Monday, October 24, 2011

Movement Econ 310: Adding funds to your movement account

Now that we've covered the basics and the athletic/performance aspects of Movement Economics we want to give everyone insight on how to improve your own Movement Econ.

The simple answer: ANYTHING that you do to improve your physical abilities or improve upon a skill will improve your Movement Economics. Any activity designed to make you stronger, more powerful, more flexible, more alert or aware of your surroundings or that improves your confidence will build within each of us more movement capital to negotiate the small bumps in the road that we face from time to time. This "wiggle room", aka: compensation ability, flexibility, whatever you want to call it is MOVEMENT ECON!

Here are some examples:

#1: An obvious account booster: Going to the gym or performing some form of moderate to high intensity exercise. In all honesty the idea that each of us has to belong to a warehouse with every machine imaginable on site is a very old notion if you ask a REAL exercise professional; (hopping off my soapbox now)
Done properly, with the appropriate amount of intensity, volume, rest and recovery will certainly add movement capital to your account.

BIG problem though: Most don't realize that they are too weak until it is far too late. Remember that winter when you were shoveling snow and then you suddenly felt that intense burn in your back and down your leg? That was the catastrophic failure of some part of your lumbar spine (discs, joints, or otherwise) that occurred because you lacked the strength to perform that movement for as long as you were doing it. Simple, right? I'm sure each of us, even those of us who exercise very regularly, can point to an event like this where they had to find out that we overdrew our movement account.

#2:  Get skills!
This will make perfect sense to our athletes, but those of us who only occasionally find ourselves in real competition may need some remedial education on this one. There are tons of professionals out there who's job it is to teach us the nuance and detail within different sports. If you want to pitch at the highest level, there's a coach for that. If you want to run faster than you've ever run, there's a coach for that. There's a coach and/or a group  for just about EVERYTHING you can think of. How you go about selecting a coach is up to you. Of course, we have our preferences but it's very much a personal decision.

Let's think for a second what these coaches do. Do they MAKE you stronger, more flexible or more powerful? Well, no. Not really. They might tell you that there are some exercises you should do when you're doing your own training but most skills coaches stick to what they know.

Do they help with your body awareness or your overall outlook about your performance?  This is mostly a yes but it's through drilling specific and coordinated movement and not directed at ONLY improving these traits.

So what do these pros do? They ALL take the athlete that shows up and make them better at their skill. They do it by observing a specialized movement, assessing areas of ineffective movement and making corrections. THAT'S MOVEMENT ECON! It's how to get the most from our ability while wasting as little movement capital as possible.

With the number of high school, college and professional ballplayers we see it's always easiest to use them as the example: If a baseball pitcher's lead leg is hitting the ground in an externally rotated position then the torque that they are counting on to generate through their trunk and ultimately to their hand speed is decreased! They are wasting movement capital. If that same pitcher then opens up his front side (read: the glove side arm) his throwing arm and shoulder will be dragged prematurely through the acceleration phase of the pitch. He is wasting even more movement capital. Remember a bit earlier in this series the pitcher who brought $30 to the activity that costs $100? Well that is what we're seeing with the example above and it's precisely what the coach is looking to improve.

Like we said, you don't have to be a high level athlete for this to have meaning for you. All forms of exercise will make you better at moving throughout your environment. Some more than others but the constant is that the activity is done with proper intensity and technique. All movement costs money. It's just a matter of how much it costs and whether you have the reserves to make it work or fail in doing so.

To close Movement Econ 310, this way of thinking about movement describes that with the proper stimulation, given at the right time, with the right intensity we can work to fully express our physical potential.

Have a good training session today? Really hit those plyos hard? That’s money in the bank.

New PR in the snatch today? Great! Racking up the savings!!

Uh oh. Did you forget to do your home exercise program and now that shoulder and thoracic spine is exactly as stiff as it was the last time you left treatment? Well, that’s gonna cost you down the road.

We have all the ability to sock movement capital away for when we need it. If we come to a point when we are out of those important funds, our system will make an adaptation or fail in the task we are asking of it.

Movement Econ 415 will wrap this series of blogs. In that entry we'll discuss a specific case study in great detail: probably one of the most grueling and difficult events on the planet known as the Tough Mudder. It will be a unique way to explain how important training variety and intensity are in making each of us the best mover we can be.

Until then, be well.