Thursday, August 9, 2007

Z Health I Phase in Practice Update

So, I came back from the Z Health I Phase training (see blogs about 2 weeks back for details) all excited to try it out; but would it work in the real world?

On a personal note, I went wakeboarding a few times this past Sat and Sun and it felt awesome! I normally feel a little tension in my back knee, but nothing at all this time. I was able to do a few nice wake jumps by Sunday afternoon and that was a great feeling.

For those not familiar with wakeboarding, to clear the wake you cut out as far as you can and turn back towards the wake, edging on the board. As you get closer you edge harder and harder to create more tension in the rope. Once you hit the wake, this tension is released and it "flings you" across the wake to the other side. It is kind of like being slingshot off a ramp. Below is a picture of yours truly from a few years ago.

Great times and special thanks to Rob and Mike (aka Supersize) for the pulls behind the boat!

So, how does Z work on other athletes?
Case #1
So far, I am 4 for 4. The first guy I worked on, I tried the I Phase visual and vestibular tests. He had a soft positive on the visual (which means he may need some visual work), and his vestibular was negative (clear). We worked through some R and a few I Phase drills and watched his gait after each one. At the end of the session his gait was much better, could move his head back without pain (initially it was a 4 on a 1-10 scale with 1=very mild and 10=loss of a limb) and shoulder ROM (range of motion) was about 40-50 degrees better. Nice!

Case #2
The next athlete had a positive on the visual test, so we played around with eye positions some. I had her do a Z Health wrist drill with eyes in neutral and it helped some, and then I had her do the exact same Z wrist drill but I had her alter her eye position based on the test---huge difference. Same Z drill, but now with a visual component and her shoulder ROM was much better with less pain. The only difference was the eye work for that drill. Amazing. At the end of the session her gait was much better, and shoulder ROM was much better too. Pain had dropped a little, but not a huge drastic change, but she had been dealing with some issues for a long time so we will see how it goes.

Case #3

Next guy up was a guy I've been working training for over a year now and he has been doing awesome! He has seen everything from foam roller work to dynamic drills to tons of standard corrective drills to Z Health. He is doing a great job on the Z Health R Phase and has been using the Z Neuro Warm Up 1 for 3 months now and loves it. After 1.5 weeks off, he started to complain about his right wrist and it was a 5 out of a 1-10 scale. We did the visual and vestibular tests and he had a soft positive on the visual and vestibular. We did some Z Health drills, especially some I Phase work on his feet and his gait improved quite a bit, but the pain was still there. We were able to get the pain in his wrist to less than 1 by incorporating both a visual and vestibular component along with an R Phase drill--bingo! We went to train--bench press and inverted rows with some KB swings and snatches. At the end of the session I asked him how his wrist was and he said it feels just fine. Even though we were loading his wrist relatively heavy (70-80% 1 RM on the bench), it was ok. He will have to keep up with specific Z Health work (get his reps in) for awhile, but I was very happy (and so was he).

Case #4-Z Health and Deadlift Session
The last session I just finished last night. A local trainer stopped by and worked on his deadlift technique. He had been complaining that his low back had been bother him. So we kept it light at 135 lbs and his technique was good, but could use a little work. I could tell by watching that even at a light weight his glutes did not look like they were firing, so we did a manual muscle test for the glute med, then a Z drill on both ankles, had him walk again, retested his glute med and it tested strong this time (but I did not tell him), and then had him perform the deadlift again. His form was much better and hips and low back were matching now. He was kind of doing a stiff legged deadlift before, so he was probably creating some high stresses on the low back. He said it felt much better and I had not altered his form at all at this point!

Hmmmmm, funny what happens when the right muscles are working at the right times! Now, I could have broken out the old dusty bunny ridden foam roller, do some X band walks, clams shells, static stretch the psoas and rectus femoris and call me in the AM. Why do all that when I can just do a Z Health drill? I am not saying that those may not be effective over time (ok, I don't think the foam roller is-- I have 4 of them in my closet, anyone want one?) but I am inpatient and athletes want results NOW. The Z drill took a total of 60 seconds to do and his lift was MUCH better. How sweet is that!

But we were not done yet! We did some thoracic Z work and some cervical work also, altered his form to keep a neutral spine (yes, this includes the head--don't look up at the ceiling or else you may shut off your hamstrings--another post I am working on) and had him pull (deadlift). Looked nice and he said it felt good. Last thing we added was some Z specific neck work right before he pulled and had him use the Bone Rhythm method (see post here for info on that). Bar speed was way up (I wish I had a tendo unit but at 1K I will have to wait, has anyone used the power factor device -if so, please contact me as I am interested in your feedback). He said the weight never felt that light and compared to before it felt like it just floated up. So he will be doing lots of Z and relearning his deadlifts now before he competes, along with myself and other in the area at the Tactical Strength Challenge here in MN on Sept 8.

Behold the power of some well placed Z joint mobility work, a good work ethic and positive thinking!

So that is the update from here! If you are in the MN are and interested in a training session or Z session or combined session, check out the info here and contact me

Rock on