Home Posts tagged "Flexibility" (Page 8)

Advice for Sore Knees

Q: What advice do you have for sore knees? It might be from over use, squats, dead lifts, cardio, but I'm sure joggers run into this all the time. Do you cover it in you Mobility DVD? A: "Knee issues" is a very broad topic. You can have dysfunction at the ankle, hip, or knee itself - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. We most commonly see issues at the ankle, hip, or both, though. It could be mobility deficits, soft tissue restrictions, capsular issues, or even congenital issues (femoral-acetabular impingement, for instance). Issues like you describe can simply be a result of imbalanced training programs, too. Most people tend to be very quad dominant and do a lot more squatting work than hip-dominant exercises. With Magnificent Mobility, we've definitely had some excellent results in people with nagging knee issues. However, given that you have more of a "amorphous" issue, you'd be better off picking up a copy of Mike Robertson's Bulletproof Knees Manual. Mike goes into great depth on knee issues, their causes, and solutions - all while educating the reader in an easy-to-understand manner. Eric Cressey
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Support Exercise for Cycling

Anyone who spends time on a cycle needs to prioritize frontal plane stability (lunge variations), length of the hip flexors and quads (pull-back butt-kicks), and glute activation (supine bridges). These are really just the tip of the iceberg, though. You would also want to work on thoracic extension ROM (check out the Inside-Out DVD/Manual). Eric Cressey
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Talking Shop with Craig Ballantyne

EC: Let’s be honest: every Average Joe trainer under the sun has an e-book or 5-minute guide to sucker misinformed housewives into shelling out hundreds of dollars to learn the “hidden secret” of fat loss. Frankly, I’ve had hundreds of products along these lines cross my path in the past few years, and the only two that have withstood the test of time – and yielded outstanding results time-and-time again are yours and Cosgrove’s. I know about your programming, but let’s enlighten our readers a bit about what makes Turbulence Training so effective.

CB: I think there are a lot of other good ideas and programs out there; not a day goes by that I don't get a good idea from another trainer. Maybe Alwyn and I just claimed the catchiest names - or maybe it’s the Scottish last name.

What I've done over the years is take my experience in research, and in training athletes, and in working with busy people with minimal equipment, and rolled that up into a program that meets the needs of my readers.

I've adapted the program quite a bit over the years because users have demanded changes. For example, in the past, it used to focus on barbell exercises, but now includes only dumbbell and bodyweight exercises (with the exception of my more advanced "Fusion and Synergy" fat loss programs)

The principles remain the same, though. We use more intense strength training than traditional programs (lower reps, not as low as a powerlifter, but lower than 99% of fat loss programs recommended in the past - although this is changing as the approach becomes more popular).

Each workout uses supersets. This gets the workout done faster. I also use what I call "non-competing" supersets, basically referring to supersetting two exercises that don't use the same muscles - including grip strength.

So, a dumbbell split squat and a dumbbell chest press would be non-competing. A dumbbell reverse lunge and a dumbbell row would be competing, because they both demand intense grip work. So, I'd avoid the lunge-row combo.

And then we finish up each workout with interval training. This, too, has evolved over the years. I used to recommend basic 30-second intervals, with 60-second recovery, done on a bike or treadmill (or sprints outside). Now I'm using bodyweight circuits in place of intervals, or sometimes barbell complexes, or sometimes even high-rep dumbbell work.

These changes have all been based on feedback from users. For example, a lot of Turbulence Training readers work out at home with nothing but dumbbells and a bench; they don't have a machine for cardio. So, we use bodyweight circuits instead. These are great and can be adapted for any fitness level.

For the interval type circuits, I like to use six total bodyweight exercises, three lower body and three upper body. Then just alternate between upper and lower in a 6-exercise circuit.

So bottom line, a Turbulence Training workout will run like this:

5-minute bodyweight warm-up
20-minutes superset strength training
18-minutes interval training
7-minutes stretching or mobility work

We do three hard workouts per week, yet I emphasize that everyday is an exercise day (that is, on the four days you don't do a hard Turbulence Training workout, you must still get 30 minutes of activity - preferably something you enjoy and enables you to spend time with family or friends).
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QA with Eric: Yoga and Flexibility

Q: Dancers and yoga practitioners are notoriously known for their extreme flexibility, which can be a problem if not balanced with strength. How so?

A: Hypermobility can definitely be a problem. All movements require a delicate balance between mobility and stability. Some joints demand more mobility at the expense of stability (e.g. shoulders), whereas others require more stability at the expense of mobility (hips). It's one of the reasons that we're always emphasizing stabilization work at the glenohumeral joint, scapula, and lumbar spine and mobility work at the hips, ankles, adn thoracic spine. When you push the balance between mobility and stability out of whack too far in one direction (e.g. hypermobility), ligaments aren't as effective as joint stabilizers and muscle length-tension relationships can be negatively affected.

