Thursday, February 8, 2018

Kinetic Flow

Kinetic Flow

Defeat Pain
Optimize Performance

Mike Asmar

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Discovering Kinetic Flow
Chapter 2: The State of Medicine
Chapter 3: Tuning In
Chapter 4: Kinetic Balance
Chapter 5: Wind
Chapter 6: Water
Chapter 7: Earth
Chapter 8: Fire
Chapter 9: Movement Hierarchy
Chapter 10: Optimizing Length vs Tension
Chapter 11: The 48 Hour Recovery Period
Chapter 12: Periodization

Chapter 1 - Discovering Kinetic Flow
Kinetic Flow.
It’s when our Kinetic Chain is unified in purpose, when the supercomputer that is our brain fire’s on all cylinders. It is the result of programming, both intentional and unintentional.
The word flow in itself draws attention to the “flow state of consciousness”, which has long been known of and is called by many names.
Athletes call it being "in the zone", or being "on your game". It is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, channeling one's energy and emotion in a state of high performance. It is largely associated with sports, particularly high intensity sports.
The flow state is not, however, limited to sports. It permeates all channels of consciousness.
Studies have found a profound and lasting 'positive effect' correlated with flow experiences. Our biology seems to reward the experience, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Flow is an instinctual experience.
Kinetic Flow, on the other hand, is anatomically oriented. It applies the flow state of consciousness within the kinetic chain. It is neuromuscular programming, our central nervous system’s orchestra of length tension relationships between prime movers, synergists, agonists, antagonists, and stabilizers. It is sensorimotor integration for neuromuscular efficiency. Kinetic Flow links the software to the hardware.
Perhaps most importantly, Kinetic Flow is not exclusive. There is no club; it doesn’t even cost any money. In fact, it’s something you inherited when you were born, because you were born into the most advanced, most adaptable, fusion of software and hardware that this planet has ever formed; the human body.

How To Use This Book
This book is intended to be a resource for you, a frame of reference in optimizing your physical performance. Chronic and acute pain syndromes are a very common detriment not only to medical patients, but to athletes across all sports, weekend warriors, and even parents who just want to play with their kids.
Knowledge is power, but power and knowledge are not nearly as useful as competence. My wish for you is to be competent in managing your body, your rehabilitation, and the development of your health.
A solid athletic foundation is the best preventative measure to protect from injury. Strong, active muscles insulate the structures of our joints and tendons. Even with this being true, lightning can strike even the strongest of us. Motor vehicle accidents, an injury at work, or other circumstances can cause a disruption in our kinetic chain, whether we plan for them or not.
Rehabilitation and injury recovery is a skill, a skill that can be learned and cultivated. It is a necessary skill for any athlete who wishes to flesh out their best potential. It is a skill which will provide longevity and quality of life to you in your career and personal life. This book focuses on solid training principles to guide you in discovering your body, to enhancing your kinetic flow. 

Chapter 2 - The State of Medicine
Through the martial arts, I view cultures. I’ve made the unique decision to train with some of the top competitive fighters from the U.S., Brazil, the UK, Russia, Dagestan, Australia, and everything in between.
It’s intriguing to me how a martial art style reflects the values of a culture. The mixed martial arts scene juxtaposes American competition and ingenuity, Brazilian precision and style, and Russian toughness and intensity. These cultures, and many others, are mixed together in a melting pot centered on a cage and surrounded by screaming fans, perpetuating excitement and spawning worldwide adaptation on a weekly basis. It’s a never ending competition, constant adaptations to tactics and techniques, training methodologies, and strength and conditioning protocols.
In my 6 years of training at JacksonWink in Albuquerque, I also had the novel experience to train in the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi with Sifu Dug Corpolongo.
Tai Chi training is an outlet into Chinese culture, and more particularly, Chinese Medicine. Tai Chi is a form of movement therapy, flowing between postures, slow and controlled movements, hinging at the joints and fitting into shapes. Related to martial arts competition, but purposed more directly inward.
Sifu Dug explained it best, “Most of the world gets healthy in order to do martial arts, the Chinese do martial arts to get healthy”.
This concept of yin training existed in opposition to the yang martial arts I had practiced for the last 10 years. I came to learn more of Chinese Medicine, the concepts of chi and internal awareness of sensation. The internal martial arts were geared to cultivate this awareness, to meditate with it.

Martial Arts and Medicine
Consider the contrast of traditional American and Chinese medicine. American medicine is younger, but also the beneficiary of the largest economic boom in the history of our species. We spearheaded world changing pharmacology, researched unknown conditions, and developed life changing intervention.
Chinese medicine is much older. Although it evolved alongside us, adapted new drugs and utilized scientific principles, there still remains a cultural element of holistic approach, as embodied by Tai Chi and the internal martial arts. We can see extensions of Chinese medicine in massage therapy, Rolfing, acupuncture, and nutritional therapies.
Kinetic Flow applies these principles in its practice, seeing health as the cornerstone of performance, guiding the individual to discover and master their own body.  Kinetic Flow prioritizes kinesthetic awareness, and advocates a strong and unified kinetic chain.
No strength or performance coach can do this for you, no money can buy this, no doctor can prescribe this for you. As the old cliché says, “If you want something done right, you must do it yourself”. Although others can guide you, only you have the power to truly tap in to your central nervous system, only you can truly program your patterns. Your effort and your attitude are the only thing you control anyway. So own it!

