Here's your January edition of Kinsei-Do Fitness Nuggets, our monthly newsletter that serves you little bites of health & performance wisdom!
Nugget of the Month
The source of pain isn't always where the problem is
I once worked with a client in a CrossFit class who was struggling to get his hands and elbows in a good "front rack" position, and this led him to conclude that he couldn't do movements such as front squats, barbell cleans, etc due to having "bad wrists".
I now know that this advice was, most probably, wrong, and not going to help his front rack position one bit.
You see, our bodies aren't just a mash up of individual joints and muscles, but rather, an incredibly complex and fascinating system. This is where the concept of thekinetic chain comes in.
From your feet at the bottom all the way up to your neck and cervical spine, your joints are by nature intended to provide either stability or mobility. A stable joint is not supposed to have a lot of "give", a lot of range of motion, and the opposite is true for mobile joint.
Your knee, for example, is meant to provide stability. It generally moves only in one direction (knee flexion and extension). A knee that is instable and that can also move (excessively) in other planes (e.g. sideways) is more prone to injury, as anyone who's ever had an ACL or MCL injury will surely tell you.
Your hips, on the other hand, are meant to have a lot of mobility. Your hip can flex, extend, rotate, abduct and adduct, and it's very important for most functions of daily life, as well as most sports, that they can move well.
The concept of the kinetic chain describes the relationships between your joints, from the bottom to the top, where - in general - a stable joint is always followed by a mobile joint, followed again by a stable joint, and so on. Let's look at that in more detail:
Your ankles are meant to be mobile
Your knees, as we already said, stable
The hips need to exhibit a large amount of mobility
The lumbar spine (low back) must be stable
But the thoracic spine (upper back) should again give mobility
Now that you have understood the kinetic chain, let's come back to the story from the beginning.
When your wrists hurt in the front rack position, then certainly a lack of range of motion in the wrists and fingers could be the cause, but it could also simply be a symptom of issues elsewhere that your body is compensating for.
Your wrists may have to bend excessively because you are lacking mobility in your thoracic spine, which prevents your scapulas from moving freely, and keeps your elbows down.
Or perhaps the issue is even further down the chain: maybe you are missing mobility in your hips, or even in your ankles, which prevents you from getting into a good squat position with an upright torso, and that in turn forces the barbell to be slightly in front of your center of gravity, causing much more strain on the wrists.
Take Action - check up and down the chain
The next time you are feeling a pain in a certain body part while doing a particular movement (anything from walking to picking up the groceries to throwing down in the gym), don't be too quick to blame it on the "weakness" of that part, but take a step back and think about your kinetic chain.
Are you compensating for the lack of available strength or mobility in one place by overly stressing another?
Happy moving, friends!
If you found the above nugget interesting - and if you live in the Greater Jakarta area - you're going to want to join my Strength-based Mobility Training workshop, the first ever of its kind in Jakarta and perhaps Indonesia at the end of February or early March (exact date and location TBC).
In this two hour workshop, I'll teach you the fundamental principles underlying the Primal Mobility method, and show you how you can retake control of your innate right to move well, move strong and without pain!
In this episode I had the pleasure of speaking to Coach Demy Barumalang, whose extensive life journey to date is just nothing short of fascinating. From humble beginnings and dreams of becoming a professional basketball player, to finding himself working all sorts of odd jobs before stumbling into the fitness industry, Demy’s journey is full of incredible twists and turns.
This is a long episode, but trust me when I say that once Demy gets going, you’ll be totally hooked and the hour will just fly by!
I hope you are enjoying the monthly Fitness Nuggets, and are getting something valuable and actionable for your Health and Performance out of it every time. I personally read a fair amount of newsletters, to learn new knowledge, find out about cool tricks and resources, or simply just to be inspired.
One such newsletter that has been greatly inspiring and full of invaluable knowledge, and yet is short enough to read in less than 5 minutes, while also entertaining enough that I actually want to read it every time, is Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'The Pump Daily'.
If you only subscribe to one single newsletter (apart from the Fitness Nuggets, of course ), I highly recommend that it is this one! Here's a little gem that I've copied straight out of one of the most recent editions, and that I believe is right up your alley (given that you are someone who is interested in living their healthiest, happiest and highest performing life)!
The Fountain of Youth
Want to look 20 years younger? You don’t need a social media filter, expensive creams, or collagen to make it a reality. Research suggests exercise can shave decades of aging from your skin.
Scientists took skin samples of people in their 60s with "average" skin health. Those participants performed two workouts per week for 30 minutes, pushing themselves at a moderate intensity. Just 12 weeks later, their skin was biopsied, and the inner and outer layers of their skin looked like that of someone more than 20 years younger and — in some cases — as much as 40 years younger.
What’s going on? Exercise acts like the fountain of youth for your skin (and your mind and body).
Exercise might help prevent aging by controlling blood sugar and minimizing oxidative stress (both of which make you look your age). But the age-reversing magic might result from a special protein created by your muscles called IL-15, which powers your skin’s mitochondria. When you exercise, and your heart beats faster, more IL-15 is produced, which could revitalize the quality of your skin so it looks younger.
Earlier this month, for the first time in over three years, I had the chance to travel to Malaysia to see my grandmother - yes, that makes her my son's great-grandmother! - and several other relatives again. The trip was short and not without complications, but it was wonderful to catch up and enjoy some (ok, a lot) of food together, as that's what Chinese family gatherings are all about!
It was also a beautiful reminder that, especially as we get older, there's really nothing more important than good health. Cherish it while you can, my friends, and of course, do everything in your power to maintain it for as long as possible.
Yes, that probably means put that candy bar away and grab a piece of sweet tasty fruit instead!
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