Costa Rica Beginner’s Mind 2019 Retreat Review

Where can you combine learning, disengaging from life, connection, beach, sun, hiking, and so much more? That’s what Ben House has created with his Beginner’s Mind Retreat at Flō Retreat Center. A place where one can achieve all of the above and more. This trip marked the second time I’ve been here, and for good reason. It gives me the opportunity to personally recalibrate from the hectic work lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed too, while taking time out to better myself in more ways than one. This year’s retreat brought together several bright minds in the health and fitness realms, discussing topics ranging from training, mitochondria, stress, and more. The retreat is set up into two different weeks. The first week was functional medicine-oriented. After a three day break of chillin’ like Bob Dylan, the strength and conditioning week finished things off. The best part of this retreat is that learning is only one component. The lectures took up the morning, then the rest of the day was yours. You get time to train, go to the beach, hike, jump off of cliffs, eat good food, or just chill and play board games. The best part of this retreat is the people you encounter. It can be hard in our industry to find like-minded folks who live the lifestyle that fam like us live. But at Flo, healthy living is the norm. The people I’ve met at Ben’s place are people who I consider to be friends for a lifetime. That’s

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Course Notes: Postural Respiration

Another Course in the Books As an official Ron Hruska groupie, the tour continued to the Big Apple to learn a little Postural Respiration. And in NYC, everything is bigger. The biggest city I had prior been exposed to was Chicago. The cities feel similar, only NYC has twice as many people on the same size streets. I felt like this course was one of my less understood areas in the system, as Respiration was my first live PRI course. Taking this class the second time around really cleaned up a lot of things for me, and Ron was on point as always. So let’s dive into the cranium…I mean pelvis….I mean thorax. Oh sorry, wrong course. Laying the Foundation  The three foundational courses aim to inhibit tone, twist, torque, and tension in the human system by various methods. In Myokinematic Restoration, mastering the frontal plane with both legs inhibits the system. In Pelvis Restoration, active leg adduction inhibits the system. In Postural Respiration, trunk rotation inhibits the system. When these powers combine, the goal is to simultaneously maximize phases of gait and respiration. This development allows for total-body freedom to move, breathe, live, and create amidst our incessant desire to run on our built-in right stance autopilot. There is nothing wrong with right stance, but it becomes wrong when it is all you know. “There is nothing wrong with half the gait cycle until it becomes the full gait cycle.” ~Ron Hruska. Make a Memory – The Zone of

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Advanced Integration Day 3: Thoracic-Scapula Integration

Day 3 was all thorax and scapula. Here we go! For day 1, click here For day 2, click here A Philosophical Ron Intro Since the day began talking thoracic-scapula, Ron started us off by showing all the T-S connections in the body. Temporal——-sphenoid Thoracic———sternum Thoracic———scapula Tri-os coxae—-Sacrum You will notice that the thorax is very connected to many of these areas. Therefore,  it is very important to control this area early on; especially if one’s problem is in the cervical spine. The “pattern” dictates the thorax governing the cervical spine because the neck follows suit with the rotated left thoracic spine. Thus, if we restore position to the thorax, oftentimes neck position will clear up. From here, my man James Anderson was introduced, and we started off the discussion with a bang. Brain, Brain, and a Little More Brain The first hour was spent talking about a subject much needing discussion: PRI’s cortical foundation. James really hammered the fact that our brains are what drive us to the right. None of the previous mentioned material matters. Zones don’t matter, left AFIR, right shoulder internal rotation, nothing, if you can’t get the brain to change out of a left hemispheric dominance. How do we do this? Per James, let’s get a zone of apposition (ZOA) in a right lateralized pattern.   Say what? All the talk you have been hearing involves getting out of this right-sided dominance. But think of PRI activity in this fashion. We are most comfortable with performing right-sided activities. So why not use graded exposure to slowly

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The Post Wonderful Time of the Year: Top Posts of 2013

The Best…Around Time is fun when you are having flies. It seems like just yesterday that I started up this blog, and I am excited and humbled by the response I have gotten. Hearing praise from my audience keeps me hungry to learn and educate more. I am always curious to see which pages you enjoyed, and which were not so enjoyable; as it helps me tailor my writing a little bit more. And I’d have to say, I have a bunch of readers who like the nervous system 🙂 I am not sure what the next year will bring in terms of content, as I think the first year anyone starts a blog it is more about the writing process and finding your voice. Regardless of what is written, I hope to spread information that I think will benefit those of you who read my stuff. The more I can help you, the better off all our patients and clients will be. So without further ado, let’s review which posts were the top dogs for this year (and some of my favorite pics of course). 10.  Lessons from a Student: The Interaction This was probably one of my favorite posts to write this year, as I think this area is sooooooo under-discussed. Expect to be hearing more on patient interaction from me in the future. 9) Clinical Neurodynamics Chapter 1: General Neurodynamics Shacklock was an excellent technical read. In this post we lay out some nervous system basics, and

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Course Notes: Advanced Integration Day 1 (Synchronous Breathing)

