Within the last few weeks the fitness world saw a lot of change, and it all started thanks to some insensitive, tone deaf, and hurtful comments regarding the murder of George Floyd from the founder, owner, and CEO of CrossFit Inc, Greg Glassman. Within the last week more news regarding his behavior, specifically accusations of sexual misconduct and creating an uncomfortable work environment at CrossFit Inc, have begun to surface. Because of all of this news thousands of CrossFit affiliates around the world made the choice to drop their CrossFit affiliation, and try to make their own way in the fitness world. WIthout the ability to use “CrossFit” in the name of the gym, all of these facilities have been looking to replace that word with some they feel suits the gym they are running. A lot have adopted the name “Community Fitness”, others just “Fitness”, but some have turned away from that side of things just a bit and gone with “Strength and Conditioning” or just “Strength”. The name on a building is likely going to play a big part in getting customers in the doors, but there is a big potential difference between an established Strength gym, and a recent CrossFit affiliate searching for a new name.
In almost all cases all of these former CrossFit affiliates are not changing their gym programming, and keeping things the same is a big selling point for many of the members. Most owners are reassuring clients something like this, “Just because the name on our building is changing, doesn’t mean you should expect anything different from our programming.” This is obviously a great reassurance for current members, but for those former affiliates that have gone from “CrossFit Blank” to “Blank Strength and Conditioning”, they are also making a promise to potential new members that they may not be ready to follow through on.
CrossFit gyms all program very similarly, and yes, there is an element of strength to the programming. You’re likely to see most CrossFit gyms program in days where they Back Squat or Deadlift heavy, or they go for a 1RM Clean & Jerk, but that is not the sole purpose of the program. CrossFit outlines 10 components of fitness (cardio/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy), and the majority of daily programming culminates with a high intensity interval style workout. A lot of gyms don’t program a specific strength cycle, but rather, more randomized (constantly varied) movements because the goal of CrossFit is to be ready for the unknown and unknowable. Another thing to mention is that a person who programs for a CrossFit gym is not likely to have more than just a CrossFit Level 1 certification (a weekend cert, which does not require any knowledge of strength cycles, and only very basic knowledge of energy systems). Contrast that with a Strength gym run by a lead trainer with years of education, and certifications to back up the programming approach.
The whole approach from these former affiliates is in many ways the antithesis of a true “Strength” gym. One is meant to be constantly varied without a specifically planned long term goal, and to help improve strength to some degree, but also seeks to improve athletes in many other areas. The other (the Strength gym) is likely to have a highly knowledgeable staff, with goal oriented specific plans for clients, and will use data and understanding to achieve a specific outcome, not just constantly varied exercise.
How could I possibly know this all to be true? My name is Daniel Muto, I am the current owner of Pisgah Fitness (formerly CrossFit Pisgah) located in Asheville, NC. I have worked as a CrossFit coach for over 5 years, and have owned, operated, and programmed for the gym for nearly 3 years. Prior to my CrossFit coaching days I worked as a personal trainer for 2 years at a number of gyms, just trying to understand the craft. As a former affiliate owner myself, I know many other affiliate owners, there are some that take time to learn and grow and understand their clients, and there are others who write workouts to try to make people tired, and that’s it. I was not satisfied with just a weekend certification, and took it upon myself to read, learn and grow as a trainer and programmer. I tried my hand in multiple disciplines from bodybuilding, to weightlifting, to powerlifting, to assist with that learning and truly understand each client. My reason for writing all of this is to help everyone make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a “strength” gym, understand the background, the coaching, the programming, and the abilities that gyms have.
In this new age of strength and conditioning gyms, not all are created equal.
Owner of Pisgah Fitness
Crossfit Level 1
Orthopedic rehabilitation takes place after an injury, surgery, or any disruption in the musculoskeletal system. Sometimes, rehabilitation can be used to prevent or postpone surgery. Physical therapists, occupational therapists and orthopedists use various techniques to restore function to affected limbs, movement patterns, and daily life activities. These techniques may include stretching/strengthening/stabilization exercises, manual therapy, heat/cold therapy, electrical stimulation, kinesiology taping and dry needling just to name a few.
