Home Posts tagged "Eric Schoenberg"

Exercise of the Week: Bowler Squat to J-Band Y

This week's exercise of the week is the brainchild of physical therapist Eric Schoenberg, who works out of Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. When I first saw him implementing it with a patient, I immediately thought, "How have I never thought of it?" You see, this drill actually combines two of my favorite exercises: the bowler squat and the J-Band Y. In doing so, we get an awesome arm care exercise that integrates single-leg balance and hip mobility.

The bowler squat component delivers a triplanar challenge to the glutes, as you have to eccentrically control hip flexion, adduction, and internal rotation on the way down - and it's actually overloaded in the transverse plane by the pull of the band. Here are some coaching cues and notes:

1. The upper arm should be at about a 135-degree angle to the torso so that it's in the line of pull of the lower traps. The upper extremity action should actually be driven by scapular movement into posterior tilt.

2. Most athletes should start with a J-Band Jr. before proceeding to a regular thickness J-Band.

3. As the athlete approaches the bottom of the movement on the lowering phase, he should try to get more hip motion than upper back motion. Although both are necessary, we've seen a lot of athletes who jump dump over into thoracic kyphosis (rounding) when they start to struggle. In other words, use the hips to deliver the hands.

4. The head should remain in line with the body to preserve a neutral cervical spine.

5. I generally prefer this to be done barefoot or in minimalist sneakers, like I'm wearing. It can be helpful to cue the athlete into "tripod foot" or tell them to "grab the ground like you're trying to picking a basketball with your foot."

6. We like this as a warm-up exercise or "filler" between sets of medicine ball work. We'll program it for sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

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Arm Care: Why Are We Still Talking About “Down and Back?”

Today's guest post comes from Eric Schoenberg, the physical therapist at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida and a great resource to the entire CSP team. Enjoy! -EC

To get right to the heart of what I'm covering today, I think it's best that we start with a video:

So, as you can infer, the reason we're still talking about "down and back" is because we need to! Athletes are coming into the gym every week after multiple surgeries or drops in performance with postures and movement patterns that are faulty and easily correctible.

Obviously, the down and back concept is not the only reason for this, but the idea of driving our scapulae into maximal adduction (retraction), downward rotation, and depression is certainly something that we can control and improve upon.

To set the record straight, the only time an athlete should receive this cue is when their arms are by their side (Deadlifts, farmer’s walks, heavy dumbbell holds for lower body lifts). Once the humerus starts to move away from the side more than 20-30 degrees, the scapula needs to start moving in the appropriate direction to keep ball on socket congruency and reduce mechanical stress to the neighboring soft tissue structures (labrum, rotator cuff, neurovascular structures).

On the performance side of things, the “down and back” posture (scapular adduction, downward rotation, and depression) limit the ability to get the hand out in front or overhead. This has obvious implications in overhead athletes.


 In the case of throwers, the difference in extension at ball release can vary by 3-4 inches depending on the position of the scapula. (as you can see in the comparison pics above and the video below).

When we don’t get full extension at ball release, any variety of downstream stresses can occur (aggressive elbow extension, lack of full pronation through the baseball) that result in increased injury risk and decreased performance.

As mentioned in the introduction video, we are bringing bad cues to good programming and it continues to result in faulty movement and injury. Even worse is when this “down and back” cue is brought into the rehabilitation setting and athletes that have already had surgery continue to experience symptoms similar to their pre-surgery presentation.

In conclusion, let’s continue to look at our cues and consider where the arm is in relation to the body when we decide to cue down and back. When the arms are by the side, then go ahead and cue the scaps down and back. However, when the arm is abducted to the side, overhead, layed back into ER, or out in front at ball release, we need to cue a degree of upward rotation and elevation to make sure the joint is aligned for success.

About the Author

Eric Schoenberg is a Physical Therapist and Strength Coach and the Owner of Diamond Physical Therapy located inside Cressey Sports Performance – Florida. Eric’s approach is to help athletes move more efficiently to reduce injury and improve performance. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @csp_physicaltherapy, or email him at eric@diamondphystherapy.com.

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The Best of 2019: Guest Posts

I've already highlighted the top articles and videos I put out at EricCressey.com in 2019, so now it's time for the top guest posts of the year. Here goes…

1. The Biggest Mistake in Program Design - Kevin Neeld, Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, reminds us to make sure that our programs evolve as our knowledge and experience in the field accumulate.

