Home Posts tagged "Sports Injuries"

8 Takeaways From Complete Sports Conditioning

I've spent the early part of the week working my way through Mike Boyle's new resource, Complete Sports Conditioning. To say that I've been impressed has been an understatement, as it's a fantastic resource that offers a nice blend of research, anecdotal observations, actual programming recommendations for those who need to manage energy systems development in athletes. It's on sale for $100 off through the end of the day Friday.

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That said, Mike's presentations got me thinking about a variety of conditioning-related topics, so I figure I'd do a bit of a brain dump here to highlight some of my favorite take-home points from this resource. 

1. This quote kicked off Mike's initial presentation on the right foot! 

Using extra conditioning to try to enhance "mental toughness" might yield some benefits in young athletes who have larger windows of adaptation in work capacity - and because just about anything works for untrained athletes. In more experienced athletes, however, throwing in a bunch of extra conditioning usually just leads to increased injury rates - and the realization that it's super challenging to try to take the spots off a leopard.

2. You don't have to be an aerobic rock star; you just have to be good enough.

I deal with a lot of baseball players, and it's important that they have a solid aerobic base. This allows them to bounce back faster between bouts of intense exercise (i.e., throwing 95mph or running to first base) and training sessions. They don't have to have elite aerobic capacity, though.

We've always used a resting heart rate below 60 as our standard for a "sufficient" aerobic base with the baseball guys, and it was good to hear Mike reaffirm this (referencing Dave Tenney of the Seattle Sounders).

Honestly, most guys show up at the start of the offseason with a sufficient aerobic base (via this measure) because it's something that is relatively easy to maintain once established. As Mike noted, “You can get ten minutes of aerobic work with a good warm-up.”

And, as I noted in Building Aerobic Capacity with Mobility Circuits, we will do exactly that (albeit with extended warm-ups) with our guys in the first month of the offseason.

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There has definitely been an industry-wide trend of heavily emphasizing aerobic base work - and that's a good thing - but we have to be careful about taking it too far with athletes who have other important qualities they need to train. That said, remember that very low intensity work (below 70% of max heart rate) affords "easy gains" that can promote recovery and help with long-term adaptations to training, so if folks have the time for it, adding a little bit in won't hurt (assuming the modality is appropriate).

3. Appreciate the interaction between biomechanics and physiology.

It's our natural tendency to get "boxed in" based on our specialty. As an example, I'm a shoulder and elbow guy, so I'm naturally going to be drawn to learning more about those joints as opposed to seeking out continuing education on the foot and ankle, even though that's my biggest weakness. It's just like training athletes; they like to do what they're already good at, and as coaches, we need to be cognizant of giving them what they need.

This has parallels in the conditioning discussion. Many coaches will be incredibly physiology driven, meaning they understand the cardiovascular and (possibly) endocrine responses to a given training protocol. However, in my experience, these folks are often the most likely to overlook the biomechanical side of things, and that has an even larger contribution to injury risk in athletes. Mike demonstrated that he's a guy who understands both sides of the equation well. A few key points that stood out:

a. With treadmills, the athlete isn’t creating hip extension. Rather, the belt moving is creating hip extension.

b. Most "traditional" conditioning - all cardio equipment and straight-ahead sprinting - occurs almost exclusively in the sagittal plane, but most sports injuries involve frontal and transverse plane challenges that go uncontrolled. Incorporating slideboards and change-of-direction work like shuttle runs to conditioning programs is imperative to check both the biomechanics and physiology boxes.

c. Rowing might be blast heart rate up, but from a biomechanical standpoint, it can irritate a lot of lower backs and hips. I've even seen folks deal with forearm/elbow overuse issues from adding in extra gripping with rowing on top of their normal lifting programs. It's probably not an awesome conditioning option for team sports athletes.

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d. Shuttle runs are far more intensive than tempo runs because of the deceleration/acceleration components involved with changing direction - but they also allow you to train to prevent injuries better than straight-ahead running (even if heart rates are matched to the tempo approach).

This leads to...

4. Year-round competitive play may have eliminated the need for "conditioning."

When athletes is playing hockey, soccer, basketball, or some other conditioning-heavy sport, they are stressing both the same movement patterns/muscles and the same energy systems. And, if you think extra conditioning is going to help a basketball player who is already playing five games per week, you're sorely mistaken. If you add more in, you're likely going to increase injury risk and lose valuable training time that would be better focused on enhancing other athletic qualities like strength and power. 

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5. Heart rate based training is superior to time-based interval training.

Time-based interval training prescription is very arbitrary, and Mike demonstrated it in real-time with a collection of athletes from different backgrounds performing conditioning on heart rate monitors. When time during the "hard" portion of the interval is matched, athletes will have a lot of variability in how quickly their heart rates recover. A 15s: 45s work: rest ratio might be a piece of cake for one athlete, but absolutely crush another one. 

Cardiac drift - a phenomenon where heart rate will gradually trend upward as a training session progresses - will likely exaggerate this even further. The further up it goes during the "work" period, the further down it'll have to come during the "rest" portion.