For the athlete, at any performance level, this may take weeks and sometimes months out of your training or competition schedule.
Sports medicine physicians and training professionals are making themselves more familiar with the concept of PREhabilitation for the young athlete.
Prehabilitation is a preventative measure, not a performance boosting tool. It is a system of education, training, and evaluations to prevent injury in the young athlete. However, the athlete will see faster, more consistent improvement in their performance because of a decrease in recovery time and injuries.
We, as sports professionals, are making it our responsibility to prevent non-contact injuries due to poor training habits and poor biomechanical movement patterns and imbalances in muscular development
Your Trainer’s Role
Trainers function to guide young athletes and improve their performance through training and education. It is the trainer’s responsibility to demand proper movement patterns, safe training habits, proper nutrition, and consistent recovery practices.
A successful prehab system includes:
Recovery and Tissue Health
Trainers and health professionals need to work together to maintain the muscular tissue health of all athletes.
Physical therapists and massage therapists work to improve muscular length, decrease recovery time, improve circulation, decrease the occurrence and severity of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), reduce the accumulation of scar tissue, and eliminate trigger points in the muscle tissue.
What Does It All Mean?
By teaching proper movement patterns and good training habits, we can prevent most non-contact injuries from occurring in the young athlete. We can also track and adjust training based on the individual needs of the athlete.
Bodywork professionals help prevent injuries by maintaining the functional length of muscle fibers and reducing tension and strain on connective tissues as the young athlete grows.
Together, we prepare the athlete’s body for the demand that the sport will put on it. In the event of a contact injury, the tissue is healthier and more capable of responding to the trauma. When the muscle is properly prepared, it can recover faster and with fewer
lasting effects that might hinder the athlete’s performance.
Stacey Meek, USAW
Owner, The Body Shop
Sports Massage Therapist
Thanksgiving is always a wonderful time of year. You get to spend your time with family, watch football and take a brief pause to be happy and understand how fortunate we are in the things we have and the people around us.
As the gym now passes its two-year birthday I wanted to again take the time to tell you how much I appreciate all of you. The gym has been a family for me. Each member that walks in the door is a new friend and TSF family member.
I am so lucky that each day I get to go to work with my friends. You guys give me the opportunity to be alongside you to help make fitness and exercise a part of your life.
I also get to work with two coaches that have molded me to be a better leader and business owner. It’s not often you have three people that mold together so well. It is a privilege to work through the everyday problems we face as a gym together as a crew. This aspect of the job is priceless and I thankfully get to work on all those things with Graham and Erin.
I’m so grateful for clients and athletes that are eager to learn and grow. It’s so rewarding to see clients progress through injuries and dysfunctions, correct imbalances, and get to a happier healthier place than they were in when they started with us.
Lately, I’ve been able to watch a lot of our athletes in action playing the games they love and seeing all their hard work and dedication pay off is incredible. I’m thankful for the new individuals and groups that have been so receptive of the direction and coaching we offer them as it is such a pleasure to be a small part of so many peoples journey to achieve their hopes and dreams.
This year I am thankful for the atmosphere that surrounds the feed. We have had a lot of new faces come in and many of these faces are friends and family.
I’m very thankful for all of the members who have felt like this is a place where they can bring ones close to them into the gym with out a second thought. The close-knit atmosphere is a crucial part of what we work so hard to develop and you all have done a great job helping us do so.
Often times when youth athletes are just starting off with us, parents will ask us a series of questions that goes a little something like this:
“My kid so and so is a great athlete and could obviously use a little more strength, but what can you do to make them quicker? They have speed and are fast, but they aren’t always the quickest to the ball/puck/off the line. What do you guys do to work on that? Is that something that we will see them improve in?”
