| Article written on June 22nd, 2015 at 8:00am | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
Movement is one of the most valuable assets in life. Without it we are left stationary, relying on others to help us with daily tasks. That is why we need to preserve or improve our movement patterns through daily practice. Gray Cook has a great quote that reads, “Move well, then move often.” Notice the emphasis on quality of movement over quantity? In society today, we always need more. But, this approach often leaves us with improper movement patterns, pain, and dysfunction. That is why focusing strictly on the quality of our movement will leave a longer lasting effect, that will then benefit from more quantity. In this installment of random thoughts, I will talk about improving movement quality in different areas…
1. Soft-tissue quality: Our soft-tissue does take a beating. That is why at minimum we should be doing self-myofascial release (SMR) to preserve the quality of our soft-tissue. From the repetitive tasks and everyday stresses placed on the musculoskeletal system, we often have negative changes to the tissue that restrict natural, pain-free movement. Properly using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to release tension and break up adhesions may be one of the most powerful ways we can improve function. Or, other advanced techniques like ART, graston, and massage. Here is a video of self-myofascial release of the foot:
2. Movement happens in several different planes of motion. It’s easy to be trapped in the sagittal plane, which I see in a lot of people’s programs. Typically it’s one of the easier planes of motion to train with exercises like squats, lunges, etc. Placing more focus on breaking out of this plane and into frontal (lateral) and transverse (rotational) movements will have significant carryover to daily activities. Here is a video on multi-planar dynamic mobility drills called the cross-over and cross-behind lunge. They could be an easy addition into your warm-up and also help open up the lateral hip, improve balance and lower body strength.
3. Self-limiting exercise: Several years ago I was very impressed by Gray Cook’s hands-on seminar at the Perform Better Summit in Chicago. Part of his talk was about self-limiting exercise and working on skills that once they are done incorrectly, cannot be performed anymore. One of these skills is jump roping. Notice that once you get fatigued or lose proper posture you usually mess up? On the other end of the spectrum, look at running… We can usually run for hours on end if our conditioning and endurance are adequate with no emphasis on quality of movement and form. From then I began trying a form of paleo-styled movement called MovNat. This consisted of outdoor training using branches, stumps of trees, and nature’s exercise equipment. Some of my favorites are the walking split squat and low bear crawl on a falling tree. Typically, in a stable environment like the gym, these things are somewhat easy to do. But, out in nature with the slickness of the tree, it’s ability to move, and our own inefficiencies, we need to slow down and really hammer home quality and conscious movement. Here’s a video with Gray Cook talking about self-limiting exercise:
4. Practice long enough to become efficient: In today’s society we tend to get bored very easily. Most group exercise classes and programs emphasize variety with little to no thought about movement quality. Because let’s face it, the more variety you have, the less likely you are to be really good at something. This is like that friend you know who is just good enough at everything, but not great at a single skill. When it comes to training the neuromuscular system, we need a specific stimulus for atleast 4-6 weeks. That means if you aren’t training the same movements repetitively, you never truly become efficient and develop the proper pathways.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART