I know a lot of professional (and college/high school) baseball players read this website on a daily basis, so I figured that with just about one month left in this year's minor league season, I'd report this article from last October. I think it is a must-read for any professional baseball player, based on my years of experience training guys in this population. Check it out: The Biggest Mistake Pro Baseball Players Make.
"In a day and age when you read, daily, about players taking 'shortcuts' and trying to find the quickest way to 'get good,' if you understand anything about the human body and professional sports you know neither of those applies. Eric Cressey is as cutting edge as anyone out there when it comes to throwing a baseball. His insight into not only the bio-mechanics of the action, but in understanding that the kinetic chain is about engaging the entire body and his position specific workouts are far ahead of their time. He also has great insight into the lives we live as professionals and knows that while nutrition is the foundation of any good athlete, there are ways to be healthy, and stay healthy. No matter if you're traveling from Motel 6 to Motel 6 in the NY Penn League, or on charter flights around the AL East, this guy is as good as they come.""In addition to being one of the smartest minds on the planet he's as good a person as he is a trainer, if not better. I couldn't recommend anyone more highly than Eric if you are truly serious about tapping into potential you never knew you had, or pushing yourself to places you never knew you could go."Curt Schilling
Member of the 2001, 2004 and 2007 World Champion Diamondbacks and Red Sox
1. I just realized that it's Friday the 13th. Hopefully that epiphany doesn't jinx this blog and make it suck. Prepare yourself either way.
2. In case you missed it earlier this week, today is the last day you can save $50 off of Muscle Imbalances Revealed, a discount that is only in place for my readers through THIS LINK. As I noted in my Muscle Imbalances Revealed product review earlier this week, it's an excellent product and worth every penny. The sale lasts through tonight at midnight only.
3. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I'm a huge advocate of soft tissue work based on anecdotal evidence. This week, however, I want to direct you to a great "case study" guest blog by physical therapist Trevor Winnegge over at Mike Reinold's blog. Trevor writes about the importance of soft tissue release following SLAP 2 repairs. This is great information for both clinicians and those looking to be advocates for themselves following shoulder injuries, so definitely check it out.
4. Check out this excellent blog post from Bret Contreras on stiffness. A lot of folks think that being stiff is always a bad thing, but as Bret shows, there is a time and a place for everything - and it's crucial for successful athletic performance.
5. Cressey Performance athlete Andrew Chin had a nice interview published at ESPN Boston the other day, and talks about his training at CP in some detail. Check it out: Player Perspective: Andrew Chin.
5. Tony's out of town for a lovely romantic weekend with his significant other. He's planning to serenade her, so we did a little trial run at Cressey Performance the other night. I think he did pretty well:
Hey, it beats techno, right?
6. One of my goals for the rest of 2010 is to really kick up the video content here at EricCressey.com. To that end, I am tentatively planning a video series for the blog that is all about exercise technique and how we teach certain lifts. I'm looking for ideas: what drills/exercises/lifts have been a struggle for you to learn? Please post some suggestions as comments below and you might see it in this blog in the next few months with a ton of detail. Thanks in advance for your ideas!
In response to a recent blog, one reader posted a question about how I "structure" my approach to continuing education. As I thought about it, it's actually a more organized "ritual" than I had previously thought. Here are the key components:
1. I always have two books going at a time. One involves training/nutrition/manual therapy/rehabilitation. The other involves business/personal development. Noticeably absent from this list is fiction; I really don't have any interest in it, and couldn't tell you the first thing about Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. I'll usually have a book on CD in the car as well, but nowadays, my commute is non-existent (since we moved closer to the facility), so I have been doing more reading and less listening than previously.
2.Our staff in-service is every Wednesday at 10:30AM. This has turned into a great continuing education opportunity for all of us. While one person is "responsible" for presenting the topic each week, it always inevitably becomes a "think tank" among our staff and interns about how something applies to specific clients, unique issues, functional anatomy, or our programming or business model.
For instance, last week, I talked about how to assess shoulder external rotation and address any identified deficits on this front. We got to talking about which clients were using the appropriate mobilizations, how to perform them, and what would happen if they are performed incorrectly. Likewise, we talked about how certain people need to be careful about mobilizing their shoulders into external rotation because of extreme congenital laxity and/or extreme humeral retroversion.
Beyond just the benefits of helping our staff grow as a whole, for me, it has several distinct benefits. First, when I come back from a weekend seminar where I've learned something good, it's a great opportunity to "reteach" and apply it immediately. I'm a firm believer that the best way to master something is to have to teach it to someone else. Second, having pretty frequent "mini-presentations" keeps my presenting skills fresh for seminars when I may have 4-6 weeks between speaking engagements.
3. I get to at least 4-5 weekend seminars per year. I'm lucky in that two of these are generally Perform Better Three-Day Summits where I get to see a wide variety of presentations - with all my travel expenses paid because I present myself.
I think that every fitness professional needs to get to at least two such events per year. The good news is that with webinars and DVD sets, you can save a ton on travel expenses and watch these on your own schedule. A lot of people, for instance, have said that they learned more from our two-day Building the Efficient Athlete Seminar DVD Set than they did in years of college - with no tuition payment required, either!
That said, a ton of the education at such events comes from interacting with other fitness professionals, so you do miss out on the accidental "social" education.
4. I have one day a week where all I read are journal articles. Sometimes it is entertaining, and sometimes it's like reading stereo instructions. It depends on journal - and regular ol' luck with respect to what's going on in the research world. I'll keep it pretty random and just type in a search term like "sports medicine" or "strength training." We also have The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies delivered to the office so that our staff can look that over.
5. I read a few blogs/newsletters each day in both training/nutrition/manual therapy/rehabilitation and business/personal development. I've listed several on my recommended resources page. There are loads more out there; these are just the tip of the iceberg and the ones that I tend to read more frequently.
6. I'll usually have a DVD set or webinar going as often as possible. We've got a great library in the office at Cressey Sports Performance, and I'm fortunate to have a lot of stuff sent to me for free to review here on the blog. I tend to prefer DVDs more than webinars, as I can watch them in fast-forward and make people talk faster to save time!
7. I talk to and email with a handful of other coaches about programming and business ideas and new things we're doing. I wouldn't call it a mastermind group, or anything even close to one in terms of organization, but it is good to know that whenever I want to bounce an idea off someone, I have several people I can contact. On the training side of things, a few guys that come to mind are Mike Robertson, Neil Rampe, Mike Reinold, Bill Hartman, and Tony Gentilcore. On the business side of things, I'm lucky to have Alwyn Cosgrove and Pat Rigsby as good dudes who are only an email or phone call away. I think that the take-home message is that if you surround yourself with the right people, answers that would normally elude you are really right at hand.
This post wound up running a lot longer than I'd anticipated, but hopefully you all benefited from it nonetheless. Have any continuing education strategies of your own that I have overlooked? If so, please post them in the comments section below.
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Call it a law of weightlifting: no matter how careful you are, at some point you're gonna get hurt. Now you probably won't decapitate yourself with a barbell or tear a pec or even rupture your spleen—the weightlifter's injuries are rarely that cool or sudden.
Nope, you'll probably just end up with a bum shoulder, a pinched elbow, a bad back, or creaky knees, all the result of years of faulty movement patterns, poor training habits, or just general wear and tear. And while these injuries are always frustrating, they're often manageable.
Because it's hard to build a good-looking body when you're hurt, I talked with Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson about how these body parts probably got jacked up in the first place, and asked them for simple strategies to get you healthy.
A while back, several industry notables launched a webinar series called Muscle Imbalances Revealed. To be honest, I had been approached about contributing on the project, but just didn't have the time to give the project the attention it deserved. Luckily for all of us, though, Rick Kaselj went through with pulling this together, and an excellent resource was born.
The product consists of seven webinars all aimed at identifying and correcting muscular imbalances in the lower body. Contributing to the project were Kaselj, Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, Dean Somerset, Kevin Yates, and Eric Beard. Rather than go into a ton of detail on each presentation (and I did take quite a few notes on each), I'll highlight the components from the set as a whole that stood out for me.
