Part 2: Foam Rolling FOR “Tissue” Release! Say What?!

Part 2: Foam Rolling FOR “Tissue” Release! Say What?!

fasciaLast week,  we featured “Part 1: Foam Rolling NOT Myo Fascia Release” where we looked one end of the debate regarding foam rolling for myo fascia release; where our focus was to look who foam rolling should be applied based on a client’s particual tissue make up. Meaning, the difference between tissue tone or muscle knots vs tissue fibrosis and scar tissue.

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that is commonly used by fitness and health professionals across the globe. However, it is still a relatively new field of research.  The study of  the areas of fascia, myofascial release, self-myofascial release and myofascial trigger points are also still young and quickly developing; therefore depending on how, what, when and where you apply these techniques are up for discussion. As I mentioned in my previous post, it really boils down to the the understanding of both tissue composition and the “WHY.”

Why are you prescribing these tools? Do you understand the difference between tone, tightness, tension and fibrotic tissue/scar tissue? Have you considered manual therapy over self release techniques? If a client has tone and you are looking to prepare the clients tissue for movement, the roller can be effective, but has temporary lasting effects. If the client has significant mobility and tissue adhesions the roller will not be enough to break down fibrotic tissue and thus you will get the results you want, nor will your client.

Any discussion of self-myofascial release first has to present some background to research into fascia and the vast interconnected matrix.  The purpose of today’s post is to look at how foam rolling, can indeed by beneficial to a client’s tissue health, when used appropriately.

First, let’s jus review the fascia system; fascia is connective tissue that wraps around all of our muscles and is heavily interconnected with muscular function, communication and our nervous system. It has 3 integral layers (visceral, deep and superficial) putting it in it’s simplest terms.  It is also a continuous sheet all around the body, which means when we alter it’s composition in one area, it can effect movement in other areas of the body.

Tight fascia  and fibrotic tissue affects the whole organism. Structural imbalance causes overall and specific increased rates of nervous stimulation. These cause increased muscle tonicity, trigger points and somatic-visceral referrals into the organs.

Myofascial trigger points are more usually defined as “tender spots in discrete, taut bands of hardened muscle that produce local and referred pain” (Bron, 2012). A commonly-held hypothesis about myofascial trigger points is that they are caused when motor endplates release excessive acetylcholine, leading to localized sarcomere shortening and consequently very short muscle fibers in one particular area (e.g. Hong, 1998).

fascai 2

According to the standard definition provided by the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (LeMoon, 2008), fascia is responsible for:

  • Maintaining structural integrity
  • Providing support and protection
  • Acting as a shock absorber
  • Plays a role in hemodynamic and biochemical processes
  • Provides the matrix permitting intercellular communication
  • Functions as the body’s first line of defense against pathogenic agents and infections
  • Creates an environment for tissue repair post-injury

How Can Self Myo Fascial Release(SMR) Benefit Tissue:

In general, a myofascial release technique is intended to address localized tension and tone , but most people describe it as “fascia rlease” when in actuality a better way to educate clients, is to use “tissue release,” because we are affecting more than just the fascia itself.  SMR traditionally focuses on the neural and fascial systems in the body that can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements.

There is research that explains that these mechanically stressful actions are recognized as an injury by the body, initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle. This cycle follows a path of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance. The adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, referred to as Davis’s Law. SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function.

Literature often seems to me to be slightly confusing regarding whether muscle tissue, fascia itself or a combination of both is being treated by the various techniques. I tend to lean towards “tissue release,” vs “fascia release.”  Most often we prescribe these tools not only to “release fascia,” but to prep muscles to improve mobility in a joint, or perhaps extensibility in muscle tissue (called tightness).


Let’s Talk Hydration:

Outside of blood, connective tissue houses the majority of our fluid state. Other, more intricate and vastly important systems (nervous, vascular, and circulatory, etc…) rely on the fluid in this system to function efficiently. If the Extracellular Matrix (ECM), which is the fluids and it’s components of connective tissue that support, protect, and connect all of the cells it surrounds loses even 2% of its water content, it would cause every cell, structure, and system it surrounds to lose efficiency. This exhausts the body, makes it work harder daily and ultimately taps out your energy, ages you faster, and is the catalyst for most chronic pain.If we become dehydrated the body will prioritorize so that essential organs will remain hydrated.

Connective tissue (fascia) will be one of the first to dehydrate leading to adhesions and fixotrophia. For example, researchers have noted that since 67% of the volume of fascial tissues is made up of water and that the application of load squeezes water out of the structures, fascia may therefore lack water in certain areas. The application of external force may therefore be required in order to redistribute water and rehydrate the tissues. Using tools like the roller , the magic stick and slow, application of pressure can improve translation of nutrients and water into and out of tissue.  

James Oshman Phd. in his book ‘Energy Medicine’ cites research which shows that a 10% increase in hydration will result in a million -fold increase in conduction of impulses through the tissues such as collagen. This means our work could potentially be a whole lot more effective if we could get our clients more hydrated.

Gil Hedley, who is renowned for his work with cadavers and fascia mentions quite frequently in his Integral Anatomy Series,  that using myo fascia tools and manual therapy are important to movement and the pliability of tissue to maintain the sliding properties of fascia and muscle.

My Conclusion:

The discussion is new, our fields of research in these areas are new, and there still so much we do not know about the fascia, tissue and this interconnected matrix.

KISS Principle: Keep it simple…

  • SMR & Foam Rolling Techniques: good for reduces tone, improving hydration and temporary release of tense “tissue.” (notice I did not say just fasica, let’s think tissue – fascia and muscle)
  • For Fibrotic Tissue, Scar Tissue and Acute Adhesions: for best results, seek hands on professional treatment for long-term sustainable effects.  Offer client’s self management tools to empower them to manage their health, but ensure they recognize the difference and benefits, to both used together.



  •  The Concise Book of Neuromuscular Therapy: A Trigger Point Manual – By John Sharkey
  •  NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training – edited by Micheal Clark, Scott Lucett, National Academy of Sports Medicine
  •  Integral Anatomy Series – Gil Hedley
  • MELT Method –
  • Energy Medicine – by  James Oshman Phd
  • John Forsyth – RMT, Central Lonsdale Massage Therapy Clinic & Massage and Therapy Center Vancouver
Part 1: Foam Rolling NOT Myo Fascia Release? Say What!

Part 1: Foam Rolling NOT Myo Fascia Release? Say What!


Human life involves movement. Movement is behaviour and it is communication. From the moment, we wake up to the moment we go to bed we are moving. It’a an endless array of activity expressed from our nervous system to our neuromusculoskeletal system to order to produce movement ongoing all day long.

Movement can also be a stressor, when we push too hard, when we create injury or just from poor habits, this is why in corrective movement we prepare the body FOR movement and FOR our daily activities, not just exercise. Not doing so can result in an inability for the tissues to efficiently accept, communicate and properly adapt for the load in which we apply, which can result in injury and pain. Most often this includes elements of “self soft tissue rolling.”

This 2 part series was spawned by a recent video circulated earlier this month called “Foam Rolling is NOT Myo Fascia Release,” by Dr. Andreo Sipna, Sports Specialist Chiropractor and Medical Acupuncturist and Manual Therapist out of Ontario, Canada. His findings and approach are valuable to our industry in understanding the difference between rolling for release and actually changing myofascia structure.

In the health and wellness industry we speak of health first, before fitness. Part of this health model is ensuring the layers of our skin, muscle, fascia – all tissue, are ready for life’s movement.  One of the trends we have seen over the course of the last few years, has been that of “self myo fascia release,” using rollers, trigger point balls, magic sticks and knobby things of all shapes and sizes.

Research is starting to show that even though self foam rolling and other tools works for movement preparation, and for those who require a little tone reduction, but  it may not be the best tool for breaking up scar tissue or for those with significant structure concerns and have excessive mobility issues.  Scar tissue that causes adhesion, contractures, and tissue fibrosis, cannot be changed through self means (self administered techniques).

Most often, clients are asked to preform “rolling” before their workout as a warm up, but what is rolling good for? And do they perform it properly? Do they know why they are asked to roll? Is it the right prescription for a client?  And is it enough? These are questions that circulate  in our industry, where many health professionals have differencing views on whether or not foam rolling can benefit the body. 

As is with any debate I look at rolling and how it will benefit movement, it’s two pronged (1)  rolling is only as effective as the coach who provides the tool and educates the client  (2) are you using these tools to reduce tone, or are using these tools to reduce pain and break down scar tissue? Both of these questions ask you to know the difference between tone/tension and scar tissue/fibrosis.

My place in the debate is this: There is scientific data that foam rolling or “self” myofascia release does indeed,  warm the system, release surface tension, and reduce tone, but it is temporary and if a client suffers from chronic pain, has scar tissue or adhesions, it most likely will not be enough to truly break up fibrotic tissue, as a stand alone method.  There is also scientific data to say that rollers and trigger points can’t break up scar tissue, it compresses vs laterally shear and therefore, the more effective approach would be hands on treatment. Again, tis is client specific.

Perhaps the best place to start is building from the inside out – a brief look at the fascia and at how scar tissue forms.

Brief Overview of Fascia Layers:

We have the outer skin covering the muscular skin and tissue and between the muscular skin and tissue we have a layer a connective tissue layer, which has been known as the subcutaneous fat layer. However, upon closer examination of this layer we can see that the is made of the scaffolding of fascial tissue, where pockets of fat live. It adheres the skin and the the underlining tissue.  This is known as the Superficial Fascia layer.

The complexity of fascial tissue can be simplified into three divisions: fascia superficialis (superficial layer), fascia profunda (middle layer) and deepest fascia (deepest layer). Since fascia is a contiguous interconnected soft tissue, each layer smoothly transitions from one layer to the next. Thus there is no “clear” division between layers.

