How to Improve Stride Length and Gait Patterns with Simple Exercises

The vast majority of the people that come in to our gym for the first time can barely touch their toes or even simply raise their leg off the ground without compensating.  This is a pretty big deal, if you ask me.  Think about it…An Active Straight Leg Raise, as shown in the picture below, is simply a normal gait pattern of walking, only done on the ground.  Putting someone on the ground eliminates the need for stability since we gain that extra stability or support from the floor. If  you can’t do it on the floor, you’re probably not going to be able to do it while you’re on your feet.

leg

A normal straight leg raise should be done actively to somewhere around 70°,  or passively to somewhere around 80°.  If someone starts compensating before that, you can rest assured they’re going to have a limited gait pattern and have a tough time separating reciprocal hip flexion/extension.  Improving stride length is not only a way to make athletes faster and more efficient, it’s also a way to help every individual stay healthy and pain free.  We need to be able to flex and extend our hips in an alternating pattern without compensation, so I want to show you a couple of simple ways you can start improving gait pattern and stride length with minimal equipment.  These are very simple, but extremely effective, so if you’re working on improving your straight leg raise, enhancing your stride length, or making your gait pattern fluid and efficient, give these exercises a shot.

 

BAND LEG LOWERING

KB BENT KNEE LEG LOWERING W/ ROTATION

LEG LOWERING 2

These are just three examples I’ve pulled from our B3 bundle.  With this bundle, we’ve incorporated simple exercises that require minimal equipment and produce a MAJOR bang for your buck.  If you’re strapped for cash and can’t buy a gym full of fancy equipment, you can still get amazing results by incorporating some of the exercises from our B3 bundle.  We’ll help improve your movement, get you strong, and provide you with some workouts that you can do using nothing more than your own body weight, a resistance band, and a kettlebell.  It doesn’t take a ton of equipment to design a killer program, so check it out if you’d like to see more.  It’s on sale this week (November 3-6, 2015), so grab your copy by Friday and save $50.

sgt

 

FMS Systems Case Study

After reading Steve’s latest article, I felt compelled to elaborate a little more and to show you guys what we’re currently working on to improve our results. I’m going to explain a current client we have, what issues came up, and our solutions to addressing what we found.

The article I’m referring to is on the Functional Movement SYSTEMS. The FMS is more than just a movement screen. Their entire organization is based around creating “Standard Operating Procedures” designed to improve movement, both in terms of communication and practical application. They’ve done an amazing job at creating IF/THEN scenarios, creating flow charts telling you where to go, and creating solutions based upon individual findings.

There are countless variables that come into play when you’re working with a human being, but the Functional Movement Systems have helped narrow down the process and give you WAY more information to work with. A skilled fitness professional, strength coach, or therapist is always going to get more out of the system. However, since we’ve got systems in place, our younger and more experienced coaches can now replicate what the skilled professional is doing…to a certain extent. Essentially, using these systems will help narrow the gap between the best-of-the-best. We’re still learning a ton on a daily basis, and using these systems within our business has proven to be our most valuable asset. Teaching these systems to our trainers has allowed us to get amazing results without having to do all the work ourselves. Let me show you an example of how we used the Functional Movement SYSTEM (combination of FMS and Y Balance) to work with one of our clients recently.

Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on with Toni. One of our clients, Toni, recently complained of mild, acute back pain. Occasionally her low back would hurt after a long day on her feet, lack of activity, and sometimes from her workout. She really couldn’t pinpoint anything that was directly related to her low back pain, so our first action step is to set up a movement screen to see what’s going on. This not only allows us to look at her movement patterns, but it’s also a great session to set aside some time to talk to her about what’s going on in her life and get lifestyle issues that may be relating to the pain. Win/Win. So that’s what we did…we set up the initial session and started screening.

Here is what her screen looked like:

 

FMS Case Study

After taking Toni through the initial FMS, we found her only red light or dysfunctional pattern to be the push up. She’s had this issue for awhile now, but she also used to have a rotary stability dysfunction but recently cleared the pattern. After taking her through the screen, I still wasn’t convinced she had adequate stability. We already found out that her Trunk Stability Push Up was dysfunctional, but I wanted to find out more. So, I decided to run a couple quick breakouts and a Y-Balance Test with her. I am definitely no expert with the Y-Balance Test yet, but I’m getting some interesting information and seeing a ton of value.

As Steve said in his previous article, The Functional Movement Screen has a bias towards mobility. Stability is addressed, but mobility and basic motor control are the main drivers behind the screen. Adding the Y-Balance Test to the equation allows the Functional Movement Systems to exploit both areas…Mobility with the FMS and stability with the Y-Balance Test. In my short experience with the Y-Balance Test, I can see a ton of value moving forward.

The Y-Balance Test allows us to narrow down stability or motor control issues to a specific quadrant or quadrants. Just like the Functional Movement Screen, there are certain criteria that must be met. If you find a dysfunction, simply mark it and move on. After doing the test with Toni, we found two specific quadrants to be of concern. Her upper left quadrant and her lower left quadrant. Basically, her left side didn’t function like the right. There was a pretty obvious asymmetry, and the Y-Balance Test exploited that.

