In this episode, Bert and I speak about the foundation of all athletic performance, efficient movement. We dive into some of the biggest keys of movement, including the ability to load the body unilaterally. Outside of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and a couple of swimming strokes, almost every movement we care about in sports is asymmetrical or involves unilateral loading (including walking, running, throwing, hitting a ball, etc.). Yet many athletes do not adequately train for strength, speed, endurance, and coordination in these asymmetrical patterns. Looking through the lens of asymmetrical movement, we discuss the relevant hip, foot, and scapular mechanics and how to train them.
I’m [Garrett] salpeter. And I believe that the most powerful and transformative way to help people recover from pain and injury, heal from trauma, and reach their highest levels of fitness and performance is to focus on the nervous system. In this podcast, we’ll share knowledge from the frontiers of neuroscience and inspirational stories of how applying that knowledge has empowered people from all walks of life to heal, adapt and grow. Welcome to the undercurrent podcast, and in this episode, I’m joined by Bert Massey, and Bert and I are going to talk today about the biomechanics that underlies effective and efficient sports movement.
So we’re talking a lot about athletic performance, about the factors that lead to elite performance and efficient and graceful and powerful movement, as well as the factors that lead to the opposite of that less efficient, less effective, and possibly injury-inducing or causing movement. And Burt has a very rich experience in training as a strength coach, he’s studied directly from numerous people who I also respect and look up to, I’ve gotten to know Bert very well over the past several years here in Austin, and he works with a wide range of clientele from elite high school, college professional athletes to busy executives, and helps a wide range of people with their goals.
And in the last few years, you know, he was already doing excellent work in this space. And in the last few years, he has started incorporating the newbie, and we’ve worked even more closely together, and are this weekend. As we’re filming this podcast, we’re taking a little break from filming a course on the biomechanics of elite athletic performance and athletic movement. So Burt, welcome to the show. Thanks for being here this weekend.
[Bert Massey] 2:25
Thank you for having me. I couldn’t be more grateful to be sitting here and having this conversation.
Awesome. So let’s dive into this discussion of biomechanics. Can you share what you see as being the biggest themes in biomechanics are what’s kind of most important just to help direct this conversation, what’s most important in terms of helping create good athletic movement, that solid foundation of athletic movement that can help athletes in all sports across all domains?
[Bert Massey] 2:58
I think training and the training those movements and training, the specificity of those movements were, there’s a gentleman I learned a lot from and his name is Pat Davidson. And he comes on, and he has an idea with his book rethinking the big patterns, where at any point in time, I could be doing an exercise with a client. And you could pause me at any point during that exercise say, Bert, what are you trying to train?
[Bert Massey] 3:29
And what are you trying to do with this exercise? And I could tell you that well, in this particular exercise, for example, I’m training, single legs, stability and rotation on the right leg. And I would say, you know, perhaps specifically, I’m working on a transverse plane of motion movement.
[Bert Massey] 3:50
I think oftentimes, we look at training as this benchpress, squat, power, clean, maximal strength, maximal power, and that are completely represented by how much weight you lift, where we miss a lot of things in the teaching of teaching trainers as they’re coming into the business.
[Bert Massey] 4:09
We don’t teach them these deep biomechanical understandings of, you know, asymmetry in movement and being able to get to the far outside of your left foot, and then transition to the far outside of your right foot. Be that in like a cut, or in like something as complicated as like a pitch delivery motion.
So let’s, let’s talk about Well, first of all, when you say training, getting specific, I’ve let me just confirm so for everybody listening, when people hear that they might think specific, like, oh, I need sports specific training for my golf swing, whereas I believe, when you say specific you mean?
Do you mean getting very specific on the underlying patterns? There you go that road station asymmetry like you said, I’ve been able to get out on the left foot. So it’s not necessarily training the skill. But we’re still focused, you know, if this is a pyramid that we’re building, we’re still focused on the underlying foundation upon which we will then build
[Bert Massey] 5:12
correct Pacific’s correct the foundation of, of sports motion, like you, were saying, you know that A, if you will, the back swing in a golf club or golf is very similar in motion too, again, that just the wind up of a pitcher, they don’t look the same, necessarily. One guy is standing bilaterally and keeping both feet on the ground, or he should be, in my opinion. But then you’ve got a picture where he’s completely leaving a leg. But in both cases, we’re creating this load back onto one foot so that we can prep in both cases, propel a ball forward at a maximal distance or maximal speed.
Okay, very well. Thank you for that. I think that I think that’s clear. And I think that sets the stage here beautifully. And I like what you said about the difference, too, between what most people and programs tend to focus on in training is that bilateral strength, how much can I squat? How much can I bench?
Yep. And there is value for that, you know, there’s no question building max strength. But that’s only part of you know, there are four or five primary traits that we’re interested in. And that’s one of them. So, if we’re spending 20% of our time doing that, that makes sense. If we’re spending 6070 80% of our time doing that, you know, that that’s, I think, inappropriate or not, not the most ideal
[Bert Massey] 6:41
And how strong is strong enough? Yeah. And when are you too strong? Yeah, you know, and can
[Bert Massey] 6:46
Do you translate it into these patterns? Absolutely.
[Bert Massey] 6:48
So let’s go into this example, you already talked about a couple there were a couple of examples wherein sporting movements, there’s this very important element of asymmetry, being able to load up on one side and able to create force and propel the body to the center of gravity and an implement, whether it be a golf club, a baseball, whatever, back towards the other side, right.
And you mentioned being able to get to the outside of the foot. So let’s that might be a good way to go about this is to build it up from the ground up. So chair talks, can you talk to us about the feet, specifically, as we go through this similar asymmetrical movement that underlies virtually everything? Sure,
[Bert Massey] 7:27
sure. Sure. Starting simple, if you’re, say standing bilaterally, side to side, you know, feet side, and you’re going to something surprises you, and you’re going to take off in a sprint in one direction, you’re going to be able to do that, at the foot level, by let’s say, something approaches from your right side and you want to run to the left, you know, you’re going to then take your left foot and push backward, so that you can then load on your right foot and explode, to take off as fast as you can, in that direction.
