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Exercise of the Week: Quadruped 1-arm Trap Raise to Swimmer Hover

I recently started implementing the quadruped 1-arm trap raise to swimmer hover with some of our baseball guys, and it’s quickly become one of my favorites.

This drill addresses several important needs in a throwing population:

1. scapular posterior tilt

2. scapular upward rotation

3. tissue extensibility of the long head of the triceps and lat

4. the quadruped (all fours) position really reaffirms the good convex-concave relationship between the scapula and rib cage

You should not feel this at all in the front or top of the shoulder. Rather, the movement should be felt in the lower traps (mid back) and serratus anterior (add a full exhale at the top of each rep to intensify that activation). Some individuals will feel a good stretch through the triceps.

To learn more about how we assess, program, and coach at the shoulder girdle, be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 12/1/18

I hope you've had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend. To kick it off, here's a little recommended reading and listening:

Relationship Between Range of Motion, Strength, Motor Control, Power, and the Tennis Serve in Competitive-Level Tennis Players: A Pilot Study - This research study was just published in the past few months, and it once again demonstrates that sagittal plane power exercises (e.g., broad jump) don't predict performance in rotational sport activities (e.g., tennis serve). I've been saying this for close to a decade: power is plane-specific! If you're looking for more details on this topic, here's where I first put it out there: What I Learned in 2010.

Andy McCloy on the Physical Preparation Podcast - I was a huge fan of Andy's first appearance on Mike Robertson's podcast, and this sequel didn't disappoint, either.

Frank Duffy on the Robby Row Show - Cressey Sports Performance coach Frank Duffy was a guest on Robby Rowland's podcast to discuss Functional Range Conditioning concepts and how we apply them with our baseball players.

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How to Apply the Joint-by-Joint Approach to the Elbow

Today, I've got a video post for you, and it builds on the Joint-by-Joint approach that's been popularized by Gray Book and Mike Boyle. In the video, I discuss how we can apply the joint-by-joint theory to the elbow, particularly in the context of pitching injuries. Check it out:

If you're looking to learn more about the elbow, I'd encourage you to check out my presentation on the topic, Everything Elbow.

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Injuries vs. Niggles

My business partner, Shane Rye, once dropped an amazing one liner with respect to injuries that has stuck with me for years now:

[bctt tweet="You have to listen when it whispers instead of waiting for it to yell."]

The concept is simple: if you ignore minor aches and pains, they rarely just magically go away. Rather, they usually get magnified by volume and intensity and eventually reach a painful threshold where are more extensive intervention is required. The research actually supports this concept - but only if you know how to dig a bit deeper.

As an example, consider this Scandinavian study of patellar tendinopathy in junior basketball players. Researchers looked at 134 teenagers (268 total patellar tendons) and found that only 19 tendons presented clinically with symptoms. However, under ultrasound examination, 22% of the remainder of the group (who'd said they've never had patellar tendon pain) could be diagnosed with tendinopathy. In other words, "ultrasonographic tendon abnormality is 3 times as common as clinical symptoms."

Now, keep in mind that this study looked at teenagers, who are markedly less likely to have tendinopathy than older individuals. Just imagine if they'd done this study on a cohort of middle-aged men playing hoops at the local YMCA. The point is that whether you have symptoms or not, you likely have some changes in your tissues.

To be clear, this isn't particularly shocking to anyone who's looked at MRIs of asymptomatic individuals. We see loads of asymptomatic rotator cuff tears, spondylolysis (stress fractures), and torn labrums. And, I don't think we should just treat MRI findings when they aren't aligned with clinical symptoms. However, they do provide a reminder that we often have several issues that might just be waiting to reach a painful threshold if we aren't cognizant of our training volume and intensity - and our movement quality.

I call these potential problems "niggles." Maybe it's that Achilles tendon that's cranky first thing in the morning, but feels good after you warm it up. Or, it's that stiff neck you get after a few hours of working at the computer, but feels better after your spouse massages your upper trap. It could be the shoulder that bugs you only when you barbell bench press, but feels pretty good when you use dumbbells instead. These niggles are all premonitions of an imminent training disaster - so listen to them.

Maybe it's seeking out some extra manual therapy in a specific area. The solution could be looking at a more individualized warm-up to address these issues. It might even be that you strategically drop particular exercises from your program at various points during the year.

Above all else, though, it's about understanding that good training teaches your body how to spread stress over multiple joints. Instead of that cranky patellar tendon taking on 90% of the load on each landing, we work on hip and ankle mobility and strength so that it might only have to be 30%. Spreading out the stress ensures that one area won't ever hit the point of pain.

Understanding how to distribute stress mandates that you understand what quality movement actually looks like, though - and that's unfortunately where a lot of fitness professionals fall short. With that in mind, many of my products focus on the topics of assessment and corrective exercise, so they're good options for bringing these knowledge gaps up to speed. In particular, I'd recommend the following ones, which happen to be 25% off through Cyber Monday:

Sturdy Shoulder Solutions - this is my most up-to-date upper extremity resource, and it delves into everything from the neck, to thoracic spine, to scapular control. I discuss functional anatomy and key competencies you need for upper extremity health and high performance.

Functional Stability Training - this four-part series is a collaborative effort with physical therapist Mike Reinold, and we cover core, upper body, lower body, and optimizing movement. The components can be purchased individually or as the entire package (at a big discount).

The discounts for all these items are automatically applied at checkout after you've added them to your cart. For more information on all my Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, head HERE.

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Exercise of the Week: Standing Low-to-High Cable Lift

Most of the anti-rotation core stability exercises out there take place in a more static environment: half-kneeling or tall-kneeling. These set-ups are awesome for teaching appropriate core positioning against destabilizing forces into extension, rotation, or lateral flexion. However, their functional carryover is limited if we aren’t finding ways to transition that movement awareness into exercises in the standing position. Enter the standing low-to-high cable lift.

Important coaching points:

1. Push the ground away from you; don’t just lean away from the weight stack.

2. Think both up (anti-extension) and out (anti-rotation).

3. Lock the rib cage to the pelvis; the motion should come from the hips and upper back, not the lower back.

4. Feel the trailing leg glute firing at the top position.

5. To prevent early deceleration, imagine throwing your hands through the ceiling.

In case you haven't heard, my big Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale is ongoing. You can get 25% off on a bunhc of my resources; just head HERE to learn more.

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Black Friday/Cyber Monday for the Win!

Everyone on the planet is having a Black Friday sale this week, so we figured we wouldn't even attempt to keep you in suspense on this one. With that in mind, you can save 25% on the following products through Cyber Monday at midnight. Just click on the links below to learn more and add them to your cart - and THE DISCOUNT WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED AT CHECKOUT (even if they don't show up on the sales page, trust me; they're updated):

The High Performance Handbook: Normally $129.99 gold and $99.99 silver, now $97.50 and $75.00, respectively.

Functional Stability Training: Individual Programs or a Bundle Pack: Normally $129.99 per item, now $97.50 (and with even larger discounts for buying the entire series).

Study Shoulder Solutions: Normally $149.99, now $112.50

Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core: normally $14.99, now $11.25

Everything Elbow: normally 12.99, now $9.75

The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual: normally $49.99, now $37.50.

The Art of the Deload: normally $12.99, now $9.75

Enjoy - and thank you for your support!

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Making Sense of Rotational Medicine Ball Progressions

If you've followed our work at Cressey Sports Performance for any length of time, you know that we're big fans of training rotational power with medicine ball variations. With that in mind, I wanted to use today's blog to outline some of our strategies for introducing and progressing these exercises in our programs.

Step 1: Stationary Anti-Rotation - These exercises teach bracing on the front leg and emphasize thoracic (upper back) rotation. The split-stance anti-rotation medicine ball scoop toss is a good example.

Step 2: Stationary Rotation: These exercises emphasize hip loading, force transfer, and thoracic rotation delivering the arm, but the base of support doesn't change much (if at all). The rotational medicine ball shotput is an example.

Step 3: Momentum Rotation - These exercises teach athletes to create and utilize momentum as they work into the front hip (imagine riding a bike into a curb). The step-behind rotational medicine ball shotput is an example.

Step 4: Eccentric Pre-Loading Rotation: These exercises teach athletes to get in and out of the back hip while better making use of the stretch-shortening-cycle (think of keeping the head behind the belly button as long as possible). The step-back rotational medicine ball scoop toss is an example.

Step 5: Eccentric Pre-Loading with Momentum Rotation: These exercises combine the previous two categories to try to make things as athletic as possible. The 2-hop to rotational medicine ball scoop toss is a good example.

With this progression in mind, it's important to recognize that athletes need to earn the right to move from one step to the next. Steps 3-5 are far to advanced for 13-15-year-old athletes who have very little body awareness or foundational strength. And, aggressive progressions may be potentially harmful in even advanced athletes if they aren't prepared for the extensive hip-shoulder separation that takes place. Even with our professional athletes, I'll start athletes with the earliest stages in the progression during their initial off-season training programs.

Also, whenever I post about medicine balls, I invariably get the question: what brand do you prefer? I'm a fan of the Perform Better Extreme Soft Toss medicine balls, as they provide the right blend of durability and rebound. The overwhelming majority of our rotational medicine ball work is in the 4-8lb range.

