1 of the 7 (or 8) basic human movements, and one that gets overlooked quite frequently in a majority of training programs.
First things first.
I am not telling you to keep squatting on an ACL that you blew out last Sunday while skiing. Or to not take the proper time post surgical repair to let things heal.
What I am referring to is the following type of situation. Imagine if you will:
Your knee has been hurting you for a few weeks. Mostly when you run, but increasingly when you’re just walking, especially upstairs. There was not trauma to your knee; it just started slowly over time.
You go see your doctor (primary care, physical therapist, chiropractor, pick your poison) and they tell you there is nothing seriously wrong (great news!) and you should “Take some ibuprofen, give it a break and rest it for a few weeks.”
YOUR KNEE DOESN’T NEED A BREAK, IT NEEDS ANSWERS!
This boils my blood, and if this scenario sounds ridiculous and incomplete to you, that’s because it is.
Taking ibuprofen will help with the inflammation (more on that some other time…) which may help you move better, and more pain free, but this is only a valuable tool if you are also given the rehab exercises to be performed while moving better.
Taking “time off” when nursing an injury doesn’t do jack squat if you don’t do something to FIX the injury.
If my bike had a flat tire, and I put it in the corner to “rest” for two weeks and then tried to ride it again, the tire would still be flat and I would just look like an idiot.
If you take two weeks off of your preferred exercise routine, but don’t do anything to change the current condition of the injury, then you are going to go back to your fitness routine de-conditioned, in worse shape than you started,
AND YOU WILL STILL HAVE AN INJURY.
Insert exercise modification and rehab exercises here.
In the scenario listed above, there are SO MANY things we could look at to help this athlete/patient make improvements...
What does your running gait look like? Do we need to make changes to your gait so that you don’t continue to overload your knee?
How is your hip strength? Are there exercises we could give you to stabilize the hip and knee long term?
What’s going on with the other leg and/or both ankles? Do you need increased ankle mobility to take stress off of the injured knee?
In my opinion, any athlete (and yes, I believe we are all athletes in some way, shape, or form) who has been told to stop doing what they love without being given something to help move them move towards healing, has been done a disservice.
So let’s dig a little deeper next time an injury pops up.
Sometimes it is something as easy as getting a specific stretch or dynamic warm up from a coach or personal trainer and sometimes it takes a medical professional evaluating your movement patterns and then giving you some homework. Either way, let’s try to patch and fill the bike tire instead of just letting it “rest” pathetically in the corner with dirty laundry hanging off the handles.
Open workout 17.1, otherwise known as Biering- Sorenson told you so…
Across the board, from beginner to elite, the most common comment I saw regarding the 17.1 WOD is the after effects of a tired, tight, and/or downright painful low back.
From what I observed, in the handful of people I saw doing the WOD, the reason for this is the natural rounding of the low back that occurred as every competitor reached fatigue.
We spend the overwhelming majority of our time during workouts attempting to maintain midline stability, keeping our backs 'set', and engaging our posterior chain. During CrossFit, and weightlifting, a rounded low back is a crime punishable by a beating with a PVC stick and lots and lots of burpees.
The problem occurs when we get appropriately fatigued, and start losing our midline stability and 'set' back during intense efforts like those displayed during the 17.1 WOD. Because, as we know, if we don't train the movement we will not be very good at the movement.
This is where the Biering-Sorensen, otherwise known as the back extension, exercise comes into play. During the 17.1 WOD the risk of low back rounding potential increased as people approached 150 reps. So the only way we could have prepared for 150 rounding of the low back, is to practice 150 roundings of the low back. Which most people do not.
If you know me, and my cohorts at SODO CrossFit – Darrick and BeckyJo - you know that we preach the gospel of high repetition back extensions. And now you know the reason.
When performing a back extension repetition properly the pelvis and hips are blocked and the majority of movement comes from the low back. This is very similar, if not the same, as the rounding of the low back that occurs normally during high-intensity workouts and/orcompetitions.
In addition, from a performance standpoint, if you felt as though your low back was limiting your ability to go longer or faster during this particular work out, that most likely was the cause. So high rep back extension training, could have prevented the post competition low back blues, as well as improved your performance.
So, it's too late now for 17.1, but going forward remember that back extensions, specifically higher repetitions (in the 100+ range), are not just for clinical low back pain treatment.
A new, succinct, video explaining what Dr. Ross and the gang do here at SODO Health & Performance.
Done for us by the great team at:
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If you have been watching any of the Olympics, you have undoubtedly seen the circular'bruising' on Michael Phelps (and other athletes).
While there are many well documented & anecdotal benefits to "cupping" by Chinese & Oriental Medicine Practitioners (OM), there is not a lot of science/data to support it. In OM, the thought is that the 'cupping' can affect the flow of energy, blood, and/or Chi. In the Manual Therapy world, we utilize 'cupping' to provide a level of decompression to the tissues in the hope that this will aid in the break-up and reduction of adhesions and/or scar tissue in the underlying fascia and/or muscles.
Dr. Ross has been utilizing 'cupping' with a suction device and 'cups' for 12 years in his clinical practice. In combination with manual therapy, the results appear to be more beneficial than with manual therapy alone.
Here is Dr. Ross applying 'cupping' to BeckyJo (one of the owners of SODO CrossFit & CrossFit RE)
The cupping leaves the distinctive circular bruising on the skin. In 12 years of cupping, Dr. Ross has never seen clotting, permanent damage, and/or any other ill effects from the use of suction/cupping.
Here is the typical bruising:
Dr. Ross explains it as helping to 'tease apart' the adhesions and/or scarring that results from a wide range of tissue trauma (acute injuries, overuse injuries, trauma, etc.). Whereas, manual therapy aims to separate tissue layers, adhesions, and/or scar tissue, through the application of a specific force along the muscle and fasica layers, the action of cupping is to pull apart the layers.
In the following photo, the drawing above is demonstrating the cup pulling apart the layers of tissue, while the drawing below (where Dr. Ross is simulating the application of manual therapy with his thumb) is demonstrating the separating of tissue layers with manual therapy.
If you have any questions about cupping specific to manual therapy, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
When talking about the Fulcrums & Levers of the body and the relationship between these and injury prevention as well as performance enhancement, it all begins with the Fulcrum & Lever closest to the ground, the foot and ankle. In the human functional body, the foot is designed to provide stability, while the ankle is designed to provide mobility. Without stability of the foot, the body will attempt to 'compensate' and find the stability somewhere up the bio-mechanical chain in order to push, pull, squat, lunge, twist flex, or extend, whether in the gym or in everyday life. The next link in the chain up the body is the ankle. With an unstable (weak) foot, the ankle will try to take up the slack and may become locked up and function will be decreased. In order to prevent this from occurring, a relatively simple fix is to strengthen/stabilize the foot (fulcrum) so that the ankle can maintain it's mobility. A very common exercise (and well researched) is the "Short Foot" (as developed and popularized by the very famous orthopedic researcher, Vladimir Janda - <link>). Around here at SODO Health & Performance we like to call it "Strong Foot" (sounds more fun!).
The basic premise is to strengthen the 'intrinsic' muscles of the foot, thereby taking the demand off the ankle (and further structures up the bio-mechanical chain of the body). <StrongFoot link> Practicing this daily, in bare feet, can improve the stability of the foot and therefore improve overall function, performance, and decrease the risk of injury.
Working immediately next door to SODO CrossFit has its up and downs. All day I get to hear people making their lives better 'one workout/rep at a time". It is truly motivating.
However, what I hear and observe quite often that concerns me is the habit of "dropping" the barbell. Especially with heavy deadlifts, and when the workout calls for heavy weights overhead, the common trend of letting the loaded barbell "drop" is extremely dangerous to the training of the athlete. I am not talking about the dangers of a falling weight landing on something or someone. What I am referring to is the lack of effective training that is occurring when people miss out on a very important, and very "injury preventative", aspect of the workout movement. For this reason, athletes should "dump" the weight when needed and not "drop" the weight when they are done with their workout movement. Here is what I mean and why.
In any functional muscle contraction (during a workout) there are two phases of the movement/muscle, the concentric (shortening) phase and the eccentric (lengthening) phase. In a deadlift, for example, the concentric phase (mainly for the hamstrings, glutes, and low back) is the phase of lifting the barbell off the ground to your waist. The eccentric phase is when the barbell is lowered back down to the ground. Science tells us that a very important part of a workout movement is the eccentric loading phase. The eccentric phase is when the most loading of the muscle occurs and when the most force is produced in the muscle. Research has shown that this phase of the movement is also the phase that provides the most injury prevention to the muscle. In a nutshell, this is because most activity-related muscle injuries occurs as the muscle is being lengthened (eccentric phase) and the most effective way to prevent injury during this phase is to train this phase, i.e. train the lengthening (eccentric) phase of the movement.
When a barbell is dropped two things occurs. Puppies die a miserable death, and the eccentric phase of the muscle contraction is NOT trained. Performing a deadlift and lifting the bar to your waist and then dropping it back to the ground only trains half of the process, the concentric phase of the movement. This is only half the job, and leaves out the injury prevention aspect of the movement/workout.
This is NOT to say that you should not "dump" the weight when in a dangerous situation. This is completely different from "dropping" the weight because you choose to. Dumping a barbell should not be a choice, it should be a necessity based upon risk of injury.
The old adage, "don't pick it up unless you can safely put it back down" is a great rule to follow in order to improve your injury prevention aspect of your workout.
Quite often, other physicians and practitioners ask me about CrossFit. Specifically, the dangers of CrossFit and also where I think it is going as a health and physical fitness endeavor. Both of these questions have the same answer.
On a weekly basis I see at least 10 or 12 patients who regularly 'do CrossFit'. Of these, approximately 75% have an injury that they think may have been associated with their CrossFit activity. Most of the time, as I explain to my patients, the specific act of CrossFit does not cause the injury, it merely brings their weakness to the surface and they get injured by doing something that they have not done very often and thus can not do very well. Out of a full week of life they are doing these challenging CrossFit movements, that are out of their norm, at most 4-6 hours. This equates to about 3-4% of their weekly activities of daily living. No matter how careful you are, how great the exercise/movement is for you, and/or how great of a coach you have, doing something mildly to significantly challenging for only 3-4% of your week means that you will not be very good at it and thus your risk of injury is increased.
Our lives of sitting more than we want, using "iObjects" (phone, computer, tablets, etc.), and not being as consistently active as we would like (or nearly as active as our grandparents) has put us all way 'out of balance' in terms of health and especially fitness. It is a constant struggle for all of us to maintain a base level of health and fitness in our busy/successful/over worked/under recovered/couple ofkids/compromised nutrition lives. If we go into our favorite CrossFit box in this 'out of balance' condition and get "better, faster, stronger" over a period of time, we end up being better, faster, stronger, yet still out of balance. This equates to an increased risk of getting injured, because no matter how heavy our 1RM deadlift, we are still out of balance and that is what causes injury.
Which leads us to what we do here at SODO Health & Performance. We take our patients through, what we now refer to as, CrossFit PreHabilitation (CrossFit PreHab).
As opposed to rehabilitation AFTER an injury occurs, the goal is to PREvent the injury through focused specific exercises that address weak areas that might otherwise result in injury upon undertaking CrossFit, or any other number of physical activities. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be effective enough to simply incorporate some 'warm-up' or 'joint-prep' movements/light activities prior to a CrossFit WOD. Because we are already starting out in a deficit or 'out of balance', we need to put significant time and effort into re-balancing ourselves before we, or as we, start to undertake the challenging demands of CrossFit. Yes, this means a return to some isolation exercises targeted at strengthening weak areas, weak biomechanical functions, and/or weak functional capacities.
The majority of injuries I see in CrossFit members here at SODO H&P, are most effectively treated with specific therapeutic exercises AWAY from their regular CrossFit WODs.
In addition, more and more, I am having individuals come to see me for homework to balance out their weak areas AS they are starting CrossFit. Many of them still have existing membership to a 'globo-gym' and this works perfect for doing 2 days per week of PreHab while ramping up/into 3 days of CrossFit. After a couple of months, they transition fully (5-6 days per week) into CrossFit and are able to maintain their physical fitness 'balance' with the incorporation of some of their specific PreHab exercises into their warm-up before class. By prescribing specific PreHab homework we have seen a significant reduction in injuries from CrossFit as well as other challenging workouts and exercises regimens that our patients/athletes undertake.
A great deal of the PreHab programs center around our focus on the Fulcrum -> Lever -> Sport continuum. In order to do sports, you need good strong levering ability, and in order to have good strong levering ability you need to have durable fulcrums to support them. Not a strong core, but strong fulcrums of the body, specifically durable scapulo-costal fulcrums and durable lumbo-pelvic-hip fulcrums (the subject of other blog posts here).
For CrossFit to have longevity, keeping people able to participate is paramount. We have found that this is achieved through decreased injuries associated with CrossFit. An injured member/athlete will cancel their membership and go find something else. Pain free members/athletes stick with it over the long term and have better results.
Four Powerful Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar
By Dan Riley
Yes, you can clean your windows with it and use some in your salad dressing. However the amazing thing about apple cider vinegar, (ACV) is how your body can use it for powerful results, inside and outside. Below are some specific uses however many people use as a daily preventative tonic and for general wellness. The information presented here is based on using raw ACV.
Colds & Sinus. At the first sign of symptoms, mix two tablespoons in a glass of water and drink this twice per day, preferably on an empty stomach. Many people report relief within a day or two, sometimes almost immediately. Add a teaspoon of honey to the mix for a tasty beverage.
Indigestion & Heartburn. ACV is a PH balancer in the stomach and helps alleviate the over or under production of stomach acid, which we need for digestion but can lead to stress in some cases. Mix the ACV in a glass of water and take immediately.
Hair & Dandruff. The vitamins, minerals and acids in ACV are particularly useful to our scalp and hair. Mix with water or apply directly to the hair - leave on for an hour or less then rinse. Do this once a month for shiny, healthy hair and relief from dandruff. No chemical dandruff shampoo needed!
Better Sleep. The results most likely are related to the mineral content, both potassium and magnesium, as well as the the calming effects on the digestive system. Before heading to bed mix two tablespoons in water and add honey if preferred.
Read hundreds of actual user testimonials, for and against the use of natural remedies at www.earthclinic.com/remedies/acvinegar Be warned however. This site can be a serious time-sink because of all the great stories from users all over the world.
So my notes from a recent lecture, "Performance Eating for Endurance Activities", are simply notes for me and don't mean much to anyone else reading them. Merely outline headers as prompts for me on the information that I wanted to share. But, here is one of the main take-home items from the overall information:
Reduce Inflammation for increased Endurance Capacity in Life.
Here's why and here's how...
When it comes to food and our bodies there are two major factors that underline everything else: "Absorption and Utilization".
Basically, in order to 'utilize' anything that we consume, we need to be able to effectively (and hopefully efficiently) 'absorb' the food, water, vitamin, supplement, etc. into our body through our gastrointestinal tract. In order to rebuild muscle, rehydrate, and/or heal from injury or working out, we need to be able to get the nutrients into the bloodstream and then dispersed to the correct tissue or organ.
This happens through food or supplement being broken down into it's basic components (protein, carbohydrate, fat, water, vitamin, and/or mineral) and binding to the appropriate receptors on the intestinal lining. If the item does not bind to the appropriate receptor then it continues through the intestinal tract and comes out as an "expensive urine or bowel movement". Expensive because the high quality, organic, "free-range", grass-fed, or expensive supplement or vitamin goes straight through the body and is not put to good use.
One of the two ways that Inflammation can negatively affect your Endurance Capacity is to inhibit the absorption of the food/supplement item.
The lining of your intestinal tract has millions of tiny finger-like projections, called villi, that have the receptors for the basic components of food to be absorbed through on their surface. Using a hand and finger-like analogy, these receptors are all over each finger including down in the webbing between the fingers/villi. In the presence of an irritating substance, these villi become irritated and inflamed and much like a hand swelling up from inflammation, the receptors are 'covered up' by the surface of the swollen finger(s) on either side. The number of receptors that are available and accessible for the food components to be absorbed through are significantly reduced. So, as an example, if there are 100 items to be absorbed, the reduced number of accessible receptors means that perhaps only 50 of the items will be absorbed. Less absorbed means less transported through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream and therefore, less utilized. So, whatever 'expensive' supplement or food you take in is not fully absorbed and therefore not fully utilized. A specific example might be someone who wants to benefit from a specific and researched supplement X. The research says that the correct amount of X to take in order to see benefits is 2 grams. Well, with the scenario outlined above, the 2 grams is consumed, but only 1 gram of X may be absorbed and therefore the benefit will not be seen. The conclusion might be, "The supplement X does not work for me...". When in fact it would work if it was properly absorbed.
The second way in which Inflammation can negatively affect your Endurance Capacity is through a protein secreted by the Liver and fat cells called CrP (C-Reactive Protein). CrP is secreted in the presence of inflammation which the body interprets as irritation and/or injury. CrP has been linked to increase occurrence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Bad stuff to say the least and big detriments to Endurance Capacity. Irritating, and therefore inflamming, the intestinal tract can increase the production of CrP which causes a myriad of other health problems which negatively affects your Endurance Capacity.
How do you decrease the likelihood that this will happen?
Simple, eat "Food".
Food, made up of protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals is easily absorbed and utilized by the body because the intestinal tract does not get irritated when it is consumed.
What does irritate the intestinal tract is "non-Food".
Here is a short list of "non-Food" items that irritate and inflame the intestinal tract:
Partially Hydrogenated ______
Modified ______ Starch
Autolyzed ________ Extract (MSG)
Hydrolyzed _________ Protein
MonoSodium Glutamate (MSG)
Red, Blue, Yellow
Sometimes Natural Flavor (depending on the source can be MSG)
For these last two, I recommend if you have a question to see a Naturopath who can do a complete exam and find out what "non-Foods" cause inflammation in your intestine.
So do your best to reduce or eliminate these "non-Food" items from your diet. So that anything you consume will be 'utilized' to the utmost and increase your ability to fuel your system and thereby improve your Endurance Capacity.
I hope you find this information helpful and/or useful.
What is really wrong with static stretching?
Relatively speaking, muscles can recover from being stretched repeatedly. However, ligaments can not easily recover from being 'stretched'.
When a ligament is stretched to the point of being loose and flexible, the surrounding muscles have to 'take up the slack' and re-actively tighten up to stabilize the joints/structures.
And, the more you stretch the ligament(s), the more the muscles re-actively tighten up.
So, while stretching might loosen you up for a few minutes to hours, it actually tightens up your muscles over the long term. Which then results in you wanting to stretch more, and the "addiction" begins.
Structural Engineers, Architects, and Builders/Contractors all know that in any mechanical system the most vital piece of a functional machine is the “Fulcrum”. The Fulcrum needs to support it’s own weight plus the weight of the entire system (including the “Levers”), and in many cases, repeated repetitions of loading weight upon the Fulcrum.
In simple terms, the Fulcrum is the point at which the Lever of a machine moves or ‘articulates’ around a specific point. Think of a child’s teeter-totter. The point in the middle where the teeter-totter is supported would be the Fulcrum. In this example, the Fulcrum needs to be sturdy enough so the teeter-totter doesn’t collapse under the weight of the two people on the ends of the arms. Any slack, give, or weakness at the Fulcrum point and the system is compromised and thus creates the potential for failure of the entire system.
This is why the Fulcrum is built first and foremost to a degree where it can support the weight of the lever and load on the ends, plus a huge stable margin of error to avoid failure of the system at any cost. Hence, the Fulcrum is built to be the most stable part of the entire system. Once the Fulcrum is built and sturdy enough, then and only then, are the lever arm(s) attached to it, and then a force (children on the ends of the teeter-totter) can be applied to the lever arm(s).
When building the fulcrum and lever system, the architect/engineer can determine how much weight is being applied to the Fulcrum point based upon the dimensions of the entire system. This ensures that the fulcrum is not overloaded with the lever arms or with whatever weight (child) is going to be placed on the ends. This weight on the Fulcrum point is referred to as the “torque” on the Fulcrum. And in physics terms, torque equals (roughly) the length of the lever arm multiplied by the weight on the end. For example, if one end of the teeter-totter is 3 meters long, and the child on the end weighs 30 kilograms, the resultant torque on the Fulcrum is 3m x 30kg, or 90 units of force. An interesting point is that the same weight child would exert much more torque on the Fulcrum with only making the arm of the teeter-totter 1 meter longer (4 x 30 or 120 units). We can see how a small change in the length of the Lever arm results in much more torque on the Fulcrum.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with my CrossFit training?” Simply put, this basic concept of physics and construction is perhaps the single most important part of ANY training program, whether it be strength or endurance focused. It also is the single most overlooked concept in the majority of training that is available, and the most common source of injury and performance limitation. In this next section, I will explain why.