Chapter 3 – Tuning In
Despite our shallow understanding of neuro-biology, the more we learn about the neural pathways of the brain, the more we understand about the power of our mindset to influence our physiology.
The term meditation is loaded with stigma. It is commonly associated with a religious context, its roots tracing back over 2500 years. Not all applications of meditation are, however, exclusively religious.
Meditative Medicine
Mindfulness Meditation is a more western, secular, and research based application of meditative principles, principles which in recent years have continued to raise eyebrows in the scientific community. This form of meditation purports the idea of awareness in the present moment, an ability to listen deeply to our sensory perceptions and observe their immediate reality objectively.
For example, researchers at the Department of Neuro-biology and Anatomy at Wake Forest School of Medicine have demonstrated a link between mindfulness meditation and cognitive, supra spinal mechanisms for pain regulation.
The study demonstrated that “Mindfulness-meditation pain relief was associated with greater activation in brain regions associated with the cognitive modulation of pain, including the orbitofrontal, subgenual anterior cingulate and anterior insular cortex”
The main form of meditation we will focus on in this book is fixed object meditation. In this form, we practice drawing all of our attention and focus to one area of the body. By doing so, we focus our chi energy in order to listen to our body. The body speaks to us. That doesn’t necessarily mean we listen, but it speaks nonetheless. Learning to listen is the major key.
Chi energy flows through the channels of the body, enabling movement and vitality. Any disturbances in this energy, such as illness or injury, begin a cascade of signaling to our brain.
Developing Chi
When I refer to Chi energy, I’m not speaking in an esoteric or religious sense. Chi energy is simply the direction of focus. For example, close your eyes and focus your all of your energy into your left bicep. Think of nothing else but the sensation, or lack of sensation, being experienced by your left bicep. Now use your right hand and touch your left bicep. Gently run your hand over the skin covering your bicep tendon, feel the shape, dig your fingers in to feel the pressure on the muscle belly.
Now, to really stimulate the Chi, pick up a dumbbell and perform slow repetitions of a bicep curl. Feel the alteration, if any, of your breathing pattern while your pull the weight up and slowly lower it down. Feel your body’s energy systems at work to accompany the task and strengthen the connection between your brain and your bicep, cultivating the Chi energy.
As you can see, Chi is not some mystical experience. We are constantly producing and expending energy through this physical organism we occupy. Learning to feel our Chi, from moment to moment, empowers us with feedback.
Awareness is often the only path to resolving many chronic and acute pain syndromes. For this large category of health issues, the healthcare system often only provides a band aid. For those of us with the misfortunate of having injured our spinal cord, or torn major joint ligaments, we learn this very quickly.
We walk the mine field of medical opinions and assessments from various professionals. Orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and chiropractors all have their place in the healing process. But remember, NONE OF THEM ARE YOU!
Nobody has access to the unique combination of sensations which you experience every day, through every waking moment, and through all stages of fatigue. Don’t delegate your instincts and power away to someone just because they are wearing a white coat.
Listen to them as a guide, yes, but give yourself some credit. You are in the driver’s seat of an ancient and magnificent organism which has adapted and evolved for hundreds of thousands of years, before there were doctors, before there was language. Have some pride, your body knows some things that you don’t, and it will tell you if you listen!
Taking personal ownership of your special, unique body is the foundation to elevating your health, and your performance.

Chapter 4 – Kinetic Balance
The purpose of training is adaptation. Within the strength and conditioning community, the SAID principle says it all; Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Your body will adapt to ANYTHING. So long as it’s not dead, it will immediately take action to survive, with no conscious effort from you necessary.
With this in mind, training methods are really neural inputs to trigger the desired adaptations. The precision of specificity with which your body adapts is very high. The most particular differences in a training stimulus will affect the muscle fibers, tendons, and joints in highly intricate ways.
The Central Nervous System
The Central Nervous System is often simplified and differentiated by two main states, the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
The Sympathetic Nervous System is most extremely embodied in the fight-or-flight response. Imagine the sense of panic when you discover an angry mother Grizzly bear in the woods. This is an extreme example of a stressor which triggers the SNS.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is best embodied in the context of deep REM sleep, when your body is at its most relaxed state. This is an extreme example of a trigger for the PNS.
Though these examples are extreme, the SNS and PNS are at a constant interplay throughout our daily lives. A brisk walk up 3 flights of stairs or stressful news at work can stimulate our SNS, while perhaps a hilarious story or peaceful lunch break can stimulate the PNS.
The key is finding an appropriate balance of both life and training stress to create adaptation, without leaning too far toward one or the other. Too much parasympathetic activation and you lack the stimulus to grow at all, and could even decondition from your current fitness level. Too much sympathetic activation and you are a cortisol filled stress ball, too wired to recover, fatigued and irritable.
Chapter 5 - Wind
Let’s collect our thoughts; the kinetic chain is a series of muscles, or levers, which act upon the bones to create motion at the joints. These motor firings are conceived in the brain, coded through the central nervous system, and delivered through the spine.
The Master Regulator
All muscles of the human body have their function, but only one dictates its will upon the rest. The diaphragm serves up oxygen, the most essential element for life, expanding and contracting to maintain the body’s homeostasis.
The diaphragm acts as a master regulator through the stresses of life and training. Your breathing pattern is the most direct feedback loop you possess in gauging your Central Nervous System.
The Diaphragm as a Gauge
Visualize yourself lying down on a bench, performing repetitions of a bench press. Now imagine that you are pressing weights made entirely of Styrofoam. It’s practically weightless, and not even close to challenging. Your breathing rate and cadence will remain unchanged. This exemplifies insufficient challenge to create growth.
Now visualize an iron barbell loaded beyond your capacity with plates. As you lower it down to your chest, the rate and cadence of your breathing is starkly interrupted, as your brain processes the immediate threat. This exemplifies a stimulus too challenging for growth, and potentially dangerous. You signal to your spotter to release the weight.
Of course these examples are extreme by nature, and their premises are blatantly obvious, even to a novice exerciser. The real power of listening to your diaphragm lies in the more moderate ranges. The diaphragm’s intimate relationship with working muscles is a focal point in gauging the intensity of both resistance and cardiovascular training. With experience, your breathing pattern will guide you in assessing the appropriate intensity for you to grow in your training.

