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Hip Injuries In Baseball

Q&A: Hip Injuries in Baseball Q: On Sunday, The New York Times published this article that discusses the dramatic increase in hip injuries in Major League Baseball in recent years.  I know you work with a ton of baseball players and was curious about your thoughts on the article.  Do you agree with their theories? A: As always, my answer is "kind of" or "maybe."  I think they make some great points in the article, but as is the case with mainstream media articles, they're written by reporters with word count limits, so a lot of the most important points get omitted.  For example, with respect to the hips, it isn't as simple as "weak or strong."  You can have guys with ridiculously strong adductors that are completely overused, balled up, and short - but terribly weak hip extensors and abductors.  So, part of the problem is that journalists don't even qualify as casual observers to exercise physiology, so the public only gets part of the story.

(Sorry, but that digression was totally worth it.) First, I agree that one of the reasons we are seeing more of these issues is because doctors have become better at diagnosing the problems.  The "corollary" to this would be that the issues are perceived as more severe because so few physical therapists, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches are comfortable treating and preventing the problems.  That's not to say that hip issues aren't serious in nature; it simply implies that there is a divide between diagnostic capabilities and treatment/prevention strategies. Second, I agree wholeheartedly that early specialization at the youth levels can lead to injuries down the road.  We're dealing with some significant rotational velocities at the hips.  In previous analyses of professional hitters, the hips rotated at a velocity of 714°/second.  This same velocity isn't the same with little leaguers, but with skeletally immature children, it doesn't take as much stress to impose the same kind of damage.  So, I don't see it as at all remarkable that some pro ballplayers have hip problems after they may have played baseball year-round from age 9 all the way to the time they got drafted.  They also have bad shoulders, elbows, knees, and lower backs that have taked years to reach threshold.  It just so happens that folks are getting better at diagnosing these problems, so we now have an "epidemic," in some folks' eyes. What I can tell you, though, is that it's borderline idiocy to think that strength training is responsible for these problems.  Injuries don't occur simply because you enhance strength. In fact, muscular strength reduces the time to threshold for tendinopathies, and takes stress off passive restraints such as ligaments, menisci, labrums, and discs. Making this assumption is like saying that strength training drills to bolster scapular stability may be the reason we see more shoulder and elbow injuries nowadays.  Um, no.  Shoulders and elbows crap out because of faulty mechanics, poor flexibility (e.g., shoulder internal rotation ROM), bad tissue quality, and muscular weakness.  Granted, the shoulder (non-weight-bearing) and hips (weight-bearing) have different demands, but nobody ever tried to pin the exorbitant amount of arm problems in pitchers on "the advent of strength training." That said, injuries occur when you ignore things that need to be addressed: pure and simple. To that end, I can tell you that a large percentage of the baseball players I see - including position players, pitchers, and catchers - have some signficant hip ROM and tissue quality problems.  In terms of range of motion, the most common culprints are hip internal rotation deficit (HIRD) and a lack of hip extension and knee flexion (rectus femoris shortness).  Pitchers are often asymmetrical in hip flexion, too, with the front leg having much more ROM. In terms of tissue quality, the hip external rotations, hip flexors, and adductors are usually very restricted. This is has proven true of guys who lift and guys who don't lift.  The latter group just so happens to be skinny and weak, too! Done appropriately, strength training isn't causing the problem - particularly when we are talking about huge contracts that restrict how aggressive programming can be.  Trust me; guys with $20 million/year contracts aren't squatting 500 pounds very often...or ever. The risk-reward is way out of whack, and no pro strength coach is going to put his job on the line with programming like that. However, strength training may be indirectly contributing to the problem by shifting an athlete's focus away from flexibility training and foam rolling/massage.  Pro athletes are like everyone else in this world in that they have a limited time to devote to training, but to take it a step further, they have a lot of competing demands for their attention: hitting, throwing, lifting, sprinting, stretching, and soft tissue work.  So, they have to pick the modalities that give them the biggest return on time investment and prioritize accordingly in terms of how much time they devote to these initiatives.  Some guys make bad choices in this regard, and hip flexibility and tissue quality get ignored.

