Home 2009 April (Page 2)

EC is Getting Hitched, so You’re Getting a Discount

It was a big weekend up in my neck of the woods.  The Red Sox swept the Orioles, and the Bruins went up 2-0 in their playoff series.  The Celtics are up tonight as they try to even their series with the Bulls at one game apiece.  CP clients Steph Holland-Brodney and Aimee McGuire both ran the Boston Marathon, as did our friend Sarah Neukom.  In the process, the three of them raised over $40,000 for charity!  Many of you helped out via the promotions we did on my site.  Great job, ladies! On Saturday, I was the keynote speaker at the NSCA Maine Symposium up at my old stomping grounds, the University of New England.  State Chairman Heath Pierce and his staff did a fantastic job with the event.  And, as it turned out, I also got honored with the first ever Dr. Richard J. LaRue Award for achievement in Exercise Science.  Dr. LaRue was my advisor at UNE and the man responsible for really getting their Exercise and Sports Performance Department off the ground.  It is a huge honor, and that alone would have absolutely made my weekend - especially since it was near my hometown, so I got to receive it and present in front of several of my family members. Sunday was my brother's birthday, and snotty little brother that I am, I had to steal his thunder by capping the weekend off by proposing to my girlfriend of two years, Anna.  She's been known as the "First Lady of Cressey Performance" for some time now, but it seemed like a good time to make it official. Feats of strength like these already guaranteed her the position, but it was nice to know that she still accepted it by saying "Yes!"

(she's got over 250 in her, no problem)

Needless to say, I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet right now, so we might as well celebrate - and help me pay off the ring!

Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, and I had planned on a "customer appreciation sale" this week anyway, so we decided to change the theme to one of "engagement."  So, from now through Thursday, April 23rd at midnight, all of the following products are going to be 15% off with the coupon code "HITCHED" (no quotation marks) at checkout:

Through RobertsonTrainingSystems.com:

Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Set Magnificent Mobility DVD Bulletproof Knees Manual Inside-Out DVD/Manual Indianapolis Performance Enhancement Seminar DVD Set

Through EricCressey.com:

The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual The Art of the Deload The Truth About Unstable Surface Training

Don't miss out on this opportunity to get quality products at reduced prices. Again, that coupon code is "HITCHED."

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Random Friday Thoughts: 4/17/09

1. Tonight, my girlfriend and I are headed up to Maine for the weekend.  I am giving two presentations tomorrow at the NSCA Maine Symposium.  Lucky for me, both presentations are on topics that have been big interests to me: training for overhead throwing athletes, and instability training (this is closely related to the content of my e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.


2.Speaking of instability training, in the book, I outline several progressions to increase the stability challenge (to, in turn, train balancing proficiency).  One of these methods is to simply raise the center of gravity.  It could be simply moving from a dumbbell forward lunge to a barbell forward lunge, or you could make it even tougher by bringing the barbell overhead.

The higher up the center of gravity goes, the tougher it is to stabilize. 3. On the topic of new new projects,I'm working on what I think will be one of the best series I've ever written - right up there with the Shoulder Savers Series.  So far, it's looking like a three-parter, but if I keep rolling like I am right now, it might have 857 installments.  Keep an eye out for it, as Part 1 will be the next thing I submit to T-Nation. 3. Here's an interesting compilation of the healthiest fast food choices out there.  To be honest, I don't think the grading scale was tough enough on them.  If Wendy's, Taco Bell, and McDonald's all get a B+, I shiver to think what warrants a C, D, or F... 4. I often gets questions about what we look for in an ideal Cressey Performance intern. While I could probably list off about 50 qualities I like to see in someone, without a doubt, the first prerequisite is to actually get your application in on time.  We have received over five applications in the WEEKS following our March 15 deadline for summer internship applications.  They not only lost out because we'd already picked our interns, but also because it tells me that they probably wouldn't have done very well with respect to following directions anyway! 5. Speaking of ways to "stand out" in your field, the up-and-comers in the crowd definitely ought to check out this great blog post from Mike Reinold. 6. Nice first outing yesterday for Weston pitcher and CP athlete Sahil Bloom.  Our boy took a no-hitter into the final inning, and ended up with 14K.  Congrats to Lincoln-Sudbury on moving to 4-0 this week, too. That'll do it for today.  I should be back with some cool news on Monday, so keep an eye out for the blog and newsletter.  Have a great weekend!