When asked these kinds of questions, there really is no short answer. I mean obviously, yes. Yes, we can and will make them quicker. Does that mean we are going to do nothing but speed, agility, and quickness drills with them? No. Quickness is developed in a plethora of ways across several training adaptations. These parents are exactly right in that there is a major difference in quickness and speed. You can have an athlete that is very fast linearly, but incredibly slow in change of direction situations. The quickness these parents are speaking of is quite simply reaction time. What they are really asking us to do is decrease the amount of time it takes for their kid to see/hear/feel a stimulus and then generate a physical response to that. So much of success in sports is dependent on the ability to read and react more efficiently than your opponent.
So how do you improve this? When it comes down to it, any exercise or drill that creates a quick twitch muscle fiber contraction will give the athlete an opportunity to increase their speed in that contraction. If we ask the athlete to create that reaction in response to some outside variable (sight, sound, touch), then this creates an even more “game-like” exercise that allows the athlete to practice and improve in these situations.
What do these exercises look like?
From the moment your kid begins their dynamic warm up until the moment they begin a post workout foam roll they will be given countless opportunities to train these quick twitch muscle fibers, and no two ways will look the same. This could look like the falling starts, shuffle to sprints, and get-ups that are almost always included in our dynamic warm-up; it could be in the med ball work that we use to wake up the coordination and cognitive function of the athletes; almost all of our plyometric drills include a reactive factor in them; there is also a great many of strength exercises that are intended to be explosive in nature. By requiring the athlete to fire muscles rapidly they will, in turn, be working on “quickness”. It is, however, crucial that the athlete keeps this intent in mind. They should be pushing themselves to “be quick, but not in a hurry” as you’ll hear us say.
Intent begins between the ears and has a heavy impact on the result that is displayed. Several of these methods are fairly clear in how they are directly affecting an athlete’s quickness. However, we often see there is a disconnect with the parents understanding of how increasing strength (and power) will result in increased quickness on the court or field of play. By increasing general strength, the athletes are going to see improvements in certain areas we test such as their vertical and broad jump. Increases in a vertical and broad, directly relate to explosive power in a stride.
For example, increased stride length will directly decrease the time it takes to get from point A to point B. Now if we are able to couple an increased stride length with an increased recoil response time during the change of direction (which is learned through the explosive power exercises) we will see that desired increase in quickness. Increasing the speed of which an athlete can accelerate and decelerate their lever arms will impact any increase in their stride frequency, which is an essential part of the “quickness” equation.
Increase stride length + increase stride frequency = increased linear speed. Increased linear speed + increased reaction (deceleration/acceleration) time = increased quickness.
The last and most overlooked factor in this process is having efficient movement patterns. The most efficient movement patterns are not only the most effective, but the safest as well. Think of a simple vertical jump. It’s not rare to see young athletes with a great deal of knee valgus (caving inward) in their vertical jump. When this presents, if you were to watch them jump in slow motion you would see the knees take a dive in during the loading phase of their jump and then dive back out as they explode up. This is not only incredibly dangerous for their knee ligaments, but inefficient when it comes to the speed and power they are generating off of the ground. Not to mention this is a waste of energy by adding this extra unnecessary movement. By correcting this we are preventing injuries, increasing power, and increasing speed.
Training athletes can either be very complex or very simple. For us coaches, there are many complex ideas and methods that we put into the programming we do with these athletes every day, but for the parents we can break it down fairly simply. By increasing strength, power, and practicing more efficient movement patterns, yes, your kid will get “quicker”.
-Erin Bratcher MS, CES, PES
TSF Head Coach & Manager
The transference of strength can be a controversial subject for a few, and for others it’s a part of their philosophy. Specificity within training means that if you want to get better at running you should run more, which is absolutely true when you are preparing for a competition. This is where the American Weightlifters have that method down. But the American Weightlifters are diehard specificity followers and fail to take advantage of many other types, methods and means of strength training. This may be because, someone, somewhere hinted that training other than the high bar back squat and front squat wouldn’t transfer to Weightlifting.
This idea caught an enormous amount of momentum and those who heard this took off and ran with it. Let’s use the squat as an example, we all know that squatting is hip dominant so let's take a look at 3 common squat variances. The front squat exactly resembles standing up a clean which the knee is more flexed than the hip meaning the quadriceps are more engaged than in a low bar back squat.
Next the high bar back squat is just slightly more hip dominant than the front squat having more of the load to the posterior chain in the hamstrings and the glutes. Finally the low bar back squat is almost completely hip dominant meaning the knee angle barley breaks 90 degrees putting almost all stress on the posterior chain with increased use the glutes hams and low back.
All three of these are squats so how could the first two be considered to transfer to Weightlifting while the final low bar back squat not transfer? The low bar back squat allows you to overload the posterior chain stressing more of the glutes and hams and much less on the quads, resulting in a stronger hamstrings, glutes, and low back. Now think of the muscles used in ripping weight off the ground and getting into triple extension….Hamstrings, glutes, low back.
The free body diagram at the top of the article does a great job breaking down the movement arms of all three squats described above. Efficiency is measured in amount of torque being applied to the bar which is calculated by Torque=(mass)(gravity)(distance)(back angle). Even though the front squat replicates the standing up of the clean, the low bar squat is optimal for strength due to the fact you can load the most weight on the bar.
More weight=more force applied=increased neurological benefit and higher tensile strength within the muscle fibers.
As coaches, we have a tool box from which we pull from, if we have a small tool box we can’t develop our weightlifters as a whole. In order for our lifters to be well rounded and resilient Weightlifters, they have to be strong as a whole through the vastly different planes of motion, angles and loads to get the most out of training. The majority of the successful American Weightlifters have played sports at a high level and having that huge athletic foundation, they perform better than those without that base.
For example, Wes Kitts played collegiate football and Maddie Rogers was a competitive cheerleader with gymnastics background, and with that they created huge base a motor function and muscular capabilities to pull from. I can promise you a great athlete can be successful in weightlifting, great weightlifters would most likely not make great athletes (or else every heavy weight WL would be playing d line in the NFL). We can't deny the fact that a stronger and faster athlete can lead to more success no matter the discipline they chose.
Stagnation is the enemy when we are strength training and this is the result from a lack of variance of movements and modalities. The best way to prevent adaptation is through variation and using that huge toolbox.
We can't forget about our special single joint exercises that strengthen each joint system. Again this goes back to optimally training. We showed you that the low bar can create the best strength gains as a unit (from increased muscle units). The same theory applies to single joint training. Deadlifts train the lats. This isn’t arguable. But the DB row trains the lats optimally. See what we did there?
I've seen many programs that don't have any single joint exercises in them leading to imbalances and eventually injury. Myself along with most of the Weightlifters I know have some kind of knee pain, shoulder pain, lat and tricep tightness, and hip variability, more than likely resulting from too much specificity of the small derivatives of the clean, jerk and snatch, due to lack of variance and volume. A good morning is one of the best ways to load the posterior chain and is rarely seen in Weightlifting programs, it not only is another variant for hip extension but also core stability.
If we break down the snatch and clean and Jerk the most common breakdown is the upper mid back curling over or a break in the shoulder from the traps, spinal erectors and lats. We can do pause pulls from the top to the bottom of the pull and for as long as we’d like, but the optimal way to train a muscle group is from special specific exercises like bent rows, pull ups, good mornings and reverse hypers, shrugs, and elbow extension. The best way to train is optimally so why not train those muscles optimally? We should have those as staples in our programming.
Again, the best way to train is efficiently, and optimally, in order to get the maximal results from training. This is very important if you have decided to specialize and will be training for one goal over a long period of time. Our main principle that I train my weightlifters to believe in, is that strength in fact does transfer across different training techniques, it is not only efficient but therapeutic for the body and mind. Training differently through cycles helps you target any weaknesses and combats those imbalances.
All this put together can keep an athlete mentally focused for longer, build resilience and eradicate imbalances caused by specific training modalities.
Soreness is somewhat inevitable when it comes to strength and conditioning, however, that doesn't mean there aren't several methods that can aid in reducing stiffness and speed up the recovery process. One of the most common “go-to” methods these days is self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling. We say foam rolling but it doesn't actually have to be on a foam roller, and any ball or device that allows you to “roll” out a muscle would qualify as an SMR tool.
Foam rolling is intended to mimic a massage, in a method where it can be applied on your own. With a similar effect (on a smaller scale) as voodoo flossing, the pressure from the foam-rolling device will displace fluids momentarily and as the pressure is removed, fresh fluids and nutrients rush back. Skeletal muscle tissue contains Golgi tendon organs (GTO), which are neural receptors that have the ability to decrease muscle spindle activity when pressure is applied to the trigger point. This is good, and we want this, because this means the muscle fibers are then able to stretch, unknot, and realign.
When muscles are tight they physically shorten. To exercise with a shortened muscle puts you at great risk of a compensatory injury as your body is forced to then lengthen or stretch the opposing muscle in order to function and this creates muscles imbalances. SMR will reduce the chances of your body entering the Cumulative Injury Cycle in which these dysfunctions ultimately lead to altered neuromuscular control and serious muscular imbalances.
There are also several huge benefits that are proven by numerous studies, as foam rolling has been a hot topic for the past 15 years. Here is short list:
How to properly execute SMR
Ironically, as much as we just discussed the “rolling” process, to get the most out of foam rolling there should actually be more of a pause than a continuous “roll”. The rolling portion is used to find the most tinder area, in which there should be a 30-45 second pause to allow the tension to release. Adding in some mobilization while maintaining this pressure is optimal, but not always possible (ie. Laying a sore hamstring on a roller while flexing/extending the knee or on a sore calf while performing dorsi/plantar flexion). Focus on breathing can also aid to the relaxation of said muscle group. Big deep breaths during soft tissue work can help relax the tense muscle groups allowing the “blunting” of pain receptors.
To truly replicate a massage there should be various movements involving the pressure, so shifting around especially when using a ball, increases the overall effectiveness. Foam rolling is a method to supplement warm up/cool down, not to be the isolated singular means of recovery.
There are many other forms of recovery that all seem to have similar affect. These usually all go by the name of “instrument assisted soft tissue therapy” they include:
Nagging injuries can be a major hinderance to performance in the weight room. The most prevalent injury at the elbow joint is something commonly known as “tennis elbow” and can be incredibly frustrating to deal with. As with everything, the more you know about it the more you can do for yourself were you to find yourself in this situation.
Tennis elbow is essentially a lateral epicondylitis strain along with inflammation. However, this is not an acute inflammatory condition and is more accurately described as a tendinopathy. What’s happening is with constant abnormal loading of the extensor tendons, mainly the extensor carpi radialis brevis, resisted wrist extension becomes painful and the tendon becomes degenerative. In short, this pain is a result of a muscle imbalance and can be treated with a corrective exercise program.
If you ever experience tennis elbow yourself you will notice irritation when picking things up and in your training there will be great difficulty in the rowing exercises that involve a pronated grip. Alternatively, you will likely be able to pick up things or perform rowing exercises with a supinated grip with little to no irritation. Keeping a neutral or supinated grip will be essential during a rehabilitative process.
Treatment for tennis elbow will involve lots of forearm strengthening exercises along with proper recovery techniques to reduce the inflammation of the tendons.
Wrist Extensor exercise:
Cues: Elbow should be resting on a flat surface below the height of your shoulder, palm down, this should be a slow and controlled movement with a light dumbbell or resistance band.
Cues: thumb up, pulling up and back towards your forearm using a light weight or resistance band, slow and controlled movement.
Please reach out to any of the coaches at The Strength Feed if you have any questions about your specific injury.
We all have our own fitness goals and routines. For some it’s strength training, and working toward continually breaking through personal records. For others, it’s running that marathon they’ve been putting off for years. And for others, still, it’s simply being able to play with their kids in the backyard without any pain or fear of injury. No matter your goal, your sport, your lifestyle, it’s all about movement.
