As the NFL nears an end to its long-running legal battle over concussions, new data from the nation’s largest brain bank focused on traumatic brain injury has found evidence of a degenerative brain disease in 76 of the 79 former players it’s examined.
The findings represent a more than twofold increase in the number of cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, that have been reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository in Bedford, Mass.
Sometimes all that’s good in the universe aligns perfectly.
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A couple of simple ideas for checking posture and lateral stability:
1- Face a mirror. For a warm up, grab your jump rope, stand feet together, and begin swinging it in figure 8’s (on either side). Do 20, then stand on the right foot, repeat 20, then switch to the left, repeat 20. Is your torso swaying from side to side or rotating? Do your knees move from side to side or rotate on the vertical axis? Are your feet pronating with each swing, or toes pivoting off the center line? A quick frontline fix: brace your anterior core, and isometrically push outward (abduct) with your hips (your feet should not move). Once you can stay stable, with no lateral or rotational movement at the ankles, knees, hips, or spine, continue the figure 8 pattern, begin alternating feet, and then move into jumping rope when it feels right. Stop and “reset” as needed. *This assumes adequate shoulder mobility.
2- Stand with a relaxed but tall posture. Don’t think about it and overcook it, just assume what you feel to be your normal good posture. Without moving, take your rope, fold it in half, and place the midpoint right at the tip of your chin. Don’t cheat, stay in your initial posture. Better yet, close your eyes and have a partner do this. If it dangles out several inches from your stomach, you likely have some degree of the Upper Crossed pattern of muscular imbalance (the upper and lower are rampant among martial artists- with some styles encouraging them more than others). If it rests totally flat on your belly and groin, you are likely demonstrating a Lower Crossed pattern. If it hangs right down the mid line, just touching your abdomen, you likely have a good, neutral posture.
If you can integrate and maintain the “neutral” patterns in both of these quick assessments, you will find that your jump rope ability becomes markedly more efficient, and lose the “T-Rex stomping in mud puddles” pattern that I see so often. Soft tissue work and targeted corrective exercise can also help, but sometimes these measures are not as effective until the individual has an opportunity to see the compensations in action.
3- People frequently include swings or unnecessary articulations out of the lumbar spine when performing standing weight exercises, especially overhead presses, curls, and upright rows. Often times it’s a mixture of poor lumbo-pelvic-hip complex proprioception and stability, with limited hip mobility, and a tendency to use too much weight too soon. They often swear that they’re not doing it, even as they do it, or just don’t care. A very simple but effective way of helping people notice these compensations is to have them perform the exercise in a tall kneeling position. Ensure that there is enough clearance for the weight to move (in the case of the curl or row), and then perform as normal. Be prepared to spot behind the person, as a loss of balance to the rear may occur. To help the person notice lateral stability issues, perform the exercises in a split-kneeling position (a lunge, back knee resting on the floor), and watch for swaying from side to side. Ideally, have the person perform these in front of a mirror, so they can both see and feel the compensations occurring. If they occur in these situations, they are also likely occurring during execution of martial art techniques, such as strikes.
Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble/Ancient footprints are everywhere- Bob Dylan
After 30 minutes or so, the official called my name for round two. A few of the matches during the interval had been impressive, notably the running battle between my first opponent and the one that I would face next. They went the full 5 minutes, each being unable to secure a clean throw or osaekomi, both putting in an impressive effort. At the midpoint of the match, my first opponent wore a look on his face that bespoke a mixture of exhaustion, pain and uncertainty. Somehow, his opponent opened up a large cut along his jawline, likely as a result of a scramble for a high grip. After being taped up, he returned to the mat to prevail over his opponent. I had not stopped moving since the end of my first match, and I was practically vibrating with readiness.
As with the first match, I had a weight advantage on my opponent, and the advantage of having watched him in his previous bout. At the ref’s command, I jogged across the mat and got my grips, high on the collar and elbow, and went immediately for o soto gari. He stepped quickly around and I transitioned into an uchi mata attempt, backing out when I felt him drop his base. He entered for a seoi nage, and I stepped to his side for an attempt at tani otoshi. He began to fall, so I sat down and took him to the mat, knowing that the throw wouldn’t be clean enough for ippon. Continue reading