Monday, November 28, 2011

Everybody Squats

Everybody squats. Well, except in this country. We forget how to squat as we move into adolescence. Then we hurt our knee, hip or back and the therapist teaches us to do wall slides with a Swiss ball against the wall.

Who is responsible for starting and perpetuating this worthless facade of leg and core strengthening? I'd like to have a word with you, whoever you are.

To preserve and maintain back health, we must learn to use our legs; triple flexion then triple extension. We must be aware of our body in space and how our spine is positioned in relation to our hips.

It's not about static core strength for me. It's about awareness, alignment, mobility and dynamic strength of the lower extremities.

This guy is learning how to use his legs to support his bodyweight in space. He is learning to be confident with his legs after herniating two discs over the summer. He can now pick up stuff from the ground without assistance. He now has freedom and mobility. And in his particular situation, the squatting movement helps relieve long-standing radicular pain that once dominated his day.

This is the type of functional strength a physical therapist should teach a patient. This is how we need to use our legs. The ability to squat is a physical competency everyone should master.

No we don't need to squat a house, but we do need to learn how to lower & raise our bodies, within the context of gravity, in an effective manner. Start with a sit to stand from a chair, then progress to a med ball squat. Learn to hold the bottom position and feel it. Feel the floor; learn to push it away. Then if appropriate, use a Hexlite bar, weighted vest or barbell to increase the resistance. Teach the basics and then give the patient movement problems to lift and solve.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Growing Up - Peter Gabriel

This song is in my head these days. 2011 has been a year of growing up.

RIP Uncle Vasily

How most American's remember Alexseyev

The man who was weightlifting for so many years has passed away. Vasily Alexseyev died this past Friday in Germany of heart issues. He was 69.

I was fortunate to meet the man in person at the 2003 World Championships in Vancouver. Harvey Newton and I were in the walking through the venue when this famous wall of a man came toward us. (That's the very cool thing about going to an Olympics or World Championship--you will see so many former greats strolling the venue or having a drink in the hotel lobby!)

Harvey was kind enough to introduce me to him. Alexseyev was very much a gentleman. I am not sure what came over me, but I had the irresistible urge to pat him on that enormous belly. As I did, Vasily Alexseyev winked and put his index finger to his lips to say "shhhh, don't tell anyone" and then he smiled.

The world's most famous weightlifter had, arguably, the world's most famous belly to ever tumble out of a tiny red singlet.

He set 80 world records during his career and was the first man to clean & jerk over 500 lbs in competition. For more information about Vasily Alexseyev and his career, check out this 44 min documentary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What are methods without principles?

Sorry I've been away for quite awhile.  Things have been busy and to be honest, I just haven't felt like writing.  The business has been growing and most of my energy has been put toward my athletes and patients. I have certainly had lots of thoughts and I hope to share them and write on a more consistent basis in 2012. For today, I'd like to share a blog I stumbled upon via Twitter.  Nick Grantham has some words of wisdom for everyone. Check out his post and blog here. It is based on this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson