental, and thermal forms. As a result, this can cause the body to form Joint Dysfunctions (JDS).  Joint Dysfunctions are planer specific joint motions that cannot tolerate load. This is also defined as motor control deficits. The body then detours around these deficits, the body does this likely as a mechanism for survival. Furthermore, this aversion leads to compensatory movement(s), which results in faulty movement patterns, the two goes hand in hand. The bi-product to Joint Dysfunction leads to symptoms such as tightness, adhesion’s, loss of strength, mobility, power, coordination, balance, the list goes on.

Compensatory movement is the process by which the body operates with lost resources. All movement under these conditions are sub-par. If these lost resources are not made available to the central nervous system, movement patterns will continue to deteriorate. Tissues take up a larger role and suffer over time. Attempting to intervene by means of strength programs, motor skill development, mobility techniques, or massage approaches will only bolster compensatory movement if at first restoring lost joint motions are not properly addressed. These things in themselves are not wrong  however, the manner in which they are implemented is. One can not place fitness on dysfunction. To illustrate; if you have a weak spinal stabilizers, attempting to develop six pack abs with abdominal exercises will not correct the underlining issues of weak stabilizers.

The phenomenon of Protective Muscle Guarding is always apart of the complicated riddle of dysfunction. This is the central nervous system’s natural ability to guard from further injury by tightening tissues surrounding a joint. This in retrospect is a good thing because it prevents movement to a degree where instability and dysfunction are present. The common approach for this mechanism is releasing the tension by stretching or tissue release techniques. Why change what the nervous system deems necessary for survival without insuring it is in a better state of function after intervention?

To illustrate, after sustaining a cut on the superficial layer of skin, the body immediately goes into action to stop the bleeding, prevent infection, and restore homeostasis. As a result, a scab begins to form. Similarly, attempts to change the tissue tone from protective muscle guarding tends to exacerbate the issue rather than aiding the healing process. The majority of interventions lack a system of checks and balances to tangibly view progress and identify glitches between the joint’s and central nervous system.

The strategy to address the profound deficit’s is RESET. “Rehabilitation, fitness, and performance professionals typically assess movement outcomes and go no deeper than addressing a motor learning program to address the flawed outcomes. RESET goes much deeper by addressing Motor Control deficits to directly improve motor patterns and indirectly improve motor learning and all movement outcomes..” as stated by the developer of RESET. These results are mediocre at best and if there are any results they tend to be short lived. This approach is not entirely incorrect, the argument I and many of my colleagues are making is that it does not address the cardinal deficits.

Bruce Lee stated that he does not know styles or genres. He uses techniques that are most effective in order to accomplish his goal. This is the origin and philosophy of his martial art Jeet Kun Do. The goal? Disarm, damage, or win against your opponent in the most efficient and effective way possible. Bruce Lee did not reinvent the wheel he simply utilized all tools available, combined with his own knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. That is what RESET provides along with REFORM. A combination of physical training, nutrition counseling, psychological life training, and true restorative therapy.

In conclusion, before implementing an exercise or rehabilitation modality with the idea that it will work for me because it worked for them may leave you with more questions than answers. Professional athletes are in their positions because of their unique gifts and their performance may not always reflect an exercise or rehabilitation program that works for everyone.

You cannot fire a cannon from a canoe.

From the commencement of my fitness career I observed movment being broken down into categories. Multiple areas of the gym riddled with machines labeled biceps, triceps, chest, back, legs and the popular abdominals. A well intentioned member without knowledge on exercise can simply sit in a chair adjust the seat setting and push or pull their hearts away without needing to think twice. Not a bad trade off when you have spent  all day driving your kids around town, making decisions at the office, and paying bills. Sometimes it is nice to have someone do the in depth thinking for you. From my personal perspective as a dancer, I never thought of the body operating in a compartmentalized fashion. If I wanted to learn a move I had to contemplate it in my mind, implement repetition developing specific motor learning skills, recruiting my entire body. Even if regression was needed to develope the desired skill all parts of were still utilized.

