PART 4: BECOME A GOLF MASTERMIND WITH SPORT NLP

PART 4: BECOME A GOLF MASTERMIND WITH SPORT NLP

Mind-Body Connection

Every athlete, whether it be an individual or team activity, knows that the body affects the mind and the mind affects the body. There are many factors that influence sporting abilities; genetic inheritance, fitness levels, technical skills, leadership and coaching, but the most neglected is our mental abilities.  Although many sports performers will spend a lot of their time on their fitness and technical skills, the mental side of the game is often neglected and rarely a factor in the mental approach into their performance strategy.

If you are an athlete then you have most likely experienced being in the “zone,” known more specifically as the state in which you are performing at your physical and mental best – some describe this as the state of “flow.” As a yoga teacher; I can say I know this well and this is best known when your physical body, your breath and your intention/mental state are linked in equilibrium or balance… when you are literally… flowing from pose to pose. They don’t call it “Flow” for nothing!

Mental strategy literally teaches people to be able to go into ‘flow states’ to consciously by using a combination of meditation practices, communication and language and using what we call our “motivated state” or “anchoring” (which is used in NLP).

A practice used to “call up” a certain somatic feeling usually evoked from a song, memory or visualization tool that the athlete can focus on to filter through the “crap,” (negative thoughts, emotions, fears) in order to stay in control and apply skill. As a coach we help our athletes find this state by encouraging them through verbal cues. Using words that contain the feeling of confidence, control, being present etc aid in an athlete mentally tuning in.

This can also be a certain “pep talk” you give yourself or something you do before each game. Have you ever noticed goalies in hockey who tap the net in a certain pattern – that’s an anchor, and it fires up their motivated state.

For example, Fred Couples always hikes his shirt sleeves in a very particular way. The anchor can be internal, a word or sound or even movement.

Mind-Body Communication

In sport psychology this can occur when an athlete has entered an unconscious process or state outside of their normal conscious awareness. Your sub conscious is in tune with the systems performing the work because you are so focused on harnessing that “feeling,” filtering out the unnecessary atmosphere.

NLP techniques are used in sports to build mental strategy; not only by top level athletes, but anyone looking to improve their skill level and these techniques directly transfer to all areas of life. NLP provides the tools and techniques to discover HOW a top performer in any field does what they do. It uncovers the unconscious mental processes and associated thoughts, images, words and feelings that make up a peak performance state. Once uncovered in this way, these processes can be ‘programmed’ or installed in someone else who wants to achieve similar results.

You can use NLP to maintain the motivation to train so as to take your skill sets to the next level, you can learn to “get over” mistakes and to learn from errors rather than dwell upon them and you can learn to have the confidence to compete to the best of your ability.

In modern sports the ability to effectively access these flow states where the athlete is optimizing their mental skills, capacity and cognitive thought can mean the difference between a successful performance like a PB in a marathon or endurance sport, yards achieved, goals attained, or improving your handicap (as seen in Golf).

NLP and mental strategy is half of the battle when it comes to the game of golf. Golf isn’t just about the skill and perfecting the swing; it’s about analyzing the terrain, your opponents, the external factors and because of the slow nature of the sport, it takes a great deal of control, concentration and mental stamina.

The Mental Game of Golf:

“A handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s playing ability based on the tees played for a given course. This is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on somewhat equal terms. The higher the handicap of a player, the poorer the player is relative to those with lower handicaps.”

Most athletes look to lower this number so that they can play with higher ranking athletes and improve their green time.

In an article called “Why Lessons Fail and Why Learning and Practice Programs Succeed” by Mike Vanderwolf (Director of Instruction at the McClerry Golf Academy) said this about performance and he directly relates it to the mental strategy of golf, as well as communication from the coach to the athlete:

One can see evidence of performance differences but physically effort does not store itself into long term memory until up to six hours after the practice stops. Thus, a second session is always appropriate in order to measure learning.

Now learning a new skill or transforming the elements of a skill in golf may have several parts and it is rare that all the parts can be understood and worked on by the golfer in a single session. Most if not all of the elements to be worked on may be identified in a single session, however to actually work through the stages of learning from: cognitive / verbal (gaining a sense of) to training the skill in a variety of contexts* (creating a dominant motor pattern, brain – nervous system – muscles) to automatic (the skill is executed without thought in context) will take several sessions. – Mike Vanderwolf

The teachers methodology must have the opportunity to progress from a “Command” style (basic  description and demonstration), to a “Practice” mode (providing feedback to the students effort) to  “Guided Discovery” and “Divergent Learning” (allowing the student to begin to make the decisions based on appropriate questions asked by the instructor) and ultimately to “Individual Awareness” (the students sense of the differences in efforts) and an ability to make desired movements and achieve desired outcomes without emotional judgment.”

Linking effective mental strategies with our skill and performance enables us to break down fears, understand the scope of the game, to anticipate the terrain, and to keep our composure, reactions and attitudes in moments of critical judgment. Moreover, to learn to transfer models of human excellence, human behavior and performance , as well as work to adopt the strategies, techniques and physiology used by our sporting role models to achieve excellence in a fraction of the time.

Try to remember back to when you had an amazing string of holes, teed off without a slice, or sinked your puts without saying to yourself … “get in the hole already.” In short, it seemed like you were in effortless flow, that each moment linked to the next.?

Now, imagine how you felt when you had a poor golf game… when we are out of the zone, the poor performance seems to repeat itself over and over again. What if you could learn the skills to get your head back in the game and enter flow whenever you needed to? Well, you can and a large portion of this strategy is building on your mental capacity to move past the fear, negativity and all the “stuff” that decelerates our performance.

If you are looking to improve your game and be a cut above your competition, improving your mental strategy may be your answer.

Sources:

Mike Vander Wolf (McCleeryGolfAcademy) http://vancouver.ca/parks/golf/lessons/pdf/golftips_2010jun.pdf

NLP – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NLP

Thought Models NLP- http://thoughtmodels.com/

Great is the Sun

Great is the Sun

Summer solstice couldn’t be more glorious! Nothing better than Sun Salutations in the actual sun! If you’re celebrating summer soltice on this bright and hot day, here is a poem to aid in the speldor of the sun…

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Book Review: The Four Desires by Rod Stryker

Book Review: The Four Desires by Rod Stryker

Creating a life of purpose is more than goal setting sheets and vision boards!

By Martina Bell – Co-director of In Life School of Yoga, host of the Vancouver Yoga Social Book Club and founder of ESL Yoga®

I didn’t really feel the need to read yet another book on how to find my purpose, set intentions and manifest my goals. And when I finally settled into my armchair next to my bookshelf, which presents a stately collection of self-help, yoga and other how-to-find-happiness bestsellers, I anticipated that within a few days Rod Stryker’s book would be comfortably placed up there –  that I enjoyed the read but that my life would still be pretty much the same; except with any luck “The Four Desires” would have shed a slither of light on one of life’s most profound questions: how to create a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity and freedom?

Before moving on, I would like to clarify that I’m not “unhappy” per se (actually quite the opposite is the case) or don’t see value in what how-to-set-your-intention DIY books commonly suggest: write a goal setting sheets, make vision boards and trust!

