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Coaches Corner: The benefits of movement assessments and barefoot warmups

by Shaun Kober
November 12th 2020

I've had so many great conversations with friends and colleagues about what we see happening in the fitness industry, and thought to myself, "I wish we would have recorded that."

yo what's up guys? First of all, I'm going to apologize for the potentially average sound quality. I am currently on a three week road trip around Thailand so I don't have access to my normal mike. I'm not in my normal environment, I am recording wherever I get an opportunity to and I'm using a little travel mike. So I do apologize for that. So please bear that in mind when leaving a rating and review, uh please leave me a rating and review because that allows me to grow the show. It allows me to reach out to more people that allows me to get more people on so that I can provide better quality for you guys. And I invest a lot of time energy and effort into putting these episodes together and providing some high quality content with no monetary returns. So the only thanks I get is the thanks for you guys listening and those ratings and reviews. So please make sure you share this with anyone who you think can benefit from the episodes. Next up, I'm trying something different. I've got so many friends that I have these really good conversations with and I'm like, man, I wish we could have recorded that.

So I'm starting a new theme, which is the coach's corner, which I'm going to be running every couple of weeks where I just get a good coach on one of my friends, one of my colleagues and we just shoot the shit about all of the um things that we see coming up with our clients, you know, the roadblocks that they come up against the common mistakes that people make and the common issues that typically trip people up whilst they're going through their health and fitness journey. So on today's coaches corner, it's going to be a couple of parts um, where I've basically sat down with marshall of anvil training and development And we have a conversation over about an hour, 20 minutes. So I'm going to split these episodes up into kind of 234 part mini series. Um, and I'm gonna drip feed these over the next couple of weeks. So the first part is all about the assessments that we take our clients through and what we use to Have a look at any muscular imbalances, any dysfunction, any movement, discrepancies, etc.

So point to note is this is an hour 20 conversation so you'll need to listen to all of these episodes to understand the big picture of what we're talking about. Let's crack on with today's episode with marshall from Anvil. Hey guys, welcome to today's episode of the live train perform podcast. I'm your host, Sean Cobra and joining me today is my mate Marshal from Anvil training and Development. How are you buddy? Good man yourself. Really good, really good. Um, so what I'm thinking about doing guys and this is kind of off the cuff. I reached out to marshal yesterday and I met marshall whilst I was doing my yoga course down in Byron bay earlier this year. And he is a veteran former army soldier as well who has transitioned into running his own business, which is anvil training and development and he works with veterans um and general population clients as well, going through the training side of things, but also the mental health side of things.

So we've had multiple conversations over the last kind of 67 months since I've known him and it's one of those things, every time I chat, I'm like, I need to fucking hit record on these conversations so that we can actually share this good quality conversation and banter that we have. So um Marshall, welcome to the episode, I'm really excited to have you on and we're going to see where this conversation goes, we're going to flow and we'll have a couple of things that are going to touch on, but we'll just kind of see where the wind takes us. Yeah, fuck yeah, thanks for having me. Um I keep saying all my mates and I always message trust and like I said, I'm touching base with them like at least once a month, especially because of Covid and everything that's going on. But I say the most valuable thing about that course was the people that were on it, like it's always good to get a separate perspective on the kind of training you do and don't offer like one of the things that I'm massive about here in Brisbane is power lifting, obviously we love lifting heavy stuff, veterans love it. People like to feel strong.

Um it's, you know, it's great to work around injuries and things like that, but yoga is almost the complete opposite end of the spectrum. And that was one of the reasons I'm like, you know what, I'll give it a go, I'm not your typical yoga practitioner, I'll be honest with you. I haven't done a whole lot of it, so fucking got off that cause um, but, you know, one of the topics that we talked about on that course interest and kept hammering it into us is um, you know, yoga is personal, power lifting could be your version of yoga, you know, riding a motorbike, could be your version of yoga. So, um, I think, yeah, getting on that course, doing something a little bit different and realizing how valuable it can be to connect with people outside of your normal network is just one of those things that that course really highlighted for me. Yeah, definitely, man, that's a that's a really good point. Um and it is it is the network that is so important and it doesn't really matter what the tools are, it doesn't matter what your gem is, you know, what you enjoy doing, Obviously you're doing what you enjoy is fucking important, all right. But then people become so dogmatic about, you know, that being the only way to do things and I mean at the end of the day as a strength and conditioning coach, I need to understand how to get the best out of my clients and that means I need to understand, you know, the effect of sleep and nutrition and hydration and you know, um rehabilitation work and hypertrophy and strength protocols, power protocols, speed protocols, etcetera etcetera.

