What 99% Of People Are Missing In Their Exercise Programs

Think about walking into a commercial gym- what are you going to see a lot of?

I would bet you would see a lot of squats, bench press, and deadlifts. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with those exercises, but there is a key element of training that most people and personal trainers overlook. That is the element is alternation.

What is alternation? It is opposing movement of the arm and legs. This is something you do every time you take a step. As your right leg comes forward, your left arm goes forward. This happens while your left leg goes back with your right arm. That is alternation.

Image result for correct gait pattern\

However, when most individuals exercise, they don’t consider this quality of movement. They perform exercises in a neutral stance with a ribcage that doesn’t move. If this is all you do at a gym, you can expect to stiffen your ribcage over time, leading to an inability to alternate when you move. This can lead to all sorts of aliments such as back pain and shoulder pain, as different areas of the body will try to make up for movement that should be available through your ribcage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-S8Pk63YRE

This is an individual who cannot move through their ribcage. Notice the lack of arm swing and overall stiffness to their movement.

So we must train alternation in our exercise programs. Why would we not train qualities that are essential for living a pain-free life? Here are a few examples of exercises that train alternation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrDa-cWQbyg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDmd-t6A7-8

Why NASAL BREATHING is so beneficial

We all know the term “mouth-breather”. It has a pretty negative connotation to it, doesn’t it? Well, it should. And here’s why:

In order for us to gain a full understanding to why nasal breathing is so important, we must take a journey into childhood facial development. Just bear with me.

Mouth breathing affects the shape of the face in two ways. Firstly, there is a tendency for the face to grow long and narrow. Secondly, the jaws do not fully develop and are set back from their ideal position, thus reducing airway size. If the jaws are not positioned forward enough on the face, they will encroach on the airways. See for yourself: close your mouth, jut out your chin and take a breath in and out through your nose, noting the way air travels down behind the jaws. Now do the same but pull your chin inward as far as you can. You will probably feel as if your throat is closed up as you try to breathe. This is exactly the effect poorly developed facial structure has on your airway size. It is no wonder that those with restricted airways tend to favor mouth breathing.​

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The second way facial structure is affected by the way we breathe during childhood is the position of the jaws. The way the jaws develop has a direct influence on the width of the upper airways. Our upper airways comprise the nose, nasal cavity, sinuses and the throat. High athletic performance requires large upper airways which will enable air to flow freely to and from the lungs. While effective breathing is crucial for high performance, having airways that function with little resistance is also very advantageous. For example, a marathon runner who has efficient breathing but airways the width of a narrow straw is not going to get too far.​

The features of figure 2 above are identifiable in thousands of children and adults who have fallen between the cracks of our health-care system and were not encouraged to breathe through their noses. These same individuals often suffer from poor health, low energy and reduced concentration. In the words of dentist Dr. Josh Jefferson: “These children do not sleep well at night due to obstructed airways; this lack of sleep can adversely affect their growth and academic performance. Many of these children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity.”​

Fun fact: Why do some people snore so loudly? Well, it’s because their tongue falls back into their throat (not on the roof of their mouth) and their airway is already restricted as-is. No wonder they’re gasping for air with all that going on! We can’t expect those people to breathe well when they sleep.

Pretty crazy, right? Well, not all hope is lost if you relate to this. Try this out:

Nose Unblocking Exercise

  • Take a small, silent breath in and a small, silent breath out through your nose.
  • Pinch your nose with your fingers to hold your breath.
  • Walk as many paces as possible with your breath held. Try to build up a large air storage without overdoing it.
  • When you resume breathing, do so only through your nose. Try to calm your breathing immediately.
  • After resuming your breathing, your first breath will probably be bigger than normal. Make sure that you calm your breathing as soon as possible by suppressing your second and third breaths.
  • You should be able to recover normal breathing within two to three breaths. If your breathing is erratic or heavier than usual, you have held your breath for too long.
  • Wait for a minute or two before repeating the breath hold.
  • Repeat this exercise five or six times until the nose is decongested.

Generally, this exercise will unblock the nose, even if you have a head cold. However, as soon as the effects of the breath hold wear off, the nose will likely feel blocked again. By gradually increasing the number of steps you can take with your breath held, you will find the results continue to improve. When you are able to walk a total of 80 paces with the breath held, your nose will be free permanently. Eighty paces is actually a very achievable goal, and you can expect to progress by an additional 10 paces per week.

Additionally, here is a video that goes into further detail if you are interested in learning more!

Why golfers BENEFIT so much from finding their heels

If you aren’t already, stand up, and notice where your weight is on your feet. I bet you that you are on your mid-foot and/or toes. Don’t worry, this is normal, but not ideal if you want to be a better golfer or stay out of pain.​

Now, try to lean forward completely on your toes. Ouch! That’s kicking in your quads and back. Then try to find 100% on your heels. That feels…weird. Off balance, but your quads and back is likely to relax.

What you’ve discovered is how weight distribution affects posture and muscle activation. As humans we tend to default to having our weight forward, which kicks in our back and quads (see the image below. Anterior tilt = weight on toes).

