Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Barefoot Benefits:

The type of shoes and how to decide on a pair of fitting shoes is probably the most important key to preserving healthy feet because in the modern society we inevitably have to wear shoes throughout our day. Aside from footwear, we should encourage kids, adults and elderly to get familiar with and then start practising “barefoot techniques and exercises” outside in natural environments. These environments could be a grass field, mud, sand, rocky areas (if able to tolerate), or simple pavement or cement. And last but not least I realize that walking barefoot may have benefits associated with the practice of reflexology as the feet have an enormous amount of “reflexes” in the feet which correspond to the function of our glands and organs in our bodies. There are also a large amount of receptors under the feet which may starve from the lack of “feel” and sensory information if our feet are in shoes all day everyday.

Type of shoes and what to look for:

In my opinion, the best shoes are the ones that feel  the most comfortable to your own feet. However, this does not mean that “comfort” equals the “best” shoes; because we may have gotten used to a squishy pair of shoes or a shoe with a very high heel. If this is you then you need practice barefoot walking on natural ground in order to allow your feet to re-educate itself into healthy feet. Anyway, enough of the “why,” lets talk about the “what.” I will not go into detail about each type of shoe but I will point out some general attributes of them. The best and most natural shoes that mimic barefoot feel that I have learned about are “Vivobarefoot, Nike free trainers, and Huaraches (worn by the superhuman tribe, Tarahumara). The Vivobarefoot shoes have a thin sole which feels like you are touching the ground directly. It also has a wide enough toe box at the front to allow the toes to move freely, and finally it has no arch support which facilitates our natural foot arch to become stronger. The Huaraches are probably the thinnest footwear out there which mimics barefoot walking and running to its full potential. Since it is a sandal it is even better than the VivoBarefoot shoes. Lastly, we have the extremely popular Nike free trainers. These shoes are excellent because they have the properties of the Vivobarefoot shoes except for having a thicker sole. It is also extremely flexible which allows the foot and toes to freely move around and promote a natural “foot workout” within the shoes. As the renowned Physiotherapist and Coach, Kelly Starrett said, “we only need a sole thick enough to prevent bruising.” After reading this I hope you find the appropriates shoes to accommodate your daily activities.

Exercises to increase awareness, feel, and proprioception:

As Barefoot walking and running author Michael Sandler said, “we do not know where our feet wants to go in a pair of shoes because they cannot “feel;” only the rich sensory information from our feet contacting the ground would be able to tell us that.” The enormous amount of mechanoreceptors in our feet which function to feel and send information to our brain seems obvious that only by direct contact with the ground will we be able to “feed” these receptors and therefore, our brain and nervous system. By being in shoes everyday and all day, our feet becomes “foreign” to natural ground even if we have no injuries or debilitations. You can go outside and try this by testing barefoot walking or even just standing on “snow, bed of rocks, grass, cement etc. After a while or even a few minutes you may start complaining about the aches and pains or even saying that it is “weird.” Again, the reason is that our feet have becoem “foreign” to natural environments.

Reflexology:

By walking on different natural surfaces we allow our feet to directly contact the ground and the reaction force from the ground can stimulate our “reflexes” and may cause changes in our glands and organs. It is obvious that some areas of the feet will take in more pressure and this may be the key to which organs and glands receive more or less benefits.

~Open Our Minds,

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Some of the best corrective exercises that can be incorporated into our training (Gray Cook and Colleagues):

Bottom line, WEIGHTLIFTING SHOULD NOT BE SEGMENTALIZED.  Not every single exercise you do has to be multi-joint, but the foundation of movements in your training program should incorporate integrated movement patterns.  According to Gray Cook and Colleagues, some of the best integrated exercises that you can perform are the following:

1. Half Kneeling Chop & Lifts


2. Turkish Get-Up

(View Previous Post)

3. Two-arm Single Leg Deadlift

4. Cross-body One-arm Single Leg Deadlift

~Open Our Minds

“Honour the activity– do not pad the activity so that people can enjoy levels of accomplishment greater than they deserve.” – Gray Cook

