We always talk about the interconnectedness (I think I just made up a word wooohoo!) of the body but for the most part we are still eons away from truly understanding it. The head bone iz connected to the neck bone, the neck bone is connected to the…..wait, you already lost me.
I get it, most people don’t give a crap about how it works. They just want big biceps, look good naked, and live pain-free. Congratulations, your normal. You have about a million other things going on in your life to care about fascia, biomechanics, hip torque, and ———-
It is, however, important to understand that your body is a series of checks and balances and the way you move stresses that system. IRL (read: in real life) it is difficult to control everything about the way you move unless you put a lot of thought to it. Although it would help a great many issues such as muscle imbalances and postural deviations, it is just not realistic for MOST people.
The one place you should have complete control over your body’s movements and postures is in the gym when you are working out. If you are only there for about an hour once or twice a week why not do the stuff that is going to make you a stallion?
I’m sure I have already lost a few of you but for those that are still reading I want to explain a little bit about how your body is linked together not only top to bottom and side to side but diagonal. Muscles, fascia (read this, this, and this), bones, ligaments, etc. all act on each other in a sense so when one part of the body moves or is disturbed so does another part.
To demonstrate I would like you to sit tall in your chair and take one hand and pinch one corner of your shirt. Go ahead, give it a little tug. What happens to the rest of your shirt? Notably the whole thing should move. If you tugged you your shirt at your right shoulder then you should even see significant movement right around your left hip. Crazy right? Now put your shirt back on or your coworkers will think you are stranger than you already are!
Thomas Myers talks about this in his book “Anatomy Trains” and without getting too in depth it maps the ‘anatomy of connection’ using the body’s fascial web. Note that your body only has a single web of fascia that covers your entire body, picture the previous experiment using a Snuggie.
He uses meridians to describe several lines of connection that he labels ‘trains’ or ‘lines’. This covers the front, the back, inside, outside, across the arms and diagonal. These lines, in theory and in practice, are how we move and ‘kinks’ in the line are what cause common dysfunction. This is a HYOOOOOOGE topic so I am going to leave it there but read the book if you are a professional or are more interested.
Today I wanted to talk about the Spiral Line since it is one that doesn’t get much love in anyone’s strength or fitness program and when trained properly can fix a whole slew of issues not only with the diagonal lines but with other lines as well. Just think about how we move: left leg moves forward as the right arm moves forward then the opposite.
Just think about how a pitcher throws a baseball. If Pedro Martinez (I miss Pedro *sad face* ) throws the ball with his right hand, which leg does he plant on? It would look really weird if you planted on his right and threw with his right, right? Right.
Then this probably won’t help but Myers states that the body’s spiral line is genetically designed to create and mediate spirals and rotations in the body, and, in eccentric and isometric contraction, to steady the trunk and leg to keep it from folding into rotational collapse.
So what does this mean for you? If these muscles or fascia are tight then you won’t move properly and shit is going to hit the fan. Typically it is not a matter of if but when and how.
How to fix/take care of your spiral line…
There are a few exercises that I use in my client’s programs that will keep things moving and functioning properly that 9 times out of 10 you will not see other jabronis doing in the gym. Mainly because they look weird and no one knows what the hell they are supposed to do.
The first exercise is one that I use to stretch and mobilize the entire spiral line (among other things). Depending on how stiff someone is, this might be a little aggressive but for most people it will do the trick. It is called a Side Lying Windmill and I use this in both the warm-up and as a filler for strength exercises.
*Note: place a foam roller, medball or small animal under your knee to help stabilize your lower back.
The next exercise is one that I will use with clients to assist in stabilizing the same chain of muscles (again, the spiral line) to aid in proper function. That is trainer speak for “It works the core” although you will get the random bro question “Does that work the chest?” the answer is still core. Any chop and/or raise variation will do but one that I have grown to like is the Half Kneeling Cable Bar Chop. I will use this in a stability warmup or as a core strength exercise at the end of a program.
*Note: Stay “tall” in the hips and spine and keep your stomach braced. Move like a machine.
I hope this didn’t confuse the shit out of you and gave you a couple great, healthy exercises to add to your current strength training program or routine. I have a whole butt load more exercises just like these so if you have any questions ask below. Stay curious!
*Final Note: I really need to make videos. Like, a lot. This will be in production for 2013 so stay tuned!