Monday, September 29, 2008

Go Eat Here

The Land of Smile Thai restaurant will leave you with a smile. The green papaya salad was fantabulous. I must become one with the Swimming (Rama) Angel next time. 9641 Olive Blvd, Olivette, MO. 314-989-9878.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

General Thoughts on The Week

It was good week for me. PB&J tested well; increased his VJ by 2.5" and SLJ by 7.5". When his VJ is normalized for his bodyweight and expressed as Watts, his average (2000+) and peak power output is good (8800+).

The Thin Man (16. y.o., 6' 7" and 175 lbs, volleyball player) started training with me. He has a long way to go, but is a great kid and will do well if he is consistent and focused. Our initial work will focus on hip strength and mobility, along with general body awareness and ground-based footwork. And of course, we hope build some infrastructure, i.e. lean body mass, on that frame. It will be even more fun if his 6' 3" twin sister joins us.

Had a great ride on Wednesday with a group of very strong women. I have a ways to go to get back into decent riding shape. Out of that group, I have at least two kick-ass women who want to do some off-season work with me. They will learn how to train effectively for their sport and not waste any time on the traditional off-season weight training for cyclists crap.

Overtime had a good session in the gym and found the visual feedback from Dartfish very useful. He was able to make some key adjustments in technique and was psyched to see that he was making progress. Video feedback is not just about pointing out mistakes; it also allows the athlete to see what they are doing well and right.

The AD is psyched about the progress of the Big Dig at school. If the weather cooperates over the next 8 weeks, we could have only the third Mondo FTX running surface in the US down by the end of Fall. Football won 28-0. Connor Callahan won the RimRock Invitational CC meet in Kansas. The DeSmet Invitational swim meet went well and teams from around the state had the chance to swim in the venue that will host the state swim meet in November.

After all the good stuff, the rest of the news is a little underwhelming. I am mad. You greedy 'effing, short-selling, speculating Wall Street investment bank bastards. Balance sheets full of fraudulent accounting and lies. It is sickening. How do you people look at yourself in the mirror? What is your reality?

Jackson Browne says it for me in his song, The Pretender:
I'm going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Though true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pheline Physics

A cat body at rest, tends to stay at rest. Especially when acted upon, i.e. snuggled by, her mom's favorite sweatshirt.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reflections on My Visit to the Mothership

Paul Hodges was a terrific speaker. The dude presented 5 different times over 2 days. I'm sure he was exhausted. I didn't get a chance to ask, but I'm almost sure he was a Presentation Zen guy, as his supporting AV material was beautiful, but simple. He is not a pure TrA (transverse abdominis) guy, as I thought he was going to be. As is want to happen, many people have taken his work to the extreme. He appreciates quality of movement and knows that neither the multifidus nor the TrA are solely responsible for chronic back pain and dysfunction. He understands that a variety of movement strategies are optimal for maintaining musculoskeletal health. But he did kinda go after the general idea of "bracing" that is now embraced by the fitness/therapy/performance world.

I spoke with him briefly after Saturday's session to try and get better idea of the motor control training protocols that his group used in comparison to a general exercise group, but our conversation was brief; it was clear he and Linda Van Dillen and Co. were exhausted and ready for dinner. What exactly was the general exercise protocol used? Are there specific exercises/movement strategies that facilitate torso control or the elimination of LBP? I do know that he is on my side when it comes to treatment of back pain, and is working hard to provide supporting evidence to the work comp and psych docs that purposeful rehabilitation is a worthwhile endeavor for most subgroups of chronic back pain patients. I understand it is much easier to quantify results when you control the variables and reduce the question to specific muscles/muscle groups. But it is a bit hard for me to stomach (pun intended) when so much of the work is done out of the context of moving (lower extremities), in a gravity-mediated environment. Beautiful data doesn't necessarily mean it is meaningful in the real world. And Hodges does understand that.

