Strength and Speed- Chris Adams

Strength and Speed

When people think of speed and speed training they think that either you have speed or not. Yes, some people are naturally faster at a younger age than others but that doesn’t mean that they will always be fast. Usually the younger athletes who are quicker are the ones who are smaller in size and are able to move their bodies quickly and more efficiently. What most people don’t realize is that you can train an athlete in the weight room to help get them stronger which in return will help make them get faster.
Strength and speed go hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other. Strength is the foundation of all movement so, the more strength you have, the more force you can apply in the ground, the faster you can become. When an athlete first comes in and says I want to get faster the first thing we do is put them through a foundation of strength lifting phase. They have to have that foundation of strength first in order to become a faster athlete. Strength will help them be able to get into positions of acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction quickly and efficiently and able to maintain these positions for a period of time.

Once the athlete has a foundation of strength they will continue to progress in the lifting phases as well as begin to understand the mechanics of speed training. Acceleration, top end speed and declaration all have different mechanics and they need to know how each is different from the other. We will get into the different mechanics of each in a later post. Once the athlete builds their strength they are now able to learn how to apply this in speed training. The force application is just as important as the basis of strength to begin with. If you are not able to apply the force in the correct direction then you won’t be going in the right direction, literally.

After learning the correct mechanics of speed will now help allow the athlete to apply the force in the correct direction to maximize the speed potential. Not having enough relative strength, strength in relation to the athletes weight, will decrease acceleration by not able to maintain the correct acceleration position of the body and will therefore decrease the athletes speed. So before you get into the specifics of speed training it is important for the athlete to build that foundation of strength first then teach them how to apply the strength they gained to help improve their speed.

Chris Adams

Importance of Foundational Strength- DJ Edwards

Strength is the foundation of all movement. We have seen too many programs, schools or facilities just load up the bar and have the athlete figure it out on their own. Gray Cook said “Don’t add strength to dysfunction”. I love this quote and take it very serious when we begin to work with an athlete. Examining this quote makes me realize how important a foundation really is to an athlete. We really focus on the fact that strength creates stability, lack of strength creates instability and instability leads to injury.

When an athlete first walks into our facility he or she will undergo a thorough evaluation. We not only assess the way they move from head to toe, what their strong points are or where they have deficiencies, we also ask questions like; “What is your injury history?” “Where have you trained before and what have you done as far as weight lifting?” The latter question is important to discover what is called a “training age”. A training age is described as, how long the athlete has been training. We make sure to explain to them this is not sport specific but in a structured weight lifting program. This will assist us in building a program that fits the athlete’s needs.

No matter the training age we always begin with building foundational strength. If the athlete has never trained in our facility, is coming off a season or an injury we always work on building or rebuilding foundational strength. In early training age individuals, it is very easy to build strength just in a three day a week program due to the adaptions the body will make. The biggest point that coaches stress to our athletes in the foundational phase is to not allow the athlete to get greedy with the weights. Focus on progressive over load and continue to let the movement be efficient. Stress that joint placement dictates muscle function in a movement or sprinting mechanic.

Building foundational strength can be achieved through body weight movements, this will create body awareness. Introduce your primary lifts and teach the hell out of them. Any athlete should know how to squat, hinge, push, pull, accelerate and decelerate. Examples of these can consist of bridges, planks, TRX Row Holds at the Top, Isometric Squats, Isometric Push Ups, PVC Pipe hinging, and core movements. The majority of the core movements we implement consist of anti-flexion, anti-extension and anti-rotation. These movements are determined by the athletes training age,needs and posture. We will progress towards loaded bilateral and unilateral movements. More complex movements may consist of front squats, RDL, Trap Bar Deadlift, Chin Ups, Goblet Lunges, etc.

Once the foundation is built you will see the strength and athleticism of the athlete increases. Strength will decrease chance of injury as well as keep the athlete on the field. Remember to always assess and reassess and address what the athlete is lacking and keep training age in mind. There is no perfect program but the athlete will respond quickly if a program is set into place properly.

DJ Edwards

Are You Coachable?

