a weight hung from a fixed point so that it can swing freely backward and forward, especially a rod with a weight at the end that regulates the mechanism of a clock.
used to refer to the tendency of a situation to oscillate between one extreme and another.
The pendulum phenomena is one that occurs among the constituents of most subjects, but I think is incredibly prevalent within the fitness/strength and conditioning world. As one idea begins to take hold, it gathers more and more momentum. The momentum of the idea begins to swing the pendulum so far in the one direction that it begins to detract from other ideas.
Most of us have been a party to this phenomena at some point in our lives. I have a saying that I use to try and make sure that I keep myself somewhat centered, “Don’t forget what you KNOW, just because you learned something NEW.”
In the day and age of our “online reality”, I think we can fall more and more susceptible to allowing our pendulum to swing to far one way or the other, when, 90% of the time (probably more), the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Most of us tend to have friends who follow the same beliefs and ideas as us, so our newsfeeds are constantly bombarded with “like-minded” ideas. With the constant onslaught of information confirming our current beliefs, it is easy to forget that the pendulum could swing the other way, or the that other way even exists.
It is easy to hate on stretching, because in the mobility world, stretching is the top dog.
Darkside Strength has produced numerous points about how stretching is not going to solve all of your problems and pointed out that a “mobility” program that consists of a bunch of stretches, is not much of a mobility program at all. We have pointed out that often times, your flexibility restrictions are related to position issues, and tightness created by neural control of the muscle rather than an actually stiffening / shortening of the tissues.
The problem is, people have known since the dawn of time that stretching can improve your flexibility, and flexibility is a component of mobility. A google search can give you examples of hundreds of studies that show a measured improvement in flexibility with stretching.
The other aspect is that stretching feels good. It is simple, direct, and people easily understand how a stretch is going to benefit them. THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ANY TYPE OF PROGRAM IS THAT THE CLIENT BELIEVES IT WILL WORK!
The athletic assessment is something that we as strength coaches need to have in our arsenal. I know that there are many, many gyms out there where the assessment consists of some pullups, pushups, and maybe a “baseline WOD”…. This is probably too far on one end of the spectrum. This sort of screening gives you an incredibly limited amount of information about the person.
I had the opportunity to attend the Diagnosis Fitness Seminar in Indianapolis hosted by IFAST. It was a really incredibly informative seminar and a fantastic opportunity for me to spend a couple of days learning to assess an athlete from Dr. Bill Hartman. The assessment taught there took about an hour to get through, and gave you an incredibly detailed picture of why and how the person moves. From big toe range of motion all the way to cervical range, in this assessment every major joint was assessed and noted.
After attending, I did this full assessment on many, many people to gain practice and to better understand the screening and how the results manifested themselves within people’s movement. What I found was that this incredibly in depth assessment was the other end of the spectrum for a strength coach. It started to cross into the realm of what a physical therapist would need to do.
As a strength coach you need to have a screening and assessment system that gives you the ability to explain why your client can’t do certain things, and to explain why the movements/stretches that you prescribe will correct those problems. A good assessment will likely be a little different for everyone. It will be more in depth than “let me see you squat” “oh, that is bad, you can’t squat”…… but a little less in depth than, “your big toe only has 20 degrees of flexion” ………(30 other things)…… “and that is why you can’t squat”
You could fall forever into the rabbit hole of corrective exercise. We know that your overall movement quality is regulated entirely by motor control. We know that your “tightness” is more often than not related to excessive tone in the muscles.
This is why the world of corrective exercise can be a dangerous world for a strength coach to enter. Ponder on this first paragraph from Wikipedia’s Motor Control page:
Motor control is the process by which humans and animals use their brain/cognition to activate and coordinate the muscles and limbs involved in the performance of a motor skill. Fundamentally, it is the integration of sensory information, both about the world and the current state of the body, to determine the appropriate set of muscle forces and joint activations to generate some desired movement or action. This process requires cooperative interaction between the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system, and is thus a problem of information processing, coordination, mechanics, physics, and cognition.
Motor control is a complex process involving a wide array of disciplines. Biomechanics, Neuroscience, Psychology, and Cognitive science are all major players is how you navigate your body through space.
You can see that truly diving into the world of corrective exercises could quickly become mind boggling. I find it to be truly fascinating and I believe that a good strength coach needs to have, at the very least, a cursory understanding of these ideas and how they can improve their clients/athletes. However, it is easy to allow the pendulum to swing so far in one direction that you can forget your goal as a strength coach. If you aren’t spending time doing the same things that everyone has known for years make people faster and stronger, then you are wrong.
Most of life’s answers lie somewhere in the middle. Polarizing ideas is the best way to get traffic on the internet. The initial traffic helps those articles be shared all over the internet. People become divided on one side of the issue or the other. When the truth is, both sides are kinda sorta right.
Don’t be a victim.