Home Posts tagged "Weight Training Baseball"

How Physical Maturity Impacts Pitching Mechanics and Muscular Recruitment

For today's post, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

In addition to the injury implications of this presentation, I think we also have to consider how much it ties into the concept of accelerating development of young pitchers by getting them strong in the right places. Early strength and conditioning can help to facilitate the proper muscular recruitment patterns (i.e., using lats more than the rotator cuff and biceps) to generate higher levels of velocity.

To learn more about why the minutia often matters so much when it comes to the shoulder girdle, be sure to check out www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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Why Baseball Players Shouldn’t Olympic Lift

I've been very outspoken in the past about how I am completely against the inclusion of Olympic lifts in baseball strength and conditioning programs because of injury risk and the fact that I don't believe the carryover in power development is as good as many folks think.  I've taken a lot of heat for it, too, as it's essentially blasphemy for a strength and conditioning coach to not think the Olympic lifts are a "Holy Grail" of performance enhancement.

Truth be told, I think there is merit to the Olympic lifts for a lot of athletes and general fitness folks.  However, baseball players aren't like most athletes or general fitness folks.  They have far more joint laxity, and it's a key trait that helps to make them successful in their sport.  While I hate to ever bring additional attention to an extremely unfortunately event, a weightlifting injury that occurs in this year's Olympics reminded me of just one reason why I don't include the Olympic lifts with our throwers.  Please keep in mind that while this isn't the most "gruesome" lifting injury video you'll see, some folks might find it disturbing (if you want to see the more gruesome "after" photo, read this article).  If you're one of those folks, don't push play (Cliff's notes: he dislocates his elbow).

Now, without knowing for sure what the official diagnosis is, an elbow dislocation could mean two things.  First, it could have been elbow hyperextension; I doubt that's the case, as the elbow appears to be slightly flexed when it "buckles."  Second - and more likely - we're talking about a valgus stress injury; not the joint angle below, which is approximately 20-30 degrees of elbow flexion:

You know what's remarkably coincidental about that elbow flexion angle?  It's where you do a valgus stress test to assess the integrity of the ulnar collateral ligament.

I don't know for sure if Sa Jae-hyouk is going to have a Tommy John surgery, but I can't say that I would be surprised if it does occur.  And, he certainly wouldn't be the first Olympic lifter to have one.

Now, I want to bring up a few important items.

1. I think this essentially kills the "they're safe for baseball players if it's in good form" argument that some folks throw out there.  For those who might not know, this was a gold medalist in Beijing in 2008, and he was expected to medal at this year's Olympics, too.  I suspect he knows a few things about proper Olympic lifting technique.

2. According to research from Bigliani et al, 61% of pitchers and 47% of position players at the professional levels had sulcus signs (measure of instability) in their throwing shoulders.  And, 89% of the pitchers and 100% of the position players ALSO had it in their non-throwing shoulders, meaning that this is the way that they were born, not just something they acquired from throwing. I've never met an accomplished male Olympic lifter with a sulcus sign, though, which tells me that laxity is virtually non-existent in this athletic population, particularly in comparison with baseball players.  We need to fit the exercises to the athlete, not the athlete to the exercises.  

3. The obvious next question for most folks is "what about cleans and high pulls?" With cleans, the wrist and elbow stresses are even more problematic than with snatches, and there is also the issue of direct trauma to the acromioclavicular joint on the catch phase.  Plus, when folks hang clean, the distraction forces on the lowering component of the lift (assuming no drop) can be a big issue in "loose" shoulders and elbows.  High pulls are a bit better, but all of the aggressive shrugging under load with minimal scapular upward rotation can really interfere with the improvements to scapular stability that we're trying to make with our overhead throwing athletes.

4. For those curious about what I meant with respect to the power carryover from linear modalities (like Olympic lifts) not being great to rotational sports, check out this recently published research study from Lehman et al. You'll see that it backs up what I'd proposed from my anecdotal experience back in 2010; that is, power development is very plane specific.  Get to doing your med ball work!

This is one case where the injury prevention battle isn't just about adding the right exercises; it's about taking some away, too.  

With all that said, I hope you'll join me in keeping Sa Jae-hyouk in your thoughts and send him good vibes for a speedy recovery and quick return to competition.

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Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Get Strong: Eric Cressey’s Best Articles of 2010

Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better - This was obviously my biggest project of 2010.  I actually began writing the strength and conditioning programs and filming the exercise demonstration videos in 2009, and put all the "guinea pigs" through the four-month program beginning in February.  When they completed it as the start of the summer rolled around, I made some modifications based on their feedback and then got cracking on writing up all the tag along resources.  Finally, in September, Show and Go was ready to roll.  So, in effect, it took 10-11 months to take this product from start to finish - a lot of hard work, to say the least.  My reward has been well worth it, though, as the feedback has been awesome.  Thanks so much to everyone who has picked up a copy.

Optimal Shoulder Performance - This was a seminar that Mike Reinold and I filmed in November of 2009, and our goal was to create a resource that brought together concepts from both the shoulder rehabilitation and shoulder performance training fields to effectively bridge the gap for those looking to prevent and/or treat shoulder pain.  In the process, I learned a lot from Mike, and I think that together, we brought rehabilitation specialists and fitness professionals closer to being on the same page.

Why President Obama Throws Like a Girl - A lot of people took this as a political commentary, but to be honest, it was really just me talking about the concept of retroversion as it applies to a throwing shoulder - with a little humor thrown in, of course!

Overbearing Dads and Kids Who Throw Cheddar - This one was remarkably easy to write because I've received a lot of emails from overbearing Dads asking about increasing throwing velocity in their kids.

What I Learned in 2009 - I wrote this article for T-Nation back at the beginning of the year, and always enjoy these yearly pieces.  In fact, I'm working on my 2010 one for them now!

What a Stressed Out Bride Can Teach You About Training Success - I wrote this less than a month out from my wedding, so you could say that I had a good frame of reference.

Baseball Showcases: A Great Way to Waste Money and Get Injured - In case the title didn't tip you off, I'm not much of a fan of baseball showcases.

Cueing: Just One Piece of Semi-Private Training Success - Part 1 and Part 2 - These articles were featured at fitbusinessinsider.com.  I enjoy writing about not only the training side of things, but some of the things we've done well to build up our business.

Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way - This might have been the top post of the year, in my eyes. My job is very cool.

How to Attack Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry - Here's another fitness business post.

Want to Be a Personal Trainer or Strength Coach?  Start Here. - And another!

The Skinny on Strasburg's Injury - I hate to make blog content out of someone else's misfortune, but it was a good opportunity to make some points that I think are very valid to the discussion of not only Stephen Strasburg's elbow injury, but a lot of the pitching injuries we see in youth baseball.

Surely, there are many more to list, but I don't want this to run too long!  Have a safe and happy new year, and keep an eye out for the first content of 2011, which is coming very soon!

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Weight Training For Baseball: Best Videos of 2010

I made an effort to get more videos up on the site this year, as I know a lot of folks are visual learners and/or just enjoy being able to listen to a blog, as opposed to reading it.  Here are some highlights from the past year: The Absolute Speed to Absolute Strength Continuum - Regardless of your sport, there are valuable take-home messages.  I just used throwing velocity in baseball pitchers as an example, as it's my frame of reference.

Should Pitchers Overhead Press? - This was an excerpt from Mike Reinold and my Optimal Shoulder Performance seminar (which became a popular DVD set for the year).

Shoulder Impingement vs. Rotator Cuff Tears - Speaking of Mike, here's a bit from the man himself from that seminar DVD set.

Thoracic and Glenohumeral Joint Mobility Drills - The folks at Men's Health tracked me down in the lobby at Perform Better in Providence and asked if I could take them through a few shoulder mobility drills we commonly use - and this was the result.

Cressey West - This kicks off the funny videos from the past year. A few pro baseball players that I program for in a distance-based format created this spoof video as a way of saying thank you.

Tank Nap - My puppy taking a nap in a provocative position.  What's more cute?

Matt Blake Draft Tracker - CP's resident court jester and pitching instructor airs his frustrations on draft day.

1RM Cable Horizontal Abduction - More from the man, the myth, the legend.

You can find a lot more videos on my YouTube page HERE and the Cressey Performance YouTube page HERE.

