Archive for November, 2008



1: what provides amusement or enjoyment ; specifically : playful often boisterous action or speech

4: violent or excited activity or argument

Synonyms = SPORT, GAME, PLAY mean action or speech that provides amusement or arouses laughter.

FUN or recreation is the expenditure of time in a manner designed for therapeutic refreshment of one’s body or mind

While leisure is more likely a food for entertainment or rest, FUN or recreation is active for the participant but in a refreshing and diverting manner.

Its not hard to see FUN had a direct correlation to activity, sports, and recreation. Why then, have we removed FUN from our vocabulary when we start thinking exercise (training), and nutrition? They are inherently proactive endeavors, yet we tend to lean towards making them SUCK.

If you had the joy of witnessing my talk at the Annual Staley Training Summit you’d have noticed that while the talk was on strongman training the largest underlying message was have “FUN,” and more so, allowing yourself to have fun.

If you take just a minute to actually look its impossible not to notice the complete lack of fun in peoples exercise (training) and nutrition programs. Somewhere along the way the word “FUN” got discarded from the exercise (training) and nutrition equation.

Somewhere it became common place that exercise (training) and nutrition had to be focused around a negative connotation as opposed to a positive one, like “FUN.” They became focused on, and simply revolved around pain, deprivation, and a concentration on putting oneself through hell to reach ones goals.

Training and nutrition took a swing and became focused on repetitively taking part in an activity that you HATE, that sucks, that you dread the thought of.

Repeatedly visiting these loathed actions day after day in the hope that you just might reach a point that said activity is no longer god awful. You may reach a point where the activity or nutrition protocol is not “fun” per say, but that its slightly tolerable, its doesn’t quite suck so bad anymore.

Where the hell did this line of thinking come from? How did we get to this state? Where did we lose the sight of the fact, and ability to allow ourselves to have fun and enjoy our training and eating habits, To know that they can be progressive and lead to outstanding goals and be enjoyable.

That we can make awesome progress, arguably much better then when you hate what your doing, when what your doing is actually something you look forward to. That you can and will make progress when your not taking part in something you “should” do that you hate, but when your taking part in something you enjoy, possibly excel at, or at least find some sort of personal satisfaction and “fun“ in.

Where did we lose sight to the fact that there are endless forms of activity and eating habits that can be progressive, healthful, and enjoyed?

Why is fun largely void from training and nutrition, and in many cases not allowed? Why do people feel the need to deprive, torture, and despise what they are doing to reach their physique, athletic and health goals? Why do I have to preach and prod people into accepting the fact they can have fun, and train? Why do I have to tell people they can, that they can have fun, and do anything they have the desire if they just ALLOW it?

Simply, where did the “fun” go? Why is it gone from training and exercise, and instead largely, and falsely relegated to sedentary forms of entertainment, when in reality fun fit’s the bill for exercise (training) and nutrition.

Get the picture people? Let start having some FUN. Fun is active. Training is FUN if you give yourself the ability. Now allow yourself to enjoy what you do. The start and end are nothing but points at either end of along trail, you better learn to enjoy the ride.

About The Author

Phil, while attaining both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in studio art found another passion, that of training and nutrition. A constant student, his real-world under-the-barbell and behind-the-fork approach has led to many an opportunity, experience, and change in his life as well as those he has worked.


Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and have some FUN!)


Alternative medicine is a multi-million dollar industry, with one in four Americans taking alternative supplements or seeing a non-traditional medical practitioner for their healthcare needs. Traditional doctors have begun to embrace the benefits as well, as dozens of well-respected studies have shown that alternative medicine can be safe and effective. There are hundreds of supplements out on the market, but there are ten that stand out as the most requested and regularly used. Keep reading to find out the 10 most popular alternative supplements. . . 

These 10 supplements are popular in the alternative health world . . . and are making their way into the “modern medicine” world as well:

1. Multivitamins. Multivitamins are combinations of various vitamins and minerals, rather than single supplements, and are thought to work better because of their synergistic effect. While the make-up of multivitamins varies, the most contain elements included are magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, D, C and E. Some multivitamins are chemically produced and fragmented, but there are all-natural multivitamins available. Among the most popular are multivitamins aimed at specific groups such as children, pregnant women, and senior citizens.