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I’ll admit it: this week was lame.

I got back late from Easter and pulled a blog together at the last minute on Monday morning - hoping to just kick the can down the road to a big Tuesday night blog (was out of town all day Tuesday). I think the Doga piece satisfied the comedic interests of you, the readers, but I'm afraid it was a little light on the content. So, my goal for Wednesday was to come through with some crazy geeky content, but I just didn't get much quality time on the laptop - and the project was kicked back to this morning.  I started writing some sweet content, but it just kept stretching on and on and on - to the point that it was too long to be a blog.  So, that'll be my newsletter early next week.  Subscribe to the right of the screen if you want to read it. That said, I just devoted about 45 minutes to writing, and I still have no blog for Thursday.  So, I'm going to cut my losses, brainstorm for Friday, and give you the best filler content I can think up in the meantime for today. First, I'm going to encourage you to check out this Precision Nutrition Athlete Profile on Cressey Performance Athlete and Oakland A's minor league pitcher Shawn Haviland.  Shawn completely changed his body this off-season and had a nice velocity jump from 87-89 to 91-93mph - and he's off to a good start for the Kane County Cougars.  He's got a nice blog rolling, too: Ivy League to MLB. Second, I've got a little challenge for you.  One of CP's newest high-level athlete additions is Danny O'Connor, a boxer who was a member of the 2008 US Olympic Team.  Danny has turned pro since the Olympics, compiling a record of 5-0 with 3 knockouts, and we're currently in the process of preparing him for his fight on April 25 at Foxwoods (shown on Showtime, for those interested).  This kid enters the gym and instantly, everyone gets fired up to train.

Here's the thing, though: Danny might be the only professional boxer in history without a nickname.  Nobody's come up with something good enough yet, he says.  I suggested "135 Pounds of Irish Fury," but he didn't seem to go for it.  So, let's see if my readers can do better than I did.  What do you suggest for a nickname?  Post your suggestions as comments on this blog.

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Avoiding Tendinopathies by Reallocating Stress

Avoiding Tendinopathies by Reallocating Stress In a previous newsletter, I wrote about how people become symptomatic for some musculoskeletal problem because numerous issues have collectively brought them to the threshold where pain kicks in.  If you haven't read it, definitely check it out now HERE. Basically, the gist is that injury prevention and rehabilitation programs that only address single factors aren't sufficient.  You shouldn't fix a shoulder problem with just rotator cuff strengthening exercises and rest.  You can't just get a massage and take some rest to get your lower back pain to go away. In this newsletter, I highlighted how poor exercise technique - or even just faulty movement patterns in daily life - is something that can push someone to threshold.  It's one of the reasons why we go to such great lengths on our Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set to outline common technique mistakes and how to correct them with over 30 common resistance-training exercises.


One quick example of how this can push an athlete over the symptom threshold (or pull that athlete back under it) is kinesiotaping.  In the past two years - and particularly at the Beijing Olympics - this modality spread rapidly in the world of athletics, treating everything from the ankles up to the shoulders.


While the creators of this tape assert that it has effects on the lymphatic and circulatory systems, it's my impression that the most marked changes occur with respect to the reallocation of stress on particular tissues.  I've perused all their reading materials, and nowhere do I see any claims that it reduces inflammation.

Here, then, we get support for the new (and correct) era of thinking that tendinitis is very uncommon.  The -itis ending indicates an inflammatory condition, and if that was the case, some anti-inflammatories would quickly and easily take care of the overuse pain folks so commonly feel in the athletic world.  Anyone who has struggled with an achilles, patellar, or supraspinatus tendinopathy will tell you that it really isn't that simple, so what gives?

The truth is that most folks are dealing with a tendinosis.  The -osis ending tells us that we're dealing with a degenerative - not inflammatory - problem.  Essentially, tissue loading exceeds tissue tolerance - and that means that we need to find a way to reallocate stress to ease the burden on that tissue both acutely (kinesiotaping) and chronically (appropriate movement patterns).

The difference between tendinitis and tendinosis has been highlighted at-length in the research world.  Unfortunately, the correct terminology has been slow to catch on both in the medical community and lay population.  As a result, many individuals underestimate the chronic nature of these problems.

In the photo above, a tape-job might help at the shoulder acutely by posteriorly tilting the scapula or altering the degree of humeral rotation to allow for safe overhead movements (less mechanical impingement of the rotator cuff on the undersurface of the acromion process of the scapula).  Long-term, though, an athlete with this type of shoulder problem would need to work on scapular stability, glenohumeral range-of-motion, rotator cuff strength, and thoracic spine range-of-motion.  And, of course, he'd need to ingrain these appropriate movement patterns with a resistance training program with perfect form.

Oh, and speaking of tendinopathies, it is only somewhat coincidental that I'm publishing this newsletter today: the day of the Boston Marathon.  Thousands and thousands of runners who are at the brink of threshold are going to be piling 26.2 miles of volume on top of their glaring dysfunctions.  I'm headed out to watch the best reality TV show in the world: the hip replacement docs in Boston are going to be busy for the rest of the week!

New Blog Content

Static Posture Assessment Mistakes: Part 3 Random Friday Thoughts Stuff You Should Read Muscle Size vs. Mobility

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Doga? Seriously?

Over the course of my lifetime, there have been some memorable moments of stupidity. We watched schools outlaw dodgeball because it was too violent. We just saw four Somalian pirates think that they can take on the most powerful Navy in the world without even a single eye patch, peg-leg, or parrot in their possession. We even listened to these enlightened folks talk about leprechauns.

However, none of these poor confused souls can possibly rival the idiocy I saw in an article in the New York Times the other day: doga.  Yes, folks, people are not only bringing their dogs along to yoga; they're involving them. While I think there are certainly some benefits to specific movements within the various disciplines of yoga, I've written previously about some of my concerns with respect to yoga as it's practiced in a general sense.  To take this a step further, a few months ago, I was speaking with a brilliant manual therapist who has spent over 15 years treating individuals of all ages and activity levels, and he remarked the of the patients he'd seen, yoga instructors had some of the worst spines he'd ever seen.  Well, apparently, a few of them (certainly not a representative sample of the entire discipline)  also have also had some serious blunt trauma to the head along the way as well, because this is a flat-out stupid idea. I feel somewhat qualified to comment on this, as Cressey Performance just so happens to be located right next door to a dog-training facility.  Sure, they do regular ol' behavioral classes, but they also train all-out badass pups that do cool stuff like this:

One thing you'll notice in our building is the big wall between our business and theirs.  We train people; they train dogs.  Our clients use the restrooms inside; theirs crap outside.  Our clients are rewarded for their hard work with scholarships, state championships, and big-league debuts; theirs are rewarded with rawhide chewies.  Post-workout shakes taste a lot different than Milk Bones.  There is no door in the wall between our businesses, and there certainly isn't a doggy door. I can understand wanting to spend time with your dog, but isn't taking him for a walk/run or to play fetch good enough?  I mean, what's going to happen when 120-pound rottweilers start demanding to drink $7 Starbucks mocha lattes and watch Desperate Housewives? And, for every ten schnauzers that go soft, there is going to be one Boston Terrier that refuses to put up with that crap and decides to bit off an ear - or ten.  You saw what happened this past weekend when that crazy German lady tried to "be one" with the polar bears, didn't you?

Just imagine how pissed they would have been if she'd tried to convince them to do "poga" (polar bear yoga).  If you think crazy cat (and polar bear) ladies are weird, then just wait until this doga propaganda spreads among the whack-job villagers near you. Seriously, consider the logic behind this.  The picture in the article alone says it all.  If end-range lumbar hyperextension is bad, then the only logical way to make it harder is to load it with a 19-pound shih tzu.  However, the crappy training effect doesn't just apply to you; it also extends to your dog. As I outlined in my e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, there may be some serious long-term ramifications to replacing even as little as 2-3% of total training volume with unstable surface training.  Because canine activities occur almost exclusively in closed-chain motion, having a dog train on top of a human (unstable surface) undermines the crucial concept of specificity.  I'm no veterinarian, but I have to assume that dogs pronate, and this could lead to too much of it.  And, there is nothing more ferocious than a dog with achilles tendinosis. What would I know, though?  I only train people.
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Hip Pain In Athletes: Understanding Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome

Hip pain - particularly of the anterior (front of the hip) variety - is a very common problem in the weight training population.

In her book, Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, Shirley Sahrmann discusses Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome in excellent detail.  And, while it may seem like an obscure diagnosis, it's actually a really common inefficiency we see in a weight training population.