There is a movement between these layers, which can be seen merely be touching your skin and feeling the bouncy, a gliding effect between these layers of connective tissue and muscle tissue. However, with age, previous trauma or injury or even lack of movement and a sedentary lifestyle, the connective tissue layers can start to become fibrotic or abnormal.

Recently, a video has circulated by Dr. Andreo Sipna outlining that rolling, in fact, is not myo fascia release. Now before we get into that debate, take a quick read below on his findings related to the difference between surface tension and inside tissue tension, in it’s relationship to scar tissue development.


Fibrosis & Scar Tissue:

When the fascial tissue becomes more mature, more dense or restricts normal movement, it becomes stiffer and can form fibrosis of tissue or scar tissue.

This can happen on two levels:

1. Inter layer restriction (via the Inter Sliding : the restriction of movement of the skin, on top of the muscles and fascia themselves.

2. Intra layer restriction: the restriction between the layers of the fascia and profunda within the same bundle, meaning within the same particular layer.

Fibrosis occurs anywhere in the fasica, and it will adhere to different structures and bind them together creating adhesions, contractures, and scar tissue. This limits joint range and mobility, can cause compensation and pain and movement dysfunction.

The tag ling “Rolling is NOT myo fascia release,” has spawned the debate on how we classify myo fascia release and whether or not rolling is a tool to administer for fascia release. Dr. Sipna believes it is not, while others believe it is. There is research on both ends of the spectrum,  pro and con. My ideology is to never take sides, but to appreciate both conversations. For the sanctity of this post we will look more at Dr. Sipna’s side of the debate.

The Myo Fascia Release Debate: Continues

When we talk in relative terms, most people will interchangeably use the words “myo fascia release” and “foam rolling or trigger pointing” as soft tissue release techniques. When we discuss soft tissue release, we need to understand that what we need to establish is relative tissue motion between the two layers that are bound together from the scarring or fibrotic change in tissue. The only way to achieve this is not merely through compressing the tissue, but by adding in relative tension and relative movement and in doing so establish afferent motion to start the process of breaking up fibrotic tissue.

In the recent video, circulating social media by Dr.Andreo Spina; his approach outlines the various processes that cause soft tissue injury, in his article written for Canadian Chiropractic, titled “Targeting Fascia.” I have noted his findings below.

“Each fibre, bundle and muscle is encased by fascia. The goal of soft-tissue therapies has never been to tear muscle proteins apart. It has been to remove restrictive scar tissue, or fibrosis. But where does this fibrosis form? Here is a list of the various processes that are known to follow soft-tissue injury:

  • Remodelling of connective tissue with lower tensile stiffness and lower ultimate strength;
  • Randomized collagen fibre direction and deposition (i.e., fibrosis);
  • Inability of collagen bundles to slide easily past one another due to cross-linking;
  • Substitution of collagen types with those of lesser strength.”

Compression + Tension + Movement

In other words we must be able to slide these layers over the other, or create motion between two fascia planes we are able to break down fibrosis through afferent motion.  Rolling can support better movement in tissue, but it cannot fully break down scar tissue or fibrotic tissue on its own.  A great explanation of this can be found in the video titled “Why foam rolling is NOT myo fascia release” by Andreo Spina (Functional Anatomy Video) to conceptualize this, he speaks of the inability for rollers and soft tissue tools are unable to create that relative tissue motion because they cannot grab onto muscle and hold them as muscles and tissue slide past one another and are usually held to trigger point without movement, either passive or active.

His conclusion is that research now shows that when it comes to foam rolling, alternating fascia composition requires a lot longer that simply a stroke or roll over the tissue or skin. Studies show that it requires 2 minutes minimum of tension/load or imparted load in order to cause a fascia release to occur. He goes onto say that these tools are still useful if we want to increase soft tissue healing by causing small amounts of tension, they can have a temporary relief in pin pointed pain, but we cannot consider these tools to take the place of hands on treatment and we cannot have long term changes in fascia composition or release adhesion or fibrosis using rollers or tools of this nature.

My conclusion, after watching this video is that soft tissue release is a very subjective term. He makes great points about the lateral shearing needed to break up fibrotic tissue, but to rule out foam rolling as a technique entirely, I am more on the position of keeping an open mind and giving clients tools they can self manage. Research shows significant progress for reducing tone uses these tools, but again it’s client dependant and how the unique make up of, injuries, past history and current biomechanical factors for make up that client.

When there is significant history with combative sports, structural traumas, high stress and mobility restriction I usually refer clients to an RMT, KMI structural integration specialist or other professionals engaging in applications of hands on treatment. Rolling will only make some temporary gains.

Next week we will look at some great responses to the video  post and offer insight into the other side of the debate, which is rolling and self managed myo fascia release tools can be of great benefit.

Food for Fascia thought!


Dr. Andreo Spina, Sport Specialist Chiropractor, Inter. Speaker, Mobility & Movement specialist -creator/instructor- Functional Anatomy Seminars including the FR® & FRC® systems – Video ––lv2vjPlQ 

“Targeting Fascia,” article at Canadian Chiropractor  –

UnCovering & UnCooking the FMS Model: Primitive Patterns, Myths & Strategies

UnCovering & UnCooking the FMS Model: Primitive Patterns, Myths & Strategies

Last week we taught an FMS Level 1 and Level 2 (Advanced Corrective Exercise) combo course at Copeman Healthcare to a sold out room of 29 eager students, coaches, trainers and clinicians. Over 130,000 + health professionals have joined the legion of FMS certified coaches around the world, and I felt very proud to be one of the assistants to one of the few teachers in North America who teaches the level 2 course. Behnad Honarbakhsh is one of Vancouver’s leading physiotherapists who specializes in not only traditional physiotherapy, but also, acupuncture, IMS (intramuscular stimulation), NLP, energy work, and soon to be Osteopathy. People have coined his sessions as “miracles” or “voodoo,” and I would be agree being a patient, as well as an employee and friend.  There is a vast wealth of knowledge and experience in our team at Fit to Train Human Performance Systems.  Now, enough of tooting the FTT horn… onwards to the main component of this article.. Uncovering the FMS model: Primitive Patterns, Myths and Strategies for corrective movement.

As Fit to Train’s only Movement Coach, new FMS professionals come to me with questions to learn more about how to apply this new tool and the corrective exercises into their current scope of practice. Many of which are strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers who find it overwhelming with all of the information to then make the transition from doctrine to strategy. My response is always the same: Keep.It.Simple.



Modern fitness and training science has bestowed upon us the ability to create strength and power in the presence of extremely poor dysfunction. This dysfunction means that fundamental movement patterns are limited, asymmetrical or barely present. Just because we can make people bigger, faster and stronger on top of this does not make it right. Seated, fixed-axis equipment perpetuates the illusion of fitness without enhancing functional performance. And what about “weak core” or “weak glute medius,” these are the two biggest myths in our industry. Number one, how can you tell it’s a weak core or weak glute med? How can you tell if a client is “firing” it. Answer – is you can’t. One muscle does not make the human body move properly. For active clients and even well trained athletes, it will be inhibition of sequential movement that results in poor tissue movement and tissue health. This falls into 3 categories (1) mobility (2) stability or (3) motor control, and most often because joints have a relationship with it’s neighbor and neighboring quadrant, you see all 3 scattered in different interactions between joints, tissue and posture positions.

Utilize all of your tools to uncover an individual’s dysfunction and then work to correct it. The result will be an individual who moves more efficiently, thereby creating a foundation for more effective strength, endurance and power training.

1.  THE TOOLS : The FMS Screens (which includes the FMS, SFMA for clinicians and the Y Balance) are all just screens to offer you a baseline on a clients strengths and compensatory movement.

2. THE SCORE: work on one asymmetry at a time, as you we see changes in them all. Use the breakout tiers  provided on the most asymmetrical score (ASLR, shoulder mobility, primitive patterns etc).

3. THE STRATEGY: Corrective movement exercises  are designed to “prep” the body for movement, any movement that the coach has prepared for that particular client. Your role in your warm up is to assess risk, remove negatives and prepare the client for the session.  If you are a trainer, corrective movement can be the first 10 mins of the hour. Like all else, what the client does on their own is part of the overall strategy of personal goal attainment. Ensure you offer them guidance and encourage them to perform their specific corrective exercises at home between your sessions.

The “Core” is the Foundation to Primitive Patterning: Gray Cook; Sequence of Core Firing Video: 


As a Movement Coach, I have the opportunity to spend an hour or more with each client and coach them on these fundamentals. Corrective movement is a modality within the health and wellness realm; which we like to call the “transition zone.” Corrective movement opens the door for coaches and professionals in the fitness industry to screen, assess and correct breakdowns in a client or athletes movement mechanics.

In my practice I use this style o f training to (a) pre screen a client who may need to see a physiotherapist or medical professional or (b) the client has been referred by a physiotherapist or medical professional and thus, my role is to “transition” the client from the clinical to the coaching again. This work compliments the work of most trainers and coaches, as it allows them to maximize their role with an athlete or client. There is no competition between myself and other trainers or coaches, because what I mainly teach is the technique and how cleaning the slate, removing negatives etc, applies to all areas of the athlete or clients life; while at the same time reinforcing the coaches strategy. An integrated team approach.

Even in the strength and conditioning realm, I have the opportunity to teach or in some cases re teach the fundamentals of lifting and transitioning. As the body becomes more efficient in mobilization, stabilization,  and neuromuscular adaptation they will ultimately be stronger and more fluid in movement. With this comes a risk of injury if we, as coaches, do not properly teach those new fundamentals the athlete or client are experiencing.

Video: Asymmetry in Movement (DVD Key Functional Exercises You Should Know): 


The following video selections are favorite videos I have chosen from the FMS library for you to be become more familiar with Corrective Movement, common mistakes and myths in the industry and the written portions of the article is direct excerpts from Gray Cook’s website and movement book.