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Baseball is a sport that doesn't permit ignorance, unfortunately, and this is one of many reasons why it has one of the highest injury rates in all of professional sports.  We are talking about an extremely long competitive season with near daily games - a schedule that makes it challenging to maintain/build strength, flexibility, and tissue quality.  Throwing a baseball is also the fastest motion in all of sports.  Rotational sports have the pelvis and torso rotating in opposite directions at the same time.  And, as I noted in Oblique Strains and Rotational Power, most professional ballplayers have a stride length of about 380% of hip width during hitting.  It is really just a matter of which joint will break down first: hip, knee, or lower back.  Taking immobile hips with poor tissue quality out into a long season with these demands is like doing calf raises in the power rack when someone is around with a video camera: you are just asking for a world of hurt.

So, what to do?  Well, first, get cracking on tissue quality with regular foam rolling and massage (the more an athlete can afford, the better).  Here is the sequence all Cressey Performance athletes go through before training.

In many of our guys, we also add in extra adductor rolling on the stretching table.

Second, you've got to hammer on flexibility.  We spend a ton of time with both static stretching and dynamic flexibility.  Here are a few of the static stretching favorites (the first to gain hip internal rotation, and the second to gain hip extension and knee flexion ROM):

lyingknee-to-kneestretch

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Third, as Dr. Eric Cobb has written, you use resistance training to "cement neural patterns."    This includes all sorts of lower-body lifting variations - from single-leg movements, to glute-ham raise, to deadlifting and squatting variations - and multi-directional core stability drills.  And, often overlooked is the valuable role of medicine ball training in teaching good hip (and scap) loading patterns:

For more information, check out my previous newsletter, Medicine Ball Madness, which describes our off-season medicine ball programs in considerable detail.

All taken together, my take is that the increase in hip injuries at the MLB level has everything to do with early baseball specialization and improved diagnostic capabilities.  However, when you examine hip dysfunction under a broader scope, you'll see that this joint breaks down for many of the same reasons that lower backs and knees reach threshold: inattention to tissue quality and targeted flexibility training.  Strength training works synergistically with these other components of an effective program just like it would at any other joint.

*A special thanks goes out to Tony "Explosive Calves" Gentilcore for being a good sport in the videos in this newsletter.

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Gaining Weight, Gaining Velocity, Losing Control

Q: My son pitches for a Division II baseball program - well, at least, until recently. Since he began his strength training regimen one year ago, his pitches have gained velocity, but he no longer has control over the ball. Is it possible that his training has changed the mechanics in his arm so much that he has no idea where the ball is going after it leaves his hand? He's frustrated - we are talking about one of the best and strongest in collegiate baseball and now they won't even put him on the mound. I asked some baseball veteran friends about it and they suggested he has to retrain his arm since he has become so much stronger. What are your thoughts? A: I've definitely seen guys who have gained muscle mass and lost velocity because they didn't train the right way, and it can absolutely go in the opposite direction as well and affect control. I agree with your pitching coaches that he probably needs to retrain his mechanics with the added weight, but to be honest, it's something that should have been happening with a gradual weight gain anyway.  I would be more inclined to look to address any range of motion (ROM) deficits he may have acquired through the process of gaining weight. For instance, if he lost some hip rotation ROM, it could markedly affect control.  A guy without enough hip internal rotation will fly open early on his front leg and, as a result, the arm lags behind (and out of the scapular plane, which can also lead to arm problems).  A guy who loses external rotation tends to stay closed, which means he either throws more across his body (increased arm stress) or miss high and inside frequently (in the case of a RHP vs. right-handed batter, or LHP vs. left-handed batter). Likewise, a pitcher who bench presses until he's blue in the face can lose both external rotation and horizontal abduction ROM.  These ROM factors are two (of many) predictors of velocity, and while a decrease in one or both normally equates to a drop in velocity, it could also cause a pitcher to change his arm slot.  I actually wrote more about this in an old newsletter: Lay Back to Throw Gas. These are just some thoughts.  I'd need to do some ROM tests and see some videos of him throwing to know for sure if any of my impressions are on the money. For more information, I'd definitely recommend you check out the 2008 Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp DVD Set. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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A Good Rule of Thumb for Working with Injured Pitchers

