Styles

Part 1: How Can Developmental Patterns Improve Your Performance?

Understanding the most basic patterns of human movement starts with understanding developmental patterns and how these patterns build upon each other in a neuro-developmental sequence. Throughout our life it can be advantageous for us to spend time revisiting these developmental patterns to break up compensations and restrictions in movement.

Photo from: On Target Publications

Photo from: On Target Publications

What are developmental patterns?

During infancy, these primitive patterns include rolling over from belly to back, moving away from our base of support we begin to become aware of our spine and how to move a little body under the weight of the head. From here, we learn to crawl then walk.

As adults the most fundamental activities of the human body revolve around simple and basic patterns such as; running, climbing and bounding.

The developmental patterns include the following:

  1. Supine & Prone
  2. Quadruped
  3. Tall & Half Kneeling
  4. Standing

This week is the first of 4 articles in of our “Ground Foundations” programs. Let’s start with the most basic posture, supine and prone. Supine, Meaning laying on your back and prone meaning laying on your belly.

Developmental Pattern #1: Supine & Prone Rolling Pattern

The Spine is designed to move, yet many of us compensate by moving more in one segment and less in another. Moving those segments creates changes to the neuromuscular support around that particular segment. It may free up some muscle tone and allow you to move through your spine a little bit better, but it will not last unless it’s combined with sequential release patterns.

Apart from mobility, we also need to address the other side of the proverbial coin and that’s stability.

Perry Nickleston, of Stop Chsaing Pain states it best; “What is the missing component? Stability – the ability to control movement under change. Uncovering an underlying fundamental stability dysfunction is a critical foundation of functional movement patterning. Going back to primal basics of fundamental movement and core sequencing reveals just how vulnerable a client is to re-injury. In order to discover why clients are in pain, as opposed to just chasing their symptoms, one must look at core function and neural sequencing.

For a more detailed overview of rolling pattern, check out Perry Nickleston’s article “Primal Rolling Patterns for Core Sequencing and Development.”

Simply put, rolling pattern offers us the opportunity to re learn basic flexion and extension of the spine, with the integration of rotation. This can improve our ability to reflexively engage the intrinsic core muscles that stability spine. Moving from upper to lower body-rolling patterns also allows us to differentiate between upper and lower halves.

Upper body rolling pattern helps to bring a greater awareness to the thoracic spine, an area that often lacks the necessary mobility and causes the upper and lower segments of the spine to become sloppy or stiff.

Lower body rolling pattern:  helps to bring greater awareness to the lumbo pelvic hip complex, an area that is usually stiff. The lower back is meant to be stable, but if the hips are not mobile this can cause the lower back to become sloppy and the rhythm of the pelvis will be off.

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Remember that everything in our body is connected, much like a pulley system. Our bones are meant to float in our body, thus we must work to find optimal range in both the joint and their associated tissues in all developmental patterns.

The main role of movement and performance is to sense, adapt and respond to stimulus in a way that saves energy and produces force. This is how movement naturally develops.

However, movement changes over time. Lifestyle habits, postural changes and stress cause significant limitations and asymmetries in our movement and tissues. This significantly increases risk in performance and our health.

Revisiting developmental patterns can be used as a screening tool to help identify limitations and asymmetries. This is what it means to test for durability.

Stay tuned for next week’s article focused on the Quadruped posture. For a complete 4 week program on working through the developmental patterns, please check out and subscribe to Onnit Academy On Demand, on my Durability Channel. The Supine and Prone program starts this September.

Sources:

  • Functional Movement Systems
  • Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA, Stop Chasing Pain
  • Onnit Academy Durability

Join Pain BC’s Day of MOVEment: Every Movement Counts For People In Pain

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AN EXCITING NEW FUNDRASIER COMES TO BC!

Pain BC’s Day of MOVEment, is a day to move – any and all kinds of movement count! Investing in your health and supporting the health of others has never been so easy.

Daily movement is vital to improving the quality of life for people living with pain. However, many of us have limitations and are unable to participate in a typical 5km run or walk. Plus, as a province-wide organization, we want to create an inclusive event that involves all British Columbians.

That’s why Pain BC has created a brand new event to raise money and awareness for chronic pain. No matter where you live or what your physical abilities are… you can get involved!

A DAY OF MOVEMENT SUNDAY JUNE 12TH, 2016

This day exists because Pain BC is dedicated towards promoting health in our community, as well as raising awareness for chronic pain. Your participation offers you the opportunity to do something healthy for yourself and support those who deal with chronic pain every day.

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JOIN OUR ONLINE MOVEMENT YOGA VIDEO

The Rise and Shine Video is designed for anyone and everyone – from beginners to advanced movers and shakers. Explore joint and tissue range through slow, progressive movements in standing and seated postures. This style of movement is a great way to start your day and shake off any stagnant energy!

Designed to be available in the comfort of your own home so you can access movement anytime, anywhere. We had a great time creating this video at Ocean Breath Yoga on Granville Island. There’s nothing more uplifting than being near the ocean on a beautiful day.

Start your day with this 38min movement video – Click Here. 

 

JOIN ONE OF OUR MOVEMENT CLASSES IN BCScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.39.05 AM

On Sunday June 12, 2016, join a MOVEment class at one of the participating studios. Yoga is not only about balancing the mind and body, but it’s also about fostering a connection with your community. No matter where you live, or what your schedule will be we have a class near you.