It's something that a lot of us have been doing from an "isolationist" perspective for quite some time (I remember trying to make sense of it back in graduate school in one of my classes with Dr. David Tiberio), but it wasn't until guys like Mike Boyle and Gray Cook put it out there that we realized this "alternating joints" approach explained a lot of dysfunction we see - and how to prevent it.

Now, we're at the next frontier: optimizing training protocols to correct the problems. I'm always experimenting with new ways to mobilize the thoracic spine and ankles while trying to figure out the optimal combination of mobility, activation, joint mobilizations, and soft tissue work to get the job done. It's not much different than fat loss; we know now that aerobic exercise is an inferior fat loss modality and that strength training and high-intensity interval training are superior, but we're just looking to find the optimal blend to make things work perfectly. Compare Alwyn Cosgrove's Real World Fat Loss and Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training and you'll see a ton of similarities, but the subtle intricacies of the programs are different.
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The Good Side of Broke

I received this email from an online consulting client of mine (a marathon runner). He had been experiencing some unexplained glute pain last month, so we modified the training program considerably to work to correct it. Just yesterday, I received this email from him: Funny story. So, like I had mentioned last month, my right glute was killing me. I could tell it just wasn't firing properly, and the pain was fairly intense, radiating down my leg. Continued hurting all this month, which surprised me, because more mobility stuff and rolling usually solves those types of problems. I figured that maybe all the travel of last month had just really screwed me up. But then, a few days ago, I realized that I had started carrying a wallet in my back right pocket, which I haven't done in years. Stopped carrying/sitting on wallet, pain almost completely gone in like three days. Important things to learn from this? 1. Asymmetry is the single-most common cause of injury in sports, in the eyes of some really smart dudes in this "biz." 2. Remember the 23:1 rule. You can have a perfect hour in the gym each day, but that still leaves you 23 hours to screw it up at home and work! 3. Clean out your damn wallet and carry it in your front pocket! The 23/1 Rule Applies To Your Athletic Efficiency. Click Here and Get Started.
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Ask Eric: Runner’s Knee

Will the excercises on Magnificent Mobility help treat runner's knee, along with the tight IT bands and hamstrings? Are there different exercises which you would recommend for the knee/IT band problems? I haven't bought the dvd's yet, but if they'll help my knees I'd consider it.
Absolutely, Peter. Most knee issues arise from lack of mobility at the ankles and hips - so one goes to the knee (what should be a stable joint) and creates range of motion. We've had a lot of great feedback from people with bum knees who have seen great results with the DVD. Mike and I are more than happy to help you customize the drills to your needs. I'd also recommend that you pick up a foam roller to work on soft tissue quality in the ITB/TFL. You can read more about it here. I'd also recommend that you take a lacrosse ball to your calves and glutes to free up any restrictions that are there - very common in anterior and lateral knee pain.
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Foam Rollers and Football

Q: Hey Eric, I've been a member of T-Nation for about three years now. I really enjoy your articles. And one caught my attention abouta year ago. The foam roller article. I bought one, asked my PT about it and he didnt know much so i kind of threw it aside. Well to make a long story short. I play high school football, its my senior year. I've been playing and training for seven years now. My ultimate goal of course is to get a scholarship to play some college ball. However the day before practice I pulled my hamstring doing sprints down the beach. I've been going to PT and seen about three doctors. Its not that serious of a pull id say a mild grade 2. I've been feeling alot of pressure from my coaches to get back on the field and have tried to comeback twice. Whenever i put any pressure on the thing it just tighens right up. But running on it seems to be fine. There is a pretty good size knot on the lower part of my left hamstring right above the back of the knee. So tonight i read your article again and busted out the foam roller. After the first 10 minutes of the hamstring it felt 100 times better. I've done it three times in the past three hours. I got a big game on friday that I have to play in and I'm doing as much as i possibly can to get this thing healthy. I know you guys dont diagnos over the internet or anything like that i just wanted to tell you thank you for the info on the foam roller. I'm gonna use this thing everyday before and after practice/games and hopefully i can get back to 100% as soon as possible. Thanks again for all the great info!
A: I'm glad to hear that the roller worked out for you. Just remember that work you do with the roller is just treating the symptoms (scar tissue). You have to get to the bottom of why your hamstrings are so knotted up if you want to fix the problem rather than just take one step forward and one step back. In most cases, the hamstrings get locked up because they're overactive - because the glutes aren't doing their job as hip extensors. It's one reason why after hamstrings go, you also see groin pulls (adductor magnus is a synergist to the glutes in hip extension) and piriformis strains (piriformis is a synergist in lateral rotation). Check out our Magnificent Mobility DVD; it would be a good investment. It's worked for a lot of guys w/their hamstrings problems, and provided that the right exercises are selected, you should see some great improvements. Eric Cressey
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Unstable Surface Training… For Golf!?

Q: I have received a golf fitness program designed specifically for my injury history. This program came from the - Insert Noteworthy Golf Performance Institute’s Name Here - I have concerns about this program.