If you have a pitcher athlete with good shoulder ROM (normal GIRD and symmetrical total motion), sufficient thoracic spine mobility, good scapular stability, and adequate tissue quality who has rehabbed and long-tossed pain-free, but has shoulder/elbow pain when he gets back on the mound, CHECK THE HIPS! Staying closed and flying open will be your two most common culprits; this cannot be seen in a doctor's office!  Changing lead leg positioning is a quick way to indirectly (and negatively) impact the position of the arm.  Guys who stay closed have to throw across their body, and guys who fly open often have problems with the arm trailing too far behind (out of the scapular plane). For more information, check out the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD Set. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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Pitchers vs. Quarterbacks vs. Swimmers

Q: I know that you're tops when it comes to keeping baseball guys (especially pitchers) healthy and performing at the top level. How would your approach to training baseball players in general, and pitchers more specifically, differ when working with somewhat similar athletes such as: (a) football quarterbacks (b) swimmers other than backstrokers (c) swimmers specializing in the back stroke I realize there would be obvious differences, especially for C, since that is actually the opposite of pitching, so I'd love to hear some of your general thoughts on this. A: This is actually a great question.  I guess it's one of those things you do subconsciously and then think about after the fact.  I'm assuming you are referring to the shoulder and elbow demands in particular, so I'll start with that. Training football quarterbacks and pitchers would be virtually identical in terms of demands on the hips, ankles, and shoulders.   Anecdotal experience tells me that there would be a higher correlation between hip dysfunction and shoulder/elbow problems in pitchers than in quarterbacks, though. Swimmers would be similar at the shoulder, but I don't see the same kind of correlation b/t hip and shoulder dysfunction.   Obviously, though, issues like scapular stability, thoracic spine range-of-motion, and tissue quality would all be present in all three populations. Backstrokers would have comparable scapular stabilization demands, but different glenohumeral rotation patterns. With them, you assess total shoulder rotation and go from there (this is my strategy with everyone, but it just warrants extra mention in this discussion). Above all, you've got to realize that while you might see trends in different athletic populations, each one is still unique, so assessment tells you what you need to know. For instance, I have a few pro pitchers throwing well over 90mph, and from looking at their shoulders, you'd never know they had ever thrown a baseball in their lives.  At initial testing (i.e., right after the long season ended), the total motion among my eleven pro pitchers from this past off-season ranged from 133 degrees to 186 degrees. The guy with 186 degrees actually had more external rotation (135 degrees) than the least "lax" guy had in total motion!

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So, a guy with a 3/4 arm slot is going to have different adaptive changes than a guy who is more over-the-top or sidearm - and you can certainly carry those variations across the board to different throwing styles in football, and the wide variety of shoulders you'll see in a swimming population that might be proficient in more than one stroke. Related Posts: Flexibility Deficits in Pitchers The Truth About Impingement: Part 2

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Static Posture Assessment Mistakes: Part 2

In a continuation of last Tuesday's post, here's another common mistake you'll see in the static posture of overhead throwing athletes.  Many times, folks will see a low-shoulder like the one below and automatically assume is means "scoliosis."

low-shoulder

In reality, this is a function of both the structural and functional adaptations that take place in a baseball pitcher's shoulder girdle over the course of a throwing career.  I am not of the belief that you can altogether eliminate this, given the structural adaptations that have taken place over the course of years of throwing. However, I firmly believe (and have observed frequently) that as long as one normalized range of motion and strength/stability of the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers, modest improvements in this posture can come about. Phil Donley goes into great detail on this topic in his presentation in the 2008 Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp DVD Set.

