Average To Elite Performance https://www.averagetoelite.com Pain free personal training. Sat, 14 Jul 2018 03:22:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 https://i2.wp.com/www.averagetoelite.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cropped-Site_Icon.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Average To Elite Performance https://www.averagetoelite.com 32 32 27963060 The Pilates Reformer and the Vestibular System https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/06/24/pilates-reformer-vestibular-system/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/06/24/pilates-reformer-vestibular-system/#respond Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:25:52 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=2323 One of the questions I get asked all the time is “How do I improve my balance?” And before I started studying the the brain and its effects on balance, I was always surprised by how quickly my clients improved their equilibrium through the use of the Pilates reformer. You wouldn’t think an eight foot […]

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One of the questions I get asked all the time is “How do I improve my balance?” And before I started studying the the brain and its effects on balance, I was always surprised by how quickly my clients improved their equilibrium through the use of the Pilates reformer. You wouldn’t think an eight foot long machine that slides in and out could have such a dramatic effect on balance. However, as the Pilates method has demonstrated since Joseph Pilates first opened his studio in 1926, this form of exercise and training has changed the lives and balance of millions of people worldwide. Now, by examining the vestibular system we can see exactly why it works so well! First, let’s define a couple of things:

Your vestibular system is often known as your inner ear, and it’s responsibility is to tell your brain where you are in relationship to gravity. As you can imagine, it’s pretty important to know where up and down are! When this system gets confused or experiences dysfunction, it will send an alarm signal which can manifest itself as dizziness, nausea, and vertigo. Today we will focus on a small part of the Vestibular System known as the Otolith Organs.

There are two otolith organs, and they are known as the saccule and utricle. In the simplest terms, the structure of each organ is similar to a big old fish bowl. In the fish bowl there are crystal-like “rocks” of calcium carbonate called otoliths or otoconia, sitting on top of a jello-like fluid substance with small hair cells underneath. When the fluid moves, it pushes these mechanoreceptor hair cells, and fires a nerve signal telling the brain about the acceleration of movement happening. Bouncing, or movement up and down like jumping jacks stimulates the saccule. When you walk forward, walk backward, or move side to side you are activating the utricle.

Enter the Pilates Reformer! Though it looks intimidating, the reformer is an intelligently designed machine that consist of springs, pulleys, a platform and a carriage that moves back and forth in a linear motion. Sound familiar? Through this sophisticated system of movement we can activate the otolith organs, specifically the utricle, while doing arm work, leg work, abdominal work, and full body integration exercises. The rocking and sliding nature of the carriage not only stimulates one of our most important systems, but also creates novelty for the otolith organs. And we know that our brain craves novelty!

So how is your balance today? Are you looking for ways to create better balance? How are you challenging and training your vestibular system? Maybe it’s time to add a bit more novelty into your workouts. Come on in, and try it out!

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The importance of chewing https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/06/04/the-importance-of-chewing/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/06/04/the-importance-of-chewing/#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 15:29:25 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=2155 If you suffer from digestive issues like heartburn, acid reflux, getting chunks of food stuck in the throat, or general upset stomach after eating, the amount of chewing you do may play a role. Most of us pay little to no attention to how much we’re chewing while eating. If we’re finishing our meals rather […]

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If you suffer from digestive issues like heartburn, acid reflux, getting chunks of food stuck in the throat, or general upset stomach after eating, the amount of chewing you do may play a role. Most of us pay little to no attention to how much we’re chewing while eating. If we’re finishing our meals rather quickly, chances are we aren’t chewing our food enough.

Why is this so important, anyway? When we take our time and chew thoroughly we are letting our mouths do the work they were meant to. Your teeth are designed to physically break down food, and the saliva produced while chewing kickstarts digestion. Plus, the more your food is chewed, the less work the digestive organs have to do, and the more effective digestive enzymes will be.

So how much chewing should one person do? A reasonable goal for beginners is to aim for 20 chews per bite. Experts may attempt to chew 100 times per bite. This may seem excessive, but again, this is what your mouth was meant to do! Notice how different foods (animal proteins, vegetables, grains) all take different amounts of time to fully masticate (when your mouth is full of mush and you have nothing left to chew, you’ll know you’re there).

If you find that chewing is taking too long, try taking smaller bites. Remember the saying, don’t bite off more than you can chew? Sound advice, and the key to optimizing digestive function.

A few things to note:

You may find that your tastes and feelings about certain foods may change as you increase the amount you chew. That piece of steak may taste great when you take two bites, but 20 may change your mind (and leave your jaw feeling a bit sore).

It’s nearly impossible to keep track of how many chews you’re using when you’re distracted by things like TV’s and cell phones. If you really want to improve your meal time habits, the screens should be put away.

Pay attention to how your digestion begins to change when you start to modify the way you chew. How do you feel 30 minutes after you eat? At 3 hours? At 6 hours post-meal? Try starting with one meal a day, and practice until you feel confident you’ve mastered this habit. Then, aim for two meals a day, then three, then at all meal times. Eventually, you’ll be a chewing master and digesting food with ease. Bon appétit!

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Can training your vision help you reach your goals faster? https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/05/09/eyes-helping-hurting-goals/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/05/09/eyes-helping-hurting-goals/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 23:20:58 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1922 The brock string is one of my go-to vision training tools to help improve performance, reduce pain and improve posture. Ever notice we have two eyes, yet see one object? Pretty cool right? The brock string helps to interrupt the dominant eye, thus increasing the activation of the suppressed eye. Many of us are walking […]

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The brock string is one of my go-to vision training tools to help improve performance, reduce pain and improve posture.

Ever notice we have two eyes, yet see one object? Pretty cool right?

The brock string helps to interrupt the dominant eye, thus increasing the activation of the suppressed eye. Many of us are walking around only utilizing one eye, which can make it really challenging to reach our goals, perform better or manage our pain. If we are already prone to suppressing one eye, when put under stress (like training) that suppression can become even more acute.

 

If we are living in a suppressed state we may start to notice the following:

 

  • Increase in pain
  • Increase in one-sided pain
  • Poor movement
  • Postural deviations
  • Excess muscle tone/ tension

 

In the video below you’ll see me utilize the brock string in a squat. My goal this morning was to squat, however I noticed my left lower back feeling excessively tight. My left lower back is typically the area that signals pain, when something is “off”. It is worth noting that in our current “training culture” people often believe and are even taught that they should push through pain. It is useful to start thinking of pain as an action signal that should not be ignored. When something hurts, that is your brain trying to get your attention.

 

So I ran through a series of assessments (forward bend and general body scan assessment) and I noticed I felt “off”. My forward bend was much tighter than normal and my body felt more “achy” or “chatty”. Sure enough, as soon as I stepped up to the brock string, I felt a ton of strain and noticed “ghosting” of the string, meaning it was fading in and out This is a clue that one of your eyes is not tracking properly as you try to focus on an object.

 

I spent a few sets focusing on each bead on the string. As I trained my eyes, I noticed an improvement in how easy my squats felt. There was less “fight” and tension as I lowered.

 

Why?

We have two eyes for a reason. It provides our brain with information on how essentially “safe” we are in our environment. Solely relying on using just one eye impacts our ability to migrate through the world with ease and confidence. It can also result in that action signal we discussed called pain. When we learn to utilize them together we provide our brain with more useful feedback, there’s less strain, less push back and more ease from the environment. When we see with both eyes, we reduce the chances of compensatory patterns (weight shift, hip shifts, over activation on one side etc.)

If we were to expand upon this concept we would begin discussing a concept called sensory mismatch, but I’ll let Doctor Cobb do that for me. Stay tuned for a tutorial on how to use the brock string!

 

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How to use the Brock String https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/04/17/use-brock-string/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2018/04/17/use-brock-string/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 17:06:27 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1945 The post How to use the Brock String appeared first on Average To Elite Performance.

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In our next post Alyssa Chang is going to demonstrate some more “advanced” ideas for using the Brock String as a vision and movement training tool. In the video below I will be showing you the basics of how to use this tool and importantly how to troubleshoot some common problems.

 

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What Is Performance? https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/10/04/what-is-performance/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/10/04/what-is-performance/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 19:37:10 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1583 In the below video I go into some detail as to what the word “performance” may mean to you.

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In the below video I go into some detail as to what the word “performance” may mean to you.

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The Risk Analysis Curve https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/09/05/risk-analysis-curve/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/09/05/risk-analysis-curve/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:15:59 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1541 The percentage of Americans who regularly engage in vigorous exercise for more than six months (meaning people who exercise regularly for an extended period of time) is shockingly low. Depending upon which source you’re reading it’s about 3%. I’m including weight lifting in this figure, it’s higher if you include people who only do some […]

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The percentage of Americans who regularly engage in vigorous exercise for more than six months (meaning people who exercise regularly for an extended period of time) is shockingly low. Depending upon which source you’re reading it’s about 3%. I’m including weight lifting in this figure, it’s higher if you include people who only do some form of cardio, but not by much.

Why don’t people last longer than that? The reality is that my timeline is almost certainly artificially long, as that is just based upon a figure of how long the average person maintains their gym membership before they quit.

Below are a few reasons why people quit exercising and then we’ll get into my focus here.

