Roundtable #3 – Weaknesses


Roundtable #3 – Weaknesses

Feature photo by Steve Norris from Pixabay. 



What body part must you give continual attention to?  How so you factor this into personal goal setting?


My wrists can easily become injured so they require my daily attention to ensure that they stay resilient. I’m paying the price now though for not dedicating the proper time to prep, before and after my sessions, during the last month. About 2 weeks ago, I injured my right wrist on the ulnar side. Having this set back effects my expected progress towards my goals but I have learned to take injuries as moments to progress in other ways like making my joints more resilient. During this recovery period, I become more aware of the shortcomings of my practice and I am able to take the time to dig into research and learn new methods to minimize chance of re-injury. Although I would rather not experience these smaller injuries, I tend to believe they are an essential piece of the process towards becoming a more aware mover. Once my wrist is ready to handle compression, I will go back to learning more elements from capoeira and add softness and control to my practice.  — Nelson Cuadras


The part of my body that always seems to nag me is my brain.  It will constantly nag and question me making it very hard at times to move forward.
It usually wants to do too much.  Pushing me to take on new tasks, feeling that I am missing out on something.  While it also knows that there are only so many hours in a day and one cannot do everything.  This balance game of starting new tasks and remaining focused on old ones can cause me to feel i have not done enough even though I have done plenty.
I am trying to move towards the ability to detach from the urge for more.  To be happy with what is and make the best of what is currently available. It is very easy to go down a new rabbit whole in this community and loose your current footing.  I am trying to keep grounded in my current practice and only allow myself to add new tasks once I have completed an old one. — Scott Daly


I don’t really have a body part that nags me, but I am acutely aware of my habits. My left leg, for instance, often feels solid and rooted, like a tree trunk, while my right foot and leg have a harder time engaging with the ground. When I am practicing jumps and climbing techniques, I occasionally check in with my lower extremities to observe how I am using them in the moment. If I notice a tendency to lead with the right leg, I make myself lead with my left leg instead.
Currently, I am working on feeling integrated during complex movements; I am also trying to find the juxtaposition between lightness and grounding. For years, I avoided jumping and vaulting techniques. I am realizing my desire to root doesn’t always enable me to do higher level skills, so letting go of former ideas and habits is slowly enabling me to work towards more coordination and agility.  –Jenn Pilotti


Low back and hips/pelvis. This makes sense from a trauma informed perspective. I have c-ptsd which is largely in remission due to various health practices, but the historical effects do linger. Chronic activation of stress hormones causes adrenal fatigue and overuse, dehydration, fascial restrictions, and pelvic instability. My spine requires a lot of energy for the reflexive stability to be responsive, for my breath to be useful and for my nervous system to maintain regulation.
Crawling, loaded carries, careful walking, jumping and balance drills all help. — Dare Sohei


My left glute! He died 🙁 with the nerve impingement I assume from my back injury I have very little awareness in that side, also if I sit still for too long my left leg would get pins and needles and I’ve very little control over my little toes on my left foot which really bugs me. When exploring what this does to me I always find my pelvis shifting back on my left side, my left hamstring is way more developed than my right one and my left side would always tend to be tighter when doing a lateral chain stretch.
How does this affect my own practice? Mentally it affects NOTHING for I am a beast… programming wise I do make sure to check my hip alignment regularly and also any glute work I do I make sure to do extra reps on my left side, which is visibly smaller (but still fabulous)
Skills at the moment I am going back to more Olympic lifting focus after playing with a lot of bodyweight training this year, I got a one rep max clean the other day without even hitting any heavy squat programs, this is definitely showing me that there is more to strength training than just weights, having a strong core and mobile hips play a large part in your development as a lifter.  — Tom Morrison