It is worth mentioning that in some populations, this may be a function of an ankle, hip, lower back, or other issues.

For more assessment information, check out Building the Efficient Athlete.

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Medicine Ball Madness

EricCressey.com Subscriber-Only Q&A Q: My question pertains to medicine ball workouts for pitchers.   Are they only off-season training drills, or can I do them with my pitchers between starts? And, are there good ones for pitchers arms, in particular?  I know you mentioned doing some one-arm drills with your pitchers. A: It's safe to say that we probably do more medicine ball work than anyone on the planet.  In fact, we've broken 17 medicine balls (16 featured in this photo) thus far this off-season.

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Our destruction of medicine balls has been so epic that our equipment supplier actually asked us if we were throwing them against a wall with "jagged edges," as nobody had ever had similar problems, much less with as much regularity.  So, suffice it to say that we hammer on medicine ball work a ton in the off-season, and the useful life of a ball around here is 4-6 weeks.  But, I don't want to digress... After the season ends, pitchers usually get a two-week break from anything that involves overhead throwing or rapid elbow extension after they are done throwing before we integrate any of this.  Position players start right up with it. I think it's crucial to start up right away so that you can teach proper scap and hip loading so that guys will get the most out of it when the time comes to throw with more volume and complex exercises that help to maintain pitching-specific mobility, as Stanford-bound Sahil Bloom shows:

We typically go 3x/week medicine ball work with anywhere from 80 to 120 throws (never more than eight per set) per session from October through December (the last month overlaps with throwing programs where these guys are just tossing - nothing too challenging).  This continues right up through spring training for all our position players.  For pitchers, though, as January rolls around, we add in more bullpens and aggressive long tossing (and weighted balls, for some guys), and the medicine ball work drops off to two times a week with less volume and a more conservative exercise selection.  This twice a week set-up goes right through Spring Training. We always pair our medicine ball work with various mobilizations so that guys are addressing flexibility deficits instead of just standing around.  It might be thoracic spine and hip mobility drills from Assess and Correct.  Combining these mobilizations with all our medicine ball work, warm-ups, foam rolling/massage, and the static stretching programs guys are on, we have no concerns about pitchers "tightening up" with lifting.  Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins doesn't seem to be all "muscle-bound" here, for instance:

I don't do a ton of medicine ball work in-season with my higher level guys; it's usually once every five days.  A lot of the focus is on the non-dominant side.  So, a right-handed pitcher would do more rotational stuff from the left side to keep as much symmetry as possible.  With high school athletes, on the other hand, I see no reason why you can't use a slightly higher volume of medicine ball drills in-season.  Kids are resilient and in many cases, undertrained, so there is always a big window of adaptation ahead of them. With respect to the one-arm smaller medicine ball work, we use those two variations around this time of year.  It's usually just two sets of eight reps right after throwing sessions twice a week.  I like the idea of consolidating the stress with throwing outings.  That said, there are some people that do them as warm-ups prior to throwing.  Here, Atlanta Braves prospect Chad Rodgers demonstrates a few with a 1kg (2.2lb) ball.

As a random aside, off to the side in this video, you'll see how we tend to pair mobility/activation movements with power training, as Royals catching prospect Matt Morizio goes back and forth from clap push-ups to scapular wall slides.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, so for more information, I would encourage you to check out our resource, Functional Stability Training; it is incredibly thorough, including plenty of options for both off- and in-season medicine ball work. Enter your email below to subscribe to our FREE newsletter:
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The Best Baseball Resource Out There