Thank you to all the studio’s providing karma classes and giving our community a boost in support!

For a list of yoga studios and classes near you – Click Here.

 

Your support can help Pain BC improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of British Columbians living with pain and transform how pain is recognized and treated. To date, Pain BC has done a lot with a little, effecting significant change in BC in a few short years. We’re poised to deepen our impact. With your support, we can build on our early wins, expand our reach, and increase our capacity to improve the lives of people living with pain.

We hope you’ll join the MOVEment! Because every move counts for people in pain. And if you are feeling extra passionate, why not consider donating to the cause. You can do so by – Clicking here. 

 

Find Out More About This Charity

3300-910 WEST 10TH AVENUE

JPPN 3

VANCOUVER, BC , V5Z 1M9

[email protected]

Visit our Web Site

 

The Science of Movement Part 1: Primal Patterns

Primal Patterns:

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Each of us is born into this world free of restriction with the blueprint to move. As infants, we are asked to earn our stability in the world as we learn how to crawl and then eventually walk.

As adults, the most fundamental activities of the human body should include basic movements such as; walking, climbing, crawling, running and bounding, without pain or restriction.

However, movement changes over time and many of these activities are lost and replaced by exercises in the gym, recreational sport on weekends, and occupational stress from the job with the traditional 9 – 5 profession..

Losing the ability to connect with that authentic movement of primal patterns changes how we move amongst our environment. Movement is really a measure of quality and preparation.

Movement is your gauge. It will tell you when things start to break down. Taking care of the negative repercussions that can occur from the adaptations in training, application of load, and challenging your body doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be practical and transferable to ensure you maintain the quality of life you desire.

Would you ever drive your car if it had a flat tire? Probably not. The same should be said for your body. If our body is the vehicle that carries us throughout our life, should we not take care of it?

Consider some of the common areas people feel restricted in on a daily basis:

  •   Common issues in the foot: People give up their stability.
  •   Common issues in the ankle: People give up their mobility.
  •   Common issues in the knee: People give up their stability.
  •   Common issues in the hip: People give up their mobility.
  •   Common issues in the low back People give up their stability.

It is safe to then say then; that as adults and as we age, we are asked to re-earn our mobility. The number one prerequisite for sensory pathways and learning new skills —proprioceptors and neurological connection—is appropriate mobility.

This loss of structural integrity and lack of range can over load the surrounding tissues creating stiffness, rigidity and a loss of durable elastic movement. Understanding this knowledge, as well as applying mobility tools to your practice provides the energy to keep going in a state of high quality.

Next week we will look at Durability and re integrating tissue and joint health into your daily practice.

Sources:

Functional Movement Systems

Durability Certification at The Onnit Academy 

Improve Stress Resilience With Breathing

Improve Stress Resilience With Breathing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.25.58 AMBreathing is the most simple, yet complex thing we do all day long. It is also one of the most important factors for progressing movement and ensuring optimal recovery. Controlled by our autonomic nervous system; breathing can be influenced by the presence of stress.

Compensations in posture can be triggered in response to emotional stress, injury, poor movement patterning and illness; which can cause breathing to be altered. We can also reverse that; breathing pattern dysfunctions can also cause changes in posture, and movement.

Stress:

Stress changes the very structure and function of your brain. Your nervous system cannot distinguish whether stress is mental or physical, it just feels STRESSED. Therefore, we are asked to consider that perhaps it is not the strongest which survive, but the most adaptable. Darwin was only half correct.

Stress can be positive (eustress) or negative (distress), how we react and respond ultimately becomes the primer for living an optimal lifestyle.

Distress directly relates to high levels of stress that we cannot recover from. This can include overtraining and the physical stress of intolerable volumes or loads of physical stress, as well as trauma and prolonged mental and emotional stress.

Eustress directly relates to positive stress such as; tolerable levels of physical and psychological stress like sport and exercise, meditation and things we enjoy.

Building stress resilience starts with acknowledging where stress is most paramount, then removing any negatives that stand in your way to achieving optimal health.

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A great approach to this is the biopsychosocial model, which offers a general approach to mapping out the biological (which entails biochemical, physiological and genetics), psychological (which entails thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social (which entails, work environment, relationships, and cultural) factors, all play a significant role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness, so that you can strive for optimal health. Once you have established some of the most stressful triggers you can start to design coping strategies towards managing stress. Breathing is a very effective strategy and a great place to start.

Breathing:

Two great breathing drills that can be easily implemented into your training is see- saw breath; which aims to teach the ability to breathe more deeply and divide the chest from the abdomen and  the elbow lock breathing pattern; which can be used for to provide more emphasis on the lateral openings of the ribs. The elbow lock variation encourages thoracic opening to the sides of the ribcage, and extension of the thoracic spine. Both will also improve diaphragmatic release.

Breathing encourages the parasympathetic response to kick in; which is your central nervous systems main deep recovery system towards improve allostasis and relaxation to the body and mind.

Here is a link to our Moveolution YouTube Channel and Video on See-Saw Breathing and Elbow Lock Breathing.

Enjoy!