2. 5 Non-Traditional Exercises for Catchers - CSP-Florida Director of Performance Tim Geromini works with all our catchers in Florida, and he's devised some creative ways to help them feel, move, and play better. This article includes a few of them.

3. 10 Reasons We Use Wall Slides - Wall slide variations are a mainstay in all of our upper body training and rehabilitation programs. Eric Schoenberg, who serves as the physical therapist at our Palm Beach Gardens, FL location, shares why that's the case.

4. 5 Great Kettlebell Exercises for Baseball Players - Dan Swinscoe is a great physical therapist in the Seattle area, and in this article, he shares some of the KB variations he likes to use with his baseball players.

5. Exercise of the Week: Side Bridge with Top Leg March - CSP-Massachusetts coach Cole Russo shared this great lateral core stability progression. We're using it a lot this offseason.

I'll be back soon with the top strength and conditioning features from 2019.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Refining Rehab Approaches with Eric Schoenberg

We're excited to welcome physical therapist Eric Schoenberg to this week's podcast. Eric has extensive experience working with individuals from all walks of life, but specializes in working with baseball players. He'll serve as the physical therapist at the soon-to-open Cressey Sports Performance location in Palm Beach Gardens, FL starting on November 1 as well. In this episode, we discuss the typical challenges baseball players can see movement-wise, as well as how the rehab process can be improved across all populations.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Marc Pro. Head to www.MarcPro.com and enter the coupon code CRESSEY at checkout to receive 10% off on your order.

Show Outline

  • How Eric has evolved as a physical therapist since graduating from PT school
  • How learning to never settle for mediocrity and working to be more familiar with the world of strength and conditioning through CSP has allowed Eric to advance his physical therapy career
  • How being a high quality physical therapist involves appreciating the art of physical therapy as much as the science of the field
  • How Eric became an early adopter of Shirley Sahrmann’s work on movement system impairment syndromes
  • Why young physical therapists and health professionals should work to create their own philosophy for analyzing movement proficiency and how having a model for analyzing movement can help them make better decisions for their clients
  • Why has Eric deviated from the standard time-restricted, semi-private PT model and instead adopted a one-on-one, private model
  • Why the rehabilitation world should move away from its generalist perspective and encourage practitioners to specialize and refer out to others who have more experience rehabilitating a specific injury
  • Why experts need to drop their ego and be open to working with other professionals across the scope of health and human performance
  • What the most common movement impairments Eric sees in baseball players are
  • Where the biggest mistakes occur in the interaction between rehab specialists and strength and conditioning coaches
  • How being a father has influenced Eric’s perspective on youth athletics, the little league experience, and lifelong movement health
  • What big mistakes Eric is seeing in post-op baseball cases
  • How Eric manages transitioning athletes from being completely in the rehab setting back to training at full health over the course of the rehab process
  • What research Eric has been studying to continue to advance his career, and what books he recommends to all health professionals

You can follow Eric on Twitter at @CSP_PhysTherapy and on Instagram at @CSP_PhysTherapy. To contact him directly, you can email eric@diamondphystherapy.com.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Marc Pro, a cutting-edge EMS device that uses patented technology to create non-fatiguing muscle activation. Muscle activation with Marc Pro facilitates each stage of the body’s natural recovery process- similar to active recovery, but without the extra effort and muscle fatigue. Athletes can use it for as long as they need to ensure a more full and quick recovery in between training or games. With its portability and ease of use, players can use Marc Pro while traveling between games or while relaxing at home. Players and trainers from every MLB team - including over 200 pro pitchers - use Marc Pro. Put Marc Pro to the test for yourself with their new "Try Before you Buy" program, and use promo code CRESSEY at checkout at www.MarcPro.com for 10% off on your order.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

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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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Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorship: June 23-25, 2019

We're excited to announce our next Elite Baseball Mentorship offering: an upper-extremity course that will take place on June 23-25, 2019 at our Hudson, MA facility.

2013.01.26 - CP (139)

The Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships provide an educational opportunity to become a trusted resource to this dramatically underserved athletic population. Through a combination of classroom presentations, practical demonstrations, case studies, video analysis, and observation of training, you’ll learn about our integrated system for performance enhancement and injury prevention and rehabilitation in baseball athletes. Cressey Sports Performance has become a trusted resource for over 100 professional players from all over the country each off-season, and this is your opportunity to experience “why” first-hand at our state-of-the-art facility.

footer_logo-3

Course Description:

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. 

Course Agenda

Sunday

Morning Session: Lecture

8:30-9:00AM – Registration and Introduction (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Understanding the Status Quo: Why the Current System is Broken (Eric Schoenberg)
10:00-11:00AM – Common Injuries and their Mechanisms (Eric Schoenberg)
11:00-11:15AM – Break
11:15AM-12:15PM – Flawed Perceptions on “Specific” Pitching Assessments and Training Modalities (Eric Cressey)
12:15-1:00PM – Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session: Lecture and Practical

1:00-3:00PM – Physical Assessment of Pitchers: Static and Dynamic (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
3:00-3:15PM – Break
3:15-5:15PM – Prehabilitation/Rehabilitation Exercises for the Thrower (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
5:15-5:30PM – Case Studies and Q&A

5:30PM Reception (Dinner Provided)

Monday

Morning Session: Lecture and Video Analysis

8:00-9:00AM – Strength Training Considerations for the Throwing Athlete (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Key Positions in the Pitching Delivery: Understanding How Physical Maturity and Athletic Ability Govern Mechanics (Christian Wonders)
10:00-10:15AM – Break
10:15-11:30AM – Video Evaluation of Pitchers: Relationship of Mechanical Dysfunction to Injury Risk and Performance (Christian Wonders)

11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Sports Performance – 12PM-5PM*

Tuesday

Morning Session: Practical

8:00-9:00AM – Preparing for the Throwing Session: Optimal Warm-up Protocols for Different Arms (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
9:00-11:00AM – Individualizing Drill Work to the Pitcher and Live Bullpens from CSP Pitchers (Christian Wonders)
11:00-11:30AM – Closing Thoughts and Q&A (Eric Cressey, Eric Schoenberg, and Christian Wonders)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Sports Performance – 12PM-5PM*

* The afternoon observation sessions on Monday and Tuesday will allow attendees to see in real-time the day-to-day operation of the comprehensive baseball training programs unique to Cressey Sports Performance. This observation of live training on the CSP floor with our professional, college, and high school baseball players will allow you to experience firsthand our approaches to:

• Programming
• Proper coaching cues for optimal results
• Soft tissue techniques
• Activation and mobility drills
• Strength/power development
• Medicine ball work
• Multi-directional stability
• Metabolic conditioning
• Sprint/agility programs
• Base stealing technique

In addition, you will experience:

• Live throwing sessions
• Biomechanical video analysis
• Movement evaluation
• Live evaluations of attendees with Eric Schoenberg

Location:

Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749

CP579609_10151227364655388_1116681132_n-300x200

Cost:

$999.99

No sign-ups will be accepted on the day of the event.

Continuing Education Credits:

2.0 NSCA CEUs (20 contact hours)

Registration Information:

Click here to register using our 100% secure server.

Notes:

• No prerequisites required.
• Participants will receive a manual of notes from the event’s presentations.
• Space is extremely limited
• We are keeping the size of this seminar small so that we can make it a far more productive educational experience.
•This event will not be videotaped.

For details about travel, accommodations, and other logistics, please email cspmass@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there!
  

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 12/13/17

Happy Wednesday! Here are a few recommended reads to get you over Hump Day.

Get Up to Get Down: The Impact of Scapular Movement on Pitch Location - With tomorrow being the early bird registration discount deadlift on our January Elite Baseball Mentorship, I thought it'd be a good time to reincarnate this great guest post from Eric Schoenberg from the archives. You can learn more about the mentorship HERE.

9 Reasons Nutrition Can Feel So Confusing - This is a great video from Dr. John Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition. They outline the problem, but just as importantly, get folks started on some strategies for improvement.

Gym Owner Musings - Installment 9 - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, always delivers some good thoughts in this random collection of reflections on what he's learned on the business side of fitness.

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Top Instagram Post of the Week

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Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorship – January 14-16, 2018

We're excited to announce our next Elite Baseball Mentorship offering: an upper-extremity course that will take place on January 14-16, 2018 at our Hudson, MA facility.