This is a bold subject line, I know, but I really do feel that strongly about it.  And, I'm honored to be one of the speakers featured on the "ticket" for this DVD set.  In fact, I feel so strongly that I'm going to kick in a sweet bonus for anyone who purchases, so read on. Multiple times each week, I have someone ask me why I haven't gotten my act together and put together a baseball product.  My response is always the same: "There is a ton to cover, and just when I feel like I'm ready to put something in writing and on tape, I evolve a little bit more.  Plus, I just don't have time right now because I'm so busy actually training players that I don't have the time to give such a project the attention it deserves." Fortunately for me, though, Ron Wolforth brought together some of the best minds in the business at his Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp in December - and what resulted was a great product that should be a part of the libraries of EVERY baseball coach, baseball strength coach, and baseball parent.  This DVD set really is that good simply because it's so versatile.  Here is what you get: Brent Strom- St. Louis Cardinals- The Histrionics of Pitching Mechanics- Separating Fact from Fiction: a Return to 'Classic Mechanics'. The Key Mechanical Efficiencies: Intent, Momentum, Rhythm and Tempo, Arm Action & Pelvic Loading Ron Wolforth-Pitching Central- Neuromuscular Blending- Getting your Drills to transfer over to the Game  & Pitchers on the Ropes - Assisting your pitchers to be explosive, dynamic and durable using ropes and chains Eric Cressey- Cressey Performance- Building The Complete and Superior Pitching Athlete- The Common Myths and misconceptions regarding strength development and conditioning of the pitching athlete which actually inhibit or constrain their performance and development. Phil Donley- What is GIRD? Why is it a problem for pitchers? How to prevent it and treat it!-What is a Sick Scapula? Why is it a problem for pitchers? How to prevent it and treat it!-What are common Mobility and Asymmetry Issues for Pitchers? Why every pitching coach in America should pay attention to their pitcher's mobility and core asymmetries? How to identify issues, prevent them and correct them. Perry Husband- Understanding the Concept of Effective Velocity Joe Fletcher-The Recovery Process for Pitchers. How one can greatly enhance a pitcher's recovery via nutrition, the food/ fuel you consume, the type and duration of your workouts, your mechanical efficiencies and your mental/emotional states Tom Hanson-The Mental Side of Pitching Andy Whitney- Using Kettlebells in Baseball Essentially, you've got an exhaustive research for dealing with baseball players - and pitchers, in particular.  The majority of us presenters were involved in hands-on sessions where we went over assessments and training strategies - and the panel Q&A sessions were great as well. I can tell you that the stuff in my presentation is a lot of information that I hadn't put in writing or seminar format prior to this date, and it details a lot of what I do with my high school, college, and professional ballplayers. And, if you are interested in preventing elbow and shoulder issues, you absolutely have to see Phil Donley speak.  It should be "required viewing" for any coach, trainer, and physical therapist that deals with baseball players.  A long-time rehabilitation consultant for the Phillies, Phil is absolutely brilliant and has rehabilitated loads of multi-million dollar arms. Ron and Brent are the guys pushing the envelope for pitching coaches to think outside the box and do special things with athletes.  Ron's Baseball Ranch down in Houston has produced LOADS of guys throwing 90+mph in recent years. Perry Husband's presentation absolutely blew me away.  This guy charted every pitch in Major League Baseball in 2004 and came up with some awesome conclusions that can really dictate pitch selection. So, effectively, you've got a resource that will teach you performance enhancement, injury prevention, strategic planning, and regeneration.  It's already an incredible value, but I'm going to sweeten the deal: From now until midnight on Saturday February 14, if you purchase the Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp DVD set and forward your email confirmation receipt to ec@ericcressey.com, I'll send you a free e-version of my Ultimate Off-Season Manual, which has never been available as an e-book - until now.  This is a $99 value and the offer won't be around for long, so pick up a copy of the UPCBC DVD Set now!

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Back Squatting with a Posterior Labral Tear?

