If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I am passionate about movement quality and using movement to help reduce aches and pains. A big influence in my decision to go to massage school was the impact Kelly Starrett and his MobilityWOD had on me, and how self-maintenance did wonders for those nagging aches and pains my clients experienced, along with what I experienced myself. His new book, Becoming A Supple Leopard was released not too long ago and it’s doing very well. I couldn’t be more excited that there’s a reference for people to educate themselves on movement quality, along with simple self-maintenance exercises that can be performed with minimal equipment. Granted, he can take things too far with the folks in his YouTube videos, so don’t get caught up in the “deeper and more painful must be better” mentality.
Creating torque is a concept that I first heard from Kelly a while ago, but he has a great definition in his book that I’d like to share: “Torque: Something that produces or tends to produce torsion or rotation; the moment of a force or system of forces tending to cause rotation.” When it comes to creating torque at the hips, applying a bit of lateral rotation (external rotation) has the ability to change the motor recruitment a bit; particularly for the squat and deadlift. Here’s a video Kelly uploaded almost 6 months ago:
As you can see, hips can play a role in back position and, therefore, back health. In the midst of knowing about this, I created a seminar at the gym that I call the Mobility & Motor Control Clinic. It’s limited to 5 people and we discuss a number of topics, one of which is creating torque. Here’s a photo from a recent MMCC:
I’ve modified it over the weeks, especially as I learn more, but it’s been quite fun. I try to help people understand that mobility comes from improved motor control. You can stretch all you want, but if you’re not locking it in with controlled movement, or you don’t develop a reflexive response to movement, then you probably won’t see any significant changes. Creating torque, in my opinion, is one of those helpful tools in creating a good reflexive response while locking in certain musculature that might otherwise delay in its firing pattern.
A blog I began following over the last few months posted recently on course notes for DNS B. DNS is Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and is based on developmental kinesiology. In the blog post, Zac Cupples, physical therapist and operator of the blog, describes how external rotation “kicks in the pelvic floor musculature.” Check it out:
I work in a gym that trains predominantly females, so this was wonderful to hear. Not to say that men aren’t susceptible to pelvic floor issues, it’s just that the men who’ve come through our gym doors don’t run into the bathroom 3 reps into certain movements because they’re afraid they’re going to wet themselves. There could be other problems I’m unaware of, though, especially with men in relation to pelvic floor issues, so I apologize in advance for any ignorance. I am only limited by my experiences over the last 2 years.
I wanted to also give a quick demo with the set-up for my favorite lift: deadlift. The first 3 reps I just walked to the bar and pulled the weight. The next three I consciously turned my knees out and pulled. I could feel my glutes a lot more and, although it’s hard to tell, the arches in my feet felt a little higher. I find that it’s much easier to avoid valgus knee when you initiate a movement with lateral rotation at the hip.
Some common faults I see when people try to create torque at their hips is the compensation of hip flexion and/or knee flexion. Or they will turn their feet out. You don’t want anything to move or change positions except your knees rotating out. Not pushing out (abduction), rotating out.
Like any form of exercise, making your set-up a habit takes time and awareness for a while. As you “kick in” your pelvic floor with squats and deadlifts, it’s inevitable that your pelvic floor health improves over time. Be patient, be persistent, and deadlift. That’s how results are made.