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The Truth About Dodgeball and Tag

Today's guest post comes from Lee Taft, creator of the Certified Speed and Agility Coach (CSAC) offering, which is on sale for $100 off through the end of the week. I'm a big fan of this resource and would strongly encourage you to look into it if you work with athletes in any capacity. Anyway, enjoy the post! -EC

If we listen to those making the decisions to eliminate dodgeball and tag in Physical Education (unfortunately there are some PE professionals not doing their best, so it appears these games are useless or harmful) we might come to the conclusion they are correct in doing so. But, if we edit the purpose and role of these "types" of activities, we see just how WRONG they are.

1. Dodgeball should be the culmination of a well thought-out and progressed throwing, catching, and agility unit. Students from primary grades on should learn how to properly throw, hit still targets at various heights and angles, and catch a ball coming at them from different angles and speeds (in primary grades, sometimes we just want kids to be able to touch the ball as it comes near them to develop tracking and limb location).

2. We need to progress to throwing at a target in which the target is moving, AND when the student who is throwing is moving, AND when both the target and student is moving. This teaches leading and directional aiming skills. And, it teaches students to predict intersection points.

3. We need to use a type of ball that takes fear out of catching, throwing, or being hit. There is nothing wrong with getting hit by a ball. It teaches kids how to protect themselves from objects coming at them. It sharpens their reflexes/reactive abilities. It trains their feet, core, and vestibular system to quickly protect through bending, twisting, jerking away, ducking, dodging while maintaining spacial awareness and balance. These strategies are very important to acquire and develop at young ages!

4. Catching is a fundamental tracking skill that allows for advancements to sports requiring a racquet, stick, or bat. When kids learn to catch, they are creating awareness of limb length to reach length. This, in turns, allows them to make adjustments to their limb length plus an implements length (e.g., stick, bat) and an oncoming ball in order to strike or catch it.

5. Tag teaches problem solving with regards to several factors. These factors are how much speed is needed to solve a problem of tagging or not getting tagged. When their speed isn't "good enough," they now select abilities of creating angles that can "even the playing field" and solve their problem. They use fakes, and spins, and change of pace to elude - as well as tactics to avoid being faked.

6. Games that involve avoiding being struck by a ball or tagged by a classmate drive to the heart of the CNS. It requires the student to learn from their environment and problem solve. These activities are primitive in nature and TAKING THEM AWAY ERODES at these primitive skills that give us foundational movement skills, tracking skill, timing skills, targeting skills, and evasive skills. When we lose touch with these skills (or abilities) we subject these potential future athletes to being exposed on the playing fields with less athletic armor.
Stop looking at these types of activities as useless. They carry a huge primitive foundational movement and developmental package. Use them in favor of our kids.

As I mentioned, Lee's certification is actually on sale through the end of the week for $100 off the normal price. If you're looking for top notch direction in coaching movement training with your athletes, look no further. You can check it out HERE.


 

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Holiday Shopping, CSP-Style

With the holidays approaching, here are a few options for holiday gifts with CSP logos.

Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Development T-Shirt: $24.99 + S&H

Click the links below to add shirts to your cart:

XXL

Extra Large

Large

Medium

Small

Royal Blue CSP Camo t-shirt: $24.99 + S&H

Click the links below to add shirts to your cart:

XXL

Extra Large

Large

Medium

Small

CSP Tank Top: $24.99 + S&H

Click the links below to add tank tops to your cart (men's sizes):

XXL

Extra Large

Large

Medium

Small

Hats

CSP baseball caps can be purchased for 24.99 + S/H. These are of the Flex Fit variety, which means that they’re ultra-comfortable and one size fits all (unless you have an absolutely GIANT head or are a petite female who will wear a fitted cap, in which case, you’ll want to let us know). Click here to add one to your cart.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/9/18

I hope you've had a good week. To kick off your weekend on the right foot, I've got some good reading from around the strength and conditioning world.

First, though, I just wanted to give you a heads-up that I'll be speaking at Pitchapalooza near Nashville in early December as part of an awesome lineup. You can learn more HERE.

Maximum Strength Training for Tennis: Why You Should Do It - Matt Kuzdub authored a great guest post for EricCressey.com a few months ago, and this was another recent post of his in the tennis world. Much it it could be applied to other sports as well.

Your Glutes Probably Aren't to Blame for Sore Knees, but They Could Still Be Stronger - Here's a solid dose of reality with some actionable strategies from Dean Somerset.

5 Great Analogies for Training Baseball Players - A big part of getting results is clearing communicating with athletes, and analogies are an invaluable way of doing so. This article outlines some of my favorites for working with a baseball population.

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