Every person moves in a way that is unique to their body; Isn’t it time to treat them like it!

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I received the following comment on Linked In and I felt the need to address it to a larger population. As a result, I am answering it in the contents to follow as a follow up to my previous article on squatting found here: Article on Squatting from January 2013

Ray A. •states:   Zig you’ve touched on so many points I’ll only address a few.
First, your baby squat comparison is poor at best since babies are born without patellas and don’t develop them until 2 -6 years old. Also their center of gravity is very low.

Second, in performing a squat the superior part of the scapula should stay in vertical line with the center (arch) of the feet. In this way the weight distribution is 50/50.The glutes HAVE to fire to come up from the end of the eccentric range.

Third, In performing a lunge if you push of the ball of the foot and the toes, you are overloading the quads which is worse for women since they are quad dominant.

Finally, lifting the heels with support during a squat will shorten the soleus and lead to and abnormal movement between the calcaneus, tibia and femur, during walking and running which in turn will cause discomfort or pain at the weakest part of the kinetic chain.
I didn’t squat until I was 35 years old because no one could explain how to perform it to my satisfaction. Finally, Vern Gambetta and Paul Chek explained it in a very comprehensive way.

Ok so here is what I have to say:

#1 The points I made were based off my evaluation of over 6,000 athletes performing a squat, using 3D motion capture technology, so I want to be clear that my findings are not my opinion or the result of trying to prove or disprove a theory or hypothesis.  They are based upon the objective findings of full body biomechanics data (which are not perfect by anymeans but better than visual or video).

In addition, my findings are merely based off the result of what people are actually DOING combined with an understanding of kinesiology.  Now let’s make one fact clear that we all agree on.  “Based on Kinesiology, every joint or segment of the body has a specific task to perform.” However, unfortunately because of neurological deficiencies, learned motor patterns, and muscular imbalances, every joint in the average person’s body does NOT function properly. So if we evaluate what 100 people are doing and make a blanket statement that “if thats how the best do it, then that’s how it should be done”, you are incorrect.  Tiger Woods once said, “Don’t try to copy my swing, because I am constantly trying to make it better, so by the time you get down my old swing, I’ve got a new and improved one.” Now Tiger may or may not have perfected his swing, who’s to say?  Its not wins and losses that tell you if his swing is the best, it is a swing efficiency test that will allow you to see how efficient it is.

Now back to lifting.  Even the best squatter or weight lifter is not necessarily the best technically or most efficient example of how to perform a lift.  They just achieved the goal better than the competition.  And if the sole focus was performing the lift or moving a certain amount of weight, then technique doesn’t matter, achieving the goal matters.  The human body is a great machine. It will find a way to perform whatever task we ask it to perform.  It may not be done biomechanically correct, or efficient but if it can be done, the body will find a way to perform the task.  In the world of fitness, physical medicine, and sports performance, the task or focus should be on developing the body from the ground up, not lifting the weight.  If your goal is to lift weight, who cares if your body is balanced as long as you can complete the lift. But remember, at some later date, you will ask your body to use muscles or joint that have not been tested and that is when you will see an Achilles rupture, low back, or knee injury.  So keep the task in mind but empower your entire body not just your mind a a few muscles you have overcompensated with in training or normal activity.

So here’s a thank you to Ray and his points which inspired me to write this follow up.

#2 Ray stated that, “First, your baby squat comparison is poor at best since babies are born without patellas and don’t develop them until 2 -6 years old. Also their center of gravity is very low.”

In response I have to state that you sir are incorrect.  Babies ARE NOT born without patellas, except in rare cases of a birth defect.  The patella begins to develop around the fourth month of the fetus as cartilage.  The patella is present in most new-borns but only begins to ossify (harden) Experts GUESS that the patella, which is a sesamoid  bone, begins to develop between the ages of two and three years old.  It is weight bearing activities in the TODDLER (pictured in my previous blog) that contributes to the ossification of the patella.  So to clarify, before a toddler starts to walk and bear weight, the patella is mostly cartilage.  As they bear weight it hardens and become more of the patella that we see as older humans.

Today, some children begin to bear weight at between 8-10 months old, contributing to earlier ossification than previous studies from the 70’s 80’s and early 90’s.  This is because parents are pushing the children to walk at an earlier age. This push can be harmful to overall bone development and cause abnormalities in walking or movement patterns later in life.

As for Ray’s reference to the center of gravity? A baby’s center of gravity is low compared to the ground. But compared to their leg length, it is not low. As a toddler develops into a taller person, the center of gravity does not change relative to their body, only to the ground.  An adult shorter person squats more efficiently than a taller person not because they are closer to the ground.  They do so because WE use cues that are meant for people who are 5foot -6inches  to 5 foot -8 inches tall.   A toddler doesn’t need to be told where to place their feet when they squat, their brain naturally seeks the place where they have the greatest amount of balance.  Its natural for them.

#3 Ray’s statement about scapula position relative to the feet in the squat is almost true but only in a perfect world where the upper and lower body segments are the same length and weight.  Since people come in all different shapes and sizes, this is not 100% true. However, it is another cue that is used improperly in the world of fitness and even physical medicine. It’s about as accurate a cue as telling every person who squats to stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  That cue is incorrect because some people have long legs, short torsos, and narrow shoulders. How should they stand? The answer is….It depends on the person.

#4 Ray stated, “Third, In performing a lunge if you push of the ball of the foot and the toes, you are overloading the quads which is worse for women since they are quad dominant.

I hate to say it Roy, but you are again a little bit incorrect.  First, all men are not the same and neither are all women.  So a general statement like that is not supported by all women nor men. From my research, 90% of men and 93% of Women are “quad dominant” because we live in a quad dominant world. Here’s an example, the next time you are standing, notice which muscles you are using the most. Try to contact or squeeze your glutes.  Notice how much you had to think about it.  However, when you look at quadriceps involvement in basic standing, the quads are the muscle group that keeps you on your feet.  Not the hamstrings and glutes. Its the quads that keep your knees extended which is what keeps you standing.

As for “kinesiology of the exercise”: A walking lunge, step up, and even a squat involves both pulling and pushing, not just a push.  A forward lunge with push back is just that a push.  In a normal lunge, “Rotational” forces are always at work while performing any ambulatory movement.  But as a society, we have a tendency to only coach what we THINK we see to justify our expertise.  I stopped thinking about what I see a long time ago and began to measure instead that way, my opinion would be eliminate and all I had to do was read the numbers.

In the picture to the left walking lunge with med ball extended(which is not meant to be an example of perfect technique), the lifter is preparing to step forward in a walking lunge.  If she pushes, she goes backwards.  However, if she pulls, her body goes over the top of the front foot, then she completes the lift by finishing with extension of the quads AND hips (glutes).

In doing so, the lunge will engage the big toe, plantar fascia, ankle (achilles), soleus, gastrocs, anterior/posterior tibia for lower leg stabilization, hamstrings, glutes, quads and lower abs in that order.  In ideal firing order, the squat and lunge are an exercise for the entire lower body.  Starting with the feet.

Done incorrectly, the quads are dominant and this becomes a knee extension exercise which is done by the quadriceps, not the hamstrings and glutes. Some people scoffed at my analogy of sprinters vs. distance runners in the previous post on squatting.  However, now is the perfect time to clarify.

Sprinters are the only athletes who are NOT AS quadriceps dominant as the average person, but only while they are sprinting. In normal ambulation, they are just as quad dominant as the person next to them in terms of muscle recruitment in everyday activities.

Sprinters, however do not push themselves down the track…they pull and push and the push only comes as they leave the ground in finish knee extension. however, the glute contraction comes in the form of a pull as they repositioning the pelvis for loading and absorption of forces.  Sprinting is the only non-quad dominant exercise done while upright on both feet.

Ray also stated that

“Finally, lifting the heels with support during a squat will shorten the soleus and lead to and abnormal movement between the calcaneus, tibia and femur, during walking and running which in turn will cause discomfort or pain at the weakest part of the kinetic chain.”

Nowhere in my article did I advocate lifting the heels off the ground. In the image of Arnold squatting with a 2×4 under his feet, it is done to maintain full contact from toes to heel. It is NOT done to shift the weight to the toes or forefoot.  They did it to achieve a solid stable foundation while squatting to COMPENSATE for a lack of ankle mobility.  However, you are incorrect again in your assessment regarding “abnormal movement between the calcaneus, tibia, …”  But rather that shoot it down, I’d have to ask what would be considered abnormal movement? And most importantly, how do know that it is abnormal?    Before shoes, man ran around barefoot and developed enormous density in the lower leg muscles, hamstrings, and glutes. It is excessive and improper “upright” posture that has changed our physiological development and contributed to an increase in body dysfunction like low back pain and more.

Here is a graph of a male subject doing an overhead squat. 

Screenshot of a 3D Overhead Squat Functional Movement Screen, with poor knee flexion.

Screenshot of a 3D Overhead Squat Functional Movement Screen, with poor knee flexion.

