Home Posts tagged "Eric Schoenberg" (Page 3)

Register Now for the 2nd Annual Cressey Performance Fall Seminar

I’m psyched to announce that on Sunday, September 22, we’ll be hosting our second annual fall seminar at Cressey Performance.  As was the case with our extremely popular fall event last year, this event will showcase both the great staff we're fortunate to have as part of our team.  Also like last year, we want to make this an affordable event for everyone and create a great forum for industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike to interact, exchange ideas, and learn.

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Here are the presentation topics:

Cracking the Crossfit Code - Presented by Eric Cressey

Let's face it: Crossfit is here to stay.  With that in mind, it's time for someone to take an unbiased look at how we can make coaches and fitness enthusiasts successful within the scope of this training system.  In this presentation, Eric will look past the emotions people have with respect to this approach, and discuss rationale ways to accentuate the positives while offering solutions for the shortcomings. In short, the goal is to bring people together, not drive two sides further apart.

Training Joe vs. Jane:  Do Women Need to Train Differently Than Men? – Presented by Tony Gentilcore

Should women avoid lifting appreciable weight?  What are the most effective strategies for training women through pregnancy? Is there such a thing as an ACL-Prevention Program?

In this presentation, I will discuss many of the common misconceptions and "myths" relating to training female athletes.  I intend to provide extensive responses and feedback to some of the most frequently asked questions I have encountered relating to the art of strength training for women.

Insulin: The Hormone, The Myth, The Legend – Presented by Brian St. Pierre

Carbs spike insulin and insulin causes fat gain. So, cut the carbs and you'll end up lean and healthy. End of story. Or is it?

While the Paleo and low carb camps loudly proclaim that carbs and insulin are the enemy, the latest science suggests otherwise. In fact, we're starting to learn that high insulin is an effect of being overweight, not a cause. In this session, Brian will explore the real relationship between carbs and insulin, discussing some of the common myths about insulin, and sharing some practical eating strategies you can put into action immediately.

Integrating Corrective Exercise for Performance Enhancement – Presented by Mike Reinold

Often times, muscle imbalances, alignment issues, and movement impairments can lead to injury and decreased performance.  However, corrective exercises are often unsuccessful for various reasons.  By focusing on several key principles, you can maximize your ability to apply corrective exercises to optimize movement and enhance performance.

Getting To Know Your Athlete: Understanding Learning Styles to Be a More Effective Coach – Presented by Chris Howard

In this presentation, I will discuss the different learning styles and how knowledge of this information is helpful in becoming a more effective coach.  I will also delve into the differences between introverted and extroverted clients and how it is necessary to coach and assess them differently.

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Excellence In Group Training – Presented by Greg Robins

Group training, small group training, and bootcamps are here to stay. Let me help you understand how I manage the variables associated with group training to optimize a less than ideal scenario. The information presented will be sure to help everyone from the strength and conditioning specialist to commercial fitness professional alike.

The Role of Physical Therapy in a Strength and Conditioning Facility – Presented by Eric Schoenberg

Physical Therapy earns little respect in strength and conditioning circles due to the inability of traditional PTs to properly progress a patient from injury to high-level activity.  This lack of versatility has contributed to an increased role of the strength and conditioning professional in the care of the injured athlete.  But, is there a role for Physical Therapy in the training world?  Physical therapist Eric Schoenberg will share his thoughts on why partnering with the right physical therapist can add great value to your business and improve results for your clients.

Location:

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

Cost:

Regular – $149.99
Student (must present current student ID at door) – $129.99

Date/Time:

Sunday, September 22, 2013
Registration 8:30AM
Seminar 9AM-5:30PM

Continuing Education:

0.7 NSCA CEUs (seven contact hours)

Click Here to Sign-up (Regular)

or

Click Here to Sign-up (Students)

We’re really excited about this event, and would love to have you join us! However, space is limited and each seminar we’ve hosted in the past has sold out quickly, so don’t delay on signing up!

If you have additional questions, please direct them to cresseyperformance@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Elite Baseball Mentorships: The Importance of Hip Rotation

Today’s guest post comes from my friend and colleague, physical therapist Eric Schoenberg.  Eric is an integral part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships.

The ability to properly assess, interpret, and manage hip range of motion (specifically rotation) is a critical skill in preventing injury and improving athletic performance in a baseball player.  Proper hip rotation sets up better alignment and direction in the pitching motion which sets up proper pelvic and trunk rotation and an improved ability to generate torque.  Stodden, et al. reports a direct correlation between increased hip rotation ROM and increased throwing velocity.

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As we covered in Phase 1 of the Elite Baseball Mentorship , a pitcher who does not internally rotate fully through the back hip will tend to land closed-off.  While some pitchers may use this to improve deception or get more movement on their pitchers, this positioning can lead to the pitcher (especially a less experienced one) to either miss high and arm side or attempt to throw across his body and cut the ball.  The pitcher will in turn try to “make up” velocity with his arm/shoulder due to the movement faults in the kinetic chain. This compensation is a very common cause of shoulder and elbow injury in pitchers.

