The Unfortunate Reality of Training for Young Athletes

Way to often I see young athletes and kids being put through so called sport performance training or strength & conditioning programs and all in all it may actually be doing them more harm than good. Not barking at the average high school weight room coach but, the workout formats and programming or lack thereof, is outdated and unacceptable. This isn’t necessarily the coach’s fault for being uneducated in the manner but if we want to see our kids succeed and perform at their highest ability, we must provide them with training that will decrease their risk of injury and allow the normal bio-mechanics of the body to work in its desired form and greatest potential. The same could be said for the general population as well but we’ll save that for another day. It’s never a good sign when you see a tremendous athlete with a potentially bright future suffer a traumatic injury that could cost them their career. It’s also sad to see kids that have the ability to become great athletes but are never really taught how to use their bodies. We may think that kids with natural talent will ultimately reach their full potential and be able to showcase their skills, but that isn’t always the case. Depending on how we train our body rather intentionally or incidentally in nature, we can develop bad habits and bio-mechanics that limit our body’s ability to perform such moves through the kinetic chain, and the agonist and antagonist muscle relationship.

In most high school weight rooms, kids come in having never worked out before and the first thing coaches do is throw them under a barbell to perform a squat or bench-press while loading the bar with enough weight to get a 1 rep maximum or other low rep maximum. The problem with this is that most kids at this level can not even hold a static body weight squat or lunge with correct posture for upwards of 30 seconds without fatiguing. The stabilization muscles around the supportive joints have not been trained for the stress of their own body weight, yet here we are loading them under hundreds of pounds to move through ranges of motion. Over time the primary muscle groups such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, pectoralis muscles, or latissimus dorsi will become very strong from these workouts, however the stabilizer muscles still have yet to be targeted creating the ultimate recipe for disaster. The tensile force applied to the tendons and ligaments of the joints that these large muscle groups connect to, is to great of stress. The overload or instability of these joints lead to tears of the Anterior Cruciate ligament commonly found with football, basketball, and soccer players. Or ruptures or tears of the biceps tendon, rotator cuff muscles or the ulnar collateral ligament common with baseball players. Injuries to the biceps tendon or rotator cuff muscles are also common in the general public due to the similar causes. An example of how this works would be hypertonicity or overuse of the pectoralis muscle and hypotonicity or deactivation of the rhomboids, which is a stabilizer for posture. The rhomboids are weak due to lack of recruitment therefore are not capable of keeping the shoulders rolled back in good posture. Along the other spectrum the pectoralis muscles are overly contracted pulling the shoulders forward and putting stress on the biceps tendon and rotator cuff muscles during certain overhead motions. These are some of the more common sports injuries we see, and while we can’t completely prevent all injuries, correct functional training can play a pivotal roll in helping decrease the risk of injury.  The below chart by Michael Boyle shows the joints that are suppose to be stable vs. those that are mobile.


In addition to being at a high risk of injury, we also find many athletes are not capable of translating their strength or dissipation of forces in active movements that apply to their sport. For example, if a basketball player has a strong lower extremity primary muscle group or quadricep group, but his hip flexors and hip extensors are weak, then in real time he will not be able to land a movement stabilized and exert a maximal opposite force needed to make the next move or jump. In order for our explosive forces to be maximally dissipated, we must have a solid stabilized foundation and core. Like a trampoline for example, for Newton’s third law which states “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” to fully be applied, reversing the force downward maximally, requires that all springs be attached and functional. If a spring is missing, we do not get the full rebounding force of the downward pressure exerted on the trampoline, and the more dysfunctional or missing springs we have the less opposing force that can be exerted by the trampoline. The same works for our body, if our stabilization and firing muscles are dysfunctional then they cannot appropriately absorb the force applied on them by primary muscle groups and dissipate that force with an equally opposing force. One of the biggest determining factors in identifying young athletes at risk for lower extremity injuries or instability is knee position when in an athletic stance. Many kids present with knee valgus as a result of lower cross syndrome. Knee valgus is abduction and external rotation of the knee with the hips are in flexion. This usually results due to tight rectus femoris, adductors and iliotibial band, as well as a weak vastus medialis obliques, gluteus medius and maximus, and biceps femoris. This knee action is very noticeable usually when landing a jump.

So as for training to improve these weaknesses in stabilization and instability, it is important to take a step back from general weight lifting and assess the needs of each individual athlete. Or for younger athletes that have yet to start weight lifting, it is a good idea to start with body weight conditioning exercises to prepare their bodies for resistance training. Exercises such as a body weight loaded squat or lunge stance for time is a great start. With instability or weakness, body shaking will occur, overtime the stabilization muscles will get stronger and athletes will be able to noticeable hold positions longer. Next you can move into active movements such as landing depth jumps or bounds onto single legs and paying attention to the balance and stabilization upon landing as well as the knee valgus or varus. The foundation of training for an athlete is pivotal to performance and the limit of growth athletically. We all want to be bigger, faster, stronger but in order for that to happen we must train our body to be able to adapt to such changes.


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Invest in Your Health

At a time for new years resolutions, many of you are making health resolutions as you do every year. But what is ‘health’ and how do you keep those resolutions? It’s easy to say I’m going to lose twenty pounds but in order to follow through, you must have a why and a how. It’s easy to have a goal but without a focus on the ‘how’, and a passion as to why you want to achieve something, the drive simply isn’t there. Let me ask you this, how long have you had certain goals and how far have you come to achieving them? Without a different mindset your goals are merely a wish. This is why a trainer or health coach may be a good option to help you set realistic goals, a set plan, and help keep you motivated. We all have uniquely designed bodies, but the principles to lose weight, gain muscle or whatever you wish to accomplish are all the same, simple and straight forward. The hard part is knowing how to get there, staying on track and motivated.