Rod Stryker’s approach

Even though the book opens with a bold Tantric promise introducing itself as “a road map to fulfilling your material and spiritual desires, both your short-term goals and the enduring longing that all human beings have […] for lasting peace and freedom.” I couldn’t help anticipating what was to come: a journaling activity asking me to listen to my heart and write out my intention in the present or past tense to create a sense of immediacy; complete a meditation visualizing the intention as manifested to create a sense of reality; and to make up a vision board followed by a promise how the universe would manifest this vision board if I only believed in it.
But as I read on, I realized that in this book, setting an intention was not even the beginning as it offers a much deeper and elegant process.

Rod Stryker offers an explanation of desire; “it precedes your every action, since before you can do, you first have to want” and of the human need for two kinds of fulfillment, fulfillment through attainment [material] and fulfillment independent of circumstances [spiritual].

Chapter three goes on to explain the four desires according to the Vedic tradition in greater detail:

The four desires

  1. Dharma – “the longing for purpose, the drive to be and to become who you are meant to be”
  2. Artha – “the means necessary to accomplish your dharma […] material resources”
  3. Kama – “the desire for pleasure of all kinds”
  4. Moksha – “the longing for liberation, true freedom”

Then the journaling activity did come. Rod Stryker calls it “The Dharma Code” which is a statement that clarifies your soul’s reason for being. To say “The Dharma Code” is a written account of one’s ideal life is a simplification, the instruction of how one’s supposed to distill one’s individual Dharma Code did echo what other books suggest:  Imagine yourself later in life and somebody you know and appreciate giving a tribute about your life and what you accomplished.

Your Dharma Code: Not just another journaling activity

Not only is Rod Stryker’s style engaging and his weaving of ancient Sanskrit with timeless teachings elegant; it is his suggestions how to proceed AFTER the Dharma Code has been distilled that offers a new level of depth in the process of manifestation. As such the Dharma Code marks the beginning, rather than the end of the journey. And this is what distinguishes “The Four Desires” from other books of this genre – after all at this point you’ll only find yourself on page 76 of 320.

How to serve your Dharma Code: Intention

Unlike a Dharma Code which signifies more a general approach to life, an Intention is much more particular and “result-oriented, aimed toward fulfilling a particular goal”, it is a combination of desire and determination and much more than a wish! To explain the seven-step process to draft your Intention (Sankalpa) here would go beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that it involves a deeply revelatory meditation and journaling activity (yes!). And it is intention after all which when it serves your Dharma Code propels your life forward.

The incredibly deep and enlightening remainder of the book explains how to overcome resistance, how to free yourself from fear (including an amazingly daring meditation or “life-style” practice! Get ready for a life changing experience!) touches on the secret of success and closes with a beautiful explanation of the importance of adjustment and contentment, the two underlying principles for every step in the book.

Tantra means to touch, allowing your heart to be touched   

Unlike the other self-help books I’ve lovingly read, the Four Desires hasn’t made it onto my now crowded bookshelf – and for now at least it won’t.  This book has touched my heart and it is a book that I keep close to my bed side, my sofa and my Puja. This book is so rich in teachings that reading it only once does not suffice. I also open it to inspire my meditations or contemplations. It is to my – admittedly very limited – knowledge not only one of the most applicable books, but also one of the rare ones that give practical instruction as to how create a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity and freedom which work, because now my life is actually not quite the same.

About the Author: Martina Bell is the co-director of In Life School of Yoga, host of the Vancouver Yoga Social Book Club and founder of ESL Yoga®.

 

PART 3: DO YOU HAVE GOLF TENSEGRITY?

PART 3: DO YOU HAVE GOLF TENSEGRITY?

Tensegrity: continuous tension members, and discontinuous members operating with maximum efficiency – Buckminster Fuller

Our body’s are like a continuous pressure/tension/compression structure; the head pilled on to the thorax, the thorax piled onto the hips, the hips piled on to the feet, and the connective tissue, without it – the skeleton would just fall to the ground. Our bones float in soft tissue, and thus connective tissue needs to be able to elongate, as well as shorten to counter balance the specific tension and power output placed on the body structure.

This thought process comes from the idea of Buckminster Fuller, where he states that the myo fascia and soft connective tissue act as an architectural structure… or body geometry of sorts.  Tensegrity refers to a system composed of compressional elements (struts in the case of architecture, and bone in the case of humans) that are held together, upright, and/or moved by a continuous tensional network; which slide over one another, like a matrix, and interwoven fabric of soft tissue.

Through pulling mechanisms via tension and compression these components re-enforce the tensional integrity of the compressional elements and body structure.

If you can imagine a spider web and the matrix of that web,  if you were to pull on one piece of that tensional network (or the web), it would have an affect on the rest of that tensional network, this includes the bones and even the organs. Therefore, to put it bluntly, tensegrity of the tissue offers extra support in a tensional way, not in a compression way.

Over the course of the last two week we have looked at the integration of both proficient screening tools – the TPI and the FMS/SFMA screens. Integrating these two screens will allow you to now only assess biomechanical dysfunctions in the body, but breakdowns in the specific movement patterns associated with golf performance.

We also broke down the golf swing into two common styles, to showcase the common breakdowns associated with each in the golf swing patterning. We take this one step further by filtering our attention towards two of the fascial lines (keeping in mind, when we improve the functionality of one line, we will irrevocably impact them all, as they are all connected). These are the lateral and spiral line meridians.

The Lateral Line Anatomy

Peroneal muscles > ITB > TFL/Glute max > External/Internal Oblique & deep QL > Internal/External intercostals > Splenius cervicis/iliocostalis cervis/SCM/Scalenes

The Spiral Line Anatomy

Splenius Capitis > Rhomboids (opposite side to splenius capitis) > serratus anterior > External/internal oblique > TFL (opposite side of obliques) > ITB > Anterior tibialis > Peroneus longus > biceps femoris >sacrotuberous ligament > sacral fascia > erector spinae

Postural difficulties in the body will affect your golf game – there is no doubt. The S posture in golf or rounded shoulders will limit your swing and performance, but it will also create more tension on your spiral lines and compression of the joints.

Your lateral line and spiral line meridians are the two main fascial lines that allow the human body to rotate and change direction. Since golf is all about rotation, this is where our focus will be to showcase the importance of balance and proper tensegrity needed to be as efficient as one can, on and off the green. It should also be noted, that even though these two lines are the primary components of rotation, flexion and extension patterning also plays an integral role in rotation (thus, the earlier commentary on posture and rounding of the shoulders).

Many of the clients I work with have restriction and bound tension around the pelvic girdle, upper neck and connections with the lats and scapular regions. This causes a decrease in rotation and a choppy flow through of power through the swing. It also limits the necessary movement of the knees and ankle joints on the upswing.

Thinking about multi-segmental rotation can be a bit daunting, however, once broken down can be a little easier to implement an effective intervention program. Your corrective drills should include a sequence that allows you to separate shoulder and hip rotation, so that you can functionally improve your rotational flexibility, stability and strength while increasing your active range of motion and optimizing the sequence of movements provided.

Below are a few steps to start you on your way to better rotation:

Step 1:  First determine which rotation is limited – left or right – and then take into account the actions of the muscles in these associated lines. How does it feel when you move?