Sources:

  • Elite HRV, adding heart rate variability to improve stress resilience and optimize health.
  • Moveolution, (Recovery)Rx lab
  • Onnit – Durability Certification
Fascia in Fitness: The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch To Improve Your Yoga Practice

Fascia in Fitness: The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch To Improve Your Yoga Practice

Most of you will all be wondering why I have chosen to feature a complex strength exercise on a Yoga Blog site, but it is because, as a yoga practitioner and avid student in the art of movement, I have come to appreciate the common similarities between strength and grace. It all boils down to intention and state of mind. Over the past several years, I have focused my attention and intention on implementing different tools into my Yoga/Movement morning practice and I have found that a few specific exercises stand out. Some include patterns with a light club bell and others with a light kettle bell.

Understanding the importance load and strength have towards optimal vitality can help you adapt, become more versatile and more agile in many traditional yoga postures. The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch can be a great tool for developing more strength for inversions, hand stands and isomeric, static postures in the overhead and mid range positions.

Today, I would like to feature a few of those movements; one in particular – the 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch.

The KB swing to snatch is a fundamental exercise in building strength endurance, but did you know that it is also a great exercise tool for strengthening your fascia system? The KB snatch requires a certain level of precision as there must be the availability of both tension and relaxation for the the acceleration and deceleration phases to move optimally. Below is a step by step approach to ensuring the health and safety of implementing this beautiful exercise into your strength/endurance routine. Or if you are like me, just adding a few reps per day into my daily movement practice.

The Exercise: The 1 Arm KB SnatchScreen Shot 2015-08-15 at 9.45.52 AM

1. Screen: Establishing a baseline for this exercise is critical to ensure shoulder health and minimizing risk. Ensure that the client has adequate shoulder mobility first, as well as thoracic mobility.

  1. Screen 1: Shoulder mobility screen – The FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen or Apley Scratch Test is a great test to ensure a client has optimal movement at the shoulder. Checkout the Functional Movement Systems for their shoulder mobility screens.
  2. Screen 2: Lumbar Lock Thoracic Spine Screen – This test can ensure the client has adequate mobility and symmetry in their t-spine. Because of the single arm rotational stress this applies to the spine and shoulders, you want to ensure the client has the avaliable range first. Checkout this video: https://youtu.be/7OHMFPVZYOI

2. Mobilize: Choose appropriate mobility drill based on the screening. The T Spine Rotations Bow and Arrow is a great option. Checkout this video for variations on this drill.

3. Stabilize: Choose a stability drill that can offer versatility and reflexive control. A corrective approach to the TGU is a great option. Breaking down the posts can help build stability of the shoulder and postural muscles by offering a variety of loaded positions. Check out our blog piece here for a full breakdown.

4. Acceleration:

The value of the aacceleration phase offers immense benefits in driving power from the ground up. The hip drive engages the posterior chain, but also promotes extension, under tension of the deep front line and spiral line; while simotaneously counter balancing rotation of the load. Much like winding up a spring and stacking the joints, the deceleration phase then unwinds the spring by elogating the tissue while still under tension.

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The value of the deceleration phase offers immense benefits in eccentric strength endurance; specifically benefiting the deep back line and spiral line; while simultaneously creating a level of relaxation under tension as you move from the stacking of the joints into unwinding the natural spiral/rotation we can see in the follow through. This also gives the tissue time to transition back into the winding up, acceleration phase for the next rep.

6. What are the benefits for training the fascia system: Train the tissue, and by tissue we mean fascia. The benefits are endless and can enhance your traditional yoga practice.

  • Specific training can enhance the fascial elasticity essential to systemic resilience. Think whole systems integration.
  • The fascia system responds better to variation than to repetitive programs.
  • Proximal Inhibition can offer additional elongation benefits to activate the stretch reflex. Letting the more distal parts of the body follow in sequence, much like an elastic pendulum.
  • Complex movements require reflexive control and adaptation.
  • The fascial system is far more innervated than muscle tissue, this offers immense benefits to improved body awareness and opportunity for bio feedback.

For more information visit our various pages on Facebook, twitter and YouTube.

Clubbell Yoga Comes to Vancouver

Clubbell Yoga Comes to Vancouver

Yoga means Union, to yoke. The Clubbell Yoga practice is a modern expression of the yoking of two very effective ancient systems, eastern Club swinging and Hatha Yoga. Yoga means many different things to many different people, and many ‘yogis’ follow a specific lineage that resonates with them. We recognize that Yoga can be a spiritual practice, it can be a devotional practice, and it can be a physical practice that leads to other intellectual studies.” – Orgins, of Clubbell Yoga, Summer Huntington

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Clubbell Yoga:

Clubbell Yoga is a fusion of strength and intelligent movement. For those of you who are new to Clubbells it is a tool relatively new to the Canadian market, yet well distributed in the USA, Europe, and abroad. I had the opportunity to chat with Summer Hunington, Co-founder of Clubbell Yoga to learn more about this workshop coming to Vancouver BC, this January.

Clubbells are a unique tool, which require precision, stabilization, and  a good deal of articulation under load. What makes the clubbell unique ,is its design, in that the majority of the weight is distributed above the handle, creating a longer lever to control under load. When held upright it requires more muscle activation and motor control in the shoulder complex, postural muscles and trunk stabilization to keep it steady and to transition from movement to movement, while maintaining breath and flow. Drawing from Summer’s experience as an adjunct teacher in Kinesiology,  a leader in the community of Yoga, and as a head CST coach, she is paving the way for movement culture.