[Bert Massey] 8:06
Perhaps a better example of stealing a base, you’re going to you know, you’re facing the pitcher, and you load if you’re running from first to second, it’s exactly the opposite, you’re going to load over onto that left foot so you can explode and run to the right. And you would do the same thing. If you were throwing a football, you know, if if, if Patrick Mahomes is throwing a football, when he rares back to throw that football, at the foot level, his left foot is pronating, to push him back into deep supination of the right foot.
[Bert Massey] 8:43
Or you could say the left side of his body is internally rotating, to externally rotate the right side as far as possible, the further he gets back into that right side, and then the more he’s able to pull through the left and propel the right, the more power that’s going to become so at the foot level protonate through the left to supinate the right foot as much as possible. Never leave that foot. So the feet must be kind of pretty close to flat on the ground until you get to the follow-through. So protonate through the left to supinate through the right, I’m creating power so that my throw or my sprint both come from protonating that right foot at the ground level and pushing off or accelerating through that foot, regardless of what the athletic motion is. It looks very, very similar at the foot level. Golf swings are very much the same way.
So pronation and supination. And there when you this example of Patrick Mahomes, who’s a right-handed quarterback when he’s raring back, cocking his right arm back to throw that right foot should be supinated and you’re One important point you mentioned there, we want to keep that he wants to keep that big toe on the ground. Absolutely. So what happens if the big toe leaves the ground because that’s a common flaw in supination? Right,
[Bert Massey] 10:11
You’ve now in our course, that we’re teaching this week, and we’ve used the accent, this example of a four-lane highway in the body. And in our example of Patrick Mahomes, he would be pulling back that right arm into his right posterior exterior chain, he has to then fluidly throw the ball and not be accurate and throw it up over his receiver, a lot of times you get a quarterback that comes back from an ankle injury.
[Bert Massey] 10:42
And he ends up throwing high a lot, especially if it’s a right ankle. And it’s because he doesn’t want to plant as hard on the inside of the right foot and follow through. So if you pull back and you lose that big toe, you’ve now lost transition through the foot and your foot has come off the ground, the chain of muscles that react up your body to create the optimal rotational motion or the optimal torque, some people refer to it as a whip.
[Bert Massey] 11:15
To create that optimal whip, you need to keep that foot and big toe on the ground. Otherwise, in an extreme case, if you pull that arm back, and you know, you can lose your balance going backward there, you can then transition back to the left foot, you’re too far and you’ve lost that midline. Right, if you’re on a highway you keeping with our highway example, you can’t jump from the outside to the inside lane. If it’s a four-lane highway, you have to go through the middle two lanes. At some point, you can’t just hop over at least until we have cars that fly or jump.
So when you talk about creating this, this whip effect, I think that’s a really important key EPS to the athletic movement here and for everybody listening, you likely have heard this notion of the stretch-shortening cycle or how the body’s muscles and tendons and other tissues can store elastic energy like a spring.
So if you can load up that right side, it’s sort of like stretching a spring. Again, the example of a right-handed quarterback at the same can be true on the other side for left-handed quarterbacks and left-handed athletes, but if you’re able to lower that right side, it’s sort of like loading a spring.
And then you can get some extra energy speed power, going back into the throw and going back into the swing the other way. Some of that is from stored elastic energy, and some of it is for muscular work. So you get a little extra energy, a little extra power almost for free. If you can load this correctly. But that right big toe must stay on the ground. Absolutely. Because otherwise, when you’re going back through, you’re you’ve kind of got a leak in that like hey, go the leak in that and
[Bert Massey] 13:01
you’re opening yourself up for injury, you’re opening yourself up for an injury in this specific case of that right big toe coming off the ground and raring back for Patrick Mahomes or Bryson to Shambo or someone who’s trying to get a maximum amount of power from that pulls back, you know that the injury that’s likely might pop up there is like a right low back problem. Because you’re not getting that fluid transition.
[Bert Massey] 13:29
You know, it’s kind of more Herky jerky, it’s like, it’s like a race car with a slightly bad engine or like a loose knot or something like I know nothing about cars. You get the idea. If something’s off and your race car and you’re trying to go full speed, there’s a lot more chance that likely something’s going to go wrong.
[Bert Massey] 13:46
And that’s where injuries present themselves. And I think when people say they’re trying to train to prevent injury, using these motions and training these motions, sometimes in very slow static isometric, even manners is going to help prevent those injuries because now the person has a frame of reference as to how to maximally get back to that space.
[Bert Massey] 14:12
That is something other than whatever their sport is, you know, I mean, you can’t, of course, Patrick Mahomes and Bryson D Shambo in our examples are ultimately going to throw the football the most to train this movement or swinging the Golf Club in price into Shambles case. But teaching them to do that in a weight room manner. And in a slowdown very specific, very kind of granular training, you’re going to improve their understanding of that movement. And then there’s that whole idea of where you might train the opposite side for a little bit as well.
Well, let’s talk about that. So one of the important things, obviously, Patrick Mahomes, loading back it has to be able to load that right side. We want to make sure the big toe stays on the ground. So that spring is attached and it can recoil. With the whole length of that, of that from the external rotation, sorry, the internal rotation of the leg hip, and then the opposite rotation of the spine.
And then the, you know, the counter reverse or the rotational sure difference. Sure, between the thoracic spine and, and the pelvis. Yeah, twisting. Yeah. So we want to get all that loaded. And then talk about getting over to the other side. And that follow through and how important that is for once you’ve loaded that spring, and you’re ready to recoil back and capture some of that stored energy, create power going back the other way. Tell us about that. That phase of the movement is about actually putting force into that implement into the, into the football or the golf club. And then going over and loading the left side,
[Bert Massey] 15:49
I think two things represent this very clearly to me, once a golf swing and one’s a baseball, bat swing, similar movements, but very different. In golf, I think I’m no golfer. But every time that someone coaches a swing, they’re going to coach someone, again, we’ll use our example of a right-handed golfer, as you’ve got that drawback, they’re going to coach them to pull through that left side or the front side of the movement.
