Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be very helpful in restoring the capacity to get up and down off the floor is the Step Up.
The ability to go up and down steps will almost always be needed. Losing this ability is a sure sign that one’s quality of life and independence are quickly fading. Step Ups can be done in a variety of different directions and loaded a number of ways making them easily progressed or regressed based on goals and fitness level. Step Ups improve balance and strength in the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Depending how you load, they can also challenge the core and shoulders. The average step in the United States is 7 inches tall. Strive to work up to a 14 inch box so that no flight of stairs will ever intimidate you.
Here Coach Katie demonstrates two different versions we like to use and the benefits of each along with some progressions. Watch the video and give it a try: https://youtu.be/iGXtKyGlKMg.
1) Anterior Step up (Progression: Anterior Step Up with Racked Kettlebell hold)
2) Lateral Step Up (Progression: Lateral Step Up with one side loaded)
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be efficient and effective is a Weighted Carry.
Very few things are more functional than a carry. You’d be hard pressed to get through daily life without having to carry something at least a few times per week. While basic, a carry is an efficient and effective full body exercise. Depending on the carry you choose, the load is virtually limitless. Performed for time or distance, carries will always improve gait and core stability. Depending on which version you use, they can also be an effective tool for improving shoulder mobility/stability, grip strength, balance, and overall awesomeness. Watch the video and give it try: https://youtu.be/PaP4-IlVAOA
Coach Chad demonstrates my top four carry picks:
1) Farmers Walk (gait, core stability, grip strength, upper back, legs)
2) Suitcase Carry (gait, core anti-lateral flexion, grip, upper back, balance)
3) Waiters Carry (gait, core stability, shoulder stability, balance)
4) Double Waiters Carry (gait, core stability, shoulder mobility, shoulder stability, balance)
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Standing desks are great for posture and health, but many people have difficulty when they first start using them. In this issue, Mike O’Hara, PT gives exercises that can help you stand for longer periods of time. Watch the video for instruction on these exercises. In his article, “The Biomechanics We All Need To Know, Mike agrees with the advice given by Stuart McGill. Be sure to read about Fenton Fitness Member Jan Pilar and her success with her program.
Turkish Get Ups and Waiters Walks
When designing programs for rehabilitation patients and fitness clients, I often pair up exercises. This practice is commonly called super-setting and it has multiple benefits:
Train efficiently—You get much more work done during your training time.
Abolish performance deficits—Most physical therapy and fitness clients need to work on glaring right vs. left movement asymmetries, postural restrictions, and stability limitations.
Lose weight—Fat loss is a primary goal of most fitness clients. Pairing exercises ramps up exercise intensity and creates the hormonal response that improves body composition.
Move better—Training neurologically related movement patterns improves motor control.
Turkish Get Up and Waiter Walk Complex
How you move says more about your fitness than how you look. The pairing of the Turkish Get Up (TGU) and Waiter Walk is an exercise complex that improves gait mechanics and the survival skill of getting up and down off the ground. You will be performing a TGU and immediately move into a Waiter Walk so you need twenty yards of open space. As you get stronger at this complex and use a heavier implement, some interesting things start to happen. You get better at controlling respiration and have an intense focus on how your body moves during the TGU and Waiter Walk. My yoga friends tell me this is the focus of their practice sessions: better respiration, improved motor control, and increased strength.
Turkish Get Up
The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is generally performed with a kettlebell, but you can use a dumbbell. A medicine ball can help teach body alignment to beginners.
Exercise activities that produce the greatest rewards are the ones that take the most time to master. You can learn a barbell curl in five seconds but a TGU can take weeks to master. Developing proficiency with the Turkish Get Up will require some patience and instruction, but for the time spent, the pay off is tremendous. Complete instruction on the TGU is not possible in this short article. Watch the accompanying video and work with a qualified trainer on this exercise. Steve Cotter and Gray Cook both have excellent YouTube tutorials on the TGU.