CST is the “flagship” professional certification course at RMAX International pioneered by Scott Sonnon, a refined, coherent, cohesive and comprehensive approach to the industry of movement culture. CST has rapidly emerged as a leader among the premier training modalities in the health / fitness and strength / conditioning arenas.

How is Clubbell Yoga compliment traditional fields of conditioning?

One of the greatest myths of our time is that “hardcore” trainers tend to not have a background in yoga, nor do they see the benefits. Those who “lift;” don’t do yoga and vicer versa; that yogis don’t have much knowledge in training for power and don’t life. This is a misconception, and it has left many “lifters” injured due to lack of dynamic mobility and “yogis” injured from overuse and improper alignment.

Clubbell Yoga aims to bridge the gaps between these two groups and reeducate the benefit of integrating both into a seamless practice.

Who Can Benefit?

Both of these disciplines compliment each-other, and are designed to build from the ground up. This means you do not have to be experienced in either discipline; this workshop is designed for all levels in both fields of study.; especially for active professionals involved in sport. You can be a beginner or you can be experienced. The glorious thing about both disciplines is that you can go at your pace. There is an introduction to both modalities; which can have endless benefits for both body and mind.

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Vancouver Workshop: Clubbell Yoga & Anatomy Breakdowns

Come learn about glute activation and core with Accupuncturist and NKT specialist Carolyn Watson and Summer Huntington, co-creator of Clubbell Yoga. They are both very dynamic teachers who will improve your understanding of yoga poses involving glutes, give you anatomy breakdowns and hold discussions and breakout sessions. Yogis, trainers, pilates instructors and everyone in between are invited to this workshop in the heart of Vancouver, BC.

Click on this link to REGISTER

VIP Registration – $99
(Register before December 15th, 2014)
Early* Registration – $129
(Register before January 16th, 2015)
Registration paid in Full – $150
(*VIP and Early registrants can borrow clubbell at event)

About the Co Founders:

Summer Huntington:

Summer Huntington is a Head Coach at RMAX International, co-creator of Clubbell Yoga and owner of Fit Body Wellness. Her primary objective is to help bridge the gap between strength training and yoga by infusing weighted Clubbells into traditional vinyasa classes. She holds an undergraduate and masters degree in Kinesiology: Human Movement & Performance, is an adjunct professor and is an experienced yoga teacher.

Summer practices and teaches vinyasa flow yoga and Clubbell Yoga with an emphasis on alignment, thoughtful sequencing and cultivating a soothing meditation through movement. Summer has been a longtime student of Scott Sonnon, founder of the Circular Strength Training (CST) method, which is mind-body exercise using a Clubbell. Her joint-mobility, Prasara yoga and Flow Fit background allow her to help students to unlock bound areas and allows for training of the nervous system.

Scott Sonnon:

Scott is the founder of RMAX International, CST and Tacfit. Scott has now taken his success in martial art, fitness and yoga off the mat and into the classrooms, as an international speaker advocating for children and adults facing labels of learning difficulties, facing the ravages of obesity, the trials of post-traumatic stress, the dangers of bullyism and the challenges of accelerated aging in joints and soft tissue.

For more information please visit the following website:

Clubbell Yoga – http://www.clubbellyoga.tv/

Primal 12 – http://rmaxi.com/primal12/

Sarah Crawford Russell

Sarah Crawford Russell

There’s nothing like strolling into a room and catching the sound of a nice full laugh. With Sarah you’ll frequently get that in and out of class. Light and breezy, her classes can feel rather muted in their difficulty yet never in their energy. From hatha to yin, you’ll be able to get everything you want out of yoga through her. Though I don’t sweat in her power classes like I do in others, mental and physical strengthening from her are just as potent and noticeable after the practice.

It wouldn’t be a long shot to say you can be thrown off by her approach to each class. With a bright and sunny disposition she’ll wander about the room and ask, very literally, everyone on their energy level of the day and whether or not they have any injuries. After her rounds she adjusts her class to fit the class average to great affect. I say this because I’ve noticed that classes with a few more advanced practitioners will feel that much more challenging than a class with a handful of beginners.

Some teachers will hold their line, unchanging in their itinerary, but Sarah always takes care to strike a balance. Her hatha classes see the most changes, as it’s the most accessible style of yoga, and yin and power change the least. I can’t really think of a more gentle and/or relaxing teacher to help someone wind down a day or a week. Her genuine cheeriness is a pleasure to be around, and we would all do a bit better with a brightness such as hers. She also has an amazing hairdo. Just sayin’.

She teaches, to my knowledge, at Spirit YogaUnity Yoga, and YYoga.

Fall in Love with Flying at che baba’s Yogasilks!

Fall in Love with Flying at che baba’s Yogasilks!

Recently, I had the outstanding pleasure of attending a 2hr Sunday session of “Yogasilks” at che baba, yoga and cantina, 603 Kinsgway in Vancouver. It was the most fun I have had in a yoga class since I tried my first partner yoga class last year and got the taste for “flying” poses.

And fly you will! Led by the uber-talented kiwi-born Vancouver teacher, Yogasilks founder and long-time yogi, Ross Howatson, this class hosted 10 fresh-faced and excited beginners to Yogasilks and we had an absolute blast.

Suspended from “silks” – think: long, stretchy, silky sheets tied at two corners –  suspended from the ceiling, students are led through a series of yoga poses ranging from Warrior 1, Trikonasana, hip openers, heart openers, core strengtheners to breathing exercises, relaxation and gentle inversions.

