Saturday, August 04, 2007

Everything You Do Always Works...

...it may just work against you.

One of the overarching principles of Z is "All the body, all the time." Which simply means, the body doesn't ever work in isolation on any level (neuro, musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, endocrine, etc.). So one set to failure with 20 reps on the squat obviously affects more than just your legs. So does foam rolling. So does agility training. Etc, etc, etc.

I know an individual who's been through R- and I-Phase and says Z doesn't work. He obviously failed to grasp this concept. This is painfully obvious when you see him. He's skinny-fat, weak, has poor movement skills, poor flexibility, and a bad attitude. What he means to say is that Z hasn't worked for him the way he expected it to. Is there anything wrong with the system? No. That's obvious too when speaking with other individuals who have gotten the results they wanted not only with themselves, but with their clients too.

I learned this lesson early in my career. Alfonso, my weightlifting coach, is fond of saying, "Any system can work if applied properly." [Emphasis mine.] I think Steve Maxwell, former Sr.RKC had a similar saying, "It's how you put it together." So getting back to the aforementioned individual, it is apparent that he failed to apply the principles of Z correctly. It is my guess too that he has failed to apply many other principles correctly which would account for his appearance and attitude.

I would add to Alfonso's statement, "...for a little while." Then adaptation occurs, be it positive, or negative. That's the part we tend to forget. We focus on the short term: Which exercise will bring up hamstring strength for the deadlift? But we forget to ask if that exercise will transfer to the sporting event that we are trying to improve. In other words, yeah, your deadlift may increase due to this perceived lack of strength in the hamstrings, but will you run any faster?

This is why I'm glad I went to I-Phase. Clean, precise, fluid movement always makes you a better athlete. Always. It gives you more options. Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player who's ever lived. Who cares how fast he can run a 40 or how much he can hang clean? He could move. He could move better than his contemporaries. Whether that was under the basket, in the lane, in the air, all of the former while shooting, he had the best movement--he had the best use of his body.

Training with weights for a strength end is no different than training for any other sport. The deadlift for example, is made up of a bunch of smaller movements: Metatarsal extension, ankle plantar flexion, knee extension, hip extension, shoulder extension, etc. The more precise each one of these movements become, the stronger your deadlift will be. Makes sense. R-Phase gives you those tools.

So how do you get everything to work in your favor?
  1. Learn how to move again. I guarantee you that you are not moving as well as you could be or need to for your sport (which is life if you're not competing in a sport). R-Phase teaches you these basic isolated movements.
  2. Learn how to put the smaller movements together to form bigger movement. This is I-Phase.
  3. Study training methodology. Understand principles such as the SAID principle, the GAS theory, "supercompensation" and the "fitness-fatigue theory," progressive overload, and cycling. This is a good start.
  4. Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler. This is where learning how to move again comes in very handy. Fancy periodized training programs aren't necessary if you don't know how to move. (I'll post more on this later when I post about Strongman training.)
Keep in mind that because of the "all the body all the time" principle, you may surprise yourself with the results you achieve from good, clean movement (more on this later too).

16 Comments:

Blogger Frankie Faires said...

Geoff,

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I think you are doing important work in expounding your understanding of Z-Health. Keep it up.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Mark Reifkind said...

great post geoff. I am so much more aware of how important those 'little' articulations can be in affecting the entire system.

hey frankie! hope you are well.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Keats Snideman CSCS, LMT, NMT said...

Check my post from Geoff's last blog guys. I started a forum discussion at another site on Z-health since I'm not quite as convinced as to the theory behind it all. Healthy debate is good if not great for this industry!

I'm kind of new to the blog world so I hope people don't take me the wrong way; I just like to see evidence for extraordinary claims (and not just anecdoatal evidence). We know that the system can work, but how and why (saying because of the nervous system is not enough for me; the NS it too complex to just say that)? And when not to use the system? These are questions I'm tryng to get answered.

Also, ANY kind of movement elicits changes in the body; you're body doesn't know you're doing Z, or Pavel's Super-Joints, or even some of Scott Sonnon's stuff. What is the underlying mechanisms behind any and all of such systems? I guess I'm looking for explantion that are more fundamental. Somehow. I beleive the answer lies in nuerophysiology and motor control (with some biomachanics thrown in).

