Exploring the intricate movements of the human body begins with understanding the sagittal plane—a fundamental axis governing actions between the body's left and right halves. This plane plays a key role in activities like walking, sprinting, and strength training, involving the interplay of flexion and extension. However, activities such as sprinting, boxing, kickboxing, MMA, football, and basketball go beyond the sagittal plane, introducing transverse and frontal plane motions, adding complexity.
In the realm of fitness, studies predominantly spotlight exercises that propel the body forward and backward, placing a strong emphasis on sagittal plane movements. Despite widespread recommendations from influencers, coaches, physios, and doctors advocating for deadlifts, squats, bench press, and pull-ups, this conventional approach falls short by neglecting vital movements necessary for holistic fitness. Overlooking these critical aspects not only heightens the risk of injuries but also impedes comprehensive fitness. A more integrated, systems-based approach is essential to target imbalances and incorporate movements across all planes. Lifting weights exclusively in the sagittal plane, without addressing underlying imbalances, significantly elevates the risk of injury. Moreover, enduring discomfort during traditional lifting and relying on caffeine diverges from the path toward fostering a functional and healthy society.
While weightlifting in the sagittal plane is widely acknowledged, it's essential to acknowledge the current limitations in studies on its supposed benefits. Many of these studies primarily involve younger subjects, overlooking individuals aged 50 or 60 and above. These lifts, typically favored by the younger demographic, may yield initial gains, especially for those with mesomorphic builds.
However, the surge in joint surgeries, particularly the anticipated rise in total knee and hip replacements for osteoarthritis in Australia until 2030, highlights the inadequacy of these lifts for an aging and often obese population, despite their popularity since the early days of bodybuilding. It's noteworthy that attempting to introduce older individuals, such as grandparents, to activities like deadlifts often results in joint pain. Addressing fitness and mobility for every individual requires movement beyond the sagittal plane, necessitating a nuanced and precision-focused approach, which we'll delve into shortly.
The projected burden of primary total knee and hip replacement for osteoarthritis in Australia to the year 2030 Link
Navigating the impact of Sagittal plane exercises on posture and movement
In recent times, a surge in postural problems is evident among individuals with prolonged desk work, caffeine reliance, suboptimal nutritional choices, and a general lack of awareness about posture and movement correction.
A significant number of individuals start exercise routines without awareness of their pre-existing imbalances. The focus often centers on immediate goals, overlooking the foundational understanding of the body. As routines progress and joint pain surfaces, addressing underlying imbalances becomes evident. Recognizing and rectifying these imbalances from the outset leads to more sustainable fitness gains and long-term well-being.
Participating in conventional bilateral lifts poses challenges for individuals with pre-existing postural and movement dysfunctions like kyphosis, knee hyperextension, or scapular winging. Unfortunately, these lifts often fall short in addressing these dysfunctions, resulting in fleeting gains. The divergence arises as these lifts don't align with fundamental functions such as standing, walking, running, and throwing, where the ability to shift weight onto one leg is paramount.
In the intricate dance of standing, factors like spine curves (kyphosis or lordosis) and the alignment of hips and ribs, viewed laterally, contribute to the dynamic symphony primarily unfolding within the sagittal plane. Far from a static pose, standing reveals itself as a multi-dimensional performance that engages all three planes of motion. Within the sagittal plane, delicate balance is key, requiring an upright posture with minimal forward or backward lean. Transitioning to the frontal plane introduces the need for lateral stability, demanding control of the spine, lateral bends, and shifts in the spine, ribs, and hips. Further complexity emerges in the transverse plane, where subtle twists or rotations are introduced to sustain equilibrium. Thus, the seemingly simple act of standing becomes a harmonious integration of movements across the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes, showcasing its truly comprehensive nature.
Walking and Running
Running involves moving forward (sagittal plane), keeping stable from side to side (frontal plane), and twisting or rotating the body (transverse plane). It's a complex activity that uses all these movements. So, when we train, it's essential to consider exercises that cover these different directions, ensuring a well-rounded approach to fitness. While not as pronounced, these same motions happen during walking.
