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Foundation: Core exercises

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Recently read this book. It's excellent.

 

Chiropractor and personal trainer Eric Goodman teamed up with Lance Armstrong's personal trainer, Peter Park, and they created a whole new way of thinking about the core as well as training it.

 

Doing these exercises addresses many root problems with posture and pain.

 

Here are the main basic exercises...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmXYL3hB_0M

 

Totally fine to start with, but the book itself is best.

 

Neal Pire, spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine, said the concept of "hinging" or loading the posterior chain while maintaining neutral spine is mainstream, but he's never seen a book entirely devoted to it.

 

"Extension is key, because we do indeed live in a flexed state," he said, adding that if the public perception is that abs are the core, the public is mistaken.

 

"The core involves two sets of muscles: deep muscles whose roles are primarily stabilizing the spine, or more generally the trunk, and shallower muscles whose primary role is movement," Pire explained.

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Thanks for sharing this, Scotty. I see some things that are similar to the "reeling silk" movements I practice. For instance, creating the most distance as possible between the arm and the heel.

 

I suppose my question/ comment is that "reeling silk" does accomplishes roughly the same thing.?

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Thanks for sharing this, Scotty. I see some things that are similar to the "reeling silk" movements I practice. For instance, creating the most distance as possible between the arm and the heel.

 

I suppose my question/ comment is that "reeling silk" does accomplishes roughly the same thing.?

 

Maybe it does.

 

The key thing that this program is focusing on is strengthening the muscles of the "posterior chain" in a functional and integrated way. The calves, hamstrings, glutes, low back and spine, rhomboids and other muscles...

 

Especially the erector spinae, multifidus and latissimus dorsi in the low back are trained to brace, and allow the large muscles of the hip to support full range of motion and functional strength.

 

So if a part of silk reeling involves strengthening the posterior chain, training the hip musculature to support movement through full ROM, and the spinal musculature to support itself being upright during this, then it will have a similar effect.

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Interesting, but a lot of it just looks like Western rebranding of basic yoga poses like Utkatasana:

powerful-pose.jpg

I think the athletic mindset also overfocuses on strengthening (contraction), as opposed to stretching (release).

 

In the Western fitness world, it's all about "strengthening your core." You try to strengthen & counterbalance everything as much as possible. I guess that's fine for their purposes..

 

But, in the Eastern esoteric arts, it's more about "opening your kua." Where, one seeks to minimize muscle antagonisms to return to a default tensionless balance - that then enables greater qi flow (qi vs li). So, it's not how hard you can tighten and shorten here, but how far you can lengthen and let go...

Different strokes for different goals, though! :D

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Vortex,

 

I think the athletic mindset also overfocuses on strengthening (contraction), as opposed to stretching (release).

 

Actually this approach is based on a lot of research. Sports medicine, physical therapy, etc...is based on the approach of strengthening/activating muscles in spasm, which kind of sets their muscle spindles back to normal (that's the theory), and allows them to release. Or also prevent spam, and promote good biomechanics through stregthening.

 

This is primarily what professionals use to rehabilitate patients in pain.

 

Stretching helps a little, but it's also been shown to not be as effective.

 

A muscle spasm is actually thought to be (this is off the top of my head so forgive me if I'm wrong) where some filaments are kept in a stretched position and not returned to normal, when the muscle isn't being activated. So if you stretch it up to that point, all you're doing is sliding the other functioning filaments back and forth, while the problematic ones are kept in the stretched and dysfunctional position. If you stretch all of the filaments past the dysfunctional barrier, then you risk damaging that area which was problematic by overstretching it, and causing a tear.

 

So...this is a Western health care mindset, which is based on many years of awesome peer reviewed research. :lol: This is how I've been trained to deal with patients after 4+ years of studying this stuff in college...strengthen.

 

Stretching is primarily used to increase or maintain pain free range of motion...that's all.

 

In the Western fitness world, it's all about "strengthening your core." You try to strengthen & counterbalance everything as much as possible. I guess that's fine for their purposes..