Your neuromuscular patterns are coded deeply within your brain, where familiar patterns become increasingly efficient. The more you perform a movement, the more familiar your diaphragm becomes in regulating the breathing pattern which accompanies said movement.
New, foreign patterns will make your breathing choppy and shallow. Your focus shifts from efficiency into the learning process. Learning a new pattern is like walking a slack line, it’s a balancing act. Your focus is shifting, often with polarity, between correct movement mechanics, and remembering to breathe. This is no accident. This is the process.
Once your CNS downloads the movement pattern into its database, with practice, the diaphragm learns to work in sync with the muscles. It is in this phase when you become one with the movement, when your diaphragm has established the mind muscle connection.
Diaphragmatic breathing is more than just a tool to relax or meditate. It is the very fabric which weaves all movements together. Become one with the rate and cadence of your breathing, and you have taken a big step in reaching kinetic flow, as the diaphragm is the master regulator of all other muscles in the human body.

Kinetic Flow Exercise #1 (Diaphragm)
1.    Lay down your back
2.    Inhale for 5 seconds
3.    Hold for 5 seconds
4.    Exhale for 5 seconds
--Kinetic Focus—
Focus on expanding your rib cage in all directions like a balloon
Breathe into the belly and all corners of your trunk

Wind and The Core Musculature
The core musculature which stabilizes the spinal cord builds the foundation for human movement. Even as babies, we begin our life journey lying down in various positions, expressing variations of spinal and hip movement. We naturally strengthen this connection, the interplay of muscles which are responsible for both flexing and extending the spine. The transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, multifidi, and erector spinae are active before we are even able to crawl. 
It’s fascinating to me that the diaphragm and spinal movers are active before all of the rest. To me, it signifies their significance. They are located in such close proximity to one another, centralized into a unit which protects our backbone and simultaneously supplies us with oxygen.
The activity of spinal flexion, spinal extension, or the isometric activity to resist spinal flexion/extension, is present in all movements. Cultivating your Chi energy within these muscles is a central ingredient to Kinetic Flow.
Spinal Flexion – Anterior Core
The Anterior core serves two main purposes:
A.   Spinal Flexion- Spinal flexion is the concentric action of the anterior core. This is present when you actively move through a crunch or a sit up
B.    Anti-Extension- Anti Extension is the isometric action of the anterior core. This is present in planking, and almost every human movement requires some degree of isometric core activation to prevent hyper extension of the spine
The primary muscles responsible for flexion and anti-extension of the spine are located on the front (anterior) of the core.
·        Transverse Abdominus
·        Rectus Abdominus
·        External Oblique
Kinetic Flow Exercise #2 (Transverse Abdominus)
--TA Activation—
*Isometric Anti-Extension
1.    Lay down on your back
2.    Draw in your abdomen as if pulling your belly to your spine
3.    Hold for 30 seconds
4.    Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise #3 (Rectus Abdominus)
*Concentric/Eccentric Flexion
1.    Lay down on your back
2.    Place your legs on an elevated surface such as an exercise ball or a chair
3.    Perform a crunch with legs elevated, three seconds on the way up, four seconds on the way down (7 second repetition)
4.    Perform 20 repetitions
5.    Maintain fluid breathing
Kinetic Flow Exercise #4 (Transverse Abdominus)
--Straight Plank—
*Isometric Anti-Extension
1. Prop up on your forearms and your toes
2. Maintain an isometric squeeze in your TA muscle (from exercise 2)
3. Hold plank position for 1 minute
4. Maintain fluid breathing