With an adventuresome group ready to take on the thrill of the silks, we were challenged with a few fun and crazy cirque-de-soleil-esque moves: fallen angel (sees you threading through and dropping out of the silks – safely though!), handstand (with legs threaded through the silks – what an amazing experience!) and a few more inversions (think Sukasana, easy pose, but upside down and dangling). Ending class coccooned sweetly in the silks with a guided relaxation, I left feeling settled and grounded. Not to mention, my hips, legs and back felt amazing all week!

Ross did a brilliant job of encouraging, humouring and challenging the Yogasilks students. I would strongly recommend this 2hr workshop to anyone who loves hanging around, playing, having fun and trying something new in your yoga practice.  I fully intend to be back on a regular basis!

After the workshop, the participants all enjoyed tapas at the attached cantina. The food is simply incredible. A sweet little spot, che baba was started by a young local couple, Allison and Stephan, who love sharing yoga, great food, and creating community.

Try Yogasilks. Seriously. Bring your friends. You will fall in love with Ross, the silks, che baba and the whole experience.

Che baba runs 2hr workshops on Sundays (first two weeks of August cancelled for trainings), which are a great introduction for beginners. The studio runs a regular Yogasilks drop-in class during the week, which will start back in the fall. In the meantime, che baba also touts a full drop-in schedule of other classes, which would be a great excuse to do some yoga before enjoying a meal at the cantina!

Love the idea and want to get teaching it? Yogasilks classes are currently in development at other studios and teachers will be needed! Che baba only has a few spots available for Yogasilks Teacher Training, Aug 11-12, 9am-5pm (delicious lunch provided by the cantina), $640+hst. For more information please contact Ross Howatson at [email protected]

Make time for Yogasilks in September and enjoy flying and hanging around! Please comment below if you have already attended a session and let me know about your experiences!

Shouldering Responsibility: The Mastery of Integration, Are You “Packing”?

Shouldering Responsibility: The Mastery of Integration, Are You “Packing”?

Yoga is both a personal expression and a private odyssey. It is the martial art of the soul, and the opponent is the strongest you’ve ever faced: your ego. — Scott Sonnon”

 

Myofascia is a flexible network of tissue that surrounds, cushions, and supports muscles, bones, and organs, and at the microscopic level, its structure are microtubules that transfer nutrients, sensory input and act as a riverbed containing the flow of interstitial fluid; which is a critical influence on the immune and hormonal systems. Fascia is also our protective barrier and our primitive shock absorber that sits on top of and intertwined within our muscles and organs. In daily life, this connective tissue is an underlying determinant of movement quality, free flow of energy within the tissue, mood, alertness, and general well-being.

On Thursday night I was given the opportunity to come out to a Police Judo class at SFU, operated and instructed by Vancouver Police Officers with Odd Squad Productions; Sgt. Toby Hinton and Al Arsenault. Both Judo and Yoga activate the deep arm fascia and, as we know shoulder and elbow injuries are common place in both of these sports. When postures or arm locks are performed incorrectly, or when too much force is applied, this can lead to serious injury if not performed correctly.

As part of our Shouldering Responsibility series, our focus is going to be two fold (1) to showcase the importance of the fascia system in relation to Judo and Yoga (2) to educate on proper shoulder stability and “shoulder packing” which is used frequently in both Yoga and in Judo, primarily in arm locking, counterbalance/ transfer of energy and integration of the nervous system and communicating our visceral threshold.

The Mastery Of Sport:

Judo (otherwise known as the “gentle way”) is a martial art rooted in combat sport, grappling and joint maneuvering. Very practical for law enforcement and relative tactical training, but it’s also very closely linked to Yoga because of the grace and flow and mutual respect between the teacher and the student.

A style of Yoga closely linked to martial arts; (one that I have been practicing quite recently) is called Prasara Yoga; which embodies the 3rd mode of Hatha yoga, incorporating both Asana practice and Vinyasa, or breath linkage. Prasara Yoga is  founded by Scott Sonnon, formerUSAnational martial arts team coach, international champion and internationally acclaimed Yoga Teacher and Author. This style of Yoga provides counterbalance to the body through dynamic flow and resyncing the breath through movement and structure.

The Fascia System: Integrative Primitive Patterning

The fascia lines that deeply affect shoulder stability and engagement can be broken down into smaller, integrated segments, such as the:

  • Fascia over deltoid
  • Subscapular fascia
  • Supraspinous fascia
  • Infraspinous fascia
  • Pectoral and axillary fascia
  • Clavipectoral fascia

For a review of the deep arm lines please see our previous article from week 2 (Shouldering Responsibility: When Mobility Goes Over(your)head). Most injuries are connective-tissue (fascial) injuries, not muscular injuries—so how do we best train to prevent and repair damage and build elasticity and resilience into the system.

All of these fascia lines come into play in both the arm locks in Judo, and shoulder stands/inversions in Yoga. As previously mentioned, we have 4 joints to consider when loading the shoulder and arm or counter locking when force is applied. These joints are  the glenohumeral joint (GHJ),  acromioclavicular joint (ACJ), and the sternoclavicular joint (SCJ),  and the The scapulothoracic joint.