Movement Competency: The ability to employ fundamental movement patterns like single-leg balance, squatting, reflex core stabilization and symmetrical limb movement.  This can also include basic coordination with reciprocal movement patterns like crawling and lunging. The central goal is not to assess physical prowess or fitness, but to establish a fundamental blueprint and baseline of quality not quantity.

Physical Capacity: The ability to produce work, propel the body or perform skills that can be quantified to establish an objective level of performance. If movement competency is present at or above a minimum acceptable level of quality, deficits in physical capacity can be addressed with work targeting performance. If movement competency is not adequate, it would be incorrect to assume that a physical capacity deficiency could be addressed by working only on physical capacity.

Growth and development follow the path of competency to capacity, but how many fitness and athletic programs  parallel this time-honored gold standard of motor development? If screens and standards for movement competency are not employed, we are programming on a guess. Furthermore, if our testing does not clearly separate movement competency tests and physical capacity tests, we exchange a guess for an assumption.

 VIDEO: Applying the FMS Model (6 min from the DVD Set “Key Functional Exercises You Should Know”):


Exercise professionals too often overlook the fundamental movements because highly active individuals can often perform many high level movements without easily observable deficits. The Functional Movement Screen was first introduced to give us greater relative insight into primitive patterns by identifying limitations and asymmetries. The FMS screen is a way of taking it back to the basics and recognizing that these patterns are fundamental; a key factor is that they are common during the growth and developmental sequence, and thus taking it back to primitive movement, we may be able to overcome some of these common compensations.

 VIDEO: Gray Cook:  Common Mistakes Made in Corrective Movement vs Strength Movement 


Consideration of primitive patterns can help make you a more intuitive, and intelligent exercise professional. Very often we become experts in exercise without considering growth and development, which is where the fundamentals of movement were first established. As explained in this video, these fundamental movements include rolling, pushing up, quadruped, and crawling. This foundation is often neglected in the approaches we take to enhance function and/or performance through exercise programming.

The first rule of functional performance is not forgetting fundamentals. In order to progress to movement we first learned to reflexively stabilize the spine, in order to control movement more distally in the extremities, this happened naturally during growth and development. However, many individuals lose the ability to naturally stabilize as they age due to asymmetries, injuries, poor training or daily activities. The individuals who do this develop compensatory movements, which then create inefficiencies and asymmetries in fundamental movements.

VIDEO 2: Gray Cook and Lee Burton: Secrets of Primitive Patterns:


Part 4 Movement Culture: Physical Preparedness & Natural Relaxed Readiness

Part 4 Movement Culture: Physical Preparedness & Natural Relaxed Readiness


Over the course of the last several years I have been knee deep in research, cross referencing the many aspects of primal movement, movement culture and survival training, to better understand the impact on the body, and of course how this “movement culture” can also open up new channels towards understanding our own personal human potential, in both life and sport.

The last decade, as an industry, we have seen many trends in the health and wellness field surface, yet no matter what cool and ingenious products one can come up with; it seems we always come back to  the basics. There is no better tool to use – than that of our own body,learning how to  regulate our systems, as well as understanding our innate  primal movement.

Less is more in this case.

“What comes first…the chicken or the egg? Mobility and ‘general, primal’ movement comes first – next, we have CONTROLLED and PLANNED movement which could be described as relative strength/power…FINALLY absolute strength gets introduced into the process.” – Carmen Bott, Human Motion Strength and Conditioning 

In an industry that is constantly in a state of influx, I have found my own training and coaching tools exploring the basics of human evolution through this process.  As a Movement Coach, my initial few sessions with a client is to take the time to better understand how they developed as in pediatric movement; what injuries they may have had in the past as youths and as adults, and then taking into account their recreational and occupational stressors. This allows me to better determine bio mechanical dysfunction and compensation and how to appropriately design their program.

The first key re educational tools I discuss are (1) how they breath, (2) the process of  neurophysiology and development (3) psychosomatic components and the mind-to-body connection (4) motor control and brain neuroplasticity. All of which start with basic primal movement and exploration of one’s range in every joint, muscle and degree of freedom in movement.

Back to the Basics:

Over the last several years we have seen a surge of back to the basics methodology. Now, of course we no longer have to hunt for our food, or run and track our prey, but the fact remains, that this way of life remains encoded in our DNA and this primal movement culture has emerged in full force.

First we have seen the debate of minimalist shoes and barefoot running. The movie “The Perfect Runner,” looks at the evolutionary path of our ancestors, taking us through a scientific lineage that helps unlock the mysetery of why humans made a series of paradoxical trade-offs as we evolved, losing strength and natural defenses as we became hairless bipeds on the scorched African plains; the persistence of the hunt and survival tracking became our top tools in the evolutionary process of modern day man.

“Decades of research to build the perfect running shoe may have created a multibillion-dollar industry, but running injuries are now more common than ever. The runners raised in rural poverty without running shoes become the fastest athletes.’ – The Perfect Runner Movie

Companies like the one I work with; Fit to Train who teaches The Functional Movement Systems, builds on this trend/lifestyle with tools towards understanding pediatric and neurdevelopmental processes to better understand how and why we compensate, injure and “clean up” compensatory factors. Survival and primal movement can be seen at the heart of almost all of the leading organizations and coaches leading the pack today.

tacfit banner 2

“My best martial art coaches taught me more than skills. They taught me intentional stamina: how to pour my effort into the actions necessary to “hold” technique. Effort is like water pouring from a faucet, and technique is the cup which holds it. If the cup is cracked, it leaks. If the cup runneth over, it’s useless (unadaptable) effort.” – Scott Sonnon

In order for anyone to better understand the fundamentals of neurodevelopment and what optimal wellness embodies; they need to have the freedom to move. In our last article; I offered insight into Scott Sonnon’s CST System; where we discussed the 6 degrees of freedom. Bones need to be able to float in the body and the process of optimal movement must start with mobility, then stability, then movement and then strength. Notice, how mobility and movement are independent of each other – they are not the same thing.

Movement Culture seems to embody a framework of different tools; all of which stem from basic survival training, or better known as tactical fitness. Even if you are not a tactical officer or occupy a profession that requires survival training, the principles and methodology behind tactical fitness are fundamentally important because they are the basic primal needs the body requires to move freely, be able to control breath and regulatory systems and more importantly; the ability to adapt to changing internal and external environments.

In March I was given the opportunity to explore and participate in both he CST and TacFit Certification courses, to better understand why these systems are so successful in a wide range of athletes and the general population.  TacFit redefines fitness to “be more prepared, than the challenges you face.” It is not so much a fitness program; but an operating system, a skills support system that lays the foundation to skillful power.

TacFit & Physical Preparedness:

Physical Preparedness is a job requirement for any profession; whether it be for tactical responders or the corporate cruncher. Many (PT) programs do not address or take into account the necessary compensatory changes the body incurs with occupational stresors being applied to the human structure; more over, the sufficient attention on injury proofing the client (not just physically but psychologically and bio-chemically) through attention to active recovery and pre-habilitation training.

Physical preparedness must follow function within the energy systems that allows the client to adapt, shift, explore and maintain optimal health through priming the connective tissue, joints and removing negatives to “clean up” compensations related to the job, as well as sophisticating work capacity in multiple planes, three dimensionally so that the client can excel at work and at play. This transfers over to all spheres of one’s life.

TacFit’s operating systems is used by many high level federal agencies all over the world. This includes police agencies, aviation, Navy, US Marshalls, Fire Fighter agencies and even officers in our own Canadian Military. I have no doubt that TacFit will continue to take our “to serve and protect’ departments to their very best in performance and occupational preparedness.

In this post I would like to offer insight into 2 key areas of the neurophysiological benefits of TacFit and for reader time efficiency; these are combat breathing & the nervous system and The Mind-Body Connection. TacFit is one part physical and one part psychological.

For a more comprehensive overview of the course itself, I encourage you to watch Scott Sonnon’s interview on tactical fitness vs functional fitness and to understand the course itself and certification process, please refer to this overview by TacFit FireFighter.

stress cycle

Combat Breathing & the Nervous System:

When the brain decides to move a part of the body or ask to adapt to a stimulus and gives the command to do so, it stimulates the motor neurons to execute movements, it is the muscles at the end of the chain of command that ultimately contract to move the body part concerned. In times of high stress, the body adjusts this capacity physically and mentally.

We are all familiar with the concept of stress, the pressures of life and work that can cause catabolism, immune breakdown, mental health issues, conceptual inflexibility and a slew of other increases in body (dis)ease.

The CNS (central nervous system) cannot differentiate between physical stress and an emotional stressor. More over, the CNS cannot differentiate between types of tension/stress, and responds by applying tension to the body in degrees and directions.

Your body has multiple automatic responses that are all controlled by your autonomic nervous system. This further breaks down to your sympathetic nervous system and your parasympathetic nervous system. This controls everything your body does without you thinking and usually without control. Such as regulating body temperature, blinking, breathing, your digestive system…etc Well out of the many things you can’t control there are two that you can. This is your breathing and your blinking

Stress triggers growth; it can propel us to great potential or it can breakdown ones potential. As long as stress is handled gradually enough for your body and mind to adapt to the response/stimuli the body will instinctively grow stronger. This is called Anabolism.  On the other hand, if stress comes on too quickly or kicks around for too long without coping strategies, it can weaken us and break us down, we plateau or atrophy or incur injury. This is called Catabolism. The good news, our bio feedback loop can go both ways. If you can control some of the physiological reflexes, you can control the outcome.

A time-honored technique, in controlling stress is the use of breath. Breathing helps you manage stress reactions on the spot. Known as combat breathing; Scott Sonnon calls this ‘Resilience Breathing’. Scott answers the question “How do we stand clearly, calmly, in the face of a crisis and respond with higher consciousness, rather than falling into panic, anxiety, rage, frustration, doubt or hesitation?”

Tactical or not; stress is stress and we all feel it; therefore, it makes sense to offer our client’s strategies in how to better manage stress on and off the job so that they can move more freely and be unburdened by the determent stress can apply to our structure. Here is one feature of combat/ resilience breathing that will help regulate the body and mind in times of stress:

Breathe from your diaphragm, keeping in mind that when we breath we use 3 of our 4 diaphragms (vocal, respiratory and pelvic).  Think of your stomach as a balloon filling with air as you breathe in, and emptying smoothly, automatically as you breathe out.

  • Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.
  • Hold your breath to the count of 4.
  • Breathe out through your lips to the count of 4.
  • Hold your breath to the count of 4.
  • Repeat until you feel your body and mind relax.


The Mind Body Connection: Neurobehavioral Feedback Loop

The mental-emotional aspect of tactical fitness is one key factor that makes this operating system so successful. In order for us to create effective recovery strategies to navigate through high stress situations we must understand that there is a link between the physical and psychological bodies. Before we can prevent stress, we must first be able to recover from it. This is called building resilience.

Many traditional and conventional relaxation techniques; such as meditation, are in fact recovery methods and offer an open door to internally start addressing stresors that are catabolic to our systems.

We must recognize that ‘Rest” is not the same as “Recovery,” just like “Mobility” is not the same as “Movement.” Rest is relaxation, where there is an absence of activity. When you appropriately recover, you do not require or desire rest. See the difference. Rest should only be required when you do not sufficiently recover from excessive stressors, when you are under-recovered, you oscillate between excessive stress and forced rest; a common, viscous cycle in our industry. Traditional relaxation techniques become unnecessary if one fully recovers from excessive stress; relaxation is our natural state when our various nervous systems function as they should.

As a student and teacher of Yoga for over a decade; I have seen a growing dependence on relaxation techniques, which mimic that of our medical and pharmaceutical industries. Instead of popping a pill, we feel compelled that the only way to relieve stress is by rolling out a yoga mat or meditating… finding our Qi (Chi). Fact: you already have inner Qi(Chi), every teacher on “inner peace” will tell you, inner peace and happiness is found within, not out there in the world. This is true with an internal state of preparedness and homeostasis. As Scott Sonnon said in the TacFit course; we are already strong inside. Meaning when we approach training, we are not trying to get “stronger” but in fact removing the negatives that are keeping us from unleashing that strength, power and state of being that lays dominate inside us.

Now, I am not saying Yoga and meditation are not good at addressing stress and finding internal well being, because they have many long term benefits and that would mean I would be out of a job! What I am saying is that it is merely a tool, not a cure to why we do not manage our stress; more over, like any kind of therapy or recovery strategy we need have a clear understanding of the psych behind why we go, and ensure that we are learning to cope on and off the mat.

“With an undamaged autonomic nervous system, we are innately relaxed and ready. As a result, we have no need for techniques to bring about a trait of relaxation since we exist in a state of rapidly restored relaxation. This is Natural Relaxed Readiness.” (TacFit Certification Course Manual, 2013).



The last 4 articles have given some insight into the various methods of “movement culture” I have found to be highly successful in my own training, and in those of my long term clients. All of these “tools” of movement: primal movement, Yoga, CST, TacFit, Free to Move, Meditation, ect etc – are all similar in nature, because they identify, address and build coping mechanism behind peeling the onion of human evolution and human potential. In order for us to be the best representations of ourselves; physically, psychologically, bio-chemically, we must build resilience, we must understand that stress can be good or bad, that it can build us up or break us down. Being physically prepared for any situation and to anticipate an outcome is what can propel us forward towards reaching higher level of performance; both physically and mentally.

There is a movement revolution upon us; and the question I pose to you, the reader, is will you stand with us? The momentum is building and this movement culture or collective consciousness is taking our industry by storm and is here to stay.  As Scott Sonnon saystoughness is trained, once resilience is gained.

Over the course of the next 108 days (TacFit Cycle) I will offer further depth into the data collection of tactical fitness and it’s relations to physical preparedness and injury prevention;  from the view point of law enforcement and firefighting, as I prepare for the POPAT (Police Officer Physical Abilities Test. This will be an ongoing series featuring my own case study and impact of the TacFit training operating system on my own performance preparing for the LEPAT physical test. You can follow my personal blog here: Sarah Jamieson Coaching, as well as my facebook page.



Part 3 Movement Culture: Surpassing ouRMAXimum with CST

Movement, mobility, stability and then strength

Let me repeat that; movement, mobility, stability and then strength… what to focus on first and how to reach optimal levels of either one has been an on going debate for decades; where I have spent the last 14 years learning a vast spectrum from both sides of the strength and movement models. As a movement coach my goal is to teach the pre requisites or blueprint of movement mechanics. To teach the client the technical side how we apply strategy and how dysfunction limits their potential, on and off the field (or arena, court, track etc).

move culture 3a

To stimulate adaptation and better movement mechanics the body’s joints and surrounding tissue must be prepared and ready to absorb shock, be able to move freely without compensation and restriction, and requires optimal recovery to perform efficiently. After an online post, my friend and mentor, Carmen Bott owner and founder of Human Motion Strength and Conditioning in Vancouver, and professor at UBC and Langara gave great insight into performance metrics with this discussion post…

“What comes first…the chicken or the egg? Mobility and ‘general, primal’ movement comes first – next, we have CONTROLLED and PLANNED movement which could be described as relative strength/power…FINALLY absolute strength gets introduced into the process. Where does on-field reactive agility (which in essence is power) come in?

“Traditional programs (3 x 10 reps of “X”) without a full understanding of human adaptation fails to produce elite levels of anything.” There must be attention to the neuromuscular mechanism”.

CST (Circular Strength Training Concept)

Over the last several months I been looking very closely into an operating system called CST. A concept pioneered by Scott Sonnon, whom I have been corresponding with for well over a year and have featured many times in my articles. Part 3 of our Movement Series features this system, because of it’s “Tri-Ring” Integration that focuses on a balance of work load, and recovery so that the athlete can maximize the effectiveness of the cycle/workout.

Why does CST fit into “Movement Culture” so well? The CST “brand” of movement-based exercises are different from other comparable training because it uses a full scope vocabulary of mobilization, traction, decompression and activation drills to “restore” and alternate stability and mobility structures in the body.  It offers errorless, injury prevention methods by approaching each segment of material as a “health-first fitness” approach, through monitoring the internal experience of exercise towards “flow.”


I attended last weeks CST 3-day certification course, thinking that this would primarily by a Clubbell course (strength course) I was blown away by the detail and specificity placed upon the joint by joint approach, screening (Poise Analysis), breath mastery and attention to the myofascial matrix.

“Bones need to float. Our myofascial matrix is a web, the muscles that drape over our scalp, down to our toes are what give us shape and density. Joints will adopt the position based on compensation and on our recreational or occupational habits. Joints cannot be stable if the neighbor joint is tight and not mobile and vice versa. If we do not provide the body with the functional opposite – tension builds and compensations result in altered movement and distortion in structure. We must work from head to toe, core to periphery, bones to skin” – Scott Sonnon (quote from Day 1 of CST, March 19 2013)

 Inside the CST toolbox are body weight exercises, some based on primal movement and neuro-developmental patterns, martial arts and yoga based movements, and breath mastery techniques all with the focus of “cleaning the slate,” of compensations that can build up in the body from daily life and injury.

The 3 Rings of CST meets the Functional Movement Systems and Corrective Movement:


CST & TacFit Trailer Here:  (shot at Wolf Fitness System).

Flow Fit Testing at Wolf Fitness Systems:


In “Part 2 Movement Culture: 6 Degrees of Freedom,” I featured insights into the 3 rings of  CST; which were (1) Intu Flow (joint by joint approach, dynamic range of motion) (2) Prasara Yoga (agility, flexibility and grace) and (3) Clubbells, Kettlebells and Gymnastics (functional athletic strength).

This operating system or motor development direction relates to how the “3 Ring” process is designed to coordinate with the principles of structure and function come first. According to the Prioximodistal principle, development proceeds from near to far – outward from central axis of the body towards the extremities.

This methodology directly relates to the Functional Movement Systems and how I, as a Movement Coach approach my one on one hour. The neurodevelopmental process in pediatric development show us that even in adulthood; these pathways of learned motor control do not just turn off. In fact, these “neurophysiologic growth and development highways” remain open to switching back on even if laying dormant for years. The baby was not told to fire it’s core, to roll over or learn how to stand… he or she just did through experience.

The FMS and SFMA screens are only 1 part of the Functional Movement Systems and the idea behind program design from a corrective standpoint is designed to identify and address dysfunction (or compensations as in the CST vocabulary) and then work the line of that compensation to restore movement to all joints, and their surrounding tissues that are show asymmetrical patterning.

The CST systems provides it’s own screening process that reflects many of the same check points in the FMS systems; taking into account current training, postures, gait, injuries etc. The measuring stick is referred to for performance gains during and after the session, where regressions and or functional opposites are given to “activate” these highways of learning. As re-coordination and refinement continues, new measuring sticks are selected and performance enhancement breeds results.

Isolation Vs. Integration; Segmental vs Systemic: This is another key area that aligns with Movement Coaching and Corrective Movement Program Design. Training lines of movement vs muscles. “Complex training effect,” (CTE) provides additional bang for the buck on the client’s end, because when you pair simple movements together, the synergistic effect is greater than if the individual exercises were performed independently.

This requires attention to transition from one movement to the next, and proper breathing mechanics to pace ones movements and regulate intensity. My sessions in Salinas, with Wolf Fitness Systems; were geared towards high emphasis on transitions and working from one movement to the next to keep “in flow.”

baby bell

Clubbells: Structure, Breath, Movement = Power.

I am sure you have noticed, so far in this post there has been little to no mention of this ancient piece of strength wielding wisdom. That’s because; where it is the shiny, sparkly draw to CST, it’s the peak of the climb, once you have put forth the effort to understand and climb the terrain to the peak.