2. Fish oils. A rich source of vitamins A and D, fish oils also contain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which have a proven protective effect on heart health as they help discourage the formation of blood clots. Many studies have also shown the benefits of EPA and DHA for maintaining joint health and they are commonly used by those with arthritis and rheumatic pain. Fish oils have also become hugely popular for children, following studies that showed they helped to improve concentration and were useful for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Fish oil supplements may include cod liver oil or oils taken from a variety of fish.

3. Saw Palmetto.
 The fruit of this North American palm tree is used to treat symptoms associated with prostate enlargement and mild urinary tract infections in men and women. Saw palmetto contains fatty acids and sterols.

4. Echinacea. Well-known for its antiviral properties, Echinacea is thought to work by increasing the white blood cell count, strengthening the immune system to help fight infections such as colds and flu. More and more people are taking Echinacea as a preventive measure to try to avoid developing colds and flu.


5. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA). 
Found in evening primrose and borage oil, GLA is an essential fatty acid that is important for the production of prostaglandins (fatty acid hormones), which occur throughout the tissues and body fluids. Evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is often used to help relieve pre-menstrual breast pain and menstrual cramps. It’s also good for improving skin condition and for joint pain.

6. Glucosamine.
 This natural substance is taken from shellfish such as lobster and crab. It is essential for growth and repair of joints, ligaments, and tendons. However, only small amounts are found in fish and animal products and glucosamine has to be synthesised by the body—a process that becomes more difficult as you age. 

7. Ginseng. There are two types of ginseng: Panax ginseng is taken from the root of the panax species of ginseng plant, which is found in the Far East and North America, while Siberian ginseng is taken from the root of the Eleutherococcus senticosus plant found in Russia. It has been used for centuries as a tonic to improve stamina and stress resistance. Ginseng may also help boost immunity and the body’s ability to fight off infection. In a society where we just don’t have time to take sick days, immune boosters are often taken as “health insurance.”

8. Valerian.
 The extract from the roots of this plant has natural sedative properties. It is non-addictive and doesn’t produce any hangover type of effects, making it a popular sleep remedy for people with short-term insomnia who don’t want to take prescription sleep aids.

9. Herbs for joint pain. Several herbs are used to alleviate joint pain (common among athletes and people with osteoarthritis), but some of the most popular include arnica (a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic, traditionally used for bruises); devil’s claw (an anti-rheumatic and analgesic), and willow bark (the source of the active ingredient in aspirin and a natural anti-inflammatory).

10. Herbs for menopause. 
Traditional hormone replacement therapy has received a lot of bad press as of late, prompting more women to seek alternative treatments for the hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, and other common symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh, sage, and soya isoflavones are among the most popular natural remedies. Black cohosh has natural hormone-regulating properties and is widely used for treating hot flashes, and sage is used for controlling night sweats. Soya isoflavones are natural hormone-regulators, which may help control menopause symptoms.


You can find information on these and other natural supplements on Alternative Health!

If you’re thinking of turning to a more alternative path when it comes to your health, these supplements are a good start. Just be wary of any interactions that may occur with current medications you are taking.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and Live Long!)





Your dinner will be the talk of the TOWN!!


You should try this!


Sure to bring smiles from your guests!


Here is a new way to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey.


1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes.


2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully.  (see attached picture for details)


3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve.


4. Watch your guests’ faces… scroll down to view










Eat and be merry!

Happy Thanksgiving



Due to the sedentary nature of many peoples lifestyle, the hip (among other things) gets very tight and restricted.  This leads to compensatory movement and muscle imbalances that effect movement and performance.  So, as they sing in the movie Madagascar…you’ve got  to move it move it!

Here are few examples of hip mobility/strength exercises moving in various planes/directions.

