Out of Kilter Part I - How to Identify and Correct Imbalances by Ian King
Most likely you want to get bigger, stronger, or perform better athletically. Well, guess what? You're missing something.Your answer should have been, "I want to develop long term joint and soft tissue health which, in turn, will allow me to get bigger, stronger and perform better." If one of your goals isn't to develop joint/soft tissue health, then you can kiss your other goals goodbye.Let me explain. I've worked with a lot of athletes and there's nothing more frustrating than seeing them sitting up in the bleachers injured at peak competition times. In fact, one of the biggest reasons teams lose is due to injuries. Everyone knows this, but no one seems to pick up on the key here?create long-term joint/tissue health prior to and concurrent with performance enhancement!Why is this so difficult and rarely done? I have several theories:?Theory #1: It?s a conspiracy!I say this only partly tongue in cheek. I actually don?t believe physical therapists and similar professionals would really like to see zero injuries. After all, what would they do for a living then?When working with an athlete or team, my goal has been to put the physical therapist out of work, not because I'm a mean and nasty person, but because the measurement of my success in performance enhancement is based on complete success in injury prevention.I've achieved this in the past. One physical therapist, whilst in the seaside South African city of Durban (known for its surf and sharks!), put up a sign on his door in the team hotel reading "Gone surfing. Back later". I'd made him largely obsolete! Mission accomplished!?Theory #2: Instant gratificationMost see performance enhancement as instant gratification. They just want to get big/strong/fast/powerful now, with no thought of anything else. I liken it to building a multi-story building. What if, as the nineteenth floor goes up, you realize there's a structural flaw in construction on the first floor??Theory #3: Lack of disciplineDelaying gratification takes discipline. American business philosopher Jim Rohn has a great saying on this. He says the pain of discipline is much lighter than the pain of regret. Yes, it does require what may be perceived as pain to delay performance enhancement for long-term joint/tissue health, but far less than the pain of surgery, chronic pain, or layoffs later on.?Theory #4: Ego and emotional attachmentIt goes like this: "I've been training like this for years and my uncle Joe has been doing weights like this for decades. Why should we change? We know what we're doing and we ain't hurt yet!"My philosophy is to never force my opinion on anyone. I simply assess, predict, and take no pleasure in seeing my predictions come true. All I can do is share what I think, take it or leave it. You can do it my way or you can contribute to some therapist?s weekly income, or worse, some surgeon's next European holiday.So what?s the solution? There are a number of alternatives:? Get the athlete when he's young and before he's done much training and create long-term joint/tissue health via the way he trains and thinks. In other words, do it right when he's just starting the construction of his "building."? Take the more advanced trainee/athlete, who's somewhere higher in his building than the ground floor, and go back and address the issues. Success in this situation is dependant upon him endorsing the concepts.? Let the trainee/athlete go his own way until he inevitably finds out I was more accurate in my predictions than he'd hoped. If he's fortunate, he'll be towards the end of his career and only lose a few years. Of course, there are other, later costs for disregarding my advice, like the former racquet sport athlete who had hip replacement in his 30?s!I understand that most of us males until about the age of 35 think we're bulletproof. My lot has been watching the cause and effect relationship of intense training at the highest level for some twenty-odd years now, creating and testing theories of multi-year adaptation. The gyms, tracks, courts, and playing fields have been my laboratory. And whilst not trained in the socially acceptable form of physical therapy, my success has been dependant on creating a training career free of chronic injury and surgery. What follows is an overview of my ideas.?Visual AssessmentMy approach is very simple, yet effective. I aim to create what I call "square" athletes, walking examples of the ultimate East German sporting robot! I can see where the challenges lie and I can teach you how to do this in a rudimentary way on yourself.As the great training mind Charlie Francis might say, "Looks right, flies right." I start with a visual assessment of the way you walk. The way you walk influences the way you run and the way you lift. Yes, the way you lift influences the way you walk in reverse, but remember this?you lift for only a few hours a week.So work with me on the visual assessment of your posture. I'll share with you a model of posture. It's not everything, but as mentioned above, the way you lift and the design of your training program (eg. sequence of exercises, muscles groups, technique, amount of stretching, etc.) play significant roles.Before we get into it let me share the basis of my joint/tissue health theory. It's very simple. We all have an optimal relationship of one bone to another. If that relationship changes, even subtly, we risk creating nerve and tissue pressure which creates a loop or feedback mechanism resulting in increased spasm and inhibition of function. A vicious cycle is perpetuated, in part by the body?s protective mechanisms.To correct and rehab, you now need to interfere with that feedback mechanism. This is because this protective mechanism can itself delay or interfere with the healing process. Then you need to identify the cause (as opposed to the symptom) and fix it! Addressing the symptom or taking the surgery route often means the relief is short term and the symptom returns. Sad, frustrating, but true.
Submited By :
Barrie Spirit '93 - Fitness Trainer
Elite Athlete Development