A lot of people in the gym wear waist belts for support and work-out gloves for that extra grip strength and power. These are forms of padding the activity before we have earned the right to do it. You may be able to do more sets, more repetitions per set, or more explosive lifts, but really your joints and intrinsic tissues are not entirely ready for it. In other words, if you took off your waist belt or gloves can you still do the same amount? But in case there are “question marks” popping up, I will be a bit more specific. I understand that belts are required for competitive lifting sports such as power lifting, but the point is not to allow your body and mind to “rely” on the it; especially at a non-competitive level. So Brace that SPINE and core with enough intra-abdominal pressure as if the belt was never there. Gloves on the other hand prevent blisters which is good but the lack of neuromuscular proprioceptive feedback from the palm of your hand to your brain is a much greater loss. This proprioceptive feedback not only helps your brain learn the exercise properly but it also conditions your ligaments, tendons, and joints, with utmost integrity. Therefore, the next time you do the same exercise it won’t just feel easier because you got used to it but it means your brain already knows that you can do the same amount and more. This is called neuromuscular memory. For example, it won’t make sense if you are able to do 20 push-ups today and not 21 a day or two after right? So increasing even by 1 repetition a day will allow you to reach what you thought you couldn’t reach before!

“Feed your brain properly and it will appreciate your integrity by growing and becoming the internal exercise machine you’ve always wanted.”

~Open Our Minds

One of the most important philosophical/physiological aspects is to understand the utilization of the discharge rate/sequence. The discharge rate is the progressive recruitment and activation of our motor units within our muscles. In order for an action or exercise to be effective, we must fire from the smallest to the largest motor units. From a anatomical perspective, we should fire our transverse abdominis before we fire our obliques or rectus abdominis. The transverse abdominis is one of the main stabilizers of our core/spine and therefore we must activate it first before we turn on the larger heavier muscles. It only makes sense doesn’t it? If we do not stabilize or brace ourselves for the action before the prime movers (main delivery muscles that will “do” the exercise) are activated then there would be varying degrees of output along with possible awkward delivery of an exercise due to earlier fatigue. This is also true for our hip and shoulder rotator muscles. The stabilizers must be activated first before we can safely perform actions with our larger muscles such as our glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings for our hip, and deltoids and pectoralis major for our shoulders. Therefore, if we have problems associated with “turning on” our stabilizer muscles before our prime movers then we need to promptly address and fix this in order to exercise effectively and efficiently.

The message to take home should be this: If I took away your usual stable base such as standing on you feet and asked you to get on your knees and do the exact same exercise, can you do it without faulty or sloppy movement? In this position, it is much easier to see how the stabilizers are working.

~Open Our Minds

What is Exercise?

Is it to build bulky muscles? Is it to build muscle tone and look good? Is it to lose weight? Is it to increase fitness and participate in sports? Or is it just something you should do to gain some health benefits?

Most people would agree with the majority of points I have mentioned above, if not all. But how and what is the safest and most fundamental yet most beneficial way to exercise? In my opinion, it is a basic prerequisite we have driven away from or simply choose not to acknowledge any more for various reasons. This aspect resides in our functional movement patterns. It is the foundation of exercise itself. This makes sense because even if we go to see our family doctors and physicians and they rule out every danger relating to our vitals such as cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological problems etc, they will most likely never give you a movement analysis or assessment on how you move. This is essential to exercising effectively and efficiently. So we need to rule out our vitals and also create a stable yet mobile foundation for us to safely participate in training and activity. We need to focus on how to appropriately “re-learn” (because we all have movement skills and capacities already when we were born) this forgotten foundation, understand the importance of having it, and how and why it can and will reduce the risk of injuries.
~Open Our Minds

Alright, for people who have been keeping up with my posts from the very beginning, it has been a mixture of opinionated philosophy, movement, rehabilitation, barefoot walking/running, ethics in a healthcare setting, and more! However, now I will switch topics a little bit into an increased focus on philosophy in functional movement and rehabilitation. As a heads up for now, the following posts will be more specifically about the Functional Movement Systems founded by Gray Cook and Lee Burton.

