Category Archives: mobility

Random Friday Thoughts: Moving and Flexibility

Another Friday has rolled around, so here’s a few of the things that are front and centre in my mind this week.

1 – Moving

Nope, not handstands or “kinetic koans” whatever the fuck that means, actually relocating.

In 2 weeks I’ll be moving house which means I’ll have a fairly significant commute by car each day to and from WG-Fit.
This means there are a few changes to the schedule.

My operating hours will change to M/T/T/F from 0700 – 1500
Outside of those hours I will be working Online only barring the odd exception or workshop.
I’ll also figure out the video function on the phone and set it up in the car and start podcasting or Vlogging or something…..

Our resident Nutrition Guru Seba will be covering the evening sessions as well as taking nutrition consultations.
This will work out nicely as while I’ll still be doing all the program writing, Seb offers a contrasting teaching style and a different bank of knowledge for you to draw from.
You come to me for the biomechanics, you go to him for the nutrition. Both of us can help you get fitter, faster and stronger, but he’ll ensure you know how to fuel it better.

2 – Moving

Back to “Kinetic Koans” and other bits of bullshit word salad.
Ido Portal will be back in Dublin teaching this year, which is great, if you get chance and can pony up the fee, go to it.
I went to his Movement X workshop a few years ago in Blackrock.

Ido’s online persona is this gurulike character that is beautifully parodied by JP Sears and this video featuring the legendary Jujimufu (John Call) and our mutual friend Yuri Marmestein

 

In reality, from my experience, Ido is actually a decent bloke with a very well thought out methodology that if you’re smart enough, you’ll be able to see the principles he works from very quickly in his workshop.

The only issue is the online nonsense that comes out of the likes of him and many in that “Movement Culture”
Why does good information have to be presented in like a bad Pai Mei impression?

via GIPHY

Why can’t people just use simple, plain, terminology.

Old school martial arts was taught secretly, therefor the poetic and vague language was a deliberate rouse to cause confusion. But now, information is free and easy to access, why use wooly language?

We should all aim to communicate in manner that is simple and clear. Or in the words of Einstein, “As simple as possible, but no simpler”

 

3 – Flexibility

Not the splits…..
But thoughts and actions.

Fixed ideas shut down development. Never be afraid to explore a thought process.
In training this means trying out new movements and exercises to see if their viable, in the real world, well kinda the same thing.

You just never know, the movement you’re not doing might be the very movement you need to be doing, but if you’re boxed into thinking you’re doing everything right, how would you know.

The danger then becomes hopping from one idea to the next, that’s as bad as limited thinking. Give things time, 4 weeks minimum, before you swap them to really see how they affect you.

 

4 – Actual Flexibility

Why are you stretching?
I get asked regularly if being able to do the splits is a essential for kicking.

Short answer:

NO!

Why do we stretch.
To restore our resting muscle length, to allow residual or habitual tension to dissolve away or to achieve a position we need for our sport.

Habitual tension is the tension you hold as a habit, this can be as a result of a posture you hold or a sport you play or something you learned as a kid from your parents.
Residual tension is that tightness that follows a good training session. For example, between the cycling and the squatting, my quads hold a fair amount of residual tension, so I like to gently stretch them to ease them out.

But if your goal is to kick better, then you are better served by kicking more.

That said, targeted work can speed the process. Here’s how:
Break down the movement, ie a front kick.
Look at the areas that close: Front side of the hip, the knee
Look at the areas that open: rear of hip, back of knee

Now, strengthen the closing muscles in their shortened range, stretch the opening muscles to teach them to lengthen.
That’s not just for kicks, but any position you want to get more range in.

Simple.

Of course if you’ve questions, drop me a line.

I’ll chat soon.

Regards

Dave Hedges

 

 

Monday Mobility: Pumping Up The Psoas

Have you ever tried to stretch your hip flexors only for them to stick two fingers up at you and grip tighter than ever?

Yet, if those hip flexors are tight, then you should be able to lift your knee up high right?

Wrong.

Very wrong.

There are a few muscles that can be though of as hip flexors, but the one that gets all the attention is the Psoas.

If you look at this beautiful piece of art from Danny Quirk, you see the psoas journey from the attachments on the spine, down through the bowl of the pelvis and insert onto the inside of the femur:

The caption on the artwork refers to the diaphragm, your breathing muscle.
Take a moment to notice how the top of the psoas and the bottom (rearmost) section of the diaphragm seem to cross over.

