Archives for March 2012

Gray Cook Radio, Episode 26

What is Movement Education Group? 

You’ll be looking for Episode 26 here on Gray Cook Radio.

Movement Principle # 5

This is part five of our 10-week series in which Gray further develops the 10 movement principles he presented in Chapter 15 of his book, Movement. If you missed the earlier parts, start where you left off: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four. We’ll post a new segment each week on Tuesdays. This material was also covered in depth in his live workshop DVD, Applying the FMS Model.

Principle 5: Corrective exercise should not be a rehearsal of outputs. Instead, it should represent challenging opportunities to manage mistakes on a functional level near the edge of ability.

Technological advancements in movement and exercise science that neglect functional ­movement-­pattern baselines ignore the natural laws that govern the sensory motor learning system that produces our perceptions and behaviors. This is the process that initially produces these patterns. Some conventional practices rehearse proper movement outcomes without establishing proper sensory inputs. They attempt to manage behavior without addressing ­perception.

It’s common to see movement scientists identify the best technique for an exercise or an athletic movement. To create an acceptable standard, they map the sequence of movements that consistently produce great performance. Coaches and trainers come along and try to mimic those movements, and these become drills and exercises. The drills and exercises get recycled and modified. They’re applied on top of dysfunction and they become protocols. After a few years, no one questions the ­logic.

This is not to discredit the ­high-­end skill drills. It just points out that drills are applied whenever deficiency is noted without considering other aspects of movement or performance. The ironic part of the story is that the elite individuals who produced the ­near-­perfect movement sequence that become the standard did not actually practice or use the drills.

To state it a different way, the analysis of the superior techniques produced exercises that did not produce the technique in the first place. How could they? The best arrive at excellence without access to drills because the drills are built on observations of their athletic output, but not their ­input.

Fancy drills are often developed by watching the end result of a movement, performance or skill, and not the fundamentals and deep practice that produce the superior outcome in the first place. We must be cautious at each level of movement learning not to practice rehearsals of outcomes. This might produce very fine imitation, but not authentic movement ­behaviors.

The challenge I speak of here basically reduces the need for a lot of verbal and visual feedback or instruction. If you appropriately address someone’s corrective issue with the right exercise at the right time, it should be challenging but not so difficult that the person can’t be successful the majority of the time.

Let’s use a few examples like I have in the book. If there’s a hip stability problem on one side, I may have you half-kneeling. There are quite a few reasons for this.

First, removing your foot, ankle and knee from the mix helps me focus just on the hip and core. Reducing your body height reduces the amount of balance reaction. With one knee down and one foot up, this puts you in a position that isolates the single side.

Basically, I get to turn my microscope onto some stability issues that are very central to your core. I also get to compare that response in a very narrow base half-kneeling to your other side, knowing the human body should be symmetrical in most cases.

Now, we’re not perfectly symmetrical, but there’s a rule of about 10% that works for strength, range of motion and functional patterning. Even though we’re not supposed to see perfect symmetry and perfection, you should be able to demonstrate that if you can half-kneel on one side with no balance loss and actually do some activities, but you can’t even acquire balance on the other side, there’s a big asymmetry.

The very first thing I try to do is demonstrate through my screening and assessment that there are some milestone positions where my clients, patients and athletes will say, ‘Oh my gosh, where did that come from? I can’t do that on one side.’

I then challenge them, ‘Now, let’s see how you can do it.’ Of course, trying harder to do a natural movement sometimes makes things worse. I say, ‘Relax. Breathe. Listen to what’s happening.’ They may feel very wobbly, but as long as they’re not falling over, that’s stimulus.

That fall prevention stimulus is probably causing more positive motor programming. However, managing those little mistakes right at the edge of ability is causing more motor programming than a blind rehearsal trying to create the world’s perfect bridge or the world’s perfect plane.

I said this in the book a few different times. Corrective strategy is not a performance for everybody else in the gym. It’s an intimate exchange between the trainer or coach who sets up the situation and the client, patient or athlete who needs to benefit from it.

In other words, I created a challenge. Overcome that challenge.

I have dosed the challenge so it’s not overly difficult or doesn’t stress you too enough to cause a learning opportunity. Overcome this challenge and we will move on, or take more time to overcome this challenge. The extra time under tension, under load and under stress will teach you.

Often we’re not patient enough. If we rush children when learning to crawl or walk, we make them skip an important step. Later on, it would probably show through in a delay in their complete development.

Nor should we rush the current strategy. If it takes you two months to get half-kneeling appropriately, then it takes two months. I’m sorry I can’t speed up the process. If it takes someone else two minutes, then I plan to progress that and turn it into something else. Corrective strategy often doesn’t look as academic or clean from the outside as it is naturally correct from the inside.

We’ll present Principle 6 next Tuesday. To continue your study in the meantime, please consider the book, Movement and the live workshop DVD, Applying the FMS Model.

Movement Principle # 4

This is part four of our 10-week series in which Gray further develops the 10 movement principles he presented in Chapter 15 of his book, Movement. If you missed the earlier parts, start where you left off: Part One, Part Two, Part Three. We’ll post a new segment each week on Tuesdays. This material was also covered in depth in his live workshop DVD, Applying the FMS Model.

Principle 4: Movement learning and re-learning has hierarchies that are fundamental to the development of perception and behavior.

The natural movement learning progression starts with mobility. This means unrestricted movement is necessary for clear perception and behavior through motor control. It may be unrealistic to expect a full return of mobility in some clients and patients, but some improvement is necessary to change perception and enhance input.

Active movements demonstrate basic control and are followed by static stabilization under load. This is followed by dynamic stabilization under load. From this framework, our freedom of movement and controlled movement patterns are developed for transitions in posture and position, maintenance of posture, locomotion and the manipulation of objects.

This hierarchy makes a lot of sense to most people at first glance. However, when we turn around and do what we do, we don’t always follow those rules. Many of my contemporaries have published articles or written book chapters on stabilization. It’s good material and says a lot of the same things I say about static and dynamic stabilization and motor control.

However, I think the one error they make is that they don’t position the statement. People may write an article or develop a program based on trunk stabilization or core stabilization and never have an asterisk.

We’re assuming that thoracic spine mobility, hip mobility, ankle mobility and shoulder mobility are adequate and symmetrical. If you target stabilization and motor control first attempting to maximize the available mobility and symmetry within the system, you’re allowing the system to compensate, therefore reducing the effectiveness of the stability program.

I don’t think these peers or contemporaries are actively neglecting to consider mobility. I think they assume that most competent people are doing this. I hate to say it, but I don’t think we are. We need a systematic checklist as to whether mobility is being managed. It has been managed, has plateaued or it can get no better… and then we attack stability.

Almost every window of better proprioception comes through greater range of motion or a higher, more complex position in which you try to stabilize.

Thus, mobility comes first. This isn’t Gray Cook’s rule. It’s the law of nature. Kids aren’t born stiff and then work on their flexibility for six months. Kids are pretty much born with ultimate flexibility and no control. Then, they earn their stabilization.

When our clients, athletes and patients work with us, they have restrictions, past histories, injuries, bumps and bruises. However, it doesn’t mean we blindly run into conditioning or stabilization.

We first go back and grab more mobility. The reason we do this is because perception drives behavior. We can change mobility quickly without a lot of complex programming, so why shouldn’t we and why wouldn’t we?

Move on to Part 5, here. To continue your study in the meantime, please consider the book, Movement and the live workshop DVD, Applying the FMS Model.

Gray Cook Radio, Episode 25

Stability training has been a popular training method in recent years, but are we thinking about it correctly? Is motor control a better concept?

You’ll be looking for Episode 25 here on Gray Cook Radio.

Movement Principle # 3

This is part three of our 10-week series in which Gray further develops the 10 movement principles he presented in Chapter 15 of his book, Movement. If you missed the earlier parts, start where you left off: Part One, Part Two. We’ll post a new segment each week on Tuesdays. This material was also covered in depth in his live workshop DVD, Applying the FMS Model.

Biomechanical and physiological evaluation does not provide a complete risk screening or diagnostic assessment tool for a comprehensive understanding of movement pattern behaviors.

This text presents the case that we have investigated physical capacities and movement specializations in greater detail than we have the fundamental movement patterns that support and make them possible. Our application of knowledge regarding exercise physiology and biomechanics surpasses our application of what we know about the sensory and motor development of fundamental human movement patterns.

As professionals, we have tried to solve physical capacity problems with solutions exclusively targeting physical capacity. We have tried to enhance movement-specific skills by detailed maps of skill that are often practiced at the very edges of physical capability. These practices are valuable if they identify the weakest link in the movement chain. However, if they simply identify physical capacity and skill problems caused by some fundamental movement problem, focus on these areas actually overshadows a crack in the entire foundation. The roof isn’t leaking, the basement is.

This is really my way of saying that the fact that I’m a proponent of movement screening doesn’t mean I discount or devalue second- and third-level testing. To me, second-level testing is performance-based testing—metabolic testing, physical capacity testing. Third-level testing would be the specific skill or endeavor.

If your VO2 max is the best in the world, but you still can’t win a marathon, maybe it’s your running mechanics. Maybe it’s your race strategy. There are different tiers where we have to deconstruct and reconstruct the people we train and advise.

Many times I’ll see somebody with a performance issue, from getting stronger on the bench press or gaining more endurance in a chosen sport. There is a fundamental error there. We often seek power when really we have poor efficiency. If you’re not efficient in the way you move, becoming stronger really doesn’t get you more horsepower because your wheels are spinning.

The people we coach and train often show an amazing gain or big improvement in just a couple of weeks. We shouldn’t be so naïve to think strength or capacity improved that much in that short time we had the opportunity to coach them. Instead, we need to realize made them more efficient. We helped their muscles coordinate with the brain’s motor program so they don’t have unnecessary tightness or restriction and they’re not fighting themselves going into movement.

Many times when we don’t have a fundamental movement-based test and we see deficiencies in physical capacity or skill, we immediately offer more physical capacity programming or more skill training. I’ve seen it happen a lot on the golf course, four more instructions for the swing, but the person can’t even balance on the left foot. I would venture to say that learning to balance on your left foot would probably have a greater effect on your swing than any verbal cues given on that faulty base. It doesn’t devalue skill training; it just points out the hierarchy.

Movement competency comes first. Physical capacity comes second. Using these two things to then develop movement-based skills in a particular direction or specialization is third.

We can work on these at the same time. We just can’t load a movement pattern that has a poor foundation. That’s what this movement principle is all about.

Move on to Part 4 here. To continue your study, please consider the book, Movement and the live workshop DVD, Applying the FMS Model.