Notice the yellow (left knee) and bluish (right knee) lines as the vertical green line intersects them.  That point is at the bottom of the squat (maximum knee flexion) for a male subject  who is squatting through their heels.

The Red line represents the pelvis anterior/posterior tilt, and the green line going across the graph illustrates the Torso or Trunk Flexion/extension. For starters, at the point when the green vertical line intersects the yellow and bluish lines, they should all be nearly identical.  The white line represents pelvis height during the series of squats.  You might also notice how in the three consecutive squats, even the knees to not stay the same and stress is moving demonstrating more instability.  However, it is the instability of the male subject’s right ankle which allows for more internal rotation of the tibia allowing it to achieve greater flexion.

This is not a good thing for the lifter.  The internal tibia rotation causes medial knee pain, lateral knee pain, lateral right side hip pain, and shuts down the glute medius.  This only occurs when the gastroc/soleus (calf muscles) are not capable of firing because the weight is in the heels.

Now Roy said, “The glutes HAVE to fire to come up from the end of the eccentric range.”  However, here, in the graph, the (pelvis) represented by the red line bends forward slightly on the way down, loses the posture half way through the descent phase of the squat, then at the bottoms begins to tilt forward again.

Now just so you know, the pelvis should begin to tilt backwards from the bottom of the squat if the glutes are firing to assist.  In this graph, we see the quads taking over the get up to knee extension not the glutes contracting to get the pelvis extension (vertical).

(In the graph, notice how the red line does not follow the same curve as the other lines.  The Red HORIZONTAL line is the zero point or completely vertical.  Above the line is forward bend, below the line is backward bend.)

I could go on for hours about this particular graph but in the interest of not boring readers with things I get excited talking about, I have to come to a conclusion of this post. I have thousands of these graphs which I’ve been looking at for over 12 years while applying corrective exercises and re-assessing. I experimented with every cue and technique you could think of using with my clients.  And now I share what I’ve learned with each of you in hopes that you will leave behind the use of words like “the average person does this” or “everybody should do that”.  Other people who may be perceived to be experts may truly believe what you’ve learned from them, but we should trust in data not in reputations, and when it comes to technique the data is in the actual biomechanics of the motion not the result.  A person who develops their body from the ground up is that much more effective when the ask their body to perform a task. As I stated before, the body will find a way, but if you empower every joint and body segment to do its job, it sure does make it easier.

I learn something new everyday from my clients.  But I’m open to allow their bodies to teach me how to help them not to share what I think I learned from someone else’s body. We are all different even when we present the same symptoms.   I am sure many trainers like Ray get great results based upon what they believe. And Ray is not alone in his thinking.  I am sure we have probably not studied the same things. I’ve spent my life studying my clients not text books. I stopped following the “experts” because they all started to try to find their own unique niche or trick they could teach people to improve their brand.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I read other peoples books and listen to what they say, but it has to pass one simple test.  That test is….knowing what we know about how the body truly works, does it make common sense.  If it doesn’t throw it out. If it eliminates one joint or another, throw it out.  However, if your goal is task specific, you may accomplish the task with that tip or cue but you do it at risk to yourself and your body’s health in the future.

My hope for every reader today is that each of you gains an understanding of the following….

Each person moves in a way that is unique to them. This is based upon their own strengths, weaknesses, injuries, repetitive activity history, and neurological deficiencies, coaching cues, instructions, and much more.

To our profession or any exerciser: I know its easy if you are an expert or working with clients or patients to refer to techniques that are based upon the average person, but we must get into the uniqueness of each individual in an effort to get the most out of their bodies and help each person develop as an individual.  I love the feedback and appreciate the comments. It is the questions and comments that stimulate more questions and can ultimately lead us to the truth about health and fitness.  Be encouraged and know that your questions and thoughts will only lead you closer to unlocking the key to your body’s success.

Be sure to look for my upcoming book Absolute Kinetix: Fitness From the Ground Up!  Follow me on twitter @zig_ziegler

Have a positive day!


Greg Oden to play in 2012-13 NBA season? It is possible! Heres how…

What a crazy last 12  months in the NBA.  Brandon Roy is coming back! When I wrote about Brandon Roy coming back from retirement in April,  some readers responded in disbelief.  “He’s got bone on bone,” they said.  “I must have been on drugs”, one commenter said.  “No credibility”, and so on.   Well this is not an I told you so follow up, but more about how Greg Oden can get there too.  (Blog coming soon about Brandon Roy’s chances of staying healthy: stay tuned).

After a whirlwind last 6 months or so, Greg Oden was released and gave a lengthy interview discussing his career and life with Mark Titus of Grantland.  According to published reports, Greg also began a rigorous rehab and conditioning program to help get his body right.  In addition, Greg also reportedly underwent a surgical procedure to help reduce pain in his knee.

The reason you’re here is to find out if and how it might be possible for Greg Oden to make a return as well.  I am a fan of Greg as a person and want to see him on the court and achieve his basketball dreams.

My biggest motivation for writing about Greg Oden and other athletes issues is to bring light to the fact that proper treatment of the ‘root cause of any injury is an  essential component to helping prevent athletes and anyone from suffering from an injury long term’.   What traditionally has been referred to as proper treatment has had only short term benefits to the patient.  Traditionally, professionals in the industry treat the symptom.  If you treat the symptom (pain or injury), yes you can get back in the game quickly.  But the long term affects can be devastating and cut short any athlete’s career.

Recently, someone asked what I thought would have happened had Michael Jordan been drafted in Portland instead of Sam Bowie (whose career was hampered by chronic foot injuries)?  The answer is who knows and who really cares.

The bigger question is what would we be saying about Michael Jordan if he had not recovered from injuries suffered to his feet early in his career.  Three games into the 1985-86 season, Jordan went down with a broken bone in his left foot and was sidelined for 64 games before returning in mid-March.

The answer is that Air Jordan might have been reduced to a fraction of what he is today.  According to his teammates and those who played against him, Michael Jordan (whom I first met in 1994) worked harder than any other player in the game on and off the court.  In many ways, his work ethic overshadowed any treatments or training programs prescribed for him  As a result, any trainer who worked with Jordan would have become a name in the industry because he was Michael Jordan. Had that same trainer worked with Sam Bowie, we have no idea how Bowie ‘s body would have responded.  It is impossible to treat the two players with similar injuries with the same treatment because their body types and injury/training histories are different.

Oh by the way, many people forget or don’t know that Sam Bowie played in the NBA until 1995, he just didn’t play the way he was expected to based upon being drafted Number 1 overall ahead of the greatest player of all time.

Now back to Greg Oden so I can tie this all together.  A proven surgical procedure undergone by hardworking Kobe Bryant (who works as hard as Jordan on his fitness level) to eliminate pain only fixes part of the problem: the pain goes away. That is a good thing because the pain prevented Greg from being able to workout efficiently.   Additional benefits to the procedure Greg underwent earlier this year include reduced inflammation and possibly accelerated healing in the areas of his body affected by all of his surgical procedures.  Based upon the sheer number of surgeries Greg has undergone, his body has probably built up a considerable amount of scar tissue and some nerve damage may have occurred as well.  The procedure could potentially help with both.  This is very positive for Greg’s comeback.  But it is still not enough.

I hope Greg’s rehab and training program has focused on his weaknesses.  As I’ve stated previously, Greg moves inefficiently because of weaknesses in his body that have caused injuries.  Here are a few areas that were weak on Greg in 2008 and as evidenced by the repeated procedures in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, possibly still affecting him today: glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, hip extensors, hip rotators (internal and external), peroneals, gastrocs, soleus, abs,anterior and posterior tibialis, and more–mostly on the right side.  The left side indicated signs of significant fatigue and overuse.  So Greg’s left side needed then and probably still does need a break, relaxation.

The Number One area Greg Oden needs to improve….his feet!!!

Greg Oden laces up the shoes on his size 18 shoes into a rigid botttom, Nike shoe. Oden’s shoes also contain at least a heel lift, which also places stress on the front of his right knee. The lift could contribute significantly to meniscus injuries. immobile feet and a heel lift. No wonder Oden has meniscus and patella issues.

In particular, Greg needs to improve  his right “foot flexion” strength.  Can Greg grip things with his feet?  As crazy as it may sound to the novice reader, it is a necessary part of efficient biomechanics and Kinesiology.  As you’re reading this, take off your shoe and you’ll see what I mean.  Place a towel flat on the floor and grip or pick it up with your foot (one foot at a time for 50 reps- hold each rep for 2 seconds).  Try it and see how your foot feels.  Some of you won’t make it to 25 before your foot cramps.  If you’re right handed do the exercise with your right foot. Lefty’s just the opposite.

The feet are the single most neglected part of any training program.  Less than one percent (1%) of all trainers or physical therapist include true foot exercises in the daily or even weekly training programs for their athletes.  Now big manly types will say working out your feet is not important. Give them big strong massive biceps and they’ll take that guy. But let’s get real, we are seeing more injuries to knees, achilles, and other parts of the body related to weak feet.

