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GOOD, BETTER, BEST

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I think walking when playing is a great way to stay loose and focused during your round and its a great workout, especially if you are playing a tough course like Black Gold, Monarch Beach or Tijres Creek. But like anything its best to be prepared. So I wrote and article called Good, Better, Best that my buddies at California Golf Magazine put up on their website. Hopefully you find some benefit out of it too!

I highly encourage walking versus riding when you play. It’s a great way keep your mind focused while playing and it’ll burn some extra calories while having fun. That being said, I do recommend you build up yourself up off the course first to ensure you aren’t running out of gas on the back nine. You don’t want to be huffing and puffing on your way to a birdie putt. So while walking while playing might be good, being prepared for it is better, and that will ensure your best every round. Read on to what I suggest to my clients for their golf conditioning.

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Good- Walking

We all know walking is a good physical activity, and we all should walk 20-30 minutes everyday for general health and fitness. The most common complaint I hear revolves around time, my answer is, Do yourself a favor and make some time. Use half of your lunch break or skip the 2nd half of Sports Center to walk. That being said, I never suggest mindless cardio so try to disconnect from your cell phone or iPod while walking and focus on tall posture and belly breathing. Don’t worry the TV will be there when you get back.

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Better- Intervals

If you have been walking and need to step up the intensity, try some Interval training. Intervals are about taking your intensity up for a short period then dropping it down to catch your breath before doing it again.  I start all my healthy golfers with at a 3:1 (rest to work ratio) on the treadmill.  The protocol is walk at 3 mph for 1 min and 30 seconds, then run (or sprint if you can) at a speed suitable for you for 30 seconds.  You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel on the course after just a couple of interval sessions.

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Best- Circuit Training

I will stand on my soapbox here for a minute and say this, it’s wise to make sure you are ready to train and have a good routine based on your needs and fitness level, so seeing a qualified Golf Fitness Instructor is ideal here.  Now that that’s out of the way, circuit training is great to challenge your fitness and involves doing 3 or more exercises back to back with no rest until that set is complete.  For golf conditioning, I like to group a high intensity exercise (like Medicine Ball Throws), followed a strength exercise (like Push Ups) and follow that up with a balance activity (like Single Leg Balance in Golf Posture). Set a timer for 3 minutes and do your Medicine Ball Throws for minute 1, for minute 2 do your Push Ups, then finish your last minute with Golf Posture Balance on your left leg for 30 sec, then balance on your right for 30 sec.  For that example 1 set will last 3 min straight, move and do your drills for the entire time! No rests until that last minute is done. Take a minute off then repeat another set.

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Good, Better, Best is all about progress, we are all where we are in terms of our fitness. Once we understand it and embrace it we work on it.  It will benefit your overall health and improve your fitness and ability to score when it counts.

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FEET, BALANCE AND GOLF SWING

Who would have every thought to pay attention to feet when it comes to your golf game? Believe it or not your feet and how connected to the earth they are greatly relate to how you swing the club and how much force you generate when you swing the club. Paul Chek (a fitness guru) puts it best by saying, “You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe”, or there is no way to generate force from an unstable surface.

I have been working with Marc Marini, PGA Instructor from Sea Cliff Golf Club in Huntington Beach, CA and as with all of my clients, the first place I start is with a movement assessment. A movement assessment tells me how well (or how poorly) someone is moving and from that assessment I can create programs to cater to those needs. Marc came in to work on improving his power and felt his in ability to keep his feet connected to the floor was restricting him, and caused him to lose power and balance in his swing. Among other things, we had to go over some basics such as:
1) Roll out the arches: this drill massages the bottom of the feet to take stress off of your arches and calves

Massaging the foot arches with a golf ball

Marc Marini demonstrates how to roll out or massage the foot arch with a golf ball for better mobility in his ankle during the golf swing

 

2) Mobilize the ankle joint: We used 2 simple drills to give the ankle more movement by stretching the calves and top of the foot

Stretch for the ankle joint

Marc Marini demonstrates how to stretch the front half of the ankle for better mobility during his golf swing.Stretching the calf/ankle jointMarc Marini demonstrates for to stretch the calf against a curb to improve his ankle mobility and foot stability during the golf swing

 

3) Reintegrate the calves with a swing drill: In this drill I hooked Marc up to a stretch cord to challenge his balance (the same way he loses it in his swing). This reintegrates how his feet should act in the golf swing and retrains his brain as well as his body in the golf swing.

