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BELL OF THE BALL
FRE E Digit MAGal
Are Kettlebells changing the shape of fitness?
IN THE GENES? Does DNA dictate your workouts?
BEAT THE HEAT
GREEN IS GOOD
especially for exercise
FUEL YOUR FITNESS high energy, low-fat recipes
WHAT THE FOOT
Why feet matter
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16th October 2010 Ultimate Mind Body MTX Academy, London Alistair Greetham - Polestar Victoria Taylor - Pilates institute Yolande Green - UK Gary Ward - Anatomy in motion Kelly Vanderboom - Stott Pilates elsie matthjssens - Belgium
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ON TRAX Summer is well and truly underway, and with the World Cup finally over we can all get back to our first true love... fitness. Hopefully the mention of football hasnâ€™t put you off, we just had to get the proverbial elephant out the room before moving on. I promise though, we have some great features for you to look through this month, which is kicked off [sorry, last mention!] with London Kettlebellsâ€™ Stephen Aish who discusses all things kettlebell. Joining him is a fantastic feature by biomechanic expert Gary Ward, who explains the importance of feet in relation to exercise. Not many people give this much attention to feet (at least not in the fitness world), but this article is very informative and a great read, which is really no surprise coming from Gary. Rounding out the issue is our usual look at the latest fitness research, summer recipes and the latest, greatest exercise gear. Enjoy. Steve Turner, Editor-in-Chief
[KETTLE]BELL OF THE BALL
WHAT THE FOOT!
Latest fitness facts and research from around the world
Are Kettlebells changing the shape of fitness? Stephen Aish discusses
Why feet matter by Gary Ward
Highlighting the latest workout gear and gadgets Great healthy and nutritious recipes, to kick start your day...
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EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Steven Turner Art Editor Mukta Luther Graphic Designer Caron Kulesza COMMERCIAL Advertising Sales Manager Greg Jenkins Brand Manager Lucy Murphy Marketing Manager Amanda Hibbard
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The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team
INJURIES ON THE RISE A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that weight training-related injuries have increased by nearly 50 percent in the past 15 years. The article reported that males (82 percent) and youths aged 13 to 24 years (47 percent) received the largest proportion of weight training-related injuries, while the largest increase in the incidence of injuries occurred among those aged 45 years and older. Free weights were responsible for the largest number of incidents (90 percent), with the most common mechanism of injury being weights dropping on a person (65 percent). Sprains and strains were the most frequent injury at 46 percent of the total, followed by soft tissue injuries accounting for 18 percent. Injuries to the upper and lower trunk accounted for 45 percent of cases, with the hand clocking in with 19 percent. Study author Dawn Comstock, PhD attributed the increase in injuries to an “upsurge in people getting involved in fitness activities” and not in added dangers. She did warn though, that before beginning any new weight training programmes, it was important that people consulted with a health professional, such as a doctor and/or personal trainer, to create a safe fitness programme based on their age and capabilities.
BEAT THE HEAT WITH A
SLUSHIE Recent research from the New Zealand Academy of Sport has found that drinking an ice slushie before working out can delay the time to exhaustion. In the study, recreational athletes were given a syrup flavoured ice slushie to drink and then asked to run on a treadmill in a hot room. Results showed that they could keep going for an average of 50 minutes, as opposed to 40 minutes when they were given syrup flavoured cold water. Senior investigator Dr Paul Laursen said that the slushies likely lowered the men’s body temperatures before exercising, letting them run for a longer time before their bodies became critically hot. He added that this was one of a number of theories, and that the mechanisms underlying the performance effects associated with precooling had not yet being completely understood, The paper concluded that while the boost was “short lived”, it would be perfect for a sport like tennis or for a 10K race, or even for team sports like football, although it might give endurance athletes in longer events a boost by “letting them beat the heat, to a certain extent, for the first 50 minutes or so.”
GREEN is good Just five minutes of outdoor exercise leads to an immediate improvement in mental well-being new research is showing. The study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, studied more than 1,200 people’s reactions to ‘green’ exercise in locations across Britain, and found a significant increase in people’s selfesteem and mood, particularly when they exercised in the wilderness or by water. Sports scientist and lead author Dr Jo Barton said that the effects of outdoor exercise were because, historically, people are drawn to water to survive and it is in the human genetic make-up to be at one with nature. “I think the fact you only have to do it for only five minutes to see a positive effect is encouraging and it’s a lot cheaper than the gym,” she revealed. “Something of light intensity, such as a short walk, can have as much of a positive impact as a more intensive work out.”