I am writing to tell you there is no such thing as a shoulder. No such thing as the hip, or even knee. An arguable paradox indeed. But why do we refer and think of the Human Movement System as inanimate objects that operates autonomously? If the big toe is hurt are not your your entire movment capabilities? If a shoulder is injured does it not force compensatory actions to adapt to the damage? The Human Movment System operates on laws of global synergistic harmony.

There lies a superficial muscular system that is referred to as Prime-movers and there lies a profound muscular system at is know as the stabilizers. Think of the stabilizers like the guide wires on a large boat, keeping the ship stable and rigid to withstand the wind, water currents and sometimes a violent storm. Bringing me to my main point and the title of this posting, You cannot fire a cannon from a canoe. What do I mean by that? A cannon is powerful, large and can cause a severe amount of damage to an intended target. A canoe is slender, formed of light framework and propelled by paddles capable of handling the most calm currents of water. A cannon on a canoe and attempting to fire it would prove disastrous for the canoe and its passengers. This is precisely what is occurring in fitness and sports programming. The obsession with svelete figures, round pectorals, firm buttocks, and toned arms is creating a generation of dysfunctional people from a movment perspective.

Exercise selection and reccomendations by coaches, instructors and trainers is littered with flexion inspired movements  such as; crunches and sit up variations. Linear exercises such as Olympic  inspired weight lifting, dead lifting, bench pressing and many others. These exercises are not entirely wrong, the question is how much do they consume in a program? Placing an undo emphasis on developing the superficial musculature can lead to a dysfunctional movement capabilities, deconditioned deep stabilizers that or out of sync with the superficial system. Imbalances such as these contributes to length tension relationship unevenness, discordant movment patters, proprioceptive inefficiency, and decordination. In contrast, introducing and integrating exercises that are multiplaner, multidimensional, multidirectional that is propriaceptivly enriched creates a more rigid, more functional system that allows the body to be more effective at ballistic demands as well as, dynamic system that works in congruency with the outer unit.  This allow the neuromuscular system to recruit muscles at a higher level based on the demand.

Paul Check gave this topic headlines in the early 1999 in his segment tilted ” Scientific Core Conditioning from the C.H.E.K Institute. The “Guide wires” or inner unit of the spine are the transverse abdomens, multifidus, internal obliques, pelvic floor, and diaphragm. The outer unit of the trunk are the rectus abdominas, external oblique and erector spinae. Of course the outer are important to the overall balance of a well built ship. It would however, be functionally ineffective without the stabilizing support of the unner unit which stabilizes the spine and provides the outer unit with the support it needs to be strong and rigid. Over developing the superficial components creates excess tension, disrupting the harmony between internal and external structures. Furthermore, the superficial front line which originates at the dorsal phalanges of the foot and works its way north to the mastoid process, linking many parts together such as the sternocleidomastoid, sternum, rectus abdominis patella and quadriceps can become locked in a concentrically shortend loaded position. This has been shown by Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains.

So what are you suppose to do now? Should you throw away the machines, barbells, kettle bells, and heavy dumbbells? may be wondering- not necessarily. Back to my original illustration, you must rebuild your canoe to handle the load of a cannon. A canoe decorated in war paint just can’t do the job necessary for tasks of daily life, performance and weekend warrior actives. Within the REFORM method, I systematically address each area the body with an inside out approach versus an outside in. It’s not always about how much weight you can push, pull, squat or throw. Prime movers are taken into consideration however, that is a small piece of the program.

REFORM’s foundation is centered on building an internal structure that is first neuromuscularly sound, applying instability as a core stimuli. This leads to a stronger outer unit. Do not build a canoe with skull and crossbones painted on its ports with a cannon bigger than the canoe itself. Instead build a warship with multiple cannons, that is structurally sound, with the war paint on its ports.

 

You must learn the rules before you break them.

Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is an art form similar to that of a chess match. Every move is vital and every move can result in a loss. Unlike organized team sports, the victory is separated by a point system. Conversly, victory in  Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is obtained by two factors; The point system, or the majestic victory via submission. The ranking system is separated by color of belt. White-Belt or novice to Black-Belt or expert. This is obtained by tireless hours of instruction, implementation and meditation. At my old Jiu-Jitsu school west of Chicago, I heard of rumors around town that near by Dojo’s (Japanese for Training complex) professors would pay for their Black-Belts. This would give the illusion to some unbeknownst students that their instructor was a master but behind their facod they were artificial. I label people of this sort Internet professionals & YouTube disciples. What’s my point? Being labeled as a professional, coach, instructor, master, or  trainer must first  be initiated by comprehension of the basic rules of their respective feilds, before one can place a label  beside his or her name.

The explosion of group fitness in the past several years has provided an avenue for people who want to exercise and get in shape an affordable and convientient solution to do so. Classes are typically 60 minutes or less, relatively affordable and provide a group atmosphere to allow people to be motivated by community. These are all positive outcomes of such a new trend. This has also opened the door for many novice individuals to take advantage of this free for all. Many organizations hold one or two day seminars and after compelting it can be allowed to instruct people how to perform complex Olympic lifts, static stretches and quasi massage techniques. Moreover, some group fitness classes pair continuous high intensity exercises with complex movements with dozens of participants with loud music. What is wrong with this picture? This is no different from the counterfeit Black- Black I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Reaping the benefits of the industry without paying their dues.

I was giving a small seminar to a very successful C____F____ Gym. As I began to speak about  planes of movement a critical element of Human Biomechanics, they looked at me like a deer in headlights. Completely ignorant of these vital laws.  B-Boys mimic dynamic moves they saw on Red Bull BC ONE without having or developing rhythm. Jiu-Jitsu players want to use ankle locks while still a White-Belt becasuse they saw it on UFC Fight Night. Coaches want to teach people how to Olympic Lift without understanding the Law of Pronation and Supination. Group Fitness owners with a Business and Marketing degree generate six figure incomes while members unknowingly sabatoge themselves with untintelligent, robotic exercise. This paradox is saturated in my industry and many other arts. To sum it up; understand  the basics, be humble, strive  for knowledge and perspective and with years you will have wisdom.


Your Gut bacteria is more important than you know.

 

 

Will avoiding touching your hands around that public door handle really prevent you from contacting the so called bad germs? Is using your hand sanitizer really killing off viruses that cause us to get sick? Does antibiotics cause more harm then good for that nagging infection? What happened to the old school motto of putting dirt on it and toughing it out? Well…Things are not always as they seem. The hidden world of Bacteria are ubiquitous. They live on us, inside us and all around us, this is the Microbiome.

Our GI tract is 70% of our bodies’ immune system. In Addition, there are more bacteria in our gut than there are cells in our body. Recent findings show the hidden catalyst in your weight loss may lie in the balance of your gut flora. The wide spread overuse of antibiotics, medications such as PPI (protein pump inhibitors), anti-acids, artificial and processed foods are the contributors of the diagnosis “Dysbiosis”.

Amoxicillin and Tylosin represent more than 80% of antibiotics prescribed in American children. Studies with mice show that early exposure to antibiotics have a significantly higher bone density, fat and muscle mass than their counterparts (Missing Microbes, Martin J. Blaser, MD page 162-163). Obesity and leanness can be predicted with 90% accuracy just by examining the gut bacteria. Additionally, studies show that when microbes that were taken from obese mice and placed into germ free mice, the germ free lean mice gain weight. In contrast, when germ free lean mice microbes were given to obese mice they did not gain weight. Therefore, obesity is much more complex than just the food we eat and how much we exercise.

The increase of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohns disease, Celiac disease, Alergies, Obesity, Ulcerative Colitis has a link with other widespread increases in Western Europe and North America. The explosion of Antibiotics, C-sections, industrialized countries, packaged food without expiration, hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap are also factors in this quasi-mystery. Are you clean and unhealthy, or dirty and healthy?

Gravity & it’s effects on the HMS (Human Movement System).

On earth there are gravitational forces that pull us downward. This constant compression affects every joint & system in the human body. Ranging from blood flow, to propulsion of the Gut and even the body’s inate need the need to stay balanced and upright. We will address these as they relate to Human Movement.

