Sunday, January 2, 2011

Main Muscle Movement in the Ottoman Pistol - Part 1: the Quads

The (let's call it) Ottoman Pistol described yesterday - works a potent combination of muscles. We know what these muscles are because we usually feel them if we haven't pistoled in awhile: quads (front of leg), glutes (butt), sometimes the adds (adductors - inside leg), and some of that core goodness too. In this first post we'll take a quick look at what's happening with the quads - what those muscles are, and especially, why they're firing up in the Ottoman Pistol.

from the Beast Skills how to pistol tutorial:
a light butt touch for the ottoman pistol
The Quads
Often the most felt muscles in this abbreviated leg squat are those at the front of the leg, aka the quads  The quad group has four big muscles: the vastus set of medialis, lateralis, intermedius and the big front and top muscle (lies atop the intermedius), the rectus femoris. All four of these muscles meet at the knee cap - the patella and from there, hook into the lower leg.

The Vastus Group vs the Rectus Femoris. While the full quad group has a lot in common, there's a big distinction between the rec fem and the vastus group.  The vastus set cross the knee and connect along the top of the big honking top-of-the-leg femur bone. The rectus femoris on the other hand actually hooks onto the pelvis itself rather than the femur. Isn't that wild? These four muscles share common connections at the knee, and then diverge where they start: hip vs leg. In other words, the rec.fem. crosses two joints - in this case both the knee and the hip - while the vast group of vastus muscles only cross one joint, the knee.

From Grant's Dissector (ch6) the rec fem is reflected
so we can see the vastus intermedius underneath
and the lateralis and medialis to either side.
The Quad Job This difference in hook ups influences the main job of the muscles that make up the quads.

The vastus set acts on the knee to extend it or straighten it out; the rectus femoris, while it also crosses the knee mainly acts to flex the hip or to bring the knee up towards the chest. In the bottom of the squat, the hip is pretty durn flexed.

Integrating the muscle movement with the Pistol.  Since we feel the pistol the next day in the front of the legs, we know the quads are involved.  We also know now that the quads give us two actions in particular: (1) flexing the hip and (2) extending the knee.

Where's hip flexion in the pistol? IT's in two parts of the movement: the leg controlling the decent (that's going into flexion), and the leg that is extended out. That leg is being held in hip flexion.

In the descending/bending leg, the rectus femoris is stretched. We can see from where it attaches up on the pelvis that as one goes down, and that muscle is activated, it's going to pull the pelvis forward - the pelvis rotates around the hip as the angle between the leg and the pelvis closes down from 180 to 45 degress or less. The RF is not the only muscle involved here, but it's the biggie. 

In the extended leg case,  a couple core muscles - the psoas and illiacus - are doing more of the work to hold out the extended leg than the rec fem to keep that 90 degree flexion. That's because the RF is at its shortest when the knee is extended and the leg flexed, so it's not getting as big an advantage on the hip.
The more the knee bends, the more the rec fem comes into gear for flexing the leg/hip. 

Where's the knee extension in the pistol? When we go to stand back up, the knee extends. That's perhaps the biggest work load of the pistol. And boy do we know that that knee extension, aka standing up, is a challenge. Getting down takes a certain control, absolutely, but gravity guarentees that's the direction we'll move. Getting up is where the money is, and that means knee extension.

Summary: Why we feel the pistol in the Thigh. 
There are two big actions in the pistol: hip flexion and knee extension. In other words, going into the squat and coming up from it.

Hip flexion comes in two places:  in getting a leg out in front of us and in the descent into the squat position. In the quad group, hip flexion involves the rectus femoris in both of these positions, but in particular in the descent into the squat.

Knee extension comes in majorly as we stand up. The quads pull this off via the vastus muscles pulling over the knee cap by their connection at the top of the femur, the big leg bone. The rectus femoris pulls over the same part of the knee but gets reefed up by that muscle reefing up from the hip. Two big levers therefore pull up the knee into a straightened position.

Next Time
The other big player in the pistol is the butt, aka the glutes. Next time we'll look at how that group of muscles' actions of hip extension, external rotation and abduction contribute to those two big moves in the pistol: the squat and the standing up.

Happy New Year

Pistol Resources:
- beast skills site
- Pavel Tsatsouline's The Naked Warrior
- Steve Cotter's Mastering the Pistol

Related posts:

1 comment:

mtm said...

Very informative - thanks. Looking forward to the next part!


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