In order for one to wield and tool or load, your joints must be prepped and motor control must be evident to perform the complex tasks, such as; shoulder or joint packing, arm locks, leg drive, spinal integrity in movement etc. For instance: “If the neck is tight, then the scapula will de stabilize, if the thorax is tight, then the lower back is forced to move and the core de stabilizes.


Myth number one; Indian clubs are not club bells. This is a question I am asked all the time. In the sources section of this article, refer to Scott’s Blog page, Shane Heins (Dare to Evolve) dispels this myth.

 “Martial arts around the globe have used the club not just for combat but for health restoration and strength development, most notably in India, Iran, Okinawa, Burma and Russia. The records go as far back as Ancient Egypt, reaching its zenith at the end of the 19th century. Early versions of the club were espoused by US President Grant, and it was recognized as “the oldest known implement for military gymnastics” (Posse 1894) – a critical section of exercise in the 1914 US Army Manual of Physical Training. From 1904 to 1932 club swinging was an Olympic Sport which resurfaced in the form of the lightweight bats included in Rhythmic Gymnastics, though the club was then viewed more as a juggling implement than as a tool of physical exercise.” (One Tool – Infinite Possibilities™ RMAX International except).

In the early 20th century Scott resurrected this tool and pat-tended International Clubbell Sport. This tool provides athletes with a unique blend of functional, full range, three-dimensional muscular development. Swinging weight in three-dimensions rather than lifting weight in one, creates traction and torque, which stimulate connective tissue strength and elasticity, bone growth and much more. After visiting Wolf Fitness Systems in February, this was one tool I knew had to be one of many in my coaches toolbox.

However, dragging 2x10lbs and 1x 15lbs clubbells across the border in a sport bag, proved to be very amusing for the border cross agent and I may have snagged a new client.

Border guard: “Anything to declare, looks like that’s a heavy bag of beef?”

Sarah J: “35lbs of clubbells sir, and an open bag of trail mix.”

Border agent (no smile): “I’m sorry, what’s a clubbell.”

Sarah J: “Ummm… I’ll have to show you. It’s like a big bat, you wield around.”

Border guard: (sideways look): “wield? …. what do you use those for, what’s the purpose of your trip.”

Sarah J: “ I took a CST and Tactical training course, you swing ‘em, you can use em in 3 dimensional patterns, full range of motion.. (border agent, cuts me off….

Border guard: “You an officer? what do you do for work? Those look kinda big for you.”

Sarah J:  “I am not an officer, my “to serve and protect” are keeping guys like you injury free. Speaking of which, you keep shifting around, your back okay?”

Border guard (half way grin, does not make eye contact, waves hand): “ NEXT.”

Sarah J dead-lifts and cleans bag on one arm…. “Not so small, Thanks.”


Our last article “Part 4 Movement Culture,” will feature TacFit Tactical training and more on movement tools, such as; the clubbell, kettlebell and more.

Movement Culture Leaders:

Please feel free to join our conversation and to “LIKE” the following “Movement” centered pages for flow sequences, articles, tips and trends… click on the links here:



Part 2 Movement Culture: 6 Degrees of Freedom

Part 2 Movement Culture: 6 Degrees of Freedom



6 degrees of freedom, is the foundational groundwork that embodies the ideology behind Prasara Yoga, Intu Flow and Free to Move styles of movement culture, founded by Scott Sonnon. An ancient health discipline forged in an era of need for a modern longevity discipline.

Intu Flow (Free to Move) and Prasara Yoga were designed around the “health first and forever” philosophy through an innovative approach called Circular Strength Training (CST).  A model that focuses on “prehab and post-rehab,” which consists of movement patterns that promote pain free mobility, dynamic flow yoga and natural athleticism, based on the three Rings of the CST System. In this article I present to you 2 of those rings and next week we will discuss the entire CST systems with all 3 rings.


This flowing, intuitive harmony of simple movement, structural body alignment, and simple breathing, assesses and addresses areas of weakness. Intu-Flow brings needed nutrition to connective tissue to “oil the joints”, and revive natural abilities and movement. Intu-Flow provides.

  • Deep relaxation and tension release
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Enhanced joint mobility and sensory awareness
  • Superior athletic performance


Prasara Yoga is a form of movement which incorporates yoga poses, connected with simple breathing techniques. It is the union of body and mind through structure, breathing and movement to release one’s fears of the self in order to get out of the way of body and mind, in order to release one’s true natural flow.  Prasara provides counterbalance to the body through dynamic flow, thus compensating for positions adopted during daily routines or prior activities. Prasara represents the 3rd mode of Hatha yoga, incorporating both Asana, or postures, and Vinyasa, or breath linkage. Prasara’s “flow” moves the body through all “Six Degrees of Freedom” – its full potential grace as a three-dimensionally energetic being:

  • Heaving: Moving up and down
  • Swaying: Moving left and right
  • Surging: Moving forward and back
  • Pitching: Tilting up and down
  • Yawing: Turning left and right
  • Rolling: Tilting side to side


The Myths of Yoga

One of the main questions I am when I present people to YogaFORM is the same question I an asked when I explain Scott Sonnon’s approach, experience and background is ;“How is Prasara different than traditional yoga?” . My answer is always the same… ” let me ask you this first; what does the word or meaning of “Yoga” mean to you?

Yoga isn’t a “thing,” it isn’t a form of “exercise” (at least it didn’t start out that way over 5,000 years ago). Yoga is a way of life and the translation of the word, means to “unite.” I know this is big statement to make, but if we are to make “healthy living” a lifestyle we must continue to look at the whole picture, not as isolated events. Yoga, meditation, movement – are ways of life – not just things to get fit or keep fit. Another misconception about Yoga is that it’s about flexibility or “stretching.” Yoga isn’t about flexibility. It’s not even about stretching. It’s about removing the restrictions to your natural mobility, strength, power, stamina, and energy. Scott calls this our 6 degrees of freedom. Yoga is about all of these things, and so much more. It’s a way of life.

To bring about equilibrium to the mind, body and spirit; Yoga looks to both internally and externally create unity with your environment; therefore; Prasara, Intu Flow and Free to Move theories refers specifically to the integration of movement, with breath, with structural integrity in movement. In essence; it is not different, it is merely an approach that has evolved to address the needs of our community. It is a joint by joint approach to exploring range of motion, restoring function and stabilization to a body through time.

How can 6 Degrees of Freedom & The Free to Move Methodology Benefit You?

‘Yoga” is a vehicle from which you experience flow of movement and breath, an unbinding of biomechanical and emotionally charged restrictions to work towards your unlimited potential.

In corrective movement we place a high emphasis on identifying and addressing dysfunction and compensation in the body that arises from altered movement causing de stabilization, reduced mobility and tension in tissue health. Most often, I find myself re educating my clients on the neuromuscular adaptation of the integrated systems and one large factor – motor control. Because yoga is tool to be used to explore your interal and external environment it can play higher emphasis on the brain to body connection and the time required to process and adapt to better movement mechanics.

One of the largest benefits of Prasara Yoga, Intu Flow and Free to Move methodologies is the high emphasis on joint by joint movement, and the foundation of restoring movement, and reducing compensation  through compensatory sequences  in a class or client hour. In a client hour you have a 10min window for warm-up, therefore, ensuring that your movement drills are targeted and specific is the key to this style of movement culture. There is also a high degree of technical linguistic representation used in the course/class format, so that you can connect with your audience.




Aaron Cruz; Coach at Wolf Fitness Systems LLC, CST Head Coach, TACFIT Team Leader

“The journey is what brings us happinessnot the destination”- Dan Millman

Leading the classes was “Movement Guru,” as I call him is none other than Aaron Cruz, a leader in movement culture. His awareness, passion for his community and technical representation is by far, what makes him a success and a favorite amongst his clients. His energy is fluid, consistent and embodies a flow that can be felt when he walks into the room.

I attended several classes at Wolf Fitness Systems in Salinas California in February and ALL of their classes (Free to Move, Bootcamp, TacFit, Workshops) all incorporated a high degree of movement mechanics by focusing on the Big Three – Structure, Breathing and Movement – not only is emphasis placed on control of joint mobility, but integrity of how each joint connects to the other. Understanding this is the first step to breaking down compensated patterns, and uploading patterns of motor control for improved tissue health, muscle function and reflex stabilization.

“Impacted: I’ve learned to heal my past injuries (spinal pinched nerves, torn muscles) get in the best shape and health of my life, through mobility, yoga, clubbells and kettlebells. Wolf Fitness Systems blessed me with the opportunity to share this wonderful gift with the willing and determined. The clients I have trained inspire me and continue to. This is why I love what I do and everyone I can help live happier and healthier….even if its just a lil help “ – Aaron Cruz

Yoga Flow Video here:

The Science Behind RNT (Reactive Neuromuscular Training) – Motor Control

Motor control is an area of natural science exploring how the nervous system interacts with other body parts and the environment to produce purposeful, coordinated actions, but it is rarely used outside of human kinetics classes, athletics or the clinical practice because it can be very overwhelming to teach to the average person. The way I like to introduce this into a YogaFORM class or corrective hour is by addressing the body as the hardware, and the brain or “motor control” is the software. We need to de-install the software that is causing you to perform slowly, and reduce system health and upload new software that can promote your hardware to work more efficiently.

In a study done by the NCBI, titled Motor Control Theories and Their Applications focused on a study on the stages in motor learning in a yoga setting based on recent developments of the notion of synergies and the equilibrium-point hypothesis (referent configuration). The principle of abundance and the principle of minimal final action form the foundation for analyses of natural motor actions performed by redundant sets of elements. Two main stages of motor learning are introduced corresponding to (1) discovery and strengthening of motor synergies stabilizing salient performance variable(s) and (2) their weakening when other aspects of motor performance are optimized.