What does it mean to be coachable? Below will be a list of some key points on how to be a more coachable player. A wise coach once told me, “you have two jobs as a coach, to make your guys better players and better men.”-Sean Hoorelbeke

First steps to being more coachable, look and listen. As a coach, endless time and energy is put into making young players better. Some players get to a point in their career where they think they know more than their teachers. I know I was guilty of thinking the very same thing about some coaches, but hindsight is 20/20. As a young player, you may have talent, ability, a climbing IQ, but you lack WISDOM. Wisdom by definition means the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement. Experience can only happen through trial and error, and knowledge can only be passed on from someone or something that has already happened. As a player, you do yourself a disservice when you don’t take in all the information that is given to you. In no way am I saying take everything you hear word for word and expect it to work for you like it has worked for someone else, even though it potentially could.. A smart player takes ALL information that is given to them and is able to take bits and pieces and apply it in their own life a positive way. With that being said some coaches may not be current with the latest and greatest things, but that does not mean they don’t have some wisdom or knowledge to pass on to you. As a player or a coach, you should always be looking for a way to improve at your craft. If you are constantly waving people off that are only trying to help you because you think you know more, how are you getting better? You certainly are not the first to play the game and you certainly are going to be the last.

– Eye Contact
– Listen
– Handle Criticism
– Be Appreciative
– Be Attentive
– Positive Body Language
– Asking Questions
– Feedback
– Positive Leader
– Collaborate

-Coach Pav

Blog-Approaching the Shoulder Part Two

shoulder joint

Written 4/19/2016 by: DJ Edwards

To follow Dr. Nick’s post from last week, we will be touching on a few different topics I see on the performance training side. This is how we begin our approach to all our athletes that come into the facility. Whether it’s a shoulder issue they come to us about or a brand new athlete to our facility that needs their initial assessment done. It is our outline on how we begin to build an athletes program. We may lose you here, this is pretty in-depth stuff.

Most athletes have abnormal motion, our job is to teach them how to control it. Structure dictates function, function dictates whether there is dysfunction. We need to get the athlete to start in proper alignment. The shoulder internally rotates the humerus between 7000-8000 degrees per second. Throwing a baseball is the most violent motion in all of sports. MRI’s reveal that more than 80% of shoulders in baseball players have tears in the labrum or fraying in the UCL. The difference is how many of those are symptomatic? Studies have shown about 30% of the shoulders had symptoms. To help keep the athletes asymptomatic or “healthy”, we like to start by looking at the resting posture and active assessments.

We like to look for adducted posture (scaps are pulled together) puts the elbows behind the shoulder and drives the humeral head forward. If we see this, it can mean we need to look at rhomboids being over active because the rhomboids are a scapular downward rotator. This can determine where the humeral head goes. We usually use a wall slide variation to fix this. Most baseball players over forward rolled shoulders. If the athlete is in extension (anterior pelvic tilt) the head of the humerus can be driven forward in the GH Joint and the lat is pulling down the scap. The lat’s fascia connects to the pelvis, as you can see all the muscles are effected by each other.

Extension posture is seen very often in the baseball population. A few things we look at in our screens that may cause this type of posture are; breathing patterns, resting posture, anterior core stability and control, over head flexion, thoracic mobility, scapulohumeral rhythm, hip mobility, how much internal/external rotation of the hip/shoulder the athlete has, knee stability and ankle mobility.

When we look at internal rotation of the shoulder we look at both active IR and ER. The lat being an internal rotator to the humerus, (Dr. Nick Thurlow will talk about this later) we see an over work of the lat when it comes to strength and conditioning programs dealing with baseball players. When the lat is over worked it can cause scapular depression, the anterior shoulder capsule to drive forward and drive some one into gross extension. The lat being the dominate muscle that it is can deviate the glenohumeral joint and cause scapular dyskinesia also known as a SICK Scap.

Lat tightness and glenohuemral instability all go together. Shoulder instability implies a certain symptom is present. Acquired external rotation drives more anterior instability of the glenohumeral joint. Working with a baseball population where we see guys with the ability to externally rotate more than the normal population, we never want to stretch the shoulder into external rotation. This will increase the instability and irritate the biceps tendon which can pick up the stability role when instability is present. When you have anterior shoulder issues there more than likely is something else going on. (nick talk about this)

