"JOINING THE DOTS"
This post is designed to give you an understanding of some core principles we adopt when approaching mobility at Lift. These principles are relatively simple to understand and will benefit you both inside and outside of the gym. You can also hear more detail on our philosophy on a recent podcast from HealthPush – “The Importance of Understanding your Body” curated by Dr Efos Uwubamwen. Listen to the full interview on Spotify or through Itunes.
Everyone is looking for the answer and, when getting into any new style of training, the fitness industry can be a daunting place. There are so many talented teachers and coaches around and with an abundance of information at your disposal, it can be hard to know where to start. The reality is that ‘everything works’ – provided it is used in the right context. We want to create an ecosystem of information with talented coaches and members alike, sharing knowledge and improving the game of everyone around them. We will help you to understand more about yourself physically, providing you with an environment, and the tools, to expand your knowledge and practice; the goal is ultimately to allow you to lead a more fulfilling, more connected and pain free life.
With an abundance of information at our fingertips, and a broadband powered society wanting the answer NOW, it is easily to overload. The reality is that we are all looking for things that we can easily understand and most importantly apply context to within our own life/experience. By properly understanding a theory, reflecting on it and ultimately applying it to our practice, the true education can begin.
Whilst theory is the foundation, true knowledge comes from experience and feel, not books. It is our goal at Lift to provide you with an understanding of biomechanics and how your body works as a system. Having this understanding is important when beginning your journey, if you want to progress quickly. We are all our own puzzle and the better our understanding of our own complexities, the faster we will progress. It is key to remember that we are all unique and no one’s journey will be the same. Some drills may work for you, others may not; take what works and leave what doesn’t. This is core to the process and as Movement practitioner Wil Brown once said in the studio; “Just as each old oak tree is natural in its organic imperfections, so is each human”.
Two theories that are core to Lift’s approach are those of Thomas Meyers and Vladamir Janda. Anatomy Trains and Upper/Lowers Cross Syndrome (UCS/LCS) respectively. Entire posts could be written on each of these resources, but I wanted to keep this piece as simple and as informative as possible, without overloading you. My writing serves to lead you to the water, it’s up to you if you want to drink it.
Thomas Myers is the cartographer of Anatomy Trains (Elsevier, 2001, 2009, 2014), the co-author of Fascial Release for Structural Balance (North Atlantic, 2010, 2017), and the author of numerous respected chapters and journal articles. He is known for his work exploring and optimising the body’s myofascial meridians/trains. The ‘meridians’ are a map of the fascial system. Myers developed the myofascial meridians as a way of explaining the role of the fascial system, in relation to human structure and function. Whilst the term was coined and the theory modernised by Myers, these principles can be traced back to ancient acupuncture and Chinese medicine. By understanding these systems you will be able to understand your dysfunction and trace your pain. Meyers’ book Anatomy Trains can be purchased from Amazon.
Janda’s theory has played a key role in the development of Lift’s programming. It is simple to understand and highly relatable to everyone – not just athletes. Vladimir Janda was born in 1928 but at the age of 15, he contracted polio. He was paralysed as a quadriplegic and unable to walk for 2 years. He eventually recovered walking function and is known widely as The Master of Rehabilitation. His principles will help in understanding your mobility deficits, and allow you to intelligently structure your approach to correct them. I have outlined the basic principles of UCS and LCS for you below.
UPPER CROSS (UCS)
Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) occurs when the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and chest become dysfunctional – usually as a result of poor posture and training. The primary muscles that are affected are the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapula and Pec Minor. Through a process known as ‘reciprocal inhibition’, these ‘overactive’ muscles inhibit the thoracic erectors (usually between vertebrae T4-7) which results in a hunched posture and increased pressure through the cervical spine.
LOWER CROSS (LCS)
Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS) occurs when the muscles in the hip and lumbar become dysfunctional. The involved tight muscles are the thoracolumbar extensors, adductors and hip flexors, while the weak muscles are the abdominals and glutes. As with UCS these dysfunctional or ‘overactive’ muscles inhibit the function of their apposing system, which puts pressure on the lumbar spine as well as contributing to potential issues further down the leg at the knee.
The posture above is relatable to all of us in some capacity. Think about how many times we find ourselves hunched into a screen or over a keyboard without even realising. As many of our lives becomes increasingly dependent on technology or being at a desk, the potential for this kind of dysfunction increases and we see it everyday in the studio. It is important that you aim to spend your time training wisely and perform patterns that sooth your deficits, rather than doing things that may exacerbate them. In simple terms of UCS, if you are displaying symptoms of UCS and/or have discomfort in the upper back, it would be unwise to continue training bench press and bicep curls before addressing the imbalance within the shoulder and the weakness in the thoracic. The same thought process can be applied to LCS; if your job dictates that you are sat down for the majority of the day it would be advisable to look for exercises that promote hip extension and abduction and that activate the glutes. When dealing with LCS the feet must also be addressed. The importance of foot function cannot be overstated and is constantly referenced at Lift, however this subject really is an article in itself. Whilst we create our own learning resources on the feet take some time to conduct some personal research as to their function or join one of our hip focussed online classes.
Remember that you can still do your favourite movements, as long as you apply them intelligently. If you have a busy schedule then you will have a finite amount of time to address any imbalance. You may have 60mins a day of exercises vs. 8 hours of sitting down; use it wisely.
It is inevitable giving our daily lives that many people experience UCS and LCS in some capacity. The goal is to highlight it and then structure an approach around rebalancing the body, whilst progressing with movement and skill goals. The first 3 projects outlined in this section of the Journal are The Pancake, The Bridge and The Handstand. All three of these have been chosen directly because of their wide range of physical benefits that will help to rectify potential LCS and UCS. Lift is skill based learning that helps you learn how to put yourself back together.
If you want more from Lift, we also be host 3 classes p/w each class covering a different one of the projects in our training section. The training section of the Journal should act as your resource, helping you to continue with your progress between classes
Booking your online class here.