Monthly Archives: April 2014

MobilityWOD Quick Start Guide

I discovered MobilityWOD (MWOD) last year and love the content they put up. It has really opened my eyes on my own problems and limitations, for which I never really had good solutions for – but now I do. My education on anatomy and proper movement and mobility has gone way up as a result of their presentation of the material – previously it seemed like you had to be some health professional to understand what was going on. All these big words and concepts – nothing ever stuck until now.
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett of MWOD is an amazing book. His site is an extension of the book, kept up to date in real time with developments from him and his staff. While the content came out of Crossfit circles, it is relevant to any athletic activity.
In the forums, I posted this entry on how to start with MWOD. Despite the approachable nature of the material (formerly unapproachable in big medical and scientific terms), it is still a lot to take in. So here is my short cut (with minor edits from the forum post) to getting started with MWOD and how to diagnose and fix your particular problems:
I can feel for you. When I started going through the material, it was daunting. In fact, it still is as more gets added each day. And then, as my PT likes to tell me, year over year the philosophies can change (like Kstarr’s stance on icing, where it’s promoted in his early videos and not in his later ones). But yet those videos are still up! Dang it!
Here’s my suggestion for a template on shortening the process:
1. Get Becoming A Supple Leopard (BSL). Watch some of the early MWOD videos, Episode 1 and 2.
2. I would definitely spring for at least a month of PRO access to watch the webinars. They also give you a sense for the problem areas on most athletes. Once your understanding increases, your ability to address problems increase.
I would also highly recommend subscribing monthly to PRO. The videos there are updated daily in DailyRx, and there is always something new I learn, some little detail I missed the last time through.
3. I would then go into BSL and read the early chapters 1,2,3,4. Pay attention to the various tests there, like deep squat and evaluating external and internal rotation at the shoulders and hips. Try some of those. Are there any that you cannot do? If so, then work on that. That can give you a start on identifying which areas can be improved, even if you have no visible problems now.
4. Get a lacrosse ball, Battlestar Big and Little, Supernova, Gemini, Voodoo bands, Rogue Fitness bands green and black, Yoga Tune Up Alpha Ball and Therapy Balls (Yes this can set you back a lot of cash but it IS WORTH IT). Use these in your mobs (short for mobilizations) to work on those areas you want to improve.
Select a test like a deep squat that you want to improve. Use mobs for the relevant areas. After each mob, get up and test the squat again. If improved, remember this mob for future work. Keep going to next mob. stop, get up and test again, etc. etc. It can take days/weeks to achieve the full ROM in a given test or it might take an hour.
5. You can also use mobs to see if you need to work on an area. I often go down into banded distraction hip openers, only to find that I don’t have any significant corners to release. So i don’t hold those for 2 minutes but quickly move to the next mob.
6. Are you into a certain sport? There are videos that pertain to certain sports. that can also speed up the process by getting you to focus on a given area(s).
Yes there is a lot. i would slowly work into it. it’s all very interesting when you start digging in. and yes it is kinda overwhelming in the beginning.
If you live near a good MWOD trained PT or movement specialist, they can show you what a process looks like live. I did some sessions with Roop Sihota and it was awesome watching how he evaluates and goes through the process. I also video the session so i can go back and review later.

I loved the MWOD process so much that I went (and suffered through) a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer course, and am heading for the Movement and Mobility Prep Course, taught by MWOD staff.

ARPWave Search and Destroy for Knee Tweak Part I

About 3 weeks back, I tweaked my left knee. I was practicing some medicine ball cleans after I took a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer weekend seminar and on one of rise ups from the clean, my left knee must have drifted inward and I got a twinge of pain on the outside of the knee. I was hoping it would go away, but it didn’t. It lingered and was making my leg not feel correct.
I then remembered reading about how therapists were using the ARPwave electrostim machines to help people heal faster from knee injuries. I had already tried out their Search & Destroy (S&D). But going for only a session or two on a given problem didn’t give me longevity on the solution. The problem seemed to get better for a while and then it came back.
Also since I train with an ARPwave POV, we often talk about how to reinforce a training state for a long period of time. If an athlete can get to max power on the ARPwave POV and complete 40 sessions at this power with no compensation, they can maintain this heightened training state for as long as a sports season, maybe longer.
With this in mind, I thought back to the fact that my previous S&D sessions seemed to provide a solution to the physical problems I had, but it was short lived. I also thought to the fact that some people will rent one of their therapeutic machines, the RX100 or Trainer, and live with it for many weeks. Putting two and two together, I figured that if I were to rent a machine and use it nearly every day for many days until the problem was solved, then I could get more completeness in the treatment and longevity in the results.
I rented a Trainer from ARPwave Austin. Via a Skype video call, they led me through In-Balance technique (mimicking a technique that chiropractors do with physical manipulation), then S&D on the left leg. S&D found some “hotspots” on the top of my rectus femoris, and along my vastus lateralis, and another lesser “hot” spot on my vastus medialis (VMO). Choosing the two hotter spots, I put stim pads on them:

