Friday, March 8, 2019

Circadian Rhythm of Life and How to Enhance It

The weekend marks another spring forward time change.  Setting the clocks forward often means a loss of an hour of sleep for many people.  The reason many people have a hard time with time changes is because our bodies naturally adopt a certain ebb and flow to the sleep/wake cycle.  We can essentially train our self to fit our lifestyle.  This can be good and bad.

The good.  Humans greatest physical attribute is perhaps its ability to adapt to its environment.  Cold, hot, sea level, mountain living, city, country, much like a coyote, humans will figure it out and thrive. 

The bad.  We are so good at manipulating our environment to survive, we have altered our natural rhythms of life that we have built into our cell biology.  We are finding this to have some serious health consequences.  

First, some science.  Chronobiology is the study of circadian rhythms.  Humans have built in biological clocks (an innate timing device) in every tissue and every organ.   Biological clocks produce and control circadian rhythms.  There is a master switch in the brain that is composed of 20,000 neurons called the suprachiasmatic nucleus that controls the biological clocks.  This resides in the hypothalamus and receives input through the eyes.  This is an important distinction as this will show the significance and power of light.  

Light has the ability to turn on and off genes that control biological clocks.  Because of this powerful impact light has,  it becomes very important how much we get and when we get it.  To jump start a day, let sunlight hit your eyes.  Sunlight has blue light.  It creates a power trigger for alertness.  Equally important as the sun sets, eliminate or diminish all blue light to allow the body to start producing melatonin (sleepiness hormone).  This also coincides with a slight reduction in body temperature.   Staring at a computer or cell phone is just triggering the biological clocks that it still daytime.  In the absence of light, humans are still wired for around a 24 hours of sleep/wake.  Light just influences how we go about regulating other circadian rhythms in the body.  

Our natural circadian rhythm is built around a 24 hour cycle(day).  There are also other parts of our biology that have circadian rhythms in it.  One of the most important is cell metabolism or energy.  Every cell has an organelle called mitochondria in it.  Mitochondria are the power houses of energy production.  They have a fusion/fission pattern.  If this is disrupted, energy production is compromised.  This pattern is linked with circadian rhythm of the body.  How and when energy is produced is in direct relationship to the health of your rhythm.  Disrupt your circadian rhythms and disrupt your mitochondrial ability to produce energy. 

Performance can even be potentially thought of as having a rhythm.  It has been speculated that peak alertness is around 10am.  Coordination around 2pm and peak cardiovascular and strength around 5pm.  I have heard these numbers thrown around before but couldn't find much on the origins.  Peak body low temperature is around 4am and peak body high temperature is around 7pm.  Perhaps they were able to coordinate it with this.  I for one have never felt strong in the morning when lifting weights.

Other organs also operate with a circadian rhythm.  The liver is a prime example.  Liver enzymes that help to convert calories to energy are stopped being produced at night.  It is producing enzymes to store energy. To take in a large meal before sleeping then disrupts this natural rhythm.  Like light, food then becomes a powerful environmental trigger for supporting the natural circadian rhythm.  This is becoming known as time restricted feeding.  There have been many health benefits shown for creating a smaller window for eating.  Instead of 16 hours of eating, trying to get to 10-12 and even 8 hours.  For myself, I've been trying to do 10-12 as this allows me to still support biking/lifting and a social life.  

Skeletal muscle makes up 40% of all tissues in our bodies.  It also contains biological clocks that influence circadian rhythm.  The last decade has brought lots of research on studying how exercise influences this rhythm and whether there truly is an optimal time of day for exercise.  There have been many studies of mice that show that exercise influences and enhance the health of the biological clocks, but to date no consensus has been shown at what time or what is "best."  Most studies have been done with endurance activities, but resistance exercises have also shown to have an impact on the genes and gene expression of the biological clocks.  

As humans we have built in rhythms.  These rhythms drive almost all aspects of our physiology.  Because we are so amazingly adaptable, we can fight against these natural rhythms for years, perhaps decades, before any "wear and tear" or signs of distress show.  There is a difference between adequate and optimal though.  Science is in agreement, for optimal health, the circadian rhythm must be respected and nourished.  

