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Learn more about Rehab, Sports Medicine & Performance


PDFIn this month’s issue, Mike O’Hara discusses hypermobile joints and exercise, 4 steps to fitness success are given, and information on how to stop back pain from disturbing sleep is presented.  Check out page three for a description of the latest class offered at Fenton Fitness– Suspension Shred.

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For injury prevention, athletic perforpower_productionmance, and general health, a regular program of lower extremity power training is beneficial. Traditional exercises that improve explosive leg power—jumps, hops, bounds, and skips—are too challenging for many fitness clients. Limited leg strength, poor balance, joint problems, and a high body mass index all make traditional plyometric training problematic. The assistance of a suspension trainer creates an environment that permits everyone to succeed in exercises that improve leg power.

Older fitness clients may not possess the balance to perform traditional plyometric power production exercises. The stability assist from the TRX is the balance “training wheels” necessary for beneficial jump, split jump, jump squat, and lunge exercises. The suspension trainer unloads an exercise and allows the client the opportunity to practice explosive movements with less joint stress. TRX power exercises require no set up time, and a full complement of explosive enhancing drills can be completed in five minutes.

Older fitness clients are in special need of training to improve leg power. Between the ages of 65 and 89 lower limb power (the ability to move the legs explosively) declines at a rate of 3.5% per year. Strength declines at a slower 1-2% per year rate in this same group. Power is the ability to create force in a short period of time and is different than raw strength. Lower extremity power capacity keeps us safe. It is the component of fitness that enables you to react and save yourself from a fall or sudden disturbance in balance. As leg power falters, injuries increase. As injuries increase, pain, mobility and independent living decreases.

Exercise is like medicine, administer the correct prescription at the proper dose and the patient thrives. The “exercise medicine” that is missing in many training programs is a consistent dose of power training. Watch the video for some examples of simple power production exercises you can add to your program.

-Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

To view a video demonstration of multiple exercises completed with TRX, click on the link below:


PDFThis month’s issue has information on the lumbopelvic hip complex including written/video exercises.  Mike O’Hara also gives information on unstable pressing exercises to improve posture and improve motor control and symmetry.  Also read about the Becoming Unstoppable clinic for athletes 13 years and older that will be help April 30th at Fenton Fitness.

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Suspension_LandingMost physical therapy patients are injured in a failed attempt to control deceleration. Most sports injuries do not involve contact from an opponent or any force greater than bodyweight. The athlete just plants a foot and attempts to move in a new direction. When an athlete is unable to properly control deceleration, he or she becomes much more prone to ankle, knee, hip, and even upper extremity injuries. Teaching physical therapy patients and athletes how to properly manage deceleration forces is an essential component of training.

For many people, it has been years since they have performed any jumping or hopping. They do not possess the core stability, balance, and proprioception necessary to control full bodyweight activities. A suspension trainer permits a gradual introduction on landing mechanics. You can slowly and steadily add load as you become more proficient.
Suspension Landing Performance

Use a TRX or similar suspension trainer attached at least nine feet up the wall. Grab the handles and face the attachment point. Place the feet at least hip distance apart. Bend at the ankles, knees, and hips. You will perform an easy jump and use the assist of the suspension trainer to support your landing. Attempt to land softly and hold a flexed ankle, knee, and hip position. We call this “sticking the landing.” Keep the knees in line with the feet and the torso upright.

Focus on landing in a smooth and efficient manner. The height of the jump is not important. Perform this exercise at the beginning of your workout, when you are rested and fresh. Five landings or less is a good start for most people.

This is the practice progression that I have found works well:

1) Basic bilateral landing
2) Rotation landing
3) Split landing
4) Single leg landing

Deceleration training is important for keeping older individuals free from falls and living independently for a lifetime. I recommend you take the time to get some instruction on proper deceleration mechanics.