Now came the fun part. My movement was to squat 5 times, and then increase power, over a period of 5 minutes on one polarity and then repeat with reverse polarity. At maximum frequency of 500 pulses per second (PPS), my muscles quickly contracted into big knots as I increased power! When I reached my current tolerance, I would then perform 5 squats. Adaptation (amazingly) occurs within the 5 squats, and now it doesn’t feel so bad any more. I crank the power again and once again my leg muscles seize up. Then I force my way through 5 squats, finding that it gets easier with each rep. I adapt once again! I crank the power again, grimacing at the new higher level. I repeat the squat reps, and adding power in between sets.
I should also say I learned my lesson from my first times with S&D – if you don’t eat enough, you’ll be horribly sore for days after. So now whenever I do S&D, I drink a protein drink of about 37g of protein (2 scoops BCAAs 10g, 3 scoops Muscle Synthesis 22g, 2 Tbsp Upgraded Collagen) before and after the S&D. Then I also try to eat .75lb – 1lb of beef or lamb in the meals following. By doing this, I manage to stay soreness-free and am able to be recovered enough to do S&D the next day.
I did this on as many days as possible following. There were definitely days off in between, but I tried to do it every day. Each day, I managed to reach max power a little earlier until I could just put it up to max power on the first try. The rectus femoris hotspot disappeared very quickly, and I switched to working the VMO instead.
My VMOs deserve some further discussion. The first inkling I had there was trouble with them was running the NYC Marathon and then the LA Marathon. In both times, I was pushing hard but miles before the finish, my right VMO cramped out on me. Then, during training with EVOultrafit and my POV, I always found that my VMOs, if they were part of an electrostim pad placement, limited my ability to take high power. As soon as I reached a certain level, they would seize up and prevent me from moving.
It turns out that as a training tool, the POV tries to get your muscles to be used to firing at a higher rate and with stronger contractions, thereby allowing it to perform at a higher level.
I was not surprised that a hotspot was also found on the left VMO, and so after my rectus femurs hotspot disappeared, I switched to working on my VMO. Sure enough it seized up, but going through the S&D protocol, I was able to more quickly increase power and adaptation to high rates of contraction and contraction strength.
After reaching max power on the ARP Trainer on the first interval of movements, I moved onto the strengthening phase.
This involved putting the pads on both sides of my body, first putting them on the original hotspots on the left leg, and then mirroring them on the right leg. So now, I was going to hit up my right VMO but without having the benefit of going through some days of Trainer work on it. As soon as I powered up my first strengthening phase, I marveled at the difference in feeling between my left VMO, which was just sitting there taking the power, and my right VMO, which had seized up but was adapting quickly.
Strengthening involved three movements:
1. Stomp Squat – you are sitting, then stomp both feet on the ground to shoot yourself to standing.
2. Isometric Hamstring Curls – you are sitting, then try to pull your feet into the ground via your hamstrings as well as curl the heels back.
I did 1 and 2 alternating for about 10 minutes. In between each pair of movements, I would attempt to increase power a little more until I was at maxa power. After the 10 minutes, I would jump into:
3. Standing Leg Extensions – stand on one leg, bring other leg up to horizontal. Kick out foot, pause for 1 count, then bring back. Repeat on both sides.
This I did for 5 minutes. Once again, I was supposed to increase power, but by this time I had already adapted to max power and just did these straight through.
I did strengthening until I could achieve max power on the first interval. The limiting factor was my right VMO which had to come up the adaptation curve.
The last piece was a sprint test, to make sure there was no more pain at all. I was to run sprints, 10 at 50% effort, 10 at 75% effort, and then 10 at 100% effort. If there was any pain of about 2 out of 10 or above, I was to stop and keep going at strengthening.
So I got on my old running shoes, not looking forward to this as I had not run at all since 2012! I managed to get up to 100% for 6 reps, at which time my right groin was getting super tight. Not wanting to risk a groin pull, I stopped (and also because my times were starting to rise and I could not keep up 100% effort). It was, however, good enough evidence that the process was completed and that I could be back in action.
My thinking now is that while some issues can be resolved with only one session of S&D, there are some issues that require more regular time with the protocol. It was definitely worth it to rent the machine first to address my left knee tweak, and then get my VMOs to a higher level of performance.
I am really curious, however, on whether or not my right VMO will cramp out again during a marathon. This will have to wait – too busy to train for such a long event, and I hope I can maintain its level of performance until I get time to train again.
Now that I had this ARP Trainer here, I decided to keep it for a few more weeks and address another nagging problem: my left shoulder which gets sore during wide grip pullups and swimming. Stay tuned for part II.