Home Posts tagged "Core Stability Exercise"

Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach Derek Kambour.

At Cressey Sports Performance, we utilize several kettlebell windmill variations. A while back, Eric covered the regular standing version HERE. Today, I’d like to cover the half kneeling position, as I think there are some technical elements that should be highlighted in order to get the most out of this exercise.

Often, you’ll see this activity performed similar to the downward portion of a Turkish Get-Up, where the individual is in a half kneeling position, with the back hip in an externally rotated position, and then they will hinge back into that hip as they reach towards the ground, all while holding weight in an overhead position. While there is nothing wrong with this execution – especially if the goal is to challenge the individual’s ability to stabilize load in an overhead position while improving the ability to hinge – I do believe there are some ways we can coach this activity in a specific manner to get more out of it. I originally saw the execution of this exercise from Dr. Pat Davidson, so all credit goes to him for showing how to get more from this activity. This is an awesome transverse plane core exercise that helps individuals learn how to load their hip in the frontal plane. If you are an athlete trying to improve your ability to get in and out of a cut, or a pitcher looking to improve back hip loading or accepting force on the front hip, this could be a great exercise to include. Below is a demonstration that gives you a general understanding as to how we coach this exercise.

When performed in this manner, folks are getting a lot more than just overhead stability benefits. Here are some of the key components of this exercise explained further:

1. Setting up in a solid half-kneeling position is going to be essential when executing this variation. To ensure that the individual is in a good position, we like to have the individual drive the back foot into a wall, especially for those who have never performed this exercise before. The wall allows the individual to feel their hamstring and glute to gain better control of their pelvis on the down side hip. The wall is not always needed, but it can certainly help. The front foot should also be pressed into the ground as well.

2. Once set up in this half kneeling position, the KB can be pressed overhead. It is important to note, this exercise does not need to be loaded very heavy at first. We often start folks with a 15-25lb. kettlebell and they are absolutely smoked by the time they are done with their set. Sometimes, I will have the person I am working with perform this with no load, as it allows them to focus on the more important aspects of the exercise.

3. Before the individual reaches for the ground, they should be shifting into the front hip. Many times, when someone goes to perform this hip shift action, they will lose control of their pelvis and go into an anteriorly oriented position. Be sure that you, or the individual you are coaching, executes the shift while maintaining a subtle tuck of the pelvis.

4. As the individual begins to rotate and reach for the ground, it is important to keep both arms long. While they are slowly reaching towards the ground with the bottom arm/hand, they should be trying to maintain that hip shift without any movement of the front femur. The most common movement fault seen with this exercise is the inability to maintain control the front leg as the hips shift laterally towards the front side. The front leg should not move front to back or side to side, and it may be beneficial to think about pushing the knee in towards the midline. If done correctly, they should feel their adductors working significantly.

5. Most of the time, I will instruct the individual to reach down until the palm of their hand touches the ground, and that is as far as I will have them go. Some individuals are pretty mobile and can get their forearm all the way down to the ground. I’m fine with this as long as everything else checks out and they are feeling the desired musculature.

6. To get even more out of this activity, we can add a respiratory component to challenge this position further. Once the hand reaches the ground, the individual should get a full exhale out, and closing the side of the ribcage that is down. After a full exhale out and maintaining that bottom position, the individual can then inhale into the side of the ribcage that is up (trying to get air into the upper chest wall). After they have achieved maximal expansion in this area, they can exhale out again as they come back up into the starting position.

We will typically have our athletes perform this exercise for 2-4 sets of 6-8 reps per side as an accessory exercise towards the end of the session, or as part of their movement prep before their strength training. Once they’re proficient with it, we might load it up more and use it as part of a first pairing on an upper body training session (similar to how we program Turkish Get-ups). Give it a shot!

About the Author

​Derek Kambour serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Prior to joining the staff, Derek completed an internship at CSP-FL in the fall of 2018. Prior to joining the CSP-FL team, Derek coached a variety of athletes and clientele at performance facilities in New Jersey. He graduated from Montclair St. University with a degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA. Derek is also a competitive powerlifter. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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Exercise of the Week: Birddog Rows

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini, with a video assist from CSP-FL coach, Derek Kambour. Tim was one of the contributors on our Cressey Sports Performance Innovations resource, a collaborative effort of the CSP staff. It's on sale for $75 off through Sunday at midnight; just head to www.CSPInnovations.com and enter coupon code APRIL2020.

The Dumbbell Birddog DB Row is a very humbling rowing variation and has been helpful for our clients to lock in their horizontal pulling technique. This exercise doesn’t require as much cuing from us due to the internal feedback the client gets as the set goes on, but it is important to coach the correct set-up position before the client begins the row.

Some of the benefits of the Birddog Row:

1. Core Demands: This rowing variation requires great anti-extension and anti-rotation core control. Once you get the DB off the ground it’s important to pause and establish proper core position so you don’t rock side to side. If you’re having trouble keeping technique its best to lower the weight first and see if this clean up your form.

2. Hip Extension: Adding on to the core component of the row, maintaining a neutral spine and getting quality hip extension add a unique demand no other rowing variation can offer. In clients who are naturally in lumbar extension (arching of the lower back), the contralateral aspect of this row can help separate hip extension from lumbar extension.

3. Slower, Controlled Tempo: One of the main flaws you see in horizontal pulling is excessive range of motion at the top where the shoulder dumps forward into anterior tilt (over-rowing). To perform this exercise well, you have to slow down the rowing portion which gives great sensory feedback leading to better technique. This will also improve scapula protraction at the bottom portion for better shoulder mechanics.

4. Better Arm Path: Because of the alignment with the bench, you naturally have to leave some space between your arm and your ribs otherwise the DB will hit the bench on the eccentric or concentric portion of the row. This self-teaching benefit eliminates keeping your arm tucked in too close to your side.

5. Improved Cervical Position: It's very common in rowing variations to see cervical extension (head tilted up) or flexion (chin to chest) as compensation patterns mostly because there is no balance component to traditional rows. The birddog row has unique balance demands that add needed focus from the lifter. This leads to more of a neutral cervical spine position (double chin) to help improve balance.

We typically program this exercise for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps per side.

To cover a wide variety of training and coaching concepts, I'd encourage you to check out CSP Innovations; it's on sale for $75 off through Sunday at midnight with coupon code APRIL2020 at www.CSPInnovations.com.

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).

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Exercise of the Week: High to Low Cable Chop Split Squat

Today's guest post/video comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida co-founder, Shane Rye.

There is a lot to love about the Split-Stance High-to-Low Cable Chop, so it's been a staple in our programming for years! Often, we see folks who struggle to handle frontal plane forces correctly.

Athletes who primarily train the sagittal plane tend to have difficulty centering their mass when doing single leg work or frontal plane exercises, though, so it's not uncommon to see a lot of mistakes on this. Some of the common compensations you will see are:

1. Over pronating or over supinating

2. Shifting the hips forward to access extension based postural patterns

3. Collapsing at the midsection

4. Lateral flexion (side-bending) or hip shifting

5. Valgus collapse of the knee

6. Excessive rounding of the upper back

7. Hips bailing way too far out or away (losing their center of mass)

8. Knee shifting to far over their toes etc.

As you can see, there are a lot of places where this exercise can go off the rails, so in some cases, it's a better strategy to modify the exercise than provide 500 cues to address each issue. Enter the High-to-Low Cable Chop Split Squat, one of our favorite ways to teach athletes how to handle frontal plane forces. I originally encountered this variation from Pat Davidson a few years ago, and it's stood the test of time. Thanks to Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett for the great demonstration:

There is also a great added bonus of hammering your oblique sling system. This might help a football player learn how to properly cut, or a pitcher to effectively accept force on the front hip.

1. Your adductor and glute med should engage on the front leg. Think of this as a dynamic hip shift or dynamic adductor pullback. You should feel your adductors working hard to help stabilize your pelvis. You might even feel a stretch in your posterior hip capsule.
2. Don't allow your knee to collapse in.
3. Ensure that the front foot is stable and not overly collapsed or overly rolled out.
4. Control your breathing as you descend and ascend.
5. Don't over stride with the back leg.
6. Don't Rush!

We'll typically program this for 6-8 reps at a slow tempo (three seconds lowering, one second pause at the bottom, and three seconds up) at first, and when athletes get more proficient with it, they can speed it up.

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10 Reasons to Use Wall Slides

Today's guest post comes from my good friend and Elite Baseball Mentorships colleague, Eric Schoenberg. Enjoy! -EC

In response to the tweet below and in preparation for the upcoming CSP Elite Baseball Mentorship in June, we decided to put together an article dedicated to the wall slide.

In this article, we will discuss the top 10 findings from a wall slide assessment. In addition, we cover examples of how different coaching cues can benefit the athlete not only in their sport, but more so, in a particular moment in their sport.

This leads to the thought of using the term movement or “moment-specific” training rather than the overused “sport specific” terminology.

Here is the Tweet/question (thanks, Simon). The direct answer will come at the end of the article.

The wall slide was born through the work of Shirley Sahrmann and outlined in her book – Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement System Impairments.

Through many years of work and countless iterations, we have used and modified the pattern to allow for individualization of overhead activity in all body types and sports.

We use the wall slide as an assessment and an exercise every day with our athletes. It should be noted that the wall slide should serve as a bridge to any overhead activity (OH carries, landmine press, etc.) in your programming.

For each assessment finding using the Wall Slide Test, we use individual cues to assist the athlete in creating the desired movement correction. From there, we program the exercise into the warm-up or main program to help develop movement proficiency.

Here are ten reasons we use wall slides in our assessments:

1. Glenohumeral joint range of motion (ROM) – e.g. shoulder flexion

In the image below, we see Clint Capela and Andre Iguodala exhibiting adequate shoulder flexion, however, a slight lack of height, vertical jump, overhead strength, and timing may have resulted in the unfavorable result for AI.

Source: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/rockets-vs-warriors-clint-capela-meets-andre-iguodala-at-the-rim-with-incredible-two-handed-block/

2. Scapulo-thoracic joint ROM - e.g. scapular upward rotation and elevation

3. Cervical spine control – e.g. forward head tendency

4. Thoracic spine positioning – e.g. flat, extended vs. kyphotic, flexed

A clear illustration of the need to properly cue the Wall Slide and other overhead activities as it relates to the Thoracic Spine can be seen in the two pictures below.

a. OBJ’s catch shows elite thoracic extension in the overhead position. If Odell was an athlete that was more biased towards thoracic flexion, then his overhead mobility would be more limited and this iconic catch may have never happened. It is important to cue this pattern in the gym if it is required to happen on the field.

Source: https://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/11/odell-beckham-catch-new-york-giants-replay-youtube-vine-gif

b. In contrast, CSP athlete and St. Louis Cardinals All-Star Miles Mikolas does not require thoracic extension when his hand is fully overhead. In fact, he needs to be in a position of thoracic flexion to help deliver the scapula, arm, and hand at ball release. This pattern must also be trained.

Source: https://www.albanyherald.com/sports/cardinals-sign-pitcher-miles-mikolas-to--year-extension/article_7c3fec36-4408-5ce6-a053-3659320329c1.html

Note: This does not mean that Miles does not need thoracic extension to perform his job. It just means that he does not need to be trained into that position when his arm is fully overhead.

5. Lumbar spine positioning – e.g. excessive lumbar extension

6. Lumbo-pelvic stability – e.g. dropping into anterior pelvic tilt

7. Transverse plane alignment – e.g. spinal curvature or pelvic rotation

8. Lat length – e.g. athlete moves into humeral medial rotation at top of wall slide

In another example of the lat impacting overhead motion and movement quality, Rocky Balboa (not a CSP athlete, unfortunately!), shows a pattern of humeral medial rotation with overhead reaching. Interestingly, since his sport is not defined by vertical motion, but more so horizontal motion, Mr. Balboa does not require as much scapular upward rotation as a baseball player.

Source: https://www.phillyvoice.com/lesson-fake-news-faux-call-removal-rocky-statue/

 If we use the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 rule), general fitness and athleticism should account for 80% of our training. However, the remaining 20% should be tailored to the movements, patterns, and positions that are unique to the athlete’s sport.

9. Motor Control - e.g. faulty scapulohumeral timing, inability to control scapulae eccentrically with arm lowering

10. Faulty activation patterns - e.g. overuse of upper trapezius vs. proper serratus and lower trapezius activation

In summary (and to answer the original question in the tweet above), the overhead reach (wall slide) is helpful to decrease upper trapezius involvement if the exercise is cued to do so. The ability to properly recruit serratus and lower trapezius to assist with scapular upward rotation will lessen the “need” for the upper trap to jump in too much. Remember, the upper trap does need to play a role in this movement, it just shouldn’t be doing all of the work.

As for the “extreme thoracic kyphosis” part…. It is important to first determine if this is a structural or functional issue. If it is structural, it will not change. In this case the wall slide can be used to train within this constraint to assist your client in finding solutions to get overhead. On the other hand, if the kyphosis is functional (meaning it can be changed), then the secret sauce is differentiating weakness, stiffness, shortness, and/or motor control issues as the reason for the kyphosis and difficulty getting overhead. The Wall Slide is a great tool to help tease that out to help your client.

If you want more information about this and many other aspects of the approaches that we utilize to manage the overhead athlete, please consider joining us June 23-25 at our Elite Baseball Mentorship program at CSP in Hudson, MA. The early-bird registration deadline is May 23.

This Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorship has a heavy upper extremity assessment and corrective exercise focus while familiarizing participants with the unique demands of the throwing motion. You’ll be introduced to the most common injuries faced by throwers, learn about the movement impairments and mechanical issues that contribute to these issues, and receive programming strategies, exercise recommendations, and the coaching cues to meet these challenges. For more information, click here.

About the Author

Eric Schoenberg (@PTMomentum) is a physical therapist and strength coach located in Milford, MA where he is co-owner of Momentum Physical Therapy. Eric is addicted to baseball and plays a part in the Elite Baseball Mentorship courses at Cressey Sports Performance. He can be reached at eric@momentumpt.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/7/19

Here's some recommended reading/listening from around the strength and conditioning world to keep your week going:

The Speed Podcast with John O'Neil - The crew at TC Boost interviewed CSP-MA Director of Performance, John O'Neil, who spoke to some of our training methodologies at CSP.

Becoming an Industry Leader with Pete Dupuis - Michael Keeler interviewed my business partner, Pete Dupuis, on the business of fitness, and there was some great material for all of the fitness business owners out there.

6 Random Thoughts on Programming for and Coaching Young Athletes - This was a hefty brain dump from Mike Robertson, and it included quite a few good pearls of wisdom.

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If you're looking for a quick and easy way to expand your rowing exercise selection, definitely try the standing 1-arm cable row with offset kettlebell hold. Holding a kettlebell in the racked position on the non-working arm not only adds a core control element, but also facilitates thoracic (upper back) rotation away from the rowing arm. We know that left thoracic rotation works hand-in-hand with right serratus anterior recruitment (and vice versa), so this is an awesome progression we like to use with our throwing athletes. You could progress this particular version by adding a bit more upper back rotation to the left on the eccentric (lowering) portion of each rep. Try it out! #cspfamily

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5 Non-Traditional Exercises for Catchers

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini. Tim takes the lead with our catchers at CSP-FL, so I'm excited that you'll get a chance to take a glimpse into the expertise he brings to the table each day. Enjoy! -EC

With spring training right around the corner, most of the media attention is on the pitchers coming in to camp, but what about the guys catching them? The demands of catching a full season are unique and with that in mind, here are 5 non-traditional exercises we use with our catchers at Cressey Sports Performance.