[Bert Massey] 16:24
And initiating the movement after the drawback from that pole keeps the person from being too dependent on the side that you’ve drawn back. Now, a lot of times what would happen in that in like a golf swing is you would either you would hook the ball very, very far. Or you would not have the power that you could in your drive because your body would pull up. Same thing in a baseball swing, which I know the homerun swings are a little more popular now than they used to be when I was a kid.
[Bert Massey] 16:53
Because, you know, when I was a kid, you taught the axe chop, and you coach crown balls and everything like that. But we’ve moved on from that now, and I won’t get too specific there. But the same idea where if you were going to hit a baseball one-handed, you would never do it with your backhand, you would do it with the front hand, there’s a kid that lives in Florida, and he only has a full left arm. And I think he drives the ball like 280 yards, something as like, he’s 13 years old. And it’s all with just his left hand.
[Bert Massey] 17:24
So when you saw you sent me that video of him it was yeah that was cool. You know, when you, when you initiate those motions, you want to issue that you want to start with that ground force. And that kid, in our example, you know, they took him in, I believe it was real sports, took him to a PGA center where they trained actual pro golfers, and they put them on a force plate.
[Bert Massey] 17:47
And they figured out that he created more ground force with his feet than professional golfers do that way far more than him, because he doesn’t have the upper body evenness to create that rotation. It all comes from his feet, it all comes from his legs. You know, there’s a change just slightly from Patrick Mahomes to Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers has had one of the best arms in the leagues and League and still does for a very long time. But is Aaron Rodgers the biggest guy in the league? Not at all. He just creates that power from his hips. And that’s why he and his feet, and that’s why he can throw so well on the run.
Let’s go. It’s awesome. So for golfers, I think that in that case, if you’re not getting the left side, if you’re not getting that proper initiation and movement, I think that would probably lead to a slice rather than a
[Bert Massey] 18:40
Hook. So like I said, well, just not a golfer
I will get the context for anyone who’s listening who’s an avid golfer, we’ll make sure
[Bert Massey] 18:48
We don’t I don’t teach swing mechanics. I just teach body mechanics. Yes.
The cool thing about it is that’s the common language among all there’s it’s like if you do the math, you know, if you know math, then you can do a lot of things you from calculus to algebra to balancing books, or a business or you know, it’s like the common language there. So
[Bert Massey] 19:09
I think you just hit on a major point right there that people just simply don’t talk about. We do have similarities in human bodies, and those human bodies when they do rotational things, even running and walking. It’s a similar pattern that goes all the way up. Of course, we all have our differences. But if you train those qualities, you’re going to improve those qualities.
Awesome. So you’ve mentioned here, a couple of really good themes. The big one is the importance of asymmetrical movement, rotational force, and coordinated movement in that rotational or transverse plane and how we want to spend more time training that so can you talk to everyone listening now,
please about how that informs your training and what you do, generally with people too, you know how looking through this biomechanical lens, and this asymmetrical lens, how that informs training and what you do with people to help them get better in this realm. Sure,
[Bert Massey] 20:19
There’s a kind of a theme that comes in with like powerlifting and Olympic lifting and weightlifting. And it is creating that lordotic curve in your spine, where optimal rotation almost always comes at a different place where that lordotic curve isn’t necessarily there, you’re more in a flexed position.
[Bert Massey] 20:41
And I think the demonizing and training of the flexed position where imagine you’re looking at someone standing from the side, and you look at them, and from their head down to their pelvis, there’s a straight line, you don’t have that S curve that we normally have, which is perfectly fine when we’re standing. But as far as training is concerned, being able to keep that posterior tuck in the core, specifically, the so as abdominals, pulling on the femur to tuck the hips posterior creates a stage for us to rotate better, and not have that low back pain. So I think the idea of increasing ankle dorsiflexion protecting knees and strengthening that posterior talk and then moving off of it, that way, you can use that hip hike properly, and you’re not going to be irritating the muscles of the low back near as much. I believe that you know, people will be if you you’ve seen me teach squats.
[Bert Massey] 21:54
And when I teach squats, I put the person on a wedge will say like a 45-degree angle wedge or I have them squat downhill. And I have them squat with more knee flexion than is normally taught. And people say well, well, you’re worried about the knees there I respond with. First I’m directly training the strength of the knees, I’m getting more quadriceps by doing that than you do in a normal squat.
[Bert Massey] 22:22
But secondarily, I’m taking so much pressure off of that low back. And we get caught up in a world of weightlifting, where we try to teach everyone to be a powerlifter or to be a weightlifter and to be the best weightlifter, you have to get strong in that low back and get strong and that lordosis curve. But what we lose is rotation, sometimes when you train that too heavily. And so what I try to do is quite often people come to me after if they’re athletes, they’ve had a history of strength training.
[Bert Massey] 22:59
And once I look at them, they’ve lost rotation to one side, because of that history of strength training. The perfect example in the general population that everyone likes to bag on Is CrossFit. And when a client comes to me with too much CrossFit, they’ve always got low back pain, and they’re always in this much extended spinal position. So getting them back to a flexed spinal position. Step number one, and then alongside that,
So in that example, that would be kind of like we talked about before too much training volume in that bilateral or symmetrical movements, stretches powerlifting, or Olympic lifting based?
[Bert Massey] 23:41
Yes, okay, yeah, I’m not cross it’s fine. I’m not bagging on it. It’s just a very easy example of, I’m going to do power cleans at maximum speed for five minutes, four times in a row, you know that that’s you’re going to train a certain quality there. And that quality is very, against promoting more rotation. And you just use that being step number one. And after step number one, then I’m going to start training the person’s feet. And that leads us into the conversation that you and I have had for years it was
Step number one is being able to establish that ability to maintain body alignment and adequate posterior pelvic Absolutely because that’s the foundation for movement and when that’s missing that impedes rotational ability.