The take-home point is that monitoring heart rate allows you to individual conditioning in a way that promotes faster adaptation - and gives you peace of mind that you're actually training what you want to train.

6. Maximum heart rate is highly variable.

At Cressey Sports Performance - Florida, we have a 57-year-old client who is a competitive skisurf (ocean paddling) racer. His max heart rate is 180 beats per minute, which effectively blows the "220 minus age" model for predicting max heart rate out of the water. Mike Boyle is about the same age, and he mentioned that he, too, can get up to the 180bpm mark. 

Conversely, I'm sure there are other folks who can't come close to their age-predicted max heart rate. I'm 35 years old, and I'm not sure that I could touch 185bpm, as I always seem to be an "under responder" when it comes to monitoring heart rate.

The point is that you never know unless you measure it and plan accordingly. Having an idea of both resting and max heart rate is really helpful for planning things out.

7. "If I have young kids, the last thing I am going to be worried about is fitness, and the first thing I’m going to be worried about is fastness."

I loved this quote and absolutely plan to steal it (thanks, Mike). If we are talking about SPORTS conditioning, the faster athlete should theoretically always win, and that's why it's so important to start with speed development. This comes through getting stronger and training power.

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Starting with speed is also particularly important because fatigue is the enemy of motor learning. If we want young athletes to pick up new skills, we can't introduce these challenges with a huge conditioning element that may impede that development. Sure, aerobic exercise offers benefits for motor learning, but as we noted earlier, most young athletes are already getting an "accidental" aerobic stimulus with some of their other training. As the saying goes:

[bctt tweet="Move well before you move a lot."]

If I had to ballpark an age, I'd say that it would be a bad idea to do targeted aerobic work with anyone under 15 years old. Free play and multiple sports is the name of the game up through age 12, and then the 13-15 year-old athlete has remarkable windows of adaptation for strength and power, making this a perfect time to initiate more targeted strength and conditioning work. Specific low-intensity steady state work just gets pushed out because athletes have to be athletic and work on the most pressing growth areas.

Apologies to all the middle school cross country coaches who are reading this!

8. Good conditioning programming is heavily based on common sense.

If you're ever struggling to really appreciate what athletes need, sit back and watch the sport. Appreciate how much ground an athlete covers, how much time is spent at maximum speed, how many changes of direction take place, and how much time he/she spends with the ball/puck. These observations will tell you just as much as researching the energy systems demands.

These are really just a very small tip of the iceberg with respect to what this excellent resource contains, so I'd definitely recommend you check it out for yourself, especially since it's on sale for $100 off through tomorrow (Friday) at midnight. You can check it out HERE

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Developmental Systems – The X & O Factors for Training Young Athletes

Today's guest blog comes from Brian Grasso. The Youth Fitness and Sports Training explosion has happened. More than $4 billion are pumped into the niches of personalized training and coaching for young people every year in the United States alone (Wall Street Journal, November 2004) and roughly 1 million kids and teens hired a Personal Trainer in 2006 (msnbc.com). Given those stats and the enormity of both the problems (youth obesity and sports-related injuries) as well as the market size (see above) you'd think that we, as a profession, would have a relatively good working knowledge of how young people need to be trained and guided through a physical education process.

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Unfortunately, this is as far from the truth as it gets. I won't bloviate or preach. I won't reveal my thoughts regarding how ineffectual we choose to be when working with this demographic. And I certainly won't use any sardonic overtones about the role of responsibility we should employ when opting to work with such a sensitive and cherished client base. I will simply appeal to your sense of logic and intelligence. For the purposes of this article, let me say this: "Kids" is a term I will use to encompass everyone who inhabits the ages of 6 - 18. Athletes and Non-Athletes alike. Miniature superstars, bench-warmers and the overweight, will all be lumped under the same umbrella. And simply stated, I do this because the development parameters of physical stimulus needed for ALL "kids" is the same - at very least in the beginning phases of training spectrum. Training stimulus with this demographic is guided, primarily, by physiology. You train to the organism, not the apparent needs of the young athlete or any potential concerns - for example, increasing the speed of an 8 year old running back or arm strength of a 10 year old pitcher would amount to "apparent needs" of a young athlete.  Attacking measures of calorie restriction and "fat loss" protocol would be examples of "potential concerns." Instead, your focus must be on the organism itself.

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What a young organism needs to experience in the way of physical stimulus can largely be deduced by chronological age.  Certainly biological age (relative body maturation), emotional age (psychological maturation) and even personality (temperament) can all be factored into the equation, but I have found in my 13-year career that chronological age determents can be successfully applied in 90% of the cases.  The remaining 10% can be accounted for through proper coaching and identification. Having said all that, the following is a brief rundown of the physical needs of 'kids' based on chronological age: 6 - 9 Years Old:
  • Guided Discovery - implying that Coaches and Trainers must create games and exercises that involve a variety of movement and guidelines in terms of execution, but allow the 'kids' to explore on their own.  This phase is terribly critical for establishing "Athletic Intelligence" and sets the seeds for increased complexity of training in the future
  • Outcome-Based Coaching - Coaches and Trainers must restrict their commentary and praise to that of "outcome" oriented verbiage.  For example, when asking a 7 year old to pick up a medicine ball and throw it forward using a chest-pass motion, provide praise on that and that alone with respect to successful execution.  Comments pertaining to form are not required and can impede the natural development of "kids" with respect to establishing "Athletic Intelligence."

