Apr 13, 2012

What You Have in Common with Professional Athletes

Decrease the 40 by .25 seconds
Increase the vertical Jump by 7 inches
Add 25 pounds to the bench press or
        5 reps to a 225 lb. bench press
Decrease the Pro Agility by .2 seconds

While those may not be goals you’ve ever aspired to (or even considered)…

You’ve got a lot more in common with
professional athletes than you think!

Professional and amateur athletes often walk through our door looking to maximize performance for their respective sports and reduce their risk of injury to prolong their careers.  While their goals are sound and intentions good, we often find that what they have been doing (or want to do) and what they actually need to do are two very different things. 

We find that time and time again that our professional athletes are masters of hiding their deficiencies through emphasizing their motor genius in other areas.  It takes a trained eye to draw out those movement errors, but they are there in plenty.  Often, their current programs (i.e. Strength Training and Power Training) or desires are leading down a path that is taking them directly away from where they want to go.  Instead of improving performance for the long term and prolonging their careers,

they are literally running or training
themselves into weaker, injured bodies!

Ultimately we have to backpedal a bit and address foundational training concepts and needs as either their foundations have never been formed or have simply been lost following excessive sport specific training methodology. 

Here’s a list of what our Professional athletes often have injuries related to…
*Asymmetries in strength or movement patterns
*Deficiencies with Ankle mobility or flexibility
*Weak or unstable feet
*Weak Hips (glute medius) and Posterior Chain (hamstring and glute maximus)
*Deficiencies in Hip mobility
*Unstable Spines
*Deficiencies in Thoracic (upper back) and Cervical (neck) Spine mobility
*Deficiencies in Scapular and Shoulder Mobility and Stability
*Chronic overuse injuries

…So how does that relate to you?  Guess what injuries our Fitness and Post Rehab clientele have…yep…exactly the same list.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversation with our Physical Therapists and we lament how we could literally make a video of the information and education we give our clients related to injury and corrective work needs.  It is the same thing day after day.  It’s the same message day after day.  Pro athlete or CEO or Office Manager. 

How can that be?  

Three Reason:
1.     Societal norms: What text plan are you on?  Unlimited yet?  What I’m saying here is most populations in the U.S. have similar day-to-day activities.  Much of them involving overuse patterns.  Sitting, typing, texting, talking on the phone, reading, looking at a computer screen, driving.  All of these patterns are postural nightmares.
2.     Overuse Patterns:  Your body is a machine.  And though it’s a highly efficient, amazing, adapting machine…it still has similarities to a machine.  One similarity is that it will break.  If you drive your car long enough, it breaks.  If you sit at a computer all day or work on your long jump all day…your body will break.  It just tends to break in different ways based on your activity, lack thereof, or asymmetry.
3.     Weak links:  everyone has them.  For some it’s flexibility or mobility.  For others it’s stability.  For still others it’s simply strength.  The reality is, whatever your weak link is, it will most likely necessitate lifelong attention.  What do most of us do?  Train that weak link until we get good enough to get out of pain and then stop (until the pain comes back, that is).

It’s a process.  There’s no quick fix…just work.  Good quality training programs simply help that work become more and more efficient.

Don’t be discouraged.  Whether Pro Athlete or CEO or Stay at Home Mom…everyone has to deal with this stuff.  Be committed to the plan.  It will take time and effort.  Some times it will be painful, and other times it gets really fun.  But…you will get there.

By:  Chris Ecklund, MA, CSCS, USAW

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