Step 2: Go deeper, once you have established if the rotation is more limited left or right. Ask yourself, which muscles are internally rotating, which are externally rotating? How does the body shift – does it feel like a stiff movement left to right through your golf swing, or does it feel smooth? Choppy etc? Where do you feel the restrictions?

Step 3: Corrective Drills:  Start by treating 1-2 restricted areas with a few corrective movement exercises/drills combined with soft tissue release.

Step 4: Re evaluate:  the movement and swing pattern to see if there is improvement in the pattern. If the movement has improved then these drills should be integrated into your workout sequence for a week or until the wing becomes more natural without as much prep.

Step 5: Progression: This is when you then move onto the next phase of the corrective movement progression.

An area that is often left out of the corrective or coaching equation , is flexion and extension of the cervical spine and muscles associated with the neck. We need to keep in mind that our flexion with rotation in accordance with range of motion needs to be tested from the cervical spine pattern, as this can also influence both of these lines.

Treating the appropriate musculature at the neck, shoulder and muscles associated with all 4 joints of the shoulder girdle will be a necessary component to improving rotation and your golf game.

In closing remember – soft tissue release first and sequenced movements that are corrective in nature will help you improve the tensegrity of your soft tissue, improve joint range of motion and stability of the joints, as well as improve your club swing!

 

Matthew Kocel’s Fantastic Sound Journeys on Now!

Matthew Kocel’s Fantastic Sound Journeys on Now!

Matthew Kocel is a throat singer, visionary musician and healing arts practitioner driven by his mission to inspire unity through the universal language of music and sacred sound. The harmonic overtones of his voice –  two, three, or more notes at the same time – vibrate the core of your being with extraordinary sensations, awakening a deep spiritual presence beyond words.

Having personally attended a number of his events, I can vouch for the marvelous sensations and deep sense of calming energy his sessions create. He is leading a number of events in the coming weeks – including one this Friday night at Live Yoga in White Rock!!  The Healing and Cave adventure on July 28 is going to be simply awe inspiring…

See below, or Matthew’s website, for a full listing of his events.

Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath, and let this healing music take you on a journey to your inner sanctuary of peace.

Friday, June 15, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

  • Sound Healing Concert & Journey
  • Live Yoga:15186 Buena Vista Ave, White Rock, BC, Canada
  • Space is limited. Purchase advance tickets at Live Yoga or by phone 778 545 9918 email [email protected]
  • $25 +hst

Thursday, June 21 – Sunday, June 24, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

  • Mastery of Deep Trance States – Bridging Potential
  • Vancouver School of Theology (UBC):6000 Iona Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Accessing your deep deep self is the gateway to the answers you seek  Matthew will bring his music and healing sounds to help facilitate rapid transformation and healing in this dynamic experience with Harry Nichols and Kathy Welter.
  • $499

Friday, June 22, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

  • Sound Healing Concert & Journey
  • Hari Om Yoga:20230 64 Avenue, Langley, BC, Canada
  • Space is limited. Purchase advance tickets at Hari Om Yoga or by phone 604.539.0566 email [email protected]
  • $20+hst

Friday, July 20, 7:00 pm

  • Healing Sounds of the Cosmos
  • Inspire Studio:1411 Cornwall Avenue,  2nd floor, Bellingham, WA, USA(MAP)
  • Doors open at 6:45. Mats provided, feel free to bring and extra cushion or blanket for you comfort.
  • $15 advance $20 at the door

Saturday, July 28, 2:00 pm – 7:30 pm

  • Horne Lake Sound Healing & Caving Adventure!
  • Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park:Vancouver Island BC, BC, Canada
  • Take a guided 3 hour “Ice Age Adventure” with Brad Morris and Matthew Kocel along with a group of fellow soul journeyers in the magical caves at Horne Lake!
    This thrilling trip starts off with a 20 min hike to the entrance of the Riverbend Cave. During the hike an informative and entertaining guide will explain how the Ice Age created these caves.  While exploring, you will be energized by the amazing energy emanating from crystal formations that are over ten thousand years old!
    Between these two magnificent caves you will see an underground waterfall, marvel at the amazing crystals and squeeze through the ceiling galleries – a small taste of “wild” caving!
    Don’t forget your camera!
    Healing Journey and Prayer Offering
    After visiting the Riverbend Cave, we will enter a series of marble passages and underground spaces in the Main Cave before diving into a powerful sound healing journey and prayer offering guided by Matthew Kocel,  capped off with group toning and chant.
    This is an incredible opportunity to amplify, broadcast, and anchor your deepest prayers for the Earth and humanity.
    Can you imagine how powerful it would be to chant in the deep caverns of an ancient cave in total darkness?
    Do you have prayers you wish to offer to our Mother Earth?
    The Crystal Caverns at Horne Lake are a natural, crystalline temple, just waiting for you!
    Feel into the intention and possibility for what this journey has in store, and you will know in your heart that this will indeed be a magical, once in a lifetime spiritual adventure!
    $144
PART 2: “DOWNSWING” INTO ACTION ON THE GREEN

PART 2: “DOWNSWING” INTO ACTION ON THE GREEN

Poor mechanics, a lack of flexibility and muscular imbalances can negatively affect a golfer’s game. Large deficits in trunk rotation lead to lateral body movement which displaces your center of gravity and throws your golf swing off balance.

Today’s post is all about the “swing.” Understanding the interconnected relationship bewteen the musculoskeletal system,  the fascial systems and cognitive neurological responses to performance based movement patterns; all of which can impact your golf game for the positive or the negative, depending on your strengths and limitations. This statement seems obvious, however most golfers do not really know where to start when attempting to “improve their golf game.” At the end of this post I offer some tips on corrective movement preparation and mobility based stretches for pre and post green action.

The best place to start is at the beginning – Tee’ing off and the swing. The swing should be assessed as an overall structure and much like when you leave your house, you ensure you have your wallet, your keys, your phone, your necessities. Your swing is much the same – don’t leave the proverbial home without checking the below.

Breaking down the swing pattern:

  • grip
  • address setup, alignment and posture
  • backswing
  • downswing
  • impact and follow through
  • follow through and impact with the ball

This can be further divided into 2 styles of swing patterning, depending on the clients bio mechanics.

1.  “Tail swings the dog”

This occurs when the body passively twists about in space in reactive motion to accommodate the movements of the arms and club coming across and in front of the body. The terminology “the tail swings the dog” gives an accurate visualization because the central axial of the torso has to reactively respond to the active movements of the appendicular torso (arms and hands) – try to say that 10 times fast! Those who are limber or especially younger athletes, will experience this style of swing because of the increased mobility in their joints, and ability to rotate with ease. They usually have a light, lithe torso that is very flexible and pliant and it can easily move about in space in reactive, but passive, response to forces generated by the actively moving arms/hands/club. This concern here is over rotation, which can decrease power output because of additional lag time bewteen the up and down swing.

2. “Dog swings the tail”

In contrast most adults and individuals who “get in the game” later on in life, as well as the corporate golfer will most likely will have a heavy, non-pliant central torso, which may not easily twist about in space in reactive response to arm movements across the front of the body. What we visually can see is the central torso (“dog”) actively powers this type of golf swing while the arms/clubshaft (“tail”) are passively swung around the rotating torso in response to forces generated by the large muscles of the central body.