Health is much more than working out and being fit. Health consist of many aspects from fitness, nutrition, psychological, spiritual and anything related to how one feels. Health is taking care of your well-being and preparing your body, mind and spirit for longevity. It is important to invest in our health because our health determines how we react to circumstances in our life. In today’s society we all face challenges that stress us mentally and physically and are constantly wearing down our body and draining our health. A good workout plan is only the start of good health, and of itself requires other therapeutics to achieve a good quality state of health. By engaging in a fitness routine, we are conditioning our body, but we are also putting stress on the body that can reversely injure us if we don’t routinely seek therapeutics such as massages, physical therapy, chiropractic care etc. Yes, I understand these services can be a little expensive, and I am not saying you must get therapy every week. However, despite our emphasis these therapeutics may be more necessary than you believe.

Let’s put it in these terms, if you invested X amount in therapeutic care in one year, and it kept you healthy, as opposed to neglecting therapeutic care and falling sick or injured as a result costing you upwards of five or ten times as much. Which option would you prefer? The sad reality is, most people would rather gamble and end up paying more in the long run than taking control of their health and preventing illness, disease or injury. Our body is made up of many different systems that work together, control and react to each other. If we keep them all working functionally we lower our risk of dis-ease and injury by increasing our quality of health. Do you wait until your teeth fall out before you go to the dentist, or do you go regularly for check ups and to keep them clean and healthy? How about your car, to keep your car running and get the most out of it, you regularly get oil changes and check ups right? Or do you just drive until your transmission goes out spend much more money to get it fixed? Some of you probably shouldn’t answer that. But our body is the same way, if we invest and take care of ourselves, it could ultimately save us a lot more money. James Harrison, a professional football player recently of the Pittsburgh Steelers and now a New England Patriot, stated that he spends on average $200,000 per year on therapeutic care. Harrison is 39 years old and in his 15th NFL season, which is a much longer career than most. This is a heavy expense, far more than what most of us can afford, but in return it allows Harrison to keep making millions of dollars which he probably could not do at his age if he did not invest in his health.

As for us, we can look at our health in the same form. If we invest in our health and increase our longevity, it will allow us to work more, increase our life experiences, and live overall happier lives. Its your choice, you get to prioritize your investments and decide what’s most important to you.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

I hope everyone had a wonderful and merry Christmas and is looking forward to a happy new year. If you’re going into the new year with doubt and fear maybe a simple mind change can help with that. We usually tend to express what is on our mind, and if all we see is failure and upset then that’s probably what we will endure going into the new year.

Every year we hear so many people saying that next year is going to be their year and they will make big changes. However it is more common that people experience the same situations from the prior years or in other words failed resolutions. Why is this? The best answer is probably a mindset of fear that prevents any change in our lives. So how can we change this mindset and how simple is it? Well first of all it is not an overnight change. We have to truly believe in change and have a vision that we are driven to achieve. For many people that have faced failure all their life, this is the hardest part. The best advice I would give is to start by declaring things over your life every morning, first thing when you wake up. Even if you don’t believe at first, if you start declaring things such as courage, happiness, success, and any personal characteristic over your life, you will soon start to believe. Once you start to believe that you are not a failure and you have purpose, you gain power to start working towards your goals. The way you start your day usually determines how your day will go, so why not positivity. Action is the first step, and if you never take initial action you will not see change in your life. I recommend to start a journal and write down all your thoughts everyday and see how they progress over time. To top off starting your day with positivity, we usually wake up with the same feelings we go to sleep with at night. Therefore take time at night to count your blessings from that day and recognize all the progress and positivity in your life that day and reflect on it.

Everyday is not going to be easy and we will face many failures still in our lifetime, however we can not move forward in life if we are stagnant in a negative mindset. Take steps to change your view on life and find things to believe in and you will begin to see change in your life. Don’t let your past define you.


First blog post!!!

How fitting that my first post is during the heart of the Christmas season. A time for love, happiness, family, giving, peace and joy. However a lot of people won’t experience these things due to several different reasons. Although health and wellness was the founding idea for this blog site, the reality that there are so many other aspects of life that tie into the definition of  “wellness” has inspired me to expand on the idea to overall positivity for flourishing lifestyles both personally and professionally.

Our mind is very powerful and can ultimately determine our experiences in life and how we react to circumstances. Our nervous system controls hormonal regulations and the state of our mindset is critical in responses to situations. Even as for working out and attempting to live a healthy life, your body’s response to stress from a workout can depend upon the state of mindset and nervous system. I will get more into detail about this topic and others in future post.

Ultimately this blog is to help individuals maximize their wellness in all aspects of life. According to the National Wellness Institute, ‘wellness’ is defined as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence”. The NWI also states that “wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment. Wellness is positive and affirming.” The six dimensions of wellness as determined by the NWI are occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.

This blog is not intended to give specific direction in your life, but help you on a path of well-being, instill positivity which will hopefully lead to a flourishing and radiant lifestyle. Hopefully this will help you identify the negatives in your life and how to eradicate those or transition them into positives. In the end if this can encourage one person, hopefully they can then encourage another and start a chain of positivity that will ultimately affect and help build unity throughout the world.

I hope you follow me on this journey, as I have many ideas for the progress of this blog/site.