2013.01.26 - CP (139)

The Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships provide an educational opportunity to become a trusted resource to this dramatically underserved athletic population. Through a combination of classroom presentations, practical demonstrations, case studies, video analysis, and observation of training, you’ll learn about our integrated system for performance enhancement and injury prevention and rehabilitation in baseball athletes. Cressey Sports Performance has become a trusted resource for over 100 professional players from all over the country each off-season, and this is your opportunity to experience “why” first-hand at our state-of-the-art facility.

footer_logo-3

Course Description:

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. 

Course Agenda

Sunday

Morning Session: Lecture

8:30-9:00AM – Registration and Introduction (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Understanding the Status Quo: Why the Current System is Broken (Eric Schoenberg)
10:00-11:00AM – Common Injuries and their Mechanisms (Eric Schoenberg)
11:00-11:15AM – Break
11:15AM-12:15PM – Flawed Perceptions on “Specific” Pitching Assessments and Training Modalities (Eric Cressey)
12:15-1:00PM – Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session: Lecture and Practical

1:00-3:00PM – Physical Assessment of Pitchers: Static and Dynamic (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
3:00-3:15PM – Break
3:15-5:15PM – Prehabilitation/Rehabilitation Exercises for the Thrower (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
5:15-5:30PM – Case Studies and Q&A

5:30PM Reception (Dinner Provided)

Monday

Morning Session: Lecture and Video Analysis

8:00-9:00AM – Strength Training Considerations for the Throwing Athlete (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Key Positions in the Pitching Delivery: Understanding How Physical Maturity and Athletic Ability Govern Mechanics (Christian Wonders)
10:00-10:15AM – Break
10:15-11:30AM – Video Evaluation of Pitchers: Relationship of Mechanical Dysfunction to Injury Risk and Performance (Christian Wonders)

11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Sports Performance – 12PM-5PM*

Tuesday

Morning Session: Practical

8:00-9:00AM – Preparing for the Throwing Session: Optimal Warm-up Protocols for Different Arms (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
9:00-11:00AM – Individualizing Drill Work to the Pitcher and Live Bullpens from CSP Pitchers (Christian Wonders)
11:00-11:30AM – Closing Thoughts and Q&A (Eric Cressey, Eric Schoenberg, and Christian Wonders)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Sports Performance – 12PM-5PM*

* The afternoon observation sessions on Monday and Tuesday will allow attendees to see in real-time the day-to-day operation of the comprehensive baseball training programs unique to Cressey Sports Performance. This observation of live training on the CSP floor with our professional, college, and high school baseball players will allow you to experience firsthand our approaches to:

• Programming
• Proper coaching cues for optimal results
• Soft tissue techniques
• Activation and mobility drills
• Strength/power development
• Medicine ball work
• Multi-directional stability
• Metabolic conditioning
• Sprint/agility programs
• Base stealing technique

In addition, you will experience:

• Live throwing sessions
• Biomechanical video analysis
• Movement evaluation
• Live evaluations of attendees with Eric Schoenberg

Location:

Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749

CP579609_10151227364655388_1116681132_n-300x200

Cost:

$999.99 regular rate

No sign-ups will be accepted on the day of the event.

Continuing Education Credits:

2.0 NSCA CEUs (20 contact hours)

Registration Information:

Click here to register using our 100% secure server.

Notes:

• No prerequisites required.
• Participants will receive a manual of notes from the event’s presentations.
• Space is extremely limited
• We are keeping the size of this seminar small so that we can make it a far more productive educational experience.
•This event will not be videotaped.

For details about travel, accommodations, and other logistics, please email cspmass@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there!
  

Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/16/17

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. The baseball off-season is in full swing and I have several evaluations today, so we'll be sharing some good content from around the web to keep you entertained until I have a spare moment to pull together some content. Check it out:

Resilient Performance Podcast with Dr. Fergus Connolly - Doug Kechijian interviewed Fergus in light of the release of his new book, Game Changer. There's some excellent discussion of the current state of sports science.

Changing Baseball Culture: A Call to Action - In light of a few recent conversations, I thought it was a good time to reincarnate this guest post from my good friend Eric Schoenberg.

