Category Archives: MOVE

When a Reset Doesn’t Stick

(Author’s Note:  I originally wrote this post for the guys at Original Strength, so the references are to pressing reset in particular.  Pressing reset, in Original Strength terms, is using the developmental sequence to re-tap into how we originally learned to move in order to restore movement.  However, the concepts I talk about below apply to any type of mobility or movement practice.  Enjoy!)

Once you’ve been pressing reset for a while, things just start to click.  Until they don’t.  Something that felt smooth and connected one day might feel awkward and disconnected the next.  So what gives?  How often do we need to press reset before the movement “sticks”?  In my practice and coaching experience, the amount of pressing reset someone needs to do tracks right along with the effects of their modern lifestyle and environment.

modern lifestyle environment.001

If we were to press reset and then spend most of our time moving like humans (i.e. squatting/locomoting/throwing/etc.), our “reset” would likely be maintained.  To keep with the computer analogy, we are running fully updated and integrated software and hardware so we don’t experience frozen screens or bugs that require us to press reset as often.

However, most of us don’t do these things as often as our genes expect.  Our modern lifestyle in many ways disconnects our minds and bodies rather than ties them together.  For me, this is a part of why Original Strength is so powerful – it gives us an entry point (THE first entry point for all humans!) into movement and the mind-body connection.

What else can we learn by critically analyzing our modern environment through the OS lens?  If we know the importance of sensory integration for motor output (i.e. being able to get a lot of rich information to the brain so we can make better movement decisions), and that by breathing, stimulating the vestibular system, and crossing the midline we can reset this system, what simple modifications can we make to our daily environments and habits to keep our software running smoothly, for longer?  That way, not only are we taking positive action by restoring our original operating system, we’re also doing our best to avoid spam and viruses along the way.

Eliminating the Negative

This concept isn’t a new one.  Those of you familiar with Gray Cook and the Functional Movement Screen will recognize this concept from Gray’s work.  Much of his time spent working with professional athletes is not prescribing MORE corrective exercise and movement, but identifying potential red flags and eliminating exercises that aren’t getting us anywhere.

That’s the same concept I want to use now, only applied to our daily standard of living through the OS lens.  In particular, three things jump to the forefront of my mind.  Let’s call them the 3  S’s.

Screens – Screens have become ubiquitous in our culture.  Computers, smart phones, tablets, televisions, you name it.  While this technology enables us to do amazing things, it also keeps our eyes and vision tied to one point for most of the day – straight ahead.  Our bodies our built so that the eyes lead movement, followed by the head, and then the body.  By locking our eyes/heads into one location with very little tracking or subsequent movement, we allow our reflexes to atrophy.

Action:  I won’t suggest that you try to completely eliminate screens from your life as that’s not reasonable for most of us.  However, simply taking breaks from looking at your screen to do some neck nods and re-integrate your eye/head movement will go a long way towards maintaining this connection.  Try installing a simple program such as TimeOut (Mac) or Workrave (Windows) which gives you preprogrammed breaks whenever you’re on your computer for an extended period of time.  Use the 15s breaks to look around and the longer breaks to do some resets or get up and walk around and connect with those around you.

Shoes – Our hands and feet are how we interact with and manipulate our environment.  As such, they have a high concentration of muscles, bones, nerves, and proprioceptors that allow us to sense and react to a world with changing conditions…until we put shoes on.  Shoes create a “one size fits all” sensory signal and reduce the complexity and richness of the proprioceptive feedback from that region.  It gets increasingly difficult for our brains to organize automatic “reflexive strength” if we deprive it of information about our current position in the world.  How much dexterity do you have in your hands when you put gloves on?  Apply that concept to your feet and you’ll see we have a ton of room to grow here.

Side note:  If you’re a strength coach, try this:  if you have someone who has trouble balancing in a squat, try having them remove their shoes and do the exact same movement.  It might throw them off for the first couple of repetitions, but as they gain a better sense of where they are automatically, you’ll see their form improve without any feedback from you.  Pretty cool.

Action:  Ease into barefoot.  It will take time to recondition the muscles in your feet just as it would if you had your arm in a cast for a while.  An easy first step is to go barefoot when at home or during your warm ups and resets in locations where you aren’t concerned about injuring your feet.  If you haven’t tried rockbacks while barefoot yet, you are missing out!

Sofas – …and chairs…and anything that promotes sitting in the “disembodied head” posture.  This is a term I coined to describe positions where the head moves but doesn’t dictate any reaction in the body, or when the head and body are completely disconnected from each other.  When we are sitting in sofas or chairs, we allow the shape of the furniture to passively keep us in a position instead of actively using our vestibular system and reflexive stability to keep our eyes on the vertical horizon.  That sounds like some detraining to me.  Note: this does not include sitting on the ground which is a very active and reflexive movement…yes I just called sitting a movement, because it is!  Which takes us to our action step.