Generally, I would define my entire training practice as problem solving and weakness seeking. By shoring up points of issue, everything improves.
Specifically, I seem to consistently return to my neck and ACL-repaired left knee.  Loaded flexed knee positions are tricky for me and I spend a lot of time making them comfortable.  The more I explore it and notice how I favor it in little ways (crouching down to wash the floor, for example), the more I consciously try to use it, and the more functional it becomes.  My neck has had some pretty good crunches in my rugby days, and I am currently trying to get a full pronated pull up without straining it.  Isometric pauses and eccentric control has come along nicely, but the concentric piecing remains a challenge.  — Christine Ruffolo


Finding Balance: Meta and Micro
Since becoming an aerialist, I have developed an exaggerated asymmetry in my musculature. I mainly enjoy training aerial rope and silks, which both require hanging and pulling with the arms to be overhead, one hand on top of the other, supporting the weight and dynamics of the body moving below them. This posture is inherently dangerous for shoulders because of its asymmetry, and that coupled with the fact that one side of my body (and most bodies) felt more naturally capable of the aerial movement than the other side, I favored the right side and created a pretty dramatic imbalance.
With a moderate scoliosis that curves to the left around T-12 (the base of my ribcage), the right side favoring caused my whole frame to twist. My left pelvis gradually spiraled backwards, and my left shoulder slowly collapsed. The right side of my neck/trapezius became over developed and my right hip somewhat hiked. Thus my body began to resemble a towel being wrung out with a baseline posture that was visibly twisted.
On a muscular level this meant I would have chronic issues in my left hip/psoas and external rotation. Similarly I’d get overuse pain in my right upper shoulder. The left shoulder unstable and the right hip resistant to internal rotation. Also, the overdevelopment of my traps created a tension pattern that weakened my deep neck muscles, thus further immobilizing my upper spine.
While all of these little pieces would bother me individually off and on, it took me about 3 years to realize this was the big picture of what has been going on. Finally being able to see it holistically was a critical first step in repatterning my movement. This only really happened over this past summer.
I’m still working through re-balancing myself, but how I’m working now has accelerated my progress significantly.
Part of how I’ve approached it this time is to combine both highly conscious physiological articulation challenges like Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) exercises and Pilates with somatic, free form movement quality practices like Gaga and Feldenkrais style rolling on the floor. I’ve found that i’s one thing to be able to remember to keep my left sitsbone heavy in a basic bridge exercise (the miracle cue that has helped my left pelvis recenter itself with the right side), but quite another to trust my joints and breath to coordinate in task based movements like “imagining I’m underwater” in Gaga class or “drawing a shape through space with my elbow.” To complete a quick, coordinated, whole body movement without defaulting to my old habits of a twisted pelvis mid movement requires a more complex neurological learning process than the slow, localized physio work (FRC, Pilates) does. I’m finding that working on the physiological side of making sure my body is working fully is best integrated by spending time in a movement pattern that has some flow to it. Whether that’s dance or aerial, it’s an exciting discovery because it means I don’t have to fully stop doing what I love in order to nurture my old imbalances. It is in fact dancing and doing aerial work with an emphasis on coordinating my left and right sides that appears to be instrumental in fully repatterning my movement for the better. This gives me the space to be creative and practice things like movement quality and musicality as part of my healing journey, which will ultimately make me a better artist over time as well. It’s becoming more and more clear that if I were only focused on the physiological details to heal these imbalances, and not these other elements of timing and quality of movement through space, I would not improve as fully. — Nicki Miller


None and all. Lol I like feeling my body and different sensations. Reminds me I’m alive.
But I tend to hold tensions in my shoulders which means my arms tire easily. I see this as a reminder of stress level in my life and a barometer for need of rest. As to how it influences my movement practice, just being aware of it and varying modalities. One thing though, is I’d  like to have more back flexibility, more back bending capacities, like contorsion back bending. But I think I’m more interested in the idea of it than actually having it. To what aim would I want it ? For what needs ?  to say I was able to do some tricks … so what ? I had to repositioned myself around the idea and in the end, changing my perception has actually make it better. I often say to students, it’s not how passive flexible you are but more how you can use it and how it serves you. Learning that for myself as been good. I now see possibilities instead of restrictions.  — Nadia Genois