The Older You Are, The Worse You Sleep - I thought this essay from Dr. Matthew Walker for The Wall Street Journal was intriguing. At the very least, it was nice to see a well-researched article on a health topic in a more mainstream publication. 

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3 Tips for Improving Shoulder Health and Performance

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

It is well documented that shoulder pain/injury is a primary reason for lost time in the gym and on the baseball field. Often times, the culprit is not poor exercise selection, but instead poor exercise execution. Most high level performers are going to do the work that we ask them to do, the issue is whether they are practicing getting better or practicing getting worse.

The following three tips will be useful for any strength coach or physical therapist to help ensure optimal function of the shoulder.

1. Understand and Appreciate Relative Stiffness.

There are several examples of relative stiffness around the shoulder that can result in faulty movement, pain and/or decreased performance.

A primary culprit occurs when the relative stiffness of the deltoid is greater than the rotator cuff. The result of this will be superior translation of the humeral head.

55-deltoid-pull

This can lead to undersurface rotator cuff tears, biceps tendon irritation, cyst formation, inferior glenohumeral ligament tears, or humeral head abnormalities – all of which are common to throwers.

Consider this when attempting to strengthen the cuff. Check to see if the humerus is in extension, as demonstrated in this photo. This faulty "elbow behind the body" pattern will lead to over-recruitment of the posterior deltoid:

humeralextension

You also want to cue the athlete away from excessive horizontal abduction, as demonstrated in the next photo. Prone external rotation with no support results in increased use of deltoid to support the arm against gravity:

proneer1

Here it is corrected with support:

proneercorrected

More times than not, we see athletes doing the correct exercise with the wrong execution and getting poor results. We want to avoid allowing an athlete to practice getting better at moving incorrectly.

2. Stop rowing so much, especially if your rowing technique is incorrect!

Rowing variations are generally the safest and easiest upper body exercises to program. However, even though a row is usually pain free, it can sometimes lead to patterns that result in injury down the road.

For example: If the rhomboids and lats are too stiff, you will see limited upward rotation of the scapula. Regardless of how much you strengthen the serratus anterior and lower trapezius, these smaller muscles will never match the force production of the lats and rhomboids.

With this in mind, the best “fix” is to increase stiffness and muscle performance of serratus and lower trapezius while simultaneously decreasing the stiffness and use of the lats/rhomboids.

This can be done by modifying the way we row. In this great video, EC discusses how to correct the row and ensure the scapula is moving properly on the ribcage with both phases of the rowing pattern.

In addition, we should program pressing or reaching exercises such as landmines, kettlebell presses, overhead carry variations.

3. Don’t let good lower body days double as “bad” upper body days.

We sometimes see athletes come in complaining about an increase in symptoms following lower body days. They will report something like “I don’t know what I did to my shoulder; I lifted lower body yesterday.” 

By now we know that a common cause of shoulder pain is the scapula being too depressed and downwardly rotated.

ScapularDownwardRotation-300x225-2

If an athlete performed deadlifts, back squats, or any lower body exercise where the weight was held by their sides (DB reverse lunges, step ups, RDLs, Bulgarian split squats, etc.), chances are they were feeding the pattern of depression and downward rotation.

Taking this a step further, we commonly see these exercises resulting in postures and stabilization strategies that present with increased lumbar lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt. When this goes uncorrected, scapular alignment suffers. Here’s a look at a reverse lunge with excessive hip extension, lumbar extension, and anterior pelvic tilt:

revlunge

Remember, there is no “corrective’ in the world that will counteract the stress of carrying 120-pound DBs by your side while training on a lower body day. This does not mean that you shouldn’t program it; instead, it means that we should just be aware of the consequences.

The solution to this is to consider alternate loading strategies (such as a Safety Squat Bar, KB Goblet set-up, or weight vests) that will allow the shoulder girdle to be freed up and positioned more optimally.  If we pair this with consistent attention to proper alignment and movement strategies, we can use lower body days as another opportunity to enhance shoulder function.

Looking to learn more about our unique approach to assessing and managing throwing athletes? Check out the upcoming Elite Baseball Mentorship Upper Extremity Course on December 18-20. For more information, click here. Don't delay, though; the early-bird registration deadline is November 18.

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 Seminars at Cressey Sports Performance. He can be reached at eric@momentumpt.com.

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