Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 46

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 46

Written on June 21, 2013 at 8:45 am, by Eric Cressey

In a collaborative effort with CP Coach Greg Robins, here are this week's nutrition and strength and conditioning tips.

1. Be aware of unwanted movement at the shoulder with thoracic mobility drills.

2. Chow down on some brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap because – for some reason – they are the scapegoat for some kids hating vegetables.  Personally, though, I can think of a lot of vegetables that taste far worse!  And, what you might not know is that their harvest season is defined as June-January, so now is the perfect time of year to start crushing them. 

Brs_sprout

It's best to avoid boiling them, as it reduces some of their nutritional value.  Fortunately, though, I think baking them makes them taste much better.  Just cut off the stem and any loose leaves, then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven until they soften up a bit.  I like to splash them with balsamic vinegar, and you can even add some parmesan cheese, if that tickles your fancy.  Give them a shot!

3. Use these variations to make side-lying clams more effective.

4. If your calves are cramping with sports, fix your back and get your glutes going.

In a recently published study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a history of lower back pain predicted calf cramping in professional rugby players. In light of this finding, here's a little theory of mine..

a. Most rugby players are in heavily extended postures with huge anterior pelvic tilts and excessive lordosis.

b. Those folks in these postures never effectively use gluteus maximus as a hip extensor.

c. If you can't actually use your hip extensors to extend your hip during sprinting, you'll have to acquire the motion elsewhere – and that likely means extra push-off at the lower extremity: plantarflexion.

d. Your calves are plantarflexors.

So, if you lose your glutes (and anterior core, for that matter), you're going to overuse calves, especially in conditions of fatigue.  Yes, it's a theory, but I'd be very curious to see if calf cramping was also predicted by postural assessments at the lumbopelvic region.  In the meantime, to be safe, if you're having calf cramps (and even if you aren't), get your glutes turned on and anterior core engaged.

5. Use a plyo box to help out with your self-myofascial release.

As I mentioned in one of my presentations in our new Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body DVD set, when we do soft tissue work, it's good to have a combination of diffuse (foam roller) and focal (lacrosse or baseball) options to get to all the areas we want.  Unfortunately, we can't do everything we need to do on the floor, so we'll often use a stretching table to make accessing the "undercarriage" a bit easier.

Sometimes, though, the table has too much "give" to it, and it cancels out the density we get from the medicine ball.  A good alternative is to use a plyo box, which is a lot firmer.  And, if you want a more focal option than the medicine ball, you can use a softball or baseball.

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  • Jeff

    Best way to make brussel sprouts is take them, douse with some olive oil, salt (lots on a hot day) and pepper. Put in a single layer in a roasting pan. Put in a cold oven then turn it on to 425 for about an hour stirring at the halfway mark. They will be burned and crunchy on the outside and buttery soft inside.

    Awesomeness has a name. It’s brussel sprouts!

  • k

    hey greg, re; t-spine drill-always thought it was important to have top leg bent higher than hip level and locked onto foam roller to ensure stablility of low spine? or, for that particular drill, does it matter?? thx

  • I like the side lying video and did lightly drag my hand along the floor to guide myself and achieve proper rotation. Great tip, thanks very much. Oh and glad to see Matt is a big Blue Jay fan 🙂

  • Been doing a lot of the SMR on a plyo box lately, and it sucks (in a good way). Unfortunately, I don’t think I can ever force myself to eat brussel sprouts; the taste is just unbearable for me haha.

    Keep up the great tips guys.

    Jake

  • christian

    Agree with your theory on calf cramping. I deal with foot and ankle pathology daily and also believe that the posterior leg compartment has to work overtime in these individuals to control an anteriorly shifted centre of mass. Throw some agonistic weakness amd synergistic overuse into the mix and bob’s your uncle, not only do you get cramping but a pletheroa of mobility deficits, compensating dysfunctional movement patterns and soft tissue pathology.

    Spot on. What’s your take on a standard 10-12mm heel-toe gradient in casual footwear? Considering we don’t need as much ankle dorsiflexion in walking vs running is it potentially not contributing to the issue in these people?

  • Brian Bochette, PT, CSCS

    Eric, is FST downloadable or does the password allow you to view content only while you are connected to the internet? With you and Mike behind it, I have no doubt that it will be an awesome product, I just need to decide which format would suit me best(DVD vs download).

    Also, fair warning for any of you that are getting into the brussels sprouts scene: If you bring them to work and heat them up, you will turn a few noses and forever be remembered as the brussels sprouts guy.

  • P.

    I was happy to find brussel sprouts on your list. I love their taste, but I always ate them boiled. It’s about time to try them out in some new recipe. Maybe I will bake them the Jeff’s way, next time I cook.

  • Hi Brian,

    They’re not downloadable, I’m sorry to say. The huge file sizes kind of made it a problem (on top of piracy concerns).

    Luckily I don’t mind eating brussels sprouts cold!

  • Have you explored trigger point dry needling for these myofascial restrictions?

    As well as releasing those Glutes/ Gastroc, to assist in activation. I have used this clinically and it is very effective, coupled with all of the other interventions.

    I realalize this isn’t a skill that everyone can utilize, but most states will have a certified practicioner.

    Thanks, some great info on the blog.

  • BGP

    Eric and others,

    Have you guys seen these calf issues in general population clients as well? I have a pretty pronounced anterior tilt from my athlete days, and actually get calf cramps while walking for extended periods of time, especially in dress shoes (more of a pronounced heal lift than other shoes).

    Is the key continuing to hammer away at glute activation, hip mobility, and soft tissue work on the calves? What else would be in your gameplan to target this?

  • BGP,

    You hit the nail on the head. Definitely can still be an issue in the general population.  Look at going to a more minimalist footwear and getting that anterior core engaged.  A lot of the Postural Restoration Institute stuff would be good reading for you, too.

  • Justin,

    Definitely something we’ve been looking at more and more, as we have a few practitioners in the area who’ve started using it (and some good referral folks in other states).

  • Jarrad

    Eric,

    I think your theory is probably dead on. I don’t really know what I’m talking about but I’ve been an athlete for a long time. I was a high school baseball player, and stopped playing sports completely for a while. When I put on weight and started to have significant lower back pain I picked up Rugby in College. Since I started playing rugby I’ve struggled constantly to keep my calves loose. I’ve been following a training plan produced by the South Africa Rugby union for the last couple of years, and last year, sort of by accident, I started substituting Deadlifts for Leg Curls wherever I found them in the plan. Mostly because I like deadlifts, and I think that they’re more useful than Leg curls overall. I have noticed that I don’t have nearly as many issues with my calves, and now that I see this I wonder if it isn’t more than coincidence.

  • Great feedback, Jarrad; thanks!


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