You must have adequate shoulder range of motion and good balance to perform this exercise safely. Hold the kettlebell overhead like a waiter carrying a tray. Keep the chest proud and the neck relaxed. The upper arm should be adjacent to the head and your walk should be smooth and free of any lean or limp.
I like to train TGU rookies with a soft Dynamax ball. If they drop the ball it will not damage any aspect of their anatomy. Balancing the ball on the hand tends to teach proper alignment. Progress to a kettlebell as you become more proficient. Start on the floor and perform the TGU ascent. Once at the top of the TGU, perform a Waiter Walk for twenty yards and then lower back down to the floor with a TGU descent. Switch the implement to the other side and repeat. Perform two trips on each side.
When you perform this complex, strive to move more gracefully before adding more resistance. Get up and down off the floor and walk in a coordinated and efficient manner. Only then increase the load of the ‘bell.
View video of Mike performing these exercises here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0U9GWMI4bU&t=8s
-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS
Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated. Physical performance and recovery capacity is dramatically different. If you need proof, look around for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL. The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime. I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.
Walk Your Way into a Better Gait Pattern
How well you move says more about your age and fitness level than any aspect of appearance. Walking is the fundamental functional activity we need to maintain in order to stay healthy and independent for a lifetime. Your fitness program should make your gait more symmetrical, efficient, and graceful.
Simple observation of gait patterns (how you walk) is one of the best evaluation tools a physical therapist has to lead him to the cause of your pain problems. Restrictions in stance time, stride length, and propulsion with one side of the body create the stress that drives pain in the upper back and shoulder. Limited torso rotation causes greater stress in the lower leg and early onset degenerative breakdown in the knee. The tight hip that does not fully extend is the culprit behind your plantar fascitis.
Thirty years ago, a wise physical therapy instructor of mine told me my treatment program was only successful if it “enhances the patients’ ability to walk.” Most fitness training is devoid of any activity that improves the gait pattern. Despite more talk about “functional fitness,” the majority of training programs address the body as individual parts instead of an integrated whole. Split (upper body on one day and lower on another) and body part training (arm day) artificially divides training stimulus and blunts the neural benefits exercise has on our movement skills.
Training that improves your gait pattern requires some open space and enlightened coaching. Activities that improve your walk are taxing on the neural system, so they should be performed early in the training session. The best results are achieved with consistent feedback and ongoing activity progressions.
-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS
The September 2016 newsletter contains information on preventing ankle sprains. Mike O’Hara, PT demonstrates exercises to prevent ankle inversion. Meet Fenton Fitness member Gay Adams and read her story on staying strong during a difficult time, and learn about the suitcase carry–a better alternative to weighted sidebends.
If Frankenstein Had Glutes, He Could Have Run Away
Get Fit With Monster Walks
Most of the exercises performed in the gym emphasize the sagittal (front/back) plane of motion. Squat, lunge, elliptical, and treadmill are all sagittal plane activities. In athletics and life, we must be able to move efficiently in all planes of motion. Our gluteal muscles are the primary producers of lateral and rotational movement in the lower extremities. Strong and responsive gluteals keep your knees and lower back safe from injury during athletic activities. A simple exercise to improve gluteal function and move better in the often-neglected frontal plane is a band monster walk.
You will need a mini resistance band or a lateral resistor. Place a mini band loop around your ankles. Assume an athletic stance with the feet straight ahead, knees bent, and hips flexed. The band should be held taught throughout the exercise. Try to keep the hips and shoulders level throughout the exercise. Your torso and pelvis should not wobble side to side. Move the right foot 12 to 18 inches to the right, and after planting the right foot, follow with the left. Remember to keep some tension on the band. When you have completed the prescribed number of repetitions, rest and then lateral step back to the left.
As you get better at this exercise, try performing the drill moving forward and backward. The backward monster walk is an excellent gluteal activation exercise for runners. Try performing one or two sets of eight to ten repetitions.
Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS