Where Are Your Movement Holes Hiding?

Decrease Injury and Increase Performance With Self Assessment

“If Football Players and Power Lifters would do more yoga, and yogis would pull more heavy dead lifts, there would be a lot less injury and a lot more athleticism in the world.” – Grey Cook


There is a common thread to nearly all “non-traumatic” pain syndromes: where it hurts, is not where the problem is.  And for whatever reason, when I say this to my patients I think of cheese.  Swiss cheese specifically.  Let me explain...

Each time we have an injury, or any degree of pain which causes us to move differently, we develop holes in movement.  A decreased mobility here, a inhibited muscle there - no big deal right? When the pain is gone, these holes do not magically disappear, but remain hidden by compensations the body developed during the painful episode.

It’s often hard to notice these holes with daily tasks, but they will cause lots of damage down the road unless they are found and corrected.  And like Swiss cheese, most of us have lots of holes in stability, mobility, balance, or power. 

Here are a few reasons people never find these deficiencies:

Youth: In the first 3 decades of life the body heals much easier.  A tumble on the soccer field, a sprained ankle on the court, or being thrown from a horse will hurt for only a matter of weeks to months.  Compensations are made much quicker due to the relative health of the other joints and tissues around the area, so they can withstand the extra stress the body will place on them with the compensation.

Athleticism:  Many mobility restrictions or coordination deficiencies can be hidden by momentum, power, and strength.  Take for example the basketball player that can jump out of the gym but can’t stand on 1 foot and balance with their eyes open and closed.  This lack of balance will remain long after the athleticism is gone, and once this happens, that person will have knee, hip, and back issues as a consequence.

Pain Medication: There is something great about being able to put out the pain fire so you can live your life comfortably.  But don’t mistake the lack of symptoms as a resolution to the problem.  If you use the medication or shots to get out of pain, you need to be working on the fix which caused the painful site in the first place.

Here are a few easy assessments to see if you have some major deficiencies:

Balance:  Standing on one leg, flex the opposite hip so your thigh is parallel with the ground. When you're steady (if you can’t stand solid without swaying don’t proceed) close your eyes and hold that stance for 10 seconds.  If you lose your balance at any time this needs to be addressed by single stance drills and core training.

Breathing:  If you find yourself holding your breath while performing tasks at a sub-maximal effort, you have an issue with breathing mechanics.  Without addressing breathing mechanics, you will never truly gain a strong core.

Sit Down Stand Up: Starting from a standing position, can you get all the way to the ground in a seated position then stand back up without using your hands or outside objects to support you? Studies show that if you can’t, you are much closer to “kicking the bucket” than someone who can.  You need balance, strength, and mobility to do this.  When you lose either of these, you will need to push off a knee, grab onto a chair, or put the hands on the floor to get up.  These are compensations that will help in the short term but are covering up a much bigger issue.

So now that you may have a better understanding of Swiss cheese that makes up your movement, learn how to fill those gaps so you can run faster, build strength, increase your endurance and do so with less risk of injury.

Move Well, Move Often, Be Strong

-          Dr. Scott Dunaway