The 3 most powerful tools we control are LIGHT, FOOD and EXERCISE.  Establish routines for all three.  There will be arguing over the minutia, don't let this paralyze you.  Get 7-9 hours.  Eat in a certain window of time consistently.  Try to exercise everyday around the same time when possible.  Following these three principles will give perhaps the best foundation for a healthier lifestyle.    

Friday, February 1, 2019

7 Ways To Train Your Grip

Since the earliest strongman days, feats of grip strength have often been demonstrated.  Lifting weird or unstable objects have been synonymous with strength.  Many sports, from rock climbing to wrestling, rowing to Jiu-Jitsu,  require extraordinary grip strength to be successful.   Not only is grip a requirement for sports, it has a very high correlation with health and lifespan.  Grip strength continues to show a high correlation with low cardiovascular risk and longer lifespan.  Improvements in grip strength have been shown to decrease Blood Pressure by up to 10-15 units of measurement.  This was studied after early fighter pilots were passing out at higher speeds.  Pilots that gripped the joystick with an intense squeeze stayed conscious.  This act kept the blood flow to the brain adequate.

 Quite often in certain lifts, it is the grip that gives out first.  A secure grips gives the brain/body positive feedback that allows more power to be generated.  The grip is neurologically tied to the rotator cuff muscles.  Often the first thing I will do with a patient or athlete with a rotator cuff injury is to find safe ways to train the grip.

JL Holdsworth owner of Spot Athletics in Columbus OH did a great presentation at the 2018 SWIS in Toronto on training grip.  He outlined 7 ways to train it.  JL is wold champion power lifter and also competed at the highest level in grip competitions.  I was fortunate enough to meet him at a RPR seminar a few years ago and he did an excellent job presenting then as well.

7 Grip Training Methods

1.  Support.  This is your classic hold in hands for time.  Your classic deadlift or farmers carry is a good example.

2.  Crush.  The handshake.  Captains of Crush is a common tool.  The fingers are the movers and the thumb is support.

3.  Pinch.  Holding two 10lb weight plates together and not letting them fall apart.

4.  Friction.  This is something that can slide through your hands.  Climbing a rope.  Doing pull ups with a towel.

5.  Clamping/Crimping.  This is done almost exclusively with the fingers applying pressure into the palms.  Think rock climbing on small crimps and jersey tackling in football.

6. Forearms.  Flexion and Extension as well as pronation and supination.  The old school wrist roller held at arms length.  Holding a dumbbell and doing pronation and supination around the elbow joint.

7.  Wrist.  Ulnar and Radial deviation.  The wrist is the only thing moving.  A common way is to use a hammer and control the uneven weighted object into radial and ulnar movements.

Grip Training is not often scene in many strength programs.  As you can see there are several styles of grip training and each style has to numerous of examples to list.  But, what can't be overstated is the health impacts developing a strong grip can have and also its importance in sports.  For these reasons, grip should be given a higher level of importance then it usually is given.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Growing Focus by Eliminating Multitasking

To improve anything in life requires first and foremost focus.  Focus is the ability to block out all distractions and keep a singular target for the goal at hand.

"Keep the goal, the goal."  Dan John

In todays day and age, it almost has become a bragging right to talk about all the things you got done at once.  I listened to this podcast, returned emails, played with my kid and ate my breakfast.  It's similar to having pride in how little sleep you get.  

We carry around these tiny super computers that bring dings and vibrations when anyone in the world makes a comment or a like to a post or a photo.  We get included into group chats.  We get texts that are expected to be answered within a few minutes.  From this, it is very easy for a quick check to become a lost 5 minutes...15 minutes.  

But times they are a changin'. 

Multitasking has been shown to be pretty much a sugar coated way of saying I'm ok with doing sub par work in a few areas of my life.  There has been shown to be a noticeable loss of seconds when we switch tasks.  Perhaps talking on the phone and doing dishes may not be that big of deal (or is it, I'll come back to this) but driving and talking is. 

