Home 2007 July (Page 2)

Cressey on Mentors

I have to give a ton of credit (and thanks) to several mentors who have looked out for me with respect to training/nutrition and – probably most importantly – business. Hard work and learning from your mistakes can take you as far as you want to go, but if you want to get there faster, you’re best off seeking out the advice of those who are where you’d like to be.

I’ve been fortunate to have guys like Alwyn Cosgrove, Dave Tate, John Berardi, Jason Ferruggia, Mike Boyle, Joe DeFranco, and – more recently – you and Ryan Lee. I only wish I had found out about you two sooner; things would have come about even faster! You can’t be an expert on everything, so it’s to your advantage to have a solid network of mentors to which you can turn when an unfamiliar situation arises. Chances are that one or more of them has been there at some point, made a mistake, and learned from it; why bother to make that same mistake on your own?

Case in point: Alwyn and I had a running email dialogue going about two months ago. I have one emailed saved in which he referred me to his production and shipping company (Vervante), recommended a great liability insurance agent to meet my needs (clubinsurance.com), and recommended two books by Thomas Plummer that have been great. That email saved me thousands of dollars and countless hours on trouble.

A conversation I had with Dave Tate about four months ago really solidified this concept in my mind. Dave did a tremendous job with his physique transformation with John Berardi’s nutritional guidance. Truth be told, though, Dave knows nutrition better than you might think; he actually minored in it in college! However, soliciting JB’s advice was in Dave’s best interests; John is really up-to-date on optimal nutrition and supplementation strategies. Why would Dave want to spend hundreds of hours reading up on recent developments in the nutrition world when he can be studying up on public speaking, running a business, developing great equipment, and making people stronger – the four things for which he is best known? A few phone calls and emails to John was the smarter – not longer – way to work.

Eric Cressey
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Axe the Smith Machine

Q: Many members have complained about the thought of getting rid of the Smith Machine in our gym and replacing it with a power rack. If you wouldn't mind giving me some ammo (arguments) to shoot them down , I’d really appreciate it.
A: 1. The Smith Machine offers less transfer to the real-world than free weight exercises. 2. Depending on the movement, the shearing forces on the knees and lumbar spine are increased by the fixed line of motion. 3. The lifter conforms to the machine, and not vice versa. Human motion is dependent on subtle adjustments to joint angle positioning; the body will always want to compensate in the most advantageous position possible. Fix the feet and fix the bar, and the only ways to get this compensation are inappropriate knee tracking and, more dangerously, loss of the neutral spine position. 4. Smith machines are generally more expensive. I suspect that you could get a regular coat rack for about $2K cheaper – and it would take up less space. Eric Cressey
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Guilty: Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome

Q: I've been getting a bit of pain in the front of my hips when squatting. I'm not sure whether it's the hips flexors or something else. Squats with a stance around shoulder width are fine, as are any hip flexor exercises that work my legs in line with my body. It's only when I squat with a slightly wider stance or do overhead squats that my hips are bothered. It's only when I do leg raises with my legs apart, making a “Y” shape with my body, that I really feel the irritated muscle working. Although these do seem to help it rather than cause it pain. Do you have any idea what this could be? Or, tips on how to strengthen the area to avoid it? Thanks for any insight you can offer.
A: Femoral anterior glide syndrome is a classic problem in people with poor lumbo-pelvic function (overactive hamstrings and lumbar erectors coupled with weak glutes). The hamstrings don’t exert any direct control over the femur during hip extension; their distal attachments are all below the knee. So, as you extend the hip, there is no direct control over the head of the femur, and it can slide forward, irritating the anterior joint capsule. This will give a feeling of tightness and irritation, but stretching the area will actually irritate it even more. The secret is to eliminate problematic exercises for the short-term, and in the meantime, focus on glute activation drills. The gluteus maximus exerts a posterior pull on the femoral head during hip extension, so if it’s firing to counteract that anterior glide caused by the humerus, you’re golden. We outline several excellent drills in our Magnificent Mobility DVD; when handled correctly, you should see almost complete reduction of symptoms within a week. Lastly, make sure that you're popping your hips through and CONSCIOUSLY activating your butt on all squats, deadlifts, good mornings, pull-throughs, etc. Incorporate some single-leg work as well. For now, though, keep your stance in for a few weeks, stay away from box squatting, and get some foam rolling done on your adductors, quads, hip flexors, ITB/TFL, and piriformis. Eric Cressey


Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance.
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Cressey’s Take: Static Stretching

Q: What’s your take on frequency of static stretching? Is it "the more, the better"? More or less, how many days per week would be a good idea? A: In a nutshell... 1) I'm not as huge an advocate of stretching as I used to be, but I still think people need to do it – especially those who sit at computers all day. 2) Activation work and dynamic flexibility drills are ten times as valuable as static stretching. I’d rather do 6-8 mobilizations than a 12-15 second static stretch. 3) More people need to pay attention to soft-tissue work. Many times, muscles will just feel tight because they’re so knotted up. It's not just about soft tissue length anymore; it's about quality, too. You can check out my article The Joint Health Checklist for details. 4) My clients do 2-3 static stretches pre-training at the very most (only chronically overactive muscles), and the rest are at other times of the day. We’ll include some static stretching of non-working musculature during training in between sets just to improve training economy. 5) Stretching daily has helped a lot of my clients improve faster, but I think that they've come along almost just as well with pure activation and mobilization work (we do both). Eric Cressey Step-By-Step What It Takes to Become a Superior Athlete
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Baseball: Shoulder Strengthening

Q: I have a client who is 38 and plays league baseball. After playing for a few years when he finished high school, his career took a hit due to shoulder, elbow and knee injuries/over use. So, he left baseball, started his own business and after 15 years started playing in two leagues again…and the same old injuries flared up and now I have him. Can you recommend some elbow strengtheners I can prescribe for him?
A: First, make sure it's not just a matter of too much, too soon. He should have progressed his throwing routine gradually from Day 1. Good thing to save... 1. Throw on a two-on, one off schedule. 2. Start with 25 throws at 25 feet per day. 3. Increase throws at 25 feet to 50 before extending the distance and breaking the volume down between distances (25 at 25, 25 at 50) and so on. 4. From a recent article I wrote: Incorporate posterior capsule stretching in overhead throwing athletes. There is considerable research demonstrating that glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD) is highly correlated with shoulder injuries in overhead throwing athletes. Incorporating a very simple "sleeper" stretch daily can dramatically reduce the risk of shoulder problems in such athletes; if you aren't including this stretch in your program, you shouldn't be allowed to train overhead athletes! I also like cross-body mobilizations, as this approach has proven more effective than the sleeper stretch for improving internal rotation range-of-motion. Sleeper stretches are preferred for those with shoulder problems, but if you're only dealing with an elbow issue, you'll be fine with the cross-body version. You’ll also want to include some prone internal rotations - really important for subscap function. You'll also want to beat up on his posterior shoulder girdle with a tennis/lacrosse ball. Start with the soft tissue work, then move to the sleeper stretch, and then go to prone internal rotations. This assumes that we're dealing with medial elbow pain. Lateral elbow pain could be related (generally seen early-on, especially in younger athletes), but it's often more related to myofascial restrictions in the forearm with older athletes, in my experience. Eric Cressey


Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance.
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