Exercises for better golf swing. Insights from a newborn.

I arrived at a gym one day seeing a friend sitting on a machine that appeared to be making him do the splits.  I inquired, ‘Hey pal, what are you working on?’  Hey replied ‘oh doing some exercises I read about to improve my golf game’…

What if I started the story over and he was instead doing push ups, or sit ups, or pull ups, would it make any more sense?  Maybe, but think about this.  If we want a surefire blueprint on how exercises can translate into skill acquisition there is no better resource than looking at the process of how a baby works to gain the ability to walk.

Babies want to walk.  They prove that they want to walk by working like heck to stand on their feet.  After they are able to stand on their feet, they are pulling themselves up all of the time until the finally master the ability to walk around.

After achieving the basics of walking do they then begin to lie down again in order to get better at walking?

Why do we think that we need to do that?  Golf exercises should look like playing golf to some degree.  Fixed feet, neck rotation, torso rotation, hip rotation, arm swing, etc.  The further we move away from looking like the task that we are after, the less our body understands what we are asking from it.  I try to think of that now when I watch people purposefully exercise.  I feel like I should be able to say, ‘Yeah that looks like Golf’.

If interested the progression of a baby to walking a.k.a. gross motor milestones follow.

Image result for gross motor milestones birth to 1 year

 

 

Neuropathy, Heel raises, and return of sensation?

In the past I remember seeing an elderly woman walking with her daughter for assistance.  The daughter did not want anyone to ‘overwork’ her mother.  On the other hand, the elderly woman wanted to ‘feel like I’m getting a good workout’.  So when the daughter would run errands, the Mother would work out with increased intensity.  Part of the elderly woman’s exercises included heel raises and standing on the balls of her feet for 10 seconds throughout the day.  Within a couple of weeks she returned with an unusual report.

‘I can feel my feet working’.  Literally tears in her eyes she expounded that she was informed by her Primary Care Physician that the loss of sensation in her feet from ‘neuropathy’ had no available intervention that would help to regain sensation.

Long story short, I was surprised that exercise could do this.  Then I thought, well why wouldn’t exercise and movement help.  I am continually amazed and impacted at how something as simple as movement can be such a powerful and nourishing stimulus for healing in the days when we feel as though we need pills to facilitate this response.  I am not saying that exercise will cure neuropathy, but merely relaying this subjective report that provides further weight for the argument of movement and exercise.

Brain Health, Aging, and effects of exercise.

In a previous post I encouraged you to explore how the entire body is connected and responsive to movement.  There are many studies that highlight the positive effects of exercise on each organ, and organ systems.  Often these studies will look at and make a statement such as ‘research has proven that a forest contains trees’, or expound further to state, ‘research has proven that a forest that can sustain one type of tree may be able to sustain a different type of tree as well’.

John Medina includes in his best selling book ‘Brain Rules‘ clear cut statements concerning brain health and exercise such as:

  • “Researchers studied two elderly populations that had led different lifestyles, one sedentary and one active. Cognitive scores were profoundly influenced. Exercise positively affected executive function, spatial tasks, reaction times and quantitative skills.”
  • “Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals. One of the most interesting findings of the past few decades is that an increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptick in mental sharpness.”
  • “Exercise acts directly on the molecular machinery of the brain itself. It increases neurons’ creation, survival, and resistance to damage and stress.”

Image result for elderly health and unhealthyImage result for jack lalanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s look at the big picture.

We are made to move.  Exercise nourishes us as a whole.  The lack of movement or exercise leads to decline in all areas of our lives.  Thus, regardless of the thin slicing conclusions of research, we can easily draw the conclusion that  maintaining mobility is paramount for maximizing the benefit of exercise on our lives.

p.s. God Bless Jack LaLanne (he was 70 in this picture)

 

Core versus Appendages. Function and Response

The ‘core’ can be likened to the stick in the picture below.

The appendages in turn can be likened to the propeller.  The more efficient the ‘core’ or stick is at transferring energy into the ‘appendages’ or propeller, the greater the influence on the environment (function) is produced.

In this picture, a general relationship can be established with the kinetic chain of the human body.

WALKING:

  1. The ‘hands’ in the picture = the foot in an activity such as walking.  This is because the foot initiates everything in the kinetic chain during an activity such as walking.
  2. The ‘post’ in the picture = the ‘core’, or axial skeleton, and surrounding tissues as they work to efficiently and in their respective roles transfer energy up the kinetic chain.
  3. The ‘propeller’ in the picture = the arms, or ‘appendages’ which become reactive to the demands that the feet, then core, place upon them.

