Hello and welcome back to another exciting edition of Body Mechanics. The last couple of topics we covered were related to static postural assessments and transitional movements and the importance of having our body function as one integrated unit.
Before getting into this weeks edition I just wanted to reiterate that the assessment is done without a bar or any weight for that matter. Just our body moving through space, to see how it functions. When we add weight we alter the recruitment patterns and are potentially increasing the imbalance by unwillingly strengthening it.
Since writing this article I have had the privilege to actually see quite a few people perform the transitional movements (overhead squat analysis) and I have seen many different forms and techniques. I enjoyed the process involved as it helped me to understand it a little more in depth. Furthermore, I noticed similarities in technique with different people. The one thing I can share with you about this experience is that we all have an imbalance. Great or small, we can all stand to gain a greater perspective into how our body functions through this assessment. I must warn you however, that no matter the outcome you must be willing to accept the criticism constructively. There is merit in corrective exercise, but we must accept that we are not perfect.
I want to share with you my story when it comes to muscle imbalances and corrective exercise technique. I watched a video of my own assessment and was discerned to see that my body is not firing optimally. My body has some irregular movements and compensations that occurred whilst performing the aforementioned assessments.
The video showed me footage from the anterior, posterior and lateral view of the assessment and it’s two modifications. I have an excessive forward lean that causes my squat to go from an upright angle to an excessive forward lean. This may be due to my gluteal muscles not firing properly and being weak as opposed to my hip flexors, which in my opinion are tight and overactive.
There was an improvement in my squat when the assessment was modified with the heels elevated. Although the movement does not change, it reduces the range of motion required for the calves to perform and shifts the center of gravity in the body. This shift in the COG reduces the amount of work required by the hip extensors to stabilize the torso in an upright posture. The reduced ROM minimizes the contribution of the calf muscles needed to perform the movement because the heels are elevated and is also an indication of weak ankle mobility and strength.
When we placed the hands at the hip the forward lean was consistent with the original assessment and we can correlate that with an imbalance within the hip and ankle complex. It shoots up the kinetic chain which is why my squat looks the way it does. There where a few other observations that I can nitpick at, but for todays purpose the two above will suffice. It’s better to focus on one or two things and work to improve them or be overwhelmed by a multitude of other tasks.
Now that we have identified the imbalance and how it hinders my movement, how do we go about fixing it? This is going to be a learning experience for me and I am going to have to implement a rigorous stretching program to rehabilitate and increase the ROM to allow my body to complete the required movement effectively.
I am going to start by stretching my lower extremities post exercise on a daily basis for optimum results. I plan to focus on stretches for the gluteal muscles, iliacus, psoas minor/major, hamstrings, quadriceps, soleus and gastrocnemius. This consists of 6 static stretches, because the Iliacus and psoas are typically stretched harmoniously. Although the soleus is deep to the gastrocnemius, it can be isolated during stretching and this method will be applied. Six stretches held for 30 seconds with three or four repeats equates to nine to 24 minutes of stretching a day. As I progress I will hopefully have time to do it twice a day. As it stands right now, this will be my post exercise regime until I am ready to take the next step.
I believe the lower extremity stretches will help me to get back on track, however I must also stretch the upper body during the week in an effort to maintain flexibility throughout the body. One of my goals is to start doing more power lifting and if I want to be successful at it, I must increase my range of motion as well. This will be an interesting few months and as I progress I will be sure to keep you posted. Sometimes we have to take a step back and assess the situation from another perspective, only then can we truly begin to move forward.
This article was researched and written by Follow @_FloFItness
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