[Bert Massey] 24:30
Yeah, in my own story, right? Like we always kind of can relate things to ourselves very well. I had a history of training, and I had played football and gone into powerlifting and done those things. And that’s how I learned to train. And then at 31, I started training in jujitsu.
[Bert Massey] 24:47
And in a wrestling stance, you’re in a very flexed stance all the time. And I figured out very, very quickly that I had an immense strength deficit in a flexed spine. Opposition. So I had to build. And of course, from that flex spinal position, you have to learn rotation.
[Bert Massey] 25:07
And so there’s an example of a sport, that my weightlifting history helped me in the long run. But in the beginning, it hindered me, because I wasn’t able to do the things very strong in a strong way that I thought I was going to be able to do. After all, it’s a different body position. Very similar. With many sports, honestly. I mean, you’re going to be cutting and taught and changing directions so much in sport, that if you’re only training these static bilateral qualities, you’re going to run into problems with that.
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So you in terms of taking this concept of buying these concepts of biomechanics, and implementing them into your exercise selection, your programming progressions, you’re starting with some work in a squat on wedges of us seniors, as little as 10-degree wedges as much as 30, maybe even 45 wedges, and then that
[Bert Massey] 26:39
Can vary, that can vary depending on the person, you know, the angle of the wedges, I wouldn’t list some specific angle. And you know, that’s, that’s the whole foot thing. But the foot and ankle lead us to be able to that supination pronation conversation leads us to be able to better achieve that hip tuck.
So we’ve got so we’re working on that first so that we’ll do some bilateral squatting there, with both feet on the wedges. Yep. And then you’re going to do some work on the feet to promote pronation and supination. No question. Yeah. And can you tell us about that for a moment here?
[Bert Massey] 27:16
Well, there’s a gentleman who’s a big inspiration to me. And I learned a great deal from actually at the beginning of, you know, the way life throws something at you, quite literally, a couple of weeks before. We went into lockdown in March of 2020. I tore my ACL, and I then found Gary Ward, in his company anatomy and motion. And I kind of sat down.
He was on I think, Episode 25 of this show. Right? Right.
[Bert Massey] 27:47
Right. Yeah, he actually, you guys mentioned my name in there, which made me feel really good. Because it was just a need to do that connection to people that I think have largely influenced my career connecting is cool to see. And then if I’m even mentioned in a sentence, that’s pretty awesome.
[Bert Massey] 28:07
But Gary Ward and a lot of other people have this thought that we tie our feet up, we put them in bindings with arch supports, and heel-to-toe drops. And we have put we’ve taken away the mobility of our feet, and we’ve created stiff ankles, and we’ve forced mobility into knees, with these stiff ankles. And if you don’t have ankle mobility, your body is going to buy that mobility somewhere, could come from your knee, could come from your hips, but up the chain somewhere, the mobility that is should be in your foot will come from somewhere else. And you know, that’s a real problem with training and shoes and just a really big topic.
So how then, do you train? How do you train the feet to increase that? And we already talked about the importance of pronation and supination. Part of it is using Gary’s wedges, right? Yeah,
[Bert Massey] 29:15
Yeah. Yeah, that and that in the newbie, I mean, that is, that is that can be very difficult. Yes, you have a lot of bones and muscles and joints in your feet, but it’s a whole lot of tendons as well. And we know neuropathy is a problem in the world, meaning people lose neurological function in the control of their feet, in even feeling and I believe shoes and wearing shoes for our whole lives, obvious problems with high heels.
[Bert Massey] 29:46
But I mean even you know Nikes anything that doesn’t give your foot room to maneuver and shift from that pronation to supination is generally like binding for your foot. And when you bind up the foot, you’re again, you’re going to have to pay for that somewhere up the chain might be in the knee might be in the calf might be in the hamstring, you know, and that could be even in the neck. I know that Gary talks about that a lot that you know, if he can, it, let’s say, Take someone with a very high arched foot, and this person has arch supports in their shoes, and they lift and they run and they do everything in that that foot is basically like a hoof.
[Bert Massey] 30:34
And it never gets to move. And that person is now trying to claw at the ground with this stiff hoof, when you know, all those joints and tendons that are in that foot are incredibly important.
[Bert Massey] 30:49
So it could be something as simple as taking that foot, taking off all the constraints of it, and putting it in a shoe that allows that arch to flatten and pull back.
[Bert Massey] 31:01
But you know, plantar fasciitis and problems with the feet generally terrify people. So that’s where I think I truly think a newbie is an uncompetitive machine there and I spend a great deal of time using the newbie to mobilize and strengthen my clients in my athlete’s feet. Because it’s amazing what you’ll do if you fix a great example of my climbing partner,
[Bert Massey] 31:39
Rock climbing partner, likes to hike, great deals, and he was wearing Chaco sandals. And those Chaco sandals, you know, we would do our newbie work and I would know these feet, and we were working on knee pain you know, that kind of that patellar tendon pain.
[Bert Massey] 31:53
And he said, you know, I just went I hike, I just I don’t think it’s working, why do I still have this knee pain.
[Bert Massey] 32:00
And I said, you’ve got to take those shots, those tacos off and he switched from tacos to a zero sandal X Yarrow. And then he kept walking, and now he’s been in the Sierras for several weeks. And I think he’s hiked 80 Miles two or three times with absolutely zero knee pain and says his knee says his feet feel great. So sometimes, it’s as simple as working on something like that, and you can relieve the pain upstream.
Awesome, awesome. So we’ve got a few important pieces falling into place here, we’ve got that ability to maintain an appropriate pelvic tilt, posterior pelvic tilt, we can create motion in the feet, proper pronation supination in the feet. And that’s interesting. One of my favorite ways to describe that is to think of the feet like, like a megaphone, like an amplifier, if I say something into a megaphone, it gets projected out and it’s much louder, the further it gets.