Weaver closed stride

Additionally, Kibler, et al. notes that kinetic chain deficits are discovered on examination in a majority of patients with SLAP (superior labrum anterior-posterior) injuries. Deficits in hip abductor or extensor strength, deficits in hip rotation flexibility, or core strength weakness have been identified in 50% of SLAP injuries.

In Phase 1 of the mentorship program, we discussed in great detail the importance of understanding total motion of the shoulder as a key risk factor in pitching injuries. A recent study from Garrison, et al.  once again demonstrated that total ROM (ER + IR) is a better metric for predicting injury risk than GIRD (Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit).

These same concepts also apply to the hip.  However, there are fewer research studies and less consistent findings of hip ROM norms in rotational athletes.  In addition, you will see some clear differences in ROM based on position (pitcher vs. hitter) which need to be appreciated when designing training and rehab. programs.

Tippett reports increased hip IR in the trail leg (vs. lead leg) of college baseball players. In contrast, Hills (2005) reported no significant difference in hip IR between the back hip and lead hip in hitters, however hip ER and total ROM was significantly greater in the back hip. Whereas, Laudner, et al. notes that in pitchers, there is less internal rotation of the trail leg than position players resulting in a less effective and potentially more dangerous throwing motion.

Anecdotally, as we look at the lead leg in a hitter, internal rotation force often exceeds available hip internal rotation ROM resulting in microtrauma to passive structures and resultant instability of the hip (i.e. abnormal gliding and shear forces of the femoroacetabular joint).  As a result, and similar to the shoulder, the athlete will lose dynamic stability (motor control) causing unequal distribution of force on the weight bearing surfaces and finally osseous (bony) or labral pathology ensues.

Finally, from a strength prospective, there is a clear difference between recruitment patterns used to hit a baseball vs. throw a baseball.  EMG studies by Shaffer and Jobe et al. show hitters rely much more on the lower half and core for power development and transfer, while using the upper extremity/hands more for position and direction.  On the other hand, pitchers seem to rely more on energy created in the core and upper extremity, potentially placing pitchers at an increased risk for upper extremity injury.

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Key Takeaways

1. Failure to properly identify and correct hip ROM deficits (especially lack of hip internal rotation in pitcher’s drive leg) will result in increased injury risk throughout the kinetic chain.

2. Asymmetrical rotational patterns in baseball players result in need for training and rehabilitation programs to work rotation in both directions.

3. Continued proof of the need to respect structural changes (i.e. retroversion) as well as position specificity (i.e. pitcher vs. position player) in developing effective training and rehabilitation programs.

4. From a treatment perspective, don’t just rush to stretching what seems “tight”. Consider the principles of relative stiffness, pelvic alignment, breathing patterns, and lumbopelvic stability before we start cranking away at the hip joint.

If you would like more information regarding the mentorships, please visit our website, www.EliteBaseballMentorships.com.  The early bird registration deadline for the August 18-20 Phase 2 Mentorship is this Thursday, July 18, 2013. Click here to register.

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Elite Baseball Mentorships: Developing a Performance Team

Today’s guest post comes from my friend and colleague, physical therapist Eric Schoenberg.  Eric is an integral part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships.

One of the topics that came up most commonly in the course evaluations and feedback from our first Phase 1 Elite Baseball Mentorship in January was “how lucky” Eric, Matt, and I are to have such a great facility (CP) to work in and “how nice it must be” to have strength and conditioning, pitching instruction, and physical therapy all under one roof (or in very close proximity to each other).

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The truth is, professional relationships do not just happen unless you make them happen.   Coaches, business owners, medical professionals, and athletes themselves don’t let just anyone into their circle.  People are skeptical by nature and need to know that you care and are not a threat to their goals, reputation, or career.  However, once trust is established, then the foundation for success in any partnership (i.e. coach/player, strength coach/physical therapist) can be built.

At the center of every great performance team must always be the athlete.  I suggest making this the first criteria you look for when building a great network of performance coaches, medical professionals, and athletic coaches. 

The success of any coach or medical professional is measured by the success of the athletes or teams with whom they work. 

It is important to surround yourself with people that understand and follow this very simple concept.  High level athletes have had people trying to latch onto them from a very young age.  They are very skilled at seeing right through people with egos who don’t have their best interest at hand.  This is the quickest way to lose credibility in our field.

In response to the feedback from our last mentorship, I've outlined five principles (non-clinical) below that you can use to help build a strong network to ensure better results for your athletes. 

1. Communication:  Be clear and concise.  Don’t leave anything to chance or assume that everyone is on the same page.  I have seen countless examples of athletes failing in physical therapy, training, or following a throwing program because any combination of the doctor, PT, strength coach, skill coach, or parent were unclear with their communication.  In addition, it is a simple courtesy to keep referral sources current with the progress of their athletes.  Failure to communicate is a sure way to end a professional relationship.

