Flexibility test to predict back pain in volleyball and baseball

In response to last weeks post on shoulder pain, Carson emailed me and said he has back pain after volleyball. I can’t formally say what’s wrong because it’s impossible to assess over the internet, and the letters behind my name don’t allow me to do so anyway.

What I can offer is an explanation of the primary cause of back pain after volleyball.

Volleyball Players who fail this test are putting excess stress on their low back:

Functional movement testing is all the rage today, and for good reason since it is well supported in the literature for preventing pain and injury. While I don’t have objective data to support this specific test, I do have 3+ years working with hundreds of volleyball players in which I have picked out trends like a failure in this test correlating with back pain after volleyball.

So how do I prevent back pain after volleyball?

Just like the kid’s song about the shin bone connecting to the knee bone, the hips, upper back, and shoulders all connect, and contribute to low back pain after volleyball.

A lack of flexibility in one area, or a lack of strength in another area has a direct impact on the joints around it.

Back pain is rarely caused by a dysfunction in the back itself

Instead, a focus on whole body movement should be included, rather than just focusing on the injured joint itself.back pain after volleyball

 

Breaking news: Flexibility isn’t always a good thing! The graphic above I created for our coach training manual shows where in your body you want to have stability, and where you want flexibility. In general, you want really mobile hips, and upper back (thoracic spine). Combine that with stability in the lower back to prevent low back pain after volleyball.

Drills to improve Thoracic Spine (upper back) Mobility

If you failed the test in the video above, go through this mobility drill to loosen up your upper back.

Here is a video I recorded in the early days of EDGE when I was still uncomfortable in front of a camera. Still an awesome drill for improving flexibility of the upper back.

Drills to improve Hip mobility

We have been using this drill from Dean Somerset a lot recently, mostly because its effective without feeling like the standard boring stretching routine most people do.

Here is another one one I recorded way back in the early days of running EDGE, and still is a go to for many of our clients.

Drills to work on core stability:

Its super important that with every flexibility drill we do, we also add some stability training for the adjacent joints. To show flexibility in a joint, the joint next to it needs to be stable. In this case we need some core stability drills to make our hip and thoracic spine mobility work useful.

I won’t go down the rabbit hole of core stability drills in this blog post. Instead, just practice the test again as per the first video in this post. That way you are training to keep the core stable even as you put your arms overhead.

Wrap-up:

Let’s be clear, fixing a back, and addressing the cause of back pain are two separate issues.  Nothing that I covered above will replace proper rest and treatment from a professional.

PS. If your looking for a chiro… Jay Rennicks from Glover Road Chiropractic always gets great results for my athletes.

Once your back starts to feel better however, enabling high quality movement will help prevent the symptoms from returning.

Creating quality movement patterns enable a greater capacity for lots of movement. You can play more, with less back pain after volleyball because your have shifted stress from joints that can’t handle it to the joints that are able to handle that stress.

This ends with you spending more time in practice working on your skills to become a better athlete, and less time in the therapy room.

Spend this summer getting your body in a position to play next year rather than plowing through endless volleyball camps and breaking yourself down further!

Congrats!

As an aside, last summer Mattias spent the summer training, and after a great school and club season he recently announced that he is off to play for the Ryerson Rams next year! Congrats Mattias!

 

 

Props to Mattias who lifted 300lbs today! Just a few months ago he wasn't able to lift or play volleyball due to an…

Posted by EDGE Strength & Conditioning on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 

 

Book a free consultation ($97 value) by calling 778.242.9552 or by clicking the big orange button below!

Free Consultation

Flexibility test to predict back pain in volleyball and baseball

In response to last weeks post on shoulder pain, Carson emailed me and said he has back pain after volleyball. I can’t formally say what’s wrong because it’s impossible to assess over the internet, and the letters behind my name don’t allow me to do so anyway.

What I can offer is an explanation of the primary cause of back pain after volleyball.

Volleyball Players who fail this test are putting excess stress on their low back:

Functional movement testing is all the rage today, and for good reason since it is well supported in the literature for preventing pain and injury. While I don’t have objective data to support this specific test, I do have 3+ years working with hundreds of volleyball players in which I have picked out trends like a failure in this test correlating with back pain after volleyball.

So how do I prevent back pain after volleyball?

Just like the kid’s song about the shin bone connecting to the knee bone, the hips, upper back, and shoulders all connect, and contribute to low back pain after volleyball.