Anterior-Pelvic-Tilt.jpg

If we are stuck in this extended state, we are going to struggle to rotate. Our days out golfing are going to hurt instead of be enjoyable. Our ribs MUST be back in order for us to rotate (see THIS article for more info).

Our heels are a secret to unlocking our golf game. Heels will kick in hamstrings, glutes, and abs, which we all need in an effective swing. It will allow you to rotate freely while keeping you out of pain. This doesn’t mean you keep 100% of your weight in your heels as you swing so that you fall backwards. What I am describing is an even weight distribution, about 50% on your heels and 50% on your mid-foot.

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Next time you hit the range or play a round, try this out! You can benefit enormously from just a simple change like this. At Sandhills Sports Performance, we specialize in helping clients find their heels and turn on the right muscles. If you would like to learn more, click HERE to sign up for a FREE complementary consultation with us!

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Get Stronger Immediately With Your…Tongue?

​It has been shown in studies (Vico et al, 2014; Alghadir et al, 2015) that tongue position contributes significantly to postural stability and potential muscular strength. Why is this? It’s because the tongue is part of a myofascial chain called the Deep Front Line. Myofascial chains are lines of pull throughout the body which distribute strain, transmit force and affect the structure and function of the body. The theory of the myofascial chains help manual and movement practitioners explore how one structure affects other distal (further away) structures in the body.​The line we are discussing, the Deep Front Line, runs from your head to your feet and is one of the main stabilizing chains of the body. ​

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In a proper position pressing up against the hard palate, it provides stabilization down the chain and the surrounding muscles will have less of a stabilization role and are able to contribute more to lifting the weight.
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The time you go to the gym or lift something heavy, try this out. Compare your strength with your tongue on the bottom of your mouth versus pressed up against the roof. Try to firmly (but not overly so) maximize the surface area the tongue covers.

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Why all golfers must have reaching in their training

Why All Golfers Must REACH

Do you feel that your backswing or follow through isn’t what it used to be? Are you unable to dissociate your pelvis from your hips? Does your swing feel stuck even after hours of practice? Those are just a few examples of symptoms of a stiff ribcage. A lot of humans, golfers included, have stiff ribcages that limit proper breathing mechanics. If you cannot breathe into your posterior mediastinum (your back ribs), your diaphragm cannot function optimally. To compensate, you will likely kick in your neck to assist you in pulling in air, further stiffening the muscles around your ribcage.

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The secret is this: The posterior mediastinum can unlock your golf game. If you can breathe into it, you have the ability to rotate your thorax and thoracic spine freely. A good golf swing involves a posteriorly-rotated pelvis with the ribs back, which allows for optimal rotation. A free thorax will equal a smooth, controlled swing without mobility limitations. A stiff thorax will force you to compensate and use improper muscles such as your back to make up for a lack of mobility where it should be (in your thorax).

Reaching is absolutely one of the most necessary movements a golfer can have in their exercise program. Reaching activities bring down your ribcage to force air into your posterior mediastinum. A great example of this would be a Wall Supported Reach. Notice how her ribs are down and just her low back is on that wall, opening up her upper back to take in air.

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Correct breathing is the key to everything. Good respiration during activity will involve a inhalation through the nose and full exhalation through the mouth. Every day at Sandhills Sports Performance, I have every client do at least one reaching activity. It keeps them healthy, feeling good, and fires up all the right muscles.

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Why your core training is WRONG, and how to fix it

“Toning up the core” is a common concept within practices in the Health & Fitness community. Hundreds of sit-ups, planks for minutes, and extension-driven ab wheel rollouts are a few examples of exercises personal trainers or online resources will likely prescribe to you.

The problem is, you aren’t training your core effectively with those exercises. You’re either targeting one muscle group in the core (the Rectus Abdominis) or training a pattern of extension that you’re already stuck in, making your pain worse.

If I gave you a TRUE core exercise that involved correct respiration, you would be shaking and begging for mercy within 15 seconds. The “core” is not designed to just do sit-ups. Its function is to help you breathe and stabilize your body throughout the day.

Take a look at the following diagram of the core musculature:

Muscles_of_the_Abdominal_Wall.jpg

That’s a lot more than just your Rectus Abdominis, or your “six pack” abs. And you know what muscle works with all of these abdominal muscles for breathing? Your diaphragm, which is HEAVILY involved in core functioning.

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Your diaphragm is supposed to ascend and descend during breathing, and if our Obliques and Transverse Abs are not securing our ribcage down, we are setting ourselves up for dysfunctional breathing and pain since our diaphragm can’t do its job if the ribs are stuck flared up. Flared up ribs means less room for the diaphragm to move.

True core training involves breathing. Any good core exercise forces you to own a position and not compensate by extending your back or moving out of alignment. It’s transverse abs and obliques, all while keeping those ribs down so we assist the diaphragm in getting in a proper position.

This is what we do at Sandhills Sports Performance. You will never see anyone do a sit-up here!

So next time you do a core exercise, keep those ribs down. Get a full inhale through your nose and exhale ALL that air out through your mouth. Own the position, or else you aren’t owning your core.

​See the video below for a great core exercise that hits your obliques hard. Keep your pelvis posteriorly rotated, keep those ribs down, and breathe!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gu5U580aM8

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