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  • 09/19/2019 - Ryan Slaughter 0 Comments
    Force Transmission – The CORE of Movement

    Force Transmission

    One of my favorite sayings is “All movement starts from the core out.” The core is our foundation; it’s the first thing we engage before we do any movement. Why? Because our arms and legs need a stable platform to work off. We also need a stiff core to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body or vice versa. If the core isn’t working efficiently, then we will have to compensate from above or below. 

    Think of trying to get yourself up from laying on the ground, if you aren’t able to sit up on the first try what do you do? Go faster to use momentum? Tense up your shoulders, neck, or legs to help? These are compensation strategies to help increase the force you are generating from the core. If core strength is not enough on its own, you have to recruit something else to help. This compensation is done automatically, subconsciously, and more importantly, constantly! The more inefficient the core is working, the more compensatory forces you have to generate. 

    Typically we will compensate from the segments directly above and below first and then expand from there if even more compensation is needed. So if the core is not working well while doing a lower body exercise, you will most likely recruit the muscles in your hips, quads, and hamstrings. If still more strength is required, you can engage the shoulders, lower leg, or your feet as well. If the compensation patterns occur enough, then the areas you are compensating with will start to get overused and achy. 

    However, generating the force is only half the battle. Once a motion is started, and momentum created, then you need to control and transfer those movement forces. We have to be able to maintain our balance and control the force in the desired direction throughout the exercise.

    If we look at a squat, some muscles are working to maintain your balance, and keep the motion in the correct plane (up and down, rather than forward and backward).  If the core is stable, then we have a good, solid foundation to work off. Then the hip muscles can focus on controlling your balance and the changes in motion. If the core is not working correctly, then those same hip muscles have to work harder to stabilize the joint AND try and control your balance and changes in motion. Again, if we overload muscles and use them in ways they weren’t designed, they’ll start to bark at you by feeling tight or painful. 

    So if the core is not working well while doing a lower body exercise, you will most likely recruit the muscles in your hips, quads, and hamstrings.

    Finally, our body has to transfer force from joint to joint to continue the movement. Let’s look at an example: When you walk the force from the ground are transferred into your foot, then has to be transferred up your leg. From there, it travels into your core, and either converted into movement or absorbed throughout the body.

    But what if you have an area of your body that cannot control the force and transfer it effectively? Let’s say your knee doesn’t control the force transferred up from the foot. Then whatever energy that cannot be transferred will be absorbed in that joint and the surrounding tissue. Ever step off a curb with your knees locked and get that jarring feeling up your body? That’s what is going on and the joint level with every step. Do that long enough, guess where you’ll start to feel some pain? Yup, that same knee.

    The body creates force by contracting muscles and turning it into movement, and then transferring and controlling that force to other parts of the body to build momentum. When done efficiently, it is a beautiful symphony of segments working together. When done improperly, it can cause areas to get overworked, tight, achy, and can eventually lead to injury.

    The bottom line here is that movement is all about creating and controlling forces into motion. All movement starts by engaging the core to give our body a solid foundation. The body creates force by contracting muscles and turning it into movement, and then transferring and controlling that force to other parts of the body to build momentum. When done efficiently, it is a beautiful symphony of segments working together. When done improperly, it can cause areas to get overworked, tight, achy, and can eventually lead to injury. 

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  • 08/04/2019 - Ryan Slaughter 2 Comments
    The Four Main Types of Exercise

    It’s August, and we’re right in the middle of the summer season. During this time of year, where most of us are outside a lot, I thought we’d cover Exercise, specifically the FOUR main types of exercise. And, even though we are associating these with working out, they actually apply to everything we do in our daily lives from sitting down and standing up, to lifting groceries.

    Almost all exercises, when boiled down to their basic components, will fall into one of 4 categories: Mobility, Activation, Patterning, or Strength. These categories are based on what the goal or desired outcome is for you completing that exercise. As a whole, we tend to focus too much on 1 or 2 of those categories while ignoring others. So let’s start by touching base on what these categories entail 

    Mobility exercises are exercises designed to increase the joint and muscles ability to elongate or stretch.

    The most obvious and easy example to perform is a passive stretching, such as a standing toe touch stretch. The goal is to increase the range of motion in the hamstring by trying to touch your toes and relaxing into the stretch for 30-60 seconds. This type of stretching can also be done actively by adding repetitions small hold at the bottom of each rep, returning to resting and repeating. 

    Other forms of mobility exercises include self-release techniques like foam rolling, release with a ball or some kind of tool. 