A lack of flexibility in one area, or a lack of strength in another area has a direct impact on the joints around it.

Back pain is rarely caused by a dysfunction in the back itself

Instead, a focus on whole body movement should be included, rather than just focusing on the injured joint itself.

Joint by Joint Approach

Breaking news: Flexibility isn’t always a good thing! The graphic above I created for our coach training manual shows where in your body you want to have stability, and where you want flexibility. In general, you want really mobile hips, and upper back (thoracic spine). Combine that with stability in the lower back to prevent low back pain after volleyball.

Drills to improve Thoracic Spine (upper back) Mobility

If you failed the test in the video above, go through this mobility drill to loosen up your upper back.

Here is a video I recorded in the early days of EDGE when I was still uncomfortable in front of a camera. Still an awesome drill for improving flexibility of the upper back.

Drills to improve Hip mobility

We have been using this drill from Dean Somerset a lot recently, mostly because its effective without feeling like the standard boring stretching routine most people do.

Here is another one one I recorded way back in the early days of running EDGE, and still is a go to for many of our clients.

Drills to work on core stability:

Its super important that with every flexibility drill we do, we also add some stability training for the adjacent joints. To show flexibility in a joint, the joint next to it needs to be stable. In this case we need some core stability drills to make our hip and thoracic spine mobility work useful.

I won’t go down the rabbit hole of core stability drills in this blog post. Instead, just practice the test again as per the first video in this post. That way you are training to keep the core stable even as you put your arms overhead.

Wrap-up:

Let’s be clear, fixing a back, and addressing the cause of back pain are two separate issues.  Nothing that I covered above will replace proper rest and treatment from a professional.

PS. If your looking for a chiro… Jay Rennicks from Glover Road Chiropractic always gets great results for my athletes.

Once your back starts to feel better however, enabling high quality movement will help prevent the symptoms from returning.

Creating quality movement patterns enable a greater capacity for lots of movement. You can play more, with less back pain after volleyball because your have shifted stress from joints that can’t handle it to the joints that are able to handle that stress.

This ends with you spending more time in practice working on your skills to become a better athlete, and less time in the therapy room.

Spend this summer getting your body in a position to play next year rather than plowing through endless volleyball camps and breaking yourself down further!

Congrats!

As an aside, last summer Mattias spent the summer training, and after a great school and club season he recently announced that he is off to play for the Ryerson Rams next year! Congrats Mattias!

 

Props to Mattias who lifted 300lbs today! Just a few months ago he wasn’t able to lift or play volleyball due to an…

Posted by EDGE Strength & Conditioning on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 

Book a free consultation ($97 value) by calling 778.242.9552 or by requesting one here.

 

3 Habit Based Hacks for Healthy Eating

So you know lots about nutrition? Big whoop!

Knowing is way different than doing.

The research is pretty clear that being well educated on what foods you should eat has a pretty minimal impact on what you actually will eat.

My job as a nutrition coach is not about calculating ideal micro nutrient ratios and formulating the perfect concoction of foods to get clients results. I’ll leave that for the people in lab coats.

Nutrition coaching langley

 

It’s my job to create behavior change. Real lifestyle changes that are simple enough to stick with, but still get great results!

Here are 3 habit based nutrition strategies that go beyond saying “eat more veggies”. They will all seem pretty common sense, but I bet that you don’t do all of them!

Habit #1- Make the good food easier to access than the junk food.

Reading readers digest the other day, I found this golden nugget:

The average woman who kept potato chips on the counter weighed 8 lbs more than her neighbor who didn’t. Those who had even one box of breakfast cereal that was visible weighed 21 lbs more than their neighbors who didn’t.

 

What you see is what you eat.

Pretty simple. Hide the junk in the back of the cupboard (or better yet in the basement) so at least you need to go through some effort to get it. If it’s easy to eat, there is no reason NOT to eat it.

Move the fruits and veggies up to eye level in the fridge rather than hidden in the crisper at the bottom. They won’t go bad outside the crisper, because you will eat them sooner as you’ll be confronted by them every time you open the fridge.

Most people like the taste of junk food (myself included). If it’s easier to grab, and it tastes better, why would you ever grab the fruit from the fridge?

The goal is to make it as easy as possible to eat high quality food, so it doesn’t take as much will power and determination to get what your body craves.