Here is my first introduction post to get things started. Enjoy 🙂

Functional Movement Systems was developed in order to provide an efficient and effective way to evaluate and assess the body’s current movement patterns engineered by simple and complex philosophies. Based on the results of various tests, appropriate corrective exercises can be implemented in order to reduce and hopefully prevent injuries. The screening process is evaluated by seven movement patterns that only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, making it highly efficient. The more specific purpose of the FMS is to screen a human body and look for yellow and red flags which are limiting our movement capacities. These include asymmetries, muscle imbalances, motor control, alignment/out of alignment, and stiffness/tightness.

As Gray Cook puts it, “we must move well, before we move often.” 

“NOTHING IS GREATER THAN MOVEMENT AS IT PRECEDES ALL ACTIVITIES INCLUDING EXERCISE AT ANY LEVEL.”

~Open Our Minds

Barefoot Benefits:

The type of shoes and how to decide on a pair of fitting shoes is probably the most important key to preserving healthy feet because in the modern society we inevitably have to wear shoes throughout our day. Aside from footwear, we should encourage kids, adults and elderly to get familiar with and then start practising “barefoot techniques and exercises” outside in natural environments. These environments could be a grass field, mud, sand, rocky areas (if able to tolerate), or simple pavement or cement. And last but not least I realize that walking barefoot may have benefits associated with the practice of reflexology as the feet have an enormous amount of “reflexes” in the feet which correspond to the function of our glands and organs in our bodies. There are also a large amount of receptors under the feet which may starve from the lack of “feel” and sensory information if our feet are in shoes all day everyday.

Type of shoes and what to look for:

In my opinion, the best shoes are the ones that feel  the most comfortable to your own feet. However, this does not mean that “comfort” equals the “best” shoes; because we may have gotten used to a squishy pair of shoes or a shoe with a very high heel. If this is you then you need practice barefoot walking on natural ground in order to allow your feet to re-educate itself into healthy feet. Anyway, enough of the “why,” lets talk about the “what.” I will not go into detail about each type of shoe but I will point out some general attributes of them. The best and most natural shoes that mimic barefoot feel that I have learned about are “Vivobarefoot, Nike free trainers, and Huaraches (worn by the superhuman tribe, Tarahumara). The Vivobarefoot shoes have a thin sole which feels like you are touching the ground directly. It also has a wide enough toe box at the front to allow the toes to move freely, and finally it has no arch support which facilitates our natural foot arch to become stronger. The Huaraches are probably the thinnest footwear out there which mimics barefoot walking and running to its full potential. Since it is a sandal it is even better than the VivoBarefoot shoes. Lastly, we have the extremely popular Nike free trainers. These shoes are excellent because they have the properties of the Vivobarefoot shoes except for having a thicker sole. It is also extremely flexible which allows the foot and toes to freely move around and promote a natural “foot workout” within the shoes. As the renowned Physiotherapist and Coach, Kelly Starrett said, “we only need a sole thick enough to prevent bruising.” After reading this I hope you find the appropriates shoes to accommodate your daily activities.

Exercises to increase awareness, feel, and proprioception:

As Barefoot walking and running author Michael Sandler said, “we do not know where our feet wants to go in a pair of shoes because they cannot “feel;” only the rich sensory information from our feet contacting the ground would be able to tell us that.” The enormous amount of mechanoreceptors in our feet which function to feel and send information to our brain seems obvious that only by direct contact with the ground will we be able to “feed” these receptors and therefore, our brain and nervous system. By being in shoes everyday and all day, our feet becomes “foreign” to natural ground even if we have no injuries or debilitations. You can go outside and try this by testing barefoot walking or even just standing on “snow, bed of rocks, grass, cement etc. After a while or even a few minutes you may start complaining about the aches and pains or even saying that it is “weird.” Again, the reason is that our feet have becoem “foreign” to natural environments.

Reflexology:

By walking on different natural surfaces we allow our feet to directly contact the ground and the reaction force from the ground can stimulate our “reflexes” and may cause changes in our glands and organs. It is obvious that some areas of the feet will take in more pressure and this may be the key to which organs and glands receive more or less benefits.

~Open Our Minds