4:05 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Keats, the explanations/rationale for Z are too complex to be fully discussed, let alone fully grasped in a one day workshop. That's about enough time for some "show and tell." This is one of the problems with Z. What is Z? It's so much...Unfortunately, my blog is my interpretation of Dr. Cobb's system. That means I could be wrong. I'm OK with that. That's how I learn. This blog is a means for me to explore my thoughts and my actions with regards to my training and my business of training. It's not Z-Health's website or their blog.

Back to you: The reason your client's neck pain increased is you misapplied the system of Z-Health because you thought you understood it based on previous information from other systems. Mike already discussed this on another thread/forum. (I posted on SS's discussion board--should be interesting to say the least...)

Here's the bottom line: go to R-Phase. Cough up the dough and learn what the rest of us have and evaluate it for yourself. Will all of you questions be answered? No. Many will. Play with R-Phase as presented and wait for the results. Will the results you experience be the same as mine and Mike's? Not exactly. Similar, maybe, if you follow the rules.

You don't want to do that? No problem. I can only help so much. That's what my blog is for.

That being said, my inability to adequately describe what Z is and how Z works won't change my application of it in my life and in my business. I don't get paid by Z-Health for "converting" people into "our cult."

I don't care if I'm right or wrong here. I care about results. Until someone who's not using Z can prove to me that what I'm doing with Z doesn't work, that individual's not gonna get me to stop. Again, for me personally and professionally, it's all about results. Z gets me the results I want and my clients demand. How else can I stay in business? If Z fails me, then I'll move on to something else. Does that sound mercenary. You bet.

Undoubtedly, this post will sound a little defensive. That's OK, it's my blog. ;-)

11:00 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Keats, here are some more ideas for you to ruminate on that will hopefully help you understand Z a little more:

1. The nervous system is the most plastic system in the body--it is also the fastest. This is why Z addresses the NS instead of the musculoskeletal system, which is governed by the NS.

2. The NS is not limited to just "nerves" and is obviously impacted by more than just nerve flossing, etc. There are as you know specialized cells that influence how the body works and provide physical and psychological feedback that are part of the NS: mechanorecpertors, nocioceptors, barorecptors, chemoreceptors, GTOs, muscle spindle fibers, etc.

3. The reason Z is grounded in joint mobility is because of the mechanorecpetors in the joint capsules: they are large, fast, and make a large change in proprioception when stimulated, i.e.: thru opening a joint and moving it thru a full ROM.

4. Another reason that Z is grounded in JM is that it is a system for improving movement ability. If you have joints that don't move well, then you as a whole will not move well.

5. You are correct that any type of movement elicits change in the NS. But as this particular post points out, you always get a result, it just may not be the one you're after. SuperJoints, and Sonnon's work are great places to start. However, Sonnon's stuff is relatively advanced for someone who is lacking mobility work. R-Phase is likened to the alphabet of movement. Sonnon's work is like an essay. You have to know what the letters are first.

6. You are also correct in deducing that the answer lies in neurophys. and motor control. The reason Z mobility drills don't always "stick" is that new movement needs to be learned, and that requires reps, just like a squat. There are 3 stages to motor learning: cognitive -> associative -> autonomous. It takes between 300-500 reps to cement new movements in the cognitive stage and up to 100,000 reps for a movement to become autonomous, depending of course on the movement.

7. I love Physical Therapists. (Obviously, I'm married to one.) However, the unfortunate trend in their "industry" is to wait for scientific evidence (i.e.: formal, published experiments) to validate efficacy of any technique, idea, etc. This is what they call "science." This is not science. This is called the "experimentation" part of the scientific method. The scientific method STARTS with observations, or anecdotes. Much of what "science" "confirms" we in the field already know through intuition, observation, experience, and results. In my opinion, if we waited for science to "validate" everything, we'd never get anywhere!