So what allows us to move? Well, that boils down to our joints, muscles, fascia and central nervous system. And, depending on training or philosophy, there have been many differing opinions throughout history on which is ‘more important’ in terms of healthcare professionals. So when it comes down to understanding injuries, or determining injury prevention, it has been a case of the ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ debate—did the tight muscle cause the joint mis-alignment, or did the joint restriction cause the muscle imbalance. Lets put this into perspective, though— your nervous system tells your muscles to fire, which pull on your bones and surrounding fascia, which then hinge around your joints and allows your system to move. If all the systems are working so closely together, aren’t they all ‘most important’?
This is where Sports Chiropractic comes into play, and why it’s become such a popular treatment option among athletes and non-athletes alike. Sports Chiropractic provides specialized care that directly interfaces with all areas simultaneously. We are able to work directly with your central nervous system through chiropractic adjustments, balance and release soft tissue restrictions, mobilize fixated joints, and modify muscle firing patterns to optimize biomechanics and performance.
So why is the chiropractic adjustment so important? As we mentioned above,
movement occurs at the joints throughout your body. The joints of your spine, however, are extremely important because they house and protect your spinal cord while also providing a strong support system. This is also where the nerve supply exits from the spinal cord and runs to every other part of your body (muscles, organs, skin, etc). If any of these segments are restricted, or not moving properly, two things can and will occur:
Your brain recognizes the issue and goes into defense mode. It will tighten up the muscles surrounding that area to protect it from further injury or harm. Over time these muscles become imbalanced, fascial adhesions form, and other segments of your body start to take on excessive motion to compensate for the imbalances. Nerve interference occurs.
Picture a water hose that is on full blast. Water continues to flow at a steady pace and will continue to do so until the water is turned off. Now picture that same water hose, but you grab it by the middle and kink the hose. Water stops flowing as much, or stops completely. This same sort of interference occurs within your nervous system, leaving a muscle or organ with a ‘kinked’ nerve supply. The muscle won’t be able to work to its full potential- affecting strength, firing patterns, and biomechanics. The organ won’t be able to work to its full capacity either- causing decreased function within that system and overcompensation by other organ systems.
Until these joint restrictions (aka the cause of the issue— maybe the chicken, but still maybe the egg- regardless a big component of the issue) are addressed your brain and nervous system will not allow that area of the body to fully recover. The same issue occurs in a car or truck that has improper wheel alignment. The tires will wear in an abnormal fashion, and no matter how many tires you replace the same problem will occur until you realign the wheels. This is why you may hear of someone having regular massages that give them temporary relief, but the issue just keeps coming back after a week or two. There is an underlying issue that won’t allow long-term improvement. The key to proper recovery, injury prevention and sports performance is addressing the joints/nervous system first.
Notice how I said address the joints and nervous system first. Not only. Remember we talked about how everything works together (muscles, fascia, joints, etc). Aligning the wheels on your car won’t fix your worn down tires, and replacing your tires won’t fix an alignment issue, right? Well here is where we step away from the wheel alignment analogy a little bit. Addressing your joints and nervous will actually improve some of your muscle imbalances, adhesions, trigger points, etc by turning off the body’s natural defenses, balancing the system, and removing the interference causing the tension in the first place. But what about the remaining issues? Well that’s what makes sports-based chiropractic so great. We have the ability to address the joints, fascia, muscles, and nervous all in one visit. We can work to balance and remove the remaining soft tissue restrictions and imbalances in combination with joint manipulation.
All this work is for nothing if we do everything right in our activity of choice and then in our daily routines do everything wrong. You can load your spine 100% perfectly during a squat and hinge your hips just right during a dead-lift, but then spend 8 hours a day slouched in your chair at work staring at a computer.
