Why do we focus so much on issues like knees, low backs, and shoulders. I would like to think it is because they are often the BIGGEST obstacles in people achieving their fitness goals. It isn’t just regular people that get stuck on such issues, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of fitness professionals and strength coaches that share with me they would like to do more, achieve more, but they have issues in areas like their knees and low backs that keep them from reaching that success.
Never do I think badly of professionals struggling with the typical “big 3” of injuries. We put a lot of wear and tear on our bodies in an effort to make our bodies better, but we also have to deal with the “stuff” we have accumulated from when we were younger, that time we pushed ourselves more than we should have, or that weird incident that happened (you know, that one time!). One of the things I try to help people understand is not to focus on what happened before, but where we are today. We may not be able to fix everyone but I am very confident we can make A LOT of people better.
It gets me so excited to see that simple concepts can completely change how one feels. Let’s face it, it really isn’t time or amount of equipment that keeps people from their goals, it is the idea that most think exercise has to hurt and suck to be effective. Our industry hasn’t done such a wonderful job helping dispel this fallacy. What if though, what if we could show people simple ways to help issues like their knees and low backs?
Nothing super complicated, nothing fancy, and oh, it probably isn’t all that sexy either. Yet, if it works, isn’t that the “coolest” thing we could ever do for people?
Why did I want to write about knees and low back specifically? To be honest, because they get A LOT better through just a simple idea (don’t confuse simple for easy) which is learning to use your feet! I’ve written many times on our blogs how important the feet are to our entire body, but most specifically to our knees and low backs.
We often have to give feedback upon HOW to use the feet since we are so disconnect from our bodies.
They are our foundation of everything and yet we teach people very little in how to use them correctly. Doesn’t make sense right? Since force enters our body from the ground up, it is the feet that determine what happens up our chain to a large degree. The feet control what happens at the knees and plays a big role in activating the glutes and stabilizing our pelvis. So you can see why the feet play such a big part in better knees and low backs.
As fitness professional, Sarah Rippel describes….
“So what was this client doing this morning prior to focusing on this “push down to stand up” concept? Well, we were doing bear-hug squats with a 24# Ultimate Sandbag, which have become my go-to variation over the goblet squat for teaching people to just get down there!
The DVRT variations basically kick ass because they place such a huge emphasis on this! I am so thankful I chose to dive headfirst into the DVRT world Josh Henkin! At this point in my career, not a lot gets me “jazzed” with regard to the educational opportunities out there. Not saying that I know everything, because most of the time I feel like I know nothing at all…BUT…I’ve learned to weed out a lot of garbage & recycled info so that I could focus on just doing a damn good job coaching my clients. Finding the LIFT & DVRT certifications at this point in my career makes me wish I would have done the DVRT stuff way sooner (as the LIFT stuff is new), but maybe I had to come this far to truly appreciate it, as I feel I have been brought kinda full-circle to the mid-2000s excitement I felt with the “functional training” boom (man I loved me some PTontheNet, JC Santana, & Gary Gray).
The hands & feet are in the spotlight in the bear hug squat (& other DVRT variations), as they should be with any exercise but again, no one really seems to think about the feet…as well as the hands! Yes, we grip barbells & other things but many people are not aware of WHY the grip is so important (other than to just hang on for dear life, lol). Anyhow, one of the beautiful things about the Ultimate Sandbag is that it allows you to create a ton of tension by gripping it and pulling it apart, which in turn makes it part of your body during this variation. From here, I have found people have a much easier time “dropping down into the hole.”
Helping people learn how to become more aware of their feet is essential in not just helping the knees and low back, but helping our overall strength and stability. In fact, teaching people how to use their hands and feet is what we are really trying to accomplish in actual stability training in making connections in the body.
Jessica actually breaks down some ways we FORCE the feet to be more active and help problematic knees.
Strategies like I show in these deadlifts are all about integrating the hands and feet to create that stability to the whole body. When we use strategies like the band around the feet like I demonstrate is a simple way to get people to use their feet which helps the knees and low back tremendously in drills like these.
I realize these types of ideas don’t have you feeling like a mad scientist and don’t make things seem so complicated. Yet, man they work and they work so fast and well that people can immediately feel better and stronger. Isn’t that what our job as coaches really is, to teach people how to use their body well so that they can achieve the goals that matter to them?
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