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Ant Lunge w/ Ant Reach                      Single Leg Stance w/ Opp Arm Cross Reach

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Posterior Lateral Lunge w/ Rotation    Single Leg Stance w/ Overhead Post. Reach

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Single Leg Stance w/ opp. Arm OH                  Lateral Lunge

Lateral Reach

After mastering controlled ranges with body weight move to increased ranges of motion, increased speed and / or adding weight.  Also think of the various other planes you can move into and how you can drive the hip more with variations of arm and leg reaches.  These movements are also a great active range of motion series for hip mobility and can be use to to maintain mobility after passive stretching or mobilization techniques.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!




By my friend, mentor and all around good guy David Tiberio PhD, PT, OCS

The internal power sources that drive the body are the hips and trunk: the core of the body. There are many ways to activate that power source, but probably the most important for upright function in our gravitational environment is eversion of the calcaneus.

Calcaneal eversion occurs in the frontal plane. It is one component of the tri-plane motion of pronation of the subtalar joint (STJ). Simultaneous with the eversion, a substantial amount of abduction occurs in the transverse plane at the STJ. The motion in the frontal and transverse planes at the STJ complements the ankle joint motion, which occurs primarily in the sagittal plane, to allow the rearfoot to move in all three planes. 
The calcaneal eversion results from the striking the lateral aspect of the heel when we walk. The ground reaction force (GRF) forces the calcaneus to evert. Since the motion is produced by gravity and the GRF (motion given for free), the role of the muscles is to decelerate the motion. In this process, the muscles are lengthened and activated proprioceptively. The strain created in the muscles during the deceleration is transformed into a concentric motion-producing force.

The calcaneal eversion that creates STJ pronation produces two important reactions in the body: one distal and one proximal. When the subtalar joint is pronated, the bones of the mid-tarsal joint (MTJ) are more mobile. During weightbearing this allows the foot to adapt to uneven surfaces and, more importantly, as the arch lowers certain muscles are lengthened (loaded) in order to become more powerful (e.g. peroneus longus). When the calcaneus begins to invert these processes are reversed in order to create a more stable foot at the time the muscles are “exploding.” 
The proximal effects of calcaneal eversion are more significant. Because of the angle of the STJ axis, the frontal plane motion of the calcaneus creates transverse plane motion of the lower leg. The STJ is called a “torque converter” because it converts the frontal plane motion of the foot into transverse plane motion of the leg (and vice versa). This transverse plane motion of the lower leg often transfers to the femur, pelvis, and lumbar vertebrae. Because the STJ is tri-planar and all joints move in three planes, the calcaneal eversion during weightbearing produces tri-planar reactions in the knee, hip, and spinal joints.
During walking, the knee will flex, abduct (valgus), and internally rotate. The hip responding to the calcaneal eversion and ankle motion will flex, adduct, and internally rotate. Since the pelvis is also driven by gravity and GRF, motion will be created in the lumbar spine. Remember that all these motions are “given for free” and muscles must first decelerate these motions prior to creating the opposite motions. It is these motions that turn on the hip and core muscles (both anterior and posterior), all initiated by the calcaneal eversion “switch.”


Frequently clinicians and trainers evaluate calcaneal eversion to see if the STJ pronation is excessive. A better approach is to apply the “Goldilock’s Assessment” – too much, too little, or about right. Although it is important to be cognizant of the role excessive pronation of the STJ plays in raising tissue stress to a symptomatic level, it is equally important to recognize how the lack of calcaneal eversion can inhibit the normal motion and muscle activation of the entire body. If excessive eversion of the calcaneus is too much of a good thing, then limited eversion is not enough of a good thing. Insufficent calcaneal eversion will inhibit the proximal bone movements. This will minimize the loading of the hip and core muscles. The knee will often exhibit a “varus thrust” and will not be an efficient shock absorber. The ankle will be susceptible to inversion ankle sprains. 
All functional assessments should include one or more tests to determine if the client has sufficient eversion available and whether they are using this motion during function. Causes of insufficient calcaneal eversion can be structural or functional. Structural limitations are determined by the amount of eversion when non-weightbearing. Many structural limitations are acquired. Any period of immobilization or protected weightbearing are likely to cause a limitation of calcaneal eversion. This motion must be restored to have a healthy and efficient body. 
Functional limitations are present when the joint motion is available, but other structures inhibit the use of that motion. A structural valgus position of the forefoot or a stiff MTJ will block the calcaneal eversion. Limited internal rotation of the hip often dictates to the STJ that calcaneal eversion should not occur. These functional limitations can produce structural changes if they persist over time. 

