The Science...

By DANA SANTAS, CSCS, E - RYT, PRO SPORTS MOBILITY COACH AND CNN YOGA ERXPERT

Explanation of common issues athletes experience due to dysfunctional movement patterns and how the SlackBow can help:

Many athletes have excessive anterior pelvic tilts (where the pelvis tilts forward, shifting the glutes back and up).  There are myriad reasons for this related to athletic training and sports positions, but a primary instigator may be loaded squatting, where the pelvis is often set in an anterior tilt during the movement.  Doing so keeps the psoas muscles, located on the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, in a tight and over-active state, pulling on the top of the pelvis and lumber spine of the low back. This phenomenon can disrupt the muscle balance relationships along the kinetic chain and create multiple performance-dampening and potentially injurious dysfunctional movement patterns. 

One of the most common complaints of athletes with an excessive anterior pelvic tilt is low back pain. Because the psoas has its origin on the lumbar spine, when it is short and tight, it pulls the low back into extension, creating constant compression in vertebrae. With the back muscles working to maintain extension, the reciprocal abdominal muscles are inhibited; thus, core strength is weakened. 

Due to the reciprocal relationship between the psoas (hip flexor) and the glutes (hip extensor), an overactive psoas can inhibit the glutes ability to function properly/fire.  If the glutes aren’t firing properly, the hamstrings are asked to compensate (since they also have a limited role in hip extension).  However, due to the anterior pelvic tilt and resulting low back extension pulling the hamstrings up into a lengthened (but tight and inhibited) state, their ability to provide adequate function is severely limited as well. Often, this leads to the quads attempting to dominate and, ultimately, fatiguing, so the adductors (groins) step in to compensate.  And with all the misfiring and dysfunction as muscles attempt to compensate by taking on roles outside their normal function, the neurological connection along the kinetic chain is adversely impacted, disrupting the athlete’s neuromuscular efficiency, causing slower reactions and decreased accuracy of movement.

The end result is an athlete with significant performance limitations in strength, mobility, reaction time, and accuracy as well as a high probability of injury. The injury risks include but are not limited to:  herniated discs, torn hamstrings and quads, glute strains, groin pulls and sports hernias.

How do you fix all of this?  Traditionally, you must assess the athlete and determine the nature of the dysfunction and the most significant imbalances (weakness vs. strength, tension vs. flexibility).  Once you’ve identified these areas, you can create a corrective exercise regimen that takes the athlete through a series of movements designed to address the athlete’s specific needs to restore postural and kinetic chain function.  Unfortunately, most athletes don’t receive corrective exercise treatment until they are already rehabbing for an injury caused by the dysfunctions and compensations noted above.