Do you think that could be significant?

I do.

If you aint breathing well, if your diaphragm isn’t doing it’s thing, then are we able to create intra abdominal pressure and generate power from the spine?
Probably not, so the psoas then has to do the spine stabilising bit, which ties up a lot of it for the hip flexing work.

So, first, read Breathing An Instruction Manual this will open in a new tab.

We can, like all muscles, work on targeted strength training, which in most cases is much more useful than stretching.

To do this we pull our knee in towards the centre of our chest.
Do your best not to let it track out towards the shoulder, and move in a controlled manner.

Here’s BJJ Champion Seb preparing his psoas prior to getting under the bar for squats:

And here’s Kyokushin Karate champion Aneta alternating psoas activation with Deadlifts:

Both these athletes are very strong, so they are pulling against bands, you my find the weight of your leg to be plenty and will add bands only if appropriate.

Try a half dozen reps or so per side before any activity that requires flexing or extending the hip, see if this helps.

And please, work on breathing using any of the many styles available.

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.WG-Fit.com

Monday Mobility: Upgrading the Squatting Thoracic Extension Exercise

Today’s mobility post is all about attention to detail.

The Squat and Reach exercise has become more and more popular over the last while, which is great to see.

It is a combination exercise helping to solidify a resting / deep squat position and develop so extension and rotation through the upper back.

Done well it ticks a lot of boxes.

Mostly though, as explained in this one minute video, many boxes are left unticked by most:

 

The video cuts of at the end there, what I was about to explain was the value of propping up the heels.

If you can’t get into the deep squat, grab something to elevate your heels enough so that you can.
Then perform the exercise.
You might use weight plates if you’re in the gym, maybe a couple of books if you’re at home.
Many of the more old school type gyms have a 2 x 4 knocking around the squat rack area specifically for this reason, as seen in this iconic picture of Dave Draper:

 

While Mr Draper is lifting his heels so he can emphasise his quads better, you may need it simply to get that deep into the squat.
How to get into the squat without the heel lift is another story and one I’ll cover soon.

Until then, lets get that shoulder externally rotating in the Squat and Reach exercise and really get the spine to move like butter.

Any questions, let me know in the comments below.

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.WG-Fit.com

Monday Mobility: The Pump aka Up & Down Dog

The pump exercise is a must for just about every human animal on the planet.

It’s essentially Yoga’s Up and Down Dog positions.

With this being such a global movement it’s easy to play around within it to explore your movements, find tension and stimulate various lines of pull.

We can emphasise:
Calves
Hamstrings
Spinal Extension
Hip extension
Shoulder Flexion and Extension
Chest opening
Scapula movement
Serratus Anterior strength
Core Strength

The list goes on.

In my gym, I use it as a screen as it is such a catch all it can show up several issues to watch for.
I also use it with many people who need to develop better scapula control, particularly those involved in the combat sports.

For yourself, it’s a great fit for your warm up, usually the early part.
But it’s also perfect following any period of inactivity, just as your dog or cat would take a moment to stretch in an almost identical fashion to this.

I’ve shot two videos on this, a quick and dirty One Mimute Tutorial for the instagram (search the othe one minute tutorials I’ve done with the hashtag #OMT ) and a more detailed, less rushed YouTube clip.

Here’s the #OMT

And this is the more detailed YouTube version:

And finally, here is a demo of me running through some variations on our “Quick Yoga” that you can hopefully see is based on this Pump movement

As you can see this is a very versatile exercise that you can keep very simple and dial in to achieve a specific outcome.
Or it’s a great drill to add complexity to for a spot of exploration or development of your movement vocabulary.

Be careful with this if you have a current shoulder injury, the Down Dog position may well be too extreme for you at the moment.
If that’s the case case, get yourself assessed to see what movements you should be doing.

Regards

Dave Hedges

Monday Mobility – Swing Your Clubs!

Last week we restarted our Monday Mobility series with a great Thoracic Mobility drill ( <– that was a link to it in case you didn’t spot it)

Lets stay on a theme, the upper back, shoulder and chest. Ie, the thoracic region.

If there was a single catch all for the entire thoracic region, I’d have to say the Indian Club is it.

Last weeks drill showed you how to extend the spine, which open the ribs and allows the scapula to move more freely.
Swinging the Indian Club shows the shoulder blade how to move.