Mind Blown My mind is still racing from PRI’s annual Advanced Integration course. It is over these four days that we linked all the chains learned in the basic courses into one interdependent system. As I have not taken all the PRI courses yet, I was very fortunate to have Bill Hartman, Doug Kechijian, and Young Matt to help me through the rough patches. Courses are so much more enriching when taken with friends. There was way too much material covered over the four days to write in one post. So here is the first of a four part series on this excellent class. Read on.  Autonomics and the ZOA The first day’s primary objective was establishing a zone of apposition (ZOA), the diaphragm’s cylindrical aspect that lies along the chest wall. Establishing this zone is of utmost importance, as it allows for favorable respiration. Respiration influences movement by allowing better change of direction and variability. If I establish and maintain a ZOA, then I can effortlessly maximize movement in all three planes.  When I cannot perform in this way, then I have less triplanar activity when I move. When one does not establish a ZOA, one must greater rely on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Depending on what your goal is, this shift can be well and good. Take an example I got from Bill and my friend Eric Oetter. A sprinter or powerlifter who moves in one direction would not like much variability in how they move, thus

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Course Notes: FMS Level 2

Mobility, Stability, and the Like I recently attended the FMS Level 2 course after rocking the home study. In my quest to take every con ed course known to man, I got into the functional movement people because the idea of improving movement over isolation exercise interests me. I find the way they build up to the patterns very logical, namely because they liberally use PNF and developmental principles; and they do so quite eloquently. But really, I wanted to go to this class so I could meet and learn from Gray Cook. And his segments did not disappoint. While I may not agree with everything he says, he is a very brilliant man and knows movement. The only disappointment I have to say about this course was that I did not get enough Gray and Lee. I would say I probably saw them teach 30% of the time, with another FMS instructor just running us through their algorithms. I am sorry, but if you are going to advertise Gray Cook and Lee Burton as the instructors, then I want Gray and Lee instructing me! A lot of these exercises were review for me, but there were definitely some tweaks that I liked a great deal. I think if you are new to more motor control-based exercises, this course is great for you. Just make sure you are taking it from Gray and/or Lee. Why Screen? The FMS is predominately used to manage risk and prioritize exercise selection. They look

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Chapter 15: In Conclusion

This is a chapter 15 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook.   The Goal The goal of movement retraining is to create authentic unconscious movement at acceptable levels. We can develop many methods to achieve our goals, but working under sound principles is paramount. Some of the principles Gray advocates include: Focusing on how we move. Look to movement to validate or refute your intervention. Movement is always honest. When designing a movement program, we must operate under the following guidelines: Separate pain from dysfunctional movement patterns. Starting point for movement learning is a reproducible movement baseline. Biomechanical and physiological evaluation do not provide a complete risk screening or diagnostic tool for comprehensive movement pattern understanding. Our biomechanical and physiological knowledge surpass what we know about fundamental movement patterns. Movement learning and relearning follows a hierarchy fundamental to the development of perception and behavior. Corrective exercise should not be rehearsed outputs. Instead, it should be challenging opportunities to manage mistakes on a functional level near the edge of ability. Perception drives movement behavior and movement behavior modulates perception. We should not put fitness on movement dysfunction. We must develop performance and skill considering each tier in the natural progression of movement development and specialization. Corrective exercise dosage works close to baseline at the edge of ability with a clear goal. The routine practice of self-limiting exercises can maintain the quality of our movement perceptions and behaviors and preserve our unique adaptability that modern conveniences erode. Some things cannot

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Chapter 14: Advanced Corrective Strategies

This is a chapter 14 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook.   Inputs Corrective exercise is focused on providing input to the nervous system.  We are allowing the patients and clients to experience the actual predicament that lies beneath the surface of their movement pattern problem. It is okay for mistakes to be made, for these errors help accelerate motor learning. Minimal cueing should be utilized, as we want to patient to let them feel the enriching sensory experience. Motor Program Retraining There are several different methods in which we can achieve a desired motor output. 1)      Reverse patterning – Performing a movement from the opposite direction. 2)      Reactive neuromuscular training – Exaggerating mistakes so the patient/client overcorrects. Use oscillations first, followed by steady resistance. 3)      Conscious Loading – Using load to hit the reset button for sequence and timing. 4)      Resisted exercise – Makes patterns more stable and durable. When you can deadlift that much, most anything is stable and durable.