8. Liberal Arts v. "Hard" Science: My wife and I are 2 extremes in the academic world. My background is liberal arts (LA): history and philosophy. Hers is exercise science. The trend is seems over the last 30 years is that in the "hard" sciences, students are taught what to think, not how to think. The LA education teaches students how to think. This drives my wife nuts. I thought I was stupid in chemistry and struggled to get Cs. She got As. By her own admittance, she's great at memorizing. I am not. Where am I going with this? It seems that she's not alone in her field. Many PTs that I've met wait for "science" to prove something before they even experiment with it. How's this relate to Z? Dr. Cobb has drawn from the fields of neurophys, neuroanatomy, motor learning, etc and taken concepts that appear to be unique to each and tied them together. How is that special? Because he knows how to think, not necessarily what to think. Is this a slam on PTs? No. It's a slam on the educational system that values regurgitation of ideas instead of the exchange of ideas.

I'm sure this will provoke more discussion later. For now, I hope that gives you a little more science and understanding of Z-Health.

If you really want to know more though, you should go to R-Phase...

9:40 AM  
Blogger c.sheridan said...

Geoff:

First, I really appreciate the amount of time you're putting into talking about your Z experiences AND responding to questions. That said, I think it's important to note regularly in your main posts (as opposed to comments) that you're sharing these details w/o any arrangement for compensation from Dr. Cobb - it brings substantially more credibility to the observations.

Second, Keats: I went over to the forum you cited and the initial responses to your attempt to stir constructive discussion were so reflexively hostile as to make me doubt the credibility of those responding. Skepticism is healthy, to be sure, but immediately drawing negative conclusions based on the nature of the marketing hints at individuals unwilling even to consider any perspectives but their own. I appreciate Keats' effort and intent, but mercy, that thread doesn't quite seem the right place for a truly open, respectful conversation.

Bottom line, credit to you both - and good luck.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Brett Jones said...

Geoff et al...
The reason I am going to Z - there are situations and clients I know I should be able to help quicker than I am able to - I see restrictions that I cannot unlock fast enough - Does Z hold the answer?
We shall see.

Also - in studying for Z I am already recognizing the failings in other JM techniques - a focus on number of reps and "volume" of movement instead of quality of movement. (a simplistic evaluation but hey I'm a simple guy.)

1:37 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Thanks, C.Sheridan. I'm doing my best. (Also, thanks, Frankie for your encouragement.)

Brett's comment on why he's attending R-Phase is exactly what I've been talking about and where I've come from professionally. Thanks, Brett.

Oh, and Keats, one more thing on the "science" these PTs love: even the published studies are little more than theories. Nothing's been proven. Here are some other great scientific "facts" that have recently been debunked: eating fat makes you fat; low-fat, high-carb diets are best for weight loss, heart disease management, and diabetic control; the "drawing-in" maneuver (Need I say more about that one?).

9:09 PM  
Blogger Franz Snideman said...

Well said Geoff,

I do believe in absolutes and believe that there has to be a "truth". It sounds like Z has many truths, but it's the ones I cannot relate to that scare me. Is that Z's fault? In no way! If I really want to know about Z I either need to hire you to evaluate me or I need to go take the Z certification like you mentioned!

Great comments by everyone!

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mike T Nelson said...

Great discussion!

I ended up doing Z since I was not helping people as much as thought I could. Once I saw a Z session and the speed that it worked, I was sold, paid the money and off to training I went.

Personally, I would love to see more science in regards to Z from a research perspective. There are a fair amount of studies that support it, but there is not a study to support every aspect of it.

As a trainer, I am not concerned about a study for each aspect, because with Z I have a SYSTEM to test each person, eval the result, and test again! I sort of treat the body like a "black box" since no one is 100% sure what is going all the time. I am more concerned as Geoff said about results than I am about being right. The response of the person's body/nervous sys will tell me if I am correct. The result is what matters. The faster I can get a result in a safe manner, the better it is for everyone involved.

Z is hard to explain since it is a whole SYSTEM. Just as the body is more than a sum of its parts, Z is more than just some JM work.

Again, I get paid NOTHING to state good stuff about Z other than I know I am getting more results now than ever before. I would not recommend anything to anyone that I did not believe in 100%. Integrity has no price.

Mike N

1:53 PM  
Blogger cory said...