2. Time:

  1. Donate your time:  Show that you care.  Ask and expect nothing in return. Have the best interest of the athlete in mind (always).  Understand that it is not about you.  Show that you can add value and provide a service that is not currently being met.  Along the same lines…
  2. Respect other people’s time:  Don’t just “show up” unannounced at someone’s office, gym, or field and expect them to give you time.  Be professional and set up a meeting that works for the person you are trying to work with.  Better yet, ask them a good time that you can come by and observe and then go out of your way to offer your services to one or their athletes on the spot.  This goes a long way to establish selflessness and credibility.

3. Understand and respect each person’s role:  Don’t try to be all things to all people.  Be good at what you do and don’t try or claim to be an “expert” at everything.   Surround yourself with people that challenge you and know more than you in certain areas (but make sure you know more than them about something or you will be phased out!) Understand the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and the people in your immediate network.   Observe often and learn as much as you can about each person’s role.  Eric Cressey and Matt Blake know more about physical therapy and human movement than the vast majority of licensed physical therapists on the planet.  However, they don’t claim to be a PT, they understand ethical boundaries, and they respect scope of practice.

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4. Know your role (really well!):  Never stop learning.  Stay open minded on things you have yet to learn.  You owe it to your athletes and your network to be an authority and trusted resource in your field.  However, it’s critical to have the confidence to know when to refer out.  You don’t need to be the hero all the time.  At the end of the day, if the athlete succeeds because you had the humility to refer them to someone that could help them more than you, then you did your job.  Remember, you will gain respect if your athletes get better, regardless of who gets the credit at the end.

5. Swing for the fences:  Once all your hard work and patience finally pays off and you “get your shot” to work together with a particular coach, PT, or athlete, knock it out of the park.  In our fields, we have moments (successes or failures) that allow us to either gain or lose the confidence of the people that we are trying to impress.  Be prepared for the situation and get results.  Remember to always be confident and overdeliver.    

A founding mission of the Elite Baseball Mentorships is to develop a national network of qualified professionals in the baseball community that share a similar philosophy in managing baseball players.  This is pivotal in keeping athletes healthy and allowing them the best opportunity for success in their careers. 

If you would like more information regarding the mentorships, please visit our website, www.EliteBaseballMentorships.com.   The early bird registration deadline for the June 23-25th Phase 1 Mentorship is: May 23, 2013. Click here to register.

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Preventing Pitching Injuries: You Get What You Train

Today's guest post comes from my friend and college, physical therapist Eric Schoenberg.  Eric is an integral part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships, and will be contributing more and more regularly here to outline some of the topics we'll cover in these mentorships.

As this great article from Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated pointed out a few years ago, injuries cost MLB clubs $500 million dollars (an average of $16+ million/team) in 2011. In addition, over 50% of starting pitchers in MLB will go on the disabled list each year. Although there are many factors that contribute to these staggering numbers, an overwhelming majority of these injuries are due to five simple words:

"You Get What You Train."

This saying was made popular by the great physical therapist Shirley Sahrmann in her work at Washington University in St. Louis. This premise (in baseball terms) covers almost every issue that we encounter in the areas of injury prevention and performance enhancement. Here are some examples to illustrate the point:

  • If a pitcher is allowed to throw with bad mechanics (misuse), the result is a kid who is really good at throwing wrong and an increased risk of injury.
  • If high pitch counts (overuse) are allowed at a young age, the result is a pitcher throwing with fatigue, mechanical breakdown, and ultimately decreased performance and injury.
  • If a pitcher “throws with pain” (poor communication) due to pressure from coaches, parents, and teammates (culture of baseball), the result is compensated movement, decreased performance, and ultimately injury.
  • If a “one-size fits all approach” is rolled out in a strength and conditioning program or a pitching academy, then the result will be a program that doesn’t adequately “fit” anyone.
  • If performing “arm care programs” and long toss programs incorrectly before a game or practice is the norm, then the result will be athletes that are improperly “tuned” neurologically and fatigued before they even step on the mound for their first pitch.
  • If a hypermobile athlete performs a stretching program to “get loose”, then the result will be an athlete that has more instability than he can handle ultimately will get injured.
  • If we teach an athlete to get his shoulder blades “down and back” when his throwing shoulder is already depressed and downwardly rotated, then what we get is more strength in a dysfunctional position.
  • If we don’t teach proper movement, then we will get exactly what we train. The correct exercise performed incorrectly is a bad exercise.

This point is illustrated in the videos below. In the first video, the only instruction given to the athlete was to hold the top of a pushup on the elevated surface. As you can see, there is clear dyskinesia in the scapulae which if repeated without correction would result in reinforcement of the faulty movement pattern. Without actually seeing the shoulder blades (shirt off) or at the least putting your hands on the athlete, this faulty pattern is missed and the athlete will get worse.

In the next video, the athlete is instructed to get into the same position, however the athlete is cued to “engage the shoulder blade muscles and don’t let the shoulder blades come off your ribcage”. This simple cue can be coupled with some manual correction to activate the proper muscles to achieve a proper movement pattern.

In summary, both of these videos can be called a “pushup hold” or “elevated plank,” but only one achieves the desired movement and activation pattern.

This concept of “you get what you train” becomes a bigger problem when you realize that baseball players rarely play for the same coach or in the same “system” for more than a year or two (different leagues/levels, coaching changes, etc.). In addition, it takes a while before faulty movements and overuse reach the threshold where an athlete becomes symptomatic. As a result, there is no direct cause and effect and no “blame” to assign. A coach that overuses a kid in his 13 year-old season is never identified to be the actual cause of that same kid’s UCL tear in his 16 year-old season. This lack of accountability is a huge factor in the injury epidemic across all levels of baseball.

The goal of the Elite Baseball Mentorships is to bring together leaders in the baseball and medical communities in an effort to be proactive and share ideas to help improve the overall health of the game of baseball and its players.  We'd love it if you'd join us for one of these events; please visit www.EliteBaseballMentorships.com for more information.

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EliteBaseballMentorships.com: Taking Baseball Preparation to the Next Level

As many of you know, my colleagues Matt Blake, Eric Schoenberg, and I introduced our Elite Baseball Mentorships program back in the fall, and the first phase 1 event in early January was a big success.  Attendees included strength and conditioning coaches, baseball coaches, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and chiropractors - and the feedback was fantastic.

With that in mind, today, I'm excited to announce the debut of our mentorships website, www.EliteBaseballMentorships.com

On this page, you'll be able to find information on the agendas and dates for upcoming courses, see testimonials from previous attendees, and register to take part in the fun.  Our next two events will be June 23-25 (Phase 1) and August 18-20 (Phase 2). 

As a participant, you'll attend lectures, review case studies, observe training, and interact with hundreds of high school, college, and professional baseball players. We feel strongly that these events provide the premier baseball education experience in the industry, and we'd love an opportunity to show you why.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring some guest blogs from CP pitching coordinator Matt Blake and physical therapist Eric Schoenberg to complement my own writing so that you can get a feel for how this provides a unique, multi-disciplinary educational opportunity.  In the meantime, be sure to check out www.EliteBaseballMentorships.com to learn more and sign up, as we expect these to sell out quickly.

All the Best,

Eric Cressey

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 27

 Here's this week's list of tips to fine-tune your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs, compliments of CP Coach Greg Robins.

1. Improve your squat by starting neutral.

2. Remember: “Everything should made as simple as possible, and not simpler.”

At Cressey Performance, we are fortunate to be in an environment where we are constantly learning.

As an example, this past week we had a spectacular in-service delivered by Eric Schoenberg of Momentum Physical Therapy and Performance. Eric is someone with whom we work closely. I respect Eric immensely as he has the rare ability to make things simple. When I hear him speak, I am reminded of the quote from Albert Einstein:

      "Everything should made as simple as possible, and not simpler."

In his presentation, Eric made one point in particular that really hit home with me.

His talk mainly focused on helping us create a united front on how we coach many of the arm care and movement drills used by our athletes; as many of them swing between his clinic and our gym floor. When pressed with questions on the specifics of these exercises (where should the shoulder blades be, what muscle are making this happen, that happen, etc?) he stressed the importance of making the movement just look and feel good.

If it looks good and feels good, it’s probably good. If it looks like poop, and feels like poop, it’s probably poop.

Makes sense, right? Everyone is a little different, and everything may measure out to be a little different, but it holds true in the majority of cases.

However, there are times when it might look good to the eye and feel fine to the athlete, but not actually be good. These are the cases we don’t want to make simpler. As an example, what if an overhead squat looks phenomenal, but when you assess the individual on the table, you notice considerable tissue shortness at the hips? These individuals may have phenomenal core stability to overpower their stiff hips, but still need to work hard on tissue length to prevent injury.

Focus on making things look good, and know what “good” looks like, and you’ll be in a great position 90% of the time. However, don’t ever forget about that 10%.

3. Get out of extension before bridging exercises.

4. Make water less boring.

I strive to drink a gallon of water every day. And, 80% of the year, I accomplish that objective just fine. I don’t dislike the taste because, well, it doesn’t taste like anything.

However, I guess the lack of taste is why I sometimes find myself falling off the wagon. When I can’t stand the thought of drinking another ounce of water, I simply spice it up. For many of you, doing so may be just what you need to start making hydration more enjoyable. It seems like a stupidly obvious suggestion, but I guarantee that half of the people who read this don’t drink enough water. I also guarantee they would if it tasted like something worth putting in their mouth.

We all know the benefits of cooking ahead of time. If you are struggling to drink enough water, then prepare a few gallons of flavored water ahead of time, too. Squeeze in lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, or anything else you want to include. Spread throughout the entire gallon, the squeeze of half of an orange is going to add a trivial amount of calories to your intake; don’t get worked up about it.

5. Overhaul your dishware for portion control.

Here is an easy tip to control portion size without even thinking about it. Take a look at your dishes: I’m willing to bet they are pretty massive. If you’re in the market for new kitchenware, or just looking for a strategy to reduce calorie intake, consider downsizing your plates and bowls. If there’s less to fill, you will be forced to consume a smaller helping.

Additionally, this is a great strategy for damage control at holiday parties. Many times, people will offer dinner plates and smaller plates for appetizers and desserts. Choose the smaller plate and limit yourself to what you can fit on top. This is another simple tip, but an incredibly effective way to make your nutrition program more successful if you struggle with portion control.

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Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships

I'm extremely excited to announce a project that has been in the works for quite some time: Elite Baseball Mentorships at Cressey Performance.  Folks have been requesting these for years, but I resisted the urge to go through with it until the time was right - and that time is now! 

Working with me on these mentorships will be two awesome minds who play a big role in helping CP provide comprehensive, synergistic programs for baseball players. Matt Blake is the pitching coordinator at Cressey Performance, and Eric Schoenberg is a physical therapist who handles some of our toughest cases.  The rest of the Cressey Performance staff will also be on-hand to assist with the practical portions of the event, and answer questions during the observation periods.

The first mentorship will take place January 6-8, 2013. Here are the specifics:

Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Mentorship
Phase 1: Understanding and Managing the Pitcher

Sunday, January 6

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 – Functional Anatomy and Proper Movements of the Shoulder and Elbow (Eric Cressey)
11:00-11:15AM – Break
11:15AM-12:15PM – Common Injuries and their Mechanisms (Eric Schoenberg)
12:15-1:00PM – Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session: Lecture and Video Analysis

1:00-2:00PM – Flawed Perceptions on "Specific" Pitching Assessments and Training Modalities (Eric Cressey)
2:00-3:15PM –Key Positions in the Pitching Delivery: Understanding How Physical Maturity and Athletic Ability Govern Mechanics (Matt Blake)
3:15-3:30PM – Break
3:30-4:45PM – Video Evaluation of Pitchers: Relationship of Mechanical Dysfunction to Injury Risk and Performance (Matt Blake)
4:45-5:30PM – Case Studies and Q&A

5:30PM Reception (Dinner Provided)

Monday, January 7

Morning Session: Practical

8:00AM-10:00AM – Physical Assessment of Pitchers: Static and Dynamic (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
10:00-11:30AM – Prehabilitation/Rehabilitation Exercises for the Thrower (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Performance – 12PM-6PM*

Tuesday, January 8

Morning Session: Practical

8:00AM-9:00AM - Preparing for the Throwing Session: Optimal Warm-up Protocols for Different Arms (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
9:00-10:15AM – Individualizing Drill Work to the Pitcher (Matt Blake)
10:15-11:30AM – Throwing Program Progressions (Matt Blake)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Performance – 12PM-6PM*

* 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 Performance.

Observation of live training on the CP 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 using the Right View Pro system
• Movement evaluation
• Live case examples

Location:

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

Cost:

$899 early-bird (before December 6), $999 regular. No sign-ups will be accepted on the day of the event.

Continuing Education:

NSCA CEU pending

Registration Information: SOLD OUT

Please note that 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. Additionally, this event will not be videotaped. As such, I’d encourage you to sign up as soon as possible.

Hope to see you there!

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Register Now for the 1st Annual Cressey Performance Fall Seminar

I'm psyched to announce that on Sunday, October 28th, we'll be hosting our first annual fall seminar at Cressey Performance.  This event will showcase both the brand new Cressey Performance, as well as the great staff I'm fortunate to have as part of my team, and our outstanding sponsor, New Balance.  We want to make this an affordable event for everyone and create a great forum for industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike to interact, exchange ideas, and learn.

Here are the presentation topics:

Understanding and Managing Congenital Laxity - Presented by Eric Cressey

In this era of semi-private training, boot camps, and group exercise, it’s not uncommon for coaches and trainers to try to train all athletes and clients the same. This can quickly lead to injury in a population with significant congenital laxity. In this presentation, Eric will teach you how to assess for laxity and safely train with it to improve how people feel and move.

The Food Freakshow: What Will You Be Eating in the 21st Century? - Presented by Brian St. Pierre

Burgers grown from dinosaur DNA? Tomatoes carrying a delicious basil lemon gene? Red meat with the fatty acid profile of an avocado? Science is starting to change the way we look at food. And in the coming years our food will be very, very different. Want to know what you'll be eating? What your kids will be eating? What your grandkids will be eating? Let Brian untangle the mystery. In this talk he'll discuss what's on the horizon for those of us who like to eat, and like to eat healthy. Join him for a fascinating exploration of the future of food – and for useable, practical strategies you can put into action immediately.

Deep Squats: Are They Worth It? - Presented by Tony Gentilcore

In this presentation, Tony will highlight research on the squat under various conditions and discuss population-specific considerations one must take into account when programming squat variations. He’ll discuss improving the squat pattern, as well as exercise recommendations for those who should avoid squatting altogether in their programs.

“Out with the Old:” A new model for preventing injury and improving performance in the throwing athlete - Presented by Eric Schoenberg

The system is broken! Injury rates at all levels of baseball are alarming. Despite improvements in research, technology, and sports medicine principles, the numbers continue to rise. Each year, teams work tirelessly and spend millions to recruit, draft, and sign the best talent from all over the world. However, only a small percentage of that money is invested to keep these athletes healthy and allow them to showcase their talent on the field. This presentation will help to debunk some common myths, identify disturbing problems, and provide solutions to help keep athletes on the field and out of the training room.

How "Strong" Does An Athlete Need To Be? - Presented by Greg Robins

In this presentation, Greg will discuss how various strength qualities contribute to an athlete's power potential. Each sport requires a slightly different blend of these strength qualities to provide for high-level performance. Learn which qualities athletes need to improve and how to get the job done.

Current Trends in Manual and Manipulative Therapy - Presented by Nathaniel Tiplady

Nate will present a review of Active Release Technique, Graston Technique, Fascial Manipulation, and joint manipulation. He’ll cover what we know, what we don't know, and present his thoughts and experiences on the best methods to get people pain-free.

Program Design Considerations for the Young Athlete - Presented by Chris Howard

In this presentation, Chris will discuss important considerations one must take into account when designing and implementing programs for young athletes. Topics to be covered are exercise selection and progression, creation of a fun training environment, and the role of the strength coach in educating young athletes. He will stress the fact that young athletes can be trained similarly to adults, but that there are distinctions that need to be made.

Location:

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

Cost:

Regular - $129 regular, $149 day of the event
Student (must present current student ID at door) - $99 regular, $129 day of the event

Date/Time:

Sunday, October 28, 2012
Registration 8:30AM
Seminar 9AM-5:30PM

Continuing Education:

NSCA CEU pending (seven contact hours)

Click Here to Sign-up (Regular)

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Strength Training Programs: Are Pull-ups THAT Essential?

The pull-up is among the most sacred strength exercises in the history of weight training programs, ranking up there with squats, deadlifts, and bench and overhead presses.  This is one reason why I expect there to be burning Eric Cressey effigies in various strength and conditioning circles after they read the following sentence:

Some people would be wise to leave out pull-ups - at least temporarily.

Before you rip me a new one, please give me a few minutes to explain.

First off, I get it: pull-ups train the lats, and the lats are huge players in athletic function and the quest to get strong and gain muscle.  They're the biggest player in force transfer between the lower and upper body, and play key roles in core stability and breathing.  Specific to my baseball work, lat recruitment is higher during acceleration in professional pitchers than amateurs, showing that reliance on this big muscle helps generate increase pitching velocity, too.  I actually wrote an entire article back in 2006 about just how extensive the lat's role is, if you'd like to read more: Lats: Not Just for Pulldowns.

However, the "expansive" presence of the lats - running from the thoracolumbar fascia all the way up to the humerus - can make them a problem as much as they are a solution.  To that end, here are four reasons you may want take a break from pull-ups/chin-ups/pulldowns in your strength training program:

1. Heavy pull-ups can make the elbows very cranky - This is really the shortest and least complex of my arguments, so I'll get it out of the way early.  My personal best three-rep max chin-up is 321 pounds, at a body weight of about 188 pounds (so, the external load was 133 pounds).  My best raw three-rep max bench press is about 330 pounds, but what you might find surprising is that going heavy on the bench press is dramatically easier on my joints (particularly my elbows) than pull-ups/chin-ups are.  What gives?

First, when you bench press, you're doing a full-body movement.  There is leg drive and loads of core stability involved on top of the upper extremity activity that's taking place - so the stress is more easily distributed.  When you do a pull-up, your upper extremity is relatively isolated, so the stress is more concentrated.

Second, a pull-up is a traction exercise; it pulls the humeral head out of the socket, and essentially pulls the lower and upper arm apart at the top. When you lose bony congruence - one of the most important, yet overlooked components of joint stability - you have to pick up the slack with the active restraints (muscles/tendons) acting at the joint.  Low-level traction can be tremendously helpful in situations like external impingement at the shoulder, or intervertebral disc issues.  However, under extreme load, it can be pretty darn stressful to the soft tissue structures around the joint.  Conversely, a bench press is an approximation exercise, so you can actually draw some stability from the joint alignment itself to take some of the stress off the soft tissue structures.

I remember Jason Ferruggia writing recently about how heavy chin-ups/pull-ups can really beat up on older lifters - and it's safe to say that the reason isn't so much tissue degeneration, but simply that it took time for them to build appreciable enough strength to get to the point where the overall stress was too much.

2. The lats overpower the lower traps - The overwhelming majority of the baseball athletes I see (and most extension/rotation sport athletes, in general) live in lordotic postures.  The lat is a strong extensor of the spine - but it also attaches to the rib cage and scapula on the way to the upper extremity.  The end result is that many lordotic athletes wind up with a very "gross" extension pattern.

The rib cage flairs up, and the lower traps do little to pull the shoulder blades back and down on the rib cage - because the lats have already gotten an athlete to the position he/she wants to be in via lumbar extension.  You can see from the picture below that the line of pull of the two muscles is actually very comparable - but given cross sectional area and length, the lat will always have the upper hand, especially if it's constantly being prioritized in a strength training program due to exercise selection and faulty lifting technique.

Effectively, we need to learn to move our scapulae on our rib cage, as opposed to just moving our entire spine into extension.  Interestingly, you'll find a lot of flexion-bias in the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) schools of thought because they clearly appreciate that getting folks out of "gross extension" is a way to get/keep people healthy.  Having ultra short/stiff lats can cause issues ranging from extension-based back pain (e.g., spondylolysis) to shoulder pain (e.g., external or internal impingement).  As I've written previously, too, this global dysfunction may also be the reason we're seeing more femoroacetabular impingement in athletes.

As another interesting aside, I see a lot of throwers with low right shoulders and incredibly short/stiff lats on that side.

This is secondary to faulty rib positioning and the scapular anterior tilt that ensues (as per the PRI school of thought), but one additional thing we've found (thanks to great feedback from physical therapist Eric Schoenberg) is that overhead shrugging variations on the low shoulder have helped these throwers to not only feel better, but minimize these asymmetries.  Effectively, creating a bit more stiffness in the upper trapezius helps it to counterbalance the aggressive downward pull of the lat on the scapula.

These folks sit in scapular depression, and for that reason, we'll often leave out any exercises (e.g., deadlifts, dumbbell lunges) that involve holding heavy weights in the hand until scapular positioning is better controlled.

3. The humeral attachment portion of the lat is part of a significant zone of convergence at the posterior shoulder - The back of your shoulder is another one of those claustrophobic areas in your body.  You've got tendons for the lat, teres major, teres minor, infraspinatus, long head of the triceps, and posterior deltoid all coming together in a very small area, creating friction over each other as their individual forces come together (regions like this are called "Zones of Convergence" by myofascial researcher Luigi Stecco.

The latissimus dorsi is, without a doubt, the largest and strongest of all the involved structures.  It also has the longest tendon, which makes it the biggest candidate for nasty tissue quality in the region.  The problem is that muscles/tendons don't deform evenly; rather, they move a lot where the tissue quality is good, and very little where it is dense.  So, when you're super dense in the posterior shoulder and try to go do pull-ups, as I noted earlier, the entire shoulder girdle wants to move (humeral extension and internal rotation, and scapular depression) together, as opposed to a nice synergy of the humerus with the scapula on the rib cage.  When some is stiff in the posterior shoulder and wants to use the lat for everything, a seated cable row looks like this.  Notice how the elbow winds up behind the body, and the scapula anterior tilts - and also how old the video is; I look like I am 12 years old and weigh 120 lbs.

Rowing like this over time will eventually irritate the anterior shoulder.  However, watch this standing one-arm cable row where the humeral head (ball) maintains a good alignment with the glenoid fossa (socket) as the shoulder blade moves on the rib cage.  The humerus doesn't extend unless the scapula moves with it.

4. Overactive lats can decrease the subacromial space - The lat extends, adducts, and internally rotates the humerus.  In order to get overhead the right way, we need flexion, abduction, and external rotation of the humerus.  So, you can see that it's a direct antagonist to healthy, overhead movement.  If you think about your biggest players for pain-free overhead movement, two of them have to be the posterior rotator cuff and lower trapezius.  The lat overpowers both of them in a "gross" extension pattern.

Here's a test: position yourself supine, bend the knees, flatten the lower back, and then let your arms hang freely overhead.  Then, have someone take a picture looking down at the top of your head.  A "pass" would be full shoulder flexion with no arching of the back, and no shoulder pain along the way.  A fail would be pain, or something that looks like this:

If your photo looks like this, you better hope that you have outstanding posterior rotator cuff and lower trapezius function (adequate stiffness) to overpower some very short lats if you intend to train overhead pain-free (especially with overhead pressing).  Otherwise, your shoulder flexion will really just be lumbar extension and forward head posture substitutions (this one has a nice left rib flair, too).

In other words, you need adequate anterior core stability and good recruitment of the deep neck flexors, too, but those are blogs for another day.

Closing Thoughts

This post has gone on far too long, and to be honest, I've probably just used the last 1300+ words to piss a lot of you off.  You'll be happy to know, however, that we still use a ton of pull-ups/chin-ups in our strength training programs at Cressey Performance.  In fact, they're a mainstay.  Here are some modifying factors, however:

1. The risk:reward ratio gets a little out of whack once you get very strong with pull-ups.  You'd be better off adding sets and reps, as opposed to adding load - and you may want to push the heavy stuff less frequently than you would with compound exercises.

2. Get regular manual therapy at the posterior shoulder and entire elbow to stay on top of tissue quality. At the very least, make sure you're foam rolling a ton and using The Stick:

3. Strengthen the anterior core and deep neck flexors so that you don't substitute lumbar hyperextension and forward head posture, respectively, for shoulder flexion.

4. Strengthen the lower traps so that the lats can't overpower them.  I like wall slides at 135 degrees abduction, as it allows one to work in the direct line of pull of the lower traps.  Make sure to cue "glutes tight, core braced" so that folks can't substitute lumbar extension ("gross extension") for movement of the scapulae on the rib cage.  Make sure there is no forward head posture, too.