Spinal Extension – Posterior Core
The Posterior Core serves two main purposes:
A.   Spinal Extension- Spinal extension is the concentric action of the posterior core. This is active when you concentrically move through a back extension, or the upward phase of a deadlift.
B.    Spinal Anti-Flexion- anti-flexion is the isometric action of the posterior core. This is present in various planks, and almost every human movement requires some degree of isometric core activation to prevent excessive flexion of the lumbar spine
The primary muscles responsible for extension and anti-flexion of the spine are located on the back (posterior) of the core.
·        Erector Spinae
·        Quadratus Lomborum
·        Multifidi
Kinetic Flow Exercise #5 (Erector Spinae)
--Bird Dog--
*Isometric Anti-Flexion
1.    Start on all fours
2.    Extend one arm overhead and maintain a stable trunk
3.    Extend opposite leg, maintain a stable trunk with a slight curve in the lower back
4.    Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise#6 (Quadratus Lomborum/Erector Spinae)
--A Plank--
*Concentric/Eccentric Extension
1.    Lay down on your belly
2.    Lower your arms down by your waist and extend your lower back to lift your chest off your ground
3.    Hold for 30 seconds
4.    Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise#7 (Quadratus Lomborum/Erector Spinae)
--Superman Plank--
*Concentric/Eccentric Extension
1.    Lay down on your belly
2.    Raise your arms overhead and extend your lower back to lift your chest off your ground
3.    Extend your hips to bring your legs off the ground
4.    Hold for 30 seconds
5.    Maintain fluid breathing

Fixed Object Meditation
There is tremendous value in being able to focus all of one’s energy in one distinct place. Fixed object meditation is a useful tool in harnessing this ability. Our attention spans in 2018 are being shortened, and pulled into many directions. Learning to pull your focus back, and to channel your attention through one medium is powerful tool for any pursuit in life, but particularly valuable in pain management and athletic performance.
Your focus and your attention are the catalyst for your Chi energy. Channeling this energy will pull you into the moment and bring you to the flow state of consciousness.. MMA coach Greg Jackson first introduced me to fixed object meditation as a tool for athletic performance, and I have since used it in multiple applications.
Exercise has become a meditative activity for me, the fixed object being the prime muscles of engagement, and their synchronization with the diaphragm. In those moments, I am absorbed in the mind muscle connection, and the feedback loop that exists in the progression of the exercise. This is particularly beneficial for internal awareness of sensation around the site of an injury. Awareness will guide you in how to build strength around an injury, without going too hard or too fast. If you don’t listen to your body, nobody will.
Kinetic Flow Exercise #8 (Fixed Object Meditation)
1.     Sit in a comfortable position
2.     Select an object of any kind (ex: a tree, a rock, a blade of grass, your own diaphragm)
3.     Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes
4.     Focus all of your attention on above object for 5 minutes
5.     When your mind begins to wander, bring your attention right back to the object

Chapter 5 – Water
The average adult human is comprised of 60% water.
It should come as no surprise that water is a huge component of muscle function. A constant supply of water perpetuates the motion of nutrient absorption. Water intake facilitates physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal.
Whether it’s the blood supply pumping through our veins, or the glycogen stored within our muscle spindles, hydration is essential.
Mild to moderate dehydration can cause headaches, irritability, poor physical performance, and reduced brain functioning. While the importance of water may seem to be common sense, studies find 67% of Americans fail to drink enough water every day.
 It is recommended that an individual consumes 64 ounces of water every day. Fluid demands go up with increases in temperature and activity level. Water also has an important role in pain management, as better hydration results in better lubrication of muscles and joints, leading to improved function. 
For practical purposes, our ability to use the water we consume also depends on certain nutrients which retain it in the muscle tissue.
CarboHYDRATES, as the name implies, play an essential role in hydrating muscle tissues, and preserving their function. Minerals and electrolytes have a similar function in retaining the water we consume.
The role of hydration is not simply fulfilled in the act of drinking liquid water, as many people may think. Hydration is just as much achieved through the foods we eat, as the effect of nutrient content on hydration is highly correlated.
Nutrient delivery is the catalyst for Chi energy. Without it, we starve our body of its natural healing power. Solid nutritional habits lay the groundwork for the body’s adaptation process, and lock into place the neural inputs we distill through the training process.
Although this book is not focused on nutrition, just know that the successful management and treatment of chronic pain requires an iron will and steadfast mindset to endure. In the puzzle that is chronic pain management; nutritional choices empower us with the mandatory tools for positive structural adaptation.
Time Under Tension
While the health and fitness world is vast, we can find any number of opinions on the way to train. The truth is, our training method is entirely dependent on the results we desire.
I assume you picked up this book with some desire to attain balance in your Kinetic Chain. Perhaps you had an injury which affects the strength of a major joint or its surrounding tendons. Maybe you experience pain in your lower back from years of wear and tear.
Or maybe, just maybe, you are one of the rare few who can feel the significant effects of subtle Kinetic signals on your athletic performance. Anyone can benefit from the awareness brought on by Kinetic Flow. Quick and powerful movements are very flashy; they capture our attention as the focus of athletic competition. Type II muscle fibers are often the focus of athletic training, in reaching that “next level” of performance.
The truth is, muscular endurance is just as important. It is in the type I muscle fibers, where the foundation is built for power, where the oxidative reserve is hosted to maintain posture and increase efficiency. In between the moments of explosion, it is muscular endurance which facilitates good position and aides the central nervous system in recovery.
Many professional athletes struggle with chronic and nagging injuries. Everything from tendonitis, all the way up to legitimate ligament tears which have been masked by strong muscles and perhaps even performance enhancing drugs.
As we talked about before, there is a yin and yang to training. There is a time for powerful movements. There is a time for movements of maximal strength. However, when it comes to kinetic balance, and the adaptive triggers to recover from trauma, muscular endurance and stability training reigns supreme.
For the purposes of muscular endurance and stability, let time under tension be your guide.
In my opinion, people are often too focused on the number of repetitions they perform of an exercise. When I see someone pumping out repetitions with poor movement quality, to me it just looks like someone who is programming their nervous system to fire inefficiently.
The time under tension principle requires you to slow down a movement and actually control it. It aides you in actually putting tension into the correct muscle groups, and recruiting those muscle groups in the correct pattern.
Remember that muscle growth is a product of muscular tension and volume. There are different velocities in which you can train, velocities which produce different types of tension within the muscle fibers. Slower velocities emphasize the growth of type I muscle fibers, and these fibers are the building block in balancing your kinetic chain.
Training at high velocities without the previous development of low velocities is like building a house without a foundation. It leads to eventual overuse and breakdown.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a good tempo for muscular endurance/stability training is a 4 second eccentric phase, 1 second isometric phase, and 2 second concentric phase. This tempo is abbreviated 4/1/2.
For example, on a push up repetition, you would descend for 4 whole seconds, hold at the bottom for 1 second, and press up for 2 seconds. That’s 7 seconds of total work time! Talk about time under tension. One repetition in this manner produces more tension in the muscle than a lot of people can produce in five!
This is the secret to really carving out your movement patterns. This stimulates your chi energy, helping you fit into a movement like a glove, feeling every nuanced firing required to do so.
Time under tension training will help attune you to your muscular imbalances, and help you to rebuild the tissues responsible for imbalance. Time under tension training also produces significant muscle damage, so prepare yourself to experience some delayed onset muscle soreness in the post exercise recovery period.
Most importantly, prepare yourself to experience an increase in the quality of your movement, and the signaling of your central nervous system in making these movements more efficient and stable.
People often overestimate the gains they can make through training in the short term. Conversely, they underestimate their potential for long term gains.
On a cultural scale, we seem to view our training efforts within the context of a motivational struggle, like Rocky Balboa scaling the stairs in Philadelphia and eating raw eggs. It’s an emotional battle. We are highly cinematic; we feed off the drama of good and evil. Every struggle is life or death, win or lose.
Thankfully fitness doesn’t work that way. Our bodies are more biologically inclined to reward habitual behavior than they are the sporadic. Pure consistency will always beat pure intensity when it comes to training results.
This is why many beginners who start a “training program” often burnout. They overestimate the necessary dosage of exercise. They overdo it. Intensity will never be a shortcut to long term growth and development. The stimuli required to promote positive adaptation is not particularly high. This is especially true in novice exercisers. Novices can see dramatic results not through intensity, but just by showing up. Neural pathways and mechanical patterns only need consistent stimuli to signal growth in a novice exerciser.
A precise, consistent stimulus spawns positive adaptation, and this will deliver dramatic results in the long term. Motivation doesn’t deliver results. Motivation is for movies and feel good stories. Precise consistency is king.
Metabolism and Adaptation
Stagnation is the antagonist of growth. Our chi energy is constantly being renewed through the foods we eat and the energy we expend. Our resting metabolic rate represents a constant churning and breakdown of proteins, carbs, and fats. This perpetual, internal motion is facilitated by the activities we perform and the nutrients we consume. A faster metabolic rate speeds up our bodies’ ability to use fuel, which in turn leads to faster adaptation.
Cardiovascular efficiency is a critical component of managing stress and work capacity. Advanced cardiovascular fitness provides a unique tactical advantage for your body’s ability to withstand the stresses of life, maintain a strong immune system, and perform a high volume of activities.
There is something to be said for the structural capacity of endurance athletes. Though distance runners, cyclists, and swimmers are carrying only the weight of their body, they maintain this posture against the resistance of gravity for often extreme periods of time. This time period in itself is a form of resistance which produces significant tension against the structural mechanics of their bodies. We must acknowledge the significant muscular endurance required for such an event.

This being said, we should also recognize that the extremes of cardiovascular training are indirectly related to every day structural mechanics, at least in comparison to resistance training. The more potent and universal component of cardiovascular training lies in its activation of the heart. Targeted heart rate training strengthens our hearts ability to regulate internal processes, and this function provides an often underappreciated utility for both the general population and athletes alike.
The incorporation of various heart rate training zones and interval style training results in more calories burned both intra and post workout. Over time, this leads to a faster, more efficient metabolism, and numerous physiological, hormonal adaptations. Most people don’t see cardiovascular conditioning as related to muscular gains, when in fact a balance remains to be achieved in creating an anabolic environment through prescriptive and targeted heart rate training. Cardiovascular training has a unique position of leverage over our body’s energy systems. It can help to shift us in either direction on the spectrum of power vs endurance, explosive versus steady state. Fine tuning our cardiovascular program to our strength and power goals is a must if you wish to be optimal and give yourself the best platform to perform.