When using a “dog swings the tail” type of golf swing, a golfer has to primarily move the central torso so that the shoulders rotate around the central torso’s pivot axis. As the shoulders rotate, the arms are forced to move because they are attached to the central body at the shoulder joint, and the arms are passively flung around the body by the rotating shoulders. This will be the main focus of this post since it is also a higher percentage of the “golf” population in my clientele.

Both of these styles are not 100% efficient, and can reduce power output and energy distribution through the many phases of the swing, however, many golfers will fall into one of these styles. The goal is to work towards multi segmental awareness so that the movement and transfer to energy can effectively make contact with the ball, this requires a full body integration with separation between lower and upper halves during the swing (aka – your hips are stable and move WITH and in conjunction through the rotation that is initiated in the trunk and upper body during the first phases of the up swing.

On other notable factor with this style is that lateral shift that can occur. The lateral shift  is quite common when golfers have tight hips, s posture or kyphosis in the spine. The hips should move freely in rotation in an ossicallating manner, but rather than oscillate, the body has to compensate by shifting laterally in up and down swing, adn this can slow down and inhibit the upper body rotation – thus weakening your downswing.

Lateral deviation of your body during the backswing or downswing often results in a myriad of issues; such as:

  • Loss of balance
  • Reduced power
  • Poor accuracy
  • Over slicing the ball
  • Topping the ball
  • Poor shoulder and postural mechanics

Coaches Corner

Mike Vanderwolf, the Director of Golf Instruction at McCleery GolfAcademy allowed me to sit in on one of our mutual clients coaching sessions. Our client is an avid female golfer and fitness enthusiast. Her limitations primarily stem from past injuries with the respect to the hips; which has limited rotation and  multi segmental ability to differentiate upper and lower halves, as well as extension patterning in both the anterior and posterior kinetic chains and fascial lines. Her strengths however; deeply impact her ability to perform well, even through these limitations. Our client has the strength to effectively power through the swing and is spatially and kinaesthetically aware in her proficiency when addressing her set up and posture for the swing.

Mike’s cueing during this coaching session focused on improving our client’s compensation pattern to continually hit too far right. Her limitation – being able to rotate properly through the hips, rather than just shift the weight and to anchor the lower body and lead with the upper body, rather than a lateral shift and reduced swing; which results in faulty swing mechanics, reduced impact during the downswing and follow through.

For today’s post, we will look at the down swing, as this generally seems to be a compensation issue for many golfers. When the downswing can be corrected, the upswing and impact with the ball becomes more efficient.

Getting Down with “The downswing:”

The first purpose of the downswing process is the need to generate swing power. The second purpose of the downswing process is to ensure that the clubshaft moves in space in the “correct” manner so that it will allow the golfer to produce an in-to-in clubhead swing path through the impact zone.

How that pivot action occurs can be seen in the kinetic link theory diagram below. The kinetic link theory is based on the belief that energy is transferred from one body part to the next body part in a set kinetic chain sequence and that energy is conserved during this energy transferal process (according to the law of conservation of momentum).

A key notable characteristic of the golf swing are the major biomechanical movement patterns involved in the downswing action; which evolve in a certain set sequence. This sequence is called the kinetic sequence; which starts from the ground-up with a pelvic shift-rotational movement.

During the initial phase the golfer actively shift and rotates the pelvis during the start of the downswing, pushing into the floor to connect the body and movement with ground resistance forces, this transfers load and the result is to torque the pelvis in a shift-rotational manner. This transfers the next sequence of movement to the upper torso and shoulder complex, where the body then starts to rotate around a rightwards tilted spine. This combined transfer of force and load results in what we call “the pivot action.” The pivot action essentially drives the swing from a swing power perspective.

Mike’s reccommendations for our mutual client is to work on multi segmental rotation in a variety of postures (supine, standing, all fours etc). A better understanding of the movement patterns and distribution of load through a rotation are key to improving overall performance on and off the green. Corrective movement and mobility/stability re patterning can effectively aid in improving movement where there is restriction and binding of the muscle and fascia, as well as cognitively understanding the relationship of the kinetic lines and sequencing.

This requires a certain balance of movement preparation drills both before her coaching with Mike and before hitting the green, a dynamic sequence that can “warm up” the necessary kinetic chains and fascial lines to lubricate the joints and aid in proper circulation of both energy and nutrients.  In the gym, this includes adding in reactive response specific multi segmental rotational drills that focus on motor control and swing pattern for all the phases of the swing pattern.

An effective 8-10min movement prep drill could include:

  • Soft tissue release with the roller, magic stick or foot roller (or all of the above)
  • Soft rolling patterns (upper and lower)
  • T-Spine rib pulls and arm circles
  • Hip Flexor Stretch with Core Activation
  • Kneeling Lunge with lateral stretch
  • Reverse Lunge with twist and reach
  • Walking knee cradle
  • Leg swings (forward and side to side)
  • ITB cross overs with hamstring integration

 

Key fascial stretches to consider for passive post golf or alternate days:

 

  • Cat Flow Series   (Anterior and Posterior Lines)
  • Thread the needle  (Spiral and Back Lines)
  • The Bretzle or Thomas Stretch (Anterior and Spiral Lines)
  • Triangle (use wall for posture)   (Lateral Lines)
  • Pigeon Pose  (Lateral, Spiral and Back Lines)
  • ITB Supine crossover (Lateral Line)
  • Hip Mobility with cervical integration using soft tissue pressure pointing (Posterior and Spiral Lines)

 

Next week we will look at the fascia system and integrated lines in golfing. This 4 part series is not to be missed!

 

Happy Putting!

 

Sources:

 

Mike Vanderwolf, the Director of Golf Instruction at McCleery Golf Academy – http://mccleerygolfacademy.uschedule.com/Home.aspx

The Fundamentals of Hogan, David Leadbetter – book

TIME TO TEE OFF: TPI vs. FMS

TIME TO TEE OFF: TPI vs. FMS

Our golf specific 4 part series starts with understanding the scope of prevention and screening techniques widely offered by both medical and fitness professionals. Over the course of the last decade I have worked with more and more golfers who experience similar mechanical breakdowns, whether they are recreational or elite golfers – the corrective component should be an active part of any person’s golf game.

53% of amateur golfers and 30% of professional golfers will play with an injured back or performance hindering injury this year. InAmerica, more than $50 billion is spent annually on back pain-related healthcare costs. Therefore, with stats like these – it pays to invest in proper coaching, and bio mechanical corrective tools, like the TPI and FMS/ SFMA screens. When used together and tailored to the athletes goals, can lead to not only prevention of injury, but advancement on the green.

The TPI Golf Screen is one of the most valuable tools in the toolbox for any golf, fitness, or health professional who works with golfers, even at the recreational level. Both screens can help identify physical limitations that shape a player’s swing and contribute to painful movement.

What’s the difference?

TPI – Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) – the leaders in elite player development. Is a screen to showcase mechanical dysfunctional and breakdowns, related to the measure of risk of injury or poor play specifically in playing golf. There are 13 individual tests within the Level 1 Screen plus additional tests introduced at Level 2 for the wrist, ankle, and neck.