Prone 1-arm trap raises off the table are also a popular one.  Just make sure you continue to cue "glutes tight, core braced, and no forward head posture."

4. Maintain adequate length in the lats. In warm-ups, I like the bench t-spine mobilizations and side-lying internal external rotation as a means of getting some shoulder flexion.

In terms of static stretching, a lat stretch in the power rack is great.

If this gives you an impingement feeling, regress it a bit, stabilize the scapulae with the opposite hand, and gently dip into a wall lat stretch with stabilization.

Many folks will also benefit from this classic overhead stretch in order to reduce stiffness in the long head of the triceps, a synergist to the lats in humeral extension.

5. Make sure you're including plenty of horizontal pulling (rowing) strength exercises as well - and executing them with the correct form.  This means moving humerus and scapula together on rib cage, not just yanking the humerus into extension on a fixed scapula.

6. If you have terrible shoulder flexion and can't get overhead without substituting forward head posture and lumbar hyperextension, spend some time addressing the underlying issues before you start cranking on pull-ups.  We actually don't do any pull-ups/chin-ups with some of our professional baseball players for 4-8 weeks following the season, as we need to spend time building rotator cuff, lower trap, and anterior core strength. I like to use the back-to-wall shoulder flexion exercise as a "pass/fail test." If you can get the thumbs to the wall without losing the flat-back posture on the wall or bending your elbows, then you can probably start going to pull-ups.

7. Above all else, listen to your body, and hold back if pull-ups/chin-ups hurt.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post and your experiences with heavy and/or high-volume pull-ups/chin-ups in the comments section below.

For more information on the role of the lats in upper extremity health and function, I'd encourage you to check out our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD Set.

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Baseball Strength and Conditioning Programs: How Much Rotator Cuff Work is Too Much? – Part 1

In a recent presentation in front of a bunch of baseball coaches, I made the following statement - and it turned a lot of heads:

I think most people overtrain the rotator cuff nowadays, and they do so with the wrong exercises, anyway.

To illustrate my point, I'm going to ask a question:

Q: What is the most common complication you see in guys as they rehabilitate following a Tommy John Surgery?

A: Shoulder problems - generally right around the time they get up to 120 feet.

Huh?  Shoulder pain is a post-operative complication of an elbow surgery?  What gives?

First, I should make a very obvious point: many of these guys deal with shoulder stiffness as they get back to throwing simply because they've been shut down for months.  That I completely expect - but remember that it's stiffness, and not pain.  They always throw their way out of it.

The more pressing issue is what is taking place in their rehabilitation - and more specifically, what's taking place with the synergy between their rehabilitation and throwing program. Let me explain.

Rehabilitation following a UCL reconstruction is extensive.  While different physical therapists certainly have different approaches, it will always be incredibly heavy on rotator cuff strength and timing, as well as adequate function of the scapular stabilizers.  Guys always make huge strides on this front during rehab, but why do so many have shoulder pain when they get further out with their long tossing?  The answer is very simple:

Most people don't appreciate that throwing a baseball IS rotator cuff training.

Your cuff is working tremendously hard to center the humeral head in the glenoid fossa.  It controls excessive external rotation and anterior instability during lay-back.

It's fighting against distraction forces at ball release.

And, it's controlling internal rotation and horizontal adduction during follow-through.

Simultaneously, the scapular stabilizers are working incredibly hard to appropriately position and stabilize the scapula on the rib cage in various positions so that it can provide an ideal anchor point for those rotator cuff muscles to do their job.

A post-op Tommy John thrower - and really every player going through a throwing program - has all the same demands on his arm (even if he isn't on the mound, where stress is highest).  And, as I wrote previously in a blog about why pitchers shouldn't throw year-round, every pitcher is always throwing with some degree of muscle damage at all times during the season (or a throwing program).

Keeping this in mind, think about the traditional Tommy John rehabilitation approach.  It is intensive work for the cuff and scapular stabilizers three times a week with the physical therapists - plus many of the same exercises in a home program for off-days.  They're already training these areas almost every day - and then they add in 3-6 throwing sessions a week.  Wouldn't you almost expect shoulder problems?  They are overusing it to the max!  This is a conversation I recently had with physical therapist Eric Schoenberg, and he made another great point:

Most guys - especially at higher levels - don't have rotator cuff strength issues; they have rotator cuff timing issues.

In throwing - the single-fastest motion in all of sports - you're better off having a cuff that fires at the right time than a cuff that fires strong, but late.  Very few rotator cuff exercise programs for healthy pitchers take that into account; rather, it's left to those doing rehabilitation.  Likewise, most of the programs I see altogether ignore scapular stability and leave out other ways to train the cuff that are far more functional than just using bands.

Now, apply this example back to the everyday management of pitchers during the season. Pitchers are throwing much more aggressively: game appearances, bullpens, and long toss.  They need to do some rotator cuff work, but it certainly doesn't need to be every day like so many people think.

I'll cover how much and what kind in Part 2.  In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about the evaluation and management of pitchers, check out Optimal Shoulder Performance.

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