SAM and Strength

Uncategorized Aug 08, 2018

It was almost 20 years ago when I worked with my first rehab client, a woman who, after a few challenging childbirths, found herself embarrassingly incontinent. Being a young trainer at the time, I thought being incontinent meant you lived further inland ;) In all seriousness, this lady challenged me because truly I had no idea how to help her, but I was intent on trying to figure it out. So I have to let you know that at the same time I was working with her a few other things were also playing out in the background, things that changed the course of my career and forever changed the way I looked at fitness. I was training very heavy at that time and in a ego driven display of stupidity, I pulled a 475 lb deadlift off the ground (shouldn’t have) and injured both of my forearms by creating traction injury. So, I couldn’t grip, hold my coffee, open the fridge or hold onto a weight with any amount of force.

Those of you who have sustained exercise related injuries know how frustrating this can be. So while dealing with that issue, I had also just embarked on a 17 year journey training and being mentored by my now close friend, Dr. Michael Jones, a former professor at Berkley University, and an educator to the fitness industry through the Medical Exercise Training Institute. With ideas of nerves, postural deficiencies, and injury mechanisms in my mind, I began to work on a solution for my client. In an article I came across while researching methods on retraining the pelvic floor, I discovered a unique pattern created by doing the well-known exercise called Kegels. Kegels, as many of you know, is a pelvic floor training exercise, designed to assist in the retraining of the pelvic floor musculature, but what I wasn’t aware of was a co-contraction of a group of muscles called the “multifidus”, which are deep stabilizing muscles of the spine. Co-contracting simply means when one series of muscles contract is stimulates a contraction of another series of muscles.

While this was interesting, it didn’t have a big impact on me just yet until I got to experience it first hand. A part of my strategy in helping my client was to have her perform a Kegel exercise in every moment she performed in the gym, walking on the treadmill, stepping up onto a high box, or any other exercise combination I created for her. The revelation came to me about the importance of performing Kegels when I was demonstrating a seated row exercise and as I grabbed the handle the familiar discomfort in my forearms was evident, the linger injury from my deadlifts. I set my posture, instructing her about the details as she looked on, braced my pelvic floor, and as I pulled the cable back towards me I noticed instantly that the discomfort in my forearms was diminished greatly. I finished the demonstration and but kept the new revelation in the back of my mind. Over the next couple of years I explored various methods and patterns with hundreds of clients and was excited to see that the simple act of “Kegeling” could help one improve balance, coordination, speed and strength but creating a fixed, mechanically neutral point in the body, where all movements could come from and transfer to.

The S in SAM was all about creating “stability” in the body “before” we started adding other activities that involved focusing on the extremities, and long before we added to many complex movements. The stronger the core (this being the specific programming of the upper motor cortex in core activation) the more stable the rest of the body, which means we can produce more force, display greater agility, and be less injury prone. As with most things in life, having a strong core (physically or philosophically) will allow us lead a life very different than those around us, who vainly poke around looking for new possibilities for their life, for without first being centered it is unlikely they will find success they are looking for.

Thank you, thank you SAM I AM.

C. David Gilks Your Fellow Traveler

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