Action:  Sit on the floor as much as possible, and use as little assistance as possible.  Change positions often.  You will feel how much more “active” this position is – you are constantly shifting your weight slightly in order to stay balanced and in control.  As with shoes, it is wise to ease into this practice.  In the beginning, it may be very challenging or uncomfortable.  Work within what your current capabilities are and they will expand.  Force yourself outside of them and you tend to stagnate or degrade them.

What about you?  What things do you notice about your environment and routines that could be dulling your reflexive strength?  Is there a simple change you can make to clear the path for better movement?

Sensory Deprivation

Hesitation Point

The view from Hesitation Point.

Have you ever had that general feeling of malaise?  You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you feel a little tired, out of it, maybe nauseous but not really nauseous, just out of sorts?  I think it happens to all of us, and I know I see people coming into the gym every day feeling this way.  So what gives?  Was it lack of sleep?  Stress levels out of whack?  Lack of real food or real movement all day?  Perhaps.  But there might be another culprit that we’re missing – sensory deprivation.

The other day I was visiting family up in Fort Wayne and woke up feeling just this way.  Couldn’t shake it, even when I was trying to visit with my loved ones.  So I trusted a gut instinct, excused myself and went out for a 20-minute scouting trip.  I had spotted some trees behind a pond just a block away from my mom’s place.  The kind of trees that sit in a weird spot in a sub-division and don’t have any clear paths to them so are rarely visited.  I walked in a little ways, then found what I was looking for.  A relatively narrow tree with soft bark.  I kicked off my Shamma Sandals, and got to work. Gripping, squatting, pressing my feet into the tree, trying different angles.  The fallen leaves were covering the soft but not too damp ground, crunching under my feet.  The day was gorgeous, sunlight playing down through the tree branches bringing with it a cool breeze.  I felt my brain start to relax.  The nausea started to fade.  I looked deeper into the trees and saw a fallen log.  I dropped to the ground and crawled back, feeling the soft earth between my fingers and reveling in the sounds of connecting with the ground.  I hopped up on the log and walked back and forth, allowing my feet to grip the smooth surface and feel the points where the wood had turned into a knot and become rough or sharp.  Then back down to the climbing tree one more time and then the shoes came back on and I jogged back to the house.  All in all it took about 15 minutes for this excursion, but I felt totally revitalized and alive again.

My question is this:  how often do we deprive ourselves of vitamin sunlight, vitamin horizon, vitamin texture?  We know that our animal instincts expect us to be able to see around us, to focus our eyes at different distances and breadths, to feel surfaces that aren’t always flat and smooth, to experience temperatures that aren’t always between 68 and 72 degrees.  They have really physiological and psychological affects on us (including improved working memory).  How much of the general malaise we see in those around us is due to a lack of this reconnection with nature?  This is why Nature is one of the six areas we focus on in our podcast – and honestly, it’s one that’s easy to neglect.  I’m still discovering all the intricate ways it plays into my life.

The next time you’re feeling out of sorts, try going on a scouting trip and giving yourself a dose of those natural vitamins and see how you feel.  I’d love to hear about your experiences if you do!

OS Play – August 23rd in Bloomington, IN

OS-Playlogo

OS Play is coming to Bloomington, IN on August 23rd!

This is our second OS Play Course EVER!   This 4 hour course will be all about playing (obviously)! We will teach you games and concepts that you can implement into your own training or into programming for your clients, students, patients, or athletes.

We’re going to rediscover the superhero in each of us through play – you’ll learn why play is important, how play can fill in the gaps in your current fitness program (or even replace it), how to start your own ninja academy, and experience tons of games old and new to get you started.

For more details, feel free to contact me using the link in the top bar up above, or check out the event page:  http://originalstrength.net/event/os-play/

Why I Stopped Working Out Entirely – And What It Could Do For You!

I have another guest blog up at the Force Bloomington website.  It’s all about “Reframing Your Workouts” so that they have meaning specific for you.  This one was really fun to write and I think you’ll enjoy the inherent  in it.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Let me give you an example.  My personal WHY is to be able to play and provide for my family for as long as humanly possible.  My pursuit of fitness only matters in how much it empowers me to do these things that I care about and love.

So, for me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to beat myself up to the point where I”m too sore to move, dance, or play.  It also doesn’t make sense for me to do things I don’t like doing, because I know plenty of things I DO enjoy, enough for me to spend a lifetime practicing and exploring.”

Continue reading here:  http://forcebloomington.com/reframing-your-workouts/

New Guest Post – Coaching Yourself to a Great Kettlebell Swing

I have a new blog up on the Force homepage on Self-Coaching the Kettlebell Swing.  The goal of the series is to help you teach yourself to do an exercise with more efficiency using a series of self-awareness drills.  I understand that not everyone has access to a qualified coach – so hopefully this will help you feel confident in your swing even if you don’t have someone giving you direct feedback.  Even if you have a coach, these drills can help you become more aware of your position, tension/relaxation, and timing in the swing.

Enjoy!

http://forcebloomington.com/self-coaching/