The Human body moves in two major ways; Pronation and Supination. These terms describe Collapsing (Pronation) & Propulsion (Supination). In other words Sit and Stand. They are synonymous with Human Movement. Why? They are the movements that give into or move against gravity. In space there is no Gravity or downward pull. To illustrate; Astronauts face daunting effects from life in space. They must spend hours daily performing resistance training to combat muscle atrophy & the decrease in bone density. These conditions result from zero gravity, defined as having no load bearing on the Human frame. Subsequently, leading to the decrease in Bone density & frailty. Similar processes occur for Muscles. With no sense of Posture or Gait lack of load leads to impotent muscles that begin to deteriorate in a short period of time. Conversely, on Earth when one is standing the bones and muscles are in effect pushing against gravity which  makes us under load.

Lack of gravity can also affect the body’s balance system. Human’s posses a complex integrated set of neural circuits that allows us to maintain balance, proprioceptive sensors in our joints and muscles that allow us to understand body orientation and interpret vision to remain upright and balanced. In space this complex system is dramatically altered because there is no center for orientation.

SEDENTARY HUMANS

An influx of sedentary lifestyles globally has been unprecedented in the past two decades. We sit for an hour to commuting to work, sit another eight hours at work, sit around hour committing back home, exercise for forty five minutes, sit for dinner, then sit another three hours watching the game or our favorite television series. Being in this collapsed position for extended periods has been shown to cause gastrointestinal issues, cardiac arrest, deep vein thrombosis, chronic back pain and obesity. Why? Simply, Humans need movement. Movement is key to a healthy life & body.

My father-in-law, who was born in Cambodia, is eighty years old and has no Diabetes, Heart Disease or Cancer. As a young adult he spent his working days not in a chair, but moving to perform his daily routines. This lifetyle unbeknownst to him contributed to his healthy elder years. Supination & Locomotion or Gait can improve food propulsion, defecation, increased blood flow to the lower quadrants, subtract pressure on the spine, increase heart strength and Brain health. The American heart association’s guidelines for physical activity are thirty minutes per day of Aerobic (with oxygen) exercise such as walking. Just that little can have a long term effect on one’s health.

On the other hand, what happens when a person has some type of medical issue that requires hospitalization and they are immobilized as a result? The extended and abnormal time being sedentary and supine (On Back), can cause scores of health complications; Bed Sores, Pneumonia, atrophy of muscles and Pulmonary Embolisms. Taken to the extreme-the individual becomes completely unable to move on their own because their muscles have become impotent-much like astronauts who do not use resistance training; our bodies need to move in order to maintain the ability to move. Supine & sedentary, increases & Locomotion becomes absent. I see some so called “Elderly” using electronic mobile wheelchairs to get to their destinations, perhaps for seemingly good reasons for choosing this method of transportation. But do not these results of the various circumstances we have discussed in of Astronauts in space radiate in similarity?

Everything Should Be Made As Simple As Possible, But Not Simpler.
– Albert Einstein


The physical laws that govern human biomechanics can be easily understood when divided into basic components:

  • All movement is either pronation (collapsing or sitting) or supination (propulsion or standing). Accelerating or decelerating;
  • Pronation and supination are related to gait (Ambulation) and posture;
  • Ambulation occur within three primary planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse;
  • All joints move in one or multiple planes of motion.

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ALL SHOW and NO GO!


For decades the western world has been obsessed with physical aesthetics. Fueled by the explosion of bodybuilding in the early 1970s and documentaries like “Pumping Iron,” the desire to enhance physical appearance by massive hypertrophy became an obsession for some athletes and non-athletes. Body building magazines, high protein diets, and strength training programs were standard practices for enthusiasts. When I was growing up a common question among my buddies at the gym was “How much do you bench press?” It’s still a good question, although the focus has shifted toward development of abdominal muscles. All this leads me to wonder: how did training to enhance looking good without a shirt, or to have a great derrière for yoga pants, become intertwined with athletic performance? Does the ability to bench-press more than double your body weight actually provide explosive functional strength? Do coveted “washboard abs” determine speed and quickness? Will that derrière help hold a difficult pose? Let’s examine scientific facts to answer these questions.

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REFORM INC BY NILE BRATCHER

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