First we need to know what a healthy shoulder is before we can discuss a SICK scap. There are three primary motions that take place at acromioclavicular joint. They are internal/external rotation, anterior/posterior tilting and upward/downward rotation. All of the motions take place on the scapular plane. If you train in our program you will hear the coaches say work in the scapular plane, what we mean by that is we want the humerus 15 degrees in front of the frontal plane. Scapular upward rotation occurs when the arm abducts more than 30 degrees and at the acromioclavicular joint perpendicular to the scapular plane. The glenohumeral joint is surrounded by a very loose capsule that tightens when the humerus is abducted. There are three ligaments in the glenohuneral joint. Those being superior (anterior and inferior joint stability), middle (anterior joint stability) and inferior (anterior joint stability). As you can tell these ligaments along with the rotator cuff provide dynamic reinforcement. The most common dislocation of the glenohumeral joint is anteriorly. The labrum adds support to the humerus sitting in the glenoid fossas well as The rotor cuff. This is why we get the athlete into throwing positions instead of static positions to test for faulty patterns.

As soon as the gelnohumeral joint begins to abduct the capsule tightens and increases joint stabilization. The deltoid is the prime mover along with the supraspinatus for abduction of the shoulder. The anterior deltoid is the prime mover for flexion. Scapular humeral rhythm is what happens when the shoulder moves over head and how the scapula upwardly rotates and how congruent with the humerus. What we are looking for is 55 degrees of upward rotation of the medial border of the scap. This is why we use wall slides, yoga push ups and some soft tissue work to round out the upper back.

So why do we see impingements? Impingements prevent full range of motion. It is likely the humerus will glide superiorly into the subacromial space. The more the abduction of the arm the the greater the impingement. The subacromial impingement will be seen early in abduction as the AC joint will be more at the top end of abduction. There may be bone spurs present, scapula and GH may be unstable, lack of t-spine mobility, increased IR, and as everyone knows the hot topic of breathing patterns.

I Hope this was not to geeky for you, hope you read all the way through this lengthy post. We will explain more next time on how to prevent humeral gliding and increasing posterior cuff strength from a training stand point.

If you would like more in depth material or have any questions please feel free to contact us at dj@pushperformanceco.com

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions While Working with Baseball Players. Part 1 featuring @NickThurlow_DPT

This is part-one of a four-part series where we will discuss common mistakes and misconceptions while working with baseball players. Today we brought in Dr. Nick Thurlow of One80 Physical Therapy. One80 PT is our in house physical therapy at our facility.

Approaching Shoulder Injuries in Baseball Part One: Guest Blog Dr. Nick Thurlow

With baseball season underway pitchers and position players alike are likely beginning to experience the rigors of high school baseball and the demands it places on their arms. These demands can lead to a myriad of shoulder issues, including impingement, bicep tendonitis, scapular dyskinesia, labral pathologies, and instability, just to name a few. Oftentimes, this brings the athlete to a physical therapist, chiropractor, trainer, etc. where a generic range of motion assessment combined with orthopedic special tests may recreate their symptoms. The provider then attempts to resolve these symptoms by addressing just that, the symptoms. Pain (ice, e-stim, ultrasound), tightness (Dry needling, stretching, foam rolling, massage), weakness (internal/external rotation exercises, scapular strengthening) are addressed in an attempt to make the athlete feel better and perform their best. However, as the athlete returns to sport they oftentimes struggle throughout the season with their symptoms. Coaches, parents, providers might chalk it up to too much playing time, not enough treatment, or improper offseason preparation.

The Problem: Feeling better DOES NOT equal moving correctly.

The Solution: Identify the Root Cause.

In order to identify the root cause of a shoulder injury (or any injury), we use a functional movement assessment tailored specifically to baseball players so that we can identify neuromuscular inhibition (we’ll talk about this later). Rather than using active and/or passive range of motion, a functional movement assessment will reveal movement dysfunctions throughout the athlete’s entire kinetic matrix. Possibilities include (but are certainly not limited to) squat asymmetries, decreased single leg stability, decreased thoracic and/or lumbar mobility, or ultimately dysfunctional arm patterns. Regardless, it is our responsibility to identify and correct these dysfunctions so that the entire body can work together as a matrix in order to throw a baseball and decrease the likelihood for shoulder problems. It is NOT our responsibility to make the athlete simply feel better. Athletes can feel better with rest, athletes can feel better with modalities, and athletes can feel better with manual therapy. But if we can make that athlete move correctly, not only will they feel better, they will perform optimally.