They have now shown that driving while texting is the equivalent of driving with 3x the legal alcohol limit.  Doing two cognitive tasks at once is impossible for the human brain.  In fact, there have been some research that even suggests that it is decreasing the brain volume size when we multitask a lot. 

Outside of the dangers of obviously driving or doing anything with machinery, I think the true cost of  multi tasking is that we are training ourselves to get distracted.   Habits are being formed.  A life is being adjusted and created.  We are what we allow ourselves to become, good or bad.  

People understand training.  If you want to get stronger, run longer, move faster, you have to train your body and it will happen.   The whole body will respond to different stimuli.  No gravity and your bones will become brittle.  Don't move your hips, you get immobile.  Ride your bike everyday, your aerobic system will improve.  Practice sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day every day for years and it will get good at sitting.  The body is magical this way.  It becomes what you do.  It gets good at what we repeatedly do.

Multitasking is training the brain to get slower, to perform less, to accept a different level of "good."  It's training your brain to be easily distracted to the next fleeing thought, emotion, feeling, ding and pretty bauble.  We are getting better at being busy with an outcome of less accomplished and what is  less quality.  Multitasking is allowing lack of quality into our life and I think it is creating  stress in our lives.

Back to our example of laundry and the phone.  Surely if anything applied to successful multitasking, something as benign as this, would fit the bill.  I'll politely disagree.  Again, you are teaching yourself to be distracted.  You are teaching yourself to lack focus.  Your Focus muscle is getting smaller and weaker.  

"The way we do small things is the way we do everything."  Robin Sharma

You may think your giving your family or friends your full attention, but again, research has shown you are not.  You are in two places in your mind.  Give me your attention is one of the most powerful acts and also one of the most prized possessions.  So when someone give you theirs, be respectful.  

My favorite story I ever heard about Kobe Bryant was from Kobe himself.  He talks about how he started to the process of training focus.  2:20 on the video.

When we give our focus to a task, good things will happen.  I personally think meditation is becoming so popular, not just because it works (it does) but because it's teaching focus.  What we train we get better at, remember.  There is carryover.  Focus allows us to be a better parent, partner, spouse, worker, craftsman, or friend.  It feels good to apply our focus on things.  We call it flow.  Whole seminars and books are written about finding flow.  Being in the present.  Flow is just the ability to focus and block out all distractions.  

"Concentrate all your thoughts on the work at hand.  The suns rays do not burn until brought to a focus."  Alexander Graham Bell

Every time you block out the task, stay distraction free, say no to multitasking and focus with singular intent, you will do a better job, have a better outcome.  Have a quicker outcome.  But, more importantly your focus muscle will strengthen.  

At first shoot for a few minutes.  If your reading, read and immerse yourself in the words.  What is it trying to say.  When thoughts show up, which they will.  Acknowledge them, flick it way and go back to reading.  After the few minutes, then address your thought.  Sometimes just writing down the thought, allows us to go back for another few minutes of solid focusing.  

Some practice tips are working in 15-20 min blocks.  Are bodies are almost programmed to move every 20 minutes through a process called creep or deformation.  After 20 min of not moving the soft tissue starts to mold to that position at the cellular level.  But if you get up and move before then, it restarts.  90 min to 2 hours are another chunks of time to be used, with a brake that can be anything from 5-30 minutes.

Focus isn't just about doing stuff though.  Lots of people need to focus on shutting off.  Truly just letting the mind relax.  Sitting and thinking about all the stuff you need to do is not taking a time out. Recover.  As the famous saying goes, time wasted wasn't wasted time.  

Practice no phones with people you are talking too.  Practice just allowing one task to be done at once.  See it to the end and move on.  Get better.  One of my big fears in life is to wake up in a 10 years and be no better at manual therapy. To be the same.  To literally have the old cliche of 10 years of work, but it was one year, repeated 10 times.  How easy it for the same days to become weeks, the weeks a year.

In our clinic, I try to make a conscious decision each appointment to take literally 3 seconds and remind myself, have a new experience.  Accumulate new experiences.  Give this patient my focus.  

