Why Doing Planks Will Help You Touch Your Toes

     Have you ever had a book that you re-read and it takes on a deeper meaning the second time? Then you re-read it once more and it takes on a different meaning yet again. I have a few books like this in my bookcase, but the one I want to discuss today is Anatomy Trains, by Thomas Meyers. I have owned this book for 8 years. Recently, I started experimenting with a series of mobility drills and the entire concept has its roots in this book. I’ve mentioned before that in fitness, new gadgets and fitness toys are created monthly, but new concepts arise infrequently. What I’ve come to appreciate are a few pioneers who take an established concept and go a mile deep in its understanding. Improving mobility by creating tension and anchoring using sticks that flex is one of those examples. The sticks I’m referencing are the sticks created by the team at Stick Mobility (https://stickmobility.com).These guys figured out that by positioning your body in various lengthened positions and using sticks to create tension you could improve someone’s range of motion and hence their mobility. The key is that those positions are fascia lines (superficial back, superficial front, lateral, spiral, etc.). 

 

4.-anatomy-trains

 

     People enter our studio daily looking to drop body-fat & increase muscle mass. Rarely do we get people looking to improve mobility. That’s always an after-thought. “Oh yeah, I need better flexibility, too”. What I’ve learned and what Mr. Meyers has shown us is that if we can improve someone’s movement by following what he has coined “Anatomy Trains”, we will be able to increase stability (strength) throughout their body. I first purchased Anatomy Trains a few years back when I wanted to get a better understanding of myofascia & tissue work. Foam rolling was all the rave and I wanted to understand how a foam roller or “Poor man’s massage therapist” could improve someone’s quality of movement. I would soon learn that if I can help you move better, I can make you stronger. If I can make you stronger, you can move a load with less risk of injury. Then if I can have you move that load with a specific level of intensity (heart rate, neurological demand), I can then produce a metabolic effect that will utilize body-fat as a fuel source more efficiently, hence high intensity interval training (HIIT). My point is that to look leaner, you need to move better first. Here’s a video of me going through a quick warm-up flow using the Mobility Sticks before a workout. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcKkdvcDT7Q

 

     This brings me to a 2nd concept that I learned years ago, but truly didn’t grasp until recently. I’ve previously mentioned that we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) at the studio to assess the quality of someone’s movement prior to putting them through a workout. I believe it’s negligent for me to put someone’s body under load without confirming what their quality of movement is first. In the FMS, the 5th screen is the active straight leg raise (ASLR). In this screen, you are checking someone’s hamstring mobility. This is critical to know before you have someone either dead-lift or swing a kettlebell, two of my favorite exercises. Gray Cook, creator of the FMS, has discussed how you should check someone’s toe touch prior to the ASLR to determine if they may have a tissue (fascia, scar tissue, muscle) restriction or a motor control problem. The reason for the toe touch is to see if your body can create trunk (core) stiffness as your hamstrings lengthen allowing you to touch your toes. If your core is weak, your body can create stiffness in other areas, such as the hamstrings, as compensation. It’s a way your body puts the brakes on to protect itself from injury. This is why I frequently observe people improve mobility in their hamstrings by becoming stronger in their plank position. 

FMS

    I know this may be getting in the weeds a bit, but what I believe is revolutionary about the Mobility Sticks and their system is that they allow you to create tension by either pressing them into the ground and or flexing them as your work through specific positions and postures. This ignites a neuro-drive in your body which can activate inhibited or shortened muscles. It’s a way to hit re-set for your body in certain positions and movement patterns. Bottom line, you will move better. 

 

       IMG_0281

 

     This is another example of a new fitness tool (Mobility Sticks) that can help make big improvements based upon concepts (fascia and motor control) that have been around for a while. I guess I need to visit this section of my bookcase more often. 

See you at the studio.

 


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