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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 02-27-2014, 11:28 AM   #1
Alexander Granick
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Question KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

I came across Kelly Starrett and MobilityWOD when I started CrossFit a couple of years ago. Since then I've benefited from doing some of the mobility in the videos, and I like the language Kelly uses to describe things. (Maybe that's because I have a science/engineering background.) When I first came across him it was also nice that KStarr was addressing issues that arise from CrossFit, and is affiliated with CrossFit in that he does the mobility seminars and owns a box. However, after watching some of the Offline episodes, and through my personal experiences, I've encountered some mixed emotions.

Over the past couple of years I've seen lots of people doing things recommended on MWOD, heard coaches from several boxes recommend MWOD to members, and I think the mobility course will be the next one I take. So it came as a surprise to me when during my Level 1, one of the instructors said (paraphrasing), "This is how CrossFit teaches the squat. ... It's not a matter of Kelly Starrett versus CrossFit." At the time I didn't understand what that had to do with anything. I thought CrossFit, and MWOD went hand-in-hand. You do CrossFit, and you get tight achy muscles. You go on MWOD's website, and Kelly explains how to get rid of the tightness. If you keep doing the mobility it keeps you from getting tight in the first place, and prevents injury. Later on I watched the Offline episode about strict pull-ups before kipping. At some point Russell Berger says something like, "Are you talking about creating torque? Because that's trendy now." When I heard that I don't know if it was stab at KStarr for using the terminology he does, if he thinks it's funny that people parrot the language on MWOD (maybe without knowing what torque is), or something else entirely. I also haven't finished watching that episode. The most recent installment of The Offline Show discussing the "knees out" cue was really interesting. There was a lot a back and forth, that Jacob guy looked like he showed up with the singular goal of getting Kelly to say, "Why yes Jacob, there is such a thing as knees too far out. You are right. It happens when ...", and they brought up Becoming a Supple Leopard. I asked myself a bunch of questions after watching that. The ones I'd like to discuss here are: Is there animosity between Kelly Starrett and CrossFit HQ? Does CrossFit feel that KStarr is undermining their methods in some way? What's the deal here? Has anyone else noticed this? Am I just imagining things?

Last edited by Alexander Granick : 02-27-2014 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:19 PM   #2
Jeff Simon
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

I watched that Offline squat episode recently as well and the conversation definitely took some interesting turns. I dont know if I would characterize it as a "vs." type of situation, but rather just some differences in opinions and applications.


Personally, his book and his MWOD stuff has helped me out tremendously.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:47 PM   #3
Andrew Bell
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

I want to discuss the topic of knees out, not drama that you are perceiving between KStarr and HQ. My only point to that is, would HQ let someone teach a cert that they were not happy with?

I had read some stuff about this whole knees out thing a few weeks ago and had an offline discussion about it with some folks who better understood what he was saying. After the discussion and other studying up I did after my offline conversation about this, I do not believe that this is a good cue.

At the 3:20 mark in the video, KStarr talks about elite level weightlifters dip and drive in the jerk and states that they do it with the knee's out. I went and looked up footage of this because as a coach I want to ensure I give the correct cues to my students.

Here are 3 ultra elite examples I found:
Lu Xiaojun
Khadzhimurat Akkayev
Tatyana Kashirina

Because they are slow motion (except for the last one) it is easy to see the knees do not go in. According to the way KStarr speaks at the start (admittedly all I watched was the first 5 minutes), this would/could be called knees out because the knees do not go in (perhaps this statement is changed later on in the discussion in the video).

The knees however are NEVER as far out as the pics shown in Supple Leopard, which is what I (and everyone else I have talked to on/offline) envision with the cue of "knees out". In the video's above there is a clear line that is perpendicular to the floor for the relationship of the knee to the foot. The cue of "knees out" brings the vision of actively pushing the knees out past the foot as is shown in the book.

I think to most the cue would should be "knees over feet". From the way he defends his wording in the first few minutes of the video,

An example of why I think this is a better position can be done by having someone stand in a squat half rep with the knees out past the feet. Apply pressure to the from the front to push them back slowly. At the point they think they are not able to stand without falling backwards, have them bring the knee to be over the foot at the 90* line I mentioned earlier. All of the athletes I have done this on (4 in the box I coach weightlifting at) have felt a stronger stance and been more stable with knees over feet, NOT as shown in the book.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:45 PM   #4
Jason A Smith
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

"Knees out" caused me a pile of knee soreness this fall. I have gone back to squatting with knees over toes in a much more comfortable position for me. With my feet turned out slightly. Watched a pile of weightlifting videos, saw no one doing what he shows. I think that position people are doing is more to test mobility than it should be to try and emulate with load, but again this is my OPINION.