In another study titled; The Plasticity of motor control systems demonstrated by yoga training, the static motor performance was tested in two groups with 20 subjects in each (age range 17 to 22 years, and 5 females in each group). Tests were carried out at the beginning and end of a 10 day period.

The test required being able to insert and hold a metal stylus within holes of varying sizes for 15 sec. Accidental contacts between the stylus and the sides of the holes, were registered on a counter as errors. During the 10 days one group (the yoga group) practised asanas (physical postures), pranayama (voluntary regulation of breathing), meditation, devotional sessions, and tratakas (visual focusing exercises). The control group followed their usual routine. At the end of 10 days the yoga group showed a significant reduction in number of errors (Wilcoxon paired signed ranks test), while the control group did not change.

Our earlier study showed a similar improvement in children (9-13 years). It was interesting to note the same degree of plasticity in motor control systems in young adults. The implications for rehabilitation programmes have been discussed.”



In short, those who practice and lead a way of life that promotes the 6 degrees of freedom, mental fortitude and movements that help to restore function and improve tissue health, will lead a healthier and balanced life. The joint by joint approach places high emphasis on myo fascial lines and then understanding that “our bones should float;” or as Scott mentions in his indepth CST course that our connective tissue is the key towards unlocking the potential within our movements.

This style of movement and yoga in general can also be most beneficial for those who suffer from movement disorders, as it allows the space to explore function and control through a therapeutic approach that encourages nurturing, discipline and self healing. This data shows the benefits seen in populations with Parkinson’s, MS, turrets, and epilepsy show significant improvement to stability and mobility in the ankles and hips, as well as spinal orientation, tissue health and qualitative improvements in posture and control of breath in movement.





wolf pack


The EKG system, I would call a hybrid of one part strength and one part movement. Taking in principles skill sets used in “movement,” as well as foundational tools found in traditional kettlebell courses, this style is all – adaptation… of the human kind, and even though Darwin once said, “survival of the fittest,”…truthfully, I think the Hunger Games will go to “those who adapt,will survive.” Moreover, the EKG System integrated unconventional drills found in (Circular Strength Training), Corrective Movement, Yoga and fascial tissue health. Whether your sport of choice is martial arts, soccer, football, basketball, wrestling, tactical response or endurance athletics, this 6 week course will offer you improved stamina, improved technical control of movement, power and agility, and neuromuscular adaptation.


Why? Simply put, from a primitive standpoint, as humans, we are meant to move, react and for the most part the human genome has remained relatively stable since our hunter-gatherer days, but in training and the majority of courses out there (I would have to agree) focus more on isolated exercises as a stop and start, moving from one exercise to the next, with very little intention and purpose in the transition. This is one of the key gaps, John Wolf, CEO and Alpha male with Wolf Fitness Systems, has realized is the missing link in our industry.

He encourages clients to understand the importance of transitional movement skills, as well as the necessary prerequisites before even beginning to pick up a kettlebell. These prerequisites set the client up for success, as well as allow the coach to assess risk before loading the client with weight. Since this course was a 2 hour introduction, we focused on 4 foundational drills; which included a pre screen, very similar to the FMS and SFMA top tier tests.

The body, when it is free to move adapts to challenges. 2 weeks ago I mentioned the “movement culture” trend that has been steadily growing over the last decade, and it is no wonder John Wolf and his team are leading the pack in our industry by combining tools to fit their community and honoring the path of humans in primitive movement.

I will say this again, we are meant to move, whether running from a predator, hauling a carcass, or building a shelter. Humans have always been on the go, often at maximum output for short period of fast locomotion.  Taking this into account, the EKG method focuses on movement skills, not loading the body past what would be considered successful movement.



Attending the EKG Basic Kettlebell Workshop, the class was taken through 4 foundational movement drills; which were the squat, the press, the lunge and row and the deadlift. John broke them down, not only from the technical aspect, but showcasing the 4 positions of pediatric development (supine/prone, quadped, tall kneeling and standing) and how we “evolve” to fully grown adults in bi pedal locomotion. This is of course, the foundation of what we, at Fit to Train Human Performance Systems embody, and as a Movement Coach I cannot tell you how many course I have attended where trainers throw you into the drill without sufficient understanding of how we get from A to B. To hear John reinforce the importance of proper technical progression and screening risk, if one of the fundamental reasons why him and his team are (a) leading the pack and (b) inspiring the masses with his skill sets.


“How do I get from here to there, with power, ease and grace? As we develop these transitional movements, you will find you have an edge in your movement endeavors.” ~ John Wolf



For instance; let’s break down the squat. In corrective movement, we screen the squat in the overhead standing position (deep squat) and if the movement pattern is less than optimal we break down the dysfunctional movement into components.

We teach the client to explore spinal orientation and spatial awareness using the wall, both facing the wall guiding the hands down and back against wall, keeping an upright spine, then we take them to supine and ask them to perform the squat without gravity, and so on.

Each drill, John and his team asked each of us to explore our range of motion and to understand the working relationship and connections of our shoulder to our spine to our abdominal pressure to our hip complex, knees and ankles and feet.

Sound familiar? It should! Can you spell FMS.


Another key component that sets the EKG system above the rest is the idea behind paced work sets. It’s about persistence. It’s not about how many reps you can perform, it’s about the ability to pace yourself and complete the 90sec work sets without stopping or putting the weight down and flawless transitions with intention and focus to detail.

An example of how the EKG System works, let’s take my first day back in Vancouver. Assignment #1 I worked through after a Free to Move TacFit style warm up with work sets around 12mins.

EKG Video Teaser: Circular Clean to Dragon Squat to Windmill Snatch:

Assignment #1

50 Rep Practice Session of the following three movements:

#1 Shinbox Extension dbl 10kg KB 10 reps (1/1 rep count)

#2 Spinal Rock 5 reps

#3 Single Leg Deadlift, 14kg KB 5reps  (1/1 rep count)

The total volume of work is recommended to be broken into sets of 5-10 and worked through slowly in a circuit format.  The goal is to deepen your understanding of each of the movements and to begin preparing your body to perform them under load and in metcon style workouts.  The focus of every rep should be to gradually refine your alignment while performing each movement.

EKG Teaser :


After a few weeks of building the foundation: 

Assignment #3

40 Rep Practice Session of all six EKGv1 body weight movements:

#1 Shinbox Extension dbl rack 10kg KB (1/1 rep count) 5/5

#2 Leg Thread (1/1 rep count) 3/3

#3 Spinal Rock 5

#4 Quad Press 8

#5 Single Leg Deadlift 14kg KB (1/1 rep count) 5/5

#6 Mountain Climber Sprawl 10

The total volume of work is recommended to be broken into sets of 5-10 and worked through at a slow to moderate pace in a circuit format.

The goal of assignment #3 is to increase total work capacity of the EKGv1 movements and to compress the time in which it takes to complete the workload.  The focus of every rep is still gradual refinement of your alignment but should also integrate conscious breath work through the transitions to allow for more efficiency.  Log the total time it takes to complete this work at a slow to moderate pace.


“Strengthening myofascial chains that were historically weak and allowing for a deeper understanding of balance and structure.” How is your current strength programming affecting your structure? Are you finding more strength through greater ranges of motion or is the opposite true?”  ~ John Wolf

Get ready VanCity, because this summer, John and his pack will be coming to Vancouver and taking Canada by storm. If you are interested in hearing more feel free to contact me directly at



Click here: 2 Week Free Trial Here: 

Click here: Locations and Dates for Wolf Fitness Systems EKG Workshops

To Purchase EKG DVD:



The (Move)ment Re(evolution)

The (Move)ment Re(evolution)

human movement 1

What is movement?  Have you ever taken a moment to ask yourself and define, what is movement? In our modern age of innovation and creation, I have spent the last decade researching what this concept is; both from the standpoint of biology and physiology in forms of energy on the humanistic level, but also understanding the movement of interdependence in relation to our surroundings.  Over the course of the last several years this idea of “movement” in the health and fitness industry has started to take shape, transform and manifest a trend that many ask; what is it, why is it, and is it here to stay?

Movement Defined:

If we “google” the word “movement,”  (seems like a good place to start as any), there is no true definition of the word itself, it seems it is subjective and can mean many things. Wikipedia (movement as in a clock) suggests ; “movement is the internal mechanism of a timepiece.” Wikipedia goes on to include sub divisions in art and music, motor control for human physiology and onward to a social movement, as in a revolution of sorts. All applies.

At the simplistic level, I feel that this, all of this, is true and if we look closer we can see that they all have varying degrees of commonality. Humans are a timepiece, are we not? Everything in our internal mechanism is constantly in a state of movement and change – we grow, develop, evolve, age, slow down, speed up etc. We are in a constant state of internal dance.

One of the best descriptions of “movement,” I have heard most recently, is by Ido Portal, born and raised in Israel he is a pioneer of movement culture. Literally, that’s his company as well! his video has been shared around the globe and what I love about this dude is the first thing he says is; “I don’t do exercise, that’s not what I do, I talk about movement. Fitness is a small, small, small world within the universe of movement.” He is bang on.

Historically, movement has been used to express emotions and in language to express creative thought, and we can see throughout history that dance and music has been part of almost every cultural lineage as a means to tell stories of epic grandeur and to express one’s inner soul to the world, to be closer to family and to ones spiritual path, to release energy.

The Flow of energy:

Any infinite state of being has energy. Every living thing, human, animal, plant, water, air, earth and fire – is all comprised of energy and is in a constant state of motion, a constant state of flow. As an athlete I was introduced to movement as a young child, dabbling in ballet and dance, then gymnastics for a short term, then martial arts for the past 10 years. Each with it’s own style and expression of movement and motion.

In my professional career, apart from the obvious Yoga Teacher Training and Strength and Conditioning Certifications, I was first introduced to the “free movement” concept when I started playing around with the Functional Movement Systems, over a decade ago.

