Original Strength – What It Is and What It’s Not
May 19, 2019
And now, a humble submission by Mark Shropshire, OS Lead Instructor
If you’re reading this, chances are you have hopefully been to an OS certification or are at least somewhat familiar with the concepts that are put forth by Original Strength Systems. If you have made the investment to come to a certification – awesome!
You have a manual that has been revised and perfected over the years to provide you with everything you need to press reset on a daily basis. The manual is a great reference as the amount of information at a certification can be a lot to remember. If you have not yet attended but have read Tim and Geoff’s book Pressing Reset Reloaded – you also have a great resource at your fingertips. If you are a casual observer who is interested in what OS has to offer and like the blogs and videos that OS puts out – you also have access to a lot of knowledge of the system.
In its simplicity, OS can seem almost too good to be true – how can these easy resets work so well, in such a short order in some cases? How can these resets, which improve performance for world-class athletes also help the general population in addition to those in rehab settings?
We have seen and read stories of amazing transformations – people who could only walk with the aid of a cane or walker can now crawl with chains. I've even heard of people who were in pain and considering surgery end up canceling the procedure that modern medicine and well-intentioned caregivers have said is the only way out of that pain.
Could it be that we have a found a panacea – a magic elixir for all things related to movement? In a word – No.
What we have at our fingertips is a system – a blueprint given to every single one of us at birth that is the very foundation for movement and learning and our overall development as human beings.
A growing body of evidence supports the links between movement and brain development and cognition. In amazing ways that go way outside the scope of this blog, the brain is nourished by movement and in return, the brain nourishes the body with the information it needs to function optimally given the circumstances that are unique to each of us. And, armed with that understanding is the trap.
“You can not put the same shoe on every foot” - Publilius Syrus
The trap is the misunderstanding of how OS works and as an extension - that all types of physical discomfort can be mitigated by performing resets.
What I mean to say is that there is “pain” and then there is “PAIN.” Both are real and can be debilitating to a small or large extent, it depends. In exercise, there is going to be some level of exertion that needs to be endured in order to enhance performance. This refers to a well-known principle of training called the overload principle.
Simply put – you must continuously work harder in order to achieve results. The body will adapt positively to the stresses placed on it and performance gets better. If the stress doesn’t gradually and logically increase, and the body lacks the necessary stimulus for improvement then it doesn’t adapt and improve.
One of the consequences of the overload principle and increased workload can be something called DOMS, which stands for the Delayed Onset of Muscular Soreness. DOMS is typically felt 24-72 hours post workout and is the result of muscle damage that occurs as a natural consequence of doing work beyond what is typically done. In time it goes away and everything is back to normal. DOMS is completely normal, and yes, it can be painful, but it is not what I would consider PAIN.
PAIN is another issue altogether. This type of pain occurs when there is an actual injury to a joint, muscle, tendon, or ligament. It can be the result of direct trauma, overuse, or misuse caused by faulty body mechanics. The latter, faulty body mechanics, is where OS can play a role in reducing pain and improving how the body moves.
Since OS works primarily on the nervous system level it deals with improving movement via neural pathways. Engaging in the resets of OS is simply using movement to strengthen the nervous system. This can have a great effect on issues of pain, lack of mobility and weakness; especially if these issues are due to neural input issues.
Did you catch that?
OS strengthens the nervous system through improving the input going into the brain. This, in turn, improves the output, or the "commands" going back out into the body.
Simply put, the body responds very well when the body is moved according to its design; its potential is optimized in that it moves better and hurts less, if at all.
OS works on, or in, the nervous system. To miss this could lead one to misapply it. OS does not heal tissue injuries. It may be able to help the body heal after trauma by providing the brain with better information for movement pattern reintegration, but it doesn't heal the tissue. There is a process for that.
OS just takes the results of the healing process and optimally reintegrates the injured area back into to "big movement picture". It optimizes what you have, or what you receive through life's events. But it doesn't magically fix physical issues and damaged tissues caused by trauma.
This means OS does nothing to address acute disturbances to tissue integrity that come along with training. DOMS is a natural result of stress placed on the body. It is a process that takes care of itself. DOMS is actually healing if you think about it. Anyway, the point is there is no amount of head nods and belly breathing that can speed up the normal time course of DOMS. Moving around and exercising can help alleviate some of the soreness, but in the end, the tissue has to go through a normal process of healing and repair.
Another way to say what I'm trying to say is this: OS is not a license to ignore the natural processes of the body. It does not allow you to over-train or abuse the body.
There are still processes that must be honored for an optimally healthy and functioning body. Processes that involve rest and recovery, processes that involve receiving adequate nutrition, and processes that involve honoring your design (including OS). All of these and more dance together when it comes to healing, recovering and growing.
OS is wonderful but it's not a cure-all. It's more of a “help all”. But the all has many factors...