I thought a lot about what I wanted 2019 to be more like then the previous year.  It was focus.  In a weird twist ala M. Night Shyamalan style, I realized 2018 had taught me it.  A torn achillies basically forced me into a hyper focus rehab mode.  2-3x a day dedicated rehab with lots of my free reading being directed towards tendon and tendon health.  The result was I feel more fit and faster then even before the tear.  My understanding of tendons has improve leaps and bounds.  The first 6 months just flew by.  Flow.  As the focus slowed down, regular life become more normal again, but for one change, the first time I've started to really notice when I'm distracted.  I think it had been a gradual hardly noticeable slide, until it wasn't.  I could make lots of excuses, owning a business, wife, kids, hobbies, friends, fitness, continueing education, etc...but thats what they are, excuses.  Focus on the task at hand.  Then move to the next.  Build that Focus muscle.  Feed it and it will grow, multitask and it will starve.  

I'll leave you with this quote from the great Philosopher Yoda...

Monday, January 7, 2019

Understanding that Context is King

Context:  The preceding or ending event, word or speech that gives clarity to the meaning.

Perspective:  An individual thought or attitude towards something, point of view.

We live in a world where perspectives have become the foundation for many peoples truths.  It's becoming paramount that your perspective is equal to my perspective.  Instead of trying to decide what your perspective is coming from, we just say you have your right to view it that way and I have the right to view it my way.  Go on about our days.

Perspective isn't the same as opinion.  My favorite vehicle is a 4Runner.  That is an opinion.  If I start telling people to never by a Chevy because they always break down and you are dumb if you buy one, my opinion is slowly evolving into a perspective.  That perspective can get dangerous if I start associating my perspective onto others.  Context is needed to change both.  I may have bought a Chevy it broke down and maybe I felt dumb for buying one.  Now I feel that this is universal.  I search for more people that have had similar circumstances and low and behold, my perspective was confirmed.  This is called confirmation bias.  Context would be looking for how many percentage of vehicles were broken down.  There is work that has to be done.  Context takes work.

You have to be careful with statistics when understanding context.  There were only 10 4Runners brought in to Toyota dealers for problems.  Wow, there were 100 Chevy's brought in.  I told you 4Runners were way better!  Dig Deeper.  There were only 20 4Runners on the road.  There were a  1000 Chevys.  This changes the complete picture.

Last year, did you hear Yanni or Laurel?  I heard Laurel clear as day.

My whole family heard Yanni.  I just assumed we have different way of interpreting the acoustic vibrations, maybe the anatomy of the ear had something to do with it.

Now this was a simple and silly difference, but with a little research the answer was found.  What if it had been a bigger thing?

This has been common meme in social media.

In reality, it should really be more like this.

I often play a game with my oldest kid about comparing things.  Are apples and oranges similar or different.  I want her thinking about context.  To ask better questions.  Are you asking if their both fruits or similar color?  Things we can eat or things that grow in Michigan?

Context requires work and thinking and research.  It also will eliminate misunderstandings, misconceptions and perhaps allow for better conversations and relationships.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Season of Discontentment and Confusion: Evaluating Life Choices

Discontentment can be defined as dissatisfaction with ones circumstances.  There can be an unhappiness and even some resentment that can be subtly put up with.

The discontentment is enough perhaps to drive change, but instead of change, we get confusion.   In confusion we get genuine ignorance, paralysis by analysis and most deadly a life of a hypocrite.  This then eventually leads us back to discontentment.

How does this cycle be broken?  How do we get clarity?


Intention is paying attention to your thoughts and your actions, but most important, defining your beliefs.  What do you hold valuable and true?  Then we choose our actions with intent to live out those beliefs.

I would suggest that all your new years resolutions take a back seat to sitting down and writing out not goals, but things you believe in.  It is a time to define your values.  They can be big or small, but it should be written down and evaluated.

How do we evaluate?  We use the simple filter of a question.


First, define why you think it's important.  Then,  the much harder question, why you have not been doing it.  Judge your reasons.