Hi Geoff,

Just found your blog after our discussion on the forum. I posted this over there as well after you made the same argument there:

Of course you don't need to know everything before you use it. But, when you KNOWINGLY pass on explanations that are not supported this impacts the way your athletes interact with the world when they leave your place. In other words, it affects your outcomes. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but at some point they are going to be confronted with a situation in which what they learned from you will be brought to bear relevance once again. If they've got an inaccurate explanatory model to work from (such as mis-alignment causes pain for example), this will impact the way they interact with the world and themselves.

Again, of course we can't know everything. But we can also ignore what we do know and when that become the case, the word to describe it is much uglier than ignorance.

Cognitive dissonance is a very good thing. We should all hope to notice it occurring and use it appropriately. That means, when your belief system is no longer supported, it gets scrapped or revamped so that it is again supported, until it is not. Then the process re-starts. I know that it continues for me.

To add: we don't require proof that something works for it to make sense. But, for it to make sense it cannot use things that HAVE BEEN proven false.

Cory Blickenstaff, PT

12:13 AM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Hi Cory,

Thanks for taking the time for reading my blog. Please read as many posts as you can stand so you have a context from within which to learn about my passion.

A couple of comments on your comments:

"Of course you don't need to know everything before you use it. But, when you KNOWINGLY pass on explanations that are not supported this impacts the way your athletes interact with the world when they leave your place. In other words, it affects your outcomes. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but at some point they are going to be confronted with a situation in which what they learned from you will be brought to bear relevance once again. If they've got an inaccurate explanatory model to work from (such as mis-alignment causes pain for example), this will impact the way they interact with the world and themselves."

I never KNOWINGLY pass on unsupported explanations. My clients are interested in results, not a lengthy scientific explanation about why something works. In the past when I have tried, their eyes just glaze over... I also know that pain can be cause by ANYTHING and is most often indicative of a problem ANYWHERE BUT the affected site unless of course it's acute trauma. Even then, the acute trauma, such as a non-contact ACL injury is actually a result, or the symptom if you will, of a problem that exists somewhere else. That particular injury is a manifestation of that problem. So misaligned joints don't necessarily cause pain. But they do negatively affect the proper functioning of the system we know as the body.

Regarding your comment:
"To add: we don't require proof that something works for it to make sense. But, for it to make sense it cannot use things that HAVE BEEN proven false."

Please elaborate so we can dialogue. I'm not aware of any falsehoods being perpetuated. If there are, I'd like the opportunity to see if someone misspoke or if the alleged falsehoods can be supported by multiple sources of information.

Thanks again for participating.

2:49 PM  
Blogger cory said...

Hi Geoff,

You don't have to read much to see your passion as evident. I hope you will turn your passion toward the "why" aspects of what you do. Your clients will no doubt benefit from it.

"My clients are interested in results, not a lengthy scientific explanation about why something works."

As I mentioned in my post, your results will be affected. Your short term results may be outstanding, but the future may not look so bright. Let's try an example. Let's say you've got kids who are misbehaving. Screaming at them and scaring the daylights out of them will consistently cease that bad behavior, at first. But why? Did they learn what was wrong with their behavior? No, they just learned that it made you mad and they should avoid making you mad. I'm not saying that you yell at your clients of course, but I hope you can see how the "I got results" statement fails to hold up. That is your clients concern, but they don't just want A result.

Also, regarding scientific explanation..often my eyes glaze over as well. Use of metaphor and analogy are crucial.

"I also know that pain can be cause by ANYTHING and is most often indicative of a problem ANYWHERE BUT the affected site unless of course it's acute trauma."

The location of pain has little to do with the location of problem, true. I have been using an analogy lately that pain is like a moody friend. It isn't necessarily the person who set them off that was the problem, but that is who they are blaming it on. Same is true for pain with movement. The nervous system has become moody and a particular movement or area gets the blame.

"That particular injury is a manifestation of that problem. So misaligned joints don't necessarily cause pain. But they do negatively affect the proper functioning of the system we know as the body."

Here lies, I believe, the rift. Proper functioning is more than alignment of body segments in a manner that is least straining mechanically over time. Our bodies adopt the postures they do for a reason. It is the most efficient solution to something, we just may not know what. It may be that the posture is protective and, when unresolved, moving in a different posture will be not as efficient as it looks. As Barrett Dorko says, "it is a defense, not a defect."

