Entering The Movement Tunnel With Coach Luke

Today’s blog post comes from Luke, his first of many to be appearing on the RevFit Blog.

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Good quality movement should be the base upon which everything you do in the gym is built.

Without it you’re pretty much guaranteeing yourself a good chunk of time on the side-lines with injures throughout your lifting days.

Not only that – but you also limit yourself in terms of the results you will be able to achieve.

By moving inefficiently, having the wrong muscles doing the work, and putting yourself in shit positions, you limit your ability to move heavy things.

Most people nowadays have very poor movement.

This is largely due to the lack of movement most people do and the shit positions we put ourselves in for hours and hours daily.

Chances are you’re probably in a crap position right now reading this…

Sitting down, head and shoulders hunched over while reading this on your phone, tablet or computer.

Maybe you’re slouched on a couch or chair instead.

Either way you’re probably not in an ideal position (Kudos if you are).

Heck I’ve even found myself having to re-adjust out of crappy positions since I started writing this.

Even people without desk jobs are very likely to have some sort of restrictions or imbalances from your day to day activities.

So since we all want to be injury free badasses and lift all the things, how can we make sure that we are moving correctly?

++START AT THE START
The first step is to assess your existing movement quality. There are countless ways to do this but the simplest way to do this yourself is to simply get into the positions of the movement your looking to improve.

Eg – can you get into the bottom of a squat? Or life your arms overhead?

Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD has an approach to this that I think is pretty simple and effective. He calls it “the tunnel”.

The tunnel approach basically gives you a great place to start your movement assessment.

It’s a way to identify, diagnose and correct movement problems.

It works like this, in order to correctly perform a movement you must be able to enter and exit the tunnel in a good position.
What that means is that when you enter the tunnel (your start position) you must be able to assume a good position, and when you exit the tunnel (your finish position) you must be able to assume a good position.

If you start a movement in a compromised position you will exit the movement in a compromised position. If you start in a good position but cannot put yourself into a solid finish position, you will obviously finish in a poor position.

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>> SQUAT POSITIONS
Here’s how would that look using the tunnel approach for assessing your squat.

Can you start in a good position?

That is standing up tall, head neutral, abs braced & rib cage locked down, pelvis neutral/level. For most this is an achievable position, it might not be your normal relaxed standing posture but most will be able to adjust and get setup right.

Once we’ve checked off the start position, let’s look at the finish position. For our squat this is being at the bottom of a squat position, hips below knees, neutral spine/head position, knees out, chest up with no crazy forward lean going on, abs still braced & ribcage locked down & pelvis neutral.

If your start position and finish position are solid, then you should be able to perform the movement. If something is off, you have an idea of where to start. You also now have a nice assessment that you can use to measure the effectiveness of anything you do to try and improve it. This will help you confirm if you are indeed working on the right areas.

>> PUSH UP POSITIONS
The same can approach can be applied to pretty much anything. For benching you can use a push-up as an assessment.

Can you get in a good start position? Hands about shoulder width apart, fingers pointing forward, shoulders over hands, feet together core & glutes fired keeping the spine & pelvis neutral.

How does your finish position look? Forearms as vertical as possible (elbows above wrists), spine neutral, shoulders not rounding forwards, head just above the ground.

You don’t even have to be able to perform a push-up or squat to perform the assessment. Just try and get yourself into the position even if you’re not strong enough (yet) to press out of it.
Again if you are having trouble holding a good position at the start or the finish then you now have an assessment to test and re-test with.

Depending on what is going wrong with your position will help you identify the areas to go after.

++ GYM’LL FIX IT
Once you’ve identified your issues, how do you fix them?

Well that depends on what the issue is.

However for many mobility issues, using some mobilisation techniques followed by some stabilisation work will be what is required.
That could be doing some rolling with a ball or a roller to loosen out the tight tissues (muscles) and then doing some stabilisation work/exercises after.

The stabilisation stuff here is key as most of the time the reason you get tight in some area is because some muscles aren’t working correctly meaning others have to work too much and get locked up and tight as a result of it.

It can also be the body’s own way of stopping you from hurting yourself. If it feels that something is weak/not firing, it will try and restrict you from moving into positions it thinks it won’t be able to stabilise in.

Working on tight tissues is still an important step but doing this alone won’t solve the real issues.

The first being you spend too much time in shit positions so stop doing that. Our bodies will adapt to the positions we put them in so spending time in shit positions means you become very good at staying in shit positions.

If you have to sit all day or stand all day or whatever, that’s cool but it’s not an excuse to spend it in a shit position.

Set yourself up correctly and get up and move around every 20-30 mins. That can be going to get a drink, going to the little boys/girls room or even just standing up for a few seconds and sitting back down.

The second issue is that because of the above shit positions you’re probably weak in a number of areas and so you need to get them working again so you can start moving properly
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Here at RevFit, like at any good gym we prioritise movement quality and a movement screen is one of the first things we do with all new clients. There’s no point trying to take someone through proper squat technique if they can’t get into the position.

It’s why we’re putting on a mobility workshop for our members on Saturday April 25th @ 12pm in RevFit: Glasnevin.

If you’re a current RevFit member we’d LOVE to see you there.

James Hanley

Strength Coach. Performance Specialist. Dog Lover. Powerlifter. And the guy behind the scenes in RevFit that keeps the plates spinning.