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Movement Chapter 13: Movement Pattern Corrections

This is a chapter 13 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook.   Back to the Basics Mobility deficits ought to be the first impairment corrected. Optimizing mobility creates potential for new sensory input and motor adaptation, but does not guarantee quality movement. This is where stability training comes in. In order for the brain to create stability in a region, the following ought to be present: Structural stability: Pain-free structures without significant damage, deficiency, or deformity. Sensory integrity: Uncompromised reception/integration of sensory input. Motor integrity: Uncompromised activation/reinforcement of motor output. Freedom of movement:  Perform in functional range and achieve end-range. Getting Mobility There are 3 ways to gain mobility: 1)      Passively: Self-static stretching with good breathing; manual passive mobilization. 2)      Actively: Dynamic stretching, PNF. 3)      Assistive: Helping with quality or quantity, aquatics, resistance. Getting Stability In order to own our new mobility, we use various stability progressions to cement the new patterns. There are three tiers in which stability is trained: 1)      Fundamental stability – Basic motor control, often in early postures such as supine, prone, or rolling. 2)      Static stability – done when rolling is okay but stability is compromised in more advanced postures. 3)      Dynamic stability – Advanced movement. We progress in these stability frames from easy to further difficult challenges. Assisted → active → reactive-facilitation/perturbations Since stability is a subconscious process, we utilize postures that can challenge this ability while achieving desired motor behavior. We can also group the various postural progressions into 3 categories: 1)     

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Movement Chapter 10: Understanding Corrective Strategies

This is a chapter 10 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook. Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few When we are talking corrective exercise design, people often make 4 mistakes: 1)      Protocol approach: Exercise based on category. Problem – 1 size fits all. 2)      Basic kinesiology: Target prime movers and some stabilizers. Problem – fails on timing, motor control, stability, and movement. 3)      Appearance of functional approach – Use bands and resistance during functional training. Problem – If the pattern is poor, adding challenges to it can increase compensation. There is also no pre-post testing. 4)      Prehabilitation approach – Prepackaged rehab exercises into conditioning programs as preventative measures to reduce injury risk. Problem – Design is based on injuries common to particular activities as opposed to movement risk factors. There are also certain mistakes that are often made when utilizing the FMS and SFMA: 1)      Converting movement dysfunction into singular anatomical problems. 2)      Obsessing over perfection in each test instead of identifying the most significant limitation/asymmetry. 3)      Linking corrective solutions to movement problems prematurely. The overarching rule is to address these movement deficiencies first, as we do not want to put strength or fitness on top of dysfunctional movement.   The Performance Pyramid When designing an exercise program, we look for three areas to improve performance: Movement, performance, and skill.   It is important that program design is based on the individual’s needs and has these qualities in a hierarchal fashion. For example, if one performs excellent on functional performance

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Movement Chapter 9: Analyzing the Movements in Screens and Assessments

This is a chapter 9 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook. While I have broken up these sections into patterns, much of what Gray talks about does not involve the patterns themselves, but are still good points to know. Ergo, much like the book itself, this post may seem a little disjointed 🙂 The Deep Squat One’s inability to squat is not considered a single problem. Instead, a disconnect is present between the body and the brain in the squatting pattern. Our brain sees things in patterns, and the squatting pattern essentially gets smudged. Before performing the squat as an exercise, we must first groove an optimal movement pattern. One interesting point regarding the squat is that as an exercise it is often a top-down based movement. However, when we learn to squat in development, the movement occurs bottom-up. So one way to train the squat is by starting from the bottom of the squat and working to standing. This method ensures full mobility to perform a full deep squat. To relate the SFMA to the squat pattern, Gray is very clear about not training the squat if one cannot touch his or her toes. Hurdle Step and Single Leg Stance These two movements simultaneously test mobility and stability of both legs. Oftentimes in these patterns you will see a high-threshold strategy (HTS), in which a hyper-protective core response occurs. Research demonstrates that this stabilization strategy can cause poor motor control to occur. These tests also are basic

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Movement Chapter 8: SFMA Assessment Breakout Descriptions and Flowcharts

This is a chapter 8 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook. What to Look For The SFMA breakouts are utilized to determine if one’s movement deficiencies have a mobility or stability origin. There are further possibilities in each of these categories. It Could Be a Mobility Problem There are two subsets of mobility problems that include tissue extensibility dysfunction (TED) and joint mobility dysfunction (JMD). From here, we can break it down even further in each subset. Here are some potential TEDs Active/passive muscle insufficiency Limited neurodynamics (they said neural tension; come on Gray!) Fascial tension Muscle shortening Hypertrophy Trigger points Scarring/fibrosis And here are some potential JMDs Osteoarthritis/arthrosis Single-joint muscle spasm/guarding Fusion Subluxation Adhesive capsulitis Dislocation It could be a Stability Problem These issues are also known as stability or motor control dysfunction (SMCD). Most conventional therapies would treat these complaints by strengthening the stabilizers, but this is problematic. When something works reflexively, how can we train something volitionally and expect changes? To train these muscles we must focus on proprioceptive and timing-based training. There are several examples of SMCD problems. Motor control dysfunction. High threshold strategy. Local muscle dysfunction/asymmetry. Mechanical breathing dysfunction. Prime mover or global muscle compensation behavior or asymmetry. Poor static stability, alignment, postural control, asymmetry, and structural integrity. Poor dynamic stability, alignment, postural control, asymmetry, and structural integrity. Relatedness Mobility and stability can influence one another. If I were to lose mobility at one segment, motor control can be distorted at nearby segments.

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