Chapter 6- Earth
Spinal musculature stabilizes the axial skeleton, while the musculature of the hip begins the process of human locomotion. Toddlers quickly realize this ability to move once they begin crawling. Crawling on all fours begins the process of controlling the anterior chain. Hip flexion (anterior hip) based movements, stabilized by the anterior core and anterior shoulder muscles.
Flexion at the hip joint is central in linking the anterior core with its extremities of the lower body. There exists a strong synergistic relationship between the flexors of the spine and the flexors of the hip, as these two joints are obviously at a constant interplay. The largest difference between the hip joint and the spinal joints are MOBILITY. While spinal musculature is focused on maintaining stiffness, hip musculature is dynamic and highly mobile. Hip musculature accelerates the joint through large ranges of motion in multiple planes.

Hip Flexion – Anterior Hip
The primary muscles responsible for flexion of the hip are located on the front (anterior) of the hip.
·        Illiopsoas
·        Rectus Femoris
·        Sartorius
Kinetic Flow Exercise #9 (Rectus Femoris)
--Dead Bug—
*Hip Flexion
1. Lay down on your back
2. Draw in your abdomen as if pulling your belly to your spine (Transverse Abdominus)
3. Elevate your legs into an “L” position with arms extended upward
4. Slowly extend one leg and opposite arm (4 second eccentric)
5. Hold at the bottom (1 second isometric)
6. Slowly bring leg and arm up to neutral (3 second concentric)
7. Perform 20 repetitions on each side
8. Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise #10 (Rectus Femoris/Psoas Major)
--Jack Knife--
*Hip Flexion
1. Roll out onto your hands, with feet on an exercise ball
2. Flex hips to bring knees close to your chest (2 second concentric)
3. Hold at the top (1 second isometric)
4. Slowly descend back to starting position (4 second eccentric)
5. Perform 10-15 repetitions

Kinetic Flow Exercise #11 (RectusFemoris/Psoas Major)
*Hip Flexion
1. Roll out onto your hands, with feet on an exercise ball
2. With knees extended straight, flex hips to bring the ball toward your hands(2 second concentric)
3. Hold at the top (1 second isometric)
4. Slowly descend back to starting position (4 second eccentric)
5. Perform 10-15 repetitions

The beginnings of the posterior chain are also evident in the crawling stage, as toddlers begin to utilize movements of hip extension, or bridging, from their back. Bridging is the basis of all movements which require hip extension and knee flexion. This groundwork is more clearly evident when toddlers begin hinging at the hips to finally stand on their feet for the first time!

Hip Extension – Posterior Hip
The primary muscles responsible for extension of the hip are located on the back (anterior) of the hip.
·        Gluteus Maximus
·        Semimembrinosus
·        Semitendinosus
·        Biceps Femoris (long and short head)
Kinetic Flow Exercise #12 (Gluteus Maximus)
*Hip Extension
1. Lay down on your back
2. Place your feet flat on the ground close to your hips
3. Press your feet into the ground to extend the hips upward (3 second concentric)
4.  Hold at the top (1 second isometric)
5. Slowly lower your hips (4 second eccentric)
6. Perform 20 repetitions
7. Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise #13 (Gluteus Maximus)
--Hip Thrust--
*Hip Extension
1. Lay down with your back on an exercise ball or weight bench
2. Place your feet flat on the ground
3. Slowly lower your hips through a full range of motion (4 second eccentric)
4.  Hold at the bottom (1 second isometric)
5. Press your feet into the ground to extend the hips upward (3 second concentric)
5. 6. Perform 20 repetitions
7. Maintain fluid breathing

Hip Abduction/Adduction/Rotation – Lateral/Medial/Hip
The primary muscles responsible for abduction, adduction, and rotation of the hip are located on the outside (lateral), and inside(medial) of the hip.
·        Gluteus Medius
·        Gluteus Minimus
·        Tensor Fascia Latae
·        Sartorius
·        Piriformis
·        Gluteus Maximus

Kinetic Flow Exercise #14 (Gluteus Medius)
--Side Lying Leg Raise—
*Hip Abduction
1. Lay down on your side
2. Stack your legs on top of each other
3. Raise your top leg directly upward (2 second concentric)
4.  Hold at the top (1 second isometric)
5. Slowly lower your Leg (4 second eccentric)
6. Perform 15 repetitions each side
7. Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise #15 (Gluteus Medius)
--Clam Shells—
*Hip External Rotation
1. Place monster band around your knees
2. Lay down on your side
3. Bend your legs and stack on top of each other
3. Raise your top knee directly upward (2 second concentric)
4.  Hold at the top (1 second isometric)
5. Slowly lower your knee (4 second eccentric)
6. Perform 15 repetitions each side
7. Maintain fluid breathing

Kinetic Flow Exercise #16 (Gluteus Medius)
-- Standing Ext Rotation—
*Hip External Rotation
1. Place monster band around your knees
2. Stand feet hip width apart
3. Slightly hinge at the hips to find a lower stance
3. Rotate your knee outward (2 second concentric)
4.  Hold at the end (1 second isometric)
5. Slowly rotate back inward (4 second eccentric)
6. Perform 15 repetitions each side
7. Maintain fluid breathing

Chapter 7- Fire

You can do everything right, and sometimes you get struck by lightning. Working with chronic pain patients in Albuquerque opened my eyes to their world.  These people experienced car accidents, structural damage, cartilage and ligament tears, multiple disc herniation at multiple levels, accompanied by severe nerve pain and soft tissue dysfunction.
Traumatic Injury and Connective Tissue
The human body adapts to trauma. Soft tissue is malleable, so much so that it forms a neuromuscular cast around the site of an injury, altering the recruitment pattern in order to protect the damaged tissues. In the short term this is beneficial, because the localized inflammation needs to be protected from further damage.
Long term effects of this casting are less helpful. Casting will alter the neural drive to your prime movers in ways which weaken your kinetic chain. Casting alters joint movement, length tension relationships, and reciprocal inhibition in the muscles surrounding the affected joint. In enough time, this can even affect the health of OTHER joints.

