Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Back to Basics with Doctor Scott

Guest blogger: Dr. Scott Calzaretta

During any sport or activity the best coaches always told you to pay attention to the basics. Focus on the foundation for the activity and everything else is built around those basics. Martial art masters will tell you that once you receive a black belt it is an indication that you've mastered the basics and now ready to take your learning to the next level. Most of the advanced moves are basics with a nuance. The same thing holds true when it comes to exercise. The foundation of all exercises start with proper movement patterns and timeless basics. You'd be amazed how many people cannot squat to the floor without lifting their heels. Watch a child play and you will notice they can play in the squat position effortlessly. This is a basic movement pattern that is easily lost with a weak/unstable core and/or inflexibility.

I recently attended a conference which gathered some of the best-known sports chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers dealing with professional athletes and amateur enthusiasts on a regular basis. A common theme amongst the presenters was exercises that dealt with body weight and functional movements (the way the body is designed to move in relation to itself and the activity for which you are training). Push-ups with focus on core and shoulder stability while varying angles and even adding a plyometric component are much more functional than your standard bench press. The ability to do pull-ups is an outstanding exercise in so many ways (and products like the Perfect Pullup have made them even better).

How about good old fashioned skipping or sprinting? Box jumps, which start in a partial squat position and jump up onto a solid structure with focus on technique that sticks the landing (a partial squat just like when you started). There are so many great exercises that can be done at home with minimal equipment and maximal results. These are just some examples of the exercises that are tried and true and have real life applications. We also understand that people are limited in their time and want results. So let’s define results….

Results are defined by improved function which means you are more efficient in your activities or sport and have a decreased risk of injury. All movements in sport should come from the core. The core is the area between the ribs and the pelvis. By maintaining a stable core, it provides the foundation for which all other movement patterns come from easily and efficiently. What the core is not is the abdominal muscles. While some of the core stabilizers do involve some of the abdominal muscles, the complete core wraps around the body. The important purpose of this is that when the core muscles engage, they stabilize the spine - which functionally strengthens it.

This brief blog isn't about developing massive size to your frame. These exercises are about getting tone and looking fit (and if you really focus on your nutrition, becoming ripped). More importantly, this new phase of old exercises (variations with additional degrees of difficulty, e.g. balance and stability) can help you to feel better and function better in your everyday life activities. These exercises are timeless, ageless and produce results.

Remember that famous quote from Billy Crystal, “It is better to look good then to feel good”? I am sure he would now be saying, “It is better to look good, feel great and function better”. Now go “Back to Basics”, learn them as they should be done, and enjoy the results you deserve.

I look forward to answering your "Back to Basics" questions!

Dr. Scott Calzaretta


Dr. Calzaretta is the director and founder of the Chiro-Medical Group. He has been in practice since 1985, and has successfully pioneered the design and operation of a multi-disciplinary health care facility. He has traveled extensively both nationally and abroad treating professional and world class athletes.

Dr. Calzaretta was a founding board member of F.I.C.S (World Governing Body of Sports Chiropractic). His knowledge and experience in treating athletes was a key factor in his appointment as a team doctor in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. He is a State Appointed Qualified Medical Evaluator and Certified Industrial Disability Examiner. Dr. Calzaretta has taken his experience in sports and rehabilitative medicine and has successfully integrated them into the comprehensive health care approach offered by the Chiro-Medical Group.


Up My Mind said...

Dr. Scott, thanks for the great post.

I've used the BodyRev for several years now, and love it. After a 6 month hiatus I'm now back to working out at the gym 2x a week (alternating legs & arms with cardio each time) and trying to incorporate BodyRev & Yoga on "off" nights.

Question 1
The BodyRev has definitely strenghtened and toned my arms. Except for when I get to the Butterfly machine. My left arm is unbelievably weaker than my right. (I'm right-handed.)

It's to the point that I'm at 8 pounds and can barely do six of these. My left arm is definitely working hard, my right is floating around in the ether.

Is there a better way to do this? Other exercises to help strengthen the muscles affected by this exercise?

Question 2
My Little Sister is 13 and has joined a Youth Rock Climbing Team at our gym. What kinds of exercises do you think would help her with this sport? Anything she should avoid, or common things people do wrong that might hurt her back? (Other than falling on it. [g]) They do bouldering, and climbing in the harness.

Alden, if you have any tips on either or both, I'd love to hear them!


Unknown said...

Dear Dr. Scott,
Are there any ways (besides practicing stretching) to get greater flexibility?

Also, do you know or know of any resources that tell how to stretch and not have your muscles get tighter? I heard that there is a method to stretching correctly.


Joe G. said...

This article is just the latest piece of evidence that Charlie Mike is the best exercise site in the blogosphere.

It ain't rocket science, folks. It's just PROVEN science.

Anonymous said...

What do you have athletes do to recover from overtraining/over exercising? How do you tell how long it's going to take? Thanks

Unknown said...

Dr. Scott,
were you an athlete?
Re: "What the core is not is the abdominal muscles. While some of the core stabilizers do involve some of the abdominal muscles, the complete core wraps around the body. The important purpose of this is that when the *core muscles engage*, they stabilize the spine - which functionally strengthens it."

Which muscles does the core comprise of or are they just called "core muscles"?