Is Exercise in the Genes?
Are some people more predisposed towards physical activity than others, or do their exercise opportunities define their physical abilities? Researchers based at University College London think they may have the answer after conducting a study that compared genetically identical and non-genetically identical twins who had been raised together, and measured how similar their levels of physical activity were. The results showed that all the twins, even those that were not genetically identical, had virtually the same levels of physical activity, regardless of how fit or not they were. Nearly 73 percent of found differences were down to environmental factors, which lead researchers to conclude that their genetic similarity were less important than the environment and opportunitites presented to them in determining the level of participation in physical activity. “This research shows us how important it is to encourage exercise in schools and at home,” a spokesperson for the study said. “Some people may inherit versions of different genes that make them naturally more likely to enjoy sports and exercise, but their environment is the most powerful factor in determining how active they actually are.”
Calories burnt during a basic 20 minute kettlebell workout, which is roughly equivelant to running a six-minute mile.
Average number of seconds faster cyclists who ate jelly beans were over 10km than those fuelling with sports drinks and carbohydrate gels.
Average percentage decrease in overall training volume by runners using intervals to prepare for a 10k run, who then went on to knock a minute off their PB.
PICKING CHERRIES HELPS ENDURANCE ATHLETES Endurance athletes who drink cherrry juice recover faster than those who opt for more conventional liquids, such as water and energy drinks, according to scientists at Northumbria University. The study examined 20 runners, who drank a a tart cherry blend juice or a placebo in the five days before running the London Marathon and the 48 hours after. Results showed that the ‘cherry’ group recovered their strength more rapidly, and showed less oxidative stress as well as reduced inflammation compared with the place bo group. Study leader Dr Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist and Laboratory Director in the School of Psychology and Sports Sciences at Northumbria, concluded that cherry juice appears to “aid recovery following strenuous exercise by increasing total antioxidative capacity, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, hence aiding in the recovery of muscle function.”
STRENUOUS EXERCISE TEMPORARILY
‘HALTS CELL SUICIDE’ Scientists now believe strenuous physical exercise, such as marathon running, can temporarily halt a natural process which causes cells to die. Researchers at the University of Rome conducted tests on long distance runners to see what the effects of putting the body under such intense pressure would have on a cellular basis, and found that strenuous exercise altered chemical signals to the cells, which resulted in ‘programmed cell death’, a natural process in the body, being temporarily halted. These changes could be part of the reason why vigorous exercise has a protective effect on the body, by helping to maintain bone and heart muscle. “These chemical changes may play a crucial role in the maintenance of skeletal and cardiac muscle tissues,” Gabriella Marfe, who led the team which carried out the research, said. “But untrained amateur athletes often do hard training without professional advice and such intense and exhaustive exercise in these circumstances can be harmful without proper supervision,” she warned.
IS STATIC STRETCHING COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE? All of us are told to stretch before working out, in order to loosen muscles and prepare them for physical activity. But this might not be the best thing for us according to a new study from Ireland, which is saying that static stretching could be both counterproductive and potentially harmful. Researchers from the University of Limerick have reported that traditional stretching, such as touching toes or stretching legs on a fence, often cause the muscles to tighten rather than relax. This in turn makes the body think it’s at risk of being overstretched, and compensate by contracting and becoming more tense. That means you aren’t able to move as fast or as freely during activity, raising the odds of getting hurt. Kieran O’Sullivan, exercise expert at the univeristy and study spokesperson, said stretching helps with flexibility, but people should only do it when they aren’t about to exercise, like after a workout, or at the end of the day. “It’s like weight training to become stronger,” he said. “You wouldn’t do a weight session right before you exercise, and you shouldn’t stretch right before either.” Researchers recommend a light jog or sportspecific exercise before stretching to increases the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles, and warm up the body temperature.
TRAIN SMARTER, NOT LONGER FOR BEST RESULTS Canadian researchers have found that interval training can give you the same benefits in half the time as steady-state cardio exercise. During tests, scientists asked people to run or cycle at almost maximum effort for a minute and then rest for a minute before repeating the exercises 10 times, then compared the results with a treadmill runner who exercised for 20 minutes at a constant pace. The scientists found that interval exercisers burnt more calories, which they attributed to the short intense bursts of exercise causing a change in enzymes and hormones that favour fat burning. ‘’If your goal is to get fit,” a spokesperson for the study said, “our results show that you can train a bit smarter versus training longer.”