Shoulder Packing:

Keeping the integrity and movement of all 4 joints within the shoulder complex; to maintain scapular stablity on the tspine as the scapula rotates upwards, the scapula’s position on the tspine has to be maintained through the application of force to full posture or to full joint lock out.This requires what is now being called shoulder packing, – maintain the scapula’s position on the tspine while it upwardly rotates, making sure the sub-acromial space is not compromised.

As I engaged with the movements I realized how important the role of the fascia system is, by way of communicating the visceral response to joint locking and nervous system integration. In Yoga, most of our transitional poses (downward facing dog, rockstar pose, shoulder stands and head stands) require a great deal of shoulder and upper extremity stability. There seems to be some confusion as to what packing the shoulder actually is, when to do it and why.

Keeping the shoulder packed does not mean to limit or stop the normal scapulo-humeral rhythm in an overhead movement or subduing an opponent. In fact, packing the shoulder will actually reinforce and create proper overhead movement mechanics, as well as “turn on” the deep arm fascia which enhances sensory output and nervous system integration with the fascia reinforcing the intentional focus on proper motor-programming.

In shoulder stands and inversions, as well as in arm locks which are followed after the basic throw thechniques in Judo – known as the Ashi Guruma (Foot Wheel) and Deashi Harai (Advancing Foot Sweep). There needs to be simultaneous engagement of the lat, serratus, and traps in the proper sequence as the humeurus moves into the overhead position.

This keeps the scapula stable on the tspine while it properly upwardly rotates, allowing the rotator cuff to build and maintain tension for humeral stability, keeping the humerus in the glenoid with the proper PICR as it moves into the overhead position. This keeps the sub-acromial space uncompromised and impingement potential at its lowest.

To see this in action, I came across this video by way of Jena Fraser, RMT and West Vancouver Chiropractor, Dr. Carla Cupido at Baseline Health, this video represents how shoulder packing protects the shoulder joints (gleno-humeral [GH] & acromio-clavicular [AC]).

Watch how space is preserved and structures aren’t jamming into each other when the subject raises their arm for a overhead press using fluoroscopy imaging:

1. With no shoulder packing – muscling the arm up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bkJi23yKTDs

2. With shoulder packing – a stable complex/proper biomechanics –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ibmcNJta5vk

 

Sources:

Flouroscopy of the shoulder complex: Video found via Jena Fraser, RMT with LifeMark Richmond Oval and Dr. Carla Cupido with Baseline Health -West Vancouver Chiropractor.

Scott Sonnon Prasara Yoga – http://www.prasarayoga.com/index.php

Scott Sonnon –  http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/

Vancouver Police Department Police Judo – http://vancouver.ca/police/about/judo-club.html

Odd Squad Productions – http://www.oddsquad.com/

Shouldering Responsibility: When Mobility Goes Over(your)head? (Week Two)

Shouldering Responsibility: When Mobility Goes Over(your)head? (Week Two)

Raise your arms overhead. If you can’t extend your arms up without your arms bending or feel tension in your neck or how about scrunch your face up like you just ate something sour – then you are in for some challenges in your yoga practice! Guaranteed downward facing dog is probably not your favorite pose, but do not fear because improving your shoulder mobility and fascial elasticity in your arm lines can be done, with a few simple corrective movements.

As we know, corrective movement is all about unblocking tension and reducing compensations through better movement mechanics. This is why it is said that Yoga is 90% waste removal. Our fascia plays a significant role in integrating the systems that aid in removing waste and unwanted tension that is limiting our movement and experience on and off the mat.  Many systems integrate together to achieve this, and the facial system is a large contributor.

Most injuries are connective-tissue (fascial) based, not muscular injuries (this happens after the body’s blocked energy has to go somewhere, and results in an ”ouchie”—so how do we best train to prevent and repair damage and build elasticity and resilience into the system? By listening to our body, and be reducing tension on the joints.

When we talk about shoudlering responsibility, the deep arm lines – take the front lines!

The fascia of the upper torso and arms are comprised of multiple designations (4) intertwined in the webbed matrix known as the “Deep Arm Fascial Lines.” The 4 Arm Lines run from the front and back of the axial torso to the tips of the fingers. These lines connect seamlessly into the other fascia lines particularly the Lateral, Functional, Spiral, and Superficial Front Lines.

These lines (for which we have 2 on either side of the body) are the following:

The Brachial Fascia, derived from the Pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi medially and from the deltoids laterally. It differs in thickness, being thin over the biceps brachii,  but thicker where it covers the tricpes brachii and is continuous by covering the deltoids, and the pectoals group attaching above (and to) the clavicle,  acromion as well as the spine of the scapula.  This fascial line forms a thin, loose, membranous sheath for the muscles of the arm and is composed of fibers disposed in a circular or spiral direction, and connected together by vertical and oblique fibers.

The  antebrachial fascia (or antibrachial fascia, deep fascia of forearm) is continuous with the above , as with the brachii fascia and follows from the elbow to the wrist and finger tips via the the palmar fascia; which consists of resistant fibrous tissue arranged in longitudinal, transverse, oblique, and vertical fibers and is a dense, membranous investment, which forms a general sheath for the muscles in this region.

The Arm Lines affect posture indirectly, since they are not part of the structural column; however they are integral for sensory input in response to our environment; such as examining, pushing, pulling, manipulating and interacting with our external world.