  1. Time. We let ourselves get overwhelmed by our schedule and the first thing to go (though it really should be the last) is often exercise. This is why the National Weight Control Registry established the ability to work out at home as one of the essential habit building requirements for weight loss.
  2. Motivation. Particularly if the results aren’t coming as fast as we might like, this is a common one. Much of the blame for this can be lain upon the doorstep of the “30 Day Challenge” culture we have built and now all live in. Based upon current research it takes about 60 days to a build an actual habit, with some variation. So yes you may lose some weight in 30 days, but you will not have changed your behaviors. If your behaviors are not changed, the weight loss will not stick.
  3. Social Support. If you are in a social circle of people with unhealthy behaviors, you will find it hard to go against that grain and may eventually backslide because of it.

Now on to one more: They are in too much pain to continue.

Look around your average gym. You see a lot of people with knee braces, elbow sleeves, wrist braces etc. You also see dozens of people with little or no guidance trying to perform what are high skilled movements. You wouldn’t think of trying to walk across a wire suspended between two buildings two hundred feet up in the air with no training or supervision, would you? So why would you load a bar up with weight and put it on your back without any training?

This is where the “Risk Analysis Curve” comes in to play. The higher skill the exercise, the sharper the curve, and the more likely it is that you’re going to fly off the road and into a canyon. A Barbell Back Squat (though you may not know it) is a very high skill exercise. A bodyweight squat by comparison, though still requiring some skill to perform is lower on the curve simply because of the lack of an external load, and by default less shearing forces on the spine and joints if performed improperly. The average untrained individual is also most likely “over-reaching” by jumping straight into any loaded variation of a squat before having demonstrated mastery of their own body-weight.

Part of our process at Average To Elite Performance is predicting where you fall on this risk analysis curve according to your current skill level, mobility and needs. This is important not only to ensure that you reach your stated goals, but also to avoid taking unnecessary risks along the way.

Often this can be challenging for a new client. We start training perhaps with images in our head of throwing barbells around, jumping on boxes or climbing ropes. What is essential to understand is that you have to earn the right to perform those exercises. Your entry fee may be paid with hundreds of bodyweight squats, elevated push ups, corrective exercises and hours of mobility work. However, once that price has been paid you will have a bright future of executing high skill movements with precision, and most importantly without pain.

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Testing Neurological Reflexes https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/08/22/testing-neurological-reflexes/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/08/22/testing-neurological-reflexes/#respond Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:05:37 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1534 There are many, many hard-wired neurological reflexes. One such reflex is called vestibulo-ocular reflex cancellation. This is important when it comes to your ability to cleanly follow a target with your eyes and head moving together. You wouldn’t think this would be a problem, but you might be surprised. Most people I test have at […]

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There are many, many hard-wired neurological reflexes. One such reflex is called vestibulo-ocular reflex cancellation. This is important when it comes to your ability to cleanly follow a target with your eyes and head moving together. You wouldn’t think this would be a problem, but you might be surprised. Most people I test have at least one direction that this is a problem in. When this reflex is dysfunctional it can result in nervous system chaos. For the client in the below video it was at least partially responsible for nausea she experienced after riding her bike. Think about how often you turn your head and eyes together on a bike,

It is also important to understand that the nervous system is effectively a closed loop, and nothing works in isolation. If we find a dysfunctional VOR-C it’s very likely there are other problems linked up with it. In the below video you will see how Margot gets a very different response in her flexibility when testing her VOR-C moving up and then moving down.

Why is this important in training? Do you know that person with the tight hamstrings, and they stretch them all the time but they never actually seem to get better? Is that person just doomed to have tight hamstrings? To go a little deeper, there is a descending spinal tract in the spinal cord called the vestibulospinal tract. Among it’s many functions the VST fires extensors. If there is inherit dysfunction linked up to this tract and the hamstrings are extensors, could that be the missing link? Not always, but it is a distinct possibility, and worth evaluating.

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Brain Performance Training https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/08/13/brain-performance-training/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/08/13/brain-performance-training/#respond Sun, 13 Aug 2017 21:26:43 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1530 The methods of client evaluation and training we use at Average To Elite Performance are much different than those you may have encountered or would expect in working with a personal trainer. It’s a safe bet that most of you have heard the phrase “Don’t skip leg day” before, or “Today is arm day”, or […]

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The methods of client evaluation and training we use at Average To Elite Performance are much different than those you may have encountered or would expect in working with a personal trainer.

It’s a safe bet that most of you have heard the phrase “Don’t skip leg day” before, or “Today is arm day”, or some variant of that.

Have you ever heard “It’s cerebellum day?”

Well to be fair, every day is cerebellum day (you’re alive) but how often do we actually “train” different areas of the brain? Even if you could do this (spoiler alert: you can) why is it important? Specifically, why is it important in the context of athleticism?

For the purpose of this post we’re going to focus on one important function of the cerebellum: Correcting movement errors. Before we delve into the function let’s take a quick look at the structure of the cerebellum.

