Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Get This Book! {Dang it! I gotta change my favorite cue}.


I first came upon Dr. Kelly Starrett a couple of years ago from a link to his blog, MobilityWod. The post had to do with the first part of a Kettlebell Turkish Get Up (this is not the video. I can never find it. This clip is a good demo of what the exercise is though). I had never even heard of the exercise, but I instantly fell in love with the Turkish Get Up and kettlebells.

Over the next couple of years I would check in with Starrett's MWod site, but I've never been a religious follower. Now he has written a book, Becoming A Supple Leopard:The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance. A book I highly recommend everyone get.

Is it a book for just the athlete or athletic coach? Nope. It's a book for anyone in possession of a body. Which is to say, everyone. It is not necessarily a book that you set aside an afternoon and read cover to cover in one sitting. You could if you wanted to though. I myself haven't completed it. Although I have thumbed through it in its entirety a few times as I continue on my journey of reading it cover to cover.

Filled with wisdoms and clear and helpful photos, Supple Leopard addresses the basics of human movement. The basics of how one stands, sits, bends or squats and its implications for the mechanical health of the body of the office worker to the elite athlete. Starrett works a great deal on the basics with the full spectrum of human movement in mind. He has worked with all kinds of athletes, including dancers and MMA fighters, as well as fire fighters, military personnel and law enforcement officers. His book is written for the movements that humans must do to function as well as the amazing physical feats humans are capable of. Given that, it is a book that I think critical for trainers and coaches. But again, it's not solely for those in the Phys. Ed. Dept. Starrett spends a lot of time describing ways that we all can diagnose flaws in our functional movement technique, and then set about trying to correct them.

One aspect that I have found amazing, enlightening and helpful is his cue of the vertical shin in the basic squat. The vertical shin refers to the alignment of the knee over the ankle during a squat. The chain of the hips, knees and ankle are aligned so the shin remains vertical throughout the squat. Starett claims that this revelation is worth the price of the book, and I concur. But don't let my paltry explanation be a substitute for what is contained in Supple Leopard. There is so much more. Get the book! The book doesn't just focus on squats, but the whole body, and chains of movement that affect the whole body.

Vertical shins and squats brings me to how I must now change one of my favorite cues. For quite a while I have cued shifting weight towards the heels during a squat, especially an unweighted squat (using only one's body weight as resistance).  Not necessarily completely shifting weight to the heels, but a considerable amount. From reading Dr. Starrett's book, I now understand that I need to move away from that and shift the focus to centering the weight through the ankles and down through the floor. It is not a complete shift to the front, or balls of the feet, but rather "screwing" the weight down through the floor via the more central section of each foot. Which of course makes perfect sense when one must execute a movement on one leg (think pistol squat) or is doing a weighted squat (back, front or overhead). He has a great three-squat series of unweighted squats that each have a different position for the arms, which in turn affects the alignment of the upper body in relation to the lower body during squats. The back squat, front squat and overhead squat are each represented. Wanna see it? Get the book. Ha!

Live, learn, improve and pass it on.

Get the book already, will ya!

Thanks for hanging out.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Miss Erin, I really need this for my son especially. I just put a request in for it at the library! You must know though, when I first saw the title I thought it read..Becoming A Supple Leotard. I should I hope so! That's the way the tiny dancer in me sees things.