FLOAT THE BELL WITH A SOLID ROOT
FLOAT THE BELL WITH A SOLID ROOT
from Mariana Rosa
I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the road I have chosen to professionally pursue. Having a chance to learn a little bit more about the human movement in each new challenge is, undoubtedly, one of the strongest fuels in my life.
I think that, as coaches, we walk in a very unique and individual way our different paths in the search for knowledge.
Within my search, belonging to the StrongFirst family was definitely a milestone in my personal and professional path.
For me, StrongFirst has never been only about kettlebells.
And it is also about the importance of searching for knowledge that I write. Finding different information sheltered within the same perspective is amazing and raises our capacity of comprehension and autonomy, empowering us as professionals, for, through knowledge, help, in the best possible way, in the reduction of the gap formed between people and the movement itself.
Every change that we are experiencing in the training scenario came from the change in the way that the anatomy is conceived, from the reductionist perspective to the integrated one.
I think Anatomy Trains should, at some point, be a part of the path to search for knowledge as an opening of horizons. In his amazing book Anatomy Trains, Tom Myers opens us a wonderful perspective, bringing the concepts of fascia and movement into the mainstream strength and conditioning world. A perspective in which all information is coming together.
Everything in the body is interconnected by way of connective tissue called fascia. Fascial tissue envelops and connects every structure in the body, including muscles, organs, nerves, and blood vessels.
For Myers the fascias are interrelated with the functionality of the musculoskeletal system placing the fibrous skeleton as a single network, with a fundamental role in the process of transmission of forces.
The Tensegrity model clearly illustrates the concept.
What is tensegrity?
The word tensegrity is the junction of the words tension + integrity, which means integrity of tensions, was created and used by R. Buckminster Fuller described it as “a property present in objects whose components use traction and compression in a combined manner, which provides stability and endurance, ensuring its overall integrity. “
Our bone and ligament structure is not firm enough to stand.
It is dependent on other structures that traverse the entire body from side to side, from top to bottom and inside out – a myofascia structure – that promotes a set of adjustment tensions throughout the body as a function of its tensile elastic capacity. It stabilizes but does not immobilize. The focus is not on local force production but on overall force distribution
This is the connective tissue’s role. From the point of view of the motor structural organization, the myofascia generates within the structures a kind of coherence, that is, a functional mechanical balance between the structures.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”
When we think about fascia, we must think about something alive. Fascia is in constant motion, constantly changing its shape and interacting itself with its collagen myofibrils.
The fascia is the biggest sensitive organ in our body and is innervated by the autonomic nervous system, being rich in receptors, which generate responses of different types in our system.
To understand the transmission of forces, we need to understand a little bit about the anatomy of the fascia, about its rich vascularization and innervation. The fascia is composed of cells named fibroblasts, which, depending on the stimulus, become myofibroblasts and acquire a contractile capacity. When we are in movement, these are the myofibroblasts that come into activity, modulating the facial elastic tension.
Fascia contains four types of sensory nerve endings, which are responsive to mechanical stimulation:
Golgi organs Ruﬃni receptors Pacini corpuscles
Golgi: located in muscle tendons, aponeuroses, ligaments and joint capsules.They are stimulated with slow sustained stretching close to muscular attachment. Active movements may be more eﬀective in stimulating these receptors.
Ruﬃni: Respond to lateral shearing. Inhibit the sympathetic activity in the entire bodyIs located in ligaments in peripheral joints, dura mater, outer capsular layers. A slow steady shearing pressure is needed to activate these receptors.
Pacini: Respond to rapid pressure changes. They are located in deep vascular layers, spinal ligaments, and muscles. They play a major role in proprioceptive feedback
Stimulate them with: High velocity adjustments, Rocking/shaking Vibratory tools and rhythmic joint compression.
Interstitial : Smaller multimodal receptors that function as thermal, chemo ‐
receptors, pain and mechanoreceptors.
They are highly concentrated in the periosteum.
Stimulate periosteum structures, interosseous membranes and other fascia associated with bones.
Together, these sensory nerve endings can be called fascial mechanoreceptors, which means that they respond to mechanical tension and/or pressure. Such mechanoreceptors have been found in intramuscular, as well as extra muscular, fascial tissues.
The transmission of forces takes place at deeper levels, from the inside out, from the outside in and through the myofascial meridians.
“The 12 ‘myofascial meridians’ in the Anatomy Trains system join the individual muscles you learned into functional complexes within the fascial fabric, each with a defined anatomy and ‘meaning’ in human posture and movement.”
Specifically from the perspective of Anatomy Trains, Thomas Myers presents us with a facial line called the deep front line (DFL), which essentially connects the thigh to the neck.
He brings a new understanding of the – core -. That is markedly diﬀerent from the traditional focus often limited to the abdominal region.
The deep front line includes the body’s myofascial “core”. If we start from the bottom the line has deep roots under the foot, passing up the skeleton of the back leg, behind the knee and inner thigh. From here, a larger track runs through the hip, pelvis and lumbar vertebrae front while an alternative pathway runs along the back of the thigh to the pelvic floor after which it returns with the first part at the lumbar vertebrae.
Further upward through the diaphragm the deep front line passes up through the chest with many branches through the thoracic viscera and ends on the bottom of both the neutral and the visceral cranium.
The function of the DFL is to provide deep spinal stability that will then allow the extremities and the large prime movers to do their job—move.