In very simple terms, Biomechanics is the study of human movement in mechanical language. We talk about movements of the arms, legs, and body in terms that we derive from non-human mechanical systems. Concepts like torque, force, Fulcrum, mass, Newton-meters, and levers also apply to the human body when discussing movement and movement patterns. More importantly, these concepts and terms are extremely important when looking at injuries and injury prevention.
If we take a very simplistic view of the human body we can see that we are simply four levers (2 arms and 2 legs) attached to a central Fulcrum. A bit more specifically, we are four levers attached to a group of structures that form a “Functional Fulcrum Group” (FFG). Unlike a non-human mechanical system, we do not simply have one Fulcrum point that the levers attach to, but rather a series of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments that work together to create the FFG. When we create force at the end of one of our levers, we stabilize our FFG and create movement. A very simple example would be the movement created by levering our leg against the ground, otherwise known as walking. We our hold our FFG (Fulcrum) stable and press against the earth (Force) with our leg (Lever) and walk. In the average human during the gait cycle, there is between 3 to 7 times our body weight transmitted to our FFG depending upon whether we are walking, jogging, or running.
So for a 180 lb person, this is between 540 and 1260 units of force (at least) being applied with each step. That is a lot of force! Not to mention, this is with a single step. The durability of the FFG needs to be tremendous to withstand this repeated force being applied over the length of a workout. This brings up perhaps the most important aspect of the FFG, durability. Strength is important, but durability is even more important, especially when it comes to training. The ability to withstand this force once or twice is good, but we are looking at roughly 1,500 to 2,000 steps in as little as a mile. We can see that if the durability of the FFG is not optimal, then a lack of performance ability (the most extreme lack of performance would be not finishing) can occur. And, a lack of performance ability can easily result in injury. If I am not running well, it is easier for me to become injured.
From here, I will discuss where a split in methodology of training occurs.
But first, we must briefly delineate the difference between the “F” and the “C” word.
Fulcrum vs. Core
When we look at the majority of “core” training exercises they are primarily focused on training the abs and obliques. This is akin to preventing injury of your triceps by training your biceps. While strong biceps are needed for optimal function of the upper arm and may contribute to decreased injury of the upper arm as a whole, the injury rate of a specific muscle (triceps) is only achieved through direct training of that specific muscle (triceps). The justification is often heard that training the abs and obliques will help to tighten the midsection and stabilize the back as a whole. Not only is this NOT supported in research; it is not supported by biomechanics.
This is where the distinction between “Core” and “Fulcrum”, or Functional Fulcrum Group (FFG), is very important. In the human animal, the primary movement of the lower half of the body is forward and the primary FFG muscles that support this movement are the low back, glutes (butt), and hamstrings. These muscles work primarily to stabilize the trunk while the legs propel us in a forward motion. Our favorite motion, the squat, is also a primarily ‘forward’ type motion. It is dependent on the FFG muscles stabilizing the torso, while we lever with the legs into an upright position. Training any other muscle than the low back, glutes, and hamstrings is not effectively training the FFG. Even more important is stability and durability of the FFG. The majority of “Core” training to prevent injury, specifically to the back, is often accompanied by flexibility training and incorrectly justified by the phrase, “A flexible spine is a healthy spine”. This has not resulted in lower occurrences of injury rates and is NOT supported in research. Any excess flexibility of the FFG will increase the risk of injury and decrease performance. A flexible FFG is not a healthy FFG. It will ultimately fail under any sort of repetitive load. In fact, the research has shown in numerous cases that increased flexibility is not optimal when levering against the FFG especially in runners who use their levers over extended distances.
This change in semantics or paradigm shift from core to fulcrum (FFG), whichever you want to call it, is a subtle but huge differentiation that must be adhered to if optimal training is your goal. Addressing the strength and flexibility of the “core” will result in less than optimal movement performance as well as increased risk of injury. While focusing on fulcrum (FFG) training will improve functional durability of the system.
Next: Fulcrum-Lever-Sport : Part 2 - Back Extensions