We assume that because we are on our feet that they are functioning correctly, but that is not true. And no all of you you barefoot running enthusiasts, that is not enough either. Barefoot running only affects where the impact occurs not function of the feet. That’s a whole blog series I have set for October.

Here’s an indicator of whether or not you need to train your foot flexion or gripping:  Do you wear flip flops? If so, you are overworking the top of your foot and ankle (dorsiflexion and toe extension). In my research for this post, I watched a youtube video promoting toe extension exercises for dancers. It is honestly the worst and most unnecessary exercise ever, unless you’ve suffered an injury that keeps you from wearing flip flops.  Don’t get me wrong, some people will need it but 9 out of 10 would be negatively impacted by it.

Greg Oden and just about every other basketball player in the world needs the opposite.   These athletes need to work on gripping things with their feet. Why do I say this? It’s because the shoes worn by basketball players prevents their foot and ankle from functioning properly.  The solid rigid surface, the ankle taping…this prevents the ankle and foot from doing what it does naturally.  So yes, Greg Oden has a weak right foot.  In addition, he has a weak right lower leg complex: gastrocs/soleus.

This weak right foot contributes to his weak right lower leg, which contributes to his weaker right hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and other areas of his right leg.  These weaknesses cause Greg to over use his left side which is what contributed to Greg Oden’s left patella injury in 2009.  So if Greg Oden wants to come back in 2012-13, he’ll need to work hard, but he’ll also need to work on the right areas of his body.   Most importantly, Greg should absolutely under no conditions perform the same number of sets and reps or stretches on his right side in comparison to his left.  Greg’s injury history alone is an indicator that one side was damaged more than the other, so why do the same things on both? And yes, all of this was a part of the “controversial report” given to the Portland Trailblazers in 2008 and again in 2009 when contacted for a copy by Tom Penn.  Emotionally, another major injury would probably end his career. I would hate to see this because I had a chance to have an impact on his career longevity.

I guess we can say that two chronically, injured players for one team might be playing in the NBA for other teams after being let go due to those alleged career ending injuries.   And isn’t it amazing that one of them could win a championship (if he ends up in Miami and they win again). Shocking!  I’m just saying… somebody other than me thinks these two guys are still worth it and can be fixed.

The bottom line is just because you read it on the internet or someone makes a statement about it does not mean that it’s true.  Apparently one shoe has already dropped as Brandon Roy has signed with a new NBA team.  Another shoe will drop when Greg Oden is signed before the start of the season and returns to the NBA.  I’m pretty sure someone will sign Greg  next season.  And at worst, Greg can hang on for another 5 years or so going from team to team and make millions.  I hope he works hard on the root cause of his injuries and not just the injury itself.  Ask the question of your therapists, Greg.  And make sure you get a real answer not just one to pacify you.

The only other question left for me to answer here is, “What’s my motivation?”

Well, it is truly to see Greg Oden and many other injured athletes back on the court or in the game.  If Greg’s serious about a return, he should have a copy of his old report if he does not already have one.  But also, he should get a new one. Oh and if he does call to request one, no one will never hear about it from me until long after he returned to the court.   After all, you didn’t know about his previous tests as I kept that confidential not because I had to but because I wanted to keep it quiet.  At anytime, I could have promoted my relationship with the Blazers or any athlete or team as many others in the field do.  Having a famous clientele doesn’t make you an expert.   Actually having a positive impact on them or sharing valuable information for their benefit is what makes me and others in the profession feel great about waking up every day to go to work.

Until Greg was let go, I was a background guy.  That means when an athlete or team came to me, I stayed in the background. This is not about attention for me, it’s about bringing light to a dark situation. I want Greg Oden’s flame to shine.  Let the candle burn Greg.   Next week, I’ll detail Greg’s number 2-5  most important exercises to guarantee his long term health. Oh by the way, NBA teams, a guy with a tight back (back problems) can be fixed and is still worth a top draft pick. hint hint.

Zig Ziegler, The Sports Kinesiologist can be followed on Twitter @zigsports.

Core Training Myths: The truth about core training in fitness and sports

Around the turn of the century, a new buzzword began to circulate among experts in the fitness and sports industry–“Core” was the buzzword and a new revolution was born in sports and fitness training.  Article after article appeared in journals and magazines touting the core as the area we need to focus on the most to lead healthier, “pain-free” lives.  The media picked up on the buzzword.  With so much exposure, just about every issue or injury from low back pain to poor sports performance, which we had previously attributed to other issues, were now believed to be miraculously cured by targeting the core.