For video demonstration of suspension landing performance, click here: Video_Practicing_Landing

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Pikesaw_photo“What is your favorite exercise for_________?” (Fill in the body part)

I get this question all the time.  I am not a big believer in body part training, so I usually say front squats or the Turkish Get Up.  Right behind those two exercises is the Pikesaw performed on a suspension trainer.  The Pikesaw engages the entire chain of muscles from the ankle to the elbows.  Core stability training is all about isometrically resisting the forces that attempt to bend the spine, flare the rib cage, and tilt the pelvis.  Every time you open your laptop, you reload the lazy scapula muscle virus into your neural network.  Most gym goers could use a revitalizing vaccination of scapula on rib cage stability training provided by the Pikesaw.

Pikesaw Performance
Set up the suspension trainer so the foot straps are at mid-shin level.  Lay prone and place the feet in the straps.  Assume a push up position plank (PUPP).  Keep the knees straight and pull the hips up toward the ceiling and let the head travel between the arms.  In a steady and controlled manner, return to the PUPP.  Keeping the body straight and stable, move the foot straps of the TRX backward by pushing with the arms.  Attempt to get the hands under the forehead.  Return to the PUPP and repeat the Pikesaw.  Perform five to ten repetitions.

View performance of the pikesaw here: Video_Pikesaw
-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

The exercises that produce the greatest long term pay off are the activities that slow the aging process and prevent injury.  I believe these activities should be part of all training programs.  One of my favorite exercises is the Suspension Push Up. 

Dr. Janda has told us that certain muscles tend to become weaker earlier in the aging process.  They are the deltoids, triceps, rhomboids, abdominal, and gluteal muscles.  The suspension push up activates all of these muscles.  If you are looking to stay strong and fight off the effects of aging, you cannot get much better than a suspension push up.  Paired up with a suspension row, you have a superior push-pull upper body strengthening and core stability program that is hard to beat.

A common cause of chronic shoulder pain is poor glenohumeral joint stability.  The humeral head (golf ball) does not stay properly centered against the glenoid (golf tee).  Muscle imbalances, prior injuries, and inappropriate training can all create an environment where the humeral head moves too far upward and forward.  Excessive humeral head movement is the cause of acromioclavicular joint degeneration, or tears in the rotator cuff tendons and damage to the articular surfaces and support cartilage of the shoulder.   Suspension Push Ups can retrain glenohumeral joint stability.

Most pressing-type strengthening exercises do little to enhance glenohumeral stability and many exercises such as wide grip bench pressing and dumbbell flys enhance instability.  Performing the push up with rings or suspension loops produces an outward pull on the shoulders as the arms move through a horizontal push.  The pectoral muscles, internal rotators, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, and deltoids must work as a team to prevent the rings from moving apart.   The unstable nature of the rings or loops helps to restore the dynamic isometric control of the humeral head on the glenoid.  An added bonus is the anti-extension, core stability demand.  Your arms can only push what your spine can hold up.

The position of the suspension rings or loops is important.  They must hang at least four feet apart.  This assures you will be working against a horizontal abduction force (outward pull) during the exercise.  A single strap TRX is not appropriate for this exercise.  The rings or loops should hang about eight inches from the floor.  Get into a push up position and set your feet at hip width.  Maintain a good strong grip on the rings or loops –this helps recruit better glenohumeral stability.  Keep the body straight in one long line from the ears to the ankles.  Tighten the gluteal muscles and pull the shoulder blades down the back.  Lower slowly by pulling the elbows in toward the sides of the body.  Hold briefly at the bottom of the push up, and then push back up to the starting position.  Maintain a steady inward pressure on the rings or loops at all times.  Perform two or three sets of six to ten repetitions.

Common mistakes during suspension push ups are flaring the elbows, holding the hips too high or losing core stability, and performing a circus seal push up.  Make sure you move through a full range of motion.

You can make this exercise more challenging by elevating your feet on a box, adding resistance from a weight vest, or by slowing the tempo of performance.

To view video demonstration of the Suspension Push Up, click on the link below:


-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS