Dr. Phil Wagner: Data Should Inform Your Movement
For the last 10 years, Dr Phil Wagner, CEO of Sparta Science, has been researching movement patterns using a device called a force plate that measures a body’s force exerted on the ground, either by jumping or balancing. Measuring “movement signatures” alongside performance capabilities and injury profiles, Dr. Wagner and his team have been able to create insightful software that analyzes a user’s mobility.
Traditionally, force plates were only accessible in academic labs. The Sparta Science device is similar to a bathroom weight scale — light and portable. Data gathered by these force plates is another tool that can help practitioners target the kinds of movement that might be appropriate for their patient. “When we look at weight training, Pilates or yoga, we’ve got to hone in on what’s the right exercises for how you move,” Dr. Wagner says. “Everybody can and should do yoga, Pilates, weight training. The real question is: which of those exercises within those groups are the most suited for your needs?”
“Everybody can and should do yoga, Pilates, weight training. The real question is: which of those exercises within those groups are the most suited for your needs?”
Often, people focus on an exercise they like and are good at, usually gravitating towards either mobility or stability. “The mindset is: I can never have enough core stability. You can. Or: I can never be too flexible. You can,” he says. By measuring something called movement variability, Dr. Wagner’s research exposes specific types of movement an individual should work on.
Dr. Rowan Paul: Move With Intention
“In Western culture, we’ve moved away from body awareness,” says sports medicine physician Dr. Rowan Paul. “Certain people are attracted to certain activities, in part because their bodies, on the surface, seem to be good at it.”
Looking at the big picture, including diet, sleep, movement history, and genetic and epigenetic analysis (looking at risk predisposition to joint replacement or cuff tears, for example), promotes a greater body awareness for his patients. “I have all sorts of tools that can help snuff out inflammatory flares and improve structural health. But at the end of the day, you have to get strong, you have to be balanced, and you have to be able to integrate your movement,” says Dr. Paul. “It’s multi-disciplinary.”
At the end of the day, you have to get strong, you have to be balanced, and you have to be able to integrate your movement,” says Dr. Paul. “It’s multi-disciplinary.”
Part of becoming more aware of your body includes cross-training to break injury patterns. “I encourage my patients to commit to movement. That might be five minutes in the morning. That might be five minutes before you go to sleep. That might be once an hour at their workstation,” says Dr. Paul. “Just move and move with intention.”
Brian Hannah: Take Ownership of How You Move
Using manual therapy and strength coaching, “I’m making an intervention, whether it be a muscle activation or a release,” says Brian Hannah, founder of Thrive Muscle Activation. This can help improve patients’ force and mobility. Through “manual techniques, I can give them the ability to do the exercise and have the adherence,” explains Hannah. But the other half of it is autonomy: “If they don’t actually take ownership of [the movement], then they’re not going to be successful in the long-run.” Someone who “wants to become part of their own success” will come in with the goal of optimizing the time they have for exercise, focusing on movements they should add in or take out.
Focusing on this mindset is key to Hannah’s practice. “The best exercise for someone is an exercise that they’re actually going to do,” he says. Throwing someone who’s new to a certain type of movement — whether that’s a yoga class, on a Pilates apparatus, or into a running group — can be intimidating. “I think that we need to be careful about labeling things into certain categories,” Hannah says. Rather, he prefers to show patients how to recreate certain movements in an environment they are comfortable in (in a pool rather than on a yoga mat, for example). “Movement is movement and the body either understands how to connect certain types of muscles or it doesn’t.”
John Burns: A Healthy Lifestyle Is Part of Active Recovery
“It really hasn’t been until the last five or 10 years that people have focused on recovery as part of their longevity and getting their body to work most efficiently,” says John Burns, CEO of TB12, Tom Brady’s wellness and fitness program. “We talk a lot about pliability, hydration and nutrition, mental fitness — the lifestyle [that will] help you not only get longevity, but a high level of performance over time.” Adopting better lifestyle habits is one of the pillars of TB12’s philosophy in helping clients move without restriction and pain, correcting asymmetries even as you age.
Treating knee or back pain with a holistic approach, a TB12 body coach is going to look for the root cause. Knee pain can stem from the foot and ankle, or the hip and the back. “We look at the whole body,” says Burns. With knee pain, maybe “your foot’s not landing. You’re not doing heel-to-toe when you walk because you don’t have the ankle flexion that you need.” A common issue they see at TB12 with golfers, for example, is back pain stemming from the hips. A body coach would work on rotation and mobility in the targeted area to relieve the related back pain.