Q:  I'm a baseball pitcher who was diagnosed with a posterior labral tear.  Since I was young and the doctor didn't feel that the tear was too extensive, he recommended physical therapy and not surgery.  I'm still training the rest of my body hard, but am finding that I can't back squat because it causes pain in the shoulder.  Any idea why and what I can do to work around this? A: It isn't surprising at all, given the typical SLAP injury mechanism in overhead throwing athletes.  If there is posterior cuff tightness (and possibly capsule tightness, depending on who you ask), the humeral head will translate upward in that abducted/externally rotated position.  In other words, the extreme cocking position and back squat bar position readily provoke labral problems once they are in place. The apprehension test is often used to check for issues like this, as they are commonly associated with anterior instability.  Not surprisingly, it's a test that involves maximal external rotation to provoke pain:

apprehension-test

The relocation aspect of the test involves the clinician pushing the humeral head posteriorly to relieve pain.  If that relocation relieves pain, the test is positive, and you're dealing with someone who has anterior instability.  So, you can see why back squatting can irritate a shoulder with a posterior labrum problem: it may be the associated anterior instability, the labrum itself, or a combination of those two factors (and others!). On a related note, most pitchers report that when they feel their SLAP lesion occur on a specific pitch, it takes place right as they transition from maximal external rotation to forward acceleration.  This is where the peel-back mechanism (via the biceps tendon on the labrum) is most prominent.  That's one more knock against back squatting overhead athletes. If you're interested in reading further, Mike Reinold has some excellent information on SLAP lesions in overhead throwing athletes in two great blog posts: Top 5 Things You Need to Know about a Superior Labral Tear Clinical Examination of Superior Labral Tears The solutions are pretty simple: work with front squats, single-leg work (dumbbells or front squat grip), and deadlift variations. If you have access to specialty bars like the giant cambered bar and/or safety squat bar, feel free to incorporate work with them.

And, alongside that, work in a solid rehabilitation program that focuses not only on the glenohumeral joint, but also scapular stability and thoracic spine mobility. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!

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Plyometrics and Unstable Surface Training

Two weeks ago, I made it clear that a lot of folks were missing the boat with respect to baseball strength and conditioning by insisting that "plyos are all you need." And, last week, I discussed how strength and reactive ability have interacted in some successful players in professional baseball, and how those qualities should dictate how an athlete trains. This week, though, I'm going to throw you for a little loop and tell you that the static-spring continuum means absolutely NOTHING for a lot of athletes.  Why? You must first understand that each stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) activity involves three distinct phases: 1. eccentric (deceleration, preloading) 2. amortization (isometric, pause) 3. concentric (propulsion) phases. As I discussed in great detail in The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, Komi (2003) outlined three fundamental conditions required for an effective SSC action (1): 1. "a well-timed preactivation of the muscles before the eccentric phase" [we need our muscles to be ready to go to decelerate] 2. "a short and fast eccentric phase" [deceleration has to occur quickly, as the faster the rate of stretch, the more energy the musculotendon complex stores] 3. "immediate transition (short delay) between stretch and shortening (concentric) phases." [if we spend too much time paused at the bottom, the stored energy is lost as heat instead of being used for subsequent force production] So, what I'm really saying is that if you don't have a decent foundation of strength, training reactive ability - or even considering where you stand on the static-spring continuum - is a waste of time.  Weak athletes need to have the strength (and rate of force development, for that matter) to decelerate with control in order to allow for fast eccentric and amoritization phases to occur. I'd estimate that 60% of the young athletes who walk through my door on their first day to train are nowhere near strong enough to derive considerable benefit from "classic" plyos.  Sure, they need to learn deceleration and landing mechanics and pick up some sprinting techniques, but the true progress comes from the resistance training they do. Now, let's apply this to baseball, a sport where good strength and conditioning is still yet to be appreciated - and many athletes go directly from high school to the professional ranks without ever having touched a weight in their lives.  As a result, many baseball athletes don't have the underlying strength to effectively make use of the reactive training that typifies the training presented to them. And, in many cases, it will take a long time to get it during the season in the minor leagues, where they'll have competing demands (games, practice, travel) and limited equipment access.  It's why I've seen several professional baseball players come my way with vertical jumps of less than 20".  As a frame of reference, you need to be over 28.5" to be in the top 13 on my HIGH SCHOOL record board. Pro athletes?  Really? These guys can be conundrums from a training standpoint, as you have to realize that sprinting is possibly the single-most reactive/plyometric training drill there is; we are talking roughly four times body weight in ground reaction forces with each stride - and that's in single-leg stance.  So, we have somewhat of an injury predisposition, but more important, it comes down to training economy.  They aren't strong enough (relative to their body weight) to get much out of the sprinting, and would benefit more from strength training, bilateral jumping variations, and single-leg low hops.  However, they need to jump and sprint as part of their profession, so we've got to prepare them for that as well.

