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Written on September 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm, by Eric Cressey
Last summer, Rick Kaselj sent me the eight webinars from his new collaborative product, Muscle Imbalances Revealed – Upper Body, to review. I was really excited to check them out, as I’d enjoyed the initial version of the Muscle Imbalanced Revealed (MIR) series.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm to watch it was overtaken by a crazy busy summer schedule and I only got around to looking it over a few months later. I regretted that it took me so long, as I really enjoyed what I viewed. That said, I thought I’d use today’s piece to comment on my favorite take-homes from one presenter, Dean Somerset, who I thought did an exceptional job. Be sure to read through to the end, as Rick has a great discount on the entire Muscle Imbalances Revealed series in play this week.
Anyway, Dean’s presentation was a pleasant surprise for me in the initial Muscle Imbalances Revealed collection, as I had not been familiar with his work prior to the product. As it turned out, he did a great job of delving into the fascial system, which is no easy task, considering that even the foremost experts on “fascial fitness” recognize that we still have a tremendous amount to learn in this regard.
His presentations this time around didn’t deviate from that initial trend, either; I really enjoyed them for a number of reasons; here are my top seven:
1. Dean did the best job of outlining a clear rationale for foam rolling that I’ve seen in the industry thus far – and did so in a very layman-friendly format. In highlighting the role of Ruffini endings – which are slow adapting, low threshold mechanoreceptors that respond to direct pressure (like foam rolling) – Dean showed that they can decrease tone of tissues in the presence of stretch and inhibit sympathetic nervous system activity.
2. Another way he made his point was with a great analogy. Much like we have fast-twitch and slow-switch muscles, we have receptors that may act in similar ways. On one hand, we have “fast twitch” receptors like golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles that function with the musculotendinous units. On the other hand, we have “slow twitch” receptors like Ruffini endings and Pacini fibers that exist in the fascial tissues. Because the muscules, tendons, ligaments, and fascial tissues are really all continuous with each other, there exists a great amount of interaction between these slow and fast twitch receptors – much like the interaction of different muscle fiber types. They are all responsive – in both positive and negative directions – to chronic training stimuli – and sitting on your arse in front of a computer screen for years on-end.
3. Dean noted that fascia carries an electrical charge that is never off; it’s just “on” at different levels. Certainly, it’s far more “on” with exercise than at rest – and it’s the reason that contractions can last for hours post-exercise. If you have an individual who isn’t able to tone down (pun intended) that contraction in the post-exercise period, you’re likely dealing with someone who’ll have chronic movement impairments. If this electrical charge is always present, it can ultimately alter movement to the point that joint structure can actually change (think of the reactive changes in an acromion process, as an example). Appropriate training enables one to get the benefits of exercise without creating negative long-term adaptation in this regard.
4. What is appropriate training for fascial fitness, though? Dean cites the same seven components to an appropriate program that I outlined here, but he does so with a very valuable qualifications: adequate hydration status is absolutely crucial to making the most of any training status. Repeated stretch bouts during the warm-up period allows for more water content for the fascia; each successive stretch improves hydration to allows for better elasticity and tensile strength, which in turn provides better joint stability and force production.
5. I like guys who solve problems. I love using spiderman variations in our warm-ups, as they are great hip mobility drills. Unfortunately, though, they don’t always look so hot when you have someone with poor thoracic mobility trying to get their elbow down to the inside of their thighs. Many folks will wind up rounding over – which is certainly not ideal. Imagine Quasimodo doing this drill and you’ll get what I mean.
Dean’s solution – which provided me with a “why didn’t I think of that?” moment – was to bring the thigh up to the torso. In other words, do the forward lunge component onto a 12-inch plyo box so that folks can get the hip mobility benefits without compromising thoracic positioning. Sweet.
6. I thought Dean did an excellent job of highlighting that it can take years to improve fascial fitness substantially. Super-immobile individuals usually take years and years of either sedentary lifestyles or terrible training habits to get to that point, and unless they’re ready to dramatically overhaul their mindsets and daily habits, it can be like swimming upstream when correcting bad posture. Be consistent when addressing these limitations, but also be patient.
7. I love the fact that he commented on all the normal roles of the core – force transfer, resisting movement, returning from a position outside of neutral – but also highlighted that optimal core function is essential for optimal respiratory function. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that we use a lot of specific breathing drills, so I was glad to see a bright dude in the industry backing me up on this one!
This is really just the tip of the iceberg with respect to not only Dean’s two presentations, but the entire Muscle Imbalances Revealed – Upper Body package, which also includes webinars from Rick Kaselj, Jeff Cubos, and my business partner, Tony Gentilcore. I’ll highlight a few more of my favorite takeaways in my next post, but in the meantime, I’d strongly encourage you to check this great resource out for yourself.
To sweeten the deal, Rick has put the entire Muscle Imbalances Revealed product on sale for $210 off the normal price through tomorrow (Friday) at midnight. It’s a fantastic deal on a product that I highly recommend – and one that comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee, plus several cool bonus features (including two interviews Rick did with me). Click here to check it out.
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