Throwing engages your entire body and moves in various directions, involving the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. As you wind up, you move your arm back (sagittal), and when you throw, your shoulder moves outward, your body bends (frontal), and your shoulder turns (transverse). These combined movements use different planes, making throwing a comprehensive and dynamic full-body activity.
Consider an athlete conditioned by a decade of baseball, developing a dominant right arm and left leg. Introducing them to bilateral lifts may lead to overuse of the stronger side, compromising balance and coordination.
During a back squat, overuse of the left leg may occur, while a bench press could overutilize the dominant right arm. Muscle development around these dysfunctions can impact running speed and overall performance.
Furthermore, if muscles are not trained in connection with the movements of running and throwing, they may lose strength during breaks in traditional weight lifting. It's important to consider the collaboration between muscles and bones for actions like rotating the ribs and hips, which are often neglected in typical bilateral lifts. Adopting a systems-based approach is crucial for promoting functional muscle growth and maintaining it over time.
Caffeine Boost: A Double-Edged Sword in Sagittal Plane Lifting
Caffeine, a widely consumed stimulant before workouts, invigorates the body and serves as a catalyst for pushing through the challenges of sagittal plane lifting. By upregulating cortisol, a stress hormone integral to the body's fight-or-flight response, caffeine induces an elevation in cortisol levels. This surge enhances pain tolerance and diminishes perceived effort during demanding exercises, enabling individuals to endure discomfort and surpass their physical thresholds. It's crucial to acknowledge, however, that while caffeine can offer a transient performance boost, its impact on cortisol may potentially exacerbate existing imbalances within the body. Relying extensively on external stimulants like caffeine could contribute to adrenal fatigue and disrupt cortisol balance. This underscores the significance of adopting a training approach that not only addresses underlying imbalances but also prioritizes overall well-being. It's advisable to consider eliminating caffeine from the diet, as prolonged reliance leads to adrenal fatigue, negatively impacting health. Learning to attune to our body signals is essential for understanding what truly enhances well-being.
Movement Mastery Across Planes: A Comprehensive Approach at Functional Patterns
While proficiency in the sagittal plane is crucial, an exclusive focus on it can lead to imbalances, pain, and injury. At Functional Patterns (FP), we champion a comprehensive training paradigm that goes beyond mere forward and backward motions. Our distinctive method involves precise execution of exercises encompassing lateral and rotational movements, aligning with the varied demands of essential activities like standing, walking, running, and throwing. What sets FP apart is our adherence to meticulously crafted sequences inspired by elite movers, yielding consistent results. Emphasizing the body's evolved movement patterns over millions of years, we address issues such as uneven muscle development and ingrained movement preferences through corrective exercises. With a decade-long commitment to this precise approach, FP ensures a comprehensive and effective method, considering our biological characteristics, to enhance movement and overall health.
For those aspiring to optimize their movement patterns and cultivate a well-rounded physicality by incorporating exercises across the sagittal, transverse, and frontal planes, a nuanced understanding of the principles governing each plane is paramount. Tailoring your training program to encompass the unique demands of each plane is fundamental for achieving comprehensive and effective results.
While exercises play a pivotal role in multi-plane training, it's essential to recognize the influence of various factors on movement patterns, including skeletal imbalances, and inherited traits. Embracing a holistic approach that addresses these diverse variables is crucial for maximizing the efficacy of your training regimen.
At Functional Patterns, we deeply grasp the intricate interplay of these factors, and our holistic programs go beyond conventional exercises. Our approach centers on optimizing muscle activation, aligning the body in all planes, and elevating overall movement performance. By viewing the body as an integrated system, our goal is to assist individuals in overcoming movement restrictions, preventing injuries, and fostering a well-coordinated physique with comfort and unwavering motivation.
To unlock the full potential of your movement patterns across the sagittal, transverse, and frontal planes, we invite you to delve into the Functional Patterns 10-week online course or functional training system. Alternatively, seek guidance from a certified Functional Patterns practitioner who can offer personalized support on your journey toward comprehensive movement optimization. Seize this opportunity today and embark on the path to refined movement and a truly impressive physicality through effective multi-plane training.