This little video is a few of the swings we use with the club, including some that add in the lower body:

The key is to allow the weight of the club to take you.
You follow the club, you allow IT to do the work.
You feel it pull on you, extending the limb and opening out the motion.

Meaning your muscles can relax (within reason of course), this relaxation allows the centrifugal pull from the club to place a gentle traction on the joints of the arm and shoulder, load and stretch the muscles in each and every direction within the swing and allow “overactive” to chill out while “underactive” wakes up.

Another way to think of this is, you’ve used last weeks stretch to prep for movement, now we get that movement oiled up and smooth.

This is an old (2012) video tutorial of the absolute basics:

Since then we’ve learned a lot.

The big thing, which I hope you’ll spot watching the first video and comparing it to the second, is that we have discovered the value of the extension, of allowing the club to draw us into a reach.

It’s this reach that is magic.
And it’s a major point we labour in our workshops, the next of which is very soon:

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If you come to the workshop, we will ensure you leave competent with the clubs, and you’l have your own set of Pahlavandles to continue practicing with.

I’ll see you there.

Regards
Dave Hedges

Monday Mobility: Thoracic Extension

It’s been a long time since we had a Monday mobility post.
So we have a nice one for you today.

Thoracic extension is a bug bear for many.
Without good T-spine movement we can say good bye to a good overhead position, we may experience tightness in the musculature on the front and upper sections of the shoulder, we may even have pain in the back.

We may not.

But with the modern lifestyle of sitting, as I am right now tapping this out on the computer, we are on the whole, in need to of good spinal mobility in our lives.
If you play any sport that uses a flexed posture (boxing, BJJ/Judo cycling, rugby……..you get the idea) or an overhead sport like Kettlebell Sport, you’ll really like this.

So I invite you to try this.

You need something to lie over, I’m using a large slam ball, I could have used a punch bag or a bench or a foam roller.
The bendier you are, the higher the support you’re likely to need.

Have a watch:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

How to get taller…… Not really. But you certainly feel that way. Thoracic extension, stretching the lats, the serratus anterior, the intercostals, the abs, the diaphragm all in one simple drill. You can clearly see my range of motion improve over the minute here as I allow the weight of those 2.5kg weights to pull my hands closer to the floor. As I actively relax And as I as movement by way of the hip lift and lower. The trick is to let the hands come towards the floor as the hip lifts and keep them still as the hip lowers. Do as many as you need to to feel change. And don’t forget to breathe #wgfamily #irishfitfam #thoracicmobility #thoracicextension #mobility #shoulder #shoulderrehab #sportsinjury #bjj #judo #kettlebellsport #girevoy

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on

 

The instructions:

  • Set up with the upper back only on the support / fulcrum
  • Take a pair of light weight plates, as you get better, use LESS weight
  • Start with the hips high and the hands close to the floor
  • Let the weights hold you hands in place as you lower the hips down
  • Keep moving up and down, nice and slow, asking permission from the body to go gradually further.
  • Doas many reps as you need to feel a change (This clip shows me stiff as a board, my first set lasted 2 mins, I did two subsequent sets of 20 pulses until I felt no further change)
  • Relax as much as possible and DO NOT hold the breath

And that’s it.

Go easy at first, best that you’re warmed up before going for it.
You never know, with enough practice you might end up being able to do this:

Have fun.

Regards
Dave Hedges
www.WG-Fit.com

Improve Mobility & Flexibility with a Yoga Workshop

On December 11th, we will be hosting Yoga instructor Anne Dempsey for a workshop here at Wild Geese.

This will be the second such workshop covering a variety of poses and stretches in great detail.
All the information taught is tailored to the needs of a combat athletes, but of course is extremely useful to anyone for enhanced mobility, flexibility and injury prevention.

Bring a notepad and pen with you because the information comes thick and fast as Anne goes into great detail on each position, revealing the subtleties that take a good stretch into a great stretch.
Anne will also be teaching Somatic movements, which are a system of relaxed, “lazy” movements that have been proven to unwind and release tight muscles and postural injuries.

We are taking bookings now for the workshop, please confirm your place via email.

Details:
Date – 11th Dec 2010
Time – 1230 to 1430
Cost – members 15 euro
Cost – non members 25 euro
Payment method – Cash on the day, or in advance (20% discount o all advance payments). Payment can be accepted via PayPal.ie (address to info@wildgeesema.com)