Vastly oversimplified: The cerebellum is part of what is called the “Old Brain”, the neo-cortex being the “new brain”. The cerebellum sits posterior to the brain-stem and is part of what we’re talking about when we refer to our “lizard brain”. The cerebellum is split into three sections: Mid-line, Intermediate and Lateral all of which have responsibilities for different areas of the body. Dysfunction in the cerebellum can present in many different ways, one of which is exacerbated “hangover” symptoms after a fairly small amount of alcohol. This is due to how alcohol affects what are called the “Purkinje cells” (or neurons) in the cerebellum. The cerebellum also contains what are called “Mossy Fiber” which I think sounds cool and scary at the same time. You have moss in your brain.

So if your buddy can knock back tequila all night and feel fine, but you have just one glass of wine and feel destroyed the next day, this is one possible reason.

Movement errors that are not corrected in a timely manner by the cerebellum can present in a variety of fashions, the one you may be most familiar with is tremors. These tremors often are not very significant and can be classified as “intention tremors”. You reach for a glass of water and notice that your hand trembles right before you pick it up.

What about a wobbly knee? Let’s say you’re running back some video of your squat and your left knee keeps wobbling at max depth. Hmm…. I probably need to work on that ipsilateral ankle dorsiflexion, maybe strengthen the glute medius, bet I’ve even got some adductor tightness in there!

Or maybe your cerebellum is inhibited.

Why would this happen? That’s a big question, and one we may address later. The idea for now is to start getting you thinking outside of the bio-mechanical box. Yes, the muscle and joint action issues I mentioned could definitely be a problem, but if you’ve already worked through all of those elements and the problem still isn’t improving (or is actually getting worse) perhaps it’s time to look further upstream.

A good way to start tapping into this idea of directly training the brain can begin with techniques you are already familiar with.

  1. Joint mobility. Stimulating mechanoreception in the joints to feed the brain’s desire for sensory feedback, as well as assisting with brain mapping via proprioception.
  2. Breathing exercises: Properly performed breathing drills can do a lot to improve O2/CO2 exchange in the body. In cases of concussion blood flow to the cerebellum is inhibited, and if left unchecked can result in people who never seem to actually resolve their symptoms.
  3. Eye Exercise: Get your eyes moving! You can impact the cranial nerves, your frontal lobe and a lot more just by moving your eyes back and forth. Draw an H in the air with a pen and follow it with your eyes. You just worked Cranial Nerves 3,4 and 6!

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The Flip Flop Test https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/07/04/flip-flop-test/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/07/04/flip-flop-test/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 18:17:49 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1473 I have developed a reputation for doing some pretty interesting (and effective) things in my client training. Much of this comes from my educational background in the Z-Health system, which is based upon a neurological versus bio-mechanical model. Once you begin utilizing a neuro based approach, you never run out of options. Something I talk […]

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I have developed a reputation for doing some pretty interesting (and effective) things in my client training. Much of this comes from my educational background in the Z-Health system, which is based upon a neurological versus bio-mechanical model. Once you begin utilizing a neuro based approach, you never run out of options.

Something I talk with my clients about a great deal is how footwear impacts function. This is generally in the context of high heels, flip flops, and highly cushioned/ inflexible running shoes. It’s not unusual for someone to be very emotionally attached to their preferred footwear, and to have a hard time with the explanations as to why these different types of shoes can be a problem. This is why it is important to have a demo, and for it to be repeatable and explainable. Below you will see a video of myself running such a demo with my client Margot. This video is the third time in a row that we did this test, and each time the result came back the same. A demonstrated loss of strength in the rectus femoris (hip flexor) muscles. This is relevant as one of Margot’s original complaints was knee and hip pain, and she wore flip flops all the time. Since we discarded the flip flops we have seen steady improvements in the form of reduced pain and increased strength.

The obvious question is: Why are the flip flops so impactful for this client?

  1. From a bio-mechanical standpoint the big toe often stays glued to the flip flop in the swing phase of gait, when it should be joining the other toes as part of the anterior wave/ dorsiflexion party. Often this presents as out-turned feet and collapsed arches.
  2. The cushion can be a problem if you already have balance problems in the form of proprioceptive, vision based or vestibular issues a little more imbalance can be enough to send you off the cliff? Not sure about that? Think about an ant crawling over your foot, and how that grabs your attention. If the receptors in your dermal layer are that sensitive and send such a strong signal, why would your other systems be any different?

Selection of proper footwear is important, and should not be driven by emotion. A simple standard to adhere to is to look for shoes that you can easily bend to touch the toe to the heel, and that can rotate at the arch. Most importantly, don’t let yourself become the victim of someone else’s marketing plan/ advertising scheme.

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Knee Circles https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/03/06/knee-circles/ https://www.averagetoelite.com/2017/03/06/knee-circles/#respond Mon, 06 Mar 2017 17:45:15 +0000 https://www.averagetoelite.com/?p=1302 The post Knee Circles appeared first on Average To Elite Performance.

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