Swing Drill with resistance

Marc Marini and I demonstrate a drill to reeducate his balance through the golf swing.

 

Drill to improve Pivot

Marc Marini demonstrates one of his favorite drills to improve balance, pivotand club face are all in line with the ball.

In this case Marc is a strong dude and to unlock power we needed to improve his foot balance and ankle movement so he could generate more power in his swing.

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IS YOGA BAD FOR THE BODY?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html

I came across this article in the New York Times recently titled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” and thought it was interesting since I am frequently asked by golfer’s and those looking for more mobility/flexibility about yoga.

My typical answer is, without properly assessing your movement ability, strengths and weaknesses, I won’t have a good answer for you.   Anyone, whether in good physical health or poor, should understand that movement can be helpful or harmful.  And I am not talking just about form or technique, I am talking about being aware of certain movement patterns.  An example being, people with lower back pain typically think that yoga and stretching the lower back are good things to do to relieve pain.  In actuality stretching the lower back may destabilize it more and cause increased pain.

Dont’ get me wrong, I am not saying yoga is wrong, but I am saying that not being aware of what is right or what is not right for you is bad.  What really made me agree with the article from the NY Times was this paragraph

“Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

I feel the same way about movement in general. Strength Classes, Pilates, Aerobics, etc can be great or can be detrimental.  The right movement for the right person can be great and a lifesaver, but the wrong movement for the right person can be terrible.  I said it before and I will say it again, Get an assessment to understand your movement needs whether your goal is to increase your general health and movement, or to increase golf or sport specific conditioning you can’t have a plan without assessing where you are.

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TIPS FOR SITTING

5 Tips for Those who sit on the job was an article written by Karen Lobello for Yahoo. Karen was kind enough to contact me on 5 tips that I would give anyone that has to sit for most of the day for better posture and spine health so I suggested the following:

1. Sit at the edge of your chair; This promotes better posture and engagemnt of your core and trunk muscles.
2. Learn to Pack your neck; Neck Packing is a way to ensure good head/neck/spine posture as it prevents your head moving too far forward of the rest of your spine and body.
3. Brace your core; Bracing is engaging your abdomin. The easiest way to feel and learn how to brace is by coughing. When you cough, your midsection tightens up. Maintain that tension is great for helping stabilize the lower spine and encourages breathing by use of the diaphram.
4. Start Kneeling; By taking a 1/2 kneeling position, you stretch one of the most notorious muscles for lower back pain, the hip flexor. By taking a knee, tucking your hips under slightly and engaging your glutes, you will stretch the hip flexor and potentially provide relief for the lower back. I also encourage exercising from a 1/2 Kneeling position to challenge your balance and hip strength/stability.

5. Start Foam Rolling; Foam Rolling is a form of massage by which you apply pressure to tight spots in your muscles. By releasing tension from these areas, you will improve your muscle quality and circulation.

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LIVESTRONG.COM

Last month I was interviewed by Livestrong.com on the topic of How to get back into Working Out Everyday

The write-up was done really well and included tips from myself as well as from 2 other trainers.  Give it a read for some great usable info.  For the rest of my tips read below!  Enjoy!

Take the time to get a physical assessment

  1. Trainers nowadays are highly skilled professionals and are great at identifying what work you need to put in. Find a credible trainer, get an assessment and if you don’t want to work with a trainer on a regular basis get a PROGRAM.  Working out should be fun, challenging and a learning experience that keeps you motivated. Let the experts help with that. After all, the idea is to create a habit that you can continue, so do the right thing once and get after it!

Warm-up

  1. Foam Rolling, aka the poor man’s massage is a great tool/technique to warm up with. If you are just getting back into exercise, I am guarantee you will have areas that are tight, knotted up and painful. Using a foam roll will help to loosen up knots and promote blood flow. It will also help to improve the quality of your muscle tissue which in the long run is the goal.
  2. Warm-up after foam rolling. Start with a good stretch routine (such as active or dynamic stretching) to open up the hips and activate your core muscles.