FMSFunctional Movement Screen (FMS) – is a ranking and grading system to showcase mechanical dysfunctions, breakdowns and asymmetries within the fundamental movement patterns performed day to day, and relates that to physical activity. The SFMA (selective functional movement assessment) takes it one step further is closely related to the TPI screen in it’s specificity to breaking down movement even further to better pull out dysfunction.

 

Both aim to sequentially offer corrective intervention techniques for improved overall movement in the client’s chosen sport and daily life.

One way to organize the TPI screen is along the global movement patterns within the SFMA. This structure won’t provide the same level of prioritization as within the FMS, as it is more indepth and used within the clinical setting more so that the gym floor, but we can begin to combine and connect the individual tests using the SFMA Top Tier seven assessments, along with the TPI specific tiered movement pattern assessments.

 

Top “Swingers” for Golf Specific Corrective Intervention:

 

1. Cervical Patterns/ Pelvic Tilt Patterns: making the argument that considering they are both affected by the other (meaning the top and bottom of the spine – when one moves, the other must follow). It makes sense to screen both of these elements. Lower crossed posture (S posture in TPI terminology) with a pelvic restriction, will have a similar effect as a cervical restriction due to the interrelationship of spinal segments. This is extremely common and cannot be over looked.

2. Upper extremity in Postural Alignemnt: 90-90 screen falls into this category along with the 90-90 in golf posture. The 90-90 golf posture test puts more emphasis on shoulder mobility and posterior line in conjunction with the back line, spiral and lateral fascial lines.

3. Multi -Segmental Flexion and Multi-Segmental Extension, as well as Upper Quarter and Lower Quarter Screens: both apply equally. Setting up your physical intention starting out on the tee, you need to be able to differentiate upper and lower extremity to ensure proper follow through and minimize lateral shifting; which directly relates to a reduced mobility and rotation in the hips necessary to power out and connect with the ball. Moreover, the S-posture commonly seen in poor golf mechanics is directly related to these specific assesments.

 

Full TPI Screen (cross over with the FMS and SFMA), consists of the following:

 

  • Pelvic tilt
  • Torso rotation
  • Lower body rotation
  • Overhead deep squat
  • Toe touch
  • 90-90 shoulder and 90-90 shoulder in golf stance
  • Single leg stance
  • Lat length
  • Upper quarter (without and with scapular stabilization)
  • Lower quarter
  • Glute bridge
  • Reach roll and lift
  • Leg lowering
  • Ankle inversion/eversion
  • Wrist (multiplanar)
  • Partial squat/ankle eversion
  • Cervical spine

FMS and SFMA: (Top Tier  Assessments – applicable for golf and integration with the TPI)

  • Cervical Spine Assessment
  • Upper Extremity Movement Pattern Assessments (& Pain Provocation Patterns)
  • Multi-Segmental Flexion & Extension Assessment
  • Mulit-Segmental Rotation Assessment
  • Overhead Deep Squat
  • Single Leg Stance

I would also be inclined to implement the trunk stability and rotary stability depending on the clients overall performance. Much of the swing pattern stems from being able to differentiate upper and lower extremities, rotation at the hips and powering through the trunk with flawless technique. This sequence is key to a golfer’s performance in tee-ing off.

 

Applying Corrective Interventions:

  • If the player is in pain, the first priority is to get them out of pain, much like in the FMS, if they score a “zero” a.k.a feel pain, refer directly to a physiotherapist or golf specific athletic therapist.
  • Address the breakdowns  that are most relevant to the player’s swing pattern. A major concept upon which TPI is built is the body-swing connection. How the player sets up their stance, body positioning in relation to the ball and how the player swings the club is an expression of his or her underlying movement ability or restriction pattern.

 

  • Correct all the failures you can visually see. You can only correct one movement pattern at a time. A big issue we see are clients and coaching programs that become too scattered and it will overhelm the client and most likely your own perscrption. Start with the lowest scored test or largest asymmetry (visual breakdown) and start to clean it up with corrective work off the  green and practical application on the range or on the green. Most often we find when one pattern is cleaned up, they will innately affect the rest of breakdowns (usually for the better). This will give you more of an accurate overall assessment of the clients performance in their swing, chipping, putting etc.

 

  • Have a prioritization scheme within the Screen. It is designed to give you the major movement patterns, but after the first screen, you should start to get a feel for the client’s specific mechanics. If they pass certain tests with flying colors, there is no need to rescreen them every time on that test. I screen clients every quarter on the full screen, but every 4-6 weeks I will screen the prioritized movement patterns, and each session will ensure there is an increase in movement and better performance – this comes from communication and active engagement between myself and my clients golf’s pro.

 

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on golf specific correction and intervention strategies. Next week we will look at the fascial components and tensegrity of the lines associated with the swing. We will also breakdown corrective drills to improve your tee off, based on the balance and integrity of this massive structure – we call our Fascial System.

This will be a great post for those of you who have inconsistent drives, slice the ball or have mobility restrictions in the hip and spine.

Much of the fascial system integration in performance based movement can be found

Birdie Up and Happy Golfing!

 

Sources:

Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS, Author – Movement and Functional Movement Systems, SMFA – http://graycookmovement.com/

Thomas Myers, – “Tensegrity” Anatomy Trains – http://www.anatomytrains.com/at 

 

How Becoming a Teacher Made Me a Better Student

How Becoming a Teacher Made Me a Better Student

I had been practicing (and intermittently teaching) yoga for years before I decided it was time to take my Yoga Teacher Training at Live Yoga in the summer of 2011 and finally certify to teach. I picked a teacher that I loved (Dan Clement from Open Source Yoga) and embarked on an experience that would change me in more ways that I could ever imagine.

Although I had been attending classes for all those years, it wasn’t until I became a yoga teacher that I truly started learning what it means to be a student of yoga.

I’m not saying that understanding yoga is inaccessible to students, or that the light of yoga only comes with teaching it. For me, it wasn’t until I needed to articulate to others the benefits and purposes of yoga that I truly started integrating my knowledge into my own practice.

Many experiences as a teacher have deepened my personal practice: when students ask me about the philosophy behind the practice, or the anatomy behind the body; when students describe sensations or emotions during poses and how yoga helped them to heal; when students want advice for rehabilitating injuries and conditions; when students push too hard in class, or not hard enough; when students recount failures and successes and how yoga helped them to develop a fulfilling life.