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08 interview KETTLEBELL
of the ball
When we first saw kettlebells creeping into the gym space a few years ago our first thought was, albeit curiously, ‘is this another fitness fad?’ But its rise has been nothing short of meteoric, and is now becoming the fitness phenomenon of the summer. So in the spirit of understanding, we gave London Kettlebells’ founder and training director Stephen Aish a call, and got the lowdown on all things kettlebell. Why use kettlebells, and what are their primary advantages and disadvantages? A kettlebell is basically a ball of metal (usually steel or iron) with a handle attached to perform various exercises. Its a really, really simple piece of equipment that can be seen in many of the old-time strongman pictures, and was used by the likes of Arthur Saxon, Eugene Sandow, Sig Klein and others. Regarding the origin of kettlebells there is no real concrete evidence of an arrival date or location, however, a physiology text documents the historical pathway of physical exercise and states that the Greeks used wrestling, gymnastics and exercise with a steel ball for training. Based on this premise I do not think we had to wait over 2000 years for someone to establish that the addition of a handle would provide the user with a multitude of extra training possibilities. This becomes more apparent when we consider the Iron Age would have been in full flourish for hundreds of years prior to this date, and the ability to mould and melt metals was now an important part of daily life across the globe. It is also well documented that Chinese ‘stone locks’ date
back to the Han Dynasty and possibly earlier. These stone padlocks may well have been around centuries before kettlebells and the design and exercises possibilities are very similar.
Why use kettlebells? and what are their primary advantages and disadvantages? Kettlebell training has numerous benefits at many levels. First and foremost they provide functional workouts using compound exercises. This means that the full body is trained as an integrated unit rather than in isolation so the motor patterns map more closely to the challenges that face us in everyday life. We lift things from the floor, carry shopping and place things in cupboards. We rarely need to isolate our biceps or lift a fridge freezer from on top of us. By using compound exercises, the workouts are shorter and you have more time and energy to enjoy life. By engaging multiple muscle groups you also raise the calorie output and burn more fat during your routines. Multiple muscle groups engage multiple joint actions so isolation injuries are low risk from kettlebell
09 training. As many exercises work peripheral heart rate you have greatly increased cardiovascular capacity without the need to place your joints under the repetitive strain of conventional cardio approaches. Kettlebells are superior to dumbbells because of physics. With a dumbbell the weight is directly in line with the handle. With a kettlebell the weight is offset by anything up to 12 inches and continually tests the body’s ability to maintain a stable base and core control throughout the range of motion of the often unique motor patterns. The ball of the kettlebell also moves in relation to the handle unlike a dumbbell, and so a higher degree of control and body awareness is developed through regular exercise. You just have to see a quick movement analysis of the Kettlebell Two Hand Swing [See sidebar] to indicate why the kettlebell rightly sits at the top of the fitness food chain. Having covered the numerous advantages we can now focus on the disadvantages. Firstly, even competent trainer do need instruction on using kettlebells as exercises such as swings, snatches, windmills and get ups are not commonplace in gyms. The good news is that for trainers who are already teaching people exercises regularly, the neural pathways for these exercises will not take long to develop because of the knowledge base that they will start from. For the public it is a different story. We are certainly not saying kettlebells are an elite or specialist tool, they are just different. For people new to exercise an induction, or workshop, covering the basic exercises will always ensure their training is progressive and not hampered by injury through poor technique. Our public workshops are a great starting place for the kettlebell virgins! Secondly, certain exercises cause the ball to make contact with the forearm and rest in this position. It may be a good idea to use forearm guards or some form of padding for beginners and female clients until the technique is at a level where the impact is controlled and minimum; kind of like learning to ride a bike with stabilisers. The last thing you want is trying to learn a new exercise that’s slowly becoming more painful.
Can you talk us through the fundamental principles of kettlebell training? Kettlebells are really about economy and this is for both time and motion. Firstly, kettlebells are based on dynamic and fluid compound movements so the full body can be trained much quicker than the conventional gym approach of isolation. Injuries that result from isolation training are also less as numerous muscles are involved in each exercise so the workload is distributed throughout the body. Another principle is that rest is closely monitored as far too many people take too much of it. Unless you are training for maximum strength or power then rest only needs to a maximum of about 1 minute between sets. Also, unless you are training for competition or a specific split or periodised program there is a very simple rule – keep it fun and make sure most of your body got something from the session.
What type of people use kettlebells? All types! Kettlebells are now being used by personal trainers, athletes, Premiership footballers, Hollywood celebrities, MMA players, triathletes and the public. The great thing with kettlebells is that the intensity can range from 1-100 so you really can cater for all levels and needs with just a few weights and some creativity in exercise selection and the routine variables. From rehabilitation through to the gruelling world of kettlebell sport there is something for everyone to improve their health and well-being.