This system is usually thought of and represented in our industry, as a screening tool to address and identify dysfunction or breakdowns in movement patterning in the human form.  By breaking down the joint by joint approach, the FMS  combined the science of movement, but with a more clinical approach to help bridge the gaps in treatment and diagnosis to prevention and evolving ones perspective on how each joint relates to the other etc.

A school of thought that was born out of the neuro developmental process and paediatric development fields, by researching how we, as infants use motor control, how we do what we do.  As babies we are not told to move, we just do. We weren’t taught to fire our core, or told how to roll over or to use our limbs. We weren’t taught to crawl or walk; it is genetically coded in our DNA. Movement is the expression of our own internal and external connection to our world.

Most recently, over the last 3 years, working full time in a clinic and a sports environment with the FMS systems and Fit to Train Human Performance Systems, I find many people, young and old do not explore movement as we did as children and the body breaks down as a result of de stabilization, and loss of joint mobility. When we are not free to move, our health deteriorates. It’s as simple as that.

Our industry, the industry of fitness is great, however, it does segregate and break up methodologies in order to understand how they can apply to us, but at the same time – they are not separate. For so long I have heard phrases such as: “I can’t lift weights, I am an endurance runner,” or ” only cardiovascular exercise will result in weight loss,” or ” I can’t lift weights, I’ll bulk up.”These phrases are still part of our industry and a re education is deeply necessary to overcome the exclusion of our disciplines and to resurrect the inclusion of natural movement and play.

Now, re educating that to clients who want to lose weight, want to rehab an injury, want to be pain free is the hardest, but also most rewarding part of my job. Every day I have the opportunity to show clients how to improve their well being by proving the quality of movement, rather than merely the quantity is the key component in flow – in going beyond just the movement. When we flow from one movement to the next, with intention and purpose, controlled and methodical appreciation of every joint, muscle, system, breath and connection – we are in flow and we begin to see things differently, we being to feel a way of life, not a moment or fragment in time.

The Movement Revolution:

Yoga and Martial Arts are ancient forms of, what I call a dance of the soul. 5,000 years ago, it was not taught as a form of “exercise” or merely a way to find your Qi in “meditation.” It was and still is a flow of life, our energy force, our communion with ourselves and our surroundings and it is a way of being, not a “thing.”

Yet, it has given birth to many methods of modern day “movement” based trends that are gaining leverage in our industry as the best way to live a fulfilling, happy, enriched life.


Scott Sonnon: TacFit CST & Intu Flow:

“Youth is the ability to adapt and remain in flow.” – Scott Sonnon

Last year I was introduced to a pioneer in this field of movement, none other than Scott Sonnon, founder of the discipline of joint mobility, a world renowned joint mobility program called the Intu-Flow Longevity System.

In addition to this he has created RMAX International, with disciplines such as; Prasara Yoga, the TacFit CST (Circular Strength Training), TacGYM, TacFit Police, TacFit Commando, Recuper8 etc. All of which bring to light the necessary structure and education of movement with purpose that outlines a scope a practice beneficial for any person or professional designation.

You will have to wait till next week to learn more about Scott’s empire when we take a closer look at Intu Flow and Wolf Systems mobility yoga classes.

To learn more about Scott Sonnon, watch this video on how he started his journey in flow:


John Wolf of Wolf Fitness Systems: Evolution Kettlebell Groundworks

Next up, I was introduced to John Wolf, founder and alpha male of “Wolf Fitness Systems.” John is also the Director of US Operations for RMAX International with Scott Sonnon. I sourced out to find John Wolf after watching a video from TacFit Police, as I was pursuing a career in law enforcement last year; which is still a large part of my vision. Learning more about his work with TacFit CST, and Intu Flow, as well as his own creation of the movement discipline called “EKG (Evolution Kettlebell Groundwork);  a style of training that combines the movement discipline of the joint by joint mobility approach, as well as building strength and endurance with kettle-bells, club-bells, and circular body weight training.

Next week I will be flying down to Salinas California to meet John and “The Pack” and to experience first hand this style of training full force.

To see EKG movement in real time, check out this video edited by ESIK Productions:

Through John, I linked up with Animal Flow founder Mike Fitch and through Fit to Train Human Performance Systems I was connected with MoveNat. Two organizations speaking the same language – that movement, play and exploration are at the heart of flow and living a fulfilled life.

human movement 3

MovNat and Animal Flow:

Two more pioneers and leaders in our industry, I have had the pleasure to connect with is MovNat, an organization that teaches real-world physical competency and conditioning based on natural human movement skills, to support a lifetime of physical activity. Their movement skills focus on locomotive skills (walking, running, balancing, jumping etc), as well as utilizing manipulative skills (throwing, carrying, lifting, catching) and combative skills (grappling, striking, hunting… back in the day).

The other is Global Body Weight Training Systems and Animal Flow founded by industry leader Mike Fitch. Animal Flow is a primal workout system combining animalistic movements with elements of Parkour, break dancing, and gymnastics in a freestyle flow of fluid movement that he coins is intense and fun, and I would have to agree.

To learn more about Animal Flow check it out here:

To learn more about MovNat check it out here:

Are you evolving?

Exercise and movement is evolving, and thus are we. Movement will set you free. A revolution in movement is upon us and over the course of the next 4 weeks, I will be offering an in-depth look at movement and exploration my own energy flow, showcasing some of the work of these disciplines. This will involve gruelling hours of play time, jumping, balancing, throwing my body weight around and a few kettlebells in the den, in the park and wherever Salinas takes me and I will be documenting it all.

  • Part 1:  Intu Flow and Prasara Yoga
  • Part 2: Animal and Primal Movement
  • Part 4: Evolve Your Groundwork with Circular Strength Training and EKG
  • Part 3: Tactical Movement for Tactical Response

Look out VanCity because I could possible bring back John Wolf and his Pack and introduce TacFit CST and EKG to the Canadian masses. This is a revolution you will want to be a part of. It will change your life, are you ready to evolve? If you are then, the below leaders should be on your radar.


Corrective Movement Un Covered: Primitive Patterns, Myths and Strategies

Corrective Movement Un Covered: Primitive Patterns, Myths and Strategies

Corrective movement is a modality within the health and wellness realm; which we like to call the “transition zone.” Corrective movement opens the door for coaches and professionals in the fitness industry to screen, assess and correct breakdowns in a client or athletes movement mechanics.

In my practice I use this style of training to either (a) pre screen a client who may need to see a physiotherapist or medical professional or (b) the client has been referred by a physiotherapist or medical professional and thus, my role is to “transition” the client from the clinical to the coaching again.

The following video selections are favorite videos I have chosen from the FMS library for you to be become more familiar with Corrective Movement, common mistakes and myths in the industry and the written portions of the article is direct excerpts from Gray Cook’s website and movement book.



“Movement Competency: The ability to employ fundamental movement patterns like single-leg balance, squatting, reflex core stabilization and symmetrical limb movement.  This can also include basic coordination with reciprocal movement patterns like crawling and lunging. The central goal is not to assess physical prowess or fitness, but to establish a fundamental blueprint and baseline of quality not quantity.

Physical Capacity: The ability to produce work, propel the body or perform skills that can be quantified to establish an objective level of performance. If movement competency is present at or above a minimum acceptable level of quality, deficits in physical capacity can be addressed with work targeting performance. If movement competency is not adequate, it would be incorrect to assume that a physical capacity deficiency could be addressed by working only on physical capacity.

Growth and development follow the path of competency to capacity, but how many fitness and athletic programs parallel this time-honored gold standard of motor development? If screens and standards for movement competency are not employed, we are programming on a guess. Furthermore, if our testing does not clearly separate movement competency tests and physical capacity tests, we exchange a guess for an assumption.

In the Movement book we emphasize the importance of movement competency through screening and assessment, and we further separate movement categories to help the exercise and rehabilitation professional categorize movement deficiency in clients and patients.” – Gray Cook


Exercise professionals too often overlook the fundamental movements because highly active individuals can often perform many high level movements without easily observable deficits. The Functional Movement Screen was first introduced to give us greater relative insight into primitive patterns by identifying limitations and asymmetries. The FMS screen is a way of taking it back to the basics and recognizing that these patterns are fundamental; a key factor is that they are common during the growth and developmental sequence, and thus taking it back to primitive movement, we may be able to overcome some of these common compensations.


VIDEO 1: Gray Cook:  Common Mistakes Made in Corrective Movement vs Strength Movement

Video –



Consideration of primitive patterns can help make you a more intuitive, and intelligent exercise professional. Very often we become experts in exercise without considering growth and development, which is where the fundamentals of movement were first established. As explained in this video, these fundamental movements include rolling, pushing up, quadruped, and crawling. This foundation is often neglected in the approaches we take to enhance function and/or performance through exercise programming.

The first rule of functional performance is not forgetting fundamentals. In order to progress to movement we first learned to reflexively stabilize the spine, in order to control movement more distally in the extremities, this happened naturally during growth and development. However, many individuals lose the ability to naturally stabilize as they age due to asymmetries, injuries, poor training or daily activities. The individuals who do this develop compensatory movements, which then create inefficiencies and asymmetries in fundamental movements.

VIDEO 2: Gray Cook and Lee Burton: Secrets of Primitive Patterns



Here Gray talks about how to do a self movement screen. It can be done and assesed by a Pass or Fail marking scheme. It covers 7 important movement patterns, which are the Deep Squat, In-Line Lunge, Hurdle Step, Rotation, and Active Straight Leg Raise, as well a 2 clearing tests to asses spinal extension and flexion in a fixed position.

Modern fitness and training science has bestowed upon us the ability to create strength and power in the presence of extremely poor dysfunction. This dysfunction means that fundamental movement patterns are limited, asymmetrical or barely present. Just because we can make people bigger, faster and stronger on top of this does not make it right. Seated, fixed-axis equipment perpetuates the illusion of fitness without enhancing functional performance. Utilize all of your tools to uncover an individual’s dysfunction and then work to correct it. The result will be an individual who moves more efficiently, thereby creating a foundation for more effective strength, endurance and power training.

