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.