 

It's not just the fitness world...like I just said, it's the health care field, as well. The fitness world is simply influenced by the scientific research.

 

People with back pain have been shown to have weak core muscles (there are 29 different core muscles altogether). Especially the transversus abdominus, internal oblique, multifidus and deep erector spinae have been found to be weak or not activated enough in people with chronic pain. It's been shown that if you rehab those muscles, people experience less pain.

 

And think of it this way...it's not just strengthening muscles...it's making them activate so they function properly. Our bodies are designed to function...the muscles are designed to activate in order to function. Stretching has some great benefits, but by itself, it's not addressing the real issue and is actually ineffective.

 

But, in the Eastern esoteric arts, it's more about "opening your kua."

 

The third Foundation exercise video opens the kua (hip flexors). The video you posted merely stretches the adductors, it does not actually open the kua.

 

By the way, there is a Foundation exercise in the book, which activates the adductors in a lengthened position, which will pull the anterior pelvis down and take pressure off of the lumbar spine. It's kinda brilliant.

 

Where, one seeks to minimize muscle antagonisms to return to a default tensionless balance - that then enables greater qi flow (qi vs li).

 

Strengthening the core, and the low back, does this. It's proven through a lot of peer reviewed research.

 

Also the hamstrings, which are usually weaker than the quads, are strengthened in Foundation...as well as lengthened. The rhomboids which are genereally weak compared to the pecs, are strengthened. The low back which is usually weak compared to the abdominals is strengthened. The glutes are strengthened, so that the hip flexors which are chronically flexed and in spasm in most people, can open. Force couple relationships are benefited all around.

 

So this program, above and beyond anything else out there, returns us to default tensionless balance.

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Also the difference between that one part of the Founder exercise, and utkatasana...in the Founder, the weight is all on the heels and the knees are right above the ankles. Totally changes things, so that the quads aren't being contracted and the hamstrings are being lengthened + activated more.

 

All of the weight and tension of the upper body should be in the hip musculature and not in the low back.

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Some quotes I like from the unrelated textbook, Rehabilitation Techniques by Prentice (4th edition)...

 

Neuromuscular efficiency is the ability of the central nervous system to allow agonists, antagonists, synergists, stabilizers and neutralizers to work efficiently and interdependently during dynamic kinetic chain activities.

 

The core is defined as the lumbar-pelvic-hip complex...

 

...There are 29 muscles that attach to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.

 

...A weak core is a fundamental cause of inefficient movements that lead to injury.

 

Key lumbar muscles: transversospinalis group, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and latissimus dorsi.

 

Key abdominal muscles: rectus abdominus, external abdominal oblique, internal abdominal oblique, and transversus abdominis.

 

Key hip muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and psoas.

 

Research has demonstrated that people with low back pain have an abnormal neuromotor response of the trunk stabilizers accompanying limb movement...

 

...It has also been demonstrated that individuals with low back pain have decreased muscle endurance in the erector spinae muscle group...

 

...Several authors have found decreased firing of the transversus abdominis, internal oblique, multifidus, and deep erector spinae in individuals with chronic low back pain

 

It has been demonstrated that abdominal training without proper pelvic stabilization increases intradiscal pressure and compressive forces in the lumbar spine.

 

Decreased cross sectional area of the multifidus has been found in subjects with lower back pain, with no spontaneous recovery of the multifidus following resolution of symptoms. It has also been shown that the traditional curl up increases intradiscal pressure and increases compressive forces at L2-L3.

 

I don't think it's against copyright to post such short quotes...if it is, someone let me know and I'll edit this post. If anything, I think sharing quotes from the book would maybe inspire someone to buy it.

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People with back pain have been shown to have weak core muscles (there are 29 different core muscles altogether). Especially the transversus abdominus, internal oblique, multifidus and deep erector spinae have been found to be weak or not activated enough in people with chronic pain. It's been shown that if you rehab those muscles, people experience less pain.

yup, let those muscles waste and you're in for a lot of crap. tough when an injury is acute and you have to mostly keep it still, it is absolutely imperative you also do regular movement...and often. I wind up coaching friends and family on conditioning & stretching...sure I may be the most flexible person they've ever seen, but the flexibility I have, I worked for, so you can too if you just work at it a little while every day :D there have been times in my life when I could barely touch my knees my back was so bad.

