I’ll never forget that phone call.
“Dr. Stoxen, I really like your articles! and I would like to know if you would like to be on my editorial advisory board for my magazine.”
Joe Weider 1993
Of course, you know I thought that this was a prank by some friend of mine.
I hung up the phone and went back to treating patients.
About an hour later I got to thinking that the prankster didn’t call me back laughing yet.
Could that have been Joe Weider?
I hope not… because I kinda blew him off.
You know how you think when you think you goofed.
A couple months later I got my muscle and fitness magazine in the mail.
There I was… listed on the editorial advisory board.
Ill never forget my reaction….. UGH! Holy crap! It waaaas him!
All I could think about for months was how I blew him off.
Joe Wieder was my idol at the time.
However, magazine after magazine I kept reading and looking for some new exercises.
All I kept repeating was “ahhh the same old song and dance‘.
It seemed that most of the articles would train the same muscles, just a different champion in the pictures.
I read there were 602 muscles in the body yet M and F magazine discussed less than half of them.
I kept thinking….
- What are those missing muscles?
- What do those muscles do?
- Why aren’t we training them?
- What are the consequences of not training them?
Most bodybuilders, people exercising just to loose weight or look good, The Hollywood group stick to a routine that trains the beautiful muscles.
But of course, Joe Weider was still working out with me in his home gym at 87 so you have to think all that bodybuilding and the Weider nutrition must be helping!!!!
A distance runner who has inadequate strength of his postural or stabilizing muscles will be more prone to premature exhaustion or injury no matter how efficient his cardiovascular or respiratory systems may be.
What causes the fatigue?
Let me explain…..
When the primary movers are the only muscles we train or what I call, ‘the take off muscles‘ then the body flies through the air faster than it did before, theoretically speaking.
What we need to do is to train the take off muscles and the landing muscles!
Think about how an engineer would design a jet plane.
If you add a faster engine, the faster the plane flies, the greater the force of the impact on the landing.
It’s the old newtons law!
Force of the landing is equivalent to the mass of the plane times the speed.
The same exact law applies to you!
Most injuries happen during the landings.
For most of you, your big move towards improving safety in the landings is to wear an artificial spring instead of building your natural spring. You wear cushion shoes.
Some cushion shoes are better than others. You read about gels, air, midsole bla bla bla forever and the high tech Madison Avenue slogans get you!
I spend no time reading about the braces someone says I need.
In the commercial they hint around that my natural spring can’t accept the landings and that is why I need an artificial spring they want to sell me.
Here is the fact! If you’re not working on stabilizing your landing muscles, when you do land, the limb will fall out of the safe range for acceptable alignment tripping the stabilizing muscles. Soon they will fatigue then spasms set in.
How do I know?
I find spasms all over the legs, feet, hips and backs of athletes who run faster and with greater impacts then their spring suspension system, landing muscles can handle.
1. Weak spasmed accessory muscles reduce loading capacity of the human spring therefore reduce the amount of free elastic energy you can store and release. This reduces running efficiency.
Tonic spastic muscles exert compressive force on the two structures that they span.
For instance a spasm of the tensor fasciae late… Many of you know the illio tibial band. You roll the hell out of it with those foam rollers. Ive never seen anyone with this condition do adequate 3-dimenstional stretching of the foot.
This muscle-tendon extends from the pelvis to the leg bone or the fibula.
So when it is in a tense spasmed state, it will pull those bones together to compress the hip and knee joints at the same time. That is what I call the preload on the spring mechanism.
Take a close look at this illustration Look at the left and right sides. On YOUR right the human spring is compressed because the spring suspension system muscles are weak.
This is what I find in patients who have a weak, collapsed and locked spring suspension system.
The spring suspension system consists of:
- foot-arch spring complex of 33 interlocking joints with elastic ligaments that form a leaf spring
- the spring suspension system muscles and tendons which suspend the foot-arch spring complex that give it spring energy when loaded at impact
- the cartilage of each joint that when impacted bounce the impact force by squeezing out fluid during impact then when the impact is over absorb oxygen and nutrients back into the cartilage giving it a steady flow of nutrients
Weakness, Collapse and Lock of the Human Spring Leads to Inefficiencies
Human Spring Inefficiency – Muscle Fatigue and Energy Depletion - The inability to load negative stress and strain free force into the human spring in the optimum center point can trigger muscle spasms (tense painful muscles) These spasms are typically turned on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They are muscles that are contracting and working even in your sleep. This is an obvious drain of energy stores that leads to a lack of recovery of energy from sleep.
When the mass is not sprung back from the exact center of the spring mechanism you won’t get maximum free spring energy return. Think of how a mechanical spring responds when you squeeze it down from an angle. Any abnormal spring back must be corrected by the stabilizing muscles. This burns valuable energy leading to a more rapid fatigue. The more rapid fatigue causes further abnormal motion.
The Efficient Human Spring turns into a Inefficient Human Lever - Also it doesn’t allow for loading and unloading of spring energy within the structure so you have to switch to muscular contractions that push the body with lever mechanics to ambulate. This is because the muscle spasms compress the spring mechanism reducing the access to free spring energy.
Left unchecked, your once efficient form and technique goes into a tail spin and soon you are in a high risk for an acute injury or chronic condition.
Over Reactive Nervous System – Also since the muscle spasms are controlled by nerves that are active all night this makes it difficult to sleep. You sleep deeper when your nervous system shuts down.
Acute Injuries or Chronic Conditions
Chronic Human Spring Failure - The compression of the hip and knee joint causes a preload tension on these joints which does not allow as much force to be loaded into the spring mechanism so it increases the likelihood of injuries to these areas. The 3,650,000 impacts per year or 200,000,000 impacts you have by age 60 are more of a compressive grinding than a free spring loading of the joints which is what is theorized to cause the overall degeneration of the weight bearing joints leading to the necessity of knee and hip joint replacements.
Acute Human Spring Failure - This is what sets the human spring up for an acute injury when lifting or impacting. The external force from lifting or impacting cannot be loaded into the human spring because it is already preloaded with compressive force. The overload of compressive force is absorbed into the tissues in the form of a knee injury, back injury (herniated disc)
2. Tense, tight end spasmed muscles decrease unloading capacity
3. These muscle contractions that cause compression of these joints also creates a drag on the spring action which reduces efficiency and increases risk for impact related injuries.
The landing muscles are missing from our exercise routine
I could remember as a kid reading that there were over 600 muscles in the human body!
I would read the muscle magazines that provided the latest and greatest information about building the muscles of the body.
The routines consisted of back and bicep exercises, chest and triceps exercises, legs, calves and abs. The routines seemed to be all the same.
Body building, body shaping and other routines makes you look like a world champion athlete.
It was so disappointing that something was definitely missing in these routines. What they were doing was training floors 3 – 7, or the ‘Hollywood Muscles‘ as I call them.
They totally neglecting floors 1 -3 or the spring suspension system or landing muscles.
It is important to note that the training programs given in popular bodybuilding magazines and weight training manuals focus almost entirely on developing the prime movers or (phasic) muscles involved in a given exercise but make little mention of the vital role played by the stabilizing or tonic muscles acting during the same exercise Since all motor actions involve a continual interplay between stability and mobility these simplistic training programs may be seen to be of limited value in serious sports training and the ability to walk for a lifetime. Supertraining by Siff Verhkoshansky
By leaving out the landing muscles and developing all the other muscles stronger you will be left with serious problems in ambulation during walking and running.
1. Train for appearance – only muscles we can see get trained leaving the landing muscles neglected. The body is eventually unable to land safely leading to degeneration.
2. Train for performance -
3. Train for support of the human spring –
Train like the champions before you!
Top athletes don’t do these incomplete training routines.
Many people look at the top athletes and mimic what they do.
I have treated almost 1000 national and world champion athletes.
You might think they have perfect mechanics.
If they did then why are they getting treated by me?
I looked at the physics and engineering as it applied to the human body and developed the most perfect approach to maintain that structure.
I throw out a lot of extraneous training approaches using very logical and common sense reasoning.
If they don’t abide by the laws of nature, physics and engineering they arent worth doing. I don’t care how good the guy looks.
When the foot lands the forces of landing are resisted by the spring suspension system or landing muscles.
If there is an imbalance in strength of these landing muscles there will be either:
- over pronation – rolling too far inward
- over supination – rolling too far outward
- or just a bang and twist instead of a spring of the bodyweight through the foot.
These abnormal movements are what causes strain across the muscular linkage joint system that lead to the breakdown of the entire flooring system of the human spring. For more information read this article: What Is Foot Pronation And Foot Supination? Is It Good Or Bad?
The strongest links are developed together with the entire linkage system working as an integrated spring.
You only get imbalance of strength when you work the separate parts. How do you know that leg extensions with 140 pounds balance out the strength of 100 pound calf raises?
If the entire arch suspension system area is neglected day after day, month after month, year after year, the imbalance becomes more significant and the conditions, risk for injury and aging becomes more significant.
Am I saying that there is something missing with all forms of current training?
Yes, I am.
From a bio-engineering standpoint most people say, that makes sense.
You don’t have to take my word for it, listen to what the experts are saying…
With that let’s look at the support system of the spring mechanism and what training approach is required to maintain function in this area.
The muscles that provide a safe landing are in all 7 floors of springs
The body is a giant spring with 7 floors of springs:
- The arch
- The subtalar joint
- The ankle mortise
- The knee
- The hip
- The spine
- The head-neck
But the most important are in the arch-foot spring (see below)
The landing muscles are important for 4 different functional strengths :
1. Static strength is the force that can be held in one place (force) – Standing for a length of time
a. Iron Cross (Gymnastics)
2. Dynamic Strength is the weight that can be moved through a distance (work), or the ability of muscle to generate force against a resistance. These muscles have to be able to resist forces for foot and body position in lifting or pushing
b. Weight training
c. Lifting a box
3. Explosive Strength is the product of the force and speed (power). These muscles must be able to provide for a safe landing during more high impact activities like running and jumping
4. Endurance Strength is the strength to be able to resist forces for a safe landing for multiple landings as in long walks or runs.
a. Walking long distances
b. Running distances
Finnish researchers at the university of Jyvaskyla examined the characteristics of these three types of strength athlete using maximum squats, squat jumps, vertical jumps and dynamometers as part of the test battery (Hakinnen et al 1984) and found weightlifters possessed greater values for isometric and auxotonic strength per body mass than the other two groups as well as the highest rate of force production and greatest utilization of stored elasticity. Supertraining Siff Verhkoshansky
What I suggest is that you focus on working your tendons and connective tissue fibers from multiple joint angles. (see movement training above)
Try some new dance moves instead of the same old song and dance.
In fact dancing is an excellent way to develop muscles from all different angles which can help with your running.
My most favorite running drill is a zigzag run and of course I love to recommend multiple angle plyometrics to develop the landing gear or the spring suspension system muscles.
Watch above as Dr. James Stoxen DC trains 2 time USA Taekwondo Champion Christian Medina Barefoot Running with Zig Zag Drills
For more information on this tutorial go to video tutorial #12, How Does The Body Spring Back Safely From Impacts Of Running and Walking?, click here
as well as video tutorial #28 Self-Tests & Exercises To Reduce Over Pronation and Over Supination From Impacts During Walking and Running. click here
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