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Weight Training for Baseball: Featured Articles

I really enjoy writing multi-part features here at EricCressey.com because it really affords me more time to dig deep into a topic of interest to both my readers and me.  In many ways, it's like writing a book.  Here were three noteworthy features I published in 2010: Understanding Elbow Pain - Whether you were a baseball pitcher trying to prevent a Tommy John surgery or recreational weightlifter with "tennis elbow," this series had something for you. Part 1: Functional Anatomy Part 2: Pathology Part 3: Throwing Injuries Part 4: Protecting Pitchers Part 5: The Truth About Tennis Elbow Part 6: Elbow Pain in Lifters

Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture - This series was published more recently, and was extremely well received.  It's a combination of both quick programming tips and long-term modifications you can use to eliminate poor posture. Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 1 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 2 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 3 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 4

A New Paradigm for Performance Testing - This two-part feature was actually an interview with Bioletic founder, Dr. Rick Cohen.  In it, we discuss the importance of testing athletes for deficiencies and strategically correcting them.  We've begun to use Bioletics more and more with our athletes, and I highly recommend their thorough and forward thinking services. A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 1 A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 2 I already have a few series planned for 2011, so keep an eye out for them!  In the meantime, we have two more "Best of 2010" features in store before Friday at midnight. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Speed vs. Reps, Round Pegs in Square Holes, and Ignorant Coaches

Some recommended reading for the day: The Dynamic Method vs. the Repetition Method - A common question among resistance training beginners who've begun to "think outside the box" is whether they should bother using the dynamic method with their strength exercises if they aren't all that strong (yet).  I answer this common inquiry in this blog post. 6 Mistakes: Fitting Round Pegs into Square Holes - This T-Nation article from a while back highlights some situations where it's important to not force something that just isn't there. "My Coach Says I Shouldn't Lift" - This was one of those pieces that was just fun to write because it's such a ridiculous recommendation from a coach - but the sad truth is that it's happening all the time across the country.  So, spread the word and help some kids out! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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How to Find Your Fitness Niche

As a lot of you probably know, I'm pretty much known as a "baseball training guy" - and rightfully so, as about 80-85% of our athletes at Cressey Performance are baseball players.

Most people are surprised to find that I really never played baseball at a high level.  While I was super active in it growing up (my mother jokes that I actually taught myself to read with baseball cards), I actually had to give baseball up at the end of eighth grade so that I could focus on tennis, my "stronger" spring sport.  And, to take it a step further, when high school ended, I went off to college in 1999 fully expecting to become an accountant.  Seriously.

Around that same time, though, I had some health problems - and my shoulder was already a wreck from tennis.  Those factors "beckoned" me to a healthy lifestyle - and that's when I made the decision to transfer to an exercise science program and focus on my new passion as a career.  I did a double major in exercise science and sports/fitness management, and took part in internships in everything from personal training to cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. When I headed off to graduate school in 2003, I anticipated going in to the research world.  About a month after I arrived on campus at UCONN, though, I caught the strength and conditioning bug and was hooked - for life.  Interestingly, though, in those first few years, I really didn't work with baseball much at all. It wasn't until I got out in to the "real world" that I just happened to start working with a few high school baseball players when I first moved to Boston.  They were great kids, and I had a lot of fun training them - and they got great results that drew a lot of attention to the work I did with them.  I was already a big baseball fan, and given my history of shoulder problems, I really enjoyed learning everything I possibly could about arm care - so it was a great fit.

The rest, as they say, is history.  We now have 44 professional baseball players from all over the country here to train with us at Cressey Performance because they believe our expertise, environment, systems, and passion give them the best opportunity on the planet to be successful in their baseball careers. I have guys who swear by my resistance training, medicine ball, mobility, soft tissue, movement training, and throwing programs even though I never even played a single game of high school - let alone collegiate or professional - baseball.  I've found my niche - but as you can tell, I never forced it. What do you think I would have said if you had asked me in 1999 what my ten-year plan was?  I would have told you that I'd be filing tax returns in early April, not following all our athletes on opening day around the country. And, if you had asked me in 2004 what my five-year plan was, I'd have told you that it was to become a great muscle physiology research.  I probably would have commented on how cool it was that the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years - but wouldn't have had the foresight to note that I'd someday go on to train two guys from that roster who have 2004 world championship rings. My point is that you can't force a fitness niche; you have to discover and then develop it.  A lot of stars had to line up the right way for me to get to where I am with working with a baseball population, but as Thomas Jefferson once said, "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."