1.  Make a list of things you believe in and find important.
2.  Why is that important to you.  Give it a story.  Story is what we tell ourselves deep down behind your reasons.
3.  Did you do this?  Yes.  Great job, move on.  No.  Why?  Figure out a few reasons.
4.  Make a plan to make a No a Yes.
5.  Look at your list 2x a Month

For Example from my own list.  
1.  Drink 100oz of water per day.
2.  Water is important for healthy body and muscle tissue.  My story.  I think better when I drink water.  I hate that feeling of a slight headache I get when I haven't drank enough.  I feel like I'm more prone to slight muscle strains when I don't drink as much and I have a way better emotional balance when I get to train unimpeded.  I'm just happier.
3.  Yes.

1.  Eat 2-3 serving of vegetables per day.
2.  Veggies supply a ton of micro nutrients that will be missing from your diet if you forgo.  My story.  I have less belly fat when I eat veggies.  It's pretty much filling up on good stuff more then bad stuff.  But deep down, it's probably more for vanity.
3.  No.  I pretty much sucked at this for the last few months.  I think I got derailed when I tried to do the vertical diet over late summer.  Except, I didn't give up any of my vices, beer with friends, donuts with kids, or the best burger in Grand Rapids (Louis Earl Butchery) by myself.  I had given up salads and cooking veggies in the oven.  Deeper, it's easy to be lazy.
4.  They say Americans eat the same 5 Veggies in their diet and they should be in the 20-30.  Going to make it an exploration game to get 2 new veggies per week till I get to 20.
5.  Keep track that at the end of the month I've attained new veggie exploration badge.

There are two examples to show how this process is done.  The more the beliefs we state are important match up to our actions and life, the more we can live in harmony with ourself and our world.  But, the opposite is also true.  The more we state something is important and the more we don't do what we think is true, the more discontentment arises.  Discontentment can be a good thing if it drives change. When we don't have intention, when we just keep going forward to tomorrow,  we will start to be a person that we probably won't like in the mirror.  If the discontentment does drive change, but we haven't taken the time to figure out why we aren't living our beliefs, we will invariably be in confusion and just go back to the status quo, thus driving the discontentment deeper.

Take a week if need be.  Look at your typical day and all the things you do now.  Evaluate all of them.

1.  Get 8 hours of sleep
2.  Drink water and pinch of salt on waking
3.  Drink 3 shots of espresso
4.  Be positive with the kids, no yelling at them.
5.  Eat only protein for breakfast
6.  Offer up something healthy to the kids, but be content with eating anything.
6.  Shower
7.  Go to the bathroom
8.  Brush teeth
9.  Don't listen to music in the car if I take the kids to school, so we have a conversation.
10.  Walk the dog if I'm not taking kids to school
11.  Enjoy the work day.  Become better at my craft.
12.  Be present with every single patient.  Learn something each encounter.  Why did last visit work or not work.
13.  Return 2 emails
14.  Drink lots of water at work
15.  Healthy snack somewhere in there at work.
16.  Cook dinner
17.  Hang with kids
18.  Read/write/recovery
19.  Hang with Friends 1-2x a week
20.  Night vitamins

These are what popped in my head quickly.  Each day for some people will be unique.  Mine is pretty much routine every single day.  Then evaluate what you wrote down.  Some will be beliefs like for me, drinking water upon waking.  Some will be responsibilities, like take the kids to school.  But from that task comes a belief.  That the time with them is important and great conversations can come from that time.  So I don't turn the radio on.

The more we can line up all our choices with our beliefs, the more congruency we will have and the more peace our days will enjoy.  Hopefully in 2019 you will be living a life of intention and clarity.

Blessing for 2019

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Seminar Recap: Frans Bosch, John Pryor and Leigh Egger

A few weeks ago I was able to attend the Rehab and Injury Prevention seminar by Bosch, Pryor and Egger.  It was held on the campus of University of North Carolina.

I first came across Frans Bosch with his book Running a few years ago and his book Strength Training and Coordination most recently.  Both books are excellent and should be read.  With that being said, the Training and Coordination book, If you are like me, needed several rereading of chapters.  I'm happy to say, that after the seminar many of the concepts became much clearer.