1. Catcher Pop-up to Shotput

Although nothing can truly simulate working on technique like being in pads and actually being on the field, you’ll see a number of things in this exercise that look similar to what a catcher might do in a game situation. We start by getting into the catcher’s stance with a runner on base and have them close their eyes. I will then roll or place the ball to a random spot, forcing them to react when I clap my hands and they open their eyes. From there, the goal is to get to the ball as fast as possible and in a position to throw the ball as hard as possible into the wall. The reason we have them close their eyes and find the ball is to work on reaction time and identifying a loose ball. In game situations, a catcher doesn’t always know where the ball is after the initial block. One of the main benefits of the exercises is working on hip mobility and being strong getting from the crouch position to an upright throwing position. We usually program this for 3 sets with 3 reps per side with a 6-8 pound med ball.

2. 1-leg Kettlebell Switches

A lot of focus for catchers is centered around hip mobility, as it should be. However, losing sight of ankle stability is a mistake. Enter the 1-leg Kettleell Switches. In order to execute the exercise properly and get the most out of it, I recommend being in just socks or barefoot. The kettlebell doesn’t have to be heavy at all for this to be effective; most of the time, I start athletes with 10 pounds.

As you can see, the first movement is a hip hinge with a slight knee bend. From there, we cue the client to “grab the ground” with their feet and make sure the toes stay down. Go as wide with your arms as you can while maintaining balance, and switch the kettlebell from side to side. Your goal is to keep your foot from deviating into pronation/supination and your hips to stay level. From the side view, you want to make sure the athlete maintains a neutral spine. You may notice that if your client has a flatter foot, this can be more challenging to stay away from the foot pronating in. Likewise, if your client has a high arch, it can be challenging to maintain the big toe staying down.

We usually program this as part of a warm-up or paired with an explosive lower body exercise. We'll do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

3. High Tension Ankle Mobilization

A Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) inspired exercise, the high tension ankle mobilization is working on taking your ankle through end-ranges of dorsiflexion with control of that range. It is important to go through this exercise slowly, as rushing through it generally doesn’t lead to as much tension or control of your range.

Start by getting into a good half-kneeling position, making sure not to sit your hips into abduction or adduction. From there, imagine pushing your foot through the floor and slowly take your knee as far over your middle toes as you can without your heel coming off the ground or the ankle pronating in. Then, slowly lift your heel off the ground maintaining your knee staying out in front of your toes as much as possible. Once you go as far as you can then slowly return while driving your foot through the floor. Now that you are back to the original starting position with your knee over your toe pause, the lift your toes towards your shin and start to lift the front of your foot off the ground, still pushing your heel through the ground. Once you can’t go back anymore, slowly return to the starting position.

Because this exercise requires a lot of tension and effort, we usually program this for 2-3 reps. You can put this in a warm-up or pair it with an ankle stability exercise such as the 1-leg kettlebell switch. If you deem the client has sufficient ankle mobility, this exercise isn’t always necessary and the focus can be more on stability.

4. Seated 90-90 Hip Switches w/Hip Extension

Another drill of FRC origin, seated 90/90 hip switches are a great hip mobility exercise, but often are not performed correctly if they are rushed. What do we get out of this exercise? Hip internal rotation, external rotation, flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction...all while maintaining a neutral spine. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Before prescribing this exercise, make sure to check your client’s hip range of motion and medical history first. If your client has femoroacetabular impingement or some other pain in their hip, this may not be the best fit for them.

