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OHFAST Performance Therapist Lori Silver is World Class

OHFAST performance therapist Lori Silver is world class.

Lori has accepted the position is as the Lead Physiotherapist for the Canadian Women Rugby Sevens team.  Lori will be relocating to Victoria, BC to continue her performance therapy work with the reigning 2016 Women's Rugby 7 bronze medalists.

Lori will be missed.  I have worked with Lori for almost 5 years now and it has been a pleasure.   Lori always did great work with her patients and exemplified our Performance Therapy approach.  Her unique skill set as Physio and Strength coach will be missed.  She had a great clinical mind and is a great athlete.  

Her passion to always get better is commendable.  We have attended many conferences and courses together.  I am sure I will see her at future courses and conferences.

Good luck Lori.  Thank you for your great years of service to the performance therapy model and helping us grow.  I look forward to hearing about the great things you will be doing with the Canadian Women's Rugby 7s team.

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Protect your back with a neutral spine

By Dr. Paul Oh

Neutral spine is the best way that I know to protect your spine.  When your spine is in good alignment is distributes force along it well.   Think of a water hose analogy.   When the spine is in good alignment water flows through it with ease.   A mis-alignment may create a leak.  That leak is often where we get injured.

The main issues with most back injuries is that most people are not aware of the leak.  Most people think my back is not strong enough.  However it is often the leaky segment is not strong enough because it used it too much.  Most often people move too much through teh segment that causes pain.  Instead they should be fixating the spine as on unit so forces can be distributed to the hips and gluts.  Low back disc herniations most commonly occur at the L4-5 or L5-S1 level, but why?

 

These discs are oriented in a way that it is easier to move through these segments.  Because we  move through these segments too much we put them at more risk of being injured.   This is especially true during squats, deadlifts or anything for that matter.  

Let’s bring another anology into the mix.   Think of our body as a growing tree and the hose is our spine that feeds us.  We need to maintain neutral to allow the water to flow through the hose (our spine).  As more water flows through the hose we can water the roots of the tree which is our gluts and core.  We need to learn to drive movement from this area.  In general, a neutral spine feeds better glut and core activation.  You may ask yourself I never feel my gluts during a squat or deadlift, you may want to check your alignment.   I find when I can lock my spine into neutral I can get more out of my gluts.

Here are a few videos about how to get into neutral spine and how to move with it.   In my practice, I teach people how to hold neutral spine and get more out of their glut and core.  My workshops, courses, therapy and posts always have this concept in mind.  Watch the following videos to learn about neutral spine and how to use it.

How to achieve neutral… https://youtu.be/P1zyL3iHQds

How to move with neutral …. https://youtu.be/di4Zh5YTPlA

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My Passion... Movement, Strength & Teaching

"My life's work is to understand, apply and teach."

My life's work is to understand, apply and teach.  I endeavour to devour knowledge and put it into context.  There is so much information out there and I try to distill it to what is applicable for my population (Strength, Fitness and Crossfit).  First I have to understand a concept or principle with my head.  Apply it by feeling it with my body.  Understand it more by teaching it to others.

My Movement Practice

My Movement Practice

"I feel therefore I understand"

To understand a concept I need to visualize it in my head but I don't know it until I feel it.  I try to implement these principles first in my own movement practice and then in my strength practice.  My movement practice is slow bodyweight or lightly loaded movements (i.e. Squat, hinge, lunge, press, pull, deadbug, birddog, bridges).  I do these exercises daily to understand what is going on with my body.  You can call it my strength Tai Chi.  

Focus on the nuances

Focus on the nuances

"Learning the small to understand the large "

The nuances help me understand what are the key aspects of a movement.  I love to dive deep.  The details are where the magic happens.   Discovering the micro leads to the macro understanding (see "making smaller circles by Josh Waitzkin").  Josh eloquently describes this point that is foundational to my learning practice.  In my practice I pretend that I am looking through the lens of a camera.  I try to focus in on the small things and then pan out to understand how the small relates to large.  Discovery, feeling and connecting the dots are the keys to my movement practice.

My Strength Practice

My Strength Practice

"My strength practice is my weighted movement meditation"

Strength is how I express myself and understanding of movement.   I am fascinated by how a barbell or kettlebell effect my body.  When I get weight on my back or in my hands I try to feel it.  The way my muscles activate differently when I hold different positions is a fascinating experience.  During the Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) course I took, The founder Pavel Kolar said "Position governs activation".  This was a powerful statement that has been burned into my brain.  I try to find better positions to get automatic activation of the system to move weight or my body.