Two of your questions point directly at something I’ve reflected on a lot since gaining some distance from the CrossFit world. There was a lot of  talk there about “working your weaknesses,” which manifested in hours of practicing double unders with a jump rope and kipping on a bar. What didn’t make sense to me, though, is that everyone there–myself, very much included–had weaknesses at a much more foundational level. Labelling a skill as a weakness almost became an excuse to practice that skill, when “real” weaknesses might be things like not being able to move a wrist, poor breathing mechanics, not knowing where your feet are in space, etc.
Anyway, to answer your questions…the two areas that have most consistently nagged me over the last few years are a knee and a toe. When problematic, they’ve stopped me from doing fancy things like back squats and broad jumps, but also very important things like walking without pain. One of my favorite parts about these areas is that they have helped me to stay humble in the journey of exploring what my body can do. They remind me that my brain doesn’t care about a goal I set in the gym as much as staying alive.  — Jeremy Fein


I’ve always been so healthy that the idea of anything “wrong” with me used to freak me out.
Longstanding issue: Now I feel confident that if I actually do the work, my anterior left hip will get better and the pinch I feel in flexion will stop. For whatever reason, the fact it’s nagging and not acute or sharp hasn’t spurred me into the action I know will make a difference. I maintain via CARs, I respect the ranges that hurt, and adjust my BJJ sparring game according to what I know is going on that day.
Short term: On Sunday I hurt my knee fighting someone for a takedown. Their weight came down in such a way that my knee bent inward, and now it hurts. This level of acute injury has given me inspiration to actually do the work. Handling recovery is much “simpler” via endless CARs and isometrics than the taxing PAILS and RAILS I would prescribe myself for my hip. — Sam Faulhaber


Fortunately I can say now, that no body part nags or aches me. Though, what gets my attention the most is the lumbar area, because of the herniated and bulging discs. Let me put it like this. I put a preventive eye on this area, just to make sure. From time to time, some kind of stiffness haunts me, which goes away by just giving enough attention to it through interventions like mobility bouts, sauna visits or just by creating lightness with Feldenkrais lectures. Besides the lumbar area, all other areas get my attention too, since the whole body is more than the sum of its parts.
Actually this factor (hernias and bulging discs) pretty much improved my movement goals tremendously. Starting from training generally for physique over training for strength (which could also include physique) to training of movement in general. I call this a paradigm shift primarily in thinking about the moving body with all its implications. Taking each implication separately made it possible to even go deeper regarding hip mobility, core strength and rotational fluidity, just to name a few. I realized that it is not about getting as strong as possible but as flexible as possible. By flexible I am not talking about stretching. I am talking about being able to switch concepts of training, gaining new insights, growing within my potential and creating emotional well being through this flexible attitude.
What skill I am building towards? I think what would describe it best, to borrow Ido Portal´s words, the succession of isolation, integration, improvisation and innovation. I try to get better in each of these four aspects. Sometimes I am more in tune with isolation, sometimes more with innovation etc. To give an example for isolation: seated calf raises for strength by using the entire ROM for mobility. The focus here is not on strength but on mobility. Example for innovation: listening to a song, e.g. by Abra, Pheeyonah, Ibeyi and the like and just take all the things I have learned so far, opening up for the creative process and creating something new on the spot – innovation, there you go! — Christian Rabhansl


I am continually trying to make my structure adapt and have a whole host of pains to show for it. The things that are consistent reminders are my Left Scapulo-Thoracic region, Right Lower lumbar and Right biceps femoris. I have come to understand my Shoulder-Scapular-Thoracic-Rib pain as an issue of restricted lines. My ribcage is deformed due to my accident, making it so I can’t have the same set of strategies for both arms. Thoracic Flexion moments have gaps and spots that dont like being pushed into and Extension moments come far too easily from the lower rib cage. The lumbar and hamstring discomfort are a side-effect of my ribcage malfunctions and my Left ankle stiffness during gait and running. These pains are indications of the behavior of my structure. So I guess to answer your question, the pains I experience are the co-pilot of my movement journey and they let me know when I am straying too far off course.  — Gary Stockdale

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