VIDEO TWO; Gray Cook: Self Movement Screen:


Here are a couple quick techniques you can utilize to observe primitive movements, checking for asymmetry and limitation in rotary stability and how to learn to fire the core!!! Everyone’s favorite:


The “Core” is the Foundation to Primitive Patterning: We call it Trunk Stability

Gray Cook; Sequence of Core Firing



Sources: The Importance of Primitive Movement Patterns

Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS and Lee Burton, PhD, AT


Somatic Healing Meets Corrective Movement

Somatic Healing Meets Corrective Movement

Soma – The word soma describes the everlasting constantly flowing array of sensory feedback and actions that are occurring within the experience of each of us. A somatic experience is when we viscerally feel connected usually brought on by movement. Even in meditation and states of rest our body and internal experience is always moving. It is an internal representation of our energy force.

Movement – Movement is the language that the nervous system understands very well. Gently guiding a client through a series of small movements allows the body to highlight muscular and systems integration on the voluntary level. It is a communication portal that showcases integration from the muscles, fascia and bone to the client – when the client is open to listening.

Lineage of Somatic Education:

Somatic education emerged during the twentieth century, but has been practiced in Eastern traditions for centuries. Western science classifys somatic healing and somatic education; a term used interchangeably, as an internalized learning process which is initiated by a teacher who guides the client or student through a sensory-motor process of physiological change.

When we speak of self-teaching, self-learning, self-healing, and self-regulation, we know that this is a somatic process, and as coaches and teachers we must guide our clients to the understanding that these are genetically-given capacities intrinsic to all human beings. As practitioners our roles are to merely offer the means to help “turn on” the ability to self manage somatic healing on and off the mat. In essence the client actually teaches themselves, we merely aid in offering the verbal and sequential tools.

Somatic healing is much like corrective movement in this way. When there is a break down in movement or movement patterning; much like in an athletic injury, there can be trauma and compensation patterns that take over proper and once efficient patterns. When this happens the client feels as if they do not have control over their body’s responses, contraction and control over that particular area of their body, muscle group and to an extent this is true because the body’s protective response is to contract and quite frankly.. protect. In somatic medical terms we call this somatic trauma and/or SMA (sensory motor amnesia; which is the worst case scenario.

This somatic trauma can pull the body into what we call somatic reflex. It is the reflex of pain avoidance. Cringing, for example, is the overt manifestation of this reflex. For instance, in boxing when blows occur to one side of the rib cage, the muscles traumatized will go into chronic contraction. Prolonged pain can attribute to chronic contraction, which we see in runner knee and a myriad of load responsive micro trauma. This alters the body’s ability to recover and to properly manage movement.

The internal compensation process is to selectively dis-engage that sensory input and motor control of muscle function and then establish a compensation pattern.

“Pain is impressively humbling. Your regular ambitions and thought processes come to a grinding halt. Emotional factors creep in and generally exacerbate matters. It can even become difficult, if not impossible, to make decisions in your own regard. Yet in this human community, we are never truly alone. Family, friends and professionals come to our aid. And, short of that, or in addition, in my system of belief, we are constantly ministered to by intelligences and forces of orders beyond our normal frames of recognition. Lean into these resources no matter how bad it gets. Relief will come.” ~ Gil Hedley (Integral Anatomy Series)


Primitive Patterning and Somatic Healing:

We know that somatic trauma can occur from injury or prolonged discomfort, but somatically we can also harbor emotions within the tissue well after the injury has healed. Depending on the nature of the injury and the emotional context from which the injury was viscerally felt can still be present at the soma level. Sometimes these somatic reactions are linked to our childhood many years or decades earlier. These visceral triggers can creep up over time and continue to cause bio mechanical breakdowns in the future.  This is one fundamental reason why somatic healing and corrective movement are so closely linked.

When we talk about corrective movement there are two pillars that FMS coaches will focus on (1) Primitive Movement Patterns and (2) Foundation Movement Patterns.

Primitive movement patterns are used to describe those movements most humans explore during growth and development. When we look at pediatric development this includes movements that are supine, prone and hand and knees (all fours).  As we begin to learn how to crawl, then squat and stand and then walk we form foundation movements. The development of fundamental movement is the foundation that leads to effective functional movement.

Somatic education can include taking the client back to these primitive and foundational movements to better break through somatic trauma and or related visceral connections that still hold negative movement and reactionary patterns.

Gray Cook, co-founder of the Functional Movement Systems, looks at corrective movement is very similar way; which is much like describing somatic re patterning and healing. They are very closely related in the foundational thought and intention process …

“Patterns and sequences remain the preferred mode of operation in biological organisms. Patterns are groups of singular movements linked in the brain like a single chunk of information. This chunk essentially resembles a mental motor program, the software that governs movement patterns. A pattern represents multiple single movements used together for specific function. Storage of a pattern creates efficiency and reduces processing time in the brain, much as a computer stores multiple documents of related content in one file to better organize and manage information. Common strengthening programs applied to muscles with the stabilization role will likely increase concentric strength but have little effect on timing and recruitment, which are the essence of stabilization.” ~ Gray Cook, FMS

In order for the client to regain pattern control it is an internal process; where new sensory information is introduced into the sensory-motor feedback loop through specific movement sequencing and pattern re training, allowing the motor neurons of the voluntary cortex once again to control the musculature fully and to achieve voluntary relaxation and contraction properties.

We see forms of this somatic trauma in today’s corporate world, but it is masked by “stiff muscles”. 80% of those over the age of forty have pain and stiffness from spines that are chronically contracted from the pelvis to the neck and naturally have spent decades in this compensation pattern.

Therefore, understanding the connection between somatic healing and corrective movement can greatly affect your health and wellness and longevity of your chosen sport – even if you classify yourself as just a weekend warrior.




Embody awareness and break boundaries, this is the result of somatic movement therapy, and it is all the coming rage with the structural integration trend we have been embarking on over the past decade.

In Life and movement; boundaries define our personal space.  This space is called the intersubjective field. Spatial, behavioral, verbal and energetic boundaries are the most commonly considered characteristics of boundary formation. Energetic boundaries are more somatically based and less commonly described.

In yoga the experience of realizing your awareness is called “witnessing,” which is the beginning of creating a great space from which you can grow. Clarity of awareness can bring emotional autonomy, stability, balance, power and the feeling of being more grounded.

Moreover, the somatic function of movement connects the mind with the body to produce a positive understanding of our defenses through the use of linguistic language (by the teacher) and movement (by the student). Another interesting topic of conversation with regards to the “somatic anthropology” of this connection is the “Somatic Ego;” which, viscerally the tissue starts to function like. A reaction or a state-specific emotional trauma that gets housed in the tissue and thus begins to establish boundaries, protective boundaries, and most often these boundaries start to no longer serve us as we grow and develop; but continue to surface when we feel that same visceral response, even to different stimuli. We will touch more on this in just a moment, but doesn’t this sound familiar? Therefore, it makes sense to see the linkage bewteen our emotions, our tissue and the conenction between body and mind. If we can work on establishing new patterns of grounding, and centering are all fundamental to boundary formation; which bridges the gaps between somatic psychology and personality development and we can then start to detatch from old patterns.

The key to unlocking those repressed emotions is to get the individual “into their body” and the energy in their body moving. Activating the flow of physical energy activates the flow of emotional energy. It may also release “body memories,” which bring to consciousness any repressed memories of experience contained in them.

The body, not only the brain, contains the unconscious mind. The body physically encodes its learned symptoms, neurotic coping mechanisms, and decisions in the limbic-hypothalamic systems. Healing occurs by accessing the encoded learned responses, following the affect or somatic bridge back to the state in which they were learned, and healing them through activating psychophysiological (physical and emotional) resources in the body that had been previously repressed or immobilized.

This can help support development of self-worth, self-formation, and transformation. Corrective movement and the art of body work creates an environment that changes the physical alignment (physical well-being).

Gentle yoga involving slow moving meditations, pranayama and meditation. Reawaken inherent agility and strength that allows you to expand the possibilities for moving and thus living in general. Chronic tension patterns change and can inhibit growth and development, both physically and emotionally/mentally. The nervous system slows down and  as the body releases and re gains it’s innate ability to self-correct, re balance and re gain efficiency in movement (which we call neuro-muscular re-patterning). The sensory-motor learning process encourages the muscles and fascia to release from involuntary, habitual contraction, as well as limiting movement patterns that inhibit progress, both athletically and in daily life. Somatic movement is a process of re-educating the body systems for improved well being.

Somatic yoga can be experienced in the form of Hatha, Yin and Restorative styles that allow the body to passively express and release with ease. The somatic exploration process introduces the student to be able to evoke core awareness and core movement, dynamic balance, integrity of movement, and harmony with gravity. Most postures include breath work, mat work in the supine or seated positions and many with the use of props. Slow progressive yoga movements, can allow you to focus on somatic awareness, full body breathing, and grounding and when combined with specific sequencing for your specific mechanics the witnessing of your own potential is so great. How amazing is that!

The best way to start this transition is to either seek out a yoga teacher or class that is gentle (as in slow movement), but still challenging enough to engage you in thought and movement. A warm Yin class or Hatha class are always me favorite. If you are coming off of an injury or have corrective concerns then perhaps a warm Yin or a Restorative class would be best to start with.

Next week we will take a look at building on this topic of somatic movement and introduce movement therapy with neuromuscular re patterning (RNT), both reactive and dynamic; which will include all styles of yoga and the benefits that can come from a sound practice.




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!




Mike Vanderwolf, the Director of Golf Instruction at McCleery Golf Academy –

The Fundamentals of Hogan, David Leadbetter – book

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