In the 1990’s, the industry claimed low back pain was primarily affected by the hamstrings. Today, the industry and the media blame back pain and everything else on a weak core.  This was and is 100% incorrect.  Back pain can be caused by any one of hundreds functional issues.  Experts in sports training, fitness, and even physical medicine (yes this includes highly respected doctors) also blamed many injuries and poor sports performances on poor core strength.  With so much exposure and demand for improvement,  every “fitness and medical expert” began creating exercises and programs targeting the core.  The physical ailments and sports performances people seek to improve are also affected by many factors including learned behaviors or techniques which create imbalances (but that’s another post all to itself).

It is my belief that because the hundreds of thousands of professionals who work with people on their sports, fitness, and health goals placed too much emphasis on this one particular area of the body, we are now seeing the results of the failure of the industry to properly educate consumers on how to truly balance their bodies and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Many experts, and as a result, fitness seekers and athletes all around the world have over done it with “core training”.  It was believed by some “so-called experts” that almost every problem in the body stemmed from weak core muscles.  And according to those experts, if you could just strengthen your core all your problems would be solved and fitness goals attained.

Well… I call BS!.  And over the next 1,000 words or so, I intend to explain why.

The body is divided into three planes. Sagittal, Coronal, and Transverse.

The “core muscles” and what it takes to train them has begun to cause an epidemic that needs to be undone.  Why is it that while the industry has focused on the “core”, the number of people suffering from back pain around the world has increased. In addition, we have seen a rise in other “core related” injuries?

The “core muscles” have been incorrectly identified by the average person.   In fact, I’ve searched the web, and most experts define the core as the abdominal and lower back muscles.  Most people believe the core can be trained by performance exercises on a stability ball; adding resistance to abdominal exercises; and by performing numerous other activities we now call functional training.  In truth, the core muscles are made up of all the muscles which meet in the center of the body’s planes.

In reality, the best way to define the “core muscles is “all muscles which affect the position of the pelvis”. This includes muscles originating and inserting at the pelvis and all of those muscles which affect pelvis position.  This also includes some muscles of the lower body which are neglected when “training the core”.  The pelvis moves in multiple directions and is essentially the first indicator of true stability (which is what we are trying to accomplish with “core training”).  Now keep in mind, pelvis movements can be and are affected by movements of all the segments and muscles around it. This means, the core is affected by both feet, both legs, the spine, and the arms (because the arms are attached to the spine via the trunk).

The ideal pelvis forward tilt is 7 and 10 degrees in men and women. some experts would say that a desirable forward pelvic tilt is 0-5 degrees in men and 7-10 degrees in women.  Those are desired averages, but we are not striving for average, we should be working towards ideal.  Based upon my research of thousands of people from all walks of life, the actual average is greater than 17-20 degrees of forward pelvic tilt. This is more than twice the ideal.  And the majority of participants in my research are athletes who supposedly have the best fitness levels and training.

While I do want to make it clear that training the core is important, I want to clarify that “core muscles” previously targeted through isolation and functional training are no less important than any other muscle in our body. In fact, what has happened as a result of the over emphasis on the core muscles is the following:

1) Any muscle when focused on as the muscle group to target can be OVER-trained and as a result, OVER developed.

2) Any muscle group when targeted can be exercised improperly, negating any real benefits that would have been gained had the exercises been

performed properly.

3) Compensation injuries can occur as a result of over-training or over emphasizing any muscle group.

In truth the core is the center of the body where forces cross the mid-point of the body splitting the into multiple planes.

For simplicity, the body is split into halves from upper body to lower body (Transverse plane); Front side to back side (Coronal Plane); and left side to right side (Sagittal plane).  In order for the body to become balanced, exercises must target all areas of the planes in some cases through multi-planar exercises (Functional and rotational movements in all directions).

The X-Plane divides the body diagonally from left hand to right foot and from right hand to left foot.

One aspect of multi-planar training that is rarely taken into consideration is the fact that in an effort to seek balance, those planes are affected by work that is done diagonally from left to right and right to left, from upper body to lower body.  What does that mean?  The body is divided into the three (but really four) planes. However, the left arm does its job in conjunction with the right leg.  The right arm, works with the left leg.  So the new, “X-Plane” has to be trained as well.

A muscle is over trained and over developed when it is targeted more than its opposing muscle group (in all planes).  If I only work on my right bicep and not my left, its obvious that my right arm would be stronger, more dense, and heavier than my left when doing activities that require both arms.  If we spend time isolating the low back and abdominal (which the average person defines as the core), we end up with abs/low back that are significantly stronger than our feet, lower leg muscles, glutes, hamstrings, possibly even quads.