I will tell you the hard and fast truth. Soft tissue pain sucks! It takes time and work to resolve. How much time and work you ask?
If you let an acute problem linger on for weeks, it will take weeks of diligent work to fully resolve it. If you let it linger on for months, it will take months of diligent work. Years to years, decades to decades, you see the point. Now if that sounds demoralizing to you in any way, I’ll tell you right now just to get the fuck over it! If the pain is serious, then it’s the only good option. You can mess with narcotic pain medication….I guess…
Email me in two years and see how that goes!
But actually, don’t do that. In my opinion, pain medication only makes you less aware of your Chi energy, only numbs you to the pain while the root patterning of your pain syndrome gets more deeply engrained. Not to mention it destroys your insides. Oh and it can kill you! No big deal.
So what is the answer? The answer is targeted strengthening, consistent programming. You will have to tune into your body and learn about your anatomy. Identify muscle weakness that’s affecting your posture. Address it. I hate to be the one to break the news, but no massage therapist will be able to work on you in the way you can work on yourself with some simple tools.

Learning the Anatomy
I see human movement as a sophisticated language. The symphony of mechanical interplay for any given movement can be observed in the length tension relationships between its prime movers, synergists, agonists, antagonists, and stabilizers. Unfortunately, I find most of society to be surprisingly illiterate in the language of human movement. Remember that the structures of the human body will not change from now until the day you die; you may as well learn about them and build your awareness of them. Pulling out an anatomy chart to study the junction between your quadriceps and anterior hip certainly wouldn’t hurt you, and it very well may help you understand the mechanisms behind why you hurt! I highly encourage all of my clients to become more literate in the language of human movement, so that they can better articulate their range of motion and the muscular firings responsible for expressing it.

Soft Tissue Recovery Strategies
1.     Proper Diagnosis- is it just a muscular strain? A ligament strain? A grade three tear? I don’t know. The doctors only know if it shows up on an MRI, and it can only show up on an MRI if you tell them it hurts. If it’s not serious enough for surgery, then it’s your responsibility to study the anatomy in that area. If you injure your hamstring, study diagrams of the 4 parts of the hamstring and where they attach, assess which portion of the hamstring you believe to have been strained, work the soft tissue with your hands and some olive oil to feel for relative stiffness or dysfunction.
2.     Mobility exercises- Any exercise that brings your joint through a full range of motion without necessarily loading the joint are good for promoting motion, I would recommend FRC style drills as well as some basic yoga poses(just don’t turn into a spiritual guru about it). Perform these mobility exercises often.

3.     Some type of exercise activity- You need to do something, even if it’s just walking in a pool or cycling, you need to have a regular activation of working muscles. In times of injury, muscle atrophy is your biggest enemy. Also, activity stimulates your awareness, helps you tune into which muscles are weak, tight, or causing your pain. When you are aware, you can address.
4.     E-stim unit- these products are very helpful. Attach some electrodes to your problem muscle and watch your muscle go through a series of contractions, bringing a supply of fresh blood and strengthening the tissue at the same time. When applied correctly, can reduce pain and work towards a long term solution. Good times to do this are pre and post workout.
5.     IASTM tool- Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. There are many brands of tool out there to use, most give the same function. You essentially use the tool to scrape against the muscle fascia and break down adhesions in the muscle tissue. Works better than a deep tissue massage, and you can do it yourself! Good times to do this are pre and post workout.

The Psychology of Injury Management
I’ve experienced firsthand the incarnation of injury psychology, and have seen it manifested in many athletes through my career. Injuries are devastating in a physical sense, but are many times equally psychologically impactful.
Athletes, especially young athletes, often have a symbiotic relationship with their sport for which they may not be entirely aware. The endorphins released through practices and games are an integral part of their routine. The outlet of exercise to the athlete is a lifeline which serves them in all areas of their life, helps them to cope with stress, and provides a solidarity and structure which can often contribute to their identity and psychological construct.
Once injury prevents the athlete from performing or training, the stage is set for a cascade of depression and identity crisis. This can often lead to over activity, and unfortunately, re-injury. Athletes are trained to be tough, to push through pain, to maintain a high pace. This mentality will fly in the face of injury recovery.
Learning to walk the line between rehabilitation and overtraining is the largest obstacle any athlete faces in returning to full capacity. Unfortunately, many athletes are ill equipped to deal with the emotional frustration accompanied with severe injury, and oftentimes, a step backward is necessary in taking two steps forward.
The athlete who successfully comes back from injury can often rebound better than before. This is the result of a new competence in their athletic performance. Viewing adversity as an opportunity to grow, rather than an obstacle to getting where you want to be, is the secret sauce in overcoming the adversity that is injury to the athlete.

