Bullet proof your athlete

As the summer winds to a close, it becomes time for our high school, middle school, and elementary student-athletes to hit the books again. Time for homework, time for reading, time for study. 

Also, is the time where poor posture sets in, and you can see it amongst all kids, even adults.

We all know what good posture looks like. And of course, we all know what horrible posture looks like. The head shoots forward about two more inches, shoulders are rolled forward, back hunches, hip flexors go on over drive, the gluteals weaken, and the ankles lock up. Our fellow health professionals coin the terms upper cross syndrome and lower cross syndrome, depending on what's at stake. And it's ugly.

Remember the days when mom or dad straightened you up at the dinner table? Perhaps we need that for our kids. Except all day. Imagine that.

Our kids spend all day with heavy backpacks filled with textbooks, laptops, and tablets; slouching in desks, typing papers hunched over a computer, texting friends, and checking social media. Our kids are plagued by these habits at school.

The problem is we don't address it.  We can't hire a posture coach and have them shadow our student athletes. We can't tell them NOT to sit down in class. We can't tell them NOT to round forward like an ape to take a test or type at a computer. Student-athletes walk around with the "caveman" posture and it's never corrected. I know because in every athlete we work with, we see the same posture. Yes, they may be great at their sports, but how much suffering is done to soft tissues and to joints as they work to compensate for this posture? Imagine how much more efficient and injury proof we can make them!

Our muscles our like obedient dogs: they adapt to whatever our bodies are used to doing. That's their job. They mold to the shapes we place them in most. Sit and/or slouch a lot and it's dangerous. It wreaks havoc on tendons, ligaments, and fascia.  The worst part is after a full day at school, our athletes jump into practice or competition after the final bell rings, and it's go time. And often, time spent practicing is mostly spent on sport specific practice-as it should be. Coaches don't have the time to take athletes through a comprehensive protocol before practice or games. Yes, they stretch and warm up. But this 10 minutes doesn't offset the previous 5-7 hours of the school day.

So, what is the solution since we can't tell our kids to stop sitting, stop texting, and stop tv or computer time especially during school days? Let's talk solution. Imagine your kids’ bodies as a race car. When they compete, they race. When they practice, they race. Practice like you play. Now ask, when is maintenance time for the race car? When is tune up time? When is garage time?

Enter an integrative, eclectic, and comprehensive resistance training program. Frequency depends on what season the athlete is in. Duration depends on the individual’s needs.

Often, people are stuck on old methods regarding resistance training. It's more than bench press, squats, and power cleans. It's more than plyometrics, medicine ball throws, and battle ropes.

Rather, it's movement! It's how well we can make our kids move, AND it's about the process to get them moving well. Remember, it's garage time. Now ask, what's involved?

Include a screening and an assessment to see how these athletes move. Implement a warm up to ensure proper soft tissue work, correct breathing drills, mobility and stability work. Include proper strength training to re-educate under active muscles on how to undo the day’s work of poor posture. Conclude with sport specific conditioning to enhance performance. It's that simple. Don't just throw on volume and intensity to an already imperfect posture. That's just begging for an injury. And injuries are a coach’s and parents’ worst nightmare.

So as your kids enter the school year this fall and take on a full load of academics and athletics, ensure they are training correctly. Ensure they are doing the maintenance work and getting their bodies tuned up. They only get one engine. Let's make it as efficient and as robust as it is intended to be.

It’s tough finding the proper program for your athlete.  Our fitness experts would love to help in any way we can.  Always feel free to stop in with any questions or if you need some guidance.

Seasonal Splits

As summer draws near and many athletes transition into their off seasons, parents are left awry with how to keep their kids busy and entertained before the next sport season hits. More often than not, one of three things happen: 1.) athletes are put in a completely different sport 2.) athletes continue training year-round for their primary sport or 3.) complete rest.

 

Indeed, sport specific practice should be the meat and potatoes of their time spent, but one big consideration is supplemental training. Understanding that training ONLY for sports grossly falls short of reaching full athletic potential is an issue that must be highlighted. Enter strength and conditioning.

 

The aim of this article is to educate on the importance of an off-season, pre-season, and in-season strength and conditioning program.

 

While most know that strength training is a superb additive to performance, many do not understand that strength training for sports is a year-round endeavor encompassing an off-season, pre-season, in-season, and post season.  The purpose and importance of each stage of training is as follows:

 

1.)   OFF-SEASON: This is the time where the athlete’s strength and conditioning levels get pushed to new heights, and athletic performance is heightened.  Being in the off-season, the athlete and strength coach can now find more time to work on weaknesses and develop strengths. This stage last 8-12 weeks.

2.)   PRE-SEASON: Strength training volume decreases in preparation for the beginning of the season, but intensity stays the same. Here, there is a focus on sport specific speed & conditioning, power, flexibility, speed, agility, and strength. This stage last 2-4 weeks.

3.)   IN-SEASON: Perhaps the most overlooked and important stage is the in-season stage. The goal here is to maintain strength gains made in the off-season and pre-season so that the athlete maintains peak performance during their competitive season. It is important not to skip this stage to keep the athlete highly conditioned and strong for the playoffs and post season, where performance matters most. This stage lasts as long as the athlete’s season (3-9 months).

4.)   POST-SEASON: This phase of training is the rebuild/recovery stage. This is the time to re-condition underactive muscles that have been de-conditioned due to the nature of the competitive season. Because sports are highly repetitive and injury provoking, it is important to take time to restore the body to prepare for the next upcoming season.  This stage usually lasts 4-8 weeks.

 

Only through exercise can we expose the body to all sorts of different movement patterns and stimuli to bulletproof our athletes. Knowing each phase of a well-rounded strength and conditioning program, parents can now develop an action plan for growing and developing their kid’s sport performance.

It’s tough finding the proper program for your athlete.  Our fitness experts would love to help in any way we can.  Always feel free to stop in with any questions or if you need some guidance.