When our clients are standing in a weightbearing position (rather than walking or running) they may demonstrate a lot of calcaneal eversion, but they may not have any additional eversion to load the muscles. For example, a client who wants to be a quicker jumper may stand with the calcaneus everted. This excessive eversion may be caused by a structural varus of the rearfoot or forefoot. If the STJ is at end-range there is no more calcaneal eversion in order to turn on the power sources in the body. The excessively everted calcaneus has insufficient eversion to “load and explode.”

Get Strong! Stay Strong!




Much has been made in the media of the benefits of a gluten-free diet and how it may help improve health and increase weight loss. But will it work for you? Before you try this eating plan, read on for a better understanding of how it works.

What is gluten? 
Gluten is a form of protein that is found in barley, oats, wheat, spelt, and rye grains that are used in a wide variety of foods, but are most often associated with pastas and breads. Other foods containing gluten include pizza, beer, whole grain cereals, ice cream, salad dressings, and peanut butter. Gluten can also be found in moisturizers, lipsticks, and envelope adhesives.

Should you go gluten-free? 
If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, a digestive condition that damages the small intestine and prevents the absorption of essential nutrients from food, eating a gluten-free diet all of the time is the only way to avoid experiencing symptoms such as anemia, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, oral ulcerations, and weight loss. Celiac disease is a common genetic autoimmune disorder that often goes misdiagnosed—usually because the symptoms are mistaken as a sign of something else. It is estimated that as many as one out of 100 people in the United States could have celiac disease. 

In a recent year-long study conducted in Finland, some patients with celiac disease were put on a gluten-free diet, while the rest ate a regular diet that included gluten products. At the end of the year, the gluten-free eaters were all asymptomatic, and the regular eaters were still having symptoms.


But avoiding all of the food products that contain gluten is a serious challenge, and many people with celiac disease find that they will occasionally experience symptoms after being accidentally exposed to gluten. 

Celiac disease aside, the jury’s still out on the impact that gluten may have on other common ailments, such as arthritis, gout, depression, infertility, bloating and flatulence. Many people also believe that going gluten-free will help them cut back on carbohydrates and speed up their weight loss efforts. But while there’s no scientific evidence backing up these claims, there’s also no harm involved in removing glutens from you diet. It may be worth trying a gluten-free diet for a few weeks to see if you notice any improvements in the way you feel and look.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Alternative Methods of Progression

Are you on exercise autopilot? After every set do you add a 10-pounder to each side of the bar before you can say, “Please spot me, Jamie Eason?” Then it’s time to consider some new ways to step up your workout. Alwyn Cosgrove has got some great ideas about the subject.

The Path To Progress

Most people use a single variable to progress in their weight training — load lifted. There’s nothing wrong with that, but eventually you reach a ceiling when you simply can’t add more weight to an exercise.

In a typical training program, we have exercise order, exercise selection, sets, reps, tempo, rest period and load. Here’s a small sample workout below. Let’s go over three progression methods and see how each changes the workout.

Sample Workout

Assuming each set takes a minute, the workout is done in 15 minutes.

Most people would just increase the load each week. But instead, we could add an additional rep next workout. Or add an additional set. Or maybe we cut the rest period down, and with the extra time we can add more exercises or even back-off sets.

Method #1: Add Reps

Add one rep to each set of each exercise.

You can always get one more rep.

Method #2: Add Sets

Add one set to each exercise.

Do a little more work than the next guy.

Method #3: Reduce Rest Periods

Decrease the rest between each set.

Assuming each set takes a minute, the workout is now done in 13.5 minutes.

Workout’s done already? Whatcha gonna do with that free time?

Let’s Put It All Together

This will take us from week one’s total volume of 5400 pounds in 15 minutes to a total volume of 8400 pounds in 18 minutes, with an increase in workout density from doing those two extra sets. That’s 55% more work in only three more minutes, or over 100 pounds of additional work per minute training.