When we talk about the arm lines, you will also notice we have included the pectorals group and the latissimus dorsi as significant muscles contributing to the efficiency of shoulder mobility. These two muscular groups contribute substantially to tight “shoulders” when they too are tight, because they significantly limit shoulder flexion in overhead extension, as well as pull the shoulder into internal rotation, which can lead to kyphotic posture and forward head carriage.

Another honorable mention in shoulder limitation is the rhomboids group (sitting in between your  spine and your shoulder blades).  These muscles pull your shoulder blades towards the spine and promote a proud chest. If tight these muscles will prevent the scapula from movement at all.

Fortunately, there are many Yoga poses you can perform to improve your shoulder mobility and alignment in downward facing dog, shoulder stands and inversion.  Try adding these shoulder openers to your home practice and move more freely:

  • Myofasical release with the foam roller –  ( focus on mid back and under the arm for the lats)
  • Thoracic Extension with a towel or roller for chest expansion –  (place along the length of the spine)
  • Eagle Pose (arms) – (stretches the rhomboids)
  • Cow Face Pose – (arms) – stretches the triceps, lats and shoulders)
  • Bridge Pose – (passive bridge, place a block under the hips along the pelvic ridge and sacrum)
  • All fours posture with reversed palms – (stretches the anterior forearms and biceps group)
  • Cobra Pose – (focuses on stabilization of the spine and spinal flexion)
Getting to the “Core” of POSTURE: What’s in your “TRUNK”?

Getting to the “Core” of POSTURE: What’s in your “TRUNK”?

The root of many common limitations and injuries in yoga (sore backs, shoulders, hips, etc) often come from a lack of awareness and ability to properly engage trunk muscles and the stabilizing muscles associated with breath; which regulate intra abdominal pressure thereby leaving the joints and spine unsupported and vulnerable. You will notice that in this first sentence I have used the word “trunk” instead of core. The word core, in the fitness industry usually sends both professionals and fitness go’ers in the direction of understanding to merely include the abdominals groups (inner and outer unit etc); whereas, the word trunk brings to mind not only the core group of abdominals and pelvic stabilization muscles, but the postural muscles of the spine, serratus group associated with breath and muscle that connect the shoulders to the hips, and fascial lines. As well as, from a strength and conditioning standpoint, your trunk is your powerhouse, it’s the epicenter of  reactionary movement and control.

The various syndromes we have looked at have targeted either the shoulder girdle or the pelvic girdle, as separate syndromes so that we could portray the articulation and understanding of each classified group of breakdowns. In this article we integrate the two by showcasing the postural integration of the trunk and associated movement patterns.

One key component of movement incompetency and structural breakdowns is asymmetry. As we know the importance of identifying asymmetry and movement in competency is to avoid building stability over poor mobility. Movement incompetency may demonstrate altered motor control, a neurodevelopmental component, or regional interdependence.

When we exercise or increase mobility to an already dysfunctional joint, this creates greater dysfunction resulting in a poor outcome to treatment and possible further injury.

What’s in your trunk, and how do you screen for instability?

In the FMS screen (as mentioned previously) is a diagnostic tool for health professionals and coaches to use to screen 7 common movement patterns.  The Trunk Stability Push Up demonstrates pain, global muscle weakness, hyperextension of the lumbar spine, and “winging of the scapula”. Positive findings can indicate weak or inhibited core pelvic, and postural stabilizers including a lack of symmetrical trunk stability.

The first signs of most postural and muscular imbalance usually develop in the patient’s static pelvic positioning in tandasana (mountain pose), best while in the focus of the breath.

As in the LCS an anterior tilting of the pelvis suggests shortening of the hip flexors (iliopsoas, rectus femoris and tensor fascia lata) and/or the lumbar spinal extensors. The Posterior tilting of the pelvis suggests tightness of the hamstrings, and a lateral pelvic shifts suggests unilateral shortening of the hip adductors. Thus including weakness of the lateral pelvic stabilizers or leg length inequality; which could also be associated with lumbar motion segment pathology.

Secondarily, observing the general postural attitude, the quality of the lumbar spine lordosis and the symmetry of body landmarks and muscular contours we then can move upward and compare the quality of the spinal extensors, postural muscles in the lumbar and thoracolumbar region bilaterally. Still heading north to the shoulders and carriage of the head. Most often we have touched on rounded shoulders, and weakness in the posterior body, with concurrent tightness in the anterior body.

Predominance of the thoracolumbar musculature could suggest overactivation in gait, poor stabilization of the lumbar spine and is associated with a weak gluteus maximus, especially if you are teaching a room full of runners and cyclists in yoga.

One other focal point to compare is thoracic mobility through motion segmentation. The rib pull or arm stack variation (modified of the “T” rotation in Yoga) will indicate limitations on right and left sides, which then can lead into postural observation in the anterior body, take a peek at the abdominal wall, breathing pattern in a variation of abdominal breathing patterns standing, supine and prone. The role of the abdominal wall and what Tom Meyers calls the “Four Pillars” (for more information please revert back to my “breath for inspiration” article earlier this year) whose role in stabilization and protection of the spine is crucial.

How can we start to integrate better movement, stabilization and connection with our trunk, shoulder and hips?

Best place to start is to understand what it means to re-pattern and “clean up” asymmetries.