That being said, we can’t and don’t try to be the end all be all. In my opinion, if you have a lot of muscle imbalances you should see a massage therapist and a Strength Coach. In fact, I recommend to all my athletic patients that they see a sports massage therapist that can give them targeted care to supplement the chiropractic adjustments. I also refer directly to Strength Coaches, physical therapists, and other holistic healthcare providers to provide patients with the best care possible.
Dr. Clint Sellers, DC, MS, FMT
Owner of Peak Chiropractic and Performance
As we all know, contact sports can be dangerous and put athletes at a risk for injury. Of these potential injuries, an ACL rupture is one of the more severe possibilities an athlete can suffer as they can cause them to be out of the game for quite a while depending on how well the rehabilitation process goes for the individual. However, these are not something we just have to accept as part of the game. Approximately 80% of ACL injuries are non-contact thus can likely be prevented by implementing proper programming.
Injury prevention seems to have a boring connotation and isn’t typically something that athletes get particularly excited about including in their workouts; yet it is critical to increasing the longevity of athletic careers. When qualified coaches run athletes through movement assessments there are various warning signs that may put certain athletes at a higher risk for an ACL injury. The main red flag is an athlete that presents serious knee valgus (or when the knees fall inward). Imbalances in the kinetic chain along with coordination deficits can lead to compensations which, when left uncorrected, often turn into injuries. When these movements are noticed it’s crucial that the athlete begin a corrective exercise program prior to progressing to more complex and explosive movements. In these instances, a personalized corrective plan would be best so that the exercises can be specific towards the compensations seen in that individuals assessment.
Even when there are no serious warning signs presented in the individual assessments, ACL prevention can and should be implemented into workouts for groups of athletes or teams. There are many ways to incorporate these preventative exercises into a standard training plan, as long as coaches have an understanding of the basic aim of an ACL prevention plan. One important aspect to include is core strengthening since having a strong core can assist with balance and body control. Working on stability and mobility of the ankles and stability in knees can help to insure proper landings. Instilling ideal landing techniques is a big injury prevention step, as this can train athletes to have good muscle memory and good proprioception. These habits of keeping the knees, hips, and ankles in line and controlling their center of gravity are key to athletes when focusing on injury prevention.
Plyometrics with proper landing mechanics are proven to decrease incidence of ACL injuries. When implementing plyometric work it’s critical to understand that upon impact, athletes are generating an extremely high amount of force that will be reverberated through their tendons, ligaments, and joints during the landing phase. Being able to control this force is key. Keep in mind when programming for your athletes, that landing isn’t always on two feet and coming straight down. Most sports we train for are played on one leg or foot. Work every plane of motion with one limb and two.
Strengthening the major muscles evenly is also important. One huge mistake we see frequently is neglecting to train the glutes properly, as they are a prime mover that assist in every plane. Lastly, teaching athletes the proper way to cut and react to a stimulus is a big step to keeping them from hurting themselves even when there is no contact involved. Often this is where ACL ruptures occur. Reacting in a game-like speed often creates sloppy movements with less body control which makes proprioception extremely critical. This is where the proprioception preparation in training plays a huge role.
Some of my personally favorite drills for this reaction adaption are cutting drills that proceed various plyometrics. Whether it’s a depth drop, squat jump, or hurdle hops; getting the athlete to focus on landing in a position where they are able to quickly and efficiently redirect their momentum into a sprint or cut really emphasizes good body control. This also trains quick twitch muscle fibers and reaction time, as these drills can be progressed by using various cues from the coach to direct the athletes next move. Whether by sound, touch, or sight; learning to react not only quickly but safely and efficiently can improve sports performance while simultaneously implementing injury prevention techniques.
-Erin Bratcher BS, MS, CPT
List of Articles Used
Cruz, D., Penney, S., Comana, F., Lecovin, G., Rebelle, T., Kristof, E., . . . National Academy of Sports Medicine. (2017, September 18). How to Prevent ACL Injuries and Keep Your Clients on the Court Through Corrective Exercise Programming. Retrieved from http://blog.nasm.org/fitness/how-to-prevent-acl-injuries-and-keep-your-clients-on-the-court-through-corrective-exercise-programming/