Core Training

  1. We have all heard of the core, but do you know what it is? I describe the Core as your hips, pelvis, spine, shoulder blades and shoulders.  That’s a lot! Learning techniques such as bracing the core (tensing your abs, obliques, and deeper ab muscles) or shoulder packing (engaging the muscles in the upper back to promote better posture and stability of the shoulder) are necessary and all Level 1 techniques that I teach on a daily basis. The core is probably one of the most overly used terms AND least understood areas of the body.
  2. I start all my Level 1 clients with the Anti-Workout a core routine that challenges you to NOT flex, extend or rotate from the spine. It’s one of those workouts that looks easy, but kicks your butt!

Train Natural Movements

  1. The one piece of equipment everyone has is their own body! Learn to use it, move through the hips, stabilize the spine, and move through the shoulders. Try working out in various positions (standing, kneeling, side stepping, rotating). Working out is more than sitting on a piece of equipment, grabbing a handle and counting reps.  I teach 7 natural movement patterns Push (vertically and horizontally), Pull (vertically and horizontally), Squat, Lunge and Twist.  Mirror muscles are cool but being fit and functional are more important in the long run.

Cardio

  1. When most people think about getting back into training, they go straight to the treadmill. Understand that your fitness is also dependant on other factors. Do not neglect your mobility, strength, coordination, power or cardio training. You need them all.
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QUALITY OF MUSCLE TISSUE

If you have worked with me, you have probably heard the “beef jerky” talk. Here’s the typical scenario:

Me: Hows it going today?
Client: Good but my _____ hurts (you can put in knee, neck, shoulder, back etc)
Me: Hows your water been?
Client: Well could be better…
Me: Have you been foam rolling
Client: No I didn’t have time so I got straight into my workouts

This is about where I stop, and ask:
Me: Do you know what beef jerky is?
Client: Well, yeah
Me: So what is it? How is it made?
Client: *Smiling and thinking where is he going with this* It meat that is dried out, dehydrated
Me: Exactly

You may have heard at some point in your life that you are made of 70-80% water, which is completely correct. OUr bodies use water for our circulatory system, digestive system, and even for movement. Most of your water should be stored in your muscle tissue, so when you need extra digest a big meal or to keep your circulatory system moving it’s there. When you dehydrate or don’t hydrate enough, your body pulls water from any storage (i.e. muscles) to use for whatever it needs so you don’t shut down or pass out.

Being dehydrated makes your muscles tight and less pliable. Then add movement to that and getting sore from a workout and lactic acid build up from repetitive movement…guess what. You get knots in your muscles. When you have knots in your muscles that pulls on your joints in different angles, then guess what things wear down and…YOU HURT!

Something I have been adamant about for years has been foam rolling and hydration. Over the past few years working with various clients (golfers, martial artists, post rehab, general fitness), one thing stays constant people want to move better, feel better and look better. You don’t go to the gym to move shitty, feel shitty and look like shitty do you?

Mom I know you will read this so sorry for the language but this goes for you too 🙂

Let me put it to you this way, if you are tight you can’t move efficiently. If you can’t move efficiently but you do anyway, you get better at moving worse. If you continue to do that you get an injury, and that is not the goal of exercise.  The point of fitness is better health, not worse.

There’s a reason we go for the Filet Mignon over beef jerky…We don’t prefer to chew on leather if we don’t have to. That being said, hydrate, foam roll then move. In the short term you will feel better, in the long term will can move better and ultimately you will perform better.

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BALANCE FOR GOLFERS…

Over the years, I have assessed and worked with many golfer (from juniors, to recreational adults and even tour level pros) and it never ceases to amaze me how much golfers need to work on balance!

One of the biggest swing inconsistancies is found in lack of hip stability.  More often than not, golfers exhibit good stabiltiy in the lead leg, and poor stability in the trail leg.  Here are a couple of things I have used to help re-educate the hips and strength them in stabilization.

Enjoy!

Bridge

Great drill for strengthening your glutes and lateral hip stability

Half Kneeling Chops

Great for lateral hip stability and incorporating arm speed

Medicine Ball throws

Great for lateral hip stability, arm speed and reaction training

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HOW DO YOUR SHOULDERS WORK?