And yoga is one of those modalities that again it's a tool, it can be used at different times for different circumstances, for different people. What was the biggest thing that you took away from that yoga course? Um You know, aside from obviously the network and the people um I think it was about um sort of movement assessment in a more natural space. Um what I mean by that is a lot of people will do a pretty strict movement assessment when they first get their clients, you know, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. You know, it is really good to have an understanding of what somebody may or may not be capable of doing. But I thought yoga was a really good way to see how somebody moves without putting the pressure of all these sort of tests and stuff on them. You know, you can take them through a warmup sequence. You don't even have to call it yoga. You know, you're just taking them through some positions.

Um you know, seeing how they might squat seeing their ankle and knee and hip mobility, seeing their shoulder mobility, um whether being in a certain position causes them any pain and you can do it with body weight movements. With absolutely no external loading, no pressure, very little risk of injury. Um in a pretty warm up chilled environment without never having to worry about getting a measuring tape out or anything. You know, it's a pretty casual way of just saying like this is how somebody moves. This is what we've got to work with. Yeah, yeah, that's a great point. May I've been running like a mobility flow kind of animal flow style warm up for many, many years and something that I've kind of put together through the multiple courses that I've done and different podcasts I've listened to and um you know, reading kelly starts book becoming a supple. I've heard um all of these reasons, all of these resources that I've kind of, you know, taken the best of all of these models and modalities and kind of combine them into what works for me.

And once we actually got on that yoga course and started going through sun salutations for example, I was like, oh I kind of already doing all this stuff already. And that's a great point. It is, it can be used as an assessment because um you know, the whole, what I like about the sun salutations for example is that it takes your joints through basically the full range of movement. Okay. It's missing a few it's missing a few things. This is where, you know, our knowledge comes into play and we go all right, cool, this is missing a few elements here and there. So what can we apply at the right time to take our joints through their full range of movement? Because for me that's a really good assessment if you're missing mobility in certain areas or there's an imbalance between left and right and that's going to affect your ability to get into good positions. Have the right muscles firing at the right time in the right order produces much force etcetera. But another thing that really stood out for me was the stability component, the stability and the mobility. It was a great assessment for looking at how people move and if people are lacking stability and mobility, then again that's going to affect their ability to get into good squat positions or get into be able to overhead press correctly and all that type of stuff.

Is there anything that you add to that? Unfortunately? It did for the past like 10 seconds, it's been real choppy and um and it sort of dropped out a heap so I didn't get most of what you said shit, sorry. But that's what I was saying that problems. Yeah, so what I was saying was the stability and the mobility component of salutations and like a really decent warm up. You know, I get people standing on one leg and doing some 11 armed um bottoms up cable carriers and things like that so I can assess stability. Um And if people are lacking stability in certain areas, if they're lacking mobility in certain areas then that's going to affect their ability to get into good squat positions or dead lift positions or bench press positions, overhead positions etcetera. Anything to add to that. Yeah. I think one of the first things I ask when someone comes in and I think this is pretty much the same for anyone in a coaching position is what do you want to achieve? What are you here to do as you said at the start? I work primarily with veterans. Um The guys and girls that I work with are already injured.

Um They're already, you know they've done a lot of exercise, it's mainly been pt in the military, they kind of know what they do and don't like. Um And that's one thing I wanted to touch on at the start is a lot of people don't realize what they do and don't like they've got stuff that they've built up is like oh I just really love dead lifts because I get to lift heaps of fucking wait. Um but they're deadly form might be shared or and you know they really love so they really hate squats. Um just because it hurts their back or something um And so you get them in there like oh I just really want to lift lots of weight or something and um and the first thing I'll get them to do is like okay we'll just do a fucking squad, we'll just do some bench press and we'll do a dead left, not heavy, not even like maybe even with a kettle bell or something goblet. So and just being able to look at them and go, okay, I can see why you hate squats, I can see why you love dead lifts. Um You know, I can see that you're having some serious lower back mobility issues. Most people you can pick right from the start assessment or not what is wrong with their body purely by how they attempt to do some of the most basic movements in the gym.

