Hello and welcome! We're talking about the kinetic chain checkpoints, which some of you may, or may have never, heard of. Well, at least not with this name! If you've ever been to a gym or ever worked out at all, you have probably paid attention to these or had a trainer check these out. But, it's probably not something that you have ever really paid attention to for yourself, or if you have, you didn't know that they have this fancy name of kinetic chain checkpoints! Let's get to it! Today we are talking about the kinetic chain checkpoints, and this is probably one of my favorite topics as a trainer because this is what I focus on every single day whether I'm with a class or if I'm with a client. The kinetic chain checkpoints are your feet and ankles, your knees, your hips, your shoulders and your head. If you noticed, we started from the ground up. So, again, when I am with a client whether it's one-on-one or a big class, when I instruct or am queuing a particular exercise, I'm always starting from the ground up, and I'm focusing on those five chain checkpoints and making sure that everything is neutral, that everything is aligned. As I start talking about these chains, you're going to hear me say a lot of ‘you want to be neutral’. If you are, again, starting from the ground up, and you're looking at yourself or someone else, you want to look at the anterior view, or the front side of your body. We'll start at the feet and ankles. Your ideal position here is straight and parallel; if you're standing, you want your feet to be about hip width apart and facing directly forward. You do not want your feet to be flattened, as this is also known as foot pronation, or when the toes point outward. This can lead to your ankles rolling inward, which is very common. Let’s say you go to the mall or somewhere really busy, look at people's feet and their positions. A lot of people have foot pronation! The common problem with the feet and ankles is not just an imbalance of this specific area, but muscle imbalance throughout the entire kinetic chain. Again, we start from the ground up, and that's how your body works, too. If you're having issues with your feet and ankles, more times than not you're also going to have issues throughout your entire kinetic chain. This can lead to foot and ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain. A lot of people experience lower back pain and it can start down at your feet and ankles. Without proper alignment in this area, it may enhance other symptoms of dysfunctions throughout your body (and we could go on for days about that!). Let's move up to the knees! The knees should be in line with your toes. Imagining your feet are hip width apart and they're facing directly forward, your knees should be right above your ankles. You do not want your knees to be in an adduction position. Adduction means moving towards the midline of your body; think add. You're adding, you're moving inward. You also do not want your knees to be in an abduction position, that is away from the midline. Issues if the knees are either adducted or abducted, if the knees are in an adduction position (remember moving towards the midline of the body), this typically means that your hips are now internally rotated and that your feet are experiencing foot pronation. Imagine that you're standing in front of the mirror and your knees are adducting, or knocking in, your hips are now internally rotating, but your ankles are externally rotating. Imagine the line of your legs! Well, there is no line! It's probably similar to a very dominant v-shape from your hips, to the knees, and then back out to your ankles. For example, back when I was starting to exercise, I was moving from body weight squats to adding a little bit of weight, and when I started using bands I knew that it was too heavy because my knees were caving in, and you can really feel that it’s a bit too heavy. You can really feel that! Not only do the knees go in, but your feet and your ankles actually do change position. You see this so often, especially at big gyms when people are trying to pump that weight, but it's quality over quantity 100 percent. I’d rather you do eight really good squats with 10 pounds versus 20 horrible squats with 100 pounds; focus on your posture. You can see how that would be a big issue if it's targeting your hips, to your knees all the way down to your ankles, and again this can cause a lot of pain and a lot of people might not even realize that they're in pain. They've had that dysfunction for so long that sometimes you actually experience pain when you're targeting the underactive and overactive muscles to correct the issue. Moving north again, we're heading to the hips and pelvis. This is also known as your lumbo pelvic hip complex, and your ideal position for this area is neutral. I work a lot with females and we work a lot with pelvic tilts, as they're very important and very healthy all around. So, how do you know if your hips are neutral? First, stand tall and you put your hands on top of your hip bones. Think of tucking the tailbone under and then driving your belly button to your spine, this is also known as an anterior pelvic tilt. You're just tucking everything in! This entire complex has a massive influence on your entire posture. It's common to see, especially in females, is that anterior pelvic tilt. This is where the hip flexors are shortened and there's an increased curvature in the lower spine. Think of your lower lumbar like you have an increased curve and the butt pops out, and the belly drops down. Know that your entire body is a complete interconnected chain, so compensation and dysfunction in this complex leads to other dysfunctions in the entire body. Continuing to move north, we'll head to the shoulders. With the shoulders, you want them to be level. You want to avoid any kind of shrugging or having them round forward. A common problem I'm going to talk about is rounding of the shoulders. When you are in a seated position, or when you're standing and the shoulders are rounding forward, our anterior muscles, mainly the pectoralis major and minor, become tight due to always being in that shortened state. Think of where your shoulders are when you're seated. They’re rounded, or forward, meaning those muscles are shortened. Now, on the other hand, your posterior muscles within that shoulder complex, your traps, rhomboids, your rotator cuff and that whole region, become lengthened and weak. Therefore, you're probably experiencing some movement compensations due to the musculature in that region being either overactive or underactive. This is a super side note, but ever since I started working from home two years ago, I'm definitely experiencing some of the tightness within my chest and then the weakness within my back. Because I used to work at a gym, I was moving plates, dumbbells, up and down cleaning. Now that I'm working from home and I'm seated more, I can definitely see the tightness and the weakness throughout my upper body and my shoulder complex. I’ve been working from