As a result, instead of strengthening the body’s ability to transfer energy and have support from the  “core” to perform functional movements, we are actually weakening, the core and its ability to perform true functional movements.  What is an indicator that the core has been over-trained or improperly trained?  That’s the easy part.  We will see people suffer more injuries to hamstrings, the groin, chronic low back pain, and a the presence of a severely forward tilted pelvis (anterior pelvic tilt).

This negative pelvis posture can lead to an increase in ACL/meniscus knee injuries, plantar fascia injuries, patella tendonitis, groin pulls, hamstring strains, shoulder injuries, low back/spine injuries and pain, abdominal strains, neck pain/discomfort leading to surgeries of the cervical spine, and hundreds of other physical issues.

So let’s stop isolating the core and begin to work on developing balance in the body, in all planes, not just at the “core”.  Fitness should be achieved by working to develop the entire body…From the Ground Up! 

In future writings, I will address some key exercises, which if done properly will provide more true benefit to the “core” than the road the industry is currently taking to a healthy core.

Follow Zig Ziegler, the Sports Kinesiologist on Twitter @zigsports. Zig is the author of he soon to be released book, Absolute Kinetix: Fitness From the Ground Up.

Derrick Rose Update: Career in Jeopardy…Why Rose will never be the same!

To keep up with the latest from Zig Ziegler, follow Zig on twitter @zig_ziegler.

While Derrick Rose was tearing his ACL, I spent the morning conducting a 3D-Biomechanics Assessment on future projected Top Five NBA draft pick Shabazz Muhammad.  While there are no guarantees the UCLA bound senior at Las Vegas’s Bishop Gorman High School will escape future knee injuries, the move will provide Muhammad with exercises targeting any weaknesses or imbalances in his body. The results are in the hands of Muhammad along with his current and future trainers at UCLA.

I appreciate the your coming out to do the tests on me,” said Shabazz.  “I will do what I can to improve.”  In addition, to the biomechanics assessment to identify his risk of injury, Shabazz, also was able to benefit from a fine tuning of his pelvis position during shooting free throws. Already with a free throw shooting percentage around 85%, after the adjustment to his pelvis, Shabazz stated, “I already feel myself shooting straighter.”

The subtle techniques changes will become permanent as Shabazz follows the strength and conditioning exercises and stretches recommended specifically for his body.  But most importantly, Shabazz and other young players can significantly reduce the risk of overuse and compensatory injuries related to muscle imbalances.

For Derrick Rose, it’s not too late to help improve his ability to recover from his recent ACL tear.  His recent injuries (prior to the ACL tear) were warning signs that something was about to go dreadfully wrong.  It’s like ignoring the check engine or oil light in the car.  Sure we can keep driving; check the oil and probably notice that we are low on oil (adding more), but eventually the symptom turns into a major problem.  The light was an indicator that maybe we had an oil leak?  I’m just guessing here but I’ve seen enough simple symptoms turn into major problems.

As for Rose, Oden, and others, to help us all understand the risks of rehab and recovery, let’s first gain a better understanding of the injury itself.

A tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee usually occurs in one of two ways: 1) hyperextension of the knee 2) rotation of the knee.  Both causes contribute to ACL tears while bearing more weight on the knee than supporting muscles can bear. If either motion is too great, an ACL tear or meniscus tear (at a minimum) can occur. This type of non-contact injury usually occurs while the athlete is attempting to change directions.  (There are other ways for injuries to occur but these are the two most common methods for non-contact related ACL/Meniscus tears).

Rose suffered a torn ACL while landing and attempting to RE-accelerate or change directions during his trademark “jump stop” power move.  In my opinion, the injury occurred during the transition phase of the move where Rose was in between stopping and starting (changing directions). At the point in the game when the injury occurred, Rose’s body (which had spent the past two months compensating for injuries below the knee) was experiencing in-game fatigue.  His ACL tear could have happened in the first minute or the last minute, however, because of his history.

Rose is and has always been a player who relies on his explosive leaping ability, quickness, and all around athletic ability. He has been labeled a fearless player who plays with reckless abandon.  That all changed with a little over one minute to play in game one of the 2012 playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers.

How will this affect Rose going forward?