In order to understand this syndrome, you have to appreciate the attachment points and functions of the hamstrings and gluteus maximus.  With the hamstrings, you'll notice that they attach to the ischial tuberosity of the pelvis (with the exception of the short head of the biceps femoris, which attaches on the femur), and then run down to a point inferior to (below) the knee.  In other words, they are a two-joint muscle group.  All of the hamstrings aid in knee flexion, and all but the short head of the biceps femoris also aid in hip extension.

Conversely, the glutes attach on the pelvis and the femur; they're a one-joint muscle - and this is why they can so directly impact hip health.

You see, when the hamstrings extend the hip (imagine the hip motion that happens when one comes out of the bottom of a squat), they do so in a "gross" fashion.  In other words, the entire leg extends.  In the process, there is little control over the movement of the femoral head ("ball" in the "ball-and-socket" hip joint) - and it tends to migrate forward during hip extension, giving you a femoral anterior glide syndrome.  In the process, it can irritate the anterior joint capsule, and this irritation can give a sensation of tightness in the front of the hip.

Fortunately, the glutes can help prevent the problem.  Thanks to their point of attachment on the superior aspect of the femur (closer to the hip), they have more direct control over the femur as it extends on the hip.  As a result, they can posteriorly pull the femoral head during hip extension.  So, in an ideal world, you get effective co-contraction of the hamstrings and glutes as one extends the hip; they are a system of checks and balances on one another.  If you use the hamstrings too much in hip extension, you're just waiting to develop not only femoral anterior glide syndrome, but also hamstrings and adductor magnus (groin) strains and extension-based back pain.

As an aside, this hamstrings/glutes relationship is somewhat analogous to what you see at the shoulder with the subscapularis posteriorly pulling the humeral head as the infraspinatus and teres minor allow it to drift forward.  That's another newsletter altogether, though!

Once the femoral anterior glide issue is in place, the first course of action is to stop aggressively stretching the hip flexors.  While the issue gives a sensation of hip flexor "tightness," in reality, stretching the area only exacerbates the anterior hip pain.  A better bet is to just ditch the stretching for a few days, and instead incorporate extra glute activation work.  Eventually, though, one can reintegrate both static and dynamic hip flexor stretches.

Just as importantly, it's important to identify the causes.  We'll see this issue in runners who have no glute function, but more commonly, I'll see it in a weight training population that doesn't understand how to complete hip extension.  Here's what a hamstrings-dominant hip extension pattern would look like with squatting.

The final portion of hip extension is when the glutes are most active, so it's important to "pop the hips through" at lockout of deadlifts, squats, pull-throughs, and other exercises like these.  In the same squat example, it's really just as simple as standing tall:

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hip issues in athletes, but it's definitely something we see quite a bit. If you'd like to learn more, I'd highly recommend you check out our Functional Stability Training series, particularly the Lower Body and Optimizing Movement editions. They're on sale for 25% off through tonight (Cyber Monday) at midnight.

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For High School Pitchers, No Grace Period

Hey Gang, It's a busy day around here as I try to catch up from the holiday weekend and finalize tax stuff, but luckily, I have a little content for you.  This article from Brendan Hall in the Boston Globe features several Cressey Performance Athletes; check it out! For High School Pitchers, No Grace Period I'll be back soon with more blog content.  Additionally, you might want to check out something new Joel Marion has up his sleeve.  Joel's methods are definitely non-traditional, but it is hard to argue with results, and he has gotten them consistently for years with loads of clients.  Check it out HERE. I hope everyone had a great weekend! EC
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Random Friday Thoughts: 4/10/09

1. On Monday, pretty much every baseball game in the state of Massachusetts was rained out.  To our delight, we had three of our high school baseball player show up at 2:30PM (they had the last period of school free) race in to get in training sessions before they headed to their 4:30PM indoor practice (in lieu of the game). These guys actually thought that the game was going to be played the next day, so they were planning on having lighter days in the gym.  When I informed them that the game had actually been pushed back to May, one of them looked up at me and said, "So that means I can just go crazy today?" That, folks, is how you make a strength coach smile.  And, it's also how you inspire a Random Friday Thoughts blog on "Things You Can Say to Make a Strength Coach Smile." a. "I think cottage cheese tastes like poo, but I'm going to eat it anyway, because it'll make me diesel." b. "I know that distance running is destroying my body, so I'm going to stop for real this time - unlike the last three times I promised to give it up forever." (cough, Steph, cough) c. "Can you tell Tony to turn this techno crap off?" 2. John Berardi just ran a feature on Howie Clark, from the Toronto Blue Jays system.  I just started to work with Howie about two months ago on his in-season training program, and this interview talks a lot about the interaction of his training and nutrition.  Check it out HERE. 3. On a related note, here's a cool local article where I got a shout-out recently: Pitch Count an Inexact Science 4. It wouldn't be baseball season in Boston without a drunk dude busting a move in the stands at Fenway.  My girlfriend and I watched it live on Wednesday night and knew it was sure-fire blog material:

