Human Kinetics Excerpts - Part 2

EVALUATING PRINCIPLES OF ALIGNMENT AND POSTURE

This is an excerpt from Pilates by Rael Isacowitz.

People often adopt a simplistic view when assessing posture and alignment; for example, they measure only strength and flexibility and ignore the complexity of the factors involved. Strengthening a certain muscle group or stretching another to improve posture and alignment is not enough. Correcting alignment is a process of neuromuscular reeducation that requires enormous commitment, patience, and the guidance of a scrutinizing eye.

Posture may be observed in terms of the alignment of the joints and bony landmarks and understood in terms of muscle balance and function. It is often described relative to a plumb line—a straight line that runs vertically through the body. When viewing the body from the side in relation to the plumb line, deviations in an anterior–posterior direction become apparent (in the sagittal plane). The following landmarks of the body should line up vertically on the plumb line: the lobe of the ear, bodies of the cervical vertebrae, shoulder joint, midpoint of the trunk, greater trochanter of the femur, a point slightly anterior to the midline of the knee, and a point slightly anterior to the lateral malleolus (ankle).

Please note that ideal posture is the ideal, a goal that one strives for but may never achieve. Each individual is different in body type, center of gravity, habitual movement patterns, mental state, and genes; it is inconceivable to think that one posture will fit all. However, the concept of an ideal posture serves as a guideline and a reference by which we can detect deviations and gauge changes.

Posture affects every movement, exercise, and decision in an exercise program. Consider, for instance, a person who has fatigue posture, which is characterized by a rounded thoracic spine and the pelvis being forward of the plumb line in a posterior tilt. Although correction is complex, it generally involves extending the upper back, strengthening the upper back extensors, strengthening the iliopsoas, and stretching the external obliques of the abdomen. Bringing the shoulders into ideal alignment over the pelvis is also often helpful. On the other hand if a person has lumbar hyperlordosis, which involves an increased lumbar curve of the spine often accompanied by an anterior tilt of the pelvis, correction generally focuses on strengthening the abdominals and stretching the hip flexors and lower back extensors. Clearly these two people will receive different exercise programs, emphasizing different muscle groups, with the selection of exercises and the cueing appropriate for their particular posture.

SELECT THE RIGHT TRAINING FACILITY

This is an excerpt from Strength Training for Young Athletes (2nd Edition) by William Kraemer and Steven Fleck.

When evaluating where to train, pay attention to the number and type of people who typically train during the times your child would be there in order to get a feel for the environment. Weight rooms have their own training environments, ranging from upscale health clubs to serious gyms for bodybuilders and weightlifters to places for young adults to socialize.

Be aware of the messages being sent in the training environment you choose for a child. Recently many gyms that cater only to children have popped up all over the United States; seek them out as well as the classic choice of a well-equipped YMCA/YWCA with a family environment. Many commercial venues cater to a specific market and may not have appropriate equipment and personnel available to help train certain age groups of children. You must carefully determine whether the environment is right for a young athlete. One of the worst approaches is to send a young athlete into an environment without a careful analysis of the equipment, who trains there, and the professional qualifications of the personnel.

Some fitness facilities can limit effective training of the young athlete by not having certain types of equipment. Some may not reflect any real understanding of what younger athletes need, especially prepubescent children. Many schools provide training facilities, but due to overcrowding, lack of supervision, or sole use by older athletes, they may not be appropriate for the younger child. Very few adequate training facilities exist below the high school level in most public school programs. Nevertheless, make sure the facility has what is needed for optimal training. Not all facilities are equal, even if the corporation name is the same. The addition of a parent, coach, or personal trainer accompanying each child can make for a crowded weight room in smaller facilities. In addition, when planning a home gym area make sure that the flooring, ceiling height, temperature control, ventilation, and safety elements are all appropriate. There are numerous tales of accidents involving young children who train in a poorly lit basement with no supervision. Expect the same safety standards from a home gym as you would from a health club. With children, supervision and guidance in the implementation of a workout program are vital to success.

LEARN WHY WOMEN CARRY MORE FAT THAN MEN

This is an excerpt from Women's Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier.

One of the main morphological differences between men and women is the greater amount of fat that women carry; this softens the outline of the muscles, more or less erases the osseous indicators, and rounds out the surfaces while creating characteristic folds and grooves.

Fat in normal women represents between 18% and 20% of body weight, whereas in men it represents only 10% to 15%. The reason for this difference is that women at some point in their lives may nourish a fetus and then a baby from their own reserves, so women have to stock energy in the form of fat in anticipation of future pregnancies (and must stock even more energy during the last two trimesters of pregnancy).

For various reasons, different fat distributions occur in women according to climate. In hot countries, the fat is localized on the buttocks (black Africans), on the hips (Mediterraneans), and around the navel (certain Asians). This distribution avoids covering the woman with a hot coat of fat that would be difficult to bear and inefficient for thermoregulation during hot periods. In cold countries, the distribution of fat is more uniform, which provides for better protection during rigorous winters. However the fat is distributed, its main function is for the survival of the species as it provides for survival of the woman and her offspring during times of scarcity.

It is important to note that all healthy people have fat reserves necessary for the proper functioning of their bodies. Obsession with obesity or the need to follow deviant aesthetic fashions should not lead to the complete elimination of fat. In fact, the almost complete disappearance of fat can lead to serious hormonal problems involving the cessation of the period (amenorrhea, which is a temporary absence of ovulation and therefore momentary sterility), as this means has been put in place during evolution to avoid bringing progeny into the world that the female could not nourish with her own organic reserves.

Primary Fat Deposits

Fat reserves accumulate in very specific areas on the body. Generally they avoid the flexion folds at the joints in order not to interfere with movement. Fat accumulations are often distributed the same in both sexes; the main difference is in the greater development on certain areas in women.

1. The Buttocks
The buttock region can be quite prominent in women; this is almost entirely due to fat that is contained by the gluteal fold. Besides its role as an energy reserve, this concentration protects the anal area and helps make the sitting position more comfortable by cushioning the direct contact between the bones (ischial tuberosities) and the ground or supporting surface.

The Gluteal Fold
The gluteal fold is made up of tough, fibrous tracts that connect the deep surface of the skin in the gluteal area to the ischium. The main consequence of this fibours attachement is to contain the fat in a sort of pocket, which prevents it from falling down against the back of the thigh while at the same time increasing the volume of the buttock. When certain people age, this fat empties and the bottom of the buttock withers, even going so far as to hang down. Only appropriate training of the buttock area will compensates for the disappearance of fat and the loss of tone through muscle development that maintains the buttocks from the inside.

2. Low Back
Second in importance, this concentration merges with the gluteal area so that the buttock increases in height until it seems to go up to the waist.

3. Below the Trochanter, or “Riding Breeches”
Frequently found in Mediterranean women, this concentration can be quite bulky. Located on the superior part of the lateral thigh just below the depression of the greater trochanter, it blends with the fatty tissue of the anterior surface of the thigh and, at the posterior, with that of the buttocks. When there is a lot of fat in this area we often observe many more or less deep depressions on the surface of the skin, referred to as a “pitted” or “cottage cheese” surface. This is due to inelastic fibrous tracts that, like little cables, connect the deep surface of the skin at the level of the depressions to the enveloping aponeurosis of the muscle, with the adipose tissue creating bumps or bulges in between (a quiltlike phenomenon).

4. Between the Thighs
Relatively common in women, fat in this location plays an important aesthetic role in that it fills the space between the two thighs; it is often more noticeable in women than in men.

5. Around the Navel
As in the subtrochanteric location, the periumbilical concentration is one of the rare fat deposits that is also found in thin women.

6. Pubis
This triangular concentration is known as the “mount of Venus.” It protects the symphysis pubis from blows.

7. Knee
In women, the knee is often a location of fat concentration, especially on the medial region.

8. Posterior-Medial Part of the Upper Arm
Especially developed in women, this concentration, besides its energetic role, protects the superficial nerves and arteries in the medial and superior area of the arm.

9. Breasts
The breast is composed of fat enclosing the mammary glands, the whole being held together by a web of connective tissue resting on the pectoralis major. Note that men also have glands and mammary fat (atrophied).

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