Did you know your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in your body? Your shoulder joint is the only joint that can flex (lift forward), extend (pull behind you), abduct (pull away from your body), adduct (pull into your body), rotate (both in towards the body and away from the body) and circumduct (move in circular patterns).

With all that movement, it’s no wonder why the shoulder joint is also one of the easiest joints to injure!

The shoulder joint is pretty complex and it’s not just the shoulder that makes all it’s movement happen.  Functionally speaking the shoulder girdle is where we get proper movement.

So you might be asking what’s the shoulder girdle?  Well the shoulder girdle breaks down into a few different bones, and they link together to provide stability to the entire shoulder region.

All the bones that affect the shoulder girdle function/movement:

-       Upper Arm (Humerus)

-       Shoulder Blade (Scapulae)

-       Collar Bone (Clavicle)

-       Upper Spine (Thoracic spine)

The upper arm (humerus) moves as a ball and socket joint with part of the shoulder blade and that is where we get most of our shoulder movement.  Without the shoulder girdle (shoulder blade, upper spine and collar bone) the shoulder would have nothing to stabilize it.  When the structure of the shoulder girdle does not stabilize the shoulder joint we typically see shoulder injury such as “grinding or clicking” noises and pains, rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, biceps tendonitis, etc.

If you have trained with me before, you have probably heard me say “all movement starts at the core” and I mean that.  In earlier articles we discussed what the core is and I defined it as everything excepts your arms and legs.  To me the shoulder girdle (shoulder blades, collar bones and upper spine) make up the top half of your core.  So whenever you start ANY upper body movement, you must stabilize you shoulder girdle (Chest up! Shoulders Back!) to allow your shoulder free motion without causing damage or pain.

To test what I mean, slouch as much as you can, then lift your arms as high up overhead as possible.  STAY SLOUCHED AND HOLD FOR A 5 COUNT.  What you should notice is… that it doesn’t feel good!  Imagine adding weight to that and doing it over and over again.  It’s painful and it will age you.

OK, let’s try it again, sit up as tall as possible and pinch your shoulder blades together and down, now lift your arms as high up overhead as possible.  YOU’RE YOUR SPINE TALL AND HOLD THOSE SHOULDER BLADES DOWN, FOR A 5 COUNT.  What you should notice is… MUSCLES WORKING!

When you slouch, your upper spine rounds and your shoulder blades slide as far from one another as they can.  This decreases shoulder stability.  Therefore when you move from the shoulder there is more possibility for pain and injury.

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NEUTRAL SPINE

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What is Neutral Spine and Why should I care about it?

If you have ever seen the human spine in pictures on skeletons you may have noticed the spine is not a flat or straight structure.  The spine has a natural “S” curve to it as seen below…

As we age, and become more or less active certain muscles will activate and other will not.  Muscles dictate the bone’s position, and therefore muscles dictate your posture.

As you can see in the above picture image “A” is of ideal posture; What to look for are: The ear, shoulder, the lower spine and hip joint, knees and ankles line up…
Translation= No Pain!  The body can function in good working order without being taxing on joints and/or pressure points.

In image “B” you can see a big curve in the upper back, and the head is pushed forward…
Translation= PAIN; typically people will complain of neck and mid back/shoulder discomfort as those areas are out of their ideal position.

In image “C” you can see the spine is very flat and the hips are tucked under, this posture is typical of a “sloucher”…
Translation= PAIN; with the spine being straightened out so much the neck, lower back and hips can become aggravated.

Finally in image “D” the upper back is rounded more than it needs to be and the hips shift forward…
Translation= PAIN; The head and forward which can strain the neck, the hips forward can aggravate the lower back and each hip.

You might think to yourself you have seen people walking around that look like this, or you may feel that your posture may resemble one of the above.  I see postures B, C and D as ticking time bombs.  The less “Ideal” our posture is, the more likely we are to overuse certain muscles, tendons and joints.  The more things get over used the more likely they will break down, and when they break down WE HURT!

Here’s an interesting fact to think about…the spine houses the spinal cord, the spinal cord sends signals from our brain to our body, if the spine is out of posture, the spinal cord will be out of posture and our bodies will not work as optimally as we want them to.  If we cannot efficiently instruct our body and force movements instead, guess what You will HURT!

