What is your outcome measure?
When most people are asked this question, various responses are made. All of them plenty logical. What you typically will not hear is movement health. I am going to make a case as to why this should be an A1 priority over all other pursuits. Some of these other pursuits may include reaching a certain body fat percentage, running a half marathon, playing a round of pain-free golf, or breaking 80 for the first time. At Premier Fitness Systems, we believe all of these pursuits are meaningless without solid movement. Without a doubt, movement quality and competency are above all.
We combine 3 models in order to make sound educated leaps to justify our philosophy of training. They are the Dynamic Systems Model, Biotensegrity, and Mechanotransduction, all of which have been proven mathematically and in physical experiments. All of these models are very intricate and have many subtleties/complexities to them.
But as I’ve been told, or better yet, beaten over the head with – if you can’t explain a difficult concept in a couple sentences then you don’t grasp it fully. So here goes nothing…
Quick side notes: this is going to get a little technical, and if the science behind the madness is of no interest, then skip ahead. No hard feelings, I promise.
Dynamic Systems Model:
- In this specific context explains how the human organism plans/operates movement through space.
- Within each macro system (total being) there are an infinite number of subsystems that go into the larger macro system.
- Any of those subsystems can have a huge effect on the larger system’s movement operation (non-linear). This removes the old top down approach, or man behind the curtain controlling all. (There is no man or woman in our brain.)
- The expert mover has multiple dials/movement complexities to fine tune motor output (more ways to solve a motor problem).
- In this specific context, the architecture of the human system.
- Human structure is more like bubbles in a bathtub rather than a skyscraper (block on block).
- Infinite numbers of organization, almost like the Russian dolls. From what we can see all the way down to molecular level.
- Mechanical deformation at one end of organism is translated through system in order to maintain integrity. If skyscraper analogy were true we would break apart in zero gravity or lifting a 30lbs child would crush our spines.
- In this context, explains how living tissue is influenced by the way we move.
- All subsystems in the body are connected from macro to micro.
- If I flex my bicep I am literally controlling all the way down to nucleus level and thereby controlling gene expression. Seriously.
- Cells are influenced to operate by mechanical deformation.
So how this all ties together…
- Infinite numbers of subsystem; infinite numbers of organization; infinite numbers of mechanical ways we can influence the laying down of new tissue
- What I do at my neck matters in my deadlift, or toe position in my squat, or even that I can influence how my thoracic spine extends by how my hand is interacting with the ground.
The big picture is to look at your moving system as connected, and realize that, while training, quality of movement far outweighs any other performance measure. (Competition is different, a talk for another time.) So, do something incorrectly or poorly repeatedly and you are implanting the pattern all the way down to nucleus level. Furthermore, the body is constantly remaking itself. When we train with little intention or crappy form, we are influencing how certain tissue is being restructured. This should make you think twice about doing momentum pull-ups or Olympic lifting for time. What are you telling the system? It matters… it all matters.
Principles in Action
So how do we influence this in our training?
Create and control tension, joint centration, joint segmentation/dissociation, and breathing. These are the biggies. Every exercise, drill, or circus act should respect these principles.
Creating and Controlling Tension:
Tension is a bit of a loaded word. I’m not talking about the tension you feel in your shoulders or lower back. That is uncontrolled and more due to overuse or poor attractor states (dynamic systems model language). The tension we are speaking about is the ability to connect with the ground, create torque, and move purposefully. The reasons we want to control tension are…
- Increase body awareness
- Store potential energy
- Influence how our bodies lay down regenerated tissue
- Allow for relaxation
The ability to keep a joint in its maximal point of congruence with greatest ability for proper length tension from surrounding muscles. Which brings up another important point…
- Muscles are never weak. Unless you have a neurological condition or have been sitting in a hospital bed for an extended period of time. If you can lift your leg against gravity then we’re not dealing with a strength issue… I promise.
- The “weak muscle” is a proper response from the central nervous system from poor joint positioning, lack of joint range of motion, or crappy soft tissue integrity.
- Once again muscles are never weak (this can be a little controversial) and I can guarantee your glutes aren’t weak or turned off (Tiger Woods).
- The larger problem is that your joint range of motion is limited, and your system has no idea where the center of the joint is. It’s all about survival for the body and the next logical step is to decrease the neural drive to a certain group of muscles in that position.
- I’m not saying that you cannot benefit from strength training. That’s a ridiculous statement. Another ridiculous statement is that single limb bridges are going to make you sway less on your takeaway. Not happening… no way, no how. I promise.
The ability to move one joint or part of body independent of another.
- For a joint to work properly it must operate like a joint. Right? Seems to make a lot of sense. Get on all fours and try a yoga cat/camel pose with a mirror on your side. Unless you have been actively working on segmenting your spine, or you swing from trees and hunt your own food, then 90% of you will have a poor distributed curve. Therefore by the definition of a joint you are missing segments in your spine. So probably not a good idea to load those joints.
- Get joints to work independently of one another and that stiffness/tightness you feel will probably decrease rapidly.
- If the athlete can create more separation between moving body parts while controlling the motion, they win. Simple as that.
- At this point the athlete can be molded to fit any type of swing their coach might want.
This ties it all together. If you cannot cycle a breath in these “stretched out”/tensioned positions then you will never have ownership. Gray Cook talks about hitting SAVE on the document with proper breathing. This is a great analogy and makes perfect sense. By breathing at end range positions we are decreasing the threat the central nervous system feels, and this allows for true changes to occur.
Commit to Better Movement
So this is just a start to our movement practice. Our mission is to change the way people think about exercising in this country and especially the way they prepare to play golf. With these fundamental principles you will get functionally strong, stay healthy, and most importantly, continue to play.
Michael Kay graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Upon graduating he worked in various outpatient clinical settings and became extremely dissatisfied with standard outpatient orthopedic practice. Repeated clamshells, “bandy” exercises, all along with the pressure to slam more patients into an hour than was humanly possible made Dr. Mike sad. This made him to look outside of the standard PT practice and run far away from the insurance model never to return again.
Dr. Mike believes in a serious training approach along with appropriate manual therapy. He works all along the performance spectrum from early rehab to the highest levels of performance. He practices and trains clients at Premier Fitness Systems in Scottsdale, AZ. He is available for online coaching and custom program development.