So yeah, I think yoga is one of those one ways to just see that straight away. Just go, yeah, I can see your shoulder is fucked because you can't move it properly. Yeah, that's a great point. May. Um What are some of the assessment tools that you used when you first get a client come in and chat to you? Um I think it is different. Probably almost every time based on what the person wants to do. Most of the guys that I train here want to lift heavy. They don't really want to run a fucking marathon or um you know swim really far. I think most of them want to be as pain free as possible. Um That's just the nature of being a veteran and probably having injuries already, as these guys are probably dealing with psoriatic pain. They're probably dealing with lower back pain and shoulder impingement just from the way the military trains people. Um So I keep it super basic.

If somebody wants to do squat, I will get straight away, just get them to try and do squats, you know, after we go through a warm up, I want to see them do that movement because um in my opinion, there's only so much um you know, so much time I can spend bending someone's knee towards a wall to check their income mobility before I have to get them into a squat position and go, okay, so you have really fucking tight hips. Um I think the squat by itself is a great assessment of how hips, ankles and knees move. So that's something that I'll get everyone to do. Um You know, we'll use boxes or no box depending on how old or in pain that person might be. You know, you've got a really old dude um you know, some of the guys I trainer over 70. So um if this guy wants to squad, then it's probably straight to chair for him straight away and then we'll look at moving away from it in future, but I'd say that the assessment tools are different every single time.

Um Yeah, but it's always to do with joint mobility. Yeah, that's a great point, mate. Um I want to touch on something you said there about every single person being different and working with what their goals are. And you also said, and this was a fucking lightbulb moment for me when You just spoke about people wanting to be pain free. When I first started out as a, as a trainer, I got out of the army in 2012, did my PT course that year whilst I was transitioning, started my business later on that year. And, you know, initially, probably for the first year or so, I was just fucking hammering people because that's what they wanted. So that's what I gave them. Um But very soon after that I realized that every single person had pain and I was I started paying more attention to my assessments and I was like, all right. Why? Why your hips shifting to the right hand side when you drop down in the bottom of a squat, you know, you're lacking ankle mobility, lacking hip mobility. Um Yeah, you've got some lower back pain, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And then I would go down that rabbit hole and like you said, I'd use that squat as an assessment and then from there I'd go right, there's something not working correctly. And what I found in my experience is that for the most part, most pain is caused by weakness. And what I mean by that is if someone's week in a certain area. So for example, if someone's left glute is weak because they've had a lower body injury on the left hand side when they're 15 years old. They don't think that it impacts them anymore. Now they're 30 years old, but their hips shift to the right in the bottom of a squat and you know, there's been some soft tissue damage, there might be some some adjustments to motor unit recruitment patterns, etcetera, that's causing them to shift their hips. And now, you know, they're left hip starts playing up or their lower back or you know, that might even cross over to the opposite shoulder or whatever. So I'm using that as an assessment and then I'm kind of going all right, there's something not firing properly here.

How can I address that? Okay, let's look at again, if the if there's a weak muscle somewhere, then it's going to pull the joint into a poor position and now you're going and loading that position. So let's look at what's week, let's pull the joint back into correct alignment. And then let's strengthen the muscles that are going to allow that joint to maintain that correct alignment as that joint goes through full range of movement. So that's a really good point. And that's something that I've been putting together over the years is that I'll do say a squat, for example, look at where the imbalances are and then go and address that in, you know, as part of my warm up. Yeah. Yeah, I completely agree. I think you're right when it comes to pain being the result of weakness or muscular imbalance. Um Neither of us are obviously doctors um and doctors like to use scans and um you know, sort of different joint angles and things like this to try and tell somebody something they already know. I'm not trying to detract from what doctors do.

I think they have a very important job. But one thing I do like to promote uh downstairs in our gym is that they need to be aware of what's going on in their body the whole time they hear something hurts. I want to fucking know about it. And usually I can tell, you know, you can tell by watching them um just by looking at their face when they try and get into a bench press position or when they try and do a squat or they're doing RDS and something just doesn't look right. Um You can tell that if they keep hammering that movement pattern, it's just going to become a habit for them. It's going to affect how they walk, it's going to affect how they sit. Um I liked what you said about Somebody injuring themselves when they're 15 and then coming to you when they're 30 And been like, oh you know that was injured a long time ago, you just spent 15 years reinforcing a negative movement pattern and then you want to come here and get fucked on by pt like, um, you might get fitter cardiovascular, but you are also on the fast track to making that injury worse or getting an injury somewhere else.

