There are 2 coaching cues that I’ve become more aware of lately that slipped under my radar for quite some time. I didn’t realize the importance they had on efficient movement patterns and how they could impact they way the athlete moves.
1- Neck position. By reading Weingroff’s stuff as well as watching his DVD set and seeing him speak, this is a big take home that I got from his message: you need to coach neck position.
It is part of the spine and has an important impact on inner core function. This is something I feel like too many coaches would say “why the hell does it matter? It’s not a big deal”. Well, in fact, IT IS a big deal! When you deadlift, when you do chin ups, when you do lunges, and when you do any core exercises, the position of your neck affects how your whole body will react. The goal is to get efficient at joint centration and therefore the body can maximize stability and power production. The joint centration concept that Weingroff tallks about refers to your joints being in “optimal”, neutral and stable positions for the body to function and move as efficiently as possible. The position of the neck is a big part of this joint centration concept. Look carefully at your athletes and clients next time they lift; most of them naturally tend to compensate by reaching with their neck in many different positions. Coaching athletes and clients to pack in their neck is of utmost importance and I’ve been guilty of overlooking this coaching cue for way too long. I realize now it is as important as keeping a neutral spine, or keeping your shoulder blades back, etc.
2- Breathing. We’ve all heard this before at some point in our lives: while lifting, you want to inhale on the eccentric phase and exhale on the concentric phase of any given movement. Many of us have ditched this concept because we know that it is far from optimal when trying to move big weights and it is pretty inefficient strategy to create stability. Although I still believe this last theory, I’ve been more aware of the importance of breathing and how it affects your body, just not in the old fashion exhale while you push way. After taking the postural respiration home study course from the Postural Restoration Institute this past weekend, I realize how important breathing patterns really are.
It affects the position of your spine, your thorax and your ribs on both sides. Most people have ribs flaring out on the left side and are not very efficient at using their right diaphragm (more on this in an upcoming blog post); because of that the whole orientation of the spine, the thorax and the ribs are affected; which in turn affect neck and shoulder muscle function. Without going into too much details right now, breathing really does have a profound effect on how we move and position our body. I’m still not going to tell my athletes to exhale on the way up on a heavy set of deadlift because they need stiffness, which they couldn’t get that way, but there are ways to incorporate breathing patterns into training. Coaching effective breathing patterns is another often overlooked coaching cue that deserve more attention than it has had recently.
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