Indoors or outdoors, there’s a lot of swinging involved right? Both. Based on UK weather a lot of training will be inside, especially if class based. When the sun does appear it certainly makes a great training session an amazing experience. The key with classes is that everyone has enough space to be able to perform the basics without being too close to the next person. Outdoors has its merits when you get into the fine art of juggling and spinning kettlebells, but that’s another story entirely.
What does a basic kettlebell workout entail? A basic kettlebell workout would always consist of some functional movements to prepare for the session. These would engage multiple joints and muscle across various planes of motion and ideally map to some of the exercises in the workout. Depending on the time available, and the needs of the client/athlete, we would then usually move on to some joint mobility and dynamic stretching. A kettlebell workout only really needs a handful of exercises or complexes to provide full-body benefits. Considering a typical kettlebell curve sample population, 90 percent of them would benefit from the following workout: • Two hand swings for 10 minutes with progressive adjustments of active and rest variables, and eventually the weight used; an example being swing for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds, or begin with a set of 10 each minute. • Cleans and presses for arm, shoulder, upper back and active recovery of the legs post swings. • Lunge walks or alternate lunge squats, possibly with a twist. • Snatching for some fast twitch fibre activation and explosive strength development. • Either windmill from the floor or the kettlebell get up to integrate the core with some global movement patterns.
Analysis of the
Two Hand Swing The Two Hand Swing is a pendulum based action that sees the force production initiated by flexion and extension primarily of the lumbo-pelvic hip complex, knees and ankles. The drive behind the swing is a stretch and shortening of the hamstrings and glutes of the posterior chain that allow the kettlebell to reach head height with no work from the upper body apart from the grip and passive, reactive movement of the shoulders. The shoulders are passive and reactive in that they do nothing to produce any movement but only move as a result of motion that is already present from the hip complex moving into extension. From this flexion and extension of the lower body we can then establish that most of the upper leg is active due to the mechanics of the hip and knee. The lower leg is also engaged to a lesser degree due to a limited range of motion required from the swing. The abdominals are engaged with the posterior chain in order to create stability of the trunk region during the concentric phase and as such they contract forcefully each swing to stop the weight of the kettlebell pulling us forwards and off balance. The lats are working isometrically to stabilise the hip complex and the biceps also work isometrically in that they contract but do not change in length due to the arms being straight. Grip is worked with most kettlebell exercises as the weight is always pulling away from you so there is immense carryover for people where grip is a key part of their sport.
This basic format would be based on volumes and weights relative to the trainer’s abilities, and hit all of the bodies major muscle groups and supporting systems. The workouts can easily be tailored to target specific muscle groups, posture imbalances and different energy systems based on a needs analysis of the client. Like any other piece of equipment, kettlebells are just that; a piece of equipment. The workout is more dictated by the needs of the person using them, their current ability and long and short term goals. While everyone can benefit from kettlebell training we realised long ago that there is no single magic tool to cure everything and meet all requirements. For a more challenging workout I developed the five hit combo many years ago, which blends five exercises that hit the body in every direction and provides the equivalent of a mini triathlon in 5-10 minutes. Take a kettlebell in one hand and perform swing, snatch, clean, squat, press and then change hands. When you then perform the same five exercises on the other side to complete 10 single movements, you have done one rep. Changing continuously and without rest will mean that five minutes of the five hit combo with a challenging weight will deliver the equivalent of an hour’s worth of those cardioboxerpumpsize classes.
At London Kettlebells you run training courses for kettlebell instructors, what do they involve and how long does a qualification take? LKB Academy training courses are mapped to the national occupational standards and backed by Skills Active. Personal trainers and fitness professionals can gain CPD from the courses as part of their ongoing professional development. The courses are either 1 or 2 days and involve several foundation exercises that are broken down and modified where required in order to allow all levels to be able to apply the mechanics to their own training and then teach them safely to a client via a multi point observational checklist. There is also a multi choice exam paper with a 70% pass rate. The format of the course is to take each person through a full body functional warm-up and joint mobility session prior to assessing the squat and dead lift mechanics of the group. We then cover the movement of the Two Hand Swing and when everyone is up to speed the kettlebells make a guest appearance. The Two Hand Swing progresses to the One Hand Swing and then follows the clean and press. There are regular breakout session where small groups get to demonstrate the exercises under the watchful eye of the tutor and other trainers, and then they get to teach it with feedback and coaching points. After lunch we move on the to the snatch, windmill and get up and then cover some routine design and
11 show people just how intense 3 minutes with kettlebells and bodyweight ladders can be. The exam is at the end and then we discuss ways of integrating kettlebells into your business and routes for moving forwards. We don’t just kick you out afterwards. There are websites we can promote you on and materials to help grow your business. We are also there for any questions that may arise after the course.
