How to train through injury…yes, you can usually keep training!

Ouch...Do I keep training?

Ouch…Do I keep training?

I see a lot of athletes – both high level and recreational – as part of the work I do. To develop your body, you need to overload your body – the old SAID principle…Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. If you don’t believe me, check out the photos of how different sports will cause your body to develop differently (or at least choose different body types) here. But it is a fine line between enough stimulus to develop and too much load which will cause breakdown and injury…

…and injuries occur. They always have, they always will. Nothing is without risk. I just like to minimize the risks as much as possible.

The following blog post is about how I like to minimize the risks of re-injury for my patients who are injured.

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A Common Complaint I See – Neck, Shoulder and Chest Pains – Related or 3 Different Problems?

I receive messages basically every day from people by locally and from afar asking for advice. I do my best to help everyone I come across but I thought I would answer this one in a blog post…well, because James suggested I could! Thank you James :)

Read on after the break to see what he wrote to me and what my suggestions were…

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Core Stability Myth 1 – Having lots of muscles means you have good stability

At GCS, we want you to get strong AND Stable...and have fun!

At GCS, we want you to get strong AND Stable…and have fun!

This is a common myth…just get stronger and you will have good stability!

But it is the old poodle and the dog scenario…a poodle is always a dog but a dog is not always a poodle. In other words, if you have good stability, you can become strong. Just because you are strong, it doesn’t mean you have good stability.

This post hopes to explain the reasons why this is.

 

Please read this blog post for what stability actually is.

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What is “Stability” and “Core Stability”? Busting the myths!

"Core Stability" - why do so many people get it WRONG!?

“Core Stability” – why do so many people get it WRONG!?

One of my pet peeves is how health and fitness professionals and the general public throw around terms like “stability”, “core stability” and “unstable joints”. This blog post hopes to address some of these issues and shed light on why there are so many well-meaning but simply incorrect education out there about how to develop good “core stability”.

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Strict Muscle Ups – Making It Look Easy!!

Kat Dalecki, Australian CrossFit Regional Athlete for Reebok CrossFit GCS, demonstrates how to do strict Muscle Ups.

Points to note:

1. From the dead hang, Kat is in complete control on the way up and down — no hinging or wasted movement, flexed/flat spine throughout — it doesn’t change angle very much at all.
2. Her shoulder control and stability means that she doesn’t jar her shoulders at the end of the Muscle Up. She also doesn’t lose control in the bottom of the ring dip which is where lots of athletes come unstuck

Progressions to Consider:
1. Strict pullups on rings

2. Reverse transitions — use a box, jump up or keep your feet on the floor and get to the top of the muscle up or the bottom of the ring dip. You then go from the bottom of the ring dip (with your thumbs on lateral chest wall) to tracing your thumbs where the underwire of a bra would be to the sternum. From there you can go back to the start or continue to practice.

3. Strict Ring Dips

4. Negatives — eccentric loading throughout the whole movement. Again, use a box or jump up into the final extended position. Then lower slowly to the bottom of the ring dip. Then slowly lower back down to the ground.

5. Strict Muscle Ups with a band

If you can avoid kipping for now and just work on your strength, technique, and positions, you will go further in the long run ;)

Please post your comments, questions or links to other examples below! Thanks!

Strict Toes To Bar

Kat Dalecki, Australian CrossFit Regional Athlete for Reebok CrossFit GCS, demonstrates how to do strict Toes To Bar (TTB).

Points to Note:

1. Kat maintains control of her spine and speed throughout the movement — no “hinging” at the thoracolumbar junction, no flicking of the legs, no kip, no throwing the head back etc

2. The slower the movement, the harder it is. Kat can do these because of her great “strict” strength

3. Her mobility allows her to achieve these movements with grace, elegance and strength…she works on her mobility — it is like a chipper-style workout — just keep going, keep chipping away at it

Some Progressions to Consider:
1. Dead hang in “hollow” or Flat back position. Too many people start with extended thoracolumbar junctions and whip back and forth from there. Like the “hollow position” on the ground, you should be aiming to achieve the same on the bar.