But why was the athlete moving wrong in the first place: neuromuscular inhibition. It is the primary ingredient in the recipe for injury and put simply, neuromuscular inhibition is the muscle’s inability to contract properly due to a lack of proper nerve stimulation (think lightbulb in a lamp flickering because it’s not plugged in right). If the muscle(s) cannot contract properly, the athlete will not move correctly, resulting in their shoulder symptoms. So if we identify the movement dysfunction and work to eliminate the neuromuscular inhibition causing it through our patented manual therapy technique, the athlete will feel better, but most importantly, move correctly.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at (720) 502-7023 or by visiting our website www.One80PT.com.

Dr. Nick Thurlow, PT, DPT

In this four-part series we will be going through the most common shoulder injuries in baseball players and discussing their root cause. With this we will identify the portions of the functional movement assessment that are often dysfunctional in addition to the muscles most commonly inhibited. Furthermore, we will discuss the approach and common techniques in which most providers go wrong by making the athlete simply feel better. Next week we will discuss Lat tightness, Glenohumeral instability and scapular dyskinesia.
DJ Edwards

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BILATERAL SQUATS FOR OUR ATHLETES

Learning and working with 100’s of athletes we decided to take bilateral squats out of our program. This may piss people off in the fitness, power lifting and body building worlds but we have our reasons. First I learned about the bilateral deficit and applied it and it worked. Second we had to ask our selves how strong is strong enough and at what point do we want to focus on the physical demands of the athlete’s sport? A weight room record board is rarely populated with starters from the team. The job of the athlete is their sport, not the weight room so we work on the way the athlete applies their force through angles and joint positioning. I want our guys to be very good at acceleration and deceleration through creating positive angles. Though I strongly believe strength is the foundation of all movements, there are better ways to build that strength than with the back squat. Every human more than likely learned to roll and crawl before they walked. They also carried things before they started putting things on their backs. So why would we want to load dysfunction?

Our process is the athlete will always start from the floor up and go from proximal to distal. After the athletes do their floor movements we add depth drops, lateral hops, and stomps before jumps so the athlete can get the feel of the force produced in to the floor (GRF). After we teach drops we use jumps, we can teach vertical force through jumps as in box jumps and we do add DB drops on the eccentric phase to supply more force into the ground. The biggest backlash I have heard is that we can not supply vertical force with out box squats. There are many many different ways to produce vertical force than squats.

After the drops and jumps we have them split squat, rear foot elevated split squat, and increasingly add heavier loads because an athlete rarely if ever plays on two stable feet. Just a few movements we do are sled pushes and marches. This teaches the athlete horizontal force production (sprinting) which is used on the field of play. We also add lateral sled drags in to increase lateral force production to assist in changing of directions.

We do how ever obviously do bilateral movements. Our main core lift is the trap bar deadlift. We introduce this when the athlete has anterior core control as well as pelvis alignment. The goblet squat is another bilateral movement we use in many forms. We do different forms of goblet squat such as isometric holds or single arm kettle bell squats. Both challenging the anterior core. The core is the root of the body and its main job is to protect the spine.

I hope this can stir up some thoughts in your programs as well as some good conversation. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at dj@pushperformanceco.com

Blog- Do You Lift In-Season?

During the off season the foundation of strength that was built will be transferred to power, lateral movements and sprints. Strength is the foundation of all movement. The main goal in Phase Four which is our in season phase is to keep the athlete strong and healthy while understanding that baseball is priority. We do not want to be in the mind set of “maintenance” mode but want to continually get each athlete stronger. We do decrease the amount of lower body movements and focus a lot more on arm health and anterior core work. In this phase to volume as well as load are decreased. We usually do one or two heavier lifts a week, one lighter lift a week and a regeneration day week. With Higher sets and lower reps we are able to still gain strength and develop. Obviously the lifts differ from our pitchers who are starters and relievers as well as our starting position players and our non-starters. We can map out the starters lifts knowing when they throw and play but the relievers and non-starters need to be ready to play at any time. Out lifts only last around 45 minutes in season. The guys will spend about 15 minutes on moblites and regeneration then jump into around a 30-minute session. Some days may vary if they have a scheduled arm care day or if a pitcher threw the day before. The biggest thing we address is shoulder stability and arm health. As we know every time you throw a baseball the capsule of the shoulder becomes less stable and increases humeral gliding anterior or superior. Another factor we see is the loss of scapular upward rotation through the course of the season. This is where our wall slide variations and thoracic mobility comes into play during the in season program. What ever stuff we add to a program we need to take out as much. We do not want to build too much stress. This goes along with decreasing volume.