I'd thought I'd share a few concepts and notes that I'd written down and my overall take aways.

Mortal control is having enough stability.

One of the best explanations of Dynamic Systems theory is the self organization of high variability (start) with (middle) synergies (cooperation between a number of components that correct each others errors) to a stable end point (finish).

This then becomes a map of how to define training and rehab.  (my personal interpretation)

For example:  Self organization at the intramuscular level.  Fiber variability (using more) to fiber synergies, to a stable contraction.

Self organization at the intermuscular level.  Force variability to force synergies to stable contraction.

Analyze the mid stance in gait as it's the most stable.  Not push off.

Fundamental:  Experts have the most variability to reach the most precise endpoints.  The less variability you have to get to an endpoint, the more likely you get injured.

Slow twitch muscles have actually bigger elastic component.

One of the more interesting topics to me was the concept of muscle deformation and muscle gearing. This is a topic I've tried to read on and didn't come up with much.  Now,  knowing the main researcher was Roberts and how shape of the aponeurosis changes with pennation has lead me to really cool articles like this one.  Muscle Fiber angle, segment bulging and architectural gear ration in segmental muscle. 

I think the aponeurosis being able to expand on contraction freely is potentially one way manual therapy has an influence on muscle health.

Muscle gearing is a way for force sharing and helps to not allow shear to come into play.  Shear creates muscle injuries.  (deep dorsiflexion produces shear)  So training is designed to eliminate that position.  Resist it!

On contraction there is lateral expansion, (think trying to compress water)  lateral push forces, the aponeurosis gets tight and we get stability.  The aponeurosis bulks out.  Best way is isometrics.

Zooming out of this micro to macro is joint coupling.  Biotensegrity, the push and pull of forces combined build into bigger units.

Ankle stiffness is super important.  Can't be world class if there is dorsiflexion.

Running on grass will teach you to use the tendons better. (running over slightly different surfaces is one type of variability that is taught to teach better running)

Free hip needs to be higher in running.  (this will be a foundational drill)

Concepts of Co-contraction are big.  This is multiple muscles contracting to produce coordination as well as reducing degrees of freedom.

3 P's to Train Co-contractions.
1.  Pretension: Reduces slack to co-contracting
2.  Perturbations: Solve context related variability by co-contracting
3.  Pressure (time)  Solves slow feedback loops by co-contraction

Create the environment for both coordination and conditioning.  For example:  Run 20 meters with the weight plate out in front of you, looking through the hold.  At 20, stick it out to your side, keep running forward and keep looking at it through the hole.

Don't coach the process, coach the outcome.  (big deal)  Allow the athlete to figure it out.

Co-contraction is a skill that must be trained.

Wear marks on shoes are irrelevant.  As first contact has no substantial ground reaction forces, no change in muscle activation.  Early heel off is where the important stuff lies.

Running injuries at toe off is most important.  Looking how to stability can change.  Hamstring is a huge storage vest for elastic energy.  Lack of pelvic control = hamstring injuries.

Imbalances in muscle activity lead to shear.  (my take, this is potentially another place where manual therapy plays a role)

Swing leg retraction as quick as we can.  Think of closing the scissors.  Very important.  Running is done in the air, not on the ground.  You want the swing leg knee to be in front of the stance leg on foot strike.

Key to sprinting is putting the horizontal component into the sprint.  Christoph Lemaitre was given as an example as he has sprinted very fast times and is remarkable weak.  (I wonder if he knows he's being bashed ...ha ha)

80% of glute max is inserted onto the IT band.  Glute is a stabilizer.  IT band stores and recoils energy.
Soleus to the Achilles as is glute to the IT band.  Muscles to the tendon.

