Posted March 7, 2012

Fixing the Problem: 3 Simple Fixes for Common Issues

Today I decided to give you a special bonus in the form of a guest post from Scott Hansen of Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning. Scott put together a fantastic piece on figuring out the root causes of some common issues in training, so enjoy!!

Regardless of who you are, the clientele you train, or the pseudo-famous people you follow on Twitter, there are some areas of the body that flat out get in the way of progress. I’m not talking about skinny biceps, I’m talking more along the lines of places where we have specific muscles that get short and stiff, which have a negative effect on the way we move, thus our ability to get the right stuff working the right way, at the right time. I certainly didn’t invent these ideas, but have been using them with great success with my clientele, which ranges from high level hockey players to CEO’s and everyone in between.

When it comes to corrective exercise, as Dean has pointed out before, it has to have an impact NOW. If you’re doing the same correctives for 30 minutes each time you see somebody, then something isn’t working and it’s time to adapt. The following complexes are multifaceted and should make an immediate improvement in the person’s specific problem movement patters. They all follow the same formula:

  1. attack soft tissue restrictions like a boss
  2. stretch to lengthen said tissue
  3. Go back and perform the previously problematic movement pattern (armed with a new and improved range of motion that has miraculously developed) in order to solidify the pattern’s proper execution
  4. Wink at the first hot chick you see


Problem Pattern #1: Anterior Scapular Tilt When Performing Rowing Movements

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When the scap tilts forward when rowing, it generally points to being short at the pec minor, which attaches at the coracoid process. There’s a bunch of other stuff that attachments there, causing a lot of friction and the like, resulting the development of nasty fibrous tissue.

The Fix:

Get a lacrosse or softball, break that garbage up. There’s no real rhyme or reason, just roll around on it for a bit until it feels less sucky. Now that you’ve gotten some of the restrictions out of the way find a doorway or corner of a room (luckily each room has 4 corners and you had to have gotten into it somehow, so even though this might not be much fun, there’s no excuse not to do it) and stretch those newly released pecs. 2 steps down, 1 to go. Lastly, we need to actively move through this new range of motion, to properly pattern and teach our nervous system that, in fact, you can move that way. Go back to your row (I prefer some sort of suspension row, such as TRX  for this, as you don’t have to worry as much about how the rest of the body is positioned as much) and really focus on retracting and depressing that scapula as row.

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Problem Pattern #2: Split Squat Stance

Proper spit squat form should consist of the front ankle under front knee, rear knee about an inch behind rear hip, which keeps the pelvis neutral under a properly aligned torso. Think straight line from the ear to the shoulder, to the hip. Unfortunately, many people have a psoas that’s tighter than a bastard. Quick anatomy tune up: the psoas connects to the lumbar spine. If it’s short, you either have to bring your upper leg closer to your spine or vice versa. Regardless, it knocks you out of that proper position.

The Fix:

Grab your weapon of choice. I prefer a softball, but to each his own. Lay face down on the floor and get the ball right into that hip. It should look like you’re making sweet love to the ground. Again, there’s no rhyme or reason to how you roll, just find that uncomfortable spot up in the hip flexor region and work til it feels better. Next, it’s time for the couch stretch.

 From there, we want to move through this newly supple psoas. Get on your back, put the ball you used to roll on in your left hip, and actively use the hip flexors on your left side to squeeze the ball in. (no hands). Bring your right heel up towards your right glute, pull the toes of both legs up towards your shins, and push the right heel into the ground. Squeeze your glutes as you try to lift them to the ceiling. Hold at the top for a 2 count, lower, and repeat 5 reps on each side. Point to take note of, keep your abs tight, as lumbar back extension can commonly be disguised as hip extension here.

Go back to your split squat stance, and, if it looks better, as it should, split squat away.


Problem Pattern #3 1 Leg Straight Leg Deadlift

Lots of times people have a hard time here. They try to twist the back leg and externally rotate, lock the front knee out and get all sorts of crazy. Sometimes it has to do with hamstring length, sometimes it’s soft tissue restrictions near the attachments of the hamstrings on the pelvis, and sometimes it’s poor core stability. Either way, this will attack them all.

The Fix:

Roll those hip rotators. Start with a foam roller, and if that’s not eyes shooting out of your head pain, graduate to smaller apparatus’s. (think 4 lb medicine ball, softball, then lacrosse ball.) After you wipe your tears, get a thick super band, lie on your back, and put one end of the band around the middle of your foot, while holding the other end. Band placement is important, as you don’t want it slipping off your foot and snapping back to your face, leaving your mouth looking like that of a meth addict. Now just lock out your knees, pull your toes up to keep tension and raise the straight leg with the band about 45 degrees off the floor. Keeping everything in your upper body flat again the floor, breath easy in through the nose into the belly (think “get fat” on each breath) and raise the un-banded leg as high as you can, while keeping both knees locked out. No motion occurs anywhere but at the hip of the un-banded leg. Lower, and repeat. You should be getting a big stretch through the banded leg, and the breathing is helping to properly pattern the sequencing that the muscles in your core fire. Repeat 10 reps, slowly and deliberately, and switch to the opposite side.

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After you get done with these God-awful things, your SLDL should look better than ever.  Just to prove it and cement this newly corrected pattern, do a set of 10 on each side. Focus on starting tall, getting long though the motion, and finishing tall. I like to tell people to try to touch the front wall with their hands and the back wall with their heel.

And there you have it folks. 3 relatively simple ways to correct common, pain in the ass problems.

To get more information about Scott and see other writings he’s put together, check out his site Scott Hansen Training.