And, in terms of the feet, two or three degrees of pronation in the right foot can lead to five or six degrees of internal rotation of the tibia, which can lead to 10 to 12, or 14 degrees of internal rotation at the hip. So that little bit of pronation in the foot creates, because of the way the bones are connected through the biomechanics creates this much more significant rotation up the chain,
Which helps give us this spring-like effect in gait or rotational movements? So important there. And then let’s talk about the next part of this training progression. If we’re implementing these concepts to help somebody improve their movement, what I think the next thing is going to be asymmetrical stance right? But you tell them what you tell us? Well, it depends on what’s next in your I would progress here, I would
[Bert Massey] 33:51
Probably give mention to the shoulders, thoracic and cervical spine, because we’ve kind of covered a bit of the core with that posterior tuck and thinking that, you know, I think reopening the idea with that posterior tuck that quite literally your cores job is to flex your hips and pull it up. I don’t think we are when we learn training. And when we discuss training, we don’t talk about that enough. That Hip Flexion is massively important.
[Bert Massey] 34:23
So I say we were walking not too long ago and my father-in-law did this deal where you know, you got to have a lip in the sidewalk where it’s raised, and he trips over the lip of the sidewalk. And it kind of triggered this thought in me, which is why armies March. And I’m thinking in my head and I’m like, Well, if you had a bunch of guys marching with packs on their back, and they were just slumping down looking at the ground, dragging their feet, they get really tired. Like after a while there’d be some serious back pain.
[Bert Massey] 34:53
And if we got to march 2030 miles in a day with 80-pound packs on, we better lean back and get those knees up to our chest to keep our abs active. So number one is in the core, but then also the shoulders. I think a very, very big misconception in both therapy and weightlifting, if I’m being honest, is this idea that we just have to retract, retract, retract, and retract the shoulders.
[Bert Massey] 35:20
The phrase that I hear clients use a lot is the pinch the pencil phrase with the shoulders, when really what I want to teach when we’re talking about this, athleticism is the best way to get your arm going forward. But to keep that arm connected to your ribcage, I don’t think that, you know, when we’re talking to skeletal alignment on all of these different things and rotation,
[Bert Massey] 35:45
I don’t think there’s enough talk given to the idea of how the air in rib cages expand, to quite literally touch the insides of the scapula, which gives more rotational components to the same conversation we were talking about, you know, the further I can internally rotate in our quarterback example, the further I can internally rotate my left shoulder to come across the further I can now externally rotate my right shoulder. So that requires an understanding of how ribcage and shoulder mechanics work. And then that I would just say is, you know, lose some idea of the pinching the shoulders and pinching the pencil and always keeping that down and back with the shoulders, kind of like with that anterior pelvic tilt.
So the ability to then if you’re, if we’re saying that people are doing too much down and back, we want less of that we want to work on, of course, the opposite protract initial. So then give us some of your thoughts on how to train effective protraction of the shoulders,
[Bert Massey] 36:54
I mean, let’s just look at something very simple as a push-up, you know, everybody in a push-up, gets to that, oh, let me get my shoulders down and back at the top of their push-up before they move, where I take a person if I’m coaching a push up at the top of that push-up,
[Bert Massey] 37:10
I want them to reach those arms forward through the ground, and then take their spine up to the ceiling as far as they can get. Imagine it like, you know, you’re in some kind of torture machine, it’s like holding your body against a wall, but then stretching your arms as far forward as you can get. I think just having that thought when doing something as simple as a unilateral or bilateral row is going to be huge.
[Bert Massey] 37:40
But then also the thought of like unilateral training in the upper body, like there’s, I have nothing wrong, or against a pressing motion, especially, you know, if you want to get on a bench, we can talk about the mechanics of the back of the shoulder. But for the simplicity of what we’re talking about, if I have two hands on the bench press, at the same time, I might be able to reach further with one arm than the other.
[Bert Massey] 38:06
So kind of using unilateral motions in the upper body is something I do a great deal of. So just making sure that you kind of teach the reach of the arms, reaching them forward as far as you can be that in a row, or be that in a press, of course, I’m impressed. It’s going to be at the top of the movement. And at the row, it’s going to be you know, the relaxation point where you can let those shoulders stretch forward, then use the spine to pull back and retract those shoulders.
And so if we’re talking about the example of a rotational athlete, which we keep going back to because that’s, you know, football and baseball, golf, tennis, that’s, I mean, that’s even basketball.
[Bert Massey] 38:47
Absolutely everything. I mean, anything, everything other than weightlifting,
Everything, yeah. So that ability to protract talks to us about how that translates into that ability to get better internal external rotation in the shoulder as well because you mentioned that is and that is absolutely a big thing that we’re after.
[Bert Massey] 39:07
Absolutely. And you know, it’s when we talk about that rotational athlete in that drawback be it in a golf swing or a quarterback. The further you know, we mentioned that the further I can go back into the drawback, the more I can build that spring to propel forward Well, on the front side of that body in that drawback, the further I can internally rotate that side, the further I can externally rotate the other side.
[Bert Massey] 39:38
So it’s this idea of mirror asymmetry is a word that I’ve heard Pat Davidson use sometimes I like it. It’s when I’m throwing or loading to sprint on the right side or swinging a golf club. I want the left side of my body to look internally rotated. And from the foot, all the way up to the shoulder. So the longer I can reach that shoulder, the more internal rotation I can get.
[Bert Massey] 40:10
Now the more whip, I can get going back the other direction, when I decide to uncoil, the spring, you know, it’s that idea of, I know, I brought this for our teaching today, but like a bow and arrow, bow and arrows are great, because I’m pushing forward with the one arm and pulling back with the other, which is literally that thoracic rotation, you know, we talked about the upper body exercises, I think, pushing one arm and pulling the other at the same time is one of the best possible upper body exercises you could do.
