Training Takeaways from 2016

By Chris Carlsen

As this year rides off into the sunset, it’s a good time to look back on the progress that was made over this past year.  

To make progress requires a plan. My plan over the last couple of years would be to pick a topic or two and really concentrate on learning more in those subjects. Once you have a good general base of knowledge in your respective field, this is a great way to keep from getting stagnant. For instance, two years ago, my focus was on neural efficiency and control, and last year was on programming power cycles. Yes, I would still read on other subjects, but I would seek out information on my focus throughout the year. This past year was no different.

With the popularity of the Functional Range Conditioning System and being introduced to some of the positional breathing exercises from the Postural Restoration Institute system by my colleague Frank Duffy, it was a great year to refocus on assessment. Over the years, learning from the FMS, Assess and Correct, and Somatics has given me good base for conducting an assessment. Assessment skills is always something you want to get better at and brush up on. An Assessment is so important because it's what gives you the information to know where your client's program should start from. This will allow your clients to reach their goals safely.

This year, the FRC principles of controlling your end ranges had me rethink what was efficient range for certain exercises.  Here are three assessment finding over the last year that have made me a better assessor.  

1. Test Hip Internal and External Rotation at End Range of Hip Flexion - I used to test hip IR and ER at 90 degrees of hip flexion.  Since testing at end range (100-120 degrees), I have found more limitations and flags than at 90 degrees (especially with IR). This is important because we need at least 35 degrees of Internal Rotation in hip flexion to squat, pistol squat and rotate (sports) effectively. Limited IR will cause the lumbar spine to pick up the rotation lost at the hip. Hip IR is also needed for powerful hip extension. That’s why the adductors (internal rotators) are called your front butt. Good movement in this range is an indication of how healthy a joint is and if it needs improvement before more activity.

2. Test Dosriflexion on a Scale of 1 to 5 Inches- It is taught that we need 3 inches of dorsiflexion to be able to squat effectively. I based my passed assessment on the 3-inch marker, but have came to find the 5-inch marker is what is needed. 5 inches is usually the standard for range available at this joint.  What happens if one ankle gets a 3 and the other gets 5? Both ankles pass, but the lack of joint range on the 3 inch ankle can lead to problems squatting, running, and decelerating that would go undetected in assessment that just tested for three inches.

3.  Assessing a Flat T-spine-  This one!! We always hear about kyphotic or overly round t-spine. Many athletes (especially throwing) have the opposite, they're stuck in extension. This is important because the thoracic position is imperative for efficient gleno-humeral movement (shoulder) and good shoulder mechanics is essentially thoracic-glenoid-humeral rhythm. You will have hard time getting your shoulder stronger without having better movement and positioning from your T-spine. If you have trouble picking this up statically, cat/camels can help you assess this dynamically.

*Don't mistake anterior tilted shoulder blades for a rounded T-spine.

* Just because they are stuck in extension doesn't mean they are good at extending from their t-spine. They could be getting their extension from the lumbar spine.

I hope these tips help, and here's to another year of getting better.