The Best Exercise You Probably Aren’t Doing

Part of this was posted back in August but recently I was on strengthcoach.com, a fantastic educational resource if you are not familiar with it, and the video of the week was the one below by Charlie Weingroff.  Charlie is a both a physical therapist and really strong dude.  And simply put, he is also really smart.  As I wrote in August, I think the toe pull drill potentially has a lot of benefit with very little time and effort invested, which is why we use them with just about all of our members and as part of the group training warm up at Ambition Athletics.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LfG2reOPqKU]

This drill (as well as the ankle tilts shown at the end) seems to help many people in many different ways.  From improving shoulder mobility (believe it) to better hip movement and toe touches.  For some more insight into what Z-Health actually is and why these things work click here.

This summer I worked with a college football player.  He informed me that he had suffered from painful shin splints since high school.  One cause of shin splints can be overuse or simply doing too much too soon.  We took it pretty easy as far as accumulating a lot of distance throughout the week via agility and sprint drills but sure enough the shin splits returned during the middle of the summer.  The only change that we made at that time in his program was the addition of slightly more barefoot time and toe pulls.  He proceeded to go through training camp and then the entire season with virtually no pain.  Did one or both of these things help?  I’m not entirely sure.  Are toe pulls magic?  Maybe.  What I can say is that for a small investment in time and very little effort this drill can potentially have a great return.

I can personally say that each time I do toe pulls, especially on the left side where I have some hip internal rotation deficit (HIRD), I feel a release and better mobility through that hip.  I can also say that this was not always the case.  Many of the Z-Health drills take practice.  They are to be learned and done with precision, which certainly isn’t the case with much of the mindless and dare I say useless, stretching that the average gym-goer does as a warm up.  Here is a quote from the Z-Health, R-Phase Cert. Notebook:

“As an example, when you are doing middle toe pulls, your target is the 2nd or middle cuneiform joints of the foot.  If you do the toe pulls, while ignoring all the details and feel the stretch down in your toes as opposed to the target area, you will NOT get the same benefits from the exercise.  While this is a simple concept, many trainers overlook it!”

Targets:

Inside = Navicular        Neural Connection = Psoas

Middle =  Cuneiform     Neural Connection = Hip Flexor (Rectus Femoris)

Outside = Cuboid          Neural Connection = Gluteus Medius

“Tension on the foot is directed by leg angle behind the body.  Some clients will need to have the leg farther back – others will need it closer to the stance foot.”

This video provides even further explanation.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpoIt9zsUIY]

– Mike Baltren

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