As my skills and abilities as a coach evolve I find that things simplify over time. Further, I wind up viewing things through a new set of eyes and compare what is seen,felt and learned to what I previously believed true. On movement skills, I have broken things down to the following:
Joint Integrity: (Being aware of) How one carries themselves in a position or movement.
Mobility: The ability to move a joint through its full range of motion.
Efficiency: The connection between the brain and the body/tool in performing a given movement.
Progression: Owning a movement, starting with the simple before moving to the sophisticated.
Variety: The ability to apply the movement though various positions or with different instruments in a “same but different” manner.
Precision: The ability to put quality before quantity.
Today I will offer my short thoughts on joint integrity,although all points touch upon each other. I will admit that I am stickler on technique. I believe much of this stems from a lengthy and sometimes painful upbringing under very strict Karate instructors, having made a ton of mistakes in the gym and a career in the military. I am not so strict that every client must be perfect day one. I simply aspire to make them better each set and session. That to me is progression.
Joint integrity has always been a key point of my instruction, even before I knew it. Over the years this has increased since my education in Corrective Exercise, StrongFirst Kettlebell, Breathe! II under Russ Moon and presently through early use of Indian Clubs.
“Squats don’t hurt your knees. Whatever you are doing there is hurts your knees” Dan John
The Deadlift, The Pull-Up, The Kettlebell Swing and the Squat are all great exercises. They are also totally awful exercises if performed without proper joint integrity and loading. The value of an exercise depends on the person and the manner in which things are being performed.
The other day I witnessed a trainer having a client perform seated machine rear deltoid flies. The range of motion being performed was well beyond the lateral point which can invite shoulder hyperextension. No attempts to correct even the broad strokes of the clients form were given. This served as an example of an otherwise fine exercise being made potentially injurious and inefficient by lack of quality coaching and joint integrity.
Not to minimize things, but this was a machine with a pre-determined path of movement targeting a relatively small muscle area. I can only imagine what happens when a free-weight compound movement is introduced.
The advice and instruction of expert coaching, video feedback of performance and a developed sense of kinesthetic awareness can assist a person in developing joint integrity. For the coach, the act of of properly cueing and aligning the human body into an optimum position based on individual anthropometry and structural limitations in the performance of a given exercise is an art onto itself.
An individuals ability to listen to the messages sent by the body before, during and after a movement is key, this is an advantage of not always relying on mirrors while training as the reflected image gives a distorted representation only to what is visible. The use of the mirror is not without value, but in my opinion lends itself to some exercises more than others.
Be mindful of your movement. If in doubt, seek assistance from experts that can help you. Sometimes very small adjustments in joint integrity completely change things for the better.