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Does Strength Prevent Injuries?

Evan OsarToday’s guest post comes from Evan Osar.  Evan is doing a great job sharing his views and systems for corrective exercise.  He has a new program teaching you his complete assessment and corrective exercise system that he has produced with our friends from Fitness Revolution.  They have been gracious enough to offer a special $100 off discount for my readers this week.  More info after the article, but you can learn more here: The Integrated Corrective Exercise Approach.

 

Does Strength Prevent Injuries?

The goal of corrective exercise is to help our clients develop a more ideal postural and movement strategy. We strive to teach the nervous system to hold a more optimal alignment, to breathe better, and to control the body better so our clients can hold proper posture and move with greater efficiency and without so much compensation, which is a key factor in many of our clients’ problems and loss of performance.

As strength conditioning specialists, we like to believe that strength prevents injuries because we think the stronger somebody is, the better they are, and the fewer injuries they’ll have.

I’ve been working with clients and patients for the last 17 years, and some of the most dysfunctional individuals whom I assess and work on are the strongest individuals.

 

Strength by Itself Does Not Prevent Injuries

How, then, do we prevent injuries?

What really prevents injuries is helping your client develop an improved strategy for posture and movement. What, then, are the key components to developing an improved strategy for posture and movement?

To improve your clients’ posture and movement, you must get them to understand and incorporate the fundamental ABC’s—the fundamental principles of the Integrated Movement System™.

 

A = Alignment

Evan Osar Corrective ExerciseYou have to teach your clients how to develop the optimal alignment, so when they load the joint, the joint is loaded in the right direction and position.

One way to visualize this principle is to point your finger straight up. If you place the palm of your other hand on the tip of that finger (similar to a “timeout” gesture) and apply force down through the finger, you could hold your finger like this for a long time and not have any issues because you’re loading the joint in the most optimal position.

Now, bend your finger back so it is no longer straight up but is pointing as far away from its palm as it can go. If you try to make the same “timeout” gesture with your other hand and apply force down through the finger, you can’t do that for very long before your finger would be very uncomfortable because it is being bent even further back.

This same concept applies to all the joints in your body: There are maximally optimal positions for loading, and there are suboptimal positions for loading. Our goal is to help our clients align better so that they can put less wear and tear on their joint structures.

 

B = Breathing

We must breathe three dimensionally, or have access to our entire thoracopelvic canister, from top to bottom and from the top of our lung field to our pelvic floor.

We must be able to breathe laterally, or side to side. We must be able to breathe front to back so that we can access the entire diaphragm; all the intercostal muscles between the ribs; the deep myofascial system; and muscles like the psoas, transverse abdominis, and multifidi.

All these muscles coordinate with one another in the process of breathing, which also enables us to stabilize. The primary stabilization of our core should come from internal regulation of pressure—intrathoracic and intra-abdominal pressure. That’s what core stability is really all about.

It’s not about bracing or squeezing muscles—that’s a part of core stabilization, but it’s not the primary component of core stabilization. Therefore, it’s not strength that prevents injuries; it’s the ability to align and breathe.

 

C = Control

Once we align the body in the right position, and once we have proper three-dimensional breathing, we must be able to control our body positions. So whether we’re in a static position, performing a dynamic movement, or moving through the fundamental movement patterns (squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending, rotating in gait), we must be able to use the right muscles at the right time in the right manner to control the joint for the activity that you are trying to do.

The “right muscles” and “right manner” will both change depending upon the different activities we need to do. For example, your clients’ resting postural strategy should be different than what they would do if they were squatting 300 pounds. Certainly, we should have alignment of the thoracopelvic canister both in quiet standing and during a deadlift or squat pattern. What changes however, is the level of activation.

When we’re quietly standing in posture, we should have very little activity of the core muscles; they shouldn’t be off, but there should be very little activity: Our glutes, abdominals, and erectors should be soft. This is similar to how you wouldn’t walk around with your biceps contracted all day long, your abs gripped up all day long, your low back tightened all day long, or your glutes gripped up all day long.

As an exercise, stand up if you are sitting right now. Feel your glutes. They should be soft. Feel around your abdomen, and feel around your lower back. They should all be soft while at rest. This doesn’t mean they’re not toned—in fact, they should be soft, just like how your biceps should be soft at rest.

When we need them to activate to lift a heavy weight, lift a child, lift a bag of groceries, do a sled push, etc., we need a higher level of activity. The key is to use the right strategy at the right time so that we have the control we need for, in this example, thoracopelvic canister.

So when I’m squatting 300 pounds, I have a nice controlled thoracopelvic canister where I’m braced up and able to use intra-abdominal and intrathoracic pressure, and I’m able to layer my abdominal muscles, my low back muscles, and my hip muscles. But when I’m done with that squat pattern, I leave the gym, and I’m living my life, those muscles should release and become soft. What we see with our general population clients specifically is they are not stopping their gripping/bracing strategy when they leave their exercise session, and that’s what starts to put wear and tear upon the joints, overuses the muscles, and creates a lot of compensation.