THROWING:

  1. The ‘hands’ in the picture = the hand that is throwing the object.  This is because the hand initiates everything in the kinetic chain during the activity of throwing.
  2. The ‘post’ in the picture = the ‘core’, or axial skeleton and surrounding tissues as they work to efficiently and in their respective roles transfer energy down the kinetic chain.
  3. The ‘propeller’ in the picture = the feet which respond to assist in loading and decelerating the forces delivered from the core.

 

Less isolation more integration… cam impingement and the kinetic chain.

At one time I was able to work with an athlete who participated in sport requiring twisting of the torso while the feet are fixed to the ground.  Upon introduction, they relayed skepticism about the ‘diagnosis’ being the problem of ‘cam impingement’ seen on a radiograph.

types of femoroacetabular impingement

As we can see in the picture above the cam presented on the radiograph as bony deposit on the hip where the neck meets the ball.  Immediately I considered ‘Wolff’s Law’ which states ‘that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed’.  So the question becomes, what is placing load on this region of the femur?

Watching this individual rotate his torso in a fixed feet position quickly revealed the answer.  They could not rotate through their thoracic spine.  As a result the pelvis had to move more to accommodate a reduction in mobility in the thoracic spine.

So let’s expound a bit.  Baseball is the sport.  A right handed hitter.  During the wind-up, the pelvis was placing the right femur into a flexed and internally rotated position.  The thoracic spine did not assist with rotation driven by the arms so the pelvis had to move more and faster.  This in turn provided the load stimulus on the anterior femur.  Wolff’s law then stated that bone will deposit in response to the load and as a result the formation of the ‘cam’ was the consequence.

Image result for baseball hitting technique

Facilitating motion in the thoracic spine with functional integration lead almost immediately to increase in power production and reduction in hip pain.

 

 

What am I stretching?

After years in the movement profession I am humbled by the complexity and interdependence of the body.  When I first began I would view the following as, ‘a hamstring stretch’.

Image result for hamstring stretch

I now think back to the basics from anatomy and physiology class.  There are 11 systems in the human body.  The Cardiovascular system is working hard to provide gas exchange and tissue nourishment through the circulatory system while regions are lengthening.  The Digestive system peristalsis may be facilitated through pressure gradients.  The Endocrine system may be responding in various ways such as increasing blood endorphine levels in response to the intensity of the stretch.  The Integumentary system is involved allowing excursion through motion segments because of it’s visco-elastic components.  The Lymphatic system is being stimulated through extrinsic pumps to facilitate intrinsic lymph flow.  The Muscular system at it’s respective region is being lengthened and shortened simultaneously in all 3 planes of movement.  The Nervous system is likewise being tensioned, facilitated, and inhibited allowing for perception of the stimulus.  The Renal system is working to preserve sodium for the re-absorption of water and maintaining tissue hydration thus reducing the perceived need for urination during activity.  The Reproductive system may be reactive in producing hormonal response such as testosterone in males.  The Respiratory system is working to provide gas exchange and nourish oxygen dependent tissues.  And of course the Skeletal system may be reacting to the stimulus by creating greater bone density to respond to gravity and ground reaction force.

The question becomes what is not affected during this stretch.  Thus another reason why this website is entitled Movement for Life since many of these systems perform optimally when we move and affect our surrounding environment.  We are made to move.

Trying to avoid a knee replacement. The story of a forefoot equinus.

I remember working with someone that presented with a foot type referred to as a ‘forefoot equinus’ which appears as the following…

This foot type does not allow the tibia to travel forward over the talus a.k.a the shin to travel over the ankle.  It is as if the ankle is stuck in a ‘stepping on the gas’ position appearing pointed down.  The ankle may travel up or ‘dorsiflex’ but will rarely enter into ‘dorsiflexion’ consequently not allowing the knee to bend forward past the toe.  As a result, when the ankle cannot travel forward, it will utilize a different plane of motion to allow for functional activity such as gait.  You may notice someone with this foot type walking with their foot rotated out accomplishing in the transverse plane (rotation) what cannot be accomplished in the saggital plane (forward/backward).

The foot will then pull the knee along that path introducing a lateral and rotatory force into the knee joint thus accelerating the degeneration.  At the time I saw this person they looked something like this during standing.

Image result for severe genu valgum

The knee looks bad so it must be the problem?  No.  The knee is just doing what the foot has been telling it to do for many years.  Understanding movement is critical in sleuthing the villain.  Do you think after this person receives a total knee replacement that it will solve their problems?  That foot is still the same, hiding in the background until addressed.

