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He who sees a lift as a body part is lost | Boddicker Performance

Filed under: Anatomy and Physiology, strength training

He who sees a lift as a body part is lost

by on Mar 10th, 2010

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A great therapist once said, “he who treats the site of pain is lost.”  Think about that.  It’s brilliant in its simplicity, and I believe it can be extended to functional exercise.

I supremely dislike the theory that a runner doesn’t need to execute upper body lifts because he only performs with his legs.  Not only does such comment show to me that you fail to understand anatomy but also you doubt the power of the nervous system.

Like it or not, the upper body plays a role in running.  Now I see it difficult to pin the upper body as a “force producer” and I largely see arm swing to be more of a passive activity as a result of rotational forces incurred during gait, but we are remiss to believe that the upper body serves no function to running performance.  That said, there may be a few exceptions.

Sure, I don’t necessarily care how much my athlete can bench press or how many pull ups he can do before failing, but you can bet your bottom dollar they are in our programs.  Why?

First of all, exercises utilizing the upper extremity as a driver to challenge force transfer across the core play a role in our ability to reduce and produce forces with the lower extremity.  Exercises like a push up, single arm row, alternating dumbbell bench pressing, and on and on not only use the upper body as a driver, but also require a great deal of stability provided first so strong movement can occur.

Additionally, many of the upper body muscles insert into one of the three levels of the TLF, and effective mechanisms of tensioning the TLF are essential for effective load transfer across the pelvic girdle.  Without adequate tensioning at ground contact, we run the risk lumbo-pelvo-hip instability that can lead to problems locally, proximally, or distally.  One cannot consider the TLF as the only fascia that matters in locomotion, however.  A brief look into the concept of Anatomy Trains shows that we are remarkably connected from head to toe via fascial syncitia.

Finally, the nervous system has a powerful effect on human locomotion.  Strength and motor control at the shoulder or cervical complex is capable of producing neurologically mediated movement or potential movement (irradiation) at satellite segments.  With proper patterning, we are capable of developing effective feedback and feedforward mechanisms that help us alter movement strategies for the most efficient pattern in given conditions.

Best regards,
Carson Boddicker

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Leave a Comment »3 Comments
  • Patrick Ward March 10, 2010

    Great stuff over the last few blogs, Carson. Runners really need to get on the bus as far as having a more well-rounded approach to training and preparing for their events. Recreational runners seems to have it the worst, as they typically don’t have the strength (or genetics) of elite runners, who can get away with loads of running volume. Recreational runners lack of strength leads to an innability to decelerate and apply force through the gait cycle and becomes a huge issue when higher milages are reached in training, as their is only so much tolerance their tissue can handle.


  • Carson Boddicker March 12, 2010

    Definitely good value in your comment, PW. We know that those with the best stiffness values are the most efficient and often the most resilient. There is little question that the best place to develop this efficiency is off the track.

  • Dustin Kinsey June 7, 2010

    There is a little known pamphlet entitled “Effficient Running” authored by Kansas City MPT Jack Cady. It is clear, concise and an envaluable resource for both the experienced and novice runner alike. In paticular it addresses the role of arm swing in stride mechanics. Cady views arm swing as a critical element and an active participant in the development of a sound, efficient stride. Much of your article would support his findings and/or serve as a supplemental understanding of the connection between the upper and lower body. I would like to know your thoughts given your assertion that arm swing is a “passive activity”. Let me know if you can’t find a copy. Thanks for the great articles.


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