London Kettlebells was founded six years ago, what inspired you to start the company and what does it offer? That’s right, we have been on the map for just over six years now. Coming from a pretty intense training background I can honestly say that a few minutes with kettlebells almost 10 years ago set me off on the journey. We trained with them for a good few years before even thinking about selling them and showing others how to use them so that the knowledge and experience was there to back up the business. Without doubt if I could only have a single item to train with it would be a 24kg kettlebell for a great mix of strength and cardio. Granted it won’t tick all the boxes, but there will only be a few that I miss. The key is to be creative and enjoy what you do. London kettlebells offers tried and tested training equipment that delivers results across the board. We supply RAF bases, athletes, universities, celebrities, sports clubs and the public all with great success and testimonials.
You mentioned that you came from an intense training background, how intense was it and how did you discover kettlebells? [Laughing] Time for the TARDIS – destination 1985! Well, at the age of 10 I started Taekwondo, achieved my black belt at 14, and now run that same class as a Third Dan instructor 20 years later. When I was around 20 I studied a number of different styles of kung fu privately, and I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie having spent many hours enjoying mountain biking, gymnastics, rock climbing, strongman and lots more. I recently took up Olympic weightlifting and now compete. Years ago I was training up to five hours a day, but now get by with a solid three sessions a week when time allows.
My interest in kettlebell happened around 10 years ago when I was first exposed to them. Not only do they look great but the exercises somehow felt far superior to a lot of my previous training. The mechanics of many of the foundation exercises engage so much more than a simple prime mover that I could feel the body being trained properly, efficiently and in a very short space of time. Quality certainly beats quantity and kettlebells provide very high quality workouts. We have been a recognised training provider now for a couple of years and currently train personal trainers, athletes and the armed forces. I work out of the strength and conditioning suite at Stratford University where we take some of the young athletes through their paces for 2012 and 2016.
Where next for kettlebell training? Good question! Hopefully we will see some standardisation across training providers as I still show far too many “instructors” how to use them properly. This is by no way a hit at other training providers, but the concept of ‘not knowing what you don’t know’ holds true here. Many people have either done a weekend course or YouTube master class and start teaching clients a few days later. Kettlebells are not rocket science, but there are certain ways of doing each exercise that maximises the benefits and minimise any injury risk. I’d like to see more of them in gyms. We are still trying to crack this one as most gyms want drop-in classes and most people need an hour or two with a kettlebell in order to be able to drop into a rolling class without playing catch up or slowing down the group. Lastly, I would like to see a big UK event or competition to promote kettlebell training and allow like minded people to meet up and train/ discuss kettlebells. It does seem to be very much a ‘them and us’ secret society with people spending more time slating each other than evolving. Until people accept that kettlebells are a simple training tool that have been around for thousands of years, and that everyone can benefit from we will always have this element of “cult” status within the global kettlebell market and its various groups and supporters. For more information on kettlebells go to www.londonkettlebells.com, or to see available courses and workshops go to www.lkbacademy.com.
