Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Notes on Movement Variability by Guido Van Ryssegem

Notes on the lecture:  MV will be movement variability.  If you find some of my notes interesting, I highly recommend this lecture from Movement Lectures.

"Movement is so important, it's the reason we have a brain."
Daniel Wolpert

Movement will change as you age.  3 years old will be different then when you are 9.

Lots of studies have shown that their isn't the exact same patterns in movement.  A person may look the same on a treadmill, but the foot strike is constantly different.  Their is variability and this is very important.

Variability is normal.  "Movement variability is the oil to the central nervous system."
Without variability our central nervous system starts to shut down.

We automatically decrease our freedom of movement to control our MV to optimize our control of the task we decide to do.

Our children are becoming motor morons.  Not playing anymore and sitting at desk, computers, video games.

Sometimes having stiffness is a good thing for an activity.  The example was a discus thrower that needs a stiff hip to throw well.  Sometimes limitation can cause problems.  An obese person or severe scoliotic patient has less MV and will have a higher injury rate if not addressed.

One of the concepts behind MV is that the CNS takes in a lot of chaos and starts to make order out of it.

Applying to coaching.  One was is to coach step by step what should happen.  Example is the squat.  The other way is to allow self organization or Dynamic Systems theory.  Tell a person to squat and let the body figure it out.  If you are in a tug of war contest.  It won't take you long to realize pulling with only your arms will not work.  You start to lean back and use your legs.

Show the pattern and then shut up.

Self organization is found in nature.  Examples of bats, ants, African beetles.  Very interesting.

Two interesting  studies were addressed.  Gait transition, everyone starts to jog from a walk at the same speed without coaching.  Swimming study the arm motion sped up at the same time as well.

"A stable but adaptable body maintains a rich repertoire of movement strategies containing optimum variability. The optimal amount of variability is optimal performance."

Perhaps to much time is spent with attempting to manipulate a form.  Practice on movement over and over again.  Like a squat.  Invariable training is this, perhaps this is actually making the elite athlete worse.

(My take.  Not sure if I totally agree with this.  Sure you can get better at squats, doing assistance work and he gives an example of doing KB swings and breaking through his deadlift plateau, but if you want to get better at squatting (if you are a power lifter, you must squat)  My two cents.)

"Promoting complex variation in human movement allows either motor development or the recovery of function after injury."  Stergiou 2006

Focusing on optimizing degrees of freedom allows the athletes optimal self organization.

Lack of MV leads to changes in the sensory cortex. There are physical changes happening in the brain.

He gives some studies that show lack of MV and injury.

3 Groups of people.
1.  Performers.  Athletes.
2.  Task Driven.  Produce a specific task.
3. Motor challenged.  Injured, Post surgery.

The performers need a complex environment.  Lots of variability
Interesting example of motor challenged was a softball player with lower back pain.  After finding stability, had her squat heavy to reduce her variability.  If the weight had been to light her variability of motion would have been to high.

3 types of restraints.
1. Task
2. Body
3. Environment.

Task.  Example is a squat.  All kinds of modifications can be made to allow the re learning of the squat.

Body.  How to manipulate.  Speed/power/strength/mobility.  Change it up.

Environment.  Perhaps get out into nature.

As a therapist I think one of the things we are doing is increasing degrees of freedom in muscles and joints to allow more movement variability.  My two cents. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Health and Alcohol

It is the best of things, it is the worst of things.  There is a lot written on the benefits of alcohol and on the negative health consequences.  There was recently a great article written in T-nation about the facts of beer, wine and liquor.

A Lifters Guide to Alcohol.

Some of the highlights.

 Beer doesn't necessarily increase male estrogen.  Man boobs is more myth.  Alcohol isn't a fat creator, think beer belly,  but it is a fat burning suppressor.  Your body works on getting rid of the alcohol, not on burning fat.

1g/kg of alcohol had some horrible affects on metabolism and working out.  .5g/kg didn't have much affect at all.  That's the difference between 6 drinks and 3 drinks for an average size man.

It's better to have a drink post lifting then post cardio session.

Alcohol is calories.  They just happen to be empty. This means you get no nutritional value.  They rob your body of B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.  All these are things that are already very low in the American diet.