The key coaching cues are to keep your hips as far separated as possible during the exercise and maintain a neutral spine. If you notice your lumbar or thoracic spine flexes, then use your hands on the ground as support. We usually program this exercise for 3 reps per side.

5. Deep Squat Anti-Rotation Press

There are many variations of the anti-rotation press (better known as the “Pallof Press”), but this version gets as specific to catching as any of them. Make sure the cable or band is set up at sternum height. When you press out, make sure your hips and feet stay neutral (don’t rotate toward one side). From the side view, you want to make sure the spine is neutral. You can hold this for breaths, time, or reps.


These are just a small piece of the puzzle that is training catchers, but hopefully it gets your mind working to innovate and individualize for these athletes!

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).

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Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Cable Lift w/Flexion-Rotation Hold

The half-kneeling cable lift w/flexion-rotation hold is a new variation on an old drill, and we've been implementing it quite a bit with guys of late. It's a creation of CSP-FL co-founder and pitching coordinator Brian Kaplan.

Like all cable chops and lifts, we're training anti-rotation core stability. However, in this variation of the cable lift, the athlete drives thoracic (upper back) rotation and flexion, two crucial pieces of getting to an ideal ball release position during throwing, or completing a swing during hitting.

Simultaneously, the athlete should be actively pulling into the front hip (adduction and internal rotation) to simulate the same front hip force acceptance you get during the pitching delivery and hitting motion.

Of course, there are many functional performance benefits that extend far beyond the baseball world. This drill will benefit anyone who competes in extension-rotation sports, not to mention your casual weekend golfer. In short, it trains core stability and thoracic mobility, so it has almost universal application.

We'll usually program this for 6-8 reps per side. On each rep, we have a 2-3 second hold at the lockout position with a full exhale. You should really feel the core turn on - and in some cases, you'll even see athletes get a little cramp in the abs.

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Have You Tried the 1-leg Dumbbell Pullover?

The 1-leg dumbbell pullover is a nice variation on a classic. It’ll add a rotary stability challenge to what is normally considered an upper body and anterior core drill. I’m using this variation a bit more this time of year (with throwing volume and intensity ramping up), as you can get a good training effect with less external loading.

We'll usually program this for 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps per side. It pairs well with exercises that aren't concrete push or pull exercises: Turkish Get-ups, kettlebell windmills, and bottoms-up kettlebell carries. I even like pairing it up with TRX Ys, as it's effectively the opposite pattern. Enjoy!

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Exercise of the Week: 1-leg Side Bridge

A lot of people write off side bridges as “too easy” without considering that there are actually a lot of progressions one can employ to make them more advanced. To that end, I really like the one-leg side bridge with the top leg on a bench as a great way to "own" the frontal plane.

A few notes:

1. Make sure the body creates a straight line from the head to the heel.

2. If you feel any discomfort on the inside of the knees, it's because you've set up incorrectly or just aren't strong enough to do this movement.

3. Imagine the weight distribution being 50/50 between the two points of contact (forearm and foot).

4. I’ll usually program this as 3-5 breaths (with a full exhale) per side in each set.

5. Typically, I'll include this as part of a D1/D2 pairing at the end of a training session. Usually, it'll be preceded by some kind of anti-extension core exercise like a rollout or fallout.


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

I hope you're having a good week. I'm shifting this series to later in the week because I'm doing more of my writing on Sundays these days, so look for Thu/Fri "round-up"posts from here on out. Here are some good reads from around the 'net over the past week:

EC on the Seams Legit Podcast - This is a two-part interview I did with Nick Friar. We discuss baseball development and our work with (among others) Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndergaard.

8 Lessons from Lab Assisting for PRI Courses - Miguel Aragoncillo offered some awesome insights on how to make the most out of your attendance at continuing education events.

What Your Doctor Never Told You About Arthritis - This was a good guest post from Dr. Michael Infantino for Tony Gentilcore's site.

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