If you want to know more about this subject, an interesting and inspiring read is the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. Coyle examines great athletes and questions if genetics or training is behind execellence. The book discusses how excellence is built through excellent, precise repetition, and excellent repetition is built through excellent, disiplined practice habits.
At RedBird, when it comes to movement--it’s not what you do; it’s how you do it. That’s why we recommend that all clients, no matter how athletic, start at the fundamental level. Often when we are strong--and determined--we can make the “picture” of an exercise, but the movement isn’t always coming from the right place. That’s a problem because real transformation of posture, toning, and reduction in pain rely on precision movement and proper muscle innervation.
This idea isn’t something we just made up to make you work harder though :) There is a scientific principle of human physiology behind this philosophy - the SAID principle.
SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. In simple terms, that means that the body is designed to always get better at whatever it does. If you sit at your desk all day hunched over your computer in improper posture - guess what? Your body gets better at sitting in that posture. If you are always muscling through a movement, holding your shoulders up to your ears or arching your low back in an excessive curve, your body gets better at doing that too. When we train in a way that triggers undesired movement patterns, either because we are not being mindful or the work is too difficult for us to achieve the real intention based on our fitness level, we are actually training our bodies to go to those unwanted movement patterns more regularly. We create neural short cuts that fire the overdominant muscles and compensatory movement patterns in the rest of our body, making those bad habits easier to get into more frequently.
According to Dr. Eric Cobb, a functional neuroscience practitioner and founder of Z-health Education, our bodies are designed to move in proper alignment, with fluidity and through all planes and ranges of motion. But if you don’t challenge your body to move correctly, in all directions and ranges and "bake in" proper alignment, you will lose those abilities. The neural pathways will weaken as the dominant pathways grow stronger and more efficient. "Your body will actually begin to adapt to becoming immobile, stiff and inefficient. "
That is why it is critically important that we never move into pain or undesired movement patterns. It also means we must be present movers: we must execute our movements with precision and intention if we truly want to change our bodies.
To illustrate this point: I had a private client who for years wanted to tone her arms - especially her under arm area (tricep) but could never make any progress (too many women know that struggle). We started to work together, and I realized that it was because her upper shoulder and neck muscles (upper trapezius) took over in almost every movement she did. Even if an exercise was meant to tone her arms - they weren’t the ones working. It took months of tiny micro movements to begin to get her to innervate (wake up) the muscles that worked in opposition of her upper traps - her lower trapezes. Everything was slow, meticulous, light weight movement. Eventually she developed a connection to those muscles and was able to achieve stability in her shoulder girdle and correct alignment in her shoulder, elbow and wrist joint. Once we found and addressed the problem in her body mechanics and reconnectd her brain and her underdeveloped muscles, her arms became carved, lean and defined.
The SAID principle also explains why we believe in repetition at RedBird and why all our classes run in a curriculum - not just a random group of exercises in each class. If we want to get better at something we have to practice it - systematiclly.
As you practice physical skills, physical changes occur to the structure of the brain as a result. For example, if you spend hours practicing an instrument, the part of your brain that controls hand coordination will actually grow larger. The neurons responsible for the coordinated finger actions will develop better and faster lines of communication between themselves. And your memories of hand skills will be placed into parts of the brain where they can be accessed and executed automatically, without any degree of conscious effort or thought.
If we want to have better posture and alignment through a variety of movement planes and body positions, it is vital that we practice that and that every time we practice, we work to execute those movements correctly, developing the neural changes we want to improve our movement and alignment in daily life.
Finally, we have to practice at a level that is appropriate for our current level of fitness - or maybe even how we are feeling that day (depending on sleep, sickness, other life stressors.) We have to train under the appropriate amount of stress. We need enough stress to cause an adaptation in our body, but not so much stress that we are creating unwanted movement patterns or worse - getting injured. So, while we certainly believe in intense athletic training - we know that it must be built on a foundation of movement education and a discipline of meticulous practice and repetition, repetition, repetition.
That’s why private training, small group training and series-based classes are so effective. And why we are opening up a bunch more for you all in 2017! Check out the new apparatus and small group training for 2017 and email email@example.com to reserve your space today!
Lee Vallely and Elisabeth Kristof bring you informative articles about exercises, Pilates principles and the RedBird community!