12 FEATURE WHAT THE FOOT?
WHAT THE FOOT? by Gary Ward
The foot, quite literally, is the basis of everything we do in fitness. Our feet give us balance and stability, and help keep our spines supported, but are universally overlooked by fitness experts and trainers alike. Here, I am going to discuss the function and form of feet in relation to exercise, and show you how important they are to getting fit. trax www.multitraxpro.co.uk
13 I am literally obsessed by the feet. I can’t talk about the shoulder without mentioning the feet, I can’t get through a session without working with the feet and don’t go a night where the five toed little fiends don’t enter my dreams. The modern personal training industry remains very much focussed on every part of the body other than the feet. The bodybuilding world is very much a ‘calf-up’ world, after all we definitely didn’t see Arnie and the gang showing off there peroneus longus back in the 70s! The UK’s leading training providers for newly qualifying PTs still follow the same old model of isolated training, understanding muscle action and concentric exercises that were born in the 70s on Muscle Beach, Los Angeles, and strictly follow the type of programme design preached by Tudor Bompa et al. Fine, if you are a bodybuilder. But why have these exercises grown into all sports whether the goal is muscle building or not? Quite simply because they are effective in building strength, giving the body shape, contributing to fat loss and has benefits for bone growth and long lasting skeletal durability ... or so we thought. The majority of people that train in our gyms are sold down the same old alley. If I want results I need to pump reps out over a period of sets, rest for so long and work out to the max. Women don’t lift enough and men lift too much affecting their form and long term posture whilst forming major imbalances in the body ... not to mention the obsession with hypertrophy whilst the trainer forgets to remind them that too much hypertrophy will lead to muscle ischemia (lack of oxygen in the muscle) Next comes the magic ‘f’ word – function! Functional training arrives, the use of Swiss balls, balance boards, medicine balls and cables and with a bit of luck we can improve this thing called posture. Some people get big from it, others enjoy and there remain those who can’t resist sticking with an isolated routine and feeling the pump (Who can blame them: after all Arnie suggests in the movie ‘Pumping Iron’ that the ‘pump’ is better than orgasm!) The fact remains though, in our fitness industry, we aren’t taking the feet into consideration – and yet if training functionally or upright, using the above tools, we are using our feet – naturally – and incorporating them in the session. The fact that we aren’t taught about the foot’s role in motion, training and exercise means that the very idea that the foot itself might have postural problems seems ludicrous, and that those two little balance boards on the end of my legs can affect my posture, my results and my performance seems not far short of the ridiculous.
WTF? Yes, the foot plays a very powerful role in your posture and your potential and very few PTs or therapists have a clue how to work with it, correct it, manipulate it and optimise it’s role in the body through basic movement patterning. Through movement, the joints and the muscles of the foot generate efficiency and power for forward locomotion as well as activate the extensor chain – the very opposite cause of poor posture. Problem is, if we don’t understand the foot – how can we work with it? A personal trainer once responded with the answer “TWO – the foot and the ankle” when I asked her how many joints she thought there were in the human foot... is this the extent of a newly qualified PTs knowledge ?
SPINAL TIP The spine has long been the focus for therapy and has crept into the posturally aware trainers mind as he approaches the functional understanding of the spine. Bad posture equals kyphosis or lordosis and we might also find a tilted pelvis – anterior/posterior/swayback. Notice that these spinal anomalies are sagittal plane meaning they are exaggerations of flexion/extension in the vertebral or hip joints. Advanced trainers may look for a scoliosis (a frontal plane anomaly) or a rotation (transverse plane) in the spine too. What if I was to drop the bomb and tell you that all spinal anomalies in upright posture can be linked back to the foot, and added that the 66 joints of the feet are capable of altering the structure of the 34 joints of the spine?
Inside your foot (for those who haven’t ‘seen’ it before) The spine has 34 vertebrae (7 x cervical, 12 x thoracic, 5 x lumbar, 5 fused sacrum and 4 coccyx) all linked in a column or line resulting in 34 joints that forge the space between the bones. That’s a lot of joints. The foot has 26 bones (28 if you include the 2 x sesamoid bones) and 33 joints. These joints aren’t linear like the spine, instead they form a crazy paving type layout of articulation... that’s a lot of complex joints. There are two feet and one spine. Spine = 34 bones and 34 linear joints; Feet = 52 bones and 66 non-linear articulating joints. Why on earth would we choose to neglect the training of such a beautiful and complex structure?
WTF? Yes, indeed, the foot! And no matter what exercises and protocol you administer to the upper body or the spine itself, if we don’t treat or move the feet, the spine will continue to respond to the foot’s inefficiencies. So, why on earth would we choose to neglect the training of such a complex and highly important structure? Sure exercising the feet doesn’t give me big pecs or over trained traps... but guess what: it will help me squat better, deadlift more, create flexibility and enhance mobility in my whole body and make me more efficient as a unit. You’ve heard the saying: you can’t build a house on dodgy foundations – this is no different. Poor foot function is equal to poor posture, poor flexibility, limited performance potential and an increased risk of injury. I still have to prove myself... but imagine that were true, you’d definitely be interested wouldn’t you? Oh and the big pecs are more likely to come from enhancing your posture than increasing the weight on your bench press ...