Teaching so many wonderful people has enriched my own understanding and appreciation of yoga in profound and unimaginable ways. Here are a few of the things I have learned and integrated into my personal practice as a result of teaching and observing my students:

  • My body is unique and beautiful. Seriously. Nobody has my bones, my history, my evolution with my body. Nobody knows my body like I do and how it moves, how it responds and what it needs to feel healthy. My practice needs to be sensitive and respect this uniqueness. Sometimes that means I don’t do a pose even though my neighbour is doing it. I’m ok with that now, because my body is mine and I need to take care of it.
  • I require and deserve respect, patience and love. At All Times. Absolutely and without exception.
  • Every class/day/experience is an opportunity to learn (about myself and others). It doesn’t matter who I am talking to, who I’m learning from or which students are in front of me. Every person has a story that is interesting, full and inspiring. Even in mundane or tense moments of life, there are opportunities to learn and grow.
  • I deserve compassion and care, from others and especially myself. In yoga you explore your body (and spirit at times) and learn things. Sometimes you learn that you can’t do certain poses or exercises, while at other times you learn you can. This ebb and flow is an integral part of the practice. It is not yet another chance for judgement, repulsion or disappointment. I may never get into poses that make me look like a pretzel- that doesn’t mean I am less spiritually developed, physically fit or deserving of love! I try to understand and love myself for all my limitations and abilities alike. They are what make me ME.
  • Yoga should be shared. There is so much variety in yoga. So much that can help with health and wellness. I am to spread the word. Not in a dogmatic way, but in a way that expresses and abounds from the passion and belief I have in what I do.
  • Yoga isn’t about getting your legs behind your head, it’s about integration, health, vitality and wellness. That’s right. No one is meant to do ALL the poses that have ever been invented. There are a variety so you can pick and choose what works for your body. I do what feels safe, good and beneficial, I modify some to suit my needs, and I always give myself permission to leave some poses out completely.
  • I aspire to live my yoga on and off my mat. The more I learn patience, determination, how to overcome challenges, enjoy successes, demonstrate care and compassion on my mat, the more I want to be the person I am on my mat, all the time.
  • When I soften my practice, things open up (but sometimes when I get too soft, I need to energize too!). I used to practice power, hot and flow yoga all the time. I thought that to improve and get stronger at yoga, I needed HARDER classes. I have started to realize that a consistent, softer practice, with lots of intention, exploration, alignment and care has wielded far greater results for me. I make time for Yin and Restorative now. I make time to rest and breathe. I am gaining strength and energy with less tension. My practice is getting more advanced in a natural way – and I am having so much fun doing it!
  • Committing to my practice sets me free – whether that means a full practice in the morning, or just a few minutes of breathing, reading or relaxation at the end of my day. Making the practice of yoga part of my daily routine keeps me connected and fulfilled.

Sharing the wisdom of yoga as a teacher has made me a much more sensitive, caring and dedicated student. I am so blessed to share a practice that I love with others, and have them teach and inspire me in my own practice as well.

I hope that as a teacher, I continue to learn and get inspired by my students, so that I can deepen and expand my practice always.

My beloved teacher Dan Clement is running a 200hr YTT at my home base, Live Yoga in White Rock this July. Feel free to drop in on one of my classes at Live Yoga or Hari Om Yoga (in Langley) and share your light with me! Or comment below and share what you have learned from teaching/practicing yoga!

Amy, loving life from any perspective. (Photo, Roxana Albusel Photography, www.roxanaphotography.com)

 

 

 

AN UNCONVENTIONAL REVIEW: CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION

AN UNCONVENTIONAL REVIEW: CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION

Why being normal sucks!….and how embracing the unconventional can help you live a happier, more fulfilled life. This has been the premise of the last 2 weeks on my journey with Cliff Harvey. Ok, so he doesn’t really know… but I have been taking a lot of notes, and since he has been in Vancouver, I am well on my way to what we “mystical, universal… A.D.D holisitic, pro-humanity potential peeps” call “re defining your values and ethos.”

Life and the Universe have a funny way of bringing to us the exact people, places, circumstances, and messages that our souls are calling for at the right time. It could be a phone call from a long-lost friend we’ve been thinking about, a timely financial windfall when we need it most,  a seemingly random meeting at a social event that leads to the perfect job opportunity, or a poignant bumper sticker, or even a facebook photo—the possibilities are endless, and sometimes it is exactly the opposite – for me, a rejection letter from “what I thought was my career path,” needing to re locate and move, and at a cross roads of “WTF do I do now,” and should I choose “ice cream” or “chicken wings and beer” moment – here’s the reality; whatever your “sign” is, get off at the next exit and see where it leads – because an experience is an experience, there is no good or bad, merely our own perception which defines the “experience.”

What if you believed that everything in your life was happening for your greater good?  That you couldn’t go wrong? That even in the face of adversity, the universe was conspiring in your favor? Would this not make it so much easier to just live life, rather than continuing to run the hamster wheel of doubt, expectation and what if’s? Well, hold onto your hats – because if you just sit back and focus on what you want – it does indeed, manifest.

When it comes to synchronicity, life seems to land us in exactly where we need to be – even if it is in a place we are unsure of. No matter what the path, we do have a part to play and the all-important variable that we are in control of is navigated by our own personal moral compass and beliefs.

We have to BELIEVE that our dreams are real. We have to TRUST that anything is possible. We have to KNOW that every little action we take on behalf of our dreams is supported by unseen forces that are working for us and with us. Even when times get tough and all signs point to giving up, we have to dig deeper and find the faith to keep going.

Conscious Communication

Last night I attended the “Effective Conscious Communication” workshop, where his aim is to simply provide insight into why the way we communicate affects our interpersonal relationships and how we can transform that to develop more harmonious, peaceful and compassionate dynamics with others.

Cliff Harvey draws on his 14 years of clinical experience as a mind body coach, and as a naturopathic doctor to show how we can create more harmonious relationships at home at work and in any other area of life with a few simple intentions, tools and exercises. Instinctively, my first thought was… “oh crap, I am currently sitting in a workshop for “people in relationships” … ahem… check please… note to the world… I am still single.”

Cliff’s first few lines included, sometime along the lines – “we are all in relationships, whether it be with our partners, our friends, family, ourselves and the universe. When we learn to be more responsive than reactive we can empower our communication and encourage greater learning and personal growth.  Ergo – perhaps the key indicator for me here is “reactive” and “relationship,” two words if ever asked my response would be… “No, I am not” (insert awkward school girl giggle here).” Ah, yes the universe and it’s magnitude of aligning the stars and planets for all to see.

Intention is a large part of any holistic health modality, hell, it’s a large part of any modality, and life as we know it – or at least it should be, because it is the fuel behind the flame. It ignites the fire from which all else follows. “The intention we take into any communication (or any situation) drastically changes the context of that communication (or situation). Studies have shown that when people are pre-conditioned with negative stimuli they perceive events afterwards negatively. Conversely, when people are pre-conditioned with positive stimuli they will perceive events afterwards in a more positive light.”

Seems easy enough, but how often do we really think, do and act as thus? It seems to me, that as a human species we seem to focus on the bad, the what isn’t going right, or what we don’t want – rather than the experience is just an experience, it is neither good nor bad – it just is. If we choose to focus our intention on what we do want, and we visualize it as thus – we can and do bring about that change for the better.

Cliff brings up to very key points and that is the idea of trust and intention – Trusting ourselves and trusting others; which is no easy feat, but it is the foundation from which all else is built. It really boils down to self care and compassion for ourselves and for others. Focus on the intention of non0judging, loving compassion and simply receiving what each other are saying without judgement, and in the words of Philo… “Be Kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle.”

When we tune in to the synchronicity of life, when we look with the eyes of trusting in that intention and listen with the ears of and touch of compassion, we begin to experience the undeniable truth that we are all connected, that there is rhyme and reason to the way life flows, and that each and every one of us is accounted for. We begin to know without a doubt that we ALL have something special and unique to offer the world.