Getting sick forced me to learn how to better take care of my body - and that led me to the fitness industry and strength and conditioning. Having shoulder pain motivated me to learn more about shoulder health. Being a "non-baseball guy" growing up forced me to do a lot more listening than talking with our athletes early-on, as I had to learn their culture.  It also put me in a position to never accept stupid training principles (like distance running for pitchers) simply because they were "tradition" - because crappy training was never a "tradition" that I'd learned. If I'd purposely gotten sick, whacked myself in the shoulder with a sledgehammer, and then read every book on baseball tradition that I could, do you think I'd be where I am today?  If you answered "yes," put down the glue you're sniffing and start reading this again from the top.

Every business consultant in the fitness industry raves about how important it is nowadays to get a niche.  Train middle-aged female fat loss clients only.  Or, maybe it's 9-12 year-old kids.  My buddy Eric Chessen even works exclusively with fitness for kids in the autism spectrum. I agree completely with these consultants' advice - but your appropriate niche won't magically appear unless you experience a lot of different settings and find the right fit for you, then follow up on it by educating yourself as much as possible by reading/watching everything you can, expanding your network of colleagues, and finding solutions to problems others haven't been able to solve. If you are going to do something exclusively, you better be: a) passionate about it b) good at it c) sure that it alone can financially support you d) excited about the possibility of becoming an expert and contributing to the existing body of knowledge in that realm e) willing to potentially pass up on opportunities in other realms To be very candid, I just don't think that having specific 5- and 10-year plans is necessarily a good idea.  Sure, it's okay if we are talking about financial planning, marriage, etc. - but when it comes to professional goals, there are just too many factors that can change things on a dime and turn you in a new direction.  I love what I do now, but couldn't tell you for the life of me where I'll be in 5-10 years - and I happen to think that I have a pretty good grasp on where I'm going, as compared to the rest of the fitness industry.  If I was just leaving college today, I'd definitely be taking it one day at a time! How about you?  What's your niche - and how did you discover and develop it? Related Posts Want to be a Personal Trainer or Strength Coach?  Start Here. 7 Steps for Attacking Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry How Do You Find Time for Everything?
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Random Monday: Ice Baths for Recovery, Throwing Like a Girl, and Cute Puppies

It's been a while since I did a random thoughts blog; actually, it was October 6 - which is also known as the "Pre-Puppy Era" in the Cressey household.  As such, we have a lot to get to, so let's not waste any time. 1. It's been interesting to watch the Giants - a team without a true superstar (aside from Lincecum, who's only thrown one game) - take control of the World Series.  However, the most interesting part of the World Series for me was when former president George W. Bush came out and threw an absolutely effortless SEED to Nolan Ryan for the first pitch of Game 4.

It was a nice change of pace from what we often see with ceremonial first pitch appearances, as I wrote about previous in Why President Obama Throws Like a Girl.  You almost have to wonder if him busting out the cheddar during election week was a calculated attempt to win some Republican votes! Also, please refrain from political fighting in the comments section, kids; this is a bipartisan blog.  I will, however, encourage everyone to please get out and vote tomorrow, regardless of your candidates of choice. 2. I am still waiting for someone to convince me that cold water immersion post-training does anything for athletes other than cause serious shrinkage and irritate them.  It seems like it becomes more and more of "the rage" with each passing day, but I still haven't seen anything in the scientific literature supporting the efficacy of ice baths for recovery.  This piece came out just recently: Post exercise ice water immersion: Is it a form of active recovery?