1. Rick Kaselj had some excellent information on the incidence of knee injuries and surgeries across various populations; they are definitely statistics to which I'll be referring for future blogs and presentations. His presentation on ACL return-to-function would be a tremendously valuable resource to any trainer or strength and conditioning coach who has never gotten a post-ACL athlete right after discharge from therapy. I remember when I saw my first post-ACL case; I literally went home and did 4-5 hours of research that night just to make sure that I was up to speed on where that female athlete should be, and what her restrictions were. Scarily, we knew a lot less back then than we do now - and that's what makes Rick's presentation so valuable: it's all the latest info all in one place. My only small criticism is that it could have used some more videos within the presentation, but that's nothing to write home about in light of the content he provides.
2. Bill Hartman dropped some serious knowledge bombs, as only Bill can. I found that I took the most notes during Bill's presentation. A few things that stood out:
a. Don't just think of it as thoracic mobility; think of it as rib mobility, too.
b. A lot of people overlook how much exhaling during a thoracic extension drill can improve the efficacy of the exercise. Try it!
c. Bill went to great lengths to discuss the differences between mobility ("the ability to achieve the desired posture or movement") and regular ol' flexibility.
d. He worked in a bit of Postural Restoration Institute flavor, and it was nice to see which specific exercises he was using the most in a group training setting, as we do quite a bit of it ourselves.
e. Bill demonstrated the quadruped extension-rotation with the arm maximally internally rotated behind the back; it's one I really like, and we'll be using it selectively with a few of our clients. T-spine mobility is so essential to glenohumeral internal rotation range-of-motion, and it seems like internal rotation is more quickly impacted than external rotation - so it makes sense to mobilize in this position.
f. While emphasizing ankle mobility, we can't overlook the importance of strengthening the anterior compartment of the lower leg.
3. Mike Robertson was excellent as well, although I didn't take quite as many notes as I did with Bill simply because I see and speak with Mike more often. I've written quite a bit about how the subtalar joint is a "torque converter" where pronation drives tibial/femoral internal rotation and adduction, plus anterior pelvic tilt.
In this presentation, Mike does a great job of taking it a step further and talking about how dysfunction at the pelvis can drive pronation from the top down; poor hip strength and mobility can definitely wreak havoc on the lower extremity. He also presents a great anteversion example, in case you haven't seen one.
4. Kevin Yates spoke to things in a much more general sense, and while I honestly didn't take a lot from his presentations myself, some of the up-and-comers in the industry certainly would. A few points he made that I did really like were:
a. As much has technology has improved our world, it's really screwed our bodies!
b. Injuries almost always occur while we are moving, not while we're stationary - so make sure that the bulk of your mobility work comes in a standing, dynamic context, not just from static stretching.
5. Eric Beard did a great overview of the shoulder girdle and the issues we face in this complex region. From reading this blog, you realize that I could talk about all shoulders, all the time - so it was impressive that Eric crammed as much quality content into an hour as he possibly could. I really liked his scapulohumeral rhythm images as well as his continued emphasis that shoulder injuries often take years to come to fruition; there are often just "incidents" that become the straw that breaks the camel's back.
6. Dean Somerset was last, but certainly not least. Dean spoke at length about the role of fascia in governing movement. In the past, I've written at length about how we may have terrible x-rays, MRIs, or other diagnostic imaging - and be completely pain-free. Well, as Dean discusses, we can have a boatload of pain, but absolutely nothing abnormal on these images. In fact, 85% of lower back pain has no definitive diagnosis - so what gives? Well, this is where fascia comes in. We're talking about the entire extracellular matrix of the body. It's proprioceptively-rich and incredibly strong - yet it doesn't really get any of the attention it deserves. Ever had annoying pain that went away with soft tissue work? Here's a rationale for "why" it went away. For related reading, check out my recent blog post, The Fascial Knock on Distance Running for Pitchers.
All in all, Muscle Imbalances Revealed was an excellent resource that I'd highly recommend you view. And, I think it's particularly valuable because you can conveniently watch it from the comfort of your own home or office without having to spend hundreds of dollars on travel and accommodations while taking time off from work. On an even cooler note, when I reached out to Rick and mentioned that I was writing this review, he went out of his way and provided a special discount offer for my readers. You can check it out at THIS PAGE.