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Actually this approach is based on a lot of research. Sports medicine, physical therapy, etc...is based on the approach of strengthening/activating muscles in spasm, which kind of sets their muscle spindles back to normal (that's the theory), and allows them to release. Or also prevent spam, and promote good biomechanics through stregthening.
Well yes, sports medicine/physical therapists focus primarily on muscles alone. So, their particular viewpoint represents the muscle-based perspective.
Stretching helps a little, but it's also been shown to not be as effective.

 

A muscle spasm is actually thought to be (this is off the top of my head so forgive me if I'm wrong) where some filaments are kept in a stretched position and not returned to normal, when the muscle isn't being activated. So if you stretch it up to that point, all you're doing is sliding the other functioning filaments back and forth, while the problematic ones are kept in the stretched and dysfunctional position. If you stretch all of the filaments past the dysfunctional barrier, then you risk damaging that area which was problematic by overstretching it, and causing a tear.

 

Stretching is primarily used to increase or maintain pain free range of motion...that's all.

I am not advocating stretching the spasmed muscle. I would advocate resolving the issue that is causing its spasming.

 

This might include relaxing the antagonist muscle or more likely, correcting a skeletal misalignment (chiropractice/bonesetting) that is causing the muscle to spasm (lock up) in order to serve as a stabilizer to prevent further misalignment/injury.

 

IOW, say a physical therapist, chiropractor and Taoist are looking at a bent see-saw spasming from 50 lbs on only one side.

 

The physical therapist would simply add a 50 lb counterweight to the other side to counterbalance the excess weight out. And then strengthen the beam to handle all this added weight. (Or maybe not, I'm sure you can correct me if I'm wrong here, lol!) :D

 

Whereas, the chiropractor would recenter the beam on its fulcrum to eliminate the need for the 50 lb weight to begin with. The Taoist would also concur with this move - zeroing out tension via proper alignment. Once all the weight is removed, the beam would also then gradually undeform and spasms would be relieved naturally.

 

(And yes, this is only my personal opinion and NOT peer-reviewed. Only mi dos centavos, nothing more, lol!)

The third Foundation exercise video opens the kua (hip flexors). The video you posted merely stretches the adductors, it does not actually open the kua.

 

By the way, there is a Foundation exercise in the book, which activates the adductors in a lengthened position, which will pull the anterior pelvis down and take pressure off of the lumbar spine. It's kinda brilliant.

The kua opens in many directions other than just backwards-bending by stretching the hip flexors. For example, if you want to sit in full-lotus, that requires stretching just about everything there BUT the hip flexors, lol!

HP_MAR06_Bhujangasana_248.jpg

However, what are some good stretches that you would recommend for the hip flexors (or backwards-bending the entire spine, including shoulders & neck, in general)? I'm trying Cobra pose right now, which seems to be working. But, I'm open for any other ideas, too! :D

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However, what are some good stretches that you would recommend for the hip flexors (or backwards-bending the entire spine, including shoulders & neck, in general)? I'm trying Cobra pose right now, which seems to be working. But, I'm open for any other ideas, too! :D

 

I've been doing research on the subject of correcting postural imbalances for only about the past year or so, but Pete Egoscue is the best single resource I've found. Pain Free changed the way I approached my conditioning quite a bit. Before, I was all gung-ho for strengthening with limited active stretching to improve my posture (especially on my right side as that was what I thought was the "weak" side). Egoscue's book helped me to realize that, first of all, the problem wasn't just on my right side, it was the way my right and left sides were disintegrated. Second, along with strenthening and active stretching, I would benefit from (what I'm going to call) passive stretching exercises.

 

A good example is this static back exercise:

 

static-back.jpg

 

You just lie on your back with your legs elevated for a while and allow the muscles to relax. I don't know the name of it, but there's a (somewhat) similar exercise in yoga, where you lie on your back with the soles of your feet pressed together.