We do not advocate cold water immersion for our athletes right now because I feel that there isn't any evidence to suggest that it has any favorable effects, and for such an annoying experience, you need to be getting considerable benefit in order to be using it regularly.  Moreover, I have seen a TON of pitchers who absolutely despise icing their arms after throwing outings, saying that it interferes with their arm bouncing back and gives them stiffness and difficulty warming up in the subsequent throwing outing.  There is going to need to be some definitive evidence supporting cold water immersion before I even consider experimenting with it in any of our athletes. That said, what has your experience been with cold water immersion and ice baths for recovery?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section. 3. Agents paying college football players to sign with them is a very corrupt and unacceptable practice, but the most scary part of this article for me is that three of the 23 players in question were DEAD before they hit 30.  Does anyone else find that a 13% mortality rate among this guy's potential clients kind of odd?  My guess would be that they weren't the most ethical guys in question and probably were involved in some sketchy stuff on the side, but it is still pretty wild that the author of this article just tosses it in there as a quick closing sentence like it's nothing worthy of consideration. 4. We are kicking on all cylinders with our professional baseball training crew.  As of right now, we have 44 guys from all over the country committed to getting after it this winter.  It's shaping up to be a fun time and great atmosphere - especially when you factor in our high school and college baseball guys. 5. Speaking of Cressey Performance, we've got Nick Tumminello coming in this morning to do an in-service for our staff.  Nick's a smart dude who teaches all over the world (he's headed to China right after us), and we're really lucky to have him.  In this dynamic industry, if you aren't getting better, you're falling behind - so be sure to seek out opportunities to watch industry leaders present whenever you can.  For more information on Nick, check out www.NickTumminello.com.  Here's a little taste of some of Nick's stuff:

6. Last, but not least, cute puppy pictures.

Asleep in my slipper:

Asleep in my wife's gym bag:

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Farmer’s Walk Tips

Today's guest blog comes from Jedd Johnson of DieselCrew.com.  Here are seven tips for successful and safe farmer's walk training: Farmers Walk Tips 1.  Equipment Set-up: When you add plates, make sure they are tight.  Loose plates shift around and can throw your technique off.  Tighten them with collars, Pony Clamps, Wrist Wraps, or something else that will keep them tight. 2.  Stance: Make sure you take not of how you set up your feet.  Have the handles right by the legs and place the feet equidistant from the handles.  Stand near the center of the handle, or maybe even slightly forward of center, whichever feels best for you. 3.  Grip Position: Depending on how you pull and how strong your grip is, you will either want to grip the handles right in the center or shifted slightly back.  It is better to have the handles leaning down in front than down in back.  Slightly down in front shifts the emphasis to the first two fingers.  Down in back shifts it to the last two (and weakest two) fingers.

4.  Chalk: Chalk up well.  Chalk the inside of your palm and fingers as well as the thumb and the back of the fingers. 5.  Thumb: Wrap your thumb up over your index finger, middle finger, or both, depending on what is comfortable.  This contact will secure your grip and it is also why you want to chalk on the back of your fingers.  If they are wet, your thumb will slip and that is no good. 6.  Heels and Glutes: Push the heels into the ground when you pull the handles up, just like you would a narrow stance deadlift.   When you near lockout, fire the glutes instead of the lower back.  You'll last longer this way and be able to do more sets. 7.  Short Choppy Steps: Take short, choppy steps when walking, especially the first few.  This allows you to conserve energy and stay balanced during your stride.  Once you pick up momentum, you can take longer strides, but it is almost always easier to maintain control with short choppy steps. Farmer's Walks are great for building Grip Strength, and that is something that is important for all sports, as well as many other lifts in the gym. Interested in learning more about Jedd's unique grip training ideas?  Check out his new e-book, Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball.

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Bodyblades for Baseball Pitchers?

Q: What do you think of Bodyblades and how - if at all- should they be incorporated into a pitcher's routine? A: As many of you know, I'm a fan of integrating rhythmic stabilization drills that train the true function of the rotator cuff: maintaining the humeral head in the glenoid fossa.  I wrote about it in some depth HERE, and Mike Reinold and I spent quite a bit of time on it in our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.

Of course, if you compare the perturbations to stability that the Bodyblade provides, it appears to simulate some of what you'd get with a rhythmic stabilization drill.  So, it's probably a good alternative to a pitcher who doesn't have a training partner, therapist, or coach who can provide those destabilizing torques.  Shirts, apparently, are optional.

bodyblade

That said, to me, using a Bodyblade is a more closed-loop (predictable) drill, whereas manual rhythmic stabilizations are more open-loop (unpredictable).  So, it goes without saying that the benefits of "surprise" stabilization probably extend a lot further - and they don't cost a penny.  Moreover, I've heard claims about the Bodyblade being an effective way to build muscle, which (outside an untrained population) just isn't going to happen.  There are also much better ways to train the core.

For more information, check out the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.

shoulder-performance-dvdcover

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