Postural Sway Biomechanically it’s known as postural sway when you stand on one leg and your foot drifts from medial to lateral and fore and aft in a bid to maintain upright and stable. Try it, feel what happens to the feet as you do it and ask yourself what muscles in your body begin to kick in as you do it for longer and longer? Is it muscles you can feel or are you using
FEATURE WHAT THE FOOT?
your upper body to avoid falling over and putting a foot down? Either way you are swaying! Tiny movements in the foot equate to massive movements in the upper body or equally a response in the muscles somewhere above the ankle (calf/glute/quads). Just this simple exercise highlights how moving the foot does directly exercise and mobilise other parts of the body. Postural sway also occurs when we are standing bilaterally too, i.e. with both feet on the floor. This means that even when you think you are standing still, you are swaying and that has important ramifications for our body, our spinal posture, the way we move and the role that muscles have in the body. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as the anatomy book suggests. Tiny movements in both feet, lead to the movements in the upper regions of the body, like a building in an earthquake zone: movement from the ground will shake the whole structure. Try it: pronate or flatten the left foot and return to your natural position, now pronate or flatten the right foot and return to your natural position, repeat several times and quicken the process until you have a natural rhythm going ... let everything go, you’ll notice that you are swaying. Now, picture the joints in your spine. They will be either rotating or laterally flexing, but either way as a result of the movement in your feet, your spine is being affected. Now let’s assume that you have a client with one pronated (flat) foot and one supinated (high arched) foot: in a standing posture, it is feasible to agree that the spinal posture will not be neutral or ideal: it may be rotated or laterally flexed (as in a scoliosis). How many trainers are out there assessing the foot’s impact on this type of postural problem? Very few I would imagine. And the amount of trainers getting results where a scoliosis is concerned? I
would suggest it’s also very few. And the amount of trainers getting results where a scoliosis is concerned? I would suggest it’s also very few... How about the number of trainers who continue to prescribe heavy squats, deadlifts, or other weight bearing exercise without consideration of either the spine or foot? You might be one of them... it’s time to change. And it’s a simple to change to make. Working with the feet is easy.
A three legged table Imagine the foot as a three legged table. The table legs stand at the big toe, the little toe and the heel whilst the missing (fourth) leg would be medial to (inside) the heel. The foot pronates when the weight is too great over the missing fourth leg and the mass falls into the space causing the arch to collapse. It is this movement that generates the sway of the rest of the body. Fortunately, the body has a system in place to control that movement and act as the fourth leg to stabilise and bring balance to the foot. That system is called the ‘muscles’ of the foot and to a certain extent the muscles of the whole body and if we are to go one step further and delve into the world of fascia, then we can begin to look beyond muscles as the source of our stability – not my intention in this piece, but what does that mean for our modern training methods? The muscles act as a collective group to decelerate the movement of the bones of the foot and return the foot back to it’s more natural or comfortable position – some of you may know this as neutral. Notice that no muscle acts to pronate the foot in this case, it is a result of body weight or mass moving over the missing table leg under the effect of gravity that causes the foot to fall into the space and demands a response from all of the muscles to stop the ankle from hitting the ground.
the joints and the muscles of the foot generate efficiency and power for forward locomotion
15 Hold on: am I saying that all the muscles of the foot will act to supinate the foot out of pronation? Yes I am. Even with both feet on the ground (six legs) there is not enough stability as both feet have the capacity to fall inside here too – take a look at some flatter feet. They are walking all round your gym so not too hard to find.
Simple motion The heel operates predominantly in the frontal plane. It’s anatomical shape forcing it to roll medially when unsupported on the ground. This movement is known as eversion. Living in a three dimensional world, we can also take into account the calcaneous’ role in the other two planes of motion as well: as it everts, it will also rock forward like a rocking horse whilst having the propensity to swing out the back end in the transverse plane. It moves in all three planes, when weight is added and also in gait. It initiates the beginnings of rear foot pronation at this point causing bodily muscles to switch on (glutes, abs, lower traps – all those muscles we know benefit from good posture!)
Interconnections Like a good bus service the bones and joints seamlessly connect round the whole body. The motion of the calcaneous knocks onto the talus and cuboid bones creating motion in them too. The talus drops forward like the rider of the horse, whilst rotating to face it’s opposite foot in the transverse plane and follows the eversion motion as well. It basically does as it’s told by the calcaneous. Very simply the tibia and fibula bones sit atop the talus and must also respond to the movement of the calcaneous: they internally rotate and move forward in space over the foot creating a dorsiflexion of the ankle. What sits atop the tib and fib? The knee. Our calcaneal motion has led to movement in the knee. The knee flexes and our height drops as we we stand bent at the ankle and the knee. Naturally – try it with one foot a stride forward – do you have to flex the hip too? A sudden change in pelvic alignment thanks to movement at the hip must equally impact on the spine as well. Calcaneous à ankle à knee à hip à pelvis à spine ... Wow! Now let’s assume that one ankle flexes less than the other OR that one ankle has less range available to it in dorsiflexion than the other.