1. Muscle function is movement-pattern specific. Isolation does not necessarily improve integrated movement; which is why we “re-train” movement’s not specific muscle. In a stressful (i.e. survival or threatened) environment/situation, the body will always sacrifice movement quality for movement quantity. Our fascia is connected to our ANS which functions on fight or flight for protection of our body.

2. Remember that we must train the CNS (central nervous system): The brain many times, will create a mobility problem, because it’s the only option left. Movements require the communication of our CNS, the governing body which transfers impulses and motor recruitment to primitive memory banks!

3. Motor Control is key! The timing of the stabilizers with the mover muscles is the key to healthy movement quality.  Soft-core/Reactive Core (RC)/low-threshold strategy– this involves the deeper “stabilizer” muscles (aka “Inner Unit or 4 pillars) including TVA, respiratory diaphragm, pelvic diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidus. Gray cook  calls this “tapping the breaks.”

Next, it’s easy to modify traditional Yoga postures in your class or session format. Keeping in mind you need to identify whether there is a mobility or stability breakdown in movement.

FMS integrated Yoga: Yin, Hatha & Vinyasa Focused:

  • Mobility: T-Spine Rob Pulls and Arm Stack Variations.
  • Mobility/Stability: Modified Vinyasa All fours to Plank to Downward Facing Dog with Arm Reach (Sun Salutation Series)
  • Mobility: Modified wide leg upward facing dog with transverse anterior opening sequence (Sun Salutation Series)
  • Stability: Bridge Single Leg Lock with Posterior/Pelvic Stability
  • Stability: Modified Side Plank Variations and Kneeling Side Angle to Gate Pose variations.
  • Stability: Quadruped Stability Ball Rock with Arm Raise

Next week we will dive further into posture,  structural joint integrity and once again re visit the power behind our breath. Namaste!

A “HIP” Guide to Happier Movement: Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS)

Over the course of the last several weeks we have looked at specific muscular imbalances pertaining to the “HIP” and around the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip joint, as well as outlining each group of muscles and how they relate to a Yoga practice. Most commonly, muscular imbalances contribute to habitual overuse in isolated joints and faulty movement patterns, creating repetitive micro trauma, dysfunction and chronic injury.

As we continue to delve down the rabbit hole, in today’s article we feature the Lower-crossed syndrome (LCS). LCS is a postural, structural breakdown affecting the lower kinetic chain (lumbopelvic hip complex, knee, and ankle). Keeping in mind, that when one joint is compromised there are changes in functionality to all the other related joints.  In this case the hip-to-knee-to ankle relationship and associated muscular slings and fascia lines.

A visual representation of the LCS can be seen in figure 1, which is a classic example what you might see in a student or client exhibiting LCS.  The student presents an anterior pelvic tilt, which increases lumbar lordosis (swayback), and compensated with weak abdominals muscles. Kinaesthetically, the student will usually experience chronic low back pain, possible piriformis syndrome and possible anterior knee pain.

In LCS, the patterning of muscle imbalances will often lead to altered movement patterns, which we commonly see when the student is engaged in hip extension, hip abduction and trunk flexion.

This style of structural breakdown can develop when someone sits for long periods of time; leaning in a slightly flexed position…and in our society this is very common with our corporate age of technology. This causes the erector spinae and entire posterior chain to continually contract to hold the body’s weight upright while the constantly flexed position shortens the muscle length of the hip flexors.

Over time this causes theses muscles to adapt and  then shorten in length and tighten. LCS can also cause tightness in the adductors, external hip ligaments (TFL),  piriformis and even the glutes, making it difficult for the student to practice seated posture and spinal rotation (especially in the thoracic spine).

This coupled with reciprocal inhibition (the antagonists) are then lengthened and weakened, due to an unnatural compensation pattern induced by the effects LCS. These antagonist muscles include the gluteal group and the abdominals.  Remembering back to our earlier post called “BREATHE DEEP FOR INSPIRATION” we looked at the relationship and balance mechanics of what Tom Meyers described as the 4 pillars of proper posture and breathing mechanics; which then permits the diaphragm to lift the base of the ribcage upwards establishing energetic dynamics of the pelvic girdle and aids to properly pressurize the pelvic cavity and integrate the pelvic diaphragm and floor.

So how do we know if we suffer from LCS, and how can it be prevented?

First off, never self diagnose, seek the expertise of a professional in bio mechanics; like a physiotherapist or movement coach.

Secondly, the assessment should focus on a postural analysis, muscle length and strength screen and the testing of movement patterns for asymmetrical breakdowns.

If you do have students in your class who have been diagnosed with LCS, here are a few things to consider:

  • Suggest myofascial release for tight muscles before the class
  • Segmental facilitation – a movement coach can offer sequenced corrective movements
  • Tight muscles – add in movements that target the classic tighter muscles to increase
    tone and mobility
  • Strengthen the weakened muscles – add in postures that reflect strength holds for
    increased stabilization and joint integrity
  • Focus on retraining of Lumbo –pelvic hip complex movement patterns – this is usually
    done in a 1 on 1 private class
  • Postural and behavioral modification – usually done in a 1 on 1 private class

The key to sustainable pain free movement and balanced bio mechanics, is through prevention. Yoga is an exceptional way to connect with your inner physical self, achieve balance and equilibrium within the mind, body and spirit. Take the principles you learn on your mat and transfer those practices off the mat!  A 5 min Yoga break from your office is a great way to bring the zen-mode ambiance to work, home or playtime.

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