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

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Old 04-11-2006, 01:50 PM   #21
Garrett Smith
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Here are some web interviews with Dr. Stuart McGill:

An excerpt from the first one:

T: You also talk about abdominal-bracing during most movements. What do you mean by that exactly?

SM: The spine under compressive load will buckle under very low loads and you need muscles to stabilize it—bracing does this. People have used the analogy of guide wires on a ship’s mast—it’s very apt—to prevent unstable behavior.

You may have heard about transverse abdominus and multifidus as being very important stabilizers of the spine. I’m afraid that if that’s what’s being used to create stability you won’t create much stability at all—you need all the muscles. Not only will the spine buckle, but it can become unstable in shear. The criss-crossing action of the obliques, for example, anchored on rectus abdominus, means that you have to not only fire up transverse but also the obliques and also rectus.

An abdominal brace is where you tense all the abdominal muscles, but you do not suck the navel towards the spine. You can once again use the analogy of the rigging of a ship’s mast—if you move the rigging closer to the mast it actually buckles at a lower load, and if you can move the guide wires out away from the mast you get much more stability. The classic weight lifters like Vasily Alexiev didn’t have a nice hollowed abdomen—in fact he had enormous stability that came from the distances of those strong guide wires, to give a graphic example.

So don’t solely focus on multifidus, but I’m not saying neglect it either; I’m saying think of it with all the other extensors in mind. People don’t give credit to muscles like latissimus dorsi, which is very rarely mentioned in spine stability yet supremely important. Every muscle we have is important at some point in time or in some situation.

T: I know some practitioners who talk about tummy sucking to activate the transverse; is that a form of bracing?

SM: Well it was originally conceived as a form of reprogramming perturbed motor patterns of the transverse abdominus. Whether it actually reprograms transverse is debatable. But it’s certainly misdirected effort if you’re trying to stabilize the spine. You have to do much more than just activate transverse. You need all the muscles, and you do the brace not to suck in but to activate all those muscles to create the brace to protect the spine so it won’t buckle or shear in an unstable way.

FYI, when I started doing the WODs as prescribed, I was absolutely amazed at how sore my oblique muscles got--especially when I hadn't done any rotational movements (as you noted were lacking in the WODs).

Also, Keats Snideman and Josh Henkin have written about the ab hollowing versus ab bracing. See, here's an excerpt:

Conscious attempt to isolate the transversus abdominus muscle can actually result in posterior rotation of the pelvis which would also cause flexion of the lumbar spine; a strategy that cannot be recommended during exercises like squats or deadlifts! This is also contradictory to most sporting movements. So, while so many argue their inner-unit is more active the structure is actually severally compromised and at higher risk for injury.

Mark, I believe your intentions are good. You've been taken in by some bad science, as many trainers/PTs/physicians etc. have been and still are.
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Old 04-11-2006, 02:05 PM   #22
Mark Reinke
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Dr. G, thank you for the input, advice and referrals. This is the stuff that I always want more info about, and understand how it applies it to current practices and concepts. Once again thanks!

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Old 04-11-2006, 06:32 PM   #23
Tom Corrigan
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thanks for posting that added info. I have his books, but I'm such a slow typist that I just say to look for it! ;-)


BTW how are Dr. H's treatments holding up? Could you send Dana and I the fish oil samples you recommended?
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Old 04-11-2006, 07:48 PM   #24
Garrett Smith
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I'll call you and we'll discuss both.
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