Last week I talked about combination of exercises that will help us delay the onset of chronic disease and death, while simultaneously maintaining our health span for as long as possible.

Interested? How can you not be?? If your plan is to stick around as long as possible then you may as well feel as good as possible. You can(re) read last weeks email here to get the overview.

One of the more surprising exercises I highlighted was stability training. When most of us think about cardio and resistance training for health, I want to encourage you to not forget about the type of fitness that makes you bulletproof.

I am paraphrasing this next part from Peter Attia, MD. Author of Lifespan.

“[Stability] is the cornerstone upon which your strength is delivered, your aerobic performance is delivered and your anaerobic performance is delivered. And it’s the way that you do so safely.”

Stability is the way that we transmit force from the body to the outside world in the safest manner possible across the muscles which are designed to carry that load. As opposed to seeing the dissipation of force across joints that are not fit to do so.

For example, when you pick up 60 pounds off the ground (anyone have a medium sized dog?), Newton’s Law says you have to exert 60 pounds of force on the world around you to move that thing.

The idea is you want all of that 60 pounds to be transmitted from your muscles to the ground, you DON’T want anything dissipating out your back, knees, or hips.

And that is why we are sticklers for good form when lifting weights at our studio. If you don’t set your foundation and understand which muscles are movers and which are stabilizers then at best you won’t get stronger, at worst, you end up getting hurt.

That’s what stability is about, safe and powerful transmission of force through muscles and bones, and not joints. It’s about a strong foundation and a stable midsection.

Poor stability is the reason why people rarely get hurt in a gym when under a trainers supervision, but can often get hurt reaching for their toothbrush or their alarm clock. In one situation they move intentionally, in the other, mindlessly. A good trainer not only keeps you safe in the gym, but also outside. Our job is to get your body so fine tuned that you can move mindlessly outside of the Roseland Health & Fitness studio and still stay uninjured because your stabilizers stay stable, allowing your movers to move.

There are three key components to stability training I want you to think about, and I have an analogy for the first two!

1) Stability starts with our breath. Our ability to create intra abdominal pressure helps keep our body strong. Take for example a plastic bottle; with the cap off you can crush that bottle easily, with the cap on, there is too much pressure and the bottle can’t be crushed. The bottle is no stronger, it just has added stability. That is why we ask you to inhale, to create pressure, and exhale on the exertion, while still maintaining pressure. We want that intra abdominal pressure to be created for added stability. And that pressure should not be not up around your collar bones or ears (you know who you are with your shoulders up at your ears!), but deep in your belly all the way up your entire ribcage.

2) Our feet are literally our most fundamental contact between our bodies and the world. If we think of our feet like tires on a race car, the only point of contact between the road and the car, the quality of the engine, the strength of the chassis, the skill of the driver…all useless if the tires are not firmly gripping the track. Yogis have it right, they are always getting their students to ‘set their foundation’ first; in other words, spreading their feet wide and planting them into the ground. Make sure you take care of your feet and press them firmly and flatly into the ground to create stability while lifting heavy things.

Feet are also crucial for balance. Try this exercise and see if you have good balance Stand with one foot in front of the other, with the heels of one foot touching the toes of another. If you can balance like that try closing your eyes and see how long you can hold it Pro tip: if you can’t hold for 10 seconds try massaging your feet and then really grounding them before you close your eyes.

3) The structure we most want to protect in stability training is our spine. And this is why exercises like Dead Bugs, Planks and Side Planks are standardly seen at the studio. But it’s also why you often see us doing Cat/Cow exercises. We want to know that you can safely move your spine and are aware of how to flex and extend it so when it comes to stabilize it you are already ahead of the game. So often we have no proprioceptive awareness of what happens in the back of our body, and our spine is no different. We have to become aware before we can become intentional.

I have to say, I am struggling to keep this blog short as stability is a bigger topic than you would think but I will leave it at that. A reminder to make sure you know how and when to breath when lifting heavy things. A reminder to set and use your feet, your foundation when lifting heavy things and to practice your balance exercise and a final reminder that we need to make sure our spine is not only mobile but also stable to prevent injury when lifting.


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