home for 16 years now I believe, and before that stage in my life I used to be a very frequent gym goer. Then, there was a period where I let go, but when I came back I definitely did feel this, too! I ended up including a lot more stretches than I usually wouldn’t do, and getting the whole shoulder area back in place. My traps were so tight that I actually had physical therapy done. I got some acupuncture done because everything was just so out of whack due to so many years sitting down and just finding that quote-unquote comfortable position where your body starts compensating. So, when I started working out seriously, I really noticed the corrections afterwards and paid attention to this. I notice that I do sit a lot better than I used to, and it’s definitely something that if you work sitting down, it’s something you can notice really quickly, even by looking at other people. I more easily notice when somebody is sitting down, and I'll think, hmm… their posture is incorrect. It's so much more common as a lot of us are working from home and this little device that we always have in our hand throughout the day, you know… our phones! You're always creating that downward motion or that seated state. So, yes. This is something that we all need to pay attention to, and that could be an episode on itself; corrective exercises for shoulders rounding forward. Lastly, let’s discuss our head position. Your ideal position is neutral. Not tilted or protruding forward, or ‘popping out’. Most commonly you'll see forward head protrusion when looking at the head, and again, you see this so often with us working from home, and especially being on our phones, we're looking down so much. That's where the head is protruding forward. This puts a lot of pressure on your cervical spine. As a side note again, I'm noticing I have some pain that I've never experienced before in my cervical spine, from that constant chin being tucked down to my chest. Even if I'm sitting up tall and looking at my computer, you're still in that slight downward motion, and unless you're standing and kind of gazing towards the horizon, you can feel that pressure. So, as previously mentioned, our entire body is an interconnected chain. This postural dysfunction can lead to extreme compensations within the entire body and more so movement compensations due to regional musculature being either overactive or underactive. Why do we want to focus on our kinetic chain and those checkpoints that we just chatted about? First and foremost, to experience less pain, and if you're looking in the mirror and you notice that you have some dysfunctions within that chain and you don't feel pain, try focusing on some corrective exercises. Not saying that you're going to feel pain, but you're going to feel a little discomfort as you begin to correct the issue. This is mainly because you're working on weak muscles and trying to self release the overactive muscles. Sometimes I feel as though we compensate because we don't want to feel the pain, right? Then not knowing how to correct those issues can add a challenge. Side note here, you do not have to fix this yourself. We actually don't recommend that you try to fix this yourself right away. All of this information is for you to pay attention to the next time you’re exercising. This doesn't mean that if you suddenly realize that these checkpoints are out of whack, that you need to force yourself to start doing everything in a neutral position, because it’s going to hurt! Corrections are not a night and day transition. If you’re listening to this episode and suddenly you feel like you need to do everything perfectly, but are unaware of where to start, ask for help! If you're not in our program, you can either find a trainer, or better yet ask Shannon! If you realize that these chains are not really lined up how they should, avoid getting in your head that you're supposed to ‘just fix’ this yourself. Get some help, get somebody who actually knows what they're doing, as I recommend working with an individual with credentials. Us as trainers, we look at your weaknesses and your strengths, we have to work those areas differently. A weakened muscle is a lot different than an overactive muscle, and I feel the general public does not always have all of the knowledge to fix everything perfectly… I don't even have all of the knowledge! But we have more knowledge on how to really accommodate those specific muscles such as corrective exercises and then self-myofascial release, focusing on fewer injuries. This is my favorite to chat about, because I'm all about instructing and training through your kinetic chain. As we work together, I want you to be targeting and firing all of the correct muscles. It's amazing when you do a squat and all of the ‘things’ are aligned and firing, it's the best feeling ever! I love it so much when a client says something along the lines of ‘Oh my gosh, I felt my glutes engaging in that squat!’ Sometimes that’s what a client has been aiming for the last month or two, as it’s not an overnight process. The last reason why the kinetic chain is so important, is it's a good way to especially start every standing exercise, because you're already in a neutral position. Start from the ground up and figure out your checkpoints. Now when you're lying down, either in a supine position or in a prone position, you can target and fire those same muscles. It's a good way to avoid just moving through the motions. We see this a lot in yoga, for example you're in that mountain pose: think about how you're positioned, it takes five seconds to go through, asking yourself am I standing properly to start this movement, or check-in and see how I am feeling in my body. All of this leads us very nicely to a freebie that we're giving out! Head to The Core or go to this episode and it's going to be in the episode notes. We have a kinetic checkpoint infographic for you. It's an image that has all the checkpoints and what you're aiming for. Print this out so you can put this in your home gym or take it to the gym with you or download it on your phone, whatever works better for you! But this is a way that you can actually look at all of these points and ask: what am i doing with my feet, what am i doing with my ankles, my knees, and going all the way up. It's this visual reminder that you can have with you to evaluate yourself and ask for help where you don't look right, and progress from there. Or let’s say you have the sheet out or have it up on your phone and you go to a gym and find a trainer and say hey, chat with me on these five kinetic chain checkpoints, they should be able to go over them with you. And if they can't, go to a different gym! Then at least you'll have an in-person experience on going over those checkpoints. Alright, to recap our kinetic chain checkpoints, which you always want to keep in neutral position, are your feet and ankles, your knees, your hips or your pelvic complex, your shoulders and your head!

Kinetic Chain Checkpoints

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