Some of the exercises I am concerned about involve:

1. mimicking my golf swing on an unstable surface
2. performing one legged golf stance with my eyes closed
3. hollow my stomach for 30 second holds
4. upright rows

Correct me if I'm wrong but your advice on various T-Nation articles and your Newsletter go against these practices. Should I look elsewhere for my golf fitness program?

A: Where do I even begin? That's simply atrocious!

I've "fixed" a lot of golfers and trained some to high levels, and we've never done any of that namby-pamby junk. In a nutshell...

1. I did my Master's thesis on unstable surface training, and it will be featured in the August issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. I can’t release the results yet, but let’s just say that if the ground ever moves on YOU instead of you moving on the ground, you have bigger things to worry about than your golf conditioning; you’re in the middle of an earthquake!

2. There is considerable anecdotal evidence to support the assertion that attempting to replicate sporting tasks on unstable surfaces actually IMPAIRS the learning of the actual skill (think of competing motor learning demands). In a technical sport like golf, this is absolutely unacceptable.

3. Eyes closed, fine - but first show me that you can be stable with your eyes open! Most golfers are so hopelessly deconditioned that they can’t even brush their teeth on one foot (sadly, I’m not joking).

4. Abdominal hollowing is "five years ago" and has been completely debunked. Whoever wrote this program (or copied and pasted it from when they gave it to 5,000 other people) ought to read some of Stuart McGill's work - and actually start to train so that he/she gets a frame of reference.

I’m sorry to say that you got ripped off. The fact of the matter is the overwhelming majority of golfers are either too lazy to condition, or too scared that it’ll mess up their swing mechanics (might be the silliest assumption in the world of sports). So, said “Performance Institute” (and I use the word “performance” very loosely) puts out programs that won’t intimidate the Average Joe or his 80-year-old recreational golfer grandmother. For the record, Gram, I would never let you do this program, either (or Gramp, for that matter). On a semi-related note, Happy 85th Birthday, Gramp!

In short, I’m a firm believer in building the athlete first and the golfer later – and many golfers are so unathletic and untrained that it isn’t even funny. Do your mobility/activation to improve your efficiency, and then apply that efficiency and stability throughout a full range of motion to a solid strength training program that develops reactive ability, rate of force development, maximal strength, and speed-strength. Leave the BOSU ball squats, Body Blade frolicking, and four-exercise 3x10 band circuits for the suckers in the crowd.

Yours Cynically,

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Feedback for Building the Efficient Athlete

When we made the Building the Efficient Athlete 8-DVD set, Mike Robertson and I – by our own admission and intentions – barbecued some sacred cows in in the fitness industry with some of our non-traditional ideas. Moreover, given that Mike and I interact with a ton of physical therapists, doctors, athletic trainers, and other health care professionals – and do a lot of writing with respect to corrective exercise – it’s safe to say that this DVD set has turned some heads in the medical community as well. I thought you might be interested in the following testimonial sent to us by Hector Lopez on behalf of Physicians Pioneering Performance, LLC: “Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson’s BTEA raises the bar and sets a new standard for applying functional anatomy, biomechanical assessment, and corrective exercise to athletes at all levels. Congratulations on fine work that addresses many limiting factors of human performance, while enabling the athlete/client to progress and experience a training effect. Just one pass through this DVD set, and it stands to make us all more critical and active in thinking through the patient/client/athlete’s pain, dysfunction, impairments and inefficiencies. “A fantastic resource that we (Physicians Pioneering Performance) would recommend without reservation, not only for athletes, strength coaches and fitness professionals, but also for musculoskeletal/sports medicine practitioners and many of their patients." Hector Lopez, MD, CSCS Co-Founder, Physicians Pioneering Performance, LLC Northwestern University – Feinberg School of Medicine
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Bare Functionality

Q: I am a first year physical therapy student in college, and I have a real passion for strength and conditioning. I have been reading some of your articles and they are great. The reason I am contacting you is to ask a question about having athletes warm up barefoot, as you recommended in your last article. I understand your reason for doing this, but if we are so focused on doing things “functionally,” why barefoot? Most athletes compete in some form of shoe, so shouldn't we have them perform exercises in shoes? I am really into orthopedics, so the foot and ankle joints are really of interest to me. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. A: Thanks for your email and the kind words. I think the response is that the functional movement craze goes a bit too far in some instances. In this case, the addition of inappropriate footwear has actually created a weakness in the smaller muscles of the foot and lower leg. And, barefoot is as functional as you get, if you consider the way we "should" have evolved. I don't like the idea of altogether ignoring a glaring weakness; we lose a ton of dexterity in our feet as we age. As an aside, most Americans sit on their fat a**es all day, yet we advocate doing as much training as possible standing up because it's more "functional." Acting counterintuitively isn’t always a bad thing. Food for thought! Eric Cressey It's all about efficiency.
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series