If your locked into anterior tilt of the pelvis you can't get frontal plane movement.  (PRI and more importantly Pat Davidson does an amazing job of getting stability into frontal plane)

This is important for therapists whose patients ask why are they hurt or in pain.
Why do we need variability?  Because we need to cope with an environment of variability.  Why do we get imbalance?  We have removed the variability in our environments.
Also why I think distance runners need to run trails.  (soapbox)

 Injury changes motor control.  You get receding peripheral control.  First, when you are injured you get receding co-contractions.  1. Intention is the crude signal.  2. Coordination at the spinal level.

Receding proprioception is the 2nd thing when injured.

Examples of dumb training.  Jumping with resistance bands as resistance as your body doesn't need to produce the co-contractions, it can just lean on the antagonists.

Injuries lead to reduced variability.

Joint angle velocity is an important concept.   It allows us to remember movement patterns and is body independent.  For example, learning to snowboard as a kid, it will come back years later even though the body shape has changed.  Movement patterns that can used everywhere, the body wants to store them.

Teaching the Intrinsic training.
1.  Unexpected Perturbations. (Use of water sloshing logs on certain exercises)
2.  Environmental cues.
3.  Using time pressure.
4.  Using differential learning.  (batting on a mattress, ruby hooker throwing in on different surfaces
5.  Using endpoint focus.  Finish with your foot here on the wall
6.  Using double tasks.  Combining different methods

Don't allow counter movement in training.  The body gets used to slack.  This means like jump from a static position.  (crazy how bad I was at this at first)

Elasticity only works under isometric conditions.

Examples of Poor Hamstring function in running.  (why high speed sprinting isn't enough to improve hamstrings)
1.  poor ant-post pelvic control leading to poor proximal loading
2.  lower leg doesn't travel out far enough to apply stretch
3.  leads to lazy hamstring and loading of other muscles, such as gastroc, glute and adductors.

Hamstrings must be trained with 1. speed 2. strength (isometrics ) 3. Robustness (perturbations)

Body is interested in forces.  Perhaps rehab has it all wrong?  Don't start with the little bands to rehab a shoulder but a heavy load that it can resist with high force.  The minimum Jerk Principle (To find the place where the body has the least jerk, but the most challenge w the Jerk.

You don't learn from movement, you learn from the sensory information you get from that movement.

High EMG reading with low force = Insufficient.  Low EMG reading with high force = Money!  An example of what we don't want is the barbell hip thrust.  High EMG, low force.

Why Tennis players rarely blow their ACL.  The hitting of the ball requires trunk lean, this protects the knee, also the hind leg catches up quickly.  Take away is teaching the trunk to land over the plant leg...IE volleyball landing as well.

Differential learning basically means mix it up.

For myself, I learned more about muscle gearing and where to keep looking, I want to learn more about Riemannian geometry and further figure out what that means for therapy and training.  It really cleared up some concepts with the 3 P's in training.  I do enjoy learning from different pools of thinking and the more I learn the more I can see some crossover and linking of people.  Pat Davidson with his PRI background does awesome work with his frontal plane training.  Functional Range Release and Spina and Chivers lectures were and still are, ahead of the curve with some of the science.  I got to hang out with an old friend Jonas, who I first met back in the bobsled days, who is now the UNC mens basketball strength coach.

This was an outstanding seminar.  The lectures either hit on topics I wanted to learn more about or stimulated new thoughts.  The practical was unbelievable.  John Pryor and Leigh Egger did a remarkable job of taking the science and making it practical.  There were several concept drills I thought I knew and didn't ( I was teaching them wrong, sorry athletes)  There were some that even after reading and understanding, needed a different way of being taught for me to get the Ah ha moment.  Time pressure was big for me, feeling it.

Hopefully if you had an interest, after reading through my notes and ramblings you will be convinced to check it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Foundation of Success By Developing Flow

"Hard times create strong men.  Strong men create good times.  Good times create weak men.  Weak men create hard times."
G.Michael Hopf

A few months ago, I sat and watched the NFL Hall of Fame speeches.  I'm not usually one that enjoys, let alone pays attention to this type of thing, but the Hall of Fame speeches are always a bit different.  I'm continually struck at the hardship of childhood for almost all these legends.  Growing up hungry, bounced around, poor, lacking in almost every area of life.  Single parent households, witnessing struggles in a harsh environment.  I think this probably describes 70% of the speeches.  They will let you know what it was to overcome that.  Someone reached out to help, wether parent, family member, or coach.  They gave them an outlet of sport for a grasp of hope for a better future.