I didn't have my first drop of alcohol until I was 29 years old.  Always thought it would affect my body and training in a very negative way.  I wasn't willing to compromise or risk the goals I had during that time frame.  I'm glad I can look back and say I did everything possible to allow me to try to accomplish what was important to me.

I know really enjoy craft beer.  Porters and Stouts.  I don't care for to much beyond that.  Wheat beer tends to give me a headache.  Liquors smell like ammonia caps to me.  Wine makes my tongue feel like I have to scratch it.  Yes, I know, I haven't tried ______ wine.  Everyone has a favorite wine that I have to try.  A certain amount of alcohol, from personal experience (n=1), hasn't affected my strength or recovery.  At 3 drinks I'm fine, but more then that I will feel tired the next day.

Another curious thing is timing.  If I'm done and in bed by midnight I have almost no problems with having drinks the night before.  If I'm out past midnight, even if I get 8 hours, chance are I will have a bit of brain fog.  Circadian Rhythm is a powerful thing!

Most studies show that people that ingest very moderate amounts of alcohol are usually healthier and that teetotalers are usually less so.  I'm not totally convinced that it's just the alcohol.  There is probably a huge social experience that drives a lot of the so called health benefits from drinking alcohol.

Know your limits.  Know what influences you for good or for bad.  Coffee stouts and Vanilla Porters are divine!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Random and Interesting

I've always enjoyed learning about subcultures.  I have a particular fondness for sport.  I've also always enjoyed learning about how someone that doesn't fit the "normal" bill succeeds.  This article does both.  NPR talks about the sport of Sumo and and undersized competitor.  Normal is 400lb, this guys is around 200.  Cool.  It's not the size that is stunning. 

Get healthier by sleeping in a cooler room.  This article was pretty cool.   Adults have very small amounts of brown fat in the neck/upper back.  This is metabolically active and much different then the fat we think of.  It can burn sugar.  Sleeping in a room that was 66 degrees doubled the amount of brown fat in 4 weeks.  Sleeping in a room 81 degrees ended up with less fat then when the subjects started.  Sleep cooler for a healthier life.  Let's cool it in the bedroom.

Pretty informative.  Just let almond milk go.  Eat some nuts and drink water.  This article goes into great detail on why drinking almond milk isn't all that it's been made out to be.  Lay off the Almond Milk. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Learn to Move with Ido Portal

Pretty fun couple hours listening to Ido Portal talk about movement and philosophy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Learn to do a Pull Up

GMB continues to put out great content.  This one is all about the Pull Ups.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Concentrated Effort

One of the things I try to do every now and then is to make a concentrated effort to target certain muscles or a joint or training concept and read everything I can about it for the week or a month.  Just immerse myself in that topic for a bit.

If you do this enough, over the course of a year, you have accumulated some significant concentrated effort on certain topics.

Two beautiful things start to happen when you do this long enough.  You invariably pick the same topic again, but find new information.  You start to find patterns in many different disciplines.  A physical therapist may have written about a joint this way.  A chiro may have written about if like this.  A strength coach believes this.

Finding patterns and thought process's.  Why this is trained or treated like this versus that.  I want to stretch the hip flexors, you want to do prone press ups, this guy wants to do Glute Bridges, the new kid wants to do breathing exercises.

Read everything you can on a small topic.  Own that topic.  Pic a new one.  Start to see the beauty in how these things integrate after a while.

What do they have in common?  What do they disagree on?

You sometimes find that "What's in a name; A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breathing and Singing

I had a very interesting conversation with a student that will hopefully become a professional opera singer.  He told me that they are strongly discouraged against doing sit ups and crunches as they are told this makes the diaphragm tight.  He asked me what he could do and if this was true or not.

The diaphragm does have a very strong anatomical attachment into the psoas major muscle.  Exercises like sit ups and crunches will indeed make this muscle tight.  It does most of the work in exercises such as these.  This is why I generally discourage there use in patients/athletes with any lower back pain.  The psoas main role is in lumbar stabilization.  When it is tight it doesn't fulfill its job to the best of its ability.

Back to singing.  He showed me how when he is braced he is able to use his diaphragm better and hit the bigger notes.  It was rather impressive.  We went over some drills where he is bracing his core hard, but learning to take deep inhales/exhales.

The easiest position was him in an incline push up position.  Abs braced.  Diaphragmatic breathing.

Very interesting when a unique subculture can be interwoven into anatomy and training.