 

So what prevents injuries? It’s not about strength.

All things being equal, strength will help you prevent injuries, but all things are not equal with our clients. Most of our clients do not have an ideal or optimal postural and movement strategy.

They don’t have great alignment, they don’t have great breathing, and they don’t have great control. They default to gripping, bracing, and doing very accessory dominant breathing as their strategy, and that leads to compensation.

So what helps prevent injuries?

The fundamental ABC’s: alignment, breathing, and control, which should be 3 primary areas of focus in corrective exercise.

 

Learn Evan Osar’s Corrective Exercise System

Corrective exercise systemI am really excited to share that Evan and our friends at Fitness Revolution have offered my readers a special $100 off Evan’s new program, The Integrative Corrective Exercise Approach.  In this great program, Evan shares his proven system to help you assess postural and movement problems and develop a corrective exercise strategy.

The program is $100 off for my readers this week only!  The offer ends Friday March 18th at midnight!

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement into Your Programs

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on 5 Ways to Incorporate Movement into Your Programs is now available.

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement into Your Programs

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement into Your ProgrammingThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on 5 Ways to Incorporate Movement into Your Programs.  In this presentation, I talk about the need to change our focus away from “corrective exercise” and towards “enhancing movement.”  Really just a shift in focus, not technique, but an important concept to consider.

This webinar will cover:

  • I discuss if we have gone too far with “corrective exercises”
  • I overview simply ways to shift your focus towards movement quality
  • How I integrate movement into various portions of my programs
  • Why I think this is all so important

 

To access this webinar:

 

 

Focus on Optimizing Movement Not Corrective Exercises

Corrective exercise has become quite a common term and, often times, focus of many training programs.  It’s great to see fitness and strength and conditioning programming making a shift towards helping people feel and move better.  However…

Have we gone too far?

 

What Does the Person Really Want to Achieve?

Focus on Optimizing Movement Not Corrective ExercisesI’m not sure who the first person to say this quote was, but I’ve heard it several times and completely agree:

No one comes to work with you with the goal of a symmetrical 3 on a FMS active straight leg raise test or to get strong outside of the sagittal plane.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should be thinking this way, but that is not the person training with you’s primary goal.  They usually want to lose weight, get stronger, or simply look better.

Often times we are too guilty of force feeding our training clients what WE want, not what THEY want.  This is a common mistake I see in many young personal trainers and coaches.  It’s great that you want to show off the new information you’ve learned in a seminar, but integrating this into the person’s goals is the real challenge that those with more experience can master.

 

Focus on Optimizing Movement Not Corrective Exercises

I often recommend that personal trainers and strength coaches shift their focus away from corrective exercise and more towards simply optimizing movement.  Without a very thorough examination process, truly identifying injury, poor mechanics, or areas of concern is a challenge.  That is why I often mention the Corrective Exercise Bell Curve, where I discuss how often times corrective exercises are unsuccessful, or worse, counterproductive.

By focusing on optimizing movement, we take away the need to “fix” someone with corrective exercises. [Click to Tweet]

It’s much easier to build a program now to lose weight, get stronger, or look better by programming towards optimizing their movement, rather than “fixing” their problems.  “Fixing” someone often times results in a very limiting program, with the focus on which exercises to avoid rather than which exercises to perform.

Maybe I’m getting carried away, but simply making this quick change in my mindset and focus of my programming has really helped me.

What do you think?

 

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement into Your Programs

My next Inner Circle webinar is tomorrow night and I will discussing 5 Ways to Incorporate Movement in Your Programs. I received a lot of feedback and requests to elaborate on this topic after my past webinar on corrective exercises. I wanted to share 5 ways that you can assure that your program emphasizes enhancing movement quality.

The webinar will be on Tuesday February 23 at 8:00 PM EST. A recording will be posted for those that can not attend live.

 

 

How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises is now available.

How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises

How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program ExercisesThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises.  While this seems like a simple topic, the concepts discussed here are key to enhancing shoulder and scapula function.  There are many little tweaks you can perform for shoulder exercises to make them more effective.  If you perform rotator cuff or scapula exercises poorly, you can be facilitating compensatory patterns.  In this webinar, we discuss:

  • How to correctly perform rotator cuff and scapula exercises
  • Coaching cues that you can use to assure proper technique
  • How to enhance exercises by paying attention to technique
  • How to avoid compensation patterns and assure shoulder program exercises are as effective as possible

To access this webinar:

 

 

 

5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises More Effective

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on 5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises More Effective is now available.

 

5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises More Effective

5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises More EffectiveThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on 5 Tweaks to Make Shoulder Exercises More Effective.  Over the years, you tend to pick up on the little things that can make a big difference.  I’m always reading the latest research to find simple little tweaks that I can make to an exercise to change the desired result.  Maybe I’m trying to optimize the mechanics of the scapula, or trying to enhance EMG activity of a certain muscle, or even change the ratio of activity between two muscles.