    Side note: mobility work does not have to hurt and be intense, you can get the muscles to relax with light pressure or light stretching. A good guide for this is to be able to breathe and relax into the exercise. 

    Activation exercises focus on engaging or recruiting to proper muscles to do a specific action.

    These exercises are used to improve the communication between a specific muscle and the nervous system. Typically these are best when used on muscles that are not working as efficiently as they should be. 

    A very common muscle group that can have this issue is the Rotator cuff. Their job is to stabilize the shoulder and perform internal and external rotation; however, if there is an injury (current or past) or bad prolonged shoulder positioning, the rotator cuff might not be functioning well and you will compensate with other surrounding muscles. So doing an activation exercise for the rotator cuff, such as banded pull apart will increase the brain’s ability to recruit the rotator cuff while doing shoulder exercises. 

    These exercises are great to use in rehabilitation, self-care, and warms-ups on an area of focus for a workout (i.e. rotator cuff activation prior to doing a shoulder workout). 

    Side note: These exercises should focus on CONTROL and performing the movements SLOWLY to ensure the muscles are able to engage through its full range of motion. 

    Patterning exercises focus on coordination between muscles or sequencing of a movement. The focus of these exercises is coordination and control so they should typically do SLOWLY with no weight or lightweight initially.  A good example of this exercise would be a bird-dog, were you in a quadruped position and lifting opposite arm and leg while keeping the spine flat. This challenges your core stabilizers while working coordination and communication between diagonal extremities (i.e. right arm and left leg) 

    These exercises are good to use in warm-ups, self-care and rehab situations 

    Strength exercises are what we all think of when we think of exercising. This is the bench press, squats, the weighted bicep curls… all the sexy stuff.  The goal here is to take a pattern or specific muscle and load it to increase the strength. While these are usually the most fun, they are also built on the foundation of the previous 3 categories. 

    In general, we are quick to jump from stretching to strengthening exercises and brush over or ignore completely the activation and patterning exercises. But, you cannot squat well if the joints don’t have the proper mobility to get into that position. You can’t do weighted squats well without having the mastery and control of the right muscles at the right time or the movement pattern as a whole. When people jump to the strength-building exercises without working on and mastering the Mobility, Activation, and Pattern that are needed to do a particular movement efficiently, that’s typically when something breaks down or people get hurt

    Now I’m not going to tell you to stop doing strength exercises but what I would suggest is to look at the other categories as they pertain to a specific exercise and see if there are any improvements you can make prior to loading it too heavily. Try the exercise without weight, do a body squat or push up instead of a bench press. If you struggle to control your bodyweight you will probably not be doing a weighted exercise efficiently. If this is the case, you should spend some more time working on the mobility, activation, and patterning that the exercise requires. You can still do the strength exercises but warm up first, Slow down the exercise and decrease the weight. slowing down exercises forces you to control the movement, rather than rely on momentum or the weight of the bar to balance you. It forces you to master the stability and coordination of that movement. 


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  • 12/09/2016 - optimalmovementchiropractic 0 Comments
    Site Launch

    Our new website is finally up. We’ve worked hard to get a beautiful new site ready and we’re proud to show it off. Thanks for reading our blog. We have lots of great blog posts in the works. Please check back or contact us now to find out how we can help you.

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  • 10/13/2016 - optimalmovementchiropractic 3 Comments
    3 –Step Movement Flow

    3 –Step Movement Flow to Health and Vitality


    by Dr. Ryan Slaughter, DC, SFMA, Rocktape CMP

    Movement is key to health and vitality. Having your joints and muscles move smoothly the way they’re supposed to enables you to enjoy life. When movement isn’t fluid, our bodies tighten up and we don’t get enough oxygen or nutrients; it can even have an impact on how well our brain functions and our emotion state.

    One of my practice goals is to empower my patients to maintain their own health and not have to rely on me or other practitioners to keep them pain-free and moving forward. Because of this, I ALWAYS give my patients homework that is tailored to their specific needs. Not everyone likes to do to homework, we all thought we left that behind in school. But a few key self-care “homework” exercises can make a noticeable difference in health.

    Every patient is different, so everyone’s homework is too. The assigned exercises are different depending on the patient’s specific limitations but they all follow the same basic formula and sequence:

    1. Mobilize  (~ 1-5 minutes)
    2. Stabilize  (~ 1-5 minutes)
    3. Integrate (~ 1-5 minutes)

    Let’s keep this simple. The basic formula is to do the following steps in the sequence I’ve outlined below:


    Mobility is all about movement. The first thing we should do is mobilize the joints or muscles that are tight or restricted. Each muscle or joint should be worked on for 30-60 seconds each. That doesn’t mean your whole body – focus just on that shoulder or hip or leg that feels tight and doesn’t give you the range of motion you’d expect.

    The step includes: Foam rolling, stretching, distraction, and mobility band work.

    We’re all pretty good at doing this. People will sit on a foam roller or hold a stretch for extended periods of time, but what most people miss are the next two steps. We have to follow the muscle release by training the body on what to do with the new range of motion. If we don’t you’re going to fall back into the same old movement pattern and be just as tight later.


    Stability exercises focus on activating the core and the muscles that stabilize the joints. These exercises are usually done on the floor or are in a quadruped position and focuses on controlling the movement.

    In this step, I usually suggest that each exercise is done in a 4-second block: 4 seconds out, 4-second hold, and 4-second return. Slowing these exercises down forces you to control the movement, which turns your focus towards stability and breathing normally.

    Some examples of stability exercises are 90-90 breathing, dead bugs, bridges, and planks.


    Integration exercises involve taking the new mobility and stability we just gave the body and putting them into a whole body movement pattern. The goal here is to plug the new range of motion into the nervous system and learn how to incorporate the changes we made into everyday movement patterns. In other words, reinforce this new way of moving so it becomes second nature.

    Some examples of integration exercises include: toe touch, walking, squatting, lunging, push-ups, etc.…  

    Put Theory Into Action

    Let’s put the three steps into action using an example of something I see frequently: A patient complaining about “tight hamstrings”. The three step movement flow exercises – which only require 10 to 15 minutes – could be:

    • Mobilize: (~5 minutes total)

    – Foam roll / stretch:

    • Calf (30-60 seconds)
    • Hamstrings (30-60seconds)
    • Quads (30-60seconds)
    • Glutes (30-60seconds)

    2)   Stabilize (~ 2-5 minutes)

    • Leg lowering (~1 minute each side)
    • Bridges (~1 minute each)
    • Dead bugs (optional) (~1 minute)

     3)   Integrate (~1-2 minutes)

    – The following integration exercises should be done in a SLOW AND CONTROLLED fashion (4-count down, 4-count hold, 4-count up):

    • Toe touches (10 repetitions)
    • Squat (10 repetitions)
    • Lunge (5 repetitions on each side)

    The whole progression shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. If your schedule doesn’t permit you to invest that much time, you can shorten it by taking out one exercise from each step (foam roll hamstrings, leg lowering, toe touch). If you have more than 15 minutes to invest, you can always get more benefit from adding an additional set and going through the entire flow again. So as an example if you have 20 minutes, you can get better results doing 2 rounds of 10 minutes circuits, rather than 1 round of 20 minutes.

    As with any exercises, if you experience any pain – stop. Then get in touch with me ( or a medical professional that focuses on movement. I can help you understand what’s going on with your joints and muscles and tailor the exercises to help you be strong and mobile.

    I hope you found this helpful!

    -Dr. Ryan Slaughter

    (831) 440 7845

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Tuesday: 10am - 4pm

Thursday: 10am -4pm


5321 Scotts Valley Drive
Suite 101
Scotts Valley, CA 95066


Goes the EXTRA mile-I have never EVER had any previous Chiro do what Ryan does. He does NOT just adjust. He goes ALL OUT. He listens, spends A SUPER GENEROUS amount of time doing a form of amazing body work/trigger point work called HMT that relaxes my muscles BEFORE adjustment (ALL INCLUDED IN MY APPOINTMENT) and then only adjusts what is needed. Most if not all other Chiro's spend what 5 min with you? Not Dr. Ryan, minimum of 20 min worth of the most effective treatment I've ever received along with corrective exercises.

Colleen I.


Soquel, CA


I was recommended to meet Dr. Slaughter by a chiropractic student who interned in my office. I was intrigued by his focus on restoring optimal movement patterns using the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). It's not something I do in my practice, but I wanted to experience it in my body. I am a chiropractor, a CrossFit athlete and an avid stand up paddle boarder. Ryan evaluated me, adjusted me and game me some great exercises to help with thoracic mobility. He really helped me with some neck and upper back tightness I had. Thanks Ryan!

Goldi J.


Watsonville, CA


Ryan is one of the best chiropractor I've every worked with. He really truly cares about healing and focuses on the whole body, not just what works. With every session I learn something new about how my body works. I started going to him for persistent shoulder pain that woke me up at night. A few months later, I'm competely painfree and as long as I do the two exercises he's taught I stay painfree with full range of motion.



Scotts Valley, CA


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