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My fiancée Anna and I just got back last night from a wedding weekend (not ours) in Halifax. We had a great time drinking Molson celebrating our friends' big day.
Anna was a bridesmaid, so I was largely left to be an American tourist flying solo, which left a bit of time for people watching. There weren't any Canadian celebrities - Nelly Furtado, Gordy Howe, Michael J. Fox, or even Keanu Reeves (who was stripped of his "celebrity" status thanks to years of anti-Reeve propaganda at tonygentilcore.com) - on hand, so my attention focused on a remarkably obese woman in the hotel lobby who had a couple of yappy little dogs with her.
While I'm a big-time dog lover, frankly, at that moment, I wanted to punt these little balls of worthlessness into the nearby harbor just to quiet them down. However, rather than doing so and getting myself deported back to the U.S., I turned my attention to these pups' "Big Mama."
This woman had two dogs that were obviously frantic to go outside, enjoy the sunshine, and essentially give her the perfect reason to exercise (take them for a walk). It wasn't happening, though.
It was like giving a young hockey player a stick and some skates - but having him refuse to use them while playing. Or, like offering employees a corporate fitness deal, only to have them ignore it.
Undiagnosed ADD guy that I am, this really got me to thinking about how so many people out there don't even realize that they have key resources right at-hand who could really help out on their fitness journeys.
Maybe it's a spouse who would love to exercise with you or help you to clean up your diet?
Perhaps your gym has new equipment that you haven't touched yet when what you really need is some variety?
Could there be a training partner at your gym right now on the same schedule at you who would be willing to give you hands-off/spots so that you can push yourself that little bit more in your weight training program to get strong?
Or, do you think it could be that you just need a new strength training program to get you out of a funk so that you're accountable to something?
You never know unless you stop to consider this, and evaluate what's going on around you. Chances are that there are people, places, and things out there that'll help get you closer to where you want to be.
Now, shouldn't you be finding a dog to walk?
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Today's post won't be too lengthy, but I'm still pretty psyched to make it. You see, I've got a new product on the way, and I'm really excited about it.
I can't get into too much detail on it (especially since there are still some loose ends to tie up), but I will say this: if you liked Maximum Strength, then you're going to LOVE this.
My goal was for this program to become the most versatile strength and conditioning resource available - meaning that with a few adjustments (which I lay out), it could work for a wide variety of people, with different genders, goals, training schedules, training experience, and equipment access.
Based on the initial feedback from the guinea pigs" I put through the program, it's done more than just work; they've thrived.
There will certainly be more details to come as we approach the product's release on September 20. In the meantime, I'll just encourage you to subscribe to my FREE newsletter (below), if you haven't already. My subscribers will be the first to hear about the product when it goes "live."
Have a great weekend!
I had a one-time consultation client at Cressey Performance yesterday, and when I noticed that he had some interesting stuff going on, it made me realize that I need to do more "case studies" here in the blog.
This guy had a history of on-and-off right-sided lower back and left shoulder pain. Basically, it would act up every once in a while, then calm down when he cut out exercising. Then, he'd return to training for a bit - only to have another set-back. It has been one step forward, and one step back for years.
Now, if you'd seen this guy move, you'd realize that the lower back and shoulder stuff were clearly closely related. If you're at all familiar with the Postural Restoration Institute, he was a classic Left AIC pattern: adducted/internally rotated right hip and abducted/externally rotated left hip - and the compensations working their way up to lead to a low right shoulder and prominent left rib flair. Everything was definitely related.
Not surprisingly, he'd been told he had scoliosis previously - but the "interesting" thing about it is that this was an acquired posture. He hadn't had these when he was a kid; he developed them when he was a rower who was always on the right side of the boat. If you can acquire them, you can "unacquire" them - but it takes time.
We're getting him started on some drills to iron out his hip imbalances, but for the sake of this blog, I wanted to highlight what we saw with his shoulder, as I think it includes some great take-home messages on how to manage shoulder function - both in the presence and absence of pain.
If you look at the research, if you look at shoulder total motion (internal rotation + external rotation with the scapula stabilized at 90 degrees of abduction), you should see symmetry between right and left in a healthy shoulder. The internal and external components may be different between sides (e.g., more external rotation and less internal rotation in a throwing shoulder), but the total motion should be the same. When it's not, "normalizing" total motion should be a primary goal, whether you're trying to address or prevent shoulder issues.
In our case study's situation, here is what we measured with the goniometer:
Left: 39° (IR) + 98° (ER) = 137° (TM)
Right: 58° (IR) + 109° (ER) = 167° (TM)
In other words, it was a 30° total motion deficit, with most of that deficit coming from internal rotation.
The logical next step would be to manually stretch the shoulder girdle, right? Well, certainly, it may be justified. However, before I go having an athlete crank on a somewhat "delicate" joint, I like to see what we can do to get that area to relax without even touching it.
The first thing we did was simply close down that left rib cage flair a bit while flexing his left hip and flexing his left arm overhead. And, we just left him there to breath for 30 seconds or so. Then, we remeasured:
Left: 44° (IR) + 104° (ER) = 148° (TM)
In other words, we got 11° of total motion without ever touching his shoulder. His body did that work just by getting air in with a new posture (no left rib flair).
Next, I simply had him get on all fours and go through a pretty low-key thoracic spine mobilization with his arm gently positioned behind his back so that it was on absolutely no stretch. He did eight reps on each side, using cervical motion to drive a bit of thoracic extension and rotation and scapular movement. Then, we remeasured:
Left: 46° (IR) + 107° (ER) = 153° (TM)
There's another 5° of total motion, and it got us a lot closer to where he needs to be - without ever touching his shoulder. And, the coolest part was that when he stood up, the low right shoulder was markedly less prominent - and it was a positioning that "stuck around" for the rest of his session.
Sure, manual stretching of the shoulder is probably warranted for him to get those last 14 degrees, and I don't expect him to maintain all this range indefinitely after this session. He'll need to be consistent with the movements to regain range bit-by-bit and use his strength training to ingrain it in his movement patterns, but the point is that the less aggressive, seemingly indirect, and self-applied interventions are often the best way to get lasting results. And, when they work, it makes you realize just how "synced up" our entire body is from head-to-toe.
For more information on the best assessments and corrective exercises for the shoulder, check out our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD Set.
1. Mike Reinold polled some of the best in the world of manual therapy, physical therapy, and strength and conditioning (plus a schmuck named "Cressey") to ask for their best career advice for students and young professionals in our fields. Here is the post that emerged; it came out really well - and actually serves as an awesome adjunct to yesterday's advice on starting out in the fitness industry.
2. I'm pumped to report that my advanced copy of Gray Cook's new book, Movement, arrived yesterday. I'm digging in to it tonight. You can pre-order your own HERE.
Gray's been talking about this book (and working on it) for years now, and there is no doubt in my mind that he won't disappoint. I'm really looking forward to it.
3. Here's a link to an interview with Cressey Performance and Lincoln-Sudbury athlete Adam Ravenelle, who is committed to play baseball at Vanderbilt:
Player Perspective: Adam Ravenelle
The thing I like the most about this interview is the fact that Adam emphasized the importance of in-season training and how valuable it is to young pitchers. You'd be amazed at how many guys work their butts off in the off-season and show up to the start of the season strong...only to skip their lifting and flexibility work for the next 6-8 months. It's one step forward, and one step back - but not for guys like Adam who "get it." "Rav" has gained over 50 pounds with us since 2007 while going from the high 70s to low 90mph range - and having an open-minded and dedicated attitude toward in-season training has been a big part of it.
3. Speaking of throwing the baseball faster, Haag et al. found that pre-throwing static stretching did not negatively affect baseball pitching velocity. This is pretty significant, as many modern coaches generally encourage players to universally avoid static stretching right before training and competition for fear of reductions in power output (that research horse has been beaten to death).
Personally, though, I've always felt that it was really valuable to stretch the throwing shoulder in the majority of our pitchers before they threw (the exceptions being the ones with crazy laxity). Typically, we stretch guys (or encourage them to stretch themselves) into shoulder internal rotation and flexion. It's safe to assume that getting range in their directions is going to not only minimize the effect of the peel-back mechanism for SLAP lesions at lay-back, but also enable them to have a longer, smoother deceleration arc.