Shirley was the final speaker of the day and she was a trip. The focus of her talk was on abdominal musculature as the root of some issues in her patient population. I was disappointed she didn't talk more about the impact the rest of the body and movement strategies might have on back pain, but she touched on it. It is fascinating to think that she is still in the clinic and seeing patients on a daily basis. She received her PT degree 50 years ago, in 1958, and still bases much of her world view on the work of her friend, Florence Kendall. That said, she is constantly learning and keeping an open mind when presented with good evidence. Even better, Shirley has really improved her own fitness, diet and health over the last 10 years; and she is extremely worried about the problem of general fitness in our country. Now, I just have to find the opportunity to pick her brain about some of my ideas about preventing acute back issues.

It was somewhat amusing to see the juxtaposition of presentation styles and subject matter this weekend. We went from the most progressive use of current presentation technology and experimentation to the most basic use of observation skills with supporting still images from Florence Kendall's initial work. For sure, one must have an appreciation and understanding of the past to make the most of the current technology and information.

So my journey to the Mothership was a good one. I had the opportunity to hear three wonderful physical therapists speak and see several classmates and former instructors. I do think the Mothership is a little too isolated in its little ivory tower sometimes; they need to get out more and see what the rest of the world is doing, or at least invite more of the rest of the world inside. Yes, you have bright students, wonderful faculty that accumulate NIH grants, and a great program that encourages critical thinking, but there is an attitude of superiority by students and some faculty that can be incredibly off-putting to those of us now in the real world. I know it is a struggle to keep the program well-funded and that Wash U must keep up a constant PR campaign to compete against other programs in the country, but the "We're Awesome" gets a little old after a while. Student loan debt certainly contributes to making one cranky and cynical after a few years.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Voyage to the Mothership

I'm off to commune with the Mothership this afternoon and all day tomorrow. Should be interesting to hear Dr. Paul Hodges speak. And it will be nice to see Linda Van Dillen and Shirley Sahrmann again. My world view, particularly my view on back pain, has changed so much since I graduated. I'll try to keep an open mind, but I think it will be a challenge for me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Building & Rebuilding the Young Athlete

Ryan "PB&J" Pierson is working his tail off. We've had just just over 6 months of training, averaging 2 workouts a week, with several weeks off in the summer due to wisdom teeth extraction and AAU tournaments (drive me crazy). He has leaned out to 6' 10" and 238 lbs, from 247, as a 16 year old high school junior. He is still learning to train, developing base strength, mobility and body awareness, training vocabulary and gaining confidence back after his LE surgery (avulsion fx)and post-surgical pulmonary embolism in the summer of 2007. His knee no longer swells during basketball games, as it did last winter.

His training plan has included a steady diet of squats (bw, back, front), lunges, lunge n reach, step ups, presses, push presses, incline presses, db snatches, body weight rows, and basic bilateral and unilateral landing and jumping mechanics. We are creating strength and learning how to express it.

I don't normally like to post specific workouts, but this is what he did this afternoon.

Warm Up

Jump rope (dl, sl, alt), MB squat/press/lunge series, 20 push ups
Leg swings, hurdle mobility, mt climbers/groiners, knee hugs, high kicks
BW Squat Series (20 bw squats, 10 fwd lunges R/L, 5 lat lunges R/L, 5 sq jumps) x 4 with 20, 30 and 45 seconds in between sets.

Main Strength

Front Squat: bar/5 95/5 115/5 135/5 155/5 x 4
(Best Back Squat set is currently 225/5)

Push Press (behind neck): 75/5 95/5 115/3 125/3 135/3 140/3 (pr) 145/3 (pr)


Step ups w/ 20# weighted vest: 8 R/L (fwd/lat) followed by vest off and 6 Alt Jumps R/L x 3
DB Row: 30#/12 x 3
Curl & Press: 30#/6 x 3

We will do some testing next week and transition into more footwork, agility/first step/running mechanics, and combo strength/jumping stuff. We will also move to a new facility where we can do more rotational MB work and really get into more transverse plane movements. By the end of next year, he will be one of the most mobile, athletic big men around. And he likes to play defense.

P.S. If anyone has a pair of size 17 weightlifting shoes you aren't using, I'd be happy to take them off your hands.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Very Lucky

But the tree has suffered extensive damage and will have to be removed soon. We are not interested in having the rest of it end up crashing through our roof. Ideally, we will salvage the remains of the very tall ash tree and use it as firewood. Who's up for a wood-splitting party with the Weiss family and their arsenal of saws and mauls? Or we could play Roy Hobbs and make a few Wonderboy baseball bats.