I have fairly mobile hips and ankles.

Not sure what the deal is with KStarr and Crossfit. I like his stuff. Some of it is great, some of it not for me.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:46 PM   #5
Russell Berger
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

Alexander,

I hold no animosity towards Kelly Starrett. I don't agree with everything he teaches, but he's a valuable member of our SME team and his flexibility/mobility drills are great. The episode of Offline that Kelly was featured on was an extension of a conversation that began on the blog of Bob Takano ( WFS- http://www.takanoathletics.com/blog/?p=3269), in which Bob and others took issue with the way Kelly appears to teach the squat.


Andrew,

You seem close to identifying the major issue in this discussion, which is the differentiation between cue language and mechanical descriptions of movement. The cue "knees out" has no value absent its effect on an individual athlete's movement. For some, "knees out" may improve the squat by bringing the knees over the feet, while for others, it might do nothing or even cause the knees to move outside the feet.

Similarly, I've cued an athlete to "lean back" on the dip of the jerk, because he had a a forward inclination in the dip phase of the lift. This cue evened him out and he was good to go.

The problem comes when I start teaching everyone to "lean back" in the dip and drive phase of the jerk...

This is the problem I have with the way Kelly's book teaches the squat. I believe that he essentially confuses the cue "knees out" with a mechanical description of how one should squat. Kelly's book states at a certain point that an athlete should squat by pushing the knees out to the full extent of the athlete's ROM. Paired with the exaggerated images, it appears Kelly wants athletes squatting with the knees fully outside of the foot if possible. I don't believe this is the most mechanically efficient, or safe, position for the knee to be in under load.

Regardless, this is a valuable discussion, and I commend Kelly for engaging in the debate.

Last edited by Russell Berger : 02-27-2014 at 01:46 PM. Reason: WFS comment
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:38 PM   #6
Struan Potter
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

I agree with Russell, universal cues are inappropriate because the effect will differ from person to person. Mechanics will also differ from person to person, personally I would have an athlete who can get their knees outside their feet move their feet out wider.
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:00 AM   #7
Markus Berger
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

After buying "Supple Leopard" I started squatting like shown on the pictures in the book. After a couple of weeks I developed knee pain during squatting. I went back to my old movement and the pain went away as fast as it has come.
Toes pointing nearly straight forward, while knees point much further out, hurt my knees and doesnt look like a "natural" movement.
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:57 AM   #8
Andrew Bell
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

Russ,

Totally agree with you here sir. I do wish that KStarr was more relenting in his opinion of the term, but he does say at one point that while there is such a thing as knees going too far in, there is no such thing as going too far out, exactly what I was addressing in my post above.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Markus Berger View Post
After buying "Supple Leopard" I started squatting like shown on the pictures in the book. After a couple of weeks I developed knee pain during squatting. I went back to my old movement and the pain went away as fast as it has come.
Toes pointing nearly straight forward, while knees point much further out, hurt my knees and doesnt look like a "natural" movement.
I think as more people read that book and take the cue to heart they will develop more problems such as you did. It is NOT a natural movement, and therefore most people don't do it. Now that some people such as Markus here are doing it this way, we will see cases of injuries.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:20 AM   #9
Phil Washlow
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

I believe this is actually more of a foot position issue. Kelly is correct that full external rotation fo the hip will create the most torque and best hip function. If you take the image of Diane and move her feet out a couple of inches and turn her toes out a few degrees then that excessive outside of the foot knee position goes away, doing so would allow her to lift the most weight as she would be optimizing hip, knee and ankle function. In order to maintain an upright torso the hips require a certain degree of external rotation, if Diane had her feet together, toes forward and wanted an upright torso at the bottom of the squat she would have to dramatically push her knees outside of her feet. Just something to think about.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:50 AM   #10
Nathan Holmes
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Re: KStarr Vs. CrossFit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Berger View Post
it appears Kelly wants athletes squatting with the knees fully outside of the foot if possible. I don't believe this is the most mechanically efficient, or safe, position for the knee to be in under load.
I completely agree, Russell. Kelly is very focused on the muscular structures surrounding the knee and hip joints but pushing one's knees out to the extreme shown and described in the book seems like it would stress out the ligaments and muscles along the outside of the knee that help hold it in place (e.g. the fibular collateral ligament, IT band, etc). (image taken from http://www.zygotebody.com, SFW).

I think Kelly is awesome and has an amazing ability to take complex topics and express them so that we, the simple people, can understand them. However, no one is right 100% of the time and I think KStar may have gone a little too far on this one. I'm not a big fan of the way dismissed the observations of the other people on your show, saying that he too has a clinical practice and has NEVER had any of the same results, therefore it isn't true.
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