Hot on the heels of our previous announcement that we’ll be offering Kinstretch classes here in New York City at Halevy Life, it’s hard to believe that that day is almost here. Let’s cut right to the chase:
Kinstretch kick-off is Saturday, October 29th at 12:30pm. To celebrate this occasion (and more), we are happy to tell you that this first Kinstretch class is 100% COMPLIMENTARY. Space is limited and you must sign up here now to get in:
We also have a nice surprise those of you who will be joining us on Saturday’s kick-off, so we hope to see you there!
With our first class fast approaching, Director of Programming Dan Cerone decided to mark this occasion with 5 mobility exercises that you must try based on the FRC system. Consider this a sneak peek of what you can expect going forward!
The Segmental Cat/Camel is a movement that provides numerous benefits, helps to prevent injury, and is much more than it looks. The idea behind this movement is to be able to successfully move each vertebrae along the spine individually into flexion and extension. Most other coaches are so focused on gaining mobility in other joints (hips, ankles, shoulders), that they forget that the spine is also supposed to move as well. Over the past few years, this idea of “neutral spine” has become so ingrained into fitness dogma that many fitness professionals basically do not allow the spine to move at all!
When the spine isn’t allowed to move for a long period of time, we eventually lose the ability to do so, which leads to compensations in other areas of the body. There are certainly times we shouldn’t be loading the spine in maximal flexion, but that does NOT mean that all movement throughout the spine is bad. I’ve been guilty of this as well, as when I first started coaching I thought neutral spine was the end-all be-all of coaching cues.
I have slowly been working to reestablish my ability to move my spine into flexion and extension in each specific segment (it’s still a big work in progress). In the video, you may notice that when I am moving through the movement, there is one part of my spine in which I get a lot of my movement from. This part towards the middle is my thoraco-lumbar junction and I “get stuck” trying to get into flexion here.
I used to play numerous sports that ingrained an extension-based posture, so I became used to relying on spinal extension to get there. As a result, I developed what is called a hinge point, and am actually getting too much movement from this area of my spine. This means that I am placing more stress in this area then I should be during exercise, increasing my injury risk. Ideally, I should be distributing stress evenly throughout my spine.
If you try this movement, it is likely that you too will find a hinge point somewhere along your spine, and it would serve you well to try and iron that out. Outside injury prevention, this is also an awesome movement (besides every other CAR) to perform first thing in the morning. As we sleep at night, our spines decompress and the intervertebral discs collect water, which in turn builds tension in the spine. This is that stiff feeling you get upon waking for the first half hour or so. Performing the Segmental Cat/Camel is great because it gets your spine moving slowly in an unloaded fashion.
Execution: Starting on all fours with your spine in its natural resting state, start by creating tension throughout your body. Then slowly start to move each individual vertebrae in your spine into extension, starting from your tailbone all the way up to the base of your skull. When you get up there, reverse the movement and go into spinal flexion. The goal here is to segment each part of the spine individually. You might notice that this is still a work in progress for me.
TRX Scapula CAR’s
The ability to move the scapula (shoulder blades) is incredibly important. You want them to move and glide smoothly on the rib cage in what’s called scapulo-thoracic movement. This is incredibly important, especially when you’re in the gym doing numerous vertical/horizontal pushing and pulling movements. In these pull-ups, shoulder presses, bench presses, and rows, your shoulder blades should be moving as well. If you don’t possess the ability to do so, this can lead to impingement and overuse injuries over time.
Execution: Keep your arms straight and weight on the back of your heels, with a neutral grip on the TRX. Throughout this movment, you want to think about moving your scapula in a circle. Pull your shoulder blades back as if you’re trying to pinch a pencil between them, then shrug them up to your ears, then let them glide forward by dropping your body through your shoulder blades, and finally drive them down into your back pockets. Be sure to reverse this movement as well. This is meant to be performed slowly as if you were moving through mud. As preached in FRC, maintaining tension is key to ensure that no compensations occur in other joints.
Standing Ankle PAIL’s/RAIL’s
Recently ankles have been getting all the blame for why some people aren’t able to squat deeply. In reality, there could be a number of reasons such as technique, motor control, hip mobility, and more. In a situation where the ankles are in fact limiting your squat or any other movements, standing PAIL’s/ RAIL’s are a great way to increase your mobility there.
Execution: Wedge your foot between the floor and a wall/pillar at the limit of your ankle dorsiflexion (toes as close to shin as possible). After doing so, create tension everywhere else in the body. Feel free to use the wall/pillar to increase your ability to do so. Then think about driving your foot into the wall like you’re stepping on a gas pedal and hold that for a 5-10 second count. Now relax, and think about pulling your body closer to the wall and your toes closer to your shin to increase your ankle dorsiflexion. Repeat for 3 rounds on each side.
Quadruped Shoulder Flexion Lift-offs
Many people fall into the trap of performing overhead movements without having the prerequisite amount of mobility and strength to do so safely and effectively. If you have the ability to go directly overhead without compensating, that’s great! Regardless, you should make sure you have strength at full shoulder flexion prior to performing any overhead pressing or Olympic lifting movements. Doing so will help to limit the risk of injury when you have a bar directly overhead.
Execution: Being in the quadruped position already allows you to lock in the majority of the body to ensure no compensations occur. The passive support should be placed slightly below the limit of your shoulder flexion. For me, a standard bench works fine, but some of you may need a higher or lower support. Create tension and irradiate to really make sure that you’re only moving the shoulder joint. Common compensations will be extension or rotation of the spine. These shoulder flexion lift-offs can be performed one or two arms at a time. It should be a struggle to elevate the hands off of the support. Hold for a 5 second hold 3 times each side.
Quadruped Hip Abduction Lift-offs
This exercise rests along the same lines as the previous one. The frontal plane is often neglected in many people’s training programs. The majority of what people do in the gym can be classified as sagittal plane (up/down, flexion/extension) or transverse plane (rotation/anti-rotation) movements. Not much lateral or side-to-side movements are done. For one, this causes many people to lack strength in the muscles that work to abduct the leg (pulling the leg away from the midline of the body).
Execution: Again, the quadruped position provides a good deal of support on which we can create plenty of tension to lock in the rest of the body. The passive support should be placed off to the side and slightly below the end range for hip abduction. Common compensations include shifting your weight to the opposite side and bending your elbows, so be careful of those. Perform 3 reps for 5 second holds per side. As a side note, prepare for cramps around your outer hip from doing these!
But wait, there’s more…
In biology, regeneration is the process of renewal, restoration, and growth that makes genomes, cells, organisms, and ecosystems resilient to natural fluctuations or events that cause disturbance or damage.