So, um, that's, yeah, that's one thing that I really do like to smash clients on is not so much their level of fitness, but how aware they are of what's happening in their body. Are you aware of any injuries right now? Is there any pain that your body is giving you? Why do you think that's possibly happening? Yeah, that's a great point mate. Um, One of my assess the first thing that I do when I get a new client, after I send them an email, they, you know, lifestyle questionnaire, nutrition questions, injury questions, all that type of stuff. Once I actually get them on the gym floor once we've gone through those, those answers, the first thing I do is get them to take their shoes off and if it's a dude then take their shirt off and if it's a chick get them to wear a crop top and I'll just get them to walk up the gym and I'll get them to do a couple of laps where they're walking and then I'll get them to jog a little bit and then gradually increase the pace and just simply by using that gait assessment can really tell me a lot about what's going on with someone, I've literally had people go through the gate assessment and then you know, I'll say, hey had any lower body injuries on the left side, ankle knee here, blah blah blah.

And they're like, oh yeah, I forgot to put that in my answers, but when I was 15 years old, I rolled my ankle playing soccer and you know, it doesn't affect me anymore and I'm like well that's where you're wrong because I can fucking see that in your gait assessment and that's that low intensity, what's going to happen when I then, you know if I can see someone's arch on their left foot collapse and their fema internally rotate um You know, and one of their hips is higher than the other. Um Their shoulders are imbalanced, their um their left arm um or thumb faces in their internally rotated, like one traps bigger than the other on like there's so many fucking muscular imbalances and dysfunctions here. And if I can see that at low intensity, what's going to happen when we start pushing the intensity, what's going to happen when we start loading up with a bar bell on your back or we start dead lifting or we start bench pressing or um doing pull ups or anything like that. Um Yeah, it's always, it's always intrigued me man how easy it is to pick up on these imbalances when you know what you look for and I've had multiple clients that have trained with me at tiger in Thailand and they go home and they're like, oh man, I'm seeing so many people like walk like shit.

Yeah, crazy man, I kind of ruined people a little bit. Yeah, and I think it's worth saying for anyone that's going to be listening to this, that you're never going to be perfectly balanced, like no matter how hard you try anterior is never going to be as strong as posterior or vice versa. Um you know, you can change your training program and really focus on your glutes and then suddenly you're going to have shit hips, like um it's just a constant battle. Um and another thing worth noting is some people might walk like shit barefoot because they don't walk barefoot ever in their life, you know, they might just be so used to shoes with arches, that when they take their shoes off, everything's fucked. Um I think, I think it's um, it's one of those things where like, I'd like to encourage my clients, like you need to spend more time barefoot because being barefoot helps you move in general, but some people just aren't capable of being barefoot all the time.

You know, if you've got a job, especially veterans when you come out of maybe 6, 10 years in the army, you've been wearing combat boots, whether they're issued or non issued for that entire period of time, as soon as you get them to take their shoes off their feet are gonna be fucked no matter what, like arches collapse all the time. You know, you're getting valdas, whether you know, they know that they need to push the knees out in the squad or whatever. Um but luckily these are things that can be fairly easily coached, you know, if you know what you're looking for, you can teach somebody like you don't need to wear shoes with hectic orthotics if you do. And this is something I talked about in one of our latest podcast and on our article about squats. If you do more squats and you focus on your foot engagement, you actually build the muscles so that your arches stronger, you can build the knee, you know, the right knee placement just by building the muscles of the hips and the art of chords and then the leg stuff like that. Mhm Yeah, amazing point. Um I want to touch on that in a little bit more detail because you made a really good point there of Yeah, we grow up wearing shoes all the time.

Now, I've spoken about this numerous times, if you're kind of new to this podcast or you haven't been following me for long. Um I do encourage people to go barefoot as often as possible Within reason to tie in with what Marshall said, you know, if you, if you wear shoes for 16 hours a day, you know, going from wearing shoes 16 hours a day to only wearing them 12 hours a day and then you're spending four hours before that's probably going to be too much for you. So as with everything, it's about progressive overload. And I've had my, you know, heap of my online clients that I go through a movement assessment with them. I go through a movement screen, they send me some videos and I'm like, cool, I want you to do these drills barefoot now and then we simply assess how they look and how they move with shoes on and then with shoes off and then it's like, all right cool. Every time you go to the gym, All I want you to do is your 10 minute warm up. I want you to do these 2345 drills for your warm up barefoot and that's it, then you can put your shoes back on and all we're doing there is just connecting to those feet again because we like you said, where people are wearing shoes all the time, like you're fucking born and your parents put shoes on you now, something that we need to consider is that um your feet actually have a lot of feedback receptors in them that drive the appropriate receptive system.

So the program receptive system is our ability for our brain to figure out where we are in time and space. And if you're wearing shoes all the time. It's like wearing a cast on your feet. You know, if anyone's broken their arm, they wear a cast for six weeks, they take that cast off and they're fucking muscles are gone. Not only their muscles on, they've wasted away. They've atrophied, they're also not connected to those muscles either. So there's a use it or lose it principle. Now, it's the same thing when it comes to wearing shoes. If you're wearing shoes all the time, then the stabilizers and the intricate muscles of the feet are going to switch off and then, you know, that's going to affect the feedback loop um to the brain to tell you what should be happening with the feet, where you should be engaging with the feet and not only through the feet, but then that carries on up through the chain, you know, up into the whole leg, the upper leg, into the hips can affect the back. And, like I said earlier, you know, everything's connected. The kinetic chain is your already linked together. So that can, um, contribute to issues in the opposite shoulder, up into the traps, the neck, et cetera.

Um, so, yeah, good point there is, you know, you don't want to go from wearing shoes all the time to not wearing shoes at all. You know, you want to just Add it into your day every now and again, take your shoes off. And just a good point, that a good tool that I use is when you go to the beach, you know, take your shoes off when you walk through the sand for like 5, 10 minutes, just feel your feet working and grip the sand with your toes and you know, you might even do this on the grass or whatever is available to you at the time. Maybe even your carpet at home. Yeah, I mean there's, there's those groups of people out there that advocate for uh you know, shoelace grounding techniques where they talk about, you know, really squeezing the dirt and it's going to channel your chakras and put you back in touch with who you really are as a human being. That's probably the same people that are doing the fucking the butthole stunning as well. I imagine that. Um But these people are not entirely wrong, just like most people that are pushing a certain agenda, they're not always 100% wrong.

Um spending time without issues on is extremely good for your brain. Um it's used for stroke survivors in their recovery. Um if you, you know, if people have had a stroke, they try to get them to spend more time um without shoes on because your brain is making these new connections that have spent potentially most of its life deadening Alzheimer's prevention, they found that spending a little bit of time without their shoes on actually helps with preventing alzheimer's because your brain is, you know, it gets used to just one point of contact the shoe is on, so it doesn't need to worry about what's going on underneath. It just does what it does. Um I completely agree with you when it comes to warm ups. Um do you warm up barefoot? That's all it needs to be. Um spend time, you know, if you've got the ability to go to the beach regularly or go to the park and go for a walk barefoot, Yes, I think that's great. Obviously we can't expect people to spend their entire lives barefoot. Um but the way that I do it is I'm pretty lucky because I don't really have to wear shoes when I work, I can walk around my gym barefoot all day if I wanted to.

Um but when I warm up, I always take my shoes off, I do a set of squat barefoot before I warm up. I do sets of lunges barefoot and a big part of the lunge is feeling how my toes bend um is my arch feeling sore. Am I getting foot pain just from Dorsey flexion? Because a lot of people don't realize that, you know, their ankle mobility is linked very closely to their ability to engage their toes. Their ability to create an arch? The arch isn't just something that you're born with and then it stays there forever, it's muscles, so if you can use them, then you won't lose them, like you said before. Yes, that is it from me today guys. Hopefully enjoyed this conversation with Marshall in today's episode. Stay tuned for the next episode with Marshall, where we dive into some of the biggest issues and roadblocks that our clients face. You can find me on instagram at coach underscore codes. That is KO beS uh, please make sure you pass this off to your friends and family.

Anyone you think will benefit from this and any five star ratings and reviews are appreciated. Much. Love Guys piece

Coaches Corner: The benefits of movement assessments and barefoot warmups
Coaches Corner: The benefits of movement assessments and barefoot warmups
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