In this webinar, we discuss:

  • Why little tweaks can make a big difference
  • Why integrating the kinetic chain into a shoulder exercise may be effective
  • How altering hip and trunk movement during exercises change the muscle activity
  • How you can put this all together and make your own functional exercises specific to each person

To access this webinar:

 

 

 

Do We Really Need Corrective Exercises?

This past weekend, I was speaking at the Elite Training Workshop that we hosted at Champion PT and Performance in Boston on the topic of Integrating Corrective Exercises with Performance Enhancement.  As I was going through my slides, I actually tweaked it a bit and added one new slide with a simple statement:

 

Stop Trying to Correct and Start Trying to Enhance

Do We Really Need Corrective ExercisesAt the beginning of the talk, I discussed what some people would use to define the term “corrective exercise.”  I even asked around the room.  In general most people refer to corrective exercises as an exercise designed to improve poor mobility, strength imbalances, and altered motor control.

But there are some people that still refer to corrective exercises as exercises designto “fix” someone or “reduce pain.”  I would argue, this is not what corrective exercises are supposed to be utilized for within a training program.  Fixing injuries uses rehabilitation exercises, not corrective exercises.  They are different.

This may be why you see people doing a squat on an unstable surface and calling it a “corrective exercise.”  What are you trying to correct with that exercise?

One of the major components of using corrective exercises is a thorough assessment.  Without an assessment you are just taking a stab at something.  Without a through assessment, you are looking at an incomplete picture.  This may be OK to try on some people, but will be ineffective with many people, and could actually be detrimental with people in pain.  I’ve talked about this before in what I call The Corrective Exercise Bell Curve.

corrective exercise bell curve

I would define corrective exercises more like this:

Corrective exercises are designed to enhance how well you move and perform.  [Click Here to Tweet This]

 

So Do We Really Need to Use Corrective Exercises in the Fitness and Performance World?

I still think we do, but perhaps we should really change our focus.  Corrective exercises shouldn’t be used to “fix” people.  That implies there is a problem.  Don’t think of it as taking someone that is below their baseline capacity and getting them back to baseline, think of it as enhancing someone’s baseline and raising their capacity.

“Corrective exercise” is probably not the best terminology, perhaps that is part of the problem.  Incorporate corrective exercises to help enhance people.   Again, I’ll go back to that original phrase from my new slide:

Stop trying to correct and start trying to enhance.  [Click Here to Tweet This]

Use corrective exercises to enhance someone’s mobility, or improve someone’s movement pattern, or to add a strength emphasis to an area that is weak.  In this last example, if someone is quad dominant, has poor glute strength, and overuses their low back instead of their hips to hips, a “corrective exercise” may be a deadlift variation!  That doesn’t seem like rehab to me, that seems like performance enhancement, doesn’t it?

 

Learn How I Integrate Corrective Exercises with Performance Enhancement

 

If you are interested in learning how I integrate corrective exercises into our performance enhancement programs at Champion, I have an Inner Circle webinar on the topic.  In the presentation, I discuss:

  • What corrective exercises really focus on
  • How to  classify corrective exercises into specific components
  • My system for determining which corrective exercises to perform
  • What you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your corrective exercises
  • How and when to integrate corrective exercises into your rehabilitation, fitness, or performance enhancement program

To access the presentation:

 

 

Anterior Pelvic Tilt Influence on Squat Mechanics

anterior pelvic tilt influences squat mechanicsI feel like we’ve been discussing anterior pelvic tilt lately in several articles and an Inner Circle webinar on my strategies for fixing anterior pelvic tilt.  I wanted to show a video of a great example of how a simple assessment really tells you a lot about how pelvic positioning should influence how we coach exercises such as squats and deadlifts.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my past article on how anterior pelvic tilt influences hip range of motion, you should definitely start there.

In this video, I have a great example of a client that has limited knee to chest mobility and with boney impingement.  However, if we abduct the leg a bit, it clears the rim of the hip and has full mobility with no impingement.

YouTube Preview Image

As you can see, because he is in anterior pelvic tilt, he is prepositioned to start the motion in hip flexion, so therefor looks like he has limited mobility.  I have a past article on how anterior pelvic tilt influence hip flexion mobility, which discusses this a little more.

While you are working on their anterior pelvic tilt, you can work around some of their limitations.  I hate when people say there is only one way to squat or deadlift.

Our anatomy is so different for each individual.

Some need a wider stance while others need more narrow.  Some need toes out while some need more neutral.  Do what works best for your body, not what the text book says you are supposed to look like.

 

 

Updated Strategies for Anterior Pelvic Tilt

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on the Strategies for Anterior Pelvic Tilt is now available.

Updated Strategies for Anterior Pelvic Tilt

strategies for anterior pelvic tiltThis month’s Inner Circle webinar was on Strategies for Anterior Pelvic Tilt.  This is actually an update on one of my most popular webinars in the past.  I am doing a couple new things and wanted to assure everyone has my newest thoughts.  In this webinar I go through my system of how I integrate manual therapy, self-myofascial release, stretching, and correcting exercises.  To me, it’s all how you put the program together.  My system builds off each step to maximize the effectiveness of your programs.

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