Chapter 9- Movement Hierarchy

Human movement encompasses a potentially unlimited combination of sequences and training protocols. The human body has evolved to adapt to any pattern we execute within a high degree of specificity. Although training protocols will ultimately depend on the goals and activities in mind, there are movement patterns which will take priority across the board based on their universal application across all patterns of movement.
The following Priority Pyramid is a general look at the Kinetic Flow movement hierarchy. This is not by any means a set in stone gospel, as each individual will have unique priorities depending on their goals and circumstances. These priorities are based on the needs of the general population in their ability to perform Activities of Daily living (ADL), such as walking, picking things up off of the ground, movement required at work or school, while running errands or picking up groceries.

The Priority Pyramid

Core Movement- Before we can walk, hinge, or lift, we must first activate and strengthen the muscles which brace the spine. This anatomical necessity highlights the high priority on core strength both anteriorly, posteriorly, and laterally. As discussed in previous chapters, this strength is utilized through isometric, concentric, and eccentric movements.
Hip Dominant Movement- Once we have braced the core, the lumbo pelvic hip complex is prepared to ambulate the appendicular skeleton. The most fundamental movement of the hips is the ability to hinge, which can be developed in babies on their knees, before they are able to walk. If you ever watch a toddler in their walking stage, they will hinge at the hips to pick up an object off of the ground (with rather solid form I might add). Hip hinging movements, such as the deadlift, take a high priority over squats due to their universal implementation throughout our everyday activities as humans.
Upper Body Pull Movement- Upper body pull movements include a large family of muscles which share the common interest of retracting the shoulder scapula through a variety of rowing positions. This family of movement helps us to pick things up from a functional perspective. From an anatomical perspective, it helps pull the posture of our upper body into alignment, helps us to stack our bones properly against the pull of gravity.
Knee Dominant Movement- Knee dominant movements include a greater degree of flexion of the knees than a typical hip hinge. This movement family includes squatting and lunging variations, and is helpful for a variety of functional purposes. Though not typically essential for ADL, Knee dominant movements are a critical piece of optimal movement training.
Upper Body Push Movement- Last but not least, upper body push training certainly has its place in any training program. The family of pressing movements have a variety of applications, most of which do not apply to daily ambulation. The “dip” motion is the most applicable component of the upper body push family in human movement, as it can assist in both descending to and ascending from the ground.

Programming Considerations

In building your personalized strength and conditioning program, many factors should be considered. How much time should be allocated within each movement family? What exercises should be selected within each movement family? How much volume should be performed on each exercise? What phases of periodization (rep ranges/ %of 1RM) should be targeted? With how much frequency should these exercises be performed?
These questions should be answered only on an individual basis, and tailored to your personal activity or sport performance goals. For example, a 55 year old man with chronic low back pain may have a goal to be able to walk a half mile around the neighborhood 4 times per week. This individual will only train within the highest priority movement families such as core and hip dominant movement. His total volume will probably consist at first of two sessions per week, leaving 48-72 hours for recovery between sessions. As far as periodization is concerned, he will be working in a higher rep range with a focus on muscular endurance and slow eccentric control, a very low percentage of his 1RM.
On the other hand, a 25 year old mixed martial artist with competition goals will run a much different schedule with a high variety of movement families at high frequencies. He or she will go through phases of hypertrophy, endurance, power, and maximal strength depending on goals of the training cycle. He or she will also have a higher volume of exercises per training session and will have multiple cardiovascular training sessions throughout the week.
-Risk vs Reward
Chapter 10- Optimizing Length vs Tension
Length tension relationships are at the root of each joint in our body. Our musculature forms a system of levers which pull on the joints at opposing angles to create stability while we navigate positions.
Healthy length tension relationships exist when our muscle recruitment pattern is optimal. This results in a coordinated synergy of levers to articulate our range of motion. In any given joint, surrounding musculature both facilitates and inhibits a given movement.
Take for example knee extension:
While sitting in a chair, you can extend one of your knees by straightening your leg so that it is parallel to the floor. Through this movement, the muscles of your quadriceps facilitate the movement by acting as the agonist. The hamstrings, however, have an inhibitory effect on this movement by opposing the quadriceps, acting as the antagonist. The quadriceps and the hamstrings oppose one another, acting as contralateral pressures. While one is contracted, the other relaxes, while one is tense, the other is lengthened. Here lies the essence of a length tension relationship. So long as this relationship is healthy, stress will be evenly distributed across the knee joint.
When this relationship is altered in any way, the knee begins to experience uneven stress, and perhaps some level of inflammation. In a hamstring tear, for example, not only is the hamstring affected, but so is its functional antagonist. Neural drive to the quadriceps is decreased, resulting in less activation and less strength. This altered length tension relationship will in turn alter the joint mechanics of the knee. A case like this must be addressed at both the site of the hamstring injury, as well as the secondary effect on the opposing quadriceps. 
-Mobility dosage and volume

Chapter 11-  The 48 Hour Recovery Period
-Program Adjustment
Chapter 12- Periodization
-Phases of training
-The butterfly effect
Chapter 11- Planar Relationships
-Pattern Overload