Pavel Kolar the Founder of DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization)

Pavel Kolar the Founder of DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization)

"I want to create new standards for quality.  It's not just about getting the weight up"

In my movement and strength practice I'm always searching for better definitions of quality.  Movement and strength can be so ambiguous.  What is it?  A lot of times we define it by being able to get the weight up.  It should be about more.  What is the movement teaching me?  How does this build on something that I already I know?  These are some of the questions I ask my self to advance my training practice.  I take this principle from Tony Robbins who once said "the quality of life is based on the questions you ask".

How you organize your body while moving is key principle of quality.   My training has become a journey of understanding and feeling movement and strength.   My personal strength lab.   I am always trying to figure better positions under load so I can better convey a principle or position to help someone move without pain or perform better.

My teaching practice

My teaching practice

"I teach to increase my understanding"

I challenge myself to be the best educator I can.  The way Tony Robbins views teaching as the ability to communicate and said... "you are only as smart as what the other person understands".  I have been to so many talks and interacted with people who spit out knowledge but can't simplify to the level of the person they are talking to.  I look up to someone like Pavel Tsatsouline (Founder of Strongfirst) who is all about simplicity.  He tries to distill knowledge to the simplest idea but he can dive deep into the science if needed.

"Creating context for the individual leads to understanding"

My teaching method is all about creating context.  In my practice with my patients I try to get to know a person so I can understand where they come from.   Here is another quote from my guy Tony Robbins "understanding is about linking knowledge".  If you understand where a person comes from you can frame any knowledge to their experience so they can understand.  If I have a Crossfitter I can explain a concept through a squat, snatch or muscle up.   To me knowledge is about seeing the connections between ideas.  Teaching is about revealing the links for others to see.

"With feeling comes understanding"

You can see a theme here.  I heard in a podcast that if you don't feel a movement you don't understand it.  This statement is crucial for me.  I work to create an environment to get people to feel and discover a principle of movement or strength.  After my student/patient/client understands how to feel the principle, I teach them how to put it into context.   I try to reveal how the principle is applied to their everyday movements and in their own strength practice.  This way the can learn to fish for themselves.  From there they can reinforce good movement patterns everyday.

"Principles govern my life and practice"

My practice is all about discovering principles.  In 7 habits of highly effective people by Steven Covey the message is to use principles to guide your life.  Through my 8 years education and 6 humble years in practice, I have learned so many principles about the science of movement and strength.  In the second half of my practice career I strive to develop the art of what I do.   I am on a journey to innovate and discover how we can advance the conversation about how we all experience movement and strength.  

"Change the world"

I hope that you can be on this journey with me to change the world of strength and training as we know it.  

by Dr. Paul Oh

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Fountain of youth from Strength

35 years old, Father of 2 boys and Strong

I am 35 years old and feel great.  I am still achieving Personal Records (PRs) and most importantly I feel great about where I am with my body and what I can do with it.  I have not consistently been around or under 200 lbs in 13 years.  This year my box jump went up to 51”, Back squat 385 lbs, Deadlift 405 lbs and Turkish Get Up with the "Beast" (48 kg/106 lbs Kettlebell).  With strength I can do more.  Strength has helped me be a better father.  It is so much fun to play with my son and show him that daddy can climb trees, jump and play with him.  I don’t ever want to say I am getting too old for anything.

Strength is my obsession and passion

I truly believe strength has made me understand how the body works.  I have always been an inquisitive kid who liked solving problems.  My profession as a performance therapist is the perfect journey for my life.  I selfishly want to know how the body works so I can share the knowledge and insights with my community.  Every day is an opportunity for growth, understanding and helping my community.

Strength in Community

Like our mothers used to say "you are who you hang out with".  I have to be strong because there are so many strong people around me.  I’m inspired by all the members of my communities who train and work hard to get the most out of themselves.  I work in so many communities and it has been a pleasure to work with all of them (@Blast Athletic, @CF416, @Academy of lions, @Crossfit Metric, @Michelle Ramsey fitness, @Karen Ko Fitness, @Brash Fitness).  As a performance therapist I help the people resolve their injuries, teach them on how to prevent injury and perform better.

Strength is my teacher

A great man Wim Hof once said “the cold is my teacher”.   Strength is my teacher and I humbly teach the lessons I have learned to others.  I am constantly exploring strength in my training, practice and working with my patients.  To quote another great Dan Pfaff (World class Track and Field coach @ Altis) “You get faster not by horsepower but position, angles and timing (PAT)”.  I believe this is the key to how we use our body.  I am always searching within my own body for better PAT for strength.  With PAT in mind I am looking for ways to move easier, better and stronger.  Stay tuned for a future article about my journey with PAT.  As I learn more I am constantly thinking about simpler ways to teach these lessons and create context for my community.  Teaching is a skill that I am always trying to be better at.

