Learning a New Language
Body mechanics (ie; flex, extend, bend) are a language, just like any other industry. As a trainer it becomes my job to teach you, the mover, how to understand this language through the application of biomechanics. Biomechanics are unique to each person, but the language is identical across the board. You can be 4’10”, 6’6″, have neuropathy, tendonitis, be paraplegic, 5 years old, or 50 years old, it doesn’t matter. Biomechanics and the language we use for all humans is identical. As human beings, the more we can say or understand about the position of a joint or bone, or the better we can articulate verbally the movement we are experiencing in our body, the more accurate we will become when training our body to move. For example, if somebody says, “I feel my low back start to round and it pulls on my upper back,” this person is describing (most likely) a posterior tilt of their pelvis, with a flexion of their low back, followed by the sequence of a kyphotic curvature of their thoracic spine (think rounding). Now if I can teach this person to counter their tendency, they can start making their body work for them.
A GOOD EXAPLE: If you’re trying to get better at lunging, an essential ingredient to a healthier body, but either have spinal compression or a hip rotation while you do this, you may actually accentuate tissue inflammation if you don’t understand where your body is in space. This is where I step into the picture. So now, in order to teach you where you are in space, I may have to give you specific cueing to your personal posture. So I might say to you, ‘hinge at the waist, engage your TVA (transverse abdominis), rotate your hips closed (medial rotation), and make your spine neutral’. It seems like a lot- but once you know the language, codifying your movement becomes much easier. Better yet- the adjustments will actually help you become a more proficient mover- at a faster rate. Immediately you’ll feel the correct muscle fibers working, and probably take the stress off whatever part of your body was overworking. This all comes back to learning muscle function before the action, and learning the way to talk about your movement.
Understanding and feeling what it means to have your hips rotated in, tva drawn up, and low back flat can make the difference between improving at a 1% rate and a 10% rate. So by inviting your brain, instead of your adrenal, into movement, you’ll become much stronger in the way you associate kinetic tension and proficient in your muscle’s ability to function for a deliberate task. Training can literally heighten your consciousness to your own physical being. All you have to do is learn the language and what it means to position joint-X in a certain way prior to muscular recruitment and movement.
Joint Inflammation: Its Real
Arthritis, tendonitis, osteoporosis, labral tears, stenosis, scoliosis, frozen shoulder, the list of physical ailments goes on and on. Western medicine is quick to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, it is also quick to refer you to physical therapy, or even an orthopedic surgeon. The truth of the matter is that many of our joint pains and dysfunctions can be solved by repatterning our muscle system. What does this mean? It means teaching the body the order in which it functions most optimally. Building the stabalizer muscles to stabalize, and the functional muscles to function. Teaching the glutes to extend the hip or teaching the deltoid to abduct the arm. Essentially- learning biomechanical language.
A lot of the issues my clients deal with stem from a having imbalanced tension throughout their body (in the field we call this myofascial force transmission). This means that certain parts of the body are overused or underused and this typically causes a lot of muscular inhibitions, nerve impingements/blockages, and other physioneurological disorders. And nobody is to blame for this, society as a whole has done an excellent job of making us thinking we have to build the body from an aesthetic point of view instead of a functional one. Sadly, this leads to joint inflammation, and chronic pain.
Vanity vs Function: Look over Feel
The health and fitness world has made billions off of the public the past 60 odd years. It started out by introducing bodybuildling, eventually cardio, and the past couple of decades powerlifting. Even when I started in this field in the early 2000s, I was doing vanity training! Even the past ten years, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and interval training have become the rage. But what is this doing for us? Is this making us healthier, or is it exasperating an issue we already have well in place (joint-inflammation, dormant muscle tissue). The answer is the latter.
Even when I started personal training, I was teaching my clients how to get the look they wanted. I taught people function from a very limited perspective. However, I eventually had to start looking at my values and figuring out if what I was teaching people was sustainable for the long haul. What I learned was…it wasn’t.
Back to history in the health and wellness field. So by 1950 vanity enters the room. Gyms start opening up and for the first time in the 20th-century we become obsessed with looking a certain way. Advertising plants the seed to our unrealistic, unhealthy expectations, yet technology makes us more sedentary at the same time. We are in a conundrum, “how do we look like the person on this cover but with as little effort as possible?” So the industry invents exercise, it literally starts to invent ‘exercises’. Think about it, exercise is a compensation for what our bodies are naturally meant to be able to do! Our evolutionary biology intended our bodies to move in certain ways, but we haven’t been told this! And since we don’t have a way to do this in the 20th/21st-centuries what do we do? We invent the word exercise to make sense and validate what we are doing as constructive, effective, and beneficial.
Is it functional? Hell no! Does it look good? We guess so (we don’t really know, since the standard is set by the advertising industries and the Cosmos, and the GQs, and the other magazine companies). However, like I mentioned in KLPart1, vanity only ends up causing injury, inflammation, and a false sense of self. Aesthetic training doesn’t train you to be functional and it leaves you in the darkness of your own doing.
To be upright and a human is to understand the evolutionary process our ancestors have undergone for thousands of years. To be functional in that evolutionary masterpiece means to learn the language of your body. You were put here to walk, run, jump, throw, carry, crawl, and many other things. It all starts with improving our own kinesthetic literacy.