 

Animal testing reveals Opioid use amplifies pain rather than dulling it

In a publication entitled “Morphine paradoxically prolongs neuropathic pain in rats by amplifying spinal NLRP3 inflammasome activation” researchers have discovered what Patients and movement professionals already know.

An opioid sets off a chain of immune signals in the spinal cord that amplifies pain rather than dulling it.  In summary, after approximately 1 week worth of moderate opioid dosage it resulted in doubling the time of hypersensitivity.  Even after the opioid left the animal’s system it was hypersensitive for twice the duration (12 weeks vs. 6 weeks) compared to that of the animal who was not administered an opioid.

Image result for glial cells

 

The hopeful finding is that researchers have proposed an idea of what is taking place and are in the process of developing a pharmaceutical to block imflammasome created by glial cells.  I know, another pill, yet at this point there are no quick fixes.

Living in America, a country in Opioid crisis, research in this area is overdue and paramount in addressing individual and community health.

 

 

  • Drug overdoses have since become the leading cause of death of Americans under 50, with two-thirds of those deaths from opioids.”
  • In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to
    give every American adult their own bottle of pills.
  • The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults
    nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007
  • 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.

After reading a few of these statistics taken from various sources, I have more questions rather than answers.  I try to be critical without being cynical, yet how has it reached this point.  Wasn’t research performed prior to the prescription process?  Haven’t medical professionals observed the negative effects in their patient population?  And why has the research performed on rats just been performed in 2016.  Oxycodone has been around since 1939 but was heavily prescribed as early as 1996.  Surely we can learn from this going forward.

Balance and the inner ear. ‘a toss around on the ground’

A respected movement professional once made a perplexing statement that I believe I now understand better.  They said something to the effect of, ‘all of us would benefit from the occasional toss around on the ground’.

Over the years I have appreciated the positives of many movement professions.  Feldenkrais, Pilates, Yoga, etc.  I marvel in hindsight in summary about how much I am pretty much just rolling around on the ground.  Interestingly enough I almost always end up feeling great.

As I age I have noticed when playing with my kids, or working on the house, that I find myself experiencing dizziness during change of head positions more than ever before.  One day after competing with my daughter performing somersaults, I experienced a surprising amount of dizziness and loss of balance that took longer to recover than I had remembered.  I realized a whole area that I had neglected in addressing age related changes affecting movement, in particular balance.

Just like my posting on balance, the vestibular system may experience agerelated sensory degeneration documented since the 1970’s.  I am a firm believer of the plasticity of the body meaning given the right stimulus the vestibular system has the capacity adapt to the imposed demand.

Thus introducing ‘The Foster Maneuver’ a.k.a. the ‘Half Somersault’ for treatment of the inner ear dysfunction known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV.  Did you read that right?  A ‘Half Somersault’.  Just another piece of evidence and justification to the statement ‘all of us would benefit from the occasional toss around on the ground’.

 

So in summary as you continue to pursue independence through function and mobility, please continue to challenge the systems in your body to adapt and perform as they did in your youth.  Often we lose what we do not use.  Remember to change head positions as tolerated in your exercises.  Looking left, right, down, up, side-to side may help to restore the vestibular changes resulting from lack of use.

In case you are curious here is a link to the Foster Maneuver.

Total knee replacement and foot type. Through the lens of function.

I recently had the privilege to work with a person that presented with a dysfunctional foot type.  It looked similar to this…Image result for valgus knee flat feet

 

I was able to work with this person because an Orthopedic Surgeon performed a procedure entitled a ‘Total Knee Replacement’ on them secondary to complaints of knee pain and knee osteoarthritis.

This individual suffered from significant constant swelling past the expected duration, following a total knee replacement.  They also repeatedly complained of constant and high levels of knee pain at the ‘inside of the knee’.   Upon inquiry the individual stated ‘the surgeon never looked at my foot, why would he?’

 

Image result for valgus knee flat feet

When tested on a table, the new knee performed very well appearing well aligned and demonstrating good mobility through bending and straightening.  When standing everything changed.  The toes turned out while the arch collapsed thus pulling the talus in thus pulling the tibia in creating a lateral angle at the knee.

 

Please consider the interconnectedness of the body and motion segments.  Search for an opinion from a trusted movement professional that considers function, and/or the interconnectedness of the entire body.  A foot problem will lead to a knee problem.  If the foot problem is not addressed, the knee will continue to present with problems.  This is true throughout the entire body during movement and locomotion.

Medically this individual was offered 2 options to address their complaints.  Pain pills, and aspiration.