I never had a client come in and say, “I want to be weaker, I want my posture to suck and I want to be horrible at sports.”  Its the opposite, people want better posture, want to be stronger in sports and DON’T WANT PAIN!
So train for it!  When my clients come in the gym, my goal is to encourage neutral spine during training.  Training with neutral spine will increase your core strength, and encourage you to activate your shoulders and hips.  That encourages overall strength and posture and more importantly relieve movement related (or lack of movement) pains.

Check these movements out to improve your posture and core strength!
Plank
Side Plank
Hip Hinge

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HOW TO IMPROVE MOBILITY

In this photo Roy Khoury shows a local Southern California section PGA (SCPGA) instructor an assessment for mobility to check body swing connection Roy_Khoury_Fitness

In this photo Roy Khoury shows a local Southern California section PGA (SCPGA) instructor an assessment for mobility to check body swing connection Roy_Khoury_Fitness

If you had a rusty hinge that was getting tougher and tougher to move but you needed to use it on a regular basis would you…

A) Re-align the hinge and oil it so it would work smoothly
B) Apply more pressure to get it moving
C) Ignore it altogether and don’t use it

I hope you answered A) Re-align the hinge and oil it so it worked smoothly.

So what does a rusty does a hinge have to do with golf or fitness?  Let’s think about joint pain and flexibility.  I wish the answer to joint pain and movement for the body was as easy as spraying a little WD-40 on it, but its not.

Many people live with joint pain.  Doctor’s tell us it’s bone on bone pain, degenerative joint disease or arthritis.  Live with it, take some Advil or Tylenol when it flares up, etc then when the time comes we will replace it. I disagree, surgery is always a last option only.
As someone that specializes in optimizing movement, I see a lot of people choose and live with B) Apply more pressure to get it moving.  People just tough it out and power through whatever they need to do, aggravating the injury and not doing anything to change what may be causing it.
I also see a lot of C) Ignore it altogether and don’t use it. I refer to it as couch therapy; rather than try to find a better way people sometimes decrease movement, avoiding whatever irritates it.  Instead of running they use the elliptical, when that hurts they go to the bike, when that hurts they go to the pool or get to a point of not moving at all and just lay on the couch medicate themselves.
So you may be thinking, my joints hurt, how do I improve my situation? Mobility training.  The best advice I can give people is not the easiest but with consistency it works and it gets better. When the body is allowed to heal itself it will, we just have to give it the right signals.
Here’s an example: say you have knee pain and there is discomfort bending your knee, my solution is:
1) Foam Roll- Sometimes surrounding muscles are too tense to allow for good movement of a joint.  Foam rolling helps to break up any adhesions or scar tissue that may be impeding movement.
*Click here to purchase a quality foam roller- I suggest the 3 ft long, 6 inch round roller for general use, or the 1 ft long, 6 inch round roller for travel

2) Stretch- Now that the muscle has been worked on and some tight tissue has been loosened up, stretch the muscles to allow for increased movement
3) Activate- Last thing to do movement wise is to use the muscles!  You can start with non-weight bearing movements then progress up to standing movements and weighted exercises as the joint becomes more stable and strength is gained through a greater range of motion.

Beyond mobility training some other things to incorporate are:

1) Hydration- Most people do not drink enough water.  We all know what beef jerky is right? DEHYDRATED MEAT, that being said you don’t want beef jerky for your muscles do you?  Poor hydration causes the muscles to restrict movement which ultimately will affect joint movement.  It’s so simple but such a common problem.

2) Fats- You may consider supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils, flax seed oil, etc).  Omega-3’s help to decrease inflammation in the body which will help with joint mobility.  The western diet is typically low in Omega 3’s.  Try supplementing 1 quality Omega 3 capsule with each meal and see if that doesn’t help improve your mobility.

3) Decrease grains and dairy products- Many people (whether the know it or not) are intolerant to gluten (grains) and lactose (dairy).  Although the media says these are healthy things for us you may need a little break from them.  Try eliminating 1 of them from your diet for 2-3 weeks then re-introduce it.  If you symptoms decreased while you were off that product, then return after adding the product back into your diet you may be intolerant to that product and without knowing aggravating you.
*Check out Dangerous Grains for more info on Gluten intolerance.

Enjoy!