5. Here's a little compilation of where Cressey Performance pro baseball guys are starting out this season.  If you live in the neighborhood of their ballparks, go check out our guys!

  1. Chad Rodgers (Braves, LHP) - Myrtle Beach, SC
  2. Will Inman (Padres, RHP) - San Antonio, TX
  3. Tim Collins (Blue Jays, LHP) - Dunedin, FL
  4. Shawn Haviland (A's, RHP) - Kane County, IL
  5. Steffan Wilson (Brewers, 1B/3B) - Brevard County (Viera), FL
  6. Steve Hammond (Giants, LHP) - Fresno, CA
  7. CJ Retherford (White Sox, 2B/3B) - Birmingham, AL
  8. Matt Morizio (Royals, C) - Wilmington, DE
  9. Howie Clark (Blue Jays, utility) - Las Vegas, NV
  10. Andy D'Alessio (Giants, 1B) - Norwich, CT
We've got a few more guys in extended spring training and independent ball who should find out their destinations shortly.  If you know one of the guys above, though, get out and show 'em some love!
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National Champs Again!

I just wanted to post a quick congratulatory blog for the UCONN women's basketball team, who won the NCAA championship on Tuesday night.  And, in the process, they closed the doors on a perfect 39-0 season.


It was pretty darn special for me to watch because I was fortunate to have worked alongside strength and conditioning coach Chris West with the seniors on this squad during their freshmen year on campus in 2005.  It's awesome to see how far girls like Renee Montgomery, Kalana Greene, Tahirah Williams, and Cassie Kearns have come. And, on a more individual note, I'm thrilled that Chris West got his first national championship.  Chris has been a great friend and mentor for me since 2003.  He does an outstanding job with four teams - men's and women's basketball and soccer - that are perenially among the best in the country.  With Chris' abilities and such a top-notch overall program, I'm sure it'll just be the first of many national championship teams  with which he'll work. Congratulations to all the players, coaches, and support staff!
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Muscle Size vs. Mobility

Q: At what point do you think that muscle size affects one's range of motion? Just interested in your thoughts. I'm a golfer and my  flexibility is important; there isn't much point for me to be really strong but not able to move properly. A: Well, it would be joint- and population-specific. On the joint side of things, as an example, the elbow flexors (biceps, to the lay population) and knee flexors (hamstrings) can restrict elbow and knee flexion, respectively, if they get too big. Or, the pecs may inhibit horizontal adduction ROM. This list goes on and on. I don't feel that simply making a muscle bigger means that you lose range-of-motion in that specific muscle, as the improvements are to cross-sectional area. If this was the case, the elbow flexors would be restricting us in extension, and the pecs would be restricting us in horizontal abduction, but as the examples above show, that's just not happening. Provided that flexibility training is good, and structural balance is prioritized in programming, there is no reason to believe that you can't be big and flexible. Now, it's important to consider the sporting population in question.  A powerlifter isn't going to need as much mobility as, say, a baseball pitcher.  One guy needs to be efficient in a short range of motion, while the other needs to be efficient through a larger range of motion. In pitchers, external rotation ROM is a good predictive factor for velocity.  On top of that, horizontal abduction at stride foot contact is huge, according to the research. So, in order to have good pitching specific ROM, you need to have adequate length of the muscles that internally rotate and horizontally adduct the shoulders.  And, the big muscle that does this is the pectoralis major.  Bench until the cows come home, shorten it up, and then you'll lose that ROM. Now, ask anyone who has ever trained baseball pitchers, and they'll tell you that pitcher gain external rotation over the course of a season simply from throwing.  Guys who don't weight-train properly can certainly impede this velocity-aiding adaptation. This, of course, is an example specific to baseball pitching, and demands would be different for golfers.
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