I guess it's in my genes.  Growing up our family business was Tae Kwon Do schools and my dad was a great teacher who taught so many.  I feel proud that I can continue the Oh family tradition of passing on lessons of strength.  Rest in peace dad.

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Is today a good day to go Hard?

Rocky had Mickie in his corner, who is in yours?  Heart rate variability (HrV) is like having Mickie in your corner.  He will tell you when to throw in the towel.  Many of us like to train heavy but are not sure if we should.  Training heavy is great for gains but, yet 1 bad rep at these weights can lead to injury.  Max loads 90% and above need maximal nervous system activation.  To get the most out of your body you need appropriate recovery and that is what HrV measures. 

HrV can be your personal lie detector for your readiness to train heavy.  In the past this data was expensive; but, yet it is pretty inexpensive now.  All you need is a Polar H7 heart rate monitor ($99.99) and an IPhone app (HrV4Training - $7.99).  I use both of these tools in the morning to see how my body has recovered.  On days I want to training above 80-90% range I take advice from my HrV coach if I should train hard that day.

The Russians developed HrV 1960s for the space program and used it in training since the 1990s.  They realized that HrV helped with their cosmonauts and athletes recovery and performance.  They knew that to push the body hard, it first needed to recover.  HrV measures the recovery of the nervous system.

The HrV score determines the balance of your autonomic nervous system (ANS).  Your ANS is a combination of your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).  Your SNS is your fight or flight system and your PNS is your rest and digest system.  A good/high score means your PNS has been active to help you recover and you are ready to train hard. 

HrV measures the space between the each heart beat.  The more variable the time between each beat the better the HrV.  This is an indication that your system has recovered and it to adapt to stress. 

To get gains in strength and power it is important to train hard but it is like walking on a tight rope.  We need this stimulus to get improvement but this is also enough stimulus to get injured.  Training is like a U curve (aka exponential curve), as the volume or intensity increases the forces on the body become exponentially higher.  Max and heavy training should be treated with respect.

If your HrV score is not doing well you may want to keep your training below 90% of 1 RM (Jamieson, 2015).  You may want to wait to max out (above 90%) until your HrV has recovered.   Many people don't realize that training stress on your body is not linear.  Training stress become exponential as the % of your 1RM increases.

Please note this is not an actual curve but it illustrates the point of training forces get exponentially higher as % of 1 RM increases.

Please note this is not an actual curve but it illustrates the point of training forces get exponentially higher as % of 1 RM increases.

On bioforce.com there was a case study with an Olympic lifter who was training for the olympics.  He used HrV during his training.  He noted that before he got injured he noticed a downward trend of his HrV scores.  Interestingly when he looked back in his training logs there were other cases where a downward trend in HrV preceded an injury.  This is only one case but many smart people in high places use HrV and find it effective.  I know certain National organizations who use a high tech version of HrV before every practice to guide how hard to push their guys. 

If you don’t have a coach in your corner, you can use HrV to help guide your decisions.  HrV can help you decide if today is a good day for a max load.

By Dr. Paul Oh

 

 

1) Jamieson, Joel (2015).  Strength Hacking with HRV: Part 2.  Retrived from http://www.8weeksout.com/2015/11/18/strength-hacking-hrv-part-2/

 

 

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Training is all about the Nervous System

Charlie Francis coached Ben Johnson. He was a training genius and his approach was all about the nervous system.

Charlie Francis coached Ben Johnson. He was a training genius and his approach was all about the nervous system.

The top strength and conditioning guys and therapists will always talk about the nervous system.  This was a definite theme at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group Conference I went to in 2013 and 2014.  The nervous system governs everything.  Think of the nervous system as the physical expression of the brain.  Our ability to move to express our strength, agility and coordination is related to the nervous system.

The nervous system allows us to perform incredible physical feats.  As we develop the right way of training, our bodies will begin to better without even thought.  This primal system is a part of every living creature on the planet.  Every specie's survival depends on how well they can access their nervous system to run, fly or swim to hunt or evade predators.

Cheetah.jpg

We don't have these primal problems as much but we train our nervous system to get the most out of our bodies.  We train our nervous system to be strong, fast, agile and to perform.  We express our nervous system through barbells, kettlebells or moving our bodies.  Our ability to perform incredible feats with these implements are all thanks to the nervous system.

Our nervous system is about how fast we send out the electrical signal to perform an action.  The more we practice a movement our body will adapt so that we can do that movement pattern again.   The nervous system talks directly to the hormonal system to help our bodies acheive these incredible feats.  The hormonal system tells our muscles to get bigger and bones to get stronger.  As this happens our nerves can access certain movement patterns better.   As the car gets bigger and the engine works more efficiently we increase our performance.

In future articles I will dive deep into training the nervous system and more importantly its recovery.  How you train your nervous system has an important effect on how you perform.   Think of your nervous system as dog and training as obedience school.  

How we train the dog will be directly related to how it responds.  The actions of the dog (our nervous system) under stress (a training task) will reflect in its training.  So let's endeavour to be a super dog.  A super dog has fun when training, is focused on quality just as much as quantity and wants to perform well for his master.  The master is our brain and our motivation to be better.

Look forward to a future article where I will talk about cool ways we can objectively measure the recovery.  This tool is called Heart Rate Variability (HrV).

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The Strength Collective

OHFAST had its first Strength collective session for trainers on Wed Jan 13.   The Strength collective is a knowledge sharing group led by me (Dr. Paul Oh).  I shared some of the novel ways I have created to get my patients/students/clients to feel principles of movement and strength.  

We explored Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP) and the squat.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term IAP it is how I describe what the CORE is.  Stay tuned for a detail article on IAP.

Here is a novel way to feel IAP and oblique activation through a squat.  By using resisted rotation will automatically activate the the obliques.  Now you can feel front side tension in a squat through the whole range.

I took everybody through a IAP journey from lying on your back, sit to stand and a barbell back squat.  We worked on understanding the principle on how to feel IAP and apply it to load.  My goal was to define IAP and get everyone to feel it in low level movements and apply it to strength.   My life's work is dedicated on understanding how the body works and finding novel ways to apply it.

This was a great experience working with everyone.  Thank you to all the trainers that participated.   We had trainers from Blast, 416, Academy and Michelle Ramsey fitness who attended.  It was a great experience interacting with you to take you guys on a journey to feel movement and strength through Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP) and the squat. 

Look forward to future Strength Collective.   If you are a trainer and interested in joining the collective events or email list feel free to to email the link below.


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My first Podcast

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My first Podcast

Here is my first podcast with the Academy of Lions.  We talked about Performance therapy, Injury prevention and movement.

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The Turkish Get Up - Where Strength meets rehab

My case to warm up with the Turkish Get Up (TGU) everyday

Most of the movements we do with a barbell are very sagittal plane (flexion/extension) dominant.  We need to move in other planes transverse (rotation) and frontal plane (side-to-side) movements.  Moving in other planes load our joints at different angles and work our shoulder stabilizers.  Our stabilizers protect our joints.  They make sure the the ball stays in the centre of the socket.  In general, when ball moves off centre you start create pressure in areas that are usually the source of pain.  The TGU works on your shoulder stabilizers by moving through different planes of movement.

The TGU is a great exercise and teacher.  Try paying attention to different positions of the get up and what it is trying to teach you.  One main principle is how to STACK.   Stacking allows you to align your skeleton to handle the weight of the kettlebell.  Look at Pavel in the first position.  Notice how his lower shoulder blade is actively engaged to support the weight of the bell.  As you work with your positions you will notice how organize your body will make the movement easier or harder.  This can be a lesson for you when you put a barbell overhead.  The more we can use our skeleton to handle the load the easier its is on our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. 

Test your stack.  During your practice of a naked get up, have someone press down on your top fist at each stationary position.  See attached link for more about TGU basics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bWRPC49-KI).  If you are stacked well you should feel the force transfer through your body into your bottom elbow or hand.  If not you will feel discomfort usually in your shoulder, back or hips.

As a therapist I use the TGU as a diagnostic tool and for rehab.  I can tell a lot about how a person moves and their lack of range of motions in their hips and shoulders as they transition through the get up.  You can use the TGU you to help you understand your own stability or lack thereof.  Also, I use the get up or portions it to work on shoulder stability.  I find that these exercises are a good transition from band work to loaded pressing and overhead catches.

Try working on 5 TGUs on each side before every workout with a light weight and gradually build up.  How does it feel?  Where are you having issues?  This can help unlock why you are having issues with other movements and lifts.  

Look for future articles on the TGU and its applications to movement and strength training and life.

Feel free to chat with me at the gym or send email to tell me how your TGU journey is going.  Where do you have issues?  Which positions are difficult? 

I look for to hearing from you.   Please feel free to send me an email or post a comment below.

 

Dr. Paul Oh

Performance Therapist

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