It was fascinating to watch the arborist work. Lots of planning and problem solving; immediate gratification from creating order our of chaos. Work outside in a physically invigorating and challenging environment. I'll admit, I had some serious thoughts about changing professions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2008 Tour of Missouri Video

Had a great time roaming around the CWE, watching the racers go by. It was good to see my cycling peeps. Ring the bell, ring the bell, ring the bell!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Where is George Hincapie?

Can you find Georgie in this picture from last year's Tour of Missouri?

Wednesday Random Thoughts

Maybe Lance and Brett have been texting each other? These dudes just can't get enough of themselves.

Mark Cavendish is on his way to STL. He is in the leader's jersey in the 2nd Tour of Missouri. Nice. I hope to watch him zoom up Art Hill on Sunday.

Mondays with Orie. Orie Shafer is tackling the Performance Menu workouts. It is a rare treat to work with someone who asks good questions, works hard and discusses Stephen J. Gould in between sets. Clock genes in Drosophila, Orie? Those things actually sleep? I still have nightmares of their little red eyes from biology lab. Do they do any squats? :-)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thoughts on Strength

Strength is an essential part of health and performance. Do you train for relative or absolute strength? Is optimal strength the same as maximal strength? Is the best measure or evaluation of strength always a barbell movement?

Tracking Heads

Fun with Dartfish an the ability to track objects. And no, you can't make it a smiley face.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Recent Elvis Sighting

Just in case you are wondering, he drives a pink '56 Cadillac.

Get Funky, Appreciate Rythym

It is great to see people doing more overhead movements lately, whether it be with barbell, kettlebell or gymnastic movements. Many people in the US, particularly male athletes, lack full shoulder ROM. Our obsession with strength and mass, in the form of bench pressing and bicep curling, sets our basic shoulder health back.

And for whatever reason, many health professionals forget that the shoulder complex is perfectly capable of 180 degrees of flexion and abduction. Overhead movements are not inherently dangerous or bad for you; they will be painful if you have let gravity and limited activity contribute to postural issues and muscle imbalances. This only happens if you don't exercise the upper extremities through a full ROM and maintain strength and mobility throughout the shoulder girdle complex. Cartwheels anyone?

But overhead movements are not just about being strong. It is not just about having big ol' upper traps and shrugging with objects over your head. Strength is just one component of a healthy shoulder girdle complex and it involves many other muscles besides the upper traps. In my mind, the primary benefit of overhead movements is maintaining and developing normal scapulohumeral rhythm--the coordination of scapular upward/downward rotation with humeral elevation/depression.

When I say humeral elevation, I mean humeral abduction or flexion. For the humerus to elevate properly, it must have the cooperation of the scapula. This does not mean the scapula must simply elevate; something many seem to misunderstand. In fact, scapular elevation by the upper trap alone, is many times a compensation for a loss of scapulohumeral rhythm. The upper trap may grab the spotlight by being all buffed out; that doesn't mean it performs the brunt of the real work when it comes to the scapula's role in overhead movement. Big traps don't necessarily mean good shoulder health.

There's a little more to the story. The scapula also abducts, protracts and upwardly rotates as the arm elevates; it must reverse this process as the arm returns to neutral. This rotation allows for optimal contact of the humeral head in the glenoid fossa for maximal stability; it also creates room for the rotator cuff and subacromial bursa under the acromion. This coordinated movement requires work by the entire trapezius complex--middle and lower traps too, and the serratus anterior. (Note the serious serratus anterior in the picture. Today's singlets don't allow us to see full shoulder girdle musculature in the weightlifter.)

So, if you are a novice trainer or coach, before you get jiggy with it and go shouting out to the world about the "active shoulder" with overhead movements, please take the time to get a basic understanding of the biomechanics and functional anatomy of the shoulder complex. No one expects you to rehab a shoulder--that's not your job--but you should be able to have a fundamental understanding of what happens with normal overhead movement if you are going to teach it.

So get funky and hip to scapulohumeral rhythm. Scapular rotation is the key to humeral elevation.