 

Jared_Quadrants

Now that we have results from both the FMS and Y-Balance Test, it’s time to start to use that information for her programming. Here is the selection we gave her for correctives:

Lower Rolling (left side only) – This was one of the breakout screens we did prior to the Y-Balance Test. We found an asymmetry here on both upper and lower rolls to the left. The Y-Balance Test confirmed the rolling breakout.

 

Upper Rolling (left side only)

 

Stability Ball Rockback w/ Arm Lift (raise right arm only)

 

 

 

Half Turkish Get-Up (bell in right hand)

The only other thing I’d like to note with Toni was how it affected her program. You can see the correctives we did with her, but her programming was also affected slightly as well. Since she’s a group client, we went through the group program we’re currently in and made some minor changes. I had her eliminate most, if not all, bilateral work and started to exploit that asymmetry with her program. For example, one of the programmed exercises was a progression of Goblet Squats or KB Front Squat, a bilateral squatting exercise. All I did with her was switch it from doing the KB Goblet or Front Squat to an Offset Front Squat, doing more on that left side we found to be dysfunctional.

All in all, I think that was a solid hour spent with one of our clients. I was able to find a major asymmetry, dial in her corrective strategy, and make minor changes to her program to help her improve. I’ll re-screen her within a few weeks and see what happens.

That’s the kind of SYSTEM I’m talking about. The Functional Movement Systems have helped us dial in our programming and getting better results with our clients. We’ve taken what works for us in our gym, created a system around it, and made a process easy to follow with our coaches and trainers. Smart Group Training: The System will help you learn how to use a system like this within your gym. If you want more information and want help dialing in your programming like that, check out SGT: The System today!

 

P.S. – SGT: The System just launched this week and is currently on sale. Pick up a copy before midnight Friday, August 14th and you’ll be able to save $100.

 

FMS – The S Stands for Systems

FMS is More Than a Screen

I recently attended the Perform Better Summit, and once again it was great. After each seminar or workshop I always try to think of the one biggest takeaway that I got from that particular event. After this summit I was most excited about how the FMS team is starting to talk more about the system.

I think we all the know the FMS as the Functional Movement Screen, but what most people don’t realize is that the FMS screen is part of a bigger FMS. Functional Movement Systems.

The FMS screen is just one part of a bigger system including the SFMA, Y Balance Test, and FCS. Let me quickly explain each one of these integral parts of the system.

Functional Movement Screen (FMS) – The FMS is the foundation screen in which the rest of the system was created. The FMS is your pre participation screen to see what your clients should and shouldn’t be doing. For the most part, the FMS should be done with people who are NOT in pain going into the screen. The goal of the FMS is to find any painful or dysfunctional movement patterns in order to make sure you don’t make things worse with a fitness or training program. There are different breakout screens for each of the movements in the FMS if you want to dig deeper into finding out how to quickly fix a compensatory pattern. The FMS is not a tool used to diagnose pain. That is what the SFMA is for.

Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) – The SFMA is an assessment system used by clinicians to dig deeper when client are in pain. When a trainer finds pain on the FMS it is great to have someone on the same page to talk with to be able to effectively help your clients. The FMS and SFMA compliment each other well as part of a bigger system. When a client has a SFMA clinician and an FMS trainer you can bet they are in good hands.

Y Balance Test (YBT) – I originally learned about the Y Balance Test quite a few years ago, but never really dug too deep into using it. Honestly, I said that I don’t want to use something that required another kit. That was a stubborn way to think, because the Y Balance is definitely worth the price of the kit. The biggest knock on the FMS is that it’s not comprehensive enough. Most people who say that don’t fully understand the screen, but in some ways those people are correct. Gray said over the weekend to think of the FMS as more of the mobility test and the YBT as more of the stability test. After doing just a few Y Balance Tests in the last week, I can already tell this information is the missing link for those few people who score satisfactory on the screen, but you can tell still need work. There’s not much more I can say about it at this time because I’m still a rookie, but you can bet I’ll be mastering the YBT in the near future.

Fundamental Capacity Screen (FCS) – The newest addition to the system as a whole is the FCS. This is more of your performance testing when needed. Once your clients are pain free, have cleared the FMS, and have acceptable Y Balance Scores, the FCS screen comes into play. This is honestly brand new stuff, and the company is still setting the standards, but I think this is a great compliment to the system. With the addition of the FCS, you have a screening and placement system from people that are broken down and in pain with the SFMA, all the way up to high performers with the FCS.

Those are quick explanations that really don’t do the entire system much justice. I highly recommend checking out functionalmovement.com and look into taking a course to get certified. That way you can start using a system with your practice, because things start to become clearer and easier the better the systems you use.

 

 

 

– Steve Long

 

PS – If you are thinking of becoming FMS Certified and want to do the online study course we have a great deal for you. Due to our great relationship with FMS we have secured a 10% discount for you on the FMS HSC. Just use coupon code SGT10 at checkout for the special SGT discount.

Here is a link to the FMS Home Study Course http://functionalmovement.com/store/fms_home_study_course