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WARMING UP AND COOLING DOWN

Here’s a quick video on how to properly warm up and  and cool-down I did with my friends at the Athletic Development Lab !

Having a proper warm-up based on your needs and physical evaluation is essential to having a focus and time effiecent workout.  Using foam rolling, neuromuscular activation, and dynamic stretching all prepare your brain anf body for the work ahead.  Check out the video for more info.

I will post more videos as our series grows.

Enjoy!

ADL warm up / cool down from kenneth s nitta on Vimeo.

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Barefoot Training

A hot topic as of late, is the idea of Barefoot Training and Barefoot Running.  While I think Barefoot Running is something that really needs to be progressed into and not something that people should just go out and do (especially if they are not used to being barefoot, have any previous injury, or come from really restrictive shoes), Barefoot Training on the other hand is a great way to start to condition the feet, arches, and ankles.

A couple of months ago I was interviewed by Wyatt Myers on the Topic of Barefoot Running, and the recent popularity of Barefeet.  While the article has not been published yet, I think there is some great information.  The interview is below, enjoy!

 Q: What are your credentials:

  • Cal State Fullerton, Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology(2004)
  • Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, Level 3 (CGFI-3)
  • The Egoscue University/The Egoscue Method, Postural Assessment Specialist Level2 (PAS-2)*
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
  • National Exercise and Sports Trainer’s Association (NESTA), Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT 2)

I am the founder of RFK Training, a personal training service located in Newport Beach California and  have been a personal trainer for about the last 10 years.  My specialties are in the areas of corrective exercise training, functional training and rotary sports (such as golf).  I take a whole body approach to training no matter where my clients are in the goals, or needs and the feet are no exception.Â

 My training style covers:

  • Improving the quality of muscle tissue (through the use of myofascial release modalities)
  • Improving posture through mobility and stability training
  • Improving coordination in all foundational movement patterns
  • Improving strength, power and sport skills based on each client’s individual needs

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Q: What is barefoot running, and what are its origins?
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Barefoot running is just that, running in bare feet and I guess we can include in very minimal shoes.  It’s origins truly began with the dawn of man, but as we have developed and progressed as a society we got smart and developed things to cover our feet for protection from the elements.  Somewhere along the way we went crazy and took a good idea too far, but more on that later.

Q: What are the benefits of running in this fashion?

Bare foot running is not usually a place I would start with most people but definitely somewhere to progress to.  Bare foot running has the benefit of allowing your foot to function as it was intended to.  Most people are familiar with the terms “pronation” and “supination” which describe movements of the arch of the foot, but we have been conditioned to think that pronating or supinating are bad. In actuality these are actions a healthy foot should commonly do in stepping/ walking, and squatting activities.  The problem is most people’s feet are poorly conditioned and are stuck in either pronation or supination and do not fluidly move between the movements. Â

From a training aspect, most people are not ready to run in bare feet but I train almost ever client in their bare feet.  Training in bare feet conditions the foot, ankles, knees, hip, spine, etc into better movement.  I believe that how your foot strikes the ground dictates which muscles fire in which sequence through the kinetic chain.  When the quality of foot function improves in people, walking, jumping and running are usually progressed to.  Even then, distance running is something progressed into in bare feet.

Q: Did the book “Born to Run” play any role in its growth in popularity? How so?

I believe the book “Born to Run” has played a huge role in the recent popularity of bare foot running.  It was a great story in a best selling book which I think resonated with most everyone that read it.  There is something primal about being bare foot and running.  In one part, the book describes running as one of the reasons why modern man evolved and our ancestor’s went extinct.   It definitely made me question some of my training methodology, and had me change the way I do things myself and with some clients.

Q: Why has the practice grown more popular recently, in your opinion?

This is a tough question for me to answer, but I will say this… Being barefoot is cool, I am barefoot most everyday at work.  While it may look weird initially to the outsider looking in, as you begin to understand the benefits of it, it becomes a reasonable thing.  Most people that are “physical” and exercise, start to develop kinesthetic (or body) awareness.  The more you move the more awareness you have, as you progress and become more critical of your movement and you begin to realize that proper movement makes you feel good, and things that limit or restrict movement may end up hurting.Â

I started training barefoot about 4 years ago.  My focuse was on finding out why I had good balance in one leg but not the other.  Throughout the last 6-8 years I have tried different shoes, and I noticed the more flat the shoe was (less of a heel lift) the better I did.  Then the Nike Free came out and I was able to experience a “bare foot” styled shoe and I thought they were the best things ever so I wore and trained in those for years, but my balance never seemed to improve.  About 4 years ago, I first saw the Vibram 5 Finger shoe and realized it had what I needed for where I was in my training career.  It separated my toes so they were forced to function independently, it was flat to the floor, which gave me greater stability and I noticed my balance and strength improve.  Now I am not going to say the shoes did it, but I am going to say they helped, greatly.  The training was smart, and the equipment (Vibram 5 Fingers) helped.  Eventually my feet became more efficient, I think greatly due to the separate “boxes” for each toe, and my ability to feel my feet more in my training.  So now I am barefoot in the gym and when I run my local trails, such as El Moro, I run in my Vibrams for some coverage/protection.

 Q: Can you give me a list of the pros and cons of barefoot running, and a quick explanation of each?
 Pro’s:

1) Improved efficiency of the foot- being bare foot allows for an environment in which each part of your foot can do it’s job.  Your arches are allowed to pronate and supinate as needed, your toes are free to grab, push, separate, and squeeze as needed for balance.
2) Decreased risk of overuse injuries- Most overuse injuries of the foot and ankle start because of a lack of proper function.  Most modern shoes are too confining in the toe box causing and under use of the toes, too stable at the arch (especially “anti-pronating” shoes), and too elevated at the heel (which shortens the Achilles tendon and calves before they even get a chance to move).
3) It just feels good- The first thing most people look for in shoes is how “cool” they look, and a the next thing is comfort, I don’t believe you should have to search for comfort, but unfortunately the science of shoes is based around “support” and “stabilizing” and the more ridgid shoes have become, the less comfortable.  Look for the flattest soles possible, if you are new to minimal style shoes, start with something a little more stable and work into a less stable shoes.  Vibrams are a great option to walk around and train in as you will get independant toe movement and they will be stretched into proper resting lengths.

The human body is about use it or lose it, and pain is a sign from your body that you are losing something.  If you listen early enough you can get it back whether it’s mobility, stability, strength, coordination, endurance, etc.  You just need a proper plan.

Con’s:

1) Lack of coverage- Depending on what you do barefoot, you may need some coverage.  Things to consider terrain (rocky, rutted, roots, slick ground, etc), temperature of the ground (hot/cold) and other factors which may require some coverage.  As mentioned earlier I trail run in my Vibrams to avoid excess heat and burning my feet in the spring and summer and so I don’t’ cut myself on rocks, etc.  It’s just my preference.

2) Lack of education- If you have injuries or asymmetries or poor contorl of you feet, do not just go out and start running bare foot thinking it will cure it.  Depending on what issue you have you may need to address mobility or joint stability first.  Walking barefoot may be a good place to start, but before any training routine, check with a properly certified trainer to assess your movement function and get on a plan.  Most people that have trained in shoes, often train in the wrong shoes and their bodies will adapt to that, you need a plan to adapt to bare feet as well. Train smart, and train injury free.

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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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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.