Obviously this is a huge increase in the total work done without having to add any weight to the bar. So even if you’re in a situation where your home gym doesn’t have any extra weight, you can still make great progress. I haven’t even changed exercise order, exercise selection, rep tempo or load, yet I still managed to create a more challenging workout.

This would not be a more challenging workout.

In Conclusion

Hopefully you see the benefits of implementing different methods of progression rather than just increasing load all the time. The key to progress is overload and there are various ways of getting there. Just make sure you’re moving forward every step of the way.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!


The “freshman 10” is a long-standing and unfortunate element of college life. A young woman goes off to live without Mom or Dad for the first time while also gaining unlimited access to dorm cafeteria foods (dessert bar, soda dispenser, seconds and thirds on fries, you know the drill). What’s more, there are fast-food options that are both convenient and, not unimportantly, cheap. Late-night pizza is a staple too.


It all adds up to weight gain during a young women’s first year of college. In fact, in the face of today’s obesity epidemic, some researchers even call it the “freshman 15” because people in all age categories are packing on extra pounds, including college women.

A recent study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pediatrics casts the “freshman 10” in a different yet logical light. It shows that dramatic weight gain during college might well be a function of “excessive recreational Internet time, insufficient sleep, regular coffee consumption and alcoholic beverages” even more directly than unhealthy food choices.

The study focused on a 2001 survey of more than 5,000 older adolescent girls from throughout the U.S. It established typical past-year recreational Internet use, sleep amounts, coffee habits and alcohol consumption. Each volunteer subject reported her weight for 2000 and again for 2001. The researchers performed further calculations for body mass index based on weight and height.

The results were insightful—and probably useful for all of us, whether we might parents, current students ourselves or simply looking to stay trim and young. The overuse of the Internet—this is sort of a rolling judgment but suffice it to say Internet browsing in college housing is second to breathing—correlated in an unhealthy way with inadequate sleep. The Internet overload also correlated unhealthfully with consumption of two or more alchoholic drinks per week, while there was no correlation between Internet overuse and coffee as it relates to weight gain.

What’s consistent with other recent studies is that lack of sleep (caused by too much Internet browsing if you accept this research hypothesis) leads to weight gain. The body needs restorative time each night to reach full fat-burning potential. Alcoholic consumption, which adds empty calories, is also disruptive to sleep patterns both in the broad sense of staying up later to attend a party or bar and in the physiological result of disturbing the deep-sleep patterns we need.


On a practical note, college women who browsed the Internet to an extreme, did not sleep enough (less than seven hours per night is rule of thumb) and consumed alcohol gained four extra pounds, on average, compared to women who did not cyber-surf too long. The researchers concluded that substituting sleep for recreational Internet time might be just the way to lose weight. Interestingly, other researchers are beginning to find that getting enough sleep also will help a student maintain an optimal grade-point average. It seems our brains need restorative time too.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and get off this computer and sleep!)…but come back!



By Alwyn Cosgrove

As a trainer, I’ve witnessed some amazing things in the gym, most of which involved 300-pound powerlifters moving weight equal to that of a small SUV. (There was also the adult-film star I trained who had an orgasm every time she did hanging leg raises, but that’s another story.)


The most impressive feat I’ve ever seen, though, came courtesy of a 160-pound guy named Steve Cotter. Steve’s a martial artist, and one day he did a dozen single-leg squats while holding an 88-pound kettlebell in each hand. If that doesn’t sound particularly jaw-dropping, try doing one — without any weights.


And there lies an important point: Despite the plethora of gym equipment available, some of the greatest exercises remain the ones you can do with just your body weight — for instance, the single-arm pullup and the handstand pushup. Or the lower-body version, the best leg workout to build leg strength and improve athletic performance: the full-range, rock-bottom, single-leg squat.


So, while you may not be the strongest guy in the gym, you can still turn heads by banging out a set of single-leg squats. And the attention is just a side benefit. Master this one leg workout and you’ll see gains in strength, speed, and balance. You’ll squat more weight, jump higher, and discover athletic ability you never had before. The best part: You can do it all without setting foot in a gym.