And that plays into the motor control of rotation. When you’re rotating to one side, if you’re rotating to your right, you’re looking at your spine, you have your extensors on the right, and your flexors on the left are contracting. There aren’t many muscles that are pure rotators, right, the flexors on one side matched with the extensors on the other side. So being able to push or create shoulder flexion on one side and pull or increase shoulder extension on the other side plays into that because it gets that almost global pattern along one side of the torso and the upper body on either side of the torso.
And that plays into increasing that rotation. Plus, it’s also such an obvious example of that metaphor of the spring. I mean, it’s we’re talking about loading the spring, I mean the bow and arrow is that you put all that effort into loading it, and you’d let go, and you get the return of that energy almost
[Bert Massey] 41:42
Absolutely. So and we don’t think about that enough, even as something as simple as the qualities of being a bipedal human. You know, there’s a lot of writing out there that you can find a lot of different places that explain, we are so unique because we’re bipedal humans, us being bipedal humans is what allows us to throw, it’s what allows us to sprint, it’s what allowed us, you know,
[Bert Massey] 42:11
if we don’t want to get off on a tangent about, you know, Paleolithic hunting or anything like that. But that’s what they did. I mean, you ran down animals, so that, you know, our perspiration would allow us to run farther than a deer not faster, but farther. And then once we got there, you know, you throw a spear editor, you throw a rock or something, and you’ve never seen a four-legged animal throw something. Even monkeys like they stink at throwing, like, you know, they might do that poor thing. But I don’t know how I can measure the distance on that, like, I don’t know about the accuracy of that.
So that’s a good thing. So we’ve got recapping some of the pieces of how we implement effective biomechanics into training, we’re working on the posterior pelvic tilt. With squatting, we’re working on mobilizing the feet. Using the Nubian and foot wedges, we’re working on increasing the ability to protract the scapula on both sides and depth typically asymmetrically and individually.
And that’s a really good one is that example of the bone marrow, for example, set example twice there. So then let’s talk about one more important piece here. Talk about some of that asymmetrical stance training, whether you know, split stance, lunge, gaining or lateral squatting, talking about that, and then the ability to fully get over onto one side, especially in the context of, you know, why that’s important, and how that’s missing for many people and can cause issues or limitations and movement?
[Bert Massey] 43:47
Sure. Twofold. I think. I start with the alignment things. Because if you start with the alignment, the posterior tuck the protraction of the shoulder, the pronation, and supination of the foot, then your asymmetrical stance should happen pretty well. It should happen far better than if you had missed all of those things, right? So you can’t go straight into these asymmetrical stances where I’m training transverse plane at like a maximum power. That’s somewhat of a recipe for disaster in some ways. And so you want to make sure you have that alignment.
[Bert Massey] 44:29
But then, once you do, viewing exercise is not so much as if I’m going to say train a split squat, right? That should cause a hike in my hips. And I think oftentimes, we’ve been taught as trainers. Oh, you need to look at their hips and make sure their hips stay perfectly even though they’re not even when you run. They’re not even when you move. So learning and training that a symmetrical stance where my front leg and my stance leg, that hip is not only higher than the left hip. But the more I can train it to be even higher than the left hip, that that’s the movements only going to improve the rotation is going to improve. Let me
Just for context, for everyone listening, let’s, let’s play this back to gait just walking again, which is very simple. So we’d call if you’re, if you’re walking, and you are, you’re propelling from your right leg onto your left, so you’re about to accept weight on your left, your left leg is becoming the stance leg, you’re going to hopefully contact the ground with the outside of your heel foot is going to be supinated.
And then as you accept weight on your left leg, you’re going to the feet going to pronate as you accept that weight. And as you pronate your knee and hip flex, you also go into abduction, ad induction, but instead of because the foot fixed to the ground, you’re not doing abduction like we normally think of it like you’re lifting your foot and bringing it in towards the midline or across the midline.
You’re doing abduction, in the form of a hip hike. Yeah, so when your left leg is in stance, your left hip should hike up. And so we have this blend of flexion adduction and internal rotation, which is the three movements that all e centrically. Load, for example, the glute muscle, right, and so that then lengthens the glute, which prepares your glute to help create an extension in that push-off phase of gait. So So that combination when you’re talking about an in a split squat, or a lunge type movement, that front leg having the hip hike, that’s where that comes from. And that’s, that’s so important. I wanted to tie it together to gait there just to lay that foundation major kind of connect the dots for people. So please continue on that when you’re trying Oh,
[Bert Massey] 46:52
That’s, that’s you, you probably said it more technically well than I could. That’s exactly what I want. And then there’s a question of, Do you want to coach that? And you could see in that stance, if they’ve ever example of a split squat, let’s use a right leg forward split squat because that’s the easiest for people to imagine. If you were in that stance and all your weight was on that right leg, there would be things that you could check with that alignment. Yes, you could see the hip hike. Yes, if you the person where you can see the person’s spine, the spine would look like a C curve to that right side, when they’re doing the split squat,
C curve, the sea-facing out to the right or out to the left facing
[Bert Massey] 47:40
Out to the right, so the opening of the see to the right, because I’m going to pull the hip up. And then if I’m going to coach that hip hike, I can coach the shoulder down on the same side. Good, because that’s going to, yeah, so that’s going to pull into our right-handed load of the spring there, the more I coach that, the more powerful the motion gets, which is completely contrary to everything I’ve read in books and things when I was learning to be a personal trainer, we’re all we got to keep the spine straight, we got to keep the spine straight,
[Bert Massey] 48:21
We got to keep the spine straight. No, I’m coaching. When we start talking asymmetrical stances, I’m coaching more curvature of the spine, but making sure that you can do it to both sides. You know, that’s the big thing that you know, a lot of times with an athlete, everyday people, general population, sometimes you get to where that spine just stuck. And it doesn’t curve either way.
[Bert Massey] 48:48
But if you take a great athlete, and I don’t know this about any of our examples that we’ve used, because I’ve not trained them, they might be able to create a much greater curve to the right side in that asymmetrical stance than they are to the left side. That’s not to say I want to train them to be left-handed or ambidextrous. But I do believe that ambidextrous is ideal. In a perfect world, even though we don’t live in a perfect world. And Pat manholes is never going to be able to throw as well left-handed as he does right-handed. That’d be cool, though.
