Home Posts tagged "Stuart McGill" (Page 4)

Waiting to Reach Threshold?

According to Princeton researchers, one in four Americans have daily pain. Unfortunate? Yes. Surprising? It would depend who you ask. I'm a firm believer that most people are just waiting to reach threshold. With so many sedentary folks - and those who are actually exercising doing a lot of moronic stuff (machines, excessive aerobic training), it's just a matter of time until a chronic overuse condition comes to fruition - or something traumatic occurs. Additionally, just because folks aren't symptomatic doesn't mean that they don't have structural defect. It's estimated that approximately 80% of Americans have disc bulges and/or herniations that are asymptomatic, and I'd put the number of spondylolysis (vertebral fractures) right up in that ballpark as well. All baseball players have labral fraying in their shoulders, but not all of them are in pain. A lot of folks have tendinopathy under the microscope, but don't actually present with pain - YET. So what can you do? First off, if you're sedentary, move. Something is better than nothing! If you're already active, when it comes to your health, think "inefficiency" and not "pathology." The conventional medical model tells us to wait until we have pain to get something checked out. To me, a lack of hip internal rotation range-of-motion, fallen arches, and poor scapular stability are all example of issues that you need to address before pathologies present as pain and loss of function. If you've got shoulder or upper back issues, check out Inside-Out and Secrets of the Shoulder. If your hips are tight, check out our Magnificent Mobility DVD. Lower back pain? Try Dr. Stuart McGill's Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. If it's knee problems, Mike Robertson's Bulletproof Knees is for you. Cruddy ankle mobility? I like Mike Boyle's Joint-by-Joint Approach to Training. A little education and a small financial investment early-on will do wonders for saving you a lot of pain, time, and cash down the road.
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Golf and Unstable Surfaces

Q&A rant that deserves a newsletter of its own...

Q: I have received a golf fitness program designed specifically for my injury history.  This program came from the <Insert Noteworthy Golf Trainer’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 #6 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.   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 unstable surface training, Body Blade frolicking, and four-exercise 3x10 band circuits for the suckers in the crowd. Yours Cynically, EC
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20 Things from Dr. McGill (2 of 4)

I’ve seen Dr. McGill in seminar before, and by my own admission, I’ve always been more of a “listen and watch” guy than a note-taker. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t hear a lot of great points that went right to my notepad. Here were some highlights along with (in some cases) my commentaries on their applicability to what we do: 6. Shear forces are far more of a concern than compressive forces; our spines actually handle compressive forces really well. You can’t buttress shear effectively in flexion, so it’s important to avoid it – especially at the most commonly injured lumbar spine segments – at all costs. The spine doesn’t buckle until 12,000-15,000N of pressure are applied in compression, but as little as 1,800-2,8000N in shear will get the job done. 7. The rectus abdominus is not about trunk flexion; it’s an anti-rotator that is responsible for transferring hoop stresses. If it was about trunk flexion, it wouldn’t have the lateral tendinous inscriptions; we’d have hamstrings there instead! 8. Don’t just train the glutes in hip extension; really pay attention to their role as external rotators. Once you’ve mastered linear movements (e.g. supine bridges), you need to get into single-leg and emphasis movements like bowler squats and lunges with reaches to various positions. These are great inclusions in the warm-up. 9. Contrary to popular belief, the vertebral bodies – and not the discs – are the shock absorbers of the spine. Amazingly, the elasticity we see is actually in the bone; blood is responsible for pressurizing the bone. 10. End-plate fractures are the most common injury with compression; they almost always are accompanied by a “pop” sound. Eric Cressey P.S. As an interesting aside to all of this, Dr. McGill and I actually spoke at length about the importance of hip mobility – something that obviously is closely related to all twenty of these points. If you lack mobility at the hips, you’re forced to go to the lumbar spine to get it, and that is a serious limitation to building stability. On several occasions, Dr. McGill alluded to Mike Robertson and my Magnificent Mobility DVD, so if you’re looking to protect your back, improve performance, and feel better than you ever thought possible, check it out..
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20 Things from Dr. McGill (1 of 4)

I’ve seen Dr. McGill in seminar before, and by my own admission, I’ve always been more of a “listen and watch” guy than a note-taker. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t hear a lot of great points that went right to my notepad. Here were some highlights along with (in some cases) my commentaries on their applicability to what we do: 1. As counterintuitive as it may seem, flexion-intolerant individuals (e.g. disc herniations) will sit in positions of flexion, and extension-intolerant patients (e.g. spondylolisthesis) will sit in positions of extension. It might give them temporary relief, but it’s really just making the problem worse in the long run. We become intolerant to certain lumbar spine postures not only because we’re in them so much (e.g., cyclist or secretary in long-term lumbar flexion), but also because we’re forced into this posture due to a lack of hip mobility or lumbar spine stability. 2. It’s absolutely comical that the American Medical Association still uses loss of spinal range of motion as the classification scheme of lower back dysfunction. There isn’t a single study out there that shows the lumbar spine range of motion is correlated with having a healthy back; in fact, the opposite is true! Those with better stability (super-stiffness, as Dr. McGill calls it) and optimal hip mobility are much better off. 3. Lower back health is highly correlated with endurance, while those with stronger and more powerful lower backs are more commonly injured. The secret is to have power at the hips – something you’ll see in world-class lifters. 4. There is really no support for bilateral stretching of the hamstrings to prevent and treat lower back pain. In most cases, the tightness people feel in their hamstrings is a neural tightness – not a purely soft-tissue phenomenon. Dr. McGill believes that the only time the hamstrings should be stretched is with an asymmetry. This is something I’ve been practicing for close to a year now with outstanding results; the tighter my hamstrings have gotten, the stronger and faster I’ve become. The secret is to build dynamic flexibility that allows us to make use of the powerful spring effect the hamstrings offer; static stretching – especially prior to movement – impairs this spring. 5. Next time you see an advanced powerlifter or Olympic lifter, check out the development of his erectors. You’ll notice that the meat is in the upper lumbar and thoracic regions – not the “true” lower back. Why? They subconsciously know to avoid motion in those segments most predisposed to injury, and the extra meat a bit higher up works to buttress the shearing stress that may come from any flexion that might occur higher up. Novice lifters, on the other hand, tend to get flexion at those segments – L5-S1, L4-L5, L3-L4, L2-L3 – at which you want to avoid flexion at all costs. Our body is great at adapting to protect itself - especially as we become better athletes and can impose that much more loading on our bodies. Eric Cressey P.S. As an interesting aside to all of this, Dr. McGill and I actually spoke at length about the importance of hip mobility – something that obviously is closely related to all twenty of these points. If you lack mobility at the hips, you’re forced to go to the lumbar spine to get it, and that is a serious limitation to building stability. On several occasions, Dr. McGill alluded to Mike Robertson and my Magnificent Mobility DVD, so if you’re looking to protect your back, improve performance, and feel better than you ever thought possible, check it out.
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Back to McGill: A New Interview with Dr. Stuart McGill

A few people have had such a profound impact on the world of health and human performance that they deserve a second go-round. Stuart McGill is one such individual. Continue Reading...
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