10 - 13 Years Old:

  • Learning Exploration - Not dissimilar to Guided Discovery, "kids" must still be encouraged to discover what proper execution feels like on their own.  However, as emotional maturation increases (and while neural plasticity or adaptability is still high) it is also critical to start teaching the essence of primal patterns.  Educating "kids" on how to produce and resist force, create angles or accelerate/decelerate becomes an increasingly important part of the training process.
This is a rough overview.  I admit it. But learning exactly how to work with "kids" in a training environment is a process of education unto itself. Just know this for starters: It's not about Sets & Reps - it's about instructing technique through a developmental process. There's more, MUCH more I need to cover... And fortunately will be able to. Next month I'll be back with another installment. Until then,  re-read the above. The "kids" are worth our best effort. Brian Grasso has trained more than 15,000 young athletes worldwide over the past decade.  He is the Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association - the only youth-based certification organization in the entire industry.  For more information, visit www.IYCA.org Related Posts The Truth About Kids and Resistance Training Developing Young Pitchers the Safe Way Preventing Injuries in Young Athletes
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Stuff You Should Read: 2/8/10

Good stuff from the past and present for this week's recommended reading: The Law of Repetitive Motion Part 1 and Part 2 - These back-to-back newsletters from last June are, in my mind, must-reads if you're training clients and want to understand how injuries occur. Thoracic Mobility is a Myth? - Bill Hartman answers a reader's question on thoracic spine mobility in great detail.  It's definitely worth a read.
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3 Corrective Exercise Mistakes Fitness Professionals Make

Thought you all might be interested in a recent interview I did for Rick Kaselj of ExerciseForInjuries.com: 3 Corrective Exercise Mistakes Fitness Professionals Make For more details on some of the concepts I discuss, I'd encourage you to check out Assess & Correct.

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Consistently applying the information on this DVD for a few minutes each day should help anyone remain limber and injury free for a long time. Not only does it show you what to do in terms of fixing your problems, but it also shows you how to assess where you're at in terms of muscle balance and flexibility, so you can see how you're improving or regressing in those areas over time and in what areas you might need more work. It definitely makes a great addition to anyone's training library. -Kelly Baggett
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Stuff You Should Read: 1/25/10

Recommended Reading for the Week: Personal Training Certifications: A Different Perspective - Pat Rigsby got the idea for this blog post from a conversation we had at dinner at a conference last weekend in Tampa, and it came out really well. Exercises You Should Be Doing: Slideboard Bodysaw - Tony Gentilcore wrote up a good blog post about an exercise we've been incorporating quite a bit more nowadays since we picked it up from Mike Boyle. Video included! On Question, Many Answers - One of our interns this semester brought this blog post from Dr. Mike Scott to my attention.  It's a collection of responses from various experts to the question, "Why are childhood overuse injuries becoming so prevalent in our society?"
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Assess and Correct Now Available!

Today's a really exciting day for Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, and I - and hopefully for you, too! You see, after months of planning, filming, and editing, our new product, Assess and Correct, is now available at www.AssessAndCorrect.com.  And, for the first week ONLY, we're making the product available for $30 off what will be the normal retail price.

Layout 1 Assess and Correct is the first resource that empowers you with not only a series of self-assessments to identify your own flexibility and stability limitations, but also exercise progressions to correct those inefficiencies.  In the process, you'll take your athletic performance to all new levels and prevent injuries from creeping up on you - whether you're a high-level athlete or someone who sits at a desk too much. With 27 self-assessments and 78 corresponding exercises, you'll cover virtually everything you need to feel and perform well. And, you'll have plenty of variety to use for many years to come!  And, while the DVDs alone are really comprehensive, the bonuses we've added to this really sweeten the deal.  Included in this package are:

  • DVD #1: Your Comprehensive Guide to Self-Assessment
  • DVD #2: Your Individualized Corrective Exercise Progressions
  • Bonus #1: The Assess and Correct Assessment E-Manual, which is a guide to which you can refer to in conjunction with DVD #1.
  • Bonus #2: The Assess and Correct E-Manual, which includes written cues and photos for each recommended drill in DVD #2 so that you'll have a resource you can take to the gym with you.
  • Bonus #3: "The Great Eight Static Stretches" E-Manual, which shows you eight additional flexibility drills that we use on a regular basis in addition to the drills featured in the DVDs.
  • Bonus #4: The "Optimal Self Myofascial Release" E-Manual, which shows you the soft tissue methods and techniques we use with our clients and athletes.
  • Bonus #5: "Warm-ups for Every Body" E-Manual, which is a collection of two sample warm-up templates for 19 different sports/scenarios.
Again, this introductory offer will end next Sunday, November 1 at midnight EST.  For now, though, I'd encourage you to head over to www.AssessAndCorrect.com to check out some of the sample videos from the DVDs - including the introduction in which we discuss our rationale for creating the product.
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