That is what’s interesting, because we live in a primarily right-handed world, and talk to us about what you observe in the blends of people that you see in your training and coaching. You know, based on our conversations, it seems like you’ve observed and so have I, and, commonly, people are more right-sided dominant people tend to load the right side more and how does that how would you observe that or, you know, tell us more about one, how that would present into what it means.
[Bert Massey] 49:58
It means that There’s a, there’s a, an explanation from a company called Postural Restoration Institute. And they put a great deal of emphasis on the fact that your liver is down around the lower limb ribs on the right. And in the front, and your heart is up in the upper left compartment, they have an idea that that is what creates rotation toward that liver on the right side.
[Bert Massey] 50:29
And that’s why most of the world is right-handed. Doesn’t matter whether or not you believe that what you observe when you start training people, as far as causation, is what you observe when you start training people is people have dexterity in their right hand, people can create movement with their right leg and the right hip, they can open up the right hip far more, if you ask a lot of people, you get a little tricky on the stance stuff. Because I like to use the test of asking a client when they debate me on Oh, no, my left leg is my strong leg. I say if you had to kick that door open, what leg would you use? It’s almost always writing it in what I think the numbers like 90-something percent of the world is right-handed. And then you’ve got all the old-timey stuff about left-handed people being sinister and evil
And all that. Yeah, used to make left-handed people. Right, right, right,
[Bert Massey] 51:31
Right, right in the world is built for us to be right-handed. So you’ve quickly entered a chicken or the egg argument there. But it doesn’t matter. It’s what you observe. And so by observing this, I find many problems can be relieved by working on the opposite side. Quite often, that becomes a right hip problem, where if I build a left side, but the left side strength and dexterity and concentric movement forward, then it’ll relieve a lot of those pains on the right side.
[Bert Massey] 52:10
And that’s just something I’ve observed over the years and something I’ve come to feel pretty strongly about on the foot end, I think you run into more bunions on the right foot, and more collapsed arches on the right foot. And on the left side, you run into more high arch stiff ankles, it’s not to say it can’t be the other way around, you’re just going to observe that very often.
And so if someone has a, a better side, for example, where they can get into that, loading that side, get that hip height, get the lateral flexion in the spine to that side, they often will have a side where they’re better and training them to be able to assume that same stance, right on the other side can be very helpful
[Bert Massey] 53:00
Because Mac Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. You’re not going to you know, and we’re talking we’re here to talk about athletic performance this weekend. I’m not going to ever take the specifically an athlete, and tell them how to use their opposite side as if they were ever going to use it competitively. I just want you to be competent over there. I want you to be able to get there. I don’t believe that you would ever reverse that process.
[Bert Massey] 53:32
You know, like I don’t believe that if Pat Mahomes retired from football tomorrow, he would never do this by the way. But if he did tomorrow and only started throwing left-handed I don’t think it would ever be would develop the arm strength on his left side that he does on his right.
[Bert Massey] 53:50
But we did have a cool example in the Olympics. Very recently what we’re talking about where there was the US Women’s sprinter Sydney McLaughlin, who set the world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles.
[Bert Massey] 54:02
If you go back and look at the story about her, they made her run with I can’t remember whether it was right or left but she had to jump hurdles with her opposite leg for a year and she got killed in these track meats and got embarrassed because she built her career off of leading I believe she was leading with her right leg.
[Bert Massey] 54:27
And they are might have been left like I’m not sure but they made her lead with the opposite leg and she got this new coach and completely trusted him and she went to the meats and competed and got crushed, jumping with his other leg. And then finally, you know it’s like he took the tape off and it was like now go and now she can jump with either leg. And that is the sole reason why she beat Delilah Mohammed, the other favorite women’s 400-meter track hurdler who got the silver medal in the Olympics. So
That’s fascinating. I didn’t I didn’t know that story. Yeah, cool.
[Bert Massey] 55:03
It’s you know, and there was a similar thing I’ve said when I’m talking about the Olympics now, and based on our discussion, go back and look at the men’s and women’s 400-meter hurdles. In the men’s there was a Norwegian guy, Carsten Warhol, great name, and ride, Benjamin is the American, and you can watch that race.
[Bert Massey] 55:27
And in the last 100 meters of that race, you can see Carson more home, throwing his arms harder, and further to get more speed. And he does. And if you go back and watch the whole race, I think Carson Warham is switching legs, but he might be just using his left leg I’m not positive, and right Benjamin only jumps with his right. And that’s why Carson Warhol one even I believe I saw Neil deGrasse Tyson even commented on this, because he thought it was fascinating, like physics-wise.
Oh, cool. Very good. Well, we’ll have to find this and put it in the notes for the show here so we can give everyone a chance to check that out. Very good. While we’re talking about examples of biomimicry, biomechanics in action, and how it can help athletic performance, you and I have had this ongoing conversation about the biomechanics of baseball pitching, and just let everyone in on this conversation we’ve been having about how the biomechanics of pitching and Major League Baseball are evolving and some of what’s happening there.
[Bert Massey] 56:32
There are now you know, the when we were growing up, Nolan Ryan was, man, that’s the heater. You know, nobody can throw as hard as Nolan Ryan. And it was very rare. And then it was Randy Johnson. And you had these guys that were there, these few handfuls of guys that can throw 100 miles an hour. Then we had the steroid era and baseball and now baseball is upset because games are going like two to one.
[Bert Massey] 56:59
And these pitchers are just killing these hitters. And there are now more pitchers in the MLB that throw over 100 miles an hour than there have ever been. And we have this example of pitchers coming into the league throwing 9495. And then two or three years later, they throw 103 and 104. These are you know, 2425, sometimes even older. And this has even happened after a Tommy John surgery, where you know, Tommy John used to end your career, guys come back, they learn the mechanics of biomechanics of throwing how to train the posterior shoulder, and then they come back and they throw harder.