In the future, when Rose moves to his right, he will be able to play aggressively. However, stopping or changing directions while moving to the right will be extremely challenging.  As Rose attempts to change directions while moving to the right, the inside of the left knee must assist in deceleration.  If the left leg does not absorb its appropriate share of the workload during this deceleration, one of two things is bound to happen: 1) re-injury to the left knee or 2) new injury to the right knee.

As Rose attempts to move to the left, the outside of the left knee absorbs the majority of the workload while moving in that direction. This creates less of a challenge for Rose in the future because of the nature of the injury.  Stopping or changing directions for Rose when moving left should be considerably easier for Rose to do as the inside of his right knee will bear the majority of the load in deceleration.  The act of actually pushing off is primarily the responsibility of the outside of his left leg.  As a result, Rose will be able to change directions when moving left, but may subconsciously rely more on his right leg.

In my description above, Rose will be forced to overuse his right leg considerably, resulting in a higher risk of injury to the right leg from foot to hip.  We may see Rose tear his right ACL or retear his left, develop Patella tendonitis in the right knee, or suffer an injury to the right hip,or foot (which was supported by muscles already weaker than those in his left leg).

The biggest concern for Rose is the fact that Rose’s injury is an injury related to rotational stability of his left knee.  The ACL attaches to the inside of the lateral aspect of his femur (thigh bone) and the lateral aspect of the medial portion of the tibia (lower leg).  In stabilizing the knee, the ACL resists rotation. In Rose’s case, his lower leg internally rotated and could not stabilize before his femur began to externally rotate.  The rotated out of sequence and in opposite directions.

The most neglected part of ACL surgery and rehab is the rotational stability of the knee.  During surgery, the bones of the upper and lower leg are not typically rotated back into their normal position prior to the injury.  The new ACL is attached typically with the two segments in the posture they moved to when the injury occurred.

As for rehab, we constantly hear “experts” in the field of medicine and rehab referring to the quadriceps and hamstring muscles as the most important to ACL recovery. But we are rehabbing only part of the knee’s stabilizing muscle groups.

Why is it that no one discusses the extremely important segment of the body below the knee with muscles that cross the knee and assist in the stability of the knee?  It’s because the protocols have become watered down and we only look at the primary muscles that flex or extend the knee.  Apparently, experts in the field of rehab and medicine have forgotten that the lower leg muscles assist in stabilizing and supporting healthy knee function. Yes, I’m referring the entire muscle group of the lower leg.

The Gastrocnemius/Soleus complex (typically referred to as the calf muscles) is the single most important muscle group to target when recovering from ACL surgery, the quads and hamstrings are important but no more important than the lower leg muscle group.  Yet, only a minimal portion rehab is dedicated to targeting the lower leg.  The Anterior and Posterior Tibialis, and mobility of the peroneals are extremely important to complete recovery.

In addressing this area to aid in recovery, Rose’s therapist must pay attention to the rotation of the knee, by manually assisting the repositioning the tibia/femur posture. In doing so, they can return his knee to its pre-injury “joint posture”. If this happens, Rose can return quickly and achieve near pre-injury levels, reducing his risk of re-occurrence.

If you ask anyone who has ever undergone ACL or meniscus rehab (Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Terrell Owens, myself (8 times), and the list goes on and on) no one will say that they spent a good deal of rehab time working on developing the lower leg muscles. For Derrick Rose and others to recover completely from ACL or other knee injuries, more emphasis must be placed on the lower leg.  If not, Rose will become an out of control player (unable to stop to change directions) or suffer repeated injuries to his knees and be out of the game before he’s 26 years old.  Keep in mind that rehab type exercises for Rose will need to become a part of his regular training program to ensure that his “fixes” are permanent and to keep him from suffering chronic knee, hip, foot, and other injuries.  As a Bulls fan, I’m pulling hard for Derrick Rose, but I have my concerns.

As a Sports Kinesiologist specializing in human movement, I’m pulling for experts in our field to open their eyes and close their protocols. Address every athlete individually, not the injury.  The injury is just a symptom that something went wrong.  And in the case of Derrick Rose, Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and others, something went wrong repeatedly and will continue to do so, unless the root cause of the injury is address. Let’s hope Shabazz Muhammad and other young players bound for the NBA can benefit from the changes in the sports, fitness, and medical injury early enough to stop the trend in accepting injuries as part of the game.  Many injuries can be prevented but we have to take steps to make this a reality.

Zig Ziegler, The Sports Kinesiologist, provides feedback on injuries to A-List athletes in an effort to help educate athletes and parents on the prevention of injuries.  Be sure to check out other stories here about Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Mark Sanchez, Tiger Woods, and more.  Follow Zig on twitter @zig_ziegler.