Test your best

To determine your leg workout training plan, do as many single-leg squats as you can. If you aren’t able to perform at least two repetitions flawlessly, note the spot during your descent at which you can’t control your speed of movement. This is your “breaking point” — and you’ll need to know it to complete the routine. Once you’ve finished the test, proceed to the leg workout here that most closely matches your maximum effort. 


Stand on a bench or box that’s about knee height. Hold your arms in front of you and flex your right ankle so your toes are higher than your heel. Keeping your torso as upright as possible, bend your left knee and slowly lower your body until your right heel lightly touches the floor. Pause for 1 second, then push yourself up. That’s one repetition.




THE PROBLEM: Individually, your legs aren’t strong enough to support your body weight through the entire range of motion.

THE FIX: A two-pronged attack using “negatives” and “partials,” both of which help you challenge your weak spots and lower your breaking point. Do this workout once every 4 days until you can perform at least two single-leg squats with perfect form.


Step 1


Stand on your left leg, facing away from a bench. Holding your arms and your right leg in the air in front of you, slowly lower your body until your butt is slightly higher than your breaking point. (Ideally, this should take 5 to 7 seconds.) Sit, then stand up using both legs. That’s one repetition. Do six reps with your left leg, then six more  with your right. Complete a set. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes and move on to step 2.



Stand on a bench holding a pair of 5-pound dumbbells. As you perform a single-leg squat, simultaneously lift the dumbbells in front of you to shoulder height. (This helps counterbalance your body, making the movement easier.) Again, lower your body until you’re just above your breaking point, then pause for 2 seconds before pushing yourself back up. Do 10 repetitions with each leg, pausing for 10 seconds instead of 2 on the last rep with each.



THE PROBLEM: Because you can’t adjust the weight you’re using, as you can with free weights, your muscles give out quickly — and that limits the total number of repetitions you can perform, a key factor in increasing strength.

THE FIX: A technique called escalating density training, or EDT. Popularized by Charles Staley, author of Muscle Logic, this method helps you slow the onset of fatigue, so you can complete more total repetitions than usual. Instead of doing as many reps as you can in each set, you’ll do more sets of fewer repetitions. In addition, you’ll further increase the challenge to your legs by adding two other single-leg exercises: the Bulgarian split squat and the high stepup.


Step 1

Determine your starting point

Take the number of single-leg squats you can complete with perfect form and divide it by two. That’s how many repetitions you’ll do each set. (If your best effort is three, round down to one.) Perform the 4-week EDT routine below once every 4 days, doing the number of sets indicated and resting after each for the prescribed amount of time.


Step 2 


Stand with a bench about 2 feet behind you and place the instep of your right foot on the bench. Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Your left lower leg should remain perpendicular to the floor. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as you can. Do 12 to 15 repetitions, then repeat, this time with your left foot resting on the bench and your right foot in front. After you’ve worked both legs, immediately (without resting) complete step 3.


Step 3 


Stand facing a bench or step that’s about knee height. Lift your left foot and place it firmly on the bench, push down with your left heel, and push your body upward until your left leg is straight and your right foot hangs off the bench. Lower yourself back down. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 15, then do the same number of reps with your right leg.



THE PROBLEM: You have poor endurance.

THE FIX: Training your muscles to resist fatigue. Perform the following routine once every 4 days for 5 weeks.


Step 1

Do as many single-leg squats as you can, then rest for 60 seconds


Step 2

Repeat until you’ve completed twice the number of reps you achieved in your first set.

So, if you do seven reps in your first set, you’ll do as many sets as needed to complete 14 reps. For each subsequent workout, this will be your repetition goal.


Step 3

Each workout, try to reach your repetition goal in fewer sets. For instance, if you need five sets in your first workout, aim for your goal in four sets in your next session. After 5 weeks, repeat the entire process. But in order to keep improving, do the exercise while holding dumbbells at your sides.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



Injuries to the knee are seen throughout virtually all sports and all age ranges. Have you ever wondered why the knee is the most common reason for a visit to an orthopedic surgeon? Moreover, have you ever wondered how rehabilitation and training programs could better alleviate the stresses placed on the knee? The answers lie in using Applied Functional Science to understand the chain reaction biomechanics of the two “bookend” joints of the knee – the hip and the ankle.