This means that out of all the myofascial meridians, it is the deepest and has the function of maintaining our core alignment and core stability. Not to say that other muscles and structures are not also important in maintaining our core, but the Deep Front Line is a key component of all things core.
How this may be related to the StrongFirst?
It was inside Strongfirst that I really understood the benefits that the force transmission provides us.
Swing is definitely one of the most challenging exercises in terms of motor control and force transmission that I’ve had the opportunity to perform.
The Swing is the foundational movement for everything standing up with the Kettlebell. It’s a rhythmically repetitive power work. The movement called the Clean and the Snatch all root directly to that of the Swing.
When performing complex ballistic movements such as the swing, if the muscular chains are not activated correctly and at the correct time, the constant change of direction of the force vector generates a stress that is immediately transferred to the joints, tendons, ligaments, making the exercise potentially dangerous.
A great swing is always awesome, powerful and purposeful.
The more we train our needs in real mode, the more we adapt the whole system to interact as it really should.
It really makes a lot of sense, when we think of building and consolidating some specific technique, to give good results to constant practices. The myofascial system is an adaptive system to the effort. The different types of effort demand will develop a certain adaptability to the stimulus. It is as if we had the opportunity to shape our body through our practices.
“When you train, you are training the fascia”
To begin to understand and perform a ballistic movement such as the swing, we learned through StrongFirst’s hard-style concepts that swing is an exercise that can be divided into four moments:
–The Set-up/ Hip Hinge
- The Hip Power
- The Kettlebell Float
- Back to hinge / Start Position
Let’s talk about the kettlebell float. It is undoubtedly the most expected moment of the exercise. The most experienced people know that it is “the time to take full advantage of the power that was generated by the hip and all the connections while enjoying the kettlebell float”, or “galleggio” as I heard from the Master and CEO StrongFirst, Fabio Zonin in my SFG1 in Vicenza-IT.
When we start from the “Hip Power for the Kettlebell float”, we can consider this transition as the most critical in terms of physics, since these are times when the kettlebell’s center of mass is further from our center of gravity and therefore requires more activations working in an integrated way and at the correct timing.
The deep front line becomes extremely important because dissipates load evenly across your entire body.
Swing from your toes to your tongue
If we think in the “power breathing”, it makes perfect sense the fact of the tongue fully assists in the closing of this line of force resting vigorously in the palate when we exhale in the extension of the hip.
The tongue is the most forward muscle of the deep front line.
When you are really feeling your core working for you, using your breath, and letting this experience travel up and down the line freely, to your tongue and feet, you are swinging with your whole body – swinging from your toes to your tongue.
For a perfect, controlled and safe execution of the movements, it is necessary the total natural alignment of the body, thus enabling a better activity of the deep front line, the deepest line that participates directly in the stability of the whole “deep shield”, making the swing a congruent and much more effective movement.
The foot on the hard style swing
Learning to use the feet was a watershed for the execution of a good technique.
Many things have changed when I really understood the importance and the beauty of feeling and knowing how to transmit the forces that enter through the single point that we have between our body and the ground. The feet are the only door of entry and the only point of contact with the ground that we, human beings, have. That is why the feet, ankles and toes should be trained like any other part of the body.
When we put load into the arches, and our foot is on the ground, that load can be send straight up into the adductors, straight through to the hip flexors, straight through the center of our body, through the thoracic cage, through the head and back down again.
Our core and our feet should be connected. The more stable that our foot is, the stronger it is. The more stable that our core is, the stronger it is.
In the end, we realize that the best shock absorbers can not be bought or found in our shoes. Muscle chains don’t only produce and transfer strength, but also act as a means of absorbing force by acting as real shock absorbers.
In order to improve the technique and to increase these co-activations, Dr. Emily Splichal teaches us, in her book BareFoot Strong, how to activate the whole deep front line through the perfect support of the tripod of our foot, using a technique that she calls Short Foot.
This technique aims to access the deep front line by reestablishing the function of the feet.
The foot, for so many years neglected, is more and more being recognized as an important part of the human body.
The Deep front Line begins on the sole of the foot with the distal phalanges and the flexor digitorum longus and flexor hallicus longus. Also a part of this origin is the posterior tibialis, which has attachments to all of the metatarsal bases and most of the tarsal bones (ankle bones), except the talus.
These tendons, together with the anterior tibialis and peroneus longus “stirrup”, help to lift the arches of the foot.
And raising the arches of the feet is critical to work in safe mode. Better yet, if we understand its functionality once and for all.
I strongly recommend the website www.barofoot.com for a better understanding and visualization of the existing techniques on how to create a perfect connection of the activations, as well as knowing the wonderful and amazing work of Thomas Myers www.anatomytrains.com, a challenging but extremely pleasant reading, also rich in history, culture and art.
For me, this is the real beauty of the journey! Understanding that the path of knowledge is long and that little we know is the biggest door that we can open for ourselves. Blessed is the one who embraces the opportunities and who enables the immediate application of the new knowledge.
Float the Bell with a solid Root!
Myers, T. W., Anatomy Trains, 2009.
Schleip R, Findley T. W.,Chaiton L., Huĳing P. A.,Fascia -The Tensional Network of the Human Body. Stecco C.2012
Functional Atlas of the Human Fascial System Stecco C. 2014
Osar E. Exercicios Corretivos para Lesoes de Qualdril e Ombro. 2017
Rolf, I.P.. Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures 1977
Tsatouline, Pavel. StrongFirst Certified Instructor Manual 2015