2. Controlled Knee Raises. Keep working on your ability to keep your back flat in the dead hang. You will flex your back during the movements — that is ok…but you be feeling lots of work in your abs, not strain in your back. Progress by lifting your knees higher and higher until you can get your knees to your chest.

3. When you can hold your knees to your chest, try to extend your legs out slowly without swinging on the bar. This requires excellent hamstring mobility. Control the descent into the dead hang with hollow position.

4. When you can do 5 of the exercise above, try to raise up with bent knees and lower with straight legs (eccentric loading)

5. Work up to straight leg Toes to Bar.

If you have any mobility, flexibility, stability or injury concerns, please see your health professional as these may hamper your performance and/or increase your risk of injury.

Science on Squat Cues – Is on your heels or evenly spread weight better? A Simple Experiment

Kat Dalecki doing 55kg squats for peak EMG measurements

Kat Dalecki doing 55kg squats for peak EMG measurements

Science on the Squat… controversial (for some) – It would seem that weight all on the heels is WEAKER and results in less activation of your hamstrings and quads!!!
For a while now, I have been wondering about the cue to remain on your heel, wriggle your toes etc etc. Apparently this is to increase the “posterior chain” activation…but pulling you toes up activates your anterior muscles…So, to end the speculation, I thought I would try a preliminary experiment to see if it was worthy of further study – don’t be rough on me – I acknowledge that this is not a high quality study but it was an interesting one to see if it was worthy of further study.

Method:
I did the following twice – once for biceps femoris and once for quads (I only had a single channel surface EMG unit)…1. 55kg squat is just below body weight for Kathryn Dalecki
2. 5 reps to warm up
3. 5 reps with weight on heels, toes up
4. 5 reps with weight evenly through the foot with ball of foot and big toe definitely down, weight through the centre of the logo on the tongue of Kat’s Reebok Nanos

Biceps femoris and quads (VMO/rectus femoris bias) were measured for peak EMG during the concentric (drive up) phase.

My theory was that evenly distributed weight would activate the posterior chain more…which would also increase the quads activation…plantarflexion of the 1st ray is a key component of the foot stability mechanism and activates and stiffens the posterior chain via the plantar fascia into the Achilles tendon.

Results:
1. Hamstrings peaked between 192 and 212 with toes up, between 232 and 250 with even foot
2. Quads peaked at around 280 with toes up and around 340 with even foot

Conclusions:
1. It is likely that an even foot distribution leads to better recruitment of hamstring and quadriceps muscles during a bodyweight squat
2. Toes up cue results in less activation of hamstrings and quads
3. Gluts would be interesting to assess with EMG – next time!
4. Further study on this is warranted
5. One subject does not make a solid conclusion and the study design can be improved etc etc etc – don’t hate on me, it was just to see what happened – I understand the limitations!
6. Try it for yourself!!!

Guess what Darren CoughlanCrossFit Football and I have been independently teaching for years?? 

So, place your feet on the ground. Keep the weight even throughout the whole foot ensuring that the big toe pad and ball of the foot (aka first ray), the ball of the outside of your foot and heel is in contact with the ground the whole time. If you do this, the centre of mass should be on the front of your ankle crease. I am looking forward to seeing if this makes a difference in activation in the sedentary, amateur, athletic and professional populations :)
Any comments, questions or discussion is welcome :)

Strict Chest To Bar Pull Ups

 

Kat Dalecki, Australian CrossFit Regional Athlete for Reebok CrossFit GCS demonstrates how to do strict Chest to Bar (CTB) Pull Ups.

Points to note:
1. From the hang, she takes her time to set her posture up correctly. Doing this maximizes her ability to pull herself up with a stiff but responsive spine.