Although the distal femur and the proximal tibia form the primary knee joint, the other ends of these two longest bones in the body reveal the reactive nature of the knee. The knee is referred to as a reactor because it responds to drivers from above and below. These drivers can be ground reaction force, gravity, momentum, hands, feet, or often times the eyes. During initial foot contact in upright function, the ankle joint, comprised of the distal tibia and talus, create a chain reaction from the ground up that directly influences the knee via tibial and fibular motion. Similarly, the hip joint, comprised of the proximal femur and the illium, influences the knee from the top down via the femur. The three-dimensional motions of these two “bookend” joints play a significant role in determining the magnitude of stress placed on the knee. An appropriate chain reaction from these two bookend joints enables the knee to effectively dissipate significant forces. However, dysfunction at either joint can leave the knee caught in the middle with few places to go and nowhere to hide.


A practical example of the chain reaction relationship between the ankle and the knee can be illustrated using a female beach volleyball player. Based on its attachment sites, the ACL it is placed under stress during combined knee flexion, abduction (i.e. valgus), and internal rotation. In this example, as the volleyball player approaches the net and begins to load her lower extremity to prepare for jumping, she steps in an uneven sand hole which causes her heel to abruptly evert and her talus to plantarflex and adduct. This motion of the talus influences the tibia to internally rotate and abduct. This tibial motion, if not properly decelerated, will create excessive knee internal rotation, abduction, and flexion which can directly lead to a right ACL tear. However, this motion can be properly controlled and reduce the risk of injury by muscles properly decelerating the tibia and femur. The specific tri-plane action of muscles that influence the knee are too numerous to adequately describe in this article and, therefore, will be discussed in an upcoming newsletter.

A second practical example can illustrate a situation when dysfunction at the hip is the underlying cause of patella femoral pain. Recent research has confirmed Gary Gray’s long held belief that patella femoral pain is more a track problem (femur) than a train problem (patella). Dr. Chris Powers, et al, summarized that “patellofemoral joint kinematics during weight-bearing conditions could be characterized as the femur rotating underneath the patella.”1 In another study, Dr. Powers, et al, goes on to assert that “interventions aimed at controlling hip and ankle motions may be warranted and should be considered when treating persons with patellofemoral joint dysfunction.”2


A forty-year-old triathlete with excessive femoral internal rotation during the loading phase of gait presents lateral right knee pain while running. His knee pain can be explained by the inability of the hip external rotators, adductors, and hamstring muscles to decelerate the excessive femoral motion. The track crashing toward midline too rapidly, in effect, causes the train to derail laterally. The symptoms are present at the knee; however, through use of lower extremity chain reaction biomechanics, one can easily understand how the cause is at the hip.

These examples illustrate a few core principles of Applied Functional Science. First, joints in the body move in three planes of motion. Second, function is driven by, among other things, ground reaction force, the environment, and gravity. Third, movement at one joint will create chain reaction responses at other joints throughout the body. Lastly, function is individualized and task-specific.

Applied Functional Science requires us to understand the person, tasks, and goal(s). A thorough understanding of the chain reaction biomechanics of all three joints will assist in implementing rehabilitation and training programs that ensure that, although still caught in the middle, the knee now has two powerful friends by its side. ——-By Brett Bloom

Gray G: Functional Video Digest. Functional Manual Reaction. The Knee. v3.7

Gray G: Functional Video Digest. Patella Femoral. The Train & The Track. v2.5

1. Powers CM, Ward SR, Fredericson M, Guillet M, Shellock FG. Patellofemoral kinematics during weightbearing and non-weightbearing knee extension in persons with patellar subluxation: A preliminary study. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 33:677-685, 2003.

2. Powers CM. The influence of altered lower extremity kinematics on patellofemoral joint dysfunction: A theoretical perspective J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 33:639-646, 2003

Get Strong! Stay Strong!