To elaborate on my last statement, I can give all kinds of evidence to show that strength, posture, alignment do not cause pain. So, I'd say the unsupported statements have been those that say the effect on pain is through using the nervous system to change the above.

Cory

7:50 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Cory, thanks again for taking the time to post.

Regarding your comments:

"Here lies, I believe, the rift. Proper functioning is more than alignment of body segments in a manner that is least straining mechanically over time. Our bodies adopt the postures they do for a reason. It is the most efficient solution to something, we just may not know what. It may be that the posture is protective and, when unresolved, moving in a different posture will be not as efficient as it looks. As Barrett Dorko says, "it is a defense, not a defect."

I agree proper functioning is more than just alignment of the joints: we have hormonal balance to be concerned about, psychological/emotional states to consider, etc, etc, etc. But, we need to start somewhere. This system starts on the joint level, with the intent to positively impact the CNS. How do we define "positive?" Moving from a survival state to a performance state. This means out of the startle reflex. I agree that it may the most efficient solution, but I would add, AT THAT TIME, WITHIN OR ACCORDING TO ITS CURRENT ADAPTIVE ABILITIES. (I'm not "shouting," I just don't know how to italicize on the responses.) Therefore, I absolutely agree with BD's "defense" theory and Z-Health recognizes this as the [sometimes chronic] manifestation of the startle reflex and addresses this from day one. This is how we move the body from a survival state to a performance state. Our bodies adapt to their positions for one simple reason: the SAID principle--you always get exactly what you train for (whether you know your training for it or not in the case of postural changes in office workers). Or as the Bulgarians said with their weightlifters, "the body becomes its function."


"To elaborate on my last statement, I can give all kinds of evidence to show that strength, posture, alignment do not cause pain. So, I'd say the unsupported statements have been those that say the effect on pain is through using the nervous system to change the above."

I believe you can. That's not my assertion but perhaps somebody's misunderstanding of my assertion. Regardless, in Z-Health, we recognize that ANYTHING can cause pain, and more explicitly, ANYTHING CAN CAUSE ANYTHING. We aren't necessarily interested in getting the body immediately out of pain, an sometimes we cannot, but we are concerned with getting the body out of survival mode and into performance mode. We use an assessment to gauge this. If we can do this (positive assessment feedback) and there's still pain, then at least we know we are moving in the right direction. Then we try to break the "pain chain" (my description/concept, not Z's) by positive associations with movement. It's been my experiences that these are the harder "cases." Most people we can get "out of pain" just by teaching them to move correctly. (BTW, I like the "moody friend" analogy--I think I'm going to "steal" it...)

I really appreciate you taking the time to post here on my blog and trying to understand what Z-Health is all about. I hope we can continue.

2:23 PM  
Blogger cory said...

Hello again,

"in Z-Health, we recognize that ANYTHING can cause pain, and more explicitly, ANYTHING CAN CAUSE ANYTHING."

Not sure how to respond to this, Geoff. Are you serious? I think this may be a product of the futility of worrying about the cause of pain instead of focusing on the origin of pain. I'd give up on looking for the why as well if I was running on the above assumption.

"We aren't necessarily interested in getting the body immediately out of pain, an sometimes we cannot, but we are concerned with getting the body out of survival mode and into performance mode."

Take some time to look up "need state" and "goal state" on pubmed or on somasimple (also look at the end state comfort effect). There is much research on these and they are analogous to what you are trying to describe regarding survival and performance modes. In terms of movement, the brain does not think in terms of "joints" but movements, and more specifically movements in the context of a goal (performance for long term survival) or a need (for immediate survival).

Being in the need state (or survival mode) of pain involves much, much more than juts the startle reflex and the position it puts you in. Being out of flexion, does not make you out of the need state of pain or the survival mode from whatever. How do your assessments discern this change over?

The nervous system is way more complex than running on either one or the other (survive vs. performance) and a goal or performance driven action can proceed without resolution of a need state or survival mode.

Not sure this was productive but there it is.

Cory

11:57 PM  
Blogger cory said...

Oh, and you are welcome to the moody analogy. If you want the chicken analogy though you'll have to go through B section.

Sorry. Couldn't resist. All such things that we've come up with we share freely on somasimple.

Thanks for the discussion.

Cory

12:02 AM  

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