What would happen in the spine if we had more ankle flexion, knee flexion and hip flexion on one side than the other? Try it ... a rotated pelvis and therefore a rotated spine? Try squatting on that platform. How many of you have a client with a rotation in the spine and you are trying to rebalance it with some opposite cable pulls to pull the torso back round. Hasn’t worked has it? If not... it’s because the influence of the foot is way stronger than the influence of the cable machine and even your coaching! Sorry to be blunt. When it comes to postural awareness, its fine to notice spinal posture, analyse the keyholes, pick apart the shoulder girdle and marvel at the pelvis – yet a little knowledge about the foot can go a long way to helping you understand why the client’s posture is the way it is and will give you clues as to what the body needs to correct poor pelvic and spinal alignment. And more importantly give you access to have far greater impact on the results of your clients and your success as a trainer. If you are a trainer who’s come through the qualification of the UKs training providers, your knowledge of assessing, analysing and working with the foot will be minimal. Visit www.anatomyinmotion. co.uk to find out more about courses on human anatomy in motion and get to grips with the magic and influence of the human foot on the rest of your body. Best foot forward, eh?
Gary Ward is a body transformation coach, biomechanics expert and founder of Anatomy In Motion, a company that educates trainers in the workings of the human body based upon an updated model of anatomy and function. www.anatomyinmotion.co.uk
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Puréed Broccoli Soup
Nutrition Facts Calories 165 Fat 7g (1 g -saturated) Sodium 196mg
Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15 mins Serves: 2 What you need • 3/4 c chopped red onion • 2 tsp olive oil • 1/4 tsp tarragon • 4 c broccoli florets • 1 tbsp flour • 1 c water, divided • 2 c chicken broth • 1 tsp white wine vinegar • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper • 1 tbsp shredded baby carrot
Carbohydrates 21g Fiber 6g
How to cook
1. In saucepan, mix onion, oil, tarragon, broccoli, and salt to taste. Stir over medium heat about 3 minutes. In small bowl, whisk flour and 2 Tbsp water until smooth; set aside. 2. Add broth, vinegar, pepper, and remaining water to pan. Bring almost to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. 3. Puree soup in blender and return to pot. Whisk in flour mixture; stir over medium-high heat until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with carrot.
Nutrition Facts One serving
(1oz, about 3 tbls dry) contains: Calories 95.0, Carbohydrate 20.0g Cholesterol 0.0mg Dietary Fiber 1.0g Protein 3.2g Calories from: Carbohydrates 85%, Fat 1%, Protein 14%
Apple, Cinnamon & Oat Bran Breakfast Muffin Description Give yourself a light, nutritious start to the day with this delicious breakfast treat. Each muffin contains pectin fibre and vitamin E-rich canola oil, which help to lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar levels under control, making for a tasty, healthy breakfast. Simply bake a batch at the weekend, store in the freezer, and remove during the week.
Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins Serves: 1 What you need • 1/2 C oat bran • 1 C whole-wheat flour • 1/4 C ground flaxseed • 1 tsp baking soda • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • 1 tsp nutmeg • 1 egg, beaten • 4 tbsp canola oil • 1/4 C sugar • 1/3 C applesauce • 1/4 C chopped pecans
How to cook 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together bran, flour, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and oil until smooth. Stir in applesauce and sugar. Combine mixtures and fold in pecans. 4. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.
Nutrition Facts Calories 141.6 Fat 8.6g Saturated Fat 0.9g Cholestoral 17.6mg Carbohydrates 16.2g Total Sugars 5.1g Dietary Fibre 3g Protein 3.3g
Puréed Broccoli Soup Couscous Salad Description A fresh, light and healthy summer salad inspired by North African quisine. Very quick and simple to make, this dish is a good low-fat source of complex carbohydrates. You can add dried cranberries for extra flavour, then serve with grilled chicken or fish.
What you need • 225g/8oz couscous • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped • 1 red onion, very finely chopped • 1 lemon, zest and juice • ½ cucumber, de-seeded and finely diced • 30g/1oz sunflower seeds, toasted • 30g/1oz sesame seeds, toasted • 4 tbsp olive oil • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to cook 1. Cover the couscous with twice its volume of hot water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. 2. Mix together with the remaining ingredients and leave to stand for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop. 3. Serve at room temperature.
Preparation time: Less than 30 mins Cooking time: No cooking required Serves: 4-6