Pain Gurus Don’t Know Squat About Movement or Pain
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Today’s Muscle Morsel is a bit different. Part of it deals with the fact that pain gurus really don't understand muscle function, movement, exercise, or even pain and inflammation for that matter. And yes, I'll also be highlighting a cool and unique squat variation. But, before I talk about the benefits of this makeshift safety bar hanging band barbell squat I first want to address the topic of movement mechanics, pain, and muscle function. Poor mechanics, even subtle aberrations that we tend to ignore or overlook eventually lead to pain and inflammation plain and simple. In fact, much if not most of the musculoskeletal pain (and many other forms of pain) individuals experience in life is a result of faulty mechanics, dysfunctional movements, and flawed activation patterns.
Allowing individuals to simply rely on their own instinctive movement strategies and letting them do what feels natural or comfortable to them rarely works unless they demonstrate proper form with no apparent dysfunctional movement patterns. Simply put, if you witness even the smallest form of dysfunction, rather than ignoring it, make sure you address it ASAP because eventually it will cause pain, as well as a number of other issues through the kinetic chain, not to mention a host of other physiological consequences associated with pain and inflammation.
Although I’ve seen hundreds of scenarios over the last 14 years to support this as well as numerous forms of scientific literature which I’ll be laying out in my new book coming out soon, I want to highlight a very recent example with one of my awesome clients Matt Jordan. Below are two videos comparing a before and after of Matt’s squat. You’ll see a very subtle yet significant neuromuscular hiccup in the left video as he breaks excessively at the hips before the knees. In the video to the right he demonstrates his new and improved form as he breaks at the knees and hips simultaneously while still producing ample hip hinge mechanics.
Although I noticed this issue several sessions in a row I decided not to bring it to Matt’s attention simply because he was feeling no apparent discomfort or pain and I didn't want to disrupt his progress. This was my mistake. I simply did not listen to my own preaching of correcting movement dysfunction immediately. After several weeks this began to gradually irritate his hip and low back until he mentioned it and we proceeded to correct the issue by cueing his core and hamstrings. As he corrected his form the result was the pain and inflammation began to fade. So yes poor mechanics and dysfunctional patterns cause pain, plain and simple. So the message of the story is
“If it ain’t broken but needs to be fixed, you better fix it anyways because eventually it will break.”
With that said it’s time to discuss the benefits of the particular squats shown above.
Makeshift Safety Squat Bar with Hanging Band Technique
Two of my favorite barbell squatting variations involve the hanging band technique and the makeshift safety bar setup. Combining the two not only provides an incredibly brutal and challenging stimulus to the lower body, it also helps to improve squatting mechanics and muscle function. The hanging band technique provides unpredictable oscillations via oscillating kinetic energy that creates a very unstable environment the lifter must learn to control. Read more about the hanging band technique
This oscillating kinetic energy effect is further magnified when using the makeshift safety squat bar method via lifting straps or bands as it’s much more difficult to stabilize the bar and keep it steady. As a result the lifter is forced to use incredibly strict and controlled mechanics to dial in the movement and keep the weights from oscillating in an uncontrollable fashion. Using bands as handles adds even more so to this instability and unpredictable oscillations. Read more about this technique here.
The makeshift safety squat setup is also very shoulder friendly and provides a unique but effective squat variation for lifters who struggle with various mobility issues. Read more about the makeshift safety squat bar method here.
On a side note you’ll want to perform these in an eccentric isometric fashion (controlled negative followed by a pause in the bottom position) as this helps the lifter lock in their form and mechanics via enhanced proprioceptive feedback and kinesthetic awareness. Stay tuned for my book on eccentric isometrics coming out soon.