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All that in mind, the problem isn't traditional strength and conditioning, in my eyes.  It builds a solid base of strength for many athletes and helps to increase body weight, which in itself is a predictive factor for velocity.  However, the shortcomings of this S&C occur when coaches don't understand how to modify traditional strength and conditioning to suit the needs of the baseball athlete.  And, problems kick in when folks don't appreciate that even just a little bit of strength goes a long way. New Blog Content Random Friday Thoughts Inverted Row Ignorance Maximum Strength Feedback: 1/20/09 Stuff You Should Read: 1/22/09 All the Best, EC References 1. Komi, PV. Stretch-shortening cycle. In: Strength and Power in Sport (2nd Ed.) P.V. Komi, ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003: 184-202. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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Random Friday Thoughts: 1/30/09

1. I'm speaking at the Massachusetts High School Baseball Coaches Association's Annual Clinic this morning, so this week's random thoughts will be somewhat abbreviated.  I didn't even have time to pick out this week's music selection, so you have to settle for this dude getting owned!

2. Speaking of baseball, one thing I'll be discussing in some detail is hip flexion range-of-motion asymmetries in pitchers.  You'll almost always see far more hamstrings flexibility on the front leg for obvious reasons, but it's also important to consider how throwing styles contribute to this issue.  Guys who throw on stiff front legs are ones who will most commonly present with big asymmetries.  Justin Verlander would be a great example:

verlander

Guys like Verlander need to pay close attention to maintaining adequate length of the right hamstrings (the opposite would be true of a left-handed pitcher).  Conversely, a guy like Greg Maddux who - at the same point in his throwing motion - is more flexed on the front knee, generally won't have big issues in this regard (although they should still be assessed and addressed).

Rockies Padres Baseball

Leaving these issues unaddressed can lead to a host of problems, most notably hamstrings strains on the back leg. 3. Manuel Buitrago has put some excellent Olympic lifting demonstrations online to help those of you at home who are trying to pick up these complex lifts on your own.  Here's a little sample:

For more videos just like this, check out Manuel's YouTube page and the facility where he trains.

4. While I think it's awesome that a lot of folks are finally catching on that glute activation is important for both injury prevention and rehabilitation, a lot of folks have lost sight of the fact that you have to be careful about just training the glutes in hip extension.  It's also very important to pay attention to theirs roles as external rotators and abductors.  Once you've mastered bilateral movements in the sagittal plane (e.g., supine bridges), you need to get into single-leg and emphasis movements like bowler squats and lunges with reaches to various positions.  These are great inclusions in the warm-up, and we highlight several options in our Magnificent Mobility DVD.

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And, to take it a step further, you've got to load up those single-leg movements and challenge frontal plane stability to lay some strength down on top of those newly discovered movement strategies.

5. In light of the flexibility/mobility tone of this series of random thoughts, I thought it might be a good time to remind you that "creep" typically sets in at about 20 minutes.  So, if you've been sitting at your desk reading for longer than that, it'd probably be a good idea to stand up for a few minutes, Quasimodo.

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