Personal Training - A New Approach

Here are 7 Principals that our trainers at Santa Cruz Spine & Sport follow when Training.  If this type of functional integrative training resonates with you, then start training with us today!

1.) Start with a Baseline.  Test and Re-Test with FMS

Our trainers at Santa Cruz Spine & Sport use the Functional Movement Screen as their baseline.  It is a systematic approach to initially analyze patterns.  Its 7 individual movement patterns are scored out of 21.  A Score of 14 and below indicates a 50% increased chance of injury.

Instead of breaking down the body into its component parts, it’s a better approach to analyze movement first. Our body moves as one unit where all the parts are connected. If the body moves efficiently without pain, we don’t have to worry about over-analyzing each of those parts.

If one of the movements is dysfunctional, we continue assessing other related movements instead of committing to one area. The underlying issue may not be occurring because of tightness or weakness in muscles, but an underlying neurological (i.e. motor control) issue.

Inline Lunge Test

Inline Lunge Test

2.) First move well, THEN move often

Our trainers focus on movement efficiency (or moving well) as a chief aim of a properly constructed strength and conditioning program. Movement efficiency requires a combination of mobility (i.e. flexibility and range of motion within the joints) and stability (i.e. motor control and postural musculature).

Sequentially achieving optimal fitness and athleticism looks like this:

Mobility => Stability => Strength => Power

The more mobile you are, the more potential you have to move well. When mobility is controlled you get functional movement. Once you have functional movement: move as often as possible, challenge your body with strength, and incorporate power exercises.

3.) Don’t add strength to dysfunction

If you have a dysfunctional movement pattern, adding weight or habits to that movement pattern will make the dysfunction worse.

For example, if your knees cave in during a squat because your glutes are weak and your inner thighs are tight, those problems will only worsen if you add weight.

While it’s a tough pill to swallow and may hurt the ego, laying off the weights to focus on flexibility and stability may be the best course of action to correct movement dysfunction and prevent future injury.

4.) Previous injury is the #1 predictor of future injury

Have you ever sprained your ankle? Or maybe pulled a hamstring?

The probability is high that while you were recovering from those injuries, the way your body moved changed…in a not-so-good way.

For example, if you sprain your left ankle, several “compensations” may occur:

  • You begin to put more pressure on your right foot vs. your injured left foot
  • Your left hip becomes weaker relative to your right
  • When you run, or squat in the gym, the asymmetry gets worse
  • Your right hip becomes stiffer because it’s overworked
  • And so on, and so on.

The body is one interconnected unit, so any compensation can cause a variety of problems throughout the entire chain. That’s part of the reason why previous injuries are the #1 predictor of future injury.

5.) The hips are the powerhouse of the body

While the bench press may be a very popular measure of strength, the greatest power the body can produce comes from the hips.

In particular, the hip hinge (bending of the hips) is the most powerful lift. It’s a reason why most people can deadlift more weight than they squat. Hinging of the hips is less of a forward bend and more of a sitting back motion where the hips push behind the heels while the back remains straight and the knees stay slightly bent.

In addition to the hinge, the hips can produce significant power rotationally. In sports, a powerful swing in baseball, or drive in golf is from rotational hip power.

It is not by coincidence that when doctors assess bone mineral density, measurements are taken from the hips and spine. Keeping your hips strong and powerful may lead to greater longevity.

6.) Asymmetry is a big risk factor for injury

While excessive tightness, or weakness in the body is certainly not good, research shows that functional asymmetries between the right and left sides of the body are a much higher risk factor for injury.

If your right hip is tight, but your left hip is flexible, this asymmetry can lead to a cascade of problems throughout your entire body.

In a video I saw recently, Gray joked that he tells high school football players, “If you’re going to be tight, be tight on both sides. Then you’re just slow. If you’re tight on one side, your going to rip yourself in half.”

7.) Evolution of Infant movement is key to understanding human movement

Most fitness professionals teach exercise from a standing position, but this is the opposite of how we learn to move as infants. The topic of infant development and its influence on exercise is easily worthy of a book.

As infants, we breathe, then grip, then roll, then crawl. Eventually, we sit, kneel, squat, then stand. So technically, we squat before we can stand.

This developmental sequence has important implications for how we should learn to exercise and how to correct dysfunctional movement patterns.