[Bert Massey] 57:41
So we have this phenomenon in the MLB, where they’ve always been on the cutting edge of innovation, we can call it cheating in a lot of cases. But you know, they’re looking for an edge all the time. And what they’ve figured out is they can teach these pitchers proper biomechanics. And when they get those proper biomechanics, right, the ball spin, the spin rate, all of that changes, and they get better and they throw harder. And that is just a completely revolutionary thought in sports that I think you can apply to any rotational sport, which is what we’ve been talking about. It just so happens that we have the exact example that we’re talking about right now in the Major League.
That’s, that’s awesome. And that’s an exciting topic for us here a new thing we’ve had the privilege of working with. Now, eight or nine major league baseball teams, yes, and dozens of players and many pitchers and so to see this blend, of knowledge of biomechanics paired with using the newbie to help them access and activate the right muscles at the right time. And that biomechanical sequence is very cool.
And we have countless pitchers now using the newbie on their own or with their teams to activate their muscles as part of their movement prep before they go out and pitch use it to help recover between starts or between outings if they’re a reliever and it’s cool to see so that that’s a good kind of segue into our conclusion here where we’re, we’re spending this weekend
[Bert Massey] 59:22
Quick question. Yeah, sure. If you think of like pitchers and different wind-ups and things because I was a baseball player in high school and so I love thinking about the mechanics of wind up right and if you think about the mechanics for wind up getting back into like our childhood was roughly where it close to the same age. Who do you think of the most I want to see if it coincides with me.
When I think of wind up the first one that comes to mind is Hideo Nomo, that’s exactly what I was going to say because he had the most you know, that dude understood the term unique and interesting right and exaggerate. Yeah, his eyes would
[Bert Massey] 1:00:01
Leave the plate. Yeah, that’s great because I mean No, no bull that is sad and talks about that is the exact example I was going to say because he you know and there is that example of those players that come from Asia like the Ichiro Suzuki, you know, in the Hideo Nomo, there’s that granular understanding of that rotation, you know, where Ichiro would only hit it to between shortstop and third for the entire MLB preseason. But he would just hit it there the whole time and they’d be like, Ichiro.
[Bert Massey] 1:00:35
Why don’t you know, full swing, hit a home run, and he was like, No, I need to get my swing down so that I know where I’m hitting the ball and eat Cheerios thing is that he could put the ball wherever he wanted to put it. And now we have, you know, we talked about Hideo Nomo. Now we have Shohei Otani, the first guy, since Babe Ruth, to come along who can pitch and hit. There’s no reason why if you’ve got a healthy athlete that understands rotation, you can’t have guys pitch in hit. I don’t know anything about Shohei Otani his routine training or anything, I just see it as a possibility in the world.
Well, he happens to be for one work playing for one of those seven or eight teams that we work with there. So there we go was mentioned that
[Bert Massey] 1:01:19
Fly me out to work on Shohei Otani
Their staff is there is that as your I mean, you you’re bright and could help them, fortunately, their staff is bright. I’ve gotten to know them. That’s awesome. Over the years, over the last two or three years, yeah. They’re doing great work. They’re in Anaheim. Now. Yeah. Yeah.
So that’s, that’s, you know, we did a deep dive into some of the biomechanics here. And ultimately, that is how we’re implementing it is using this knowledge in these concepts as exercises with the newbie, to help amplify and accelerate, if we have this concept, as a coach, as a therapist, of wanting to help somebody improve the ability to, to hike their hip, or rotate onto that side, or load that spring and be able to more powerfully create that movement.
There are exercises that we can do, and you know, it’ll take a while, if we use the newbie, we can get there faster, more efficiently, and more safely get that load more targeted, more precise. And that, of course, is everything that we’re filming this weekend taking these concepts, and combining them with the new be using technology to help amplify and accelerate the process of training here.
And I’m excited about what we’re filming here grateful to you for being here and sharing all of this and you’ve spent a lot of time putting in the 10,000 hours to piece it all together and come up with a coherent and effective approach and strategy for assessing, implementing, and improving all of the clients who are in front of you. And everyone who’s listening who has a new beat or this course this athletic performance course will be out in the next couple of months.
Yes, I’m the time when we’re recording this. We’ve got you to know, a couple of pieces, a couple of modules to film and video editing and such. So sometime around the end of this year, absolutely will be out there. And if people want to check you out, Bert, where do we find you on social or at adapt? We got to shout out. So you’re using the new Viet adapt fitness. We got a shout out our Yep, our friend bow. Alexander. Yeah,
[Bert Massey] 1:03:26
We’re in the same city as the new fit HQ. We’re just downtown. And we have some other things that they don’t have here. But they have things that we have. They have things that we don’t have here at the HQ, so at adapt fitness, in Austin, on Instagram at Massey BV. And just you know, stay tuned to that there could be a lot more coming out of that pretty soon. So and thank you again, sincerely.
[Bert Massey] 1:03:51
I am it’s an honor to be here. I’ve admired we’ve been friends for a long time. But I say when you’re not around, and you know, sometimes you don’t compliment your friends directly to their faces. But what you’ve created here is amazing. I mean, it’s going to change the world. And I say all the time that it’s a billion-dollar machine because we’re talking about it from an athletic standpoint, but you know, the newbie is a truly game-changing device and I’m just happy to be associated with it.
Awesome. Well, it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to work with you. Thank you for coming in and sharing your knowledge and we really can all do better and get further and further. So hopefully I hope to be back some time. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together.
That’s it. That’s it. It’s a great note on which to end this episode. Thank you everybody for tuning in to the undercurrent podcast. Be sure to like and subscribe if you are into that sort of thing and the podcast. And if you are please feel free to leave a review on your favorite platform as well that helps us get the word out about this and get in front of more people and Help share the knowledge and spread the message. Thanks again for tuning in. Thanks, Bert for being here. Thank you. We’ll catch you in the next episode. Thank you so much for listening to the undercurrent podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving a review and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date as we release future episodes.