But how much did the environment have with shaping the grit and drive to succeed?  No one will ever argue those athletes were born with supreme physical talent.  But, no one will also argue that there are more supremely talented athletes that never make it or never come close to the level of success they should have achieved.  No one will argue that those athletes that make it to the top work extremely hard at their craft.  But again, their comes almost an obsession with being great.  Is this a product of the environment?

It's a question that probably can't be answered.  Because, there are athletes that succeed that are in all intents and purpose from a "soft" or privileged life.  It still bears to question though, how to create the best environment for success from an athletes development as well as parents perspective on raising kids.

One of the books I just read through was called the Gold Mine Effect.  An author travels and discovers the hot beds for athletic talent.  Sprinters from Jamaica, endurance runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, tennis players from Russia and women golfers from South Korea.  What he finds is a culture of extreme hard work in an environment that suggests no matter how hard sport is, life is that much harder.  

The former track coach for some of the Jamaican Sprinters is named Stephen Francis.  He, even after great success, still kept his training MVP group fairly low budget.  Performance centers were not glamorous on purpose.  He wanted athletes that wanted to be there because of their desire to succeed. Not to be coddled with the latest and greatest.  Here is talking about his personal opinion that an athletes should be 80% uncomfortable.

As a parent there is a concern and great trepidation of raising a "spoiled" child.  My definition of spoiled is wanting with out working.  Success without failure.   Attainment with out gratitude.
As a parent it is fun to be able to take your kids to places you may not have gone as a kid yourself.  It is fun to go out to eat.  Fun to buy them presents or shoes that they like.  Fun to have experiences with them.  Where does fun go from just that, to crossing into entitlement or even worse killing whatever drive they have to achieve themselves.  When creating performance culture or family, how much do we allow the athlete or child to be given, how much do we let them struggle?

When dealing with performance cultures such as New Zealand All Blacks, there are clues.  The players sweep the sheds after games.  The most talented sweep floors.  There is tremendous amount of competition with in the program.  No players job is safe.  There is no complacency.  Culture of teamwork, not one person is above the team.  When creating performance culture or family, how much do we allow the athlete or child to be given, how much do we let them struggle?

Life is perhaps best when it follows what we know about skill acquisition.  We know that with the development of new skills, to easy brings boredom, to hard brings frustration.  Both produce quitting.  The sweet spot of difficult but doable is where the brain stays engaged, we lose track of time and we immerse in the problem.  We develop interest, but we also learn, learning.  "I can figure this out."

When I first opened my clinic I saw daily levator scapulae issues.  It took months of scapula reading to figure out the best way to treat it and keep it from coming back.  (Treating the levator is almost never the answer)  I told someone what I learned.  They said cool, it worked for them when they did it.   While I condensed what I learned in a paragraph for that person,  they didn't get the months of reading and insight I gained from studying the problem.  I got better, they got and answer to a problem.

My own views currently is that it's the job of the coach, therapist, parent to guide the person, show them the end goal, but let them figure out how to get there.  Don't take away the struggle, the earning of the goal.  Perhaps this way, the achiever learns that nothing is given.  They don't "deserve" it.  No false wins.  False wins, produce eventually failure.  Failure they have not learned to handle.

Another idea, I've been playing with in my head is that perhaps everything should be periodized, not just training.  A very smart trainer opened my eyes to perhaps there is no "right way" to eat.  Periodize all the carbs, fats, proteins, kept, low carb etc...should also be periodized.  So Periodize periods of tough times, with periods of easy times.  Not quite sure how that plays out with kids, but like I said, it's my thoughts at this point.

The grandfather builds it, the son make it a success, the grandson ruins it.  It is a popular saying for a reason.  The son found the flow, not to hard, not to easy.  The grandson had everything to easy and as result, failure.

Lets help them find flow and find success.