The thing that gets me is guys that have the old school mind set to shut down lifts in season. I have had kids tell me that coaches told them not to lift in season because they don’t want them to get tired. The reason we train all year is for the season. The season is the time where you need to be your strongest. Lifting will decrease breakdown and injury with the correct program. Lifting in season will also assist in getting the athlete out of every day repetitive movement of rotational work in baseball. So with that we may add med ball or other rotational work for a right handed athlete to mimic a left handed athlete.
Then on the other hand we have the guys that get the process and buy in. These are more than likely our elite level guys that understand how it works. They come in and do their arm care program, motilities, stabilities and strength lifts.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at dj@pushperformanceco.com . We hope to continue to spread the word on how important an in-season strength program is to an individuals success at all levels.

Conditioning for Baseball

How many times have you seen coaches tell his team to go for a run and have him sit back in the dugout and not know why he is having his athlete’s go on a mile run or why they are running those poles? Coaches need to step back and ask themselves, when in the sport of baseball is the athlete doing a long, slow distance run in games? More than likely the coach believes they are flushing the lactic acid or building aerobic capacity. It has not been proven that baseball builds any kind of lactic acid in recent research therefor it is an alactic sport. Though if you train the right energy system they will turn lactate to energy. All the poles and milage the guys are running will do more harm than good by building an excess of lactic acid in the body. When the body doesn’t know how to clear the lacate in the body, it begins to build up and a toxic environment is created within the body. Once the body reaches this state, the pH levels begin to drop and the muscles are now compromised. Then you have another coach that may say he wants to build mental toughness through long distance running. I believe there are many different ways to build mental toughness other than running. I firmly believe that a coach needs to understand the demands of baseball on the body. Coaches need to know biomechanics of the swing, arm motions and especially energy demands of the sport. Baseball is a special breed of guys and those guys are extremly underserved.
For the sport of baseball we want to get away from the traditional idea of conditioning involving long distance and running poles. We have many reasons why we use more sprints or anaerobic types of conditioning. Baseball stresses the anaerobic system, it is a short powerful movement and running poles will not help with the power output due to the fact that the hitter would be training the aerobic system. Aerobic capacity still can be built however through different types of anaerobic movements such as tempo runs. We do not want to train an athlete as a marathon runner and a baseball player. They need to stick to their sport and let the hitter be a hitter. Hitters and Pitchers are repetitive athletes in the way they throw and hit. Adding a run where they repeat their running motion as well for an extended period of time is not necessary. Since baseball builds so many asymetries we use change directions in sprints and short powerful anaerobic movements instead. Another reason to stay away from long distance work is the lack of range of motion created by the long distance jog. During the jog the athletes hip will more than likely not go past 30 degrees of flexion. Therefore, the hips will be tighter because the hip joint will not get into ideal flexion at the hip as much as it does in sprints.
There are two different kinds of running mechanics, acceleration and top end speed. In short acceleration is short distance, powerful and is mainly stressed anaerobically. Top end speed is after acceleration has ended and maintaining speed is of importance. Baseball being a quick and powerful sport, acceleration is the main type of running seen. So why wouldn’t we want to develop the kind of running if they are both stressed by the same energy system? Running poles is neither short distance, powerful, or stressed by the same energy system. While performing sprints and other shorter distance runs, the athlete will be able to develop power. When the athlete runs long distance they will have a hard time maintaining their strength and body weight as well. Running long distances doesn’t require the athlete to produce as much force into the ground compared to that of sprints. Athletes become faster by using their strength in the lower body and anterior core to produce force in the ground and Ground Reactive Forces (GRF) propel the athlete in the direction the force is produced into the ground. Since running poles and/or long distances don’t require much force in the ground the strength is not being used and if its not being used then it becomes lost. Sprints require the athlete to express force in the ground rapidly and quickly. This now requires the muscululature of the lower body and anterior core to now fire and fire quickly.
With this the are many other ways to condition a baseball player more effectively other than long aerobic work. Coaches need to take the time and realize at times they are doing more harm than good to the athlete.