During the Q&A portion of the interactive dialogue, I realized that we were all there for various reasons – but our vision was the same, and that was to not merely “improve our communication” skills or “improve relationships,” but to CONNECT and in connecting and listening to others, we innately begin to break down our own barriers and realize that the path each of us are traveling may be the more challenging one, they may have setbacks, but the road less travelled, is the one worth setting forth your quest on.

One of the workshop participant’s, Lynne Laporte a triathlon coach, had this to say about the workshop and experience;

“the workshop is was really cool. Honestly it’s so hard to put into words because it was one of those things where the content itself was interesting but what I got out of it the most was the group experience. It was a workshop that was less context focused and more Interaction driven. In that even if you didn’t “learn” anything new, the context in which the information was shared was what I took away the most!”

The group discussion and sharing was key to the evenings success.

“Experience the breakthrough of realising your power to choose your life of passion and purpose! Live the S**T out of life! “

Next Work Shop –

Choosing You! How to connect to your life of passion and purpose and achieve the goals that really matter

Date: June 3rd

Time: 9am – 6pm

Location: Tides Canada, Hollyhock Room

Price: $199.00

Sources:

Cliff Harvey – http://www.cliffharvey.com/

Lynne Laporte – Enhanced Performance (http://enhancedperformance.ca/)  Switching Gears – (www.switchinggearstriclub.com)

Passport To Prana – RENEW & WIN! Contest

Passport To Prana – RENEW & WIN! Contest

Do you have an expired Passport to Prana card?

Renew your card between May 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012 and be entered to win a 1 MONTH PASS at your favorite participating studio!

To renew, simply log into your account at www.passporttoprana.com and click on the “RENEW CARD” tab.

If you have misplaced or no longer have your card, purchase a new card and email [email protected] about the renewal contest and you will be entered in to win.

Consciousness with Seane Corn

Consciousness with Seane Corn

You know and love her.  You definitely won’t want to miss her.  Seane Corn is coming to Vancouver for a weekend workshop entitled, “Three Realms of Consciousness” at Semperviva from June 15-17.   Nuff said.

Well, maybe you want to know more…. Here are further details! Sounds like a great weekend!

In this Vinyasa flow workshop, we will explore the Three Realms of Consciousness—the physical/mental, the energetic/emotional and the psychic/symbolic. These three realms create a holistic pathway for Self-investigation: the key for personal transcendence. In these three realms, we use asana, chakra mapping, meditation, reflection and prayer to create a ritualistic journey initiating the mystical into to the practical, bonding body, mind and Spirit. Learn how Self- confidence is the necessary tool for intuitive work, how to use your body to create a cosmic relationship with Spirit, and how, through prayer, we can become of service to Spirit and to the world around us. The intention of this workshop is to reconnect to our bodies, gain emotional insight, explore our individual Soul’s purpose and cultivate skills — both physically and psychically — to Spiritually assist each other and the planet we inhabit.

Although these classes can be taken separately, the workshop is intended to be taken as a whole. The benefits of taking the classes consecutively can enhance the positive physical, mental and psychological possibilities you will create as a result of doing the practice.

About Seane Corn

Seane Corn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism and inspirational style of teaching. A strong and articulate voice for social change, she started her activism work by creating the yoga program for L.A. shelter “Children of the Night” Since 2006, her work has been focused on training leaders of activism through her co-founded organization Off the Mat, Into the World® and bringing awareness to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Date June 15th-17th, 2012
Time
  • Friday, June 15th: 7:30pm-9:30pm
  • Saturday, June 16th: 1:00pm-4:30pm
  • Sunday, June 17th: 12:30pm-3:30pm
Location City Studio, Vancouver
Cost
  • $65.00 + HST (Friday)
  • $115.00 + HST (Saturday)
  • $95.00 + HST (Sunday)
  • $245.00 + HST (full weekend)
Contact 604.739.2009 [email protected]

 

 

INSPIRATION MEETS PERSPIRATION

INSPIRATION MEETS PERSPIRATION

Harnessing the power behind the mind-body connection or as us nerd-folk call it – The biopsychosocial model (abbreviated “BPS”).

Each day is a new day to harness the power of our own unique potential.  Learning to use your thoughts to positively influence some of your body’s physical responses, thereby decreasing stress, is merely one way to support your personal exploration of your best self. Research has shown that when we imagine an experience, we often have similar mental and physical responses to those you have when the event actually happens. Why? Because we have a vested interest in that connection. From a physiological perspective, our muscles have memory and thus, patterns can be built up, broken down and transformed.

Today’s post is about appreciating the mind-body connection through the art of visual representation and linking that connection to two of my favorite “meditative pass times;” which are running (leading with an active lifestyle) and yoga (mind and body meditation).

Enjoy and Namaste!

Life - it's pretty simple and that grand.

Go beyond your comfort zone.

 

The will to act. deeds, not words.

 

 

 

love rules all

 

 

There are no limitations, only a limited view.

 

Be Yourself!

 

Purpose - is here and now

 

 

IS YOUR FASCIA HYDRATED?  H2O TO GO

IS YOUR FASCIA HYDRATED? H2O TO GO

“No Body Likes a “Crampy”… I mean “Crabby” Athlete! Your hydration levels may be the culprit of your poor performance, and let’s be honest, if you’re feeling more than just muscle cramps (perhaps mental cramps) and poor perforamce; drink more water so you can go the ultra distance.”

As an ultra runner, I have been prone to injuries from time to time – wait… what am I saying. Okay, as an ultra runner I have pretty much had EVERY injury and this year has been no exception.

So why do I run? Because the feeling of accomplishment, of all those long hours running at the crack of dawn when the city is silent, the endless and countless miles clocked, and more importantly, the insurmountable, evolutionary personal changes, maybe a better word would be – epiphany – makes it all worth it. For me, it’s about the choice to run, when others cannot or do not have that choice – it truly that simple.

Last week I suffered intense abdominal pain; which is unnatural for me as a clean eater and for the most part I live a gluten free lifestyle, almost vegan (primarily out of the convenience of “I don’t cook” and prepare quick meals). As it turns out, this abdominal pain was an intestinal blockage (I know, I know… highly attractive), but one contributor to this was dehydration, but rather than “muscle dehydration,” my body had “organ dehydration.” Which means because of the amount I am currently running, training etc – my water intake has not been enough to sustain proper efficiency and even though I drink a lot of fluids – it ain’t enough and hasn’t been for some time.  Combine this with the high stress, of my second ultra event on May 20th “Walk In Her Shoes for CARE Canada, an event I am also organizing single handedly – I guess you could call  it a stressor… but I love it… but my innerds are a little agro. And looking back, my muscles have been “crampy” primarily in the calves and hamstrings a little more than usual.

Why do we Cramp?

Many endurance will experience muscle cramps at some point during their training or racing. An article that outlines this on going discussion very well is from “Utra Fitness” online where they look at the differing theories of where cramping comes from (in simplest terms).  Their findings can be broken down into 3 pillars; however, I am narrowing my scope to reflect and comment on the first two;

  1. Dehydration and electrolyte depletion
  2. Abnormal spinal reflex activity
  3. Carbohydrate depletion

“Using a definition from Dr. Martin Schwellnus a cramp is “a painful, spasmodic, involuntary contraction of skeletal muscle that occurs during or immediately after exercise”(1). While most athletes understand what a cramp feels like there is much confusion as to what causes cramps and how they can be prevented. “ (ultrafitness)

In the 1930s a theory was put forth that dehydration and electrolyte depletion were the primary causes of cramps. This is still a popular theory that has come under fire recently and how does that relate to post running??? Since my pain was associated post run (actually a week after my last long run of 52km)?