 

I'll probably check out this Foundation book as well though. I'm really interested in the core and how the health/conditioning of the core effects the rest of the body.

 

Thanks for the great thread!

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However, what are some good stretches that you would recommend for the hip flexors (or backwards-bending the entire spine, including shoulders & neck, in general)? I'm trying Cobra pose right now, which seems to be working. But, I'm open for any other ideas, too! :D

fsm22_hipflexorstretch.jpg

 

l_FI070105FTITM001.jpg

 

0911-mv-kristen-bell-7.jpg

 

right elbow over left knee...

 

stretches are good, but here's a good exercise to help work the hip flexors

http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-286--13410-0,00.html

 

and of course, the relevant exercises in xing shen zhuang are great for these also.

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Vortex,

 

Well yes, sports medicine/physical therapists focus primarily on muscles alone. So, their particular viewpoint represents the muscle-based perspective.

 

What??? Sports med etc is not a muscle-based perspective whatsoever. :lol: They work on the whole body.

 

I am not advocating stretching the spasmed muscle. I would advocate resolving the issue that is causing its spasming.

 

K. That's what strengthening/activating the muscles does. When it's activated correctly, then it resets to normal and can release and relax.

 

This might include relaxing the antagonist muscle or more likely, correcting a skeletal misalignment (chiropractice/bonesetting) that is causing the muscle to spasm (lock up) in order to serve as a stabilizer to prevent further misalignment/injury.

 

Actually, sports medicine tends to take an approach where you correct the muscle first, and then the skeletal misalignment is naturally corrected (muscle energy technique). There is no reason for bones to be out of place by themselves. It can happen through chronic misuse, or from an acute injury...but the theory (which I prefer at least) is that it's almost always a muscular problem (unless it's a bone fracture or complete ligament tear or something).

 

Even in the spine, which is the domain of chiropractors...if you can diagnose the issue, you can set the person up in the right position, have them contract with the right pressure, in the right direction...then the muscles of the back line up and the vertebrae are naturally corrected. It's the muscles that are holding the bones out of alignment and the muscles which need healing. When someone cracks your back, they are not fixing the muscles. They're mobilizing the joint....this has some benefit, but not as much as muscle energy, which will have a more lasting effect.

 

I've seen this done many times, and have also done it and reassessed people. It's pretty awesome! I recommend this dvd if you're interested in doing muscle energy to others (if you're uncertified...beware of lawsuits). It's a pretty safe therapy but a steep learning curve! Pelvis is the most important aspect of the technique and the first thing most people address once the person has good ROM in all of the large muscles.

 

IOW, say a physical therapist, chiropractor and Taoist are looking at a bent see-saw spasming from 50 lbs on only one side.

 

The physical therapist would simply add a 50 lb counterweight to the other side to counterbalance the excess weight out. And then strengthen the beam to handle all this added weight. (Or maybe not, I'm sure you can correct me if I'm wrong here, lol!)

 

Whereas, the chiropractor would recenter the beam on its fulcrum to eliminate the need for the 50 lb weight to begin with. The Taoist would also concur with this move - zeroing out tension via proper alignment. Once all the weight is removed, the beam would also then gradually undeform and spasms would be relieved naturally.

 

Well, actually there's a sports medicine technique called positional release or strain-counterstrain which does something very similar to this...whereas I don't think chiropractic is as effective (it's just joint mobilization or back cracking). Chiropractic is like fixing the axis of the seesaw...then waiting to see if the other side will balance out (it won't :lol:). I guess positional release would be like readjusting the seesaw on the axis, so that perhaps the 50 lb weight would be close to the axis for a while, so there was balance...then it would release and the weight would fall off.

 

The strengthening rehab approach is more complex because it doesn't involve simply adding strength to one side of the body to balance the strength of the other (most of the time)...there are relationships between specific muscles, which each have unique functions.

