In my last [unintentionally controversial] blog post, I asserted that the root cause of [many of] our aches, pains, and injuries are due to a lack of reflexive stability. In this post, I want to look at HOW we lose (in most cases) our reflexive stability. But before we do, here’s a little disclaimer / professional crow eating:
I’m sure many of my friends who are medical professionals were upset because in their eyes I made a statement outside my scope of practice as a trainer and “diagnosed” by using the words “root cause.” For that, I am sorry. I honestly wasn’t thinking about “scope of practice” when I wrote that post.
So let me then backtrack and talk about what is in my scope of practice: Movement.
Therefore, let me say that many of the aches, pains, and injuries I have had, were really movement issues. Or poor movement issues – movement compensations. And although, I am unique in the fact there is only one of me, I am not unique in the fact that I am the only human being around here. We are all made from the same stuff with the same parts, differences for men and women accepted. It also would not be a logical stretch to surmise that since I am not unique as a human, others may have similar experiences. That leads me to my conclusion that those movement compensations are caused by a loss of reflexive stability.
Case in point: The client who just left my studio. She had chronic lower back pain, and wrist/hand numbness a couple of months ago when we started. And no, I wasn’t treating her back pain. I told her straight up front that I could help her move better to overcome her movement compensations/dysfunctions, and if that so happened to remove her LBP, so be it. By doing nothing more than addressing her lack of reflexive stability/strength (I’ll use the words stability/strength interchangeably here.), SHE has resolved HER own lower back pain – Sorry, I realize that as non-medical professional I am unqualified to use that word so, let’s go with… Discomfort. Yes, discomfort. (Although SHE used the word “pain” – I wonder what her qualifications are…?) And the numbness and tingling in her hand was gone. Today she brought up what would’ve happened if she’d decided to take the “traditional” route. Funny thing is, she knows full well all about the traditional route: Not only has she taken it in the past, but her husband is a doctor – a neurologist – and one of the leading specialists in epilepsy. He just shakes his head when he sees her doing her “simple” exercises. But her results are undeniable.
Ok, enough of that.
On to the “S-word.”
There was a study done recently on the “S-word” and how too much of it killed you sooner.
What’s the “S-word?”
Sitting. (That’s right, no “h”.)
An article published in the British Medical Journal in October 2012, based on an Australian study, discovered that an adult who spends a 6 hours a day of watching television reduces his/her lifespan by 4.8 years. (Source: Forbes.com.) Not only that, another study in Diabetologica concluded that the average adult spends between 50-70% of their lives seated. And as a result, these people “had a 112% increase in their risk of developing diabetes; a 147% increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease; and a 49% greater risk of dying prematurely.” (Source: Forbes.com.)
Now why is that you think? And “what in the wide, wide world of sports,” to quote Taggert from Blazing Saddles, has that to do with reflexive stability?
Stay with me now, cause here’s where we go off the beaten path.
Sitting, is essentially, a reversion to the womb state.
Take a look at these two pictures:
If you look at the posture, it’s almost identical, isn’t it?
Well what’s the difference?
Obviously the womb is for the protection and growth and support of the unborn child. And as the child passes down the birth canal, it starts developing through a series of reflexes, until the age of three, that end up in the ultimate reflex – the gait reflex – or locomotion.
It’s my (our) contention that the gait reflex is your body’s hardwired way to “reset” itself – to keep you healthy, supple, resilient, and strong your entire life. (One thing that most healthy people living into their 90s have in common is that they walk – a lot. Coincidence…?)
So by default, when you’re not walking, your either sitting, lying, or standing. And research has already demonstrated that 50-70% of our time we’re sitting. So if you sit 12 hours a day, including work, driving, eating, watching TV. You’re probably lying (sleeping) for another 6 to 8 hours a day, which leaves very little time for walking or resetting yourself.
And since we scientifically know that the “use it or lose it” principle is true (neuronal pruning), it’s not too much of a stretch to say that sitting, causes the reflexes that got you from the birth canal to 3 years old, to dull, or erode.
(This is a very simplistic explanation. We have 4 different “types” of reflexes: Adult, infant, primitive, and fetal. Basically, our assertion is that with sitting we see a loss or inhibition of the adult reflexes and a regression back to / re-emergence of infant, primitive, or fetal reflexes.)
Therefore, since you now have dulled reflexes, you’re not moving the way you were designed to and instead, you’re compensating, creating movement dysfunctions. And those movement dysfunctions are what cause your “issues” and the treatment thereof.
Pretty simple when you think about it.
So simple in fact that I’m sure many people will dismiss it as being “too simplistic.”
That’s fine by me.
Take it or leave it.
Here’s what I know to be true: I’ve spent my entire professional life – in fact, a good majority of my life, trying to figure out how to get out of pain, stay out of pain, and rehab some pretty major injuries and more importantly to me – get me back to high performance levels again. Every system I have used has failed me. (Yes, yes, I know, I didn’t do the system right or I wasn’t smart enough to use it correctly or misapplied it or something. Yes, yes, you’re right…)
Here’s video proof.
This is PR – a personal record.
- I have never been able to back squat maintaining my lower back arch until now. I have always squatted in weightlifting shoes – shoes that have an elevated heel.
- In this video I weigh 204/5 pounds. I thought I squatted this weight (275lbs) for 10. Turned out it was only 9. And as you’ll see, I could’ve easily done a 10th rep. I haven’t done this weight for these reps at this low a bodyweight since 1996, when I was 23 years old. I am now 40.
- The last time I did this many reps with that weight I was approximately 220/225lbs – and that was about 10 years ago.
However, this video is a warm up.
I’ve got a couple more I’d like to share with you, both of me, and my friend Tim Anderson (his will astound you), demonstrating what kind of performance gains and re-gains you can get using what we’ve learned, and currently use.
In the meantime, imagine what this kind of simple system could do for you. Imagine, living as Tim and I live, free from daily “issues,” no longer using or needing a foam roller, stretching, or long protracted warm ups or movement prep. Nothing but a few restorative exercises to restore your reflexive stability and build your reflexive strength.
Our “warm ups” are literally 3-5 minutes, max. Then we’re off to the races – doing whatever we want to do, uninhibited by man-made rules and restrictions. And both of us are moving, feeling, performing, and living better than ever before.
But first, in the last blog, I said I’d show you a simple way to test your own reflexive stability that doesn’t require hiring a PhD or using some device that costs tens of thousands of dollars and takes up your entire living room. That’s what we’ll cover next time. Well, that, and some more cool videos for you to get you dreaming about your future again.