The article goes on to say that Schwellnus and Noakes , put forth the new theory that abnormal spinal reflex activity could be the real culprit behind muscle cramps. This theory is built on the understanding of muscle fatigue leading to abnormal functioning at the spinal level of the muscle contraction mechanism; which causes the muscle cramping during activity.

Review of anatomy 101, receptors called muscle spindles cause muscles to contract when they are stretched; while other receptors called Golgi tendon organs (GTO) cause muscles to relax when they are contracted. Both types of receptors are needed to help protect muscles from over-stretching and over-contracting, respectively. These receptors act on muscles by sending an electric signal to the appropriate motor neuron, which is located in the spine, and as we know the fascia assists with all of these responses.

During a normal contraction, signals from both receptors are in balance. According to the theory, when a muscle fatigues the activity of the muscle spindles increases (causing a contraction) and the Golgi tendon organ activity is inhibited (no relaxing) leading to muscle cramping.

Looking at these two theories; I would say that both hold a high degree of merit and (in my opinion) there is no dichotomy between the two. I would say they both contribute to cramping during and after a competition requiring a high degree of volume and/or endurance.  Let’s take a look at fascia and hydration and also the tensigrity of the fascia itself as a contributor for cramping.

H2O To Go, Your Fasica & Hydration:

Ergo, a great opportunity to revisit the fascial system and integration of the above…

The fascia is our body’s protector. We also know that at the microscopic level, the fascial make up resembles that of micro tubules that acts as a transfer/communication highway to move nutrients and transmit nerves impulses to and around the body. The nerves themselves, along with blood vessels run through the fascia. Therefore, if the connective tissue is tight, the associated tissues will have poor nutrient exchange.

In times of stress, and high volumes of load, along with what we are here today to discuss – dehydration, this exacerbates the situation because toxic metabolic waste products build up which will further aggravate pain receptors and reduce proper transfer. Needless to say, this can create a mechanical breakdown and a vicious cycle that undoubtedly creates more muscle tension, leading to further thickening and hardening of the fascia, which will further limit mobility and performance!

One important fact to note is that the fascia holds imprints of our posture and even old injuries, which is one reason why older injuries can still affect present day overall functions and/or re surface at a later date. The fascia (amongst other systems) dictates our shape and freedom of movement.

Are you Tense?

Fascia thickens and hardens where there is chronic tension. Chronic tension can then lead to joint restrictions, movement impairments, pain, decreased performance and/or cramping and twitching.  Manual physicians; (ie. Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Osteopaths, Acupuncturists and other non-physicians) can manipulate the fascial ‘networks’ in a variety of ways, either directly or indirectly. This is done by breaking up fascial binding and tone of the tissue, as well as re patterning and “waking up” the parasympathetic system. Also very important in recovery and rehabilitation.

I know from personal experience, there is no way I could fully operate as an ultra-runner without regular tune ups from my health team. There are certain things we cannot do on our own; which us why an integrated support team is essential. For more info on my health team please see under sources.

Fascia is composed mainly of collagen fibers, together with water and other proteins which provide a glue-like quality. Due to the regular alignment of the fibers, fascia often has a crystal-like appearance. The connective tissue fibers extend deep in between individual muscle cells and between practically all cells of the body. Fascia tends dry out as we age, becoming stiff and tight. Proper hydration, vitamins, minerals and overall nutrition assist with the rehydration and overall health of the fascial network.  Regular movement of the fascia through exercise and mobilization helps to greatly reduce the fascia from stiffening and ultimately effecting performance.

The Hydration Study:

The Fascia Research Group , is part of the Division of Neurophysiology, of Ulm University, Germany say that,

‘When fascia is being stretched, water is being extruded from the ground substance and simultaneously there are some temporary relaxation changes in the longitudinal arrangement of the collagen fibers. When the stretch is finished, the longitudinal relaxation of the fibers takes a few minutes to revert (provided the strain has not been too strong and there have been no micro-injuries); yet the water continues to be soaked up into the tissue, to the degree that the tissue even swells and becomes stiffer than before.’

So, how important is recovery and rehydration? I would say very! During the recovery period of the elongated tissue (minutes, even hours after), a gradual re hydration of the muscle should be expected; which is also in conjunction with the balance of the tissue through a gradual regaining of the initial tissue stiffness.  Active loading and subsequent rest in proportion to each-other will achieve the desired outcome.

Dehydration as little as 2% of body weight can begin to significantly impact performance. For an athlete that has a higher sweat rate (greater than 2 liter per hour), that level of dehydration can occur after 30 minutes of exercise in hot and humid conditions. Additional, research has shown that level of dehydration can slow 10-km run times by 6.3% compared to running in a hydrated state. That equates to a race time almost 3 minutes slower if you usually run a 40-minute 10k!

This of course depends specifically on someone’s unique mechanics and factoring in muscle fibre composition, sport they engage in will affect muscle tissue response etc etc, and as we have seen above – stretching as well.

Yin to Your Yang:

Passive stretching and Yin Yoga stretches can load the tissue and fascial lines in a way that induces a temporary decrease in tissue water content; which has been shown to contribute to alterations in tissue stiffness; however, this is to be expected with any load placed upon the tissue. When the tissue is in a state of elongation the question then becomes; how long will the tissue remain in elongation, as well as how important is rehydration recovery.

Conclusion:

The key factors in this article today are to ensure that you are aware of your personal mechanics and body responses during, before and after your training. If you decide to venture into the realm of ultra-distance athletics, take the time to understand the force applied and the necessary nutrients your body will need to sustain you, not only during the performance, but the months and weeks (sometimes even years) leading up to your goal. My greatest lesson learned is to never underestimate the power of the body and the will and drive to succeed. In all the chaos of the last 2 weeks, I forgot to listen to my body and even though during the taper, we decrease our mileage – it is an essential time to get our bodies ready by recovery, resting and fine tuning the mental and emotional aspects of our journey.

If you are unsure of how much water your mechanics need – ask a professional. Also, keep in mind electrolyte balance is essential as well. I always make sure to have at least 2 options with me at all times. Eboost; which is a special blend of active vitamins and minerals focuses on 3 vital elements of the athletes super world (endurance, immunity and recovery).

The Key Ingredients of Eboost:

For ENDURANCE: Glucuronolactone, Chromium, Vitamin B12, and Anhydrous Caffeine For RECOVERY: Minerals (including potassium and sodium for electrolyte replacement), and essentials vitamins including Vitamin C For IMMUNITY: Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium and Copper. You really can’t go wrong, and super tasty (Pink Lemonade, is my fav).

I also put a few drops of Elete Electrolytes, provide balanced ions of magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride, just a few drops in your water and you are ready to rock. Happy running!

Nourish the body and the soul will grow.

 

Sources:

Health Team:

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