 

Anyway, an example of sports medicine not simply using strengthening: someone came into clinic today with back pain and kind of an extreme shoulders forward posture. So we strengthened the rhomboids, traps and extensors. But if that's all we did, and let the person continue having poor posture, it would have a diminished effect. So I added in some Gokhale method ideas (stacking the spine on the sits bones, raising-retracting-and dropping the shoulders effortlessly) for them to do all throughout the day. With the self-positional-reeducation, it will have a better effect. No back cracking necessary!

 

However, what are some good stretches that you would recommend for the hip flexors (or backwards-bending the entire spine, including shoulders & neck, in general)? I'm trying Cobra pose right now, which seems to be working. But, I'm open for any other ideas, too!

 

The 3rd Foundation exercise video in the original post is my favorite for hip flexor, although it's not technically ideal because you're actively using that leg to balance. But it works really well and is what I use.

 

If you have a partner to help...

 

5p_fms12_21_09_003.195x145.jpg

 

Have them passively extend your thigh/hip until you feel a good stretch and hold it for 30 seconds. 3x for each leg.

 

...I don't know what the ball is doing in that picture...

 

There is a popular one where you're kneeling on one leg, but I don't like it at all. (Joeblast posted it).

 

Pigeon pose (which he also posted) is awesome for it, but you need to work up to doing pigeon. Use support like rolled up towels beneath you until you're flexible and strong enough for it.

 

For backward bending the entire spine shoulders and neck...why not do the ones in the videos above? The second video is ideal.

 

Too much spinal flexibility without functional strength is dangerous.

Edited by Scotty
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Green Tiger,

 

Thanks for your interest in the topic, and also for the Pete Egoscue reference. It looks worth checking out!

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Too much spinal flexibility without functional strength is dangerous.

absolutely...my L5-S1 musculature is such that I cannot completely relax on an inversion table, cant bend back too far...

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Green Tiger,

 

Thanks for your interest in the topic, and also for the Pete Egoscue reference. It looks worth checking out!

 

I used to do some of Pete Egoscue's exercises.

Good stuff. Highly recommended.

Gotta go get his book off the shelf and review.

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A muscle spasm is actually thought to be (this is off the top of my head so forgive me if I'm wrong) where some filaments are kept in a stretched position and not returned to normal, when the muscle isn't being activated. So if you stretch it up to that point, all you're doing is sliding the other functioning filaments back and forth, while the problematic ones are kept in the stretched and dysfunctional position. If you stretch all of the filaments past the dysfunctional barrier, then you risk damaging that area which was problematic by overstretching it, and causing a tear.

 

 

yeah, you said it backward, the filaments are contracted rather than stretched, actin and myosin filaments can't or won't unlock, but still forceful stretching can tear the area so application same. Also nutrition can be an issue with spasms, mild dehydration, low calcium, magnesium and potassium all can contribute on cellular level to muscle spasms. Otherwise I think you absolutely said everything right in the thread! Thanks to all for the resources, maybe will see if can get on wait list for Foundation book at the library (I am cheap).

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Recently read this book. It's excellent.

Thanks a lot, Scotty for the reference.

 

How long is the program they recommend, more than half an hour? Or how many exercises are there?

 

I'd like to say that I used to be sceptical about modern western adaptations from yoga and taiji. But I've changed my attitude recently. Feldenkraise, Egoscue, Gokhale have proved to be of no less value for me than taiji and qigong.

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No prob. It takes probably less than 20 minutes to do the basic level of the exercises. There are 5 of them, and you cycle through 3 sets total. The basic level lasts two weeks, or as long as you want.

 

At the two higher levels, there are more exercises and sets, and it takes longer (45 minutes for the final 2 weeks).

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Finally picked up their DVD as well (they have a downloadable option! wu hu!). More information and workouts...worth getting IMO.

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I have been training regularly with Kettlebells for awhile. They rock for core training.

 

Me too. An awesome workout; very functional. Kettlebell's offer an excellent way to strengthen that posterior chain.

 

Finally picked up their DVD as well (they have a downloadable option! wu hu!). More information and workouts...worth getting IMO.

 

Do you have a link for this Scotty?

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