2. Minimal thoracolumbar spinal extension. Kat had done over an hour’s worth of heavy programming so it isn’t technically perfect but pretty damned good. When you extend in the thoracolumbar spine to do strict pull ups, you “bleed” energy – you might be able to do more reps but in the long run, your overall strength will plateau sooner. It is better to develop your strength with your weaker areas dictating the load. Good technique ALWAYS triumphs over weights and reps in the Physiotherapy world.

3. Head and chin stays in place throughout the movement. This ensures that the anterior and posterior muscles are in the optimum position for the movement. Try to avoid poking the chin up to break the plane of the bar when training – when competing, I understand the need to do whatever is safe but necessary to achieve your goals…but you should practice as strictly as possible as often as possible.

4. The shoulders retract to commence the movement but it is not excessive. Kat commences the movement and it flows into the whole sequence nicely. Practicing the retraction from the dead hang is a good technique to practice. However, remember that it isn’t about pulling as far down as you can before you pull up.

5. Kat controls the descent all the way to the bottom. There are NO hard jarring moments in her shoulders, no weak spots in her range, or a rapid, uncontrolled descent. Practicing this way allows you to develop your strength overall.

Strengthening your strict pullups – whether it be chest to bar or chin over bar is like any strength program – try 5 sets of max reps with perfect form with 2-3mins between sets. If you cannot do 1 rep, then get on a box, get to the end (pulled up) position and practice the descent only. If that is too uncontrolled, leave your feet on the box. The more you practice, the better you will become.

Please post your questions, comments or video links below for feedback :)

Good Posture? – How squeezing your butt, ribs down, shoulders down & back and head retracted = WEAKER

 

Posture – there are lots of qualified and unqualified people out there who will give you advice but most of them don’t test the results of their advice.

Here is a video showing the most common cues and I demonstrate how your actually have LESS force as a result of this – don’t take my word for it…try it yourself!

The cues and the problems I have with them are:

1. Squeeze your butt and posteriorly tilt your pelvis – doing this usually results in muscles that are on all the time – good for photos, bad for your posture. Doing this will almost always result in making your hips glide forwards and so your hip flexors will activate to protect the hip joint – ever feel like you are NOT making headway with your hip flexor tightness? It is probably trying to protect you!

2. Ribs down – a good cue and one that I do use…however, there are “ribs down” and there are “RIBS DOWN!”. I don’t want you to have an excessively extended spine but I don’t want you to feel like you are stiff and walking around in a strait-jacket! Get the position and then RELAX!

3. Shoulders Down and Back – The most commonly given and WORST advice for most people because most people overcook it and go too far back and too far down. Doing this will make you WEAKER in the shoulders because the ball joint should sit on TOP of the socket. Pulling your shoulders down and back will make the socket point down towards the ground so there isn’t much support for your shoulders…so the muscles have to work harder and so have less force to put towards moving and lifting heavy stuff

4. Chin Down and Head Back – A lot of desk workers do poke their chin out…but making a double chin is overcooking the correction. It is better to focus on standing taller with your head in a good position and then RELAX.

So the test I used here was a resisted isometric manual muscle test for forward flexion. You can do the test in any position you want, it doesn’t matter.

So the secret to good posture is simple – get your landmarks right – sternum over pubic bone, keep those ribs down and then relax your position without losing your posture. There will be a little tension in the system but not so much you feel stiff.

Always test and retest – ANY cue or correction should IMPROVE things, NOT MAKE YOU WEAKER!!

Post your comments, questions or videos for feedback below – happy to have a chat!

Lowering the Crossfit Injury Rate

Whether you love or hate Crossfit, it is here to stay. I personally LOVE Crossfit. I wrote a blog post in April last year about Crossfit and why injuries occur – you can read it here. I have been consulting with high level and the general Crossfit population for well over a year now. This blog post is about the common issues that I see and how to reduce the injury rate in Crossfit…

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