Habit #2- Eat slowly with no distractions

Believe it or not, people were eating the correct amount of food long before myfitnesspal came into existence. I am actively against calorie counting in most cases. It’s a lot of work and mental energy for something that has a 20-25% margin of error.

Your body is pretty smart. It has 2 main mechanisms to tell you whether you are eating the right amount:

  • Hunger
  • Satiety (fullness)

If you eat slowly, and without distractions your body will do a good job telling you how much to eat.

 

Here’s what you need to do when it comes to meal time:

  • Set the timer for 20-30 minutes
  • Put your phone away
  • Turn off the TV
  • Sit at the table
  • Chew your food slowly and savor it
  • Enjoy conversation with family and friends

The relaxed pace turns off the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) response most of us live in throughout the entire day, and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ response.

This results  in lower stress levels, and better food tolerance!

I’m no psychologist but slowing down from your hectic life and the constant need to be ‘plugged in’ for 20-30 minutes improves quality of life beyond a change in body-weight. Spend some time with your friends and family. Your relationships and mental health will thank you.

Habit #3-Plan your excursions to the center of the grocery store carefully

Pretty much every grocery store is laid out in the same way. The goal is for consumers to have to walk to all 4 corners of the store before leaving. That way everyone walks past as much merchandise as possible before leaving.

If you saunter up and down the center aisles, the odds are pretty high that something unhealthy will catch your eye.

All the healthy staples are around the outside. Fruits and veggies are in one corner. The bakery is in another. Meat is in another, and milk and eggs are inevitably the farthest thing from the entrance.

A quick trip to Google turned up this map which is a pretty good representation of the layout of my local store aside from the alcohol seen in the states:

Stick to the outside of the store when you are shopping, and make quick jaunts into the center aisles only for the things you need. If you are getting something from the middle section of the store, it should be on your shopping list prior to entering the store.

Remember the golden rule of nutrition. If it’s in the house, it will get eaten. The best place to make healthy choices is at the grocery store.

Habit #4 (Bonus) Surround yourself with good support

The people who you surround yourself with make all the difference when making healthy choices.

For more mentorship on habit based nutrition coaching book a free consultation and I’ll help you come up with a concrete plan of action to help you reach your goals.

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

 

For a starters guide to athletic nutrition, download our ‘21 Super foods and Athletic Meal guide‘ below. It’s 100% FREE!

21 Superfoods, and Athletic Meal Guide

7 Things You Must Do When Training For Soccer

I was asked about strength training for soccer following a public speaking event I did recently at Langley Christian School. I figured now would be a good time  to put together a blog post outlining what makes a good program when training for soccer.

Athlete Background:

Like almost everyone, the girl who contacted me wanted to…

  • Lose fat & Gain Muscle
  • Look & Feel better
  • Perform better in the upcoming soccer season

Thankfully these things are all complimentary goals. If done properly, we shouldn’t need to sacrifice any of the above goals when training for soccer. As a bonus, there likely will be a big boost in confidence when the athlete starts to see their body change, and their performance improve!

Some of the barriers to performance for this individual are:

  • Busy Schedule
  • Challenges with eating healthy and sticking to their plan
  • Lack of confidence that ‘self designed’ training programs will get results

Download: Strength for Soccer- Training Program

The strategies:

Strategy #1- Start Training Today!

Don’t wait. We can sit and talk about the perfect plan for hours, and even debate with different coaches who have different opinions on what makes training perfect.

Long story short. Start training today, because nobody get’s better by reading and thinking about training for soccer. Things won’t be perfect. Don’t expect them to be.

Put your head down and put the work in and you will reap the benefits. Don’t even wait until tomorrow to do your first workout. Start today!

An even easier ‘first step’ is to book a free consultation

 

Strategy #2- Build a good strength base when training for soccer

If you read this blog very often, you will know that strength is the basis of all human movement. Gaining muscle boosts metabolism, and enables greater athletic output. I won’t ramble about the benefits of strength today, but will state that it’s a necessary adaptation for all of the goals listed above. Here’s a former client who is now playing at Thompson Rivers University killing it with the trap-bar deadlift.

Strategy #3- Use compound multi-joint movements

Using exercises that require multiple joints saves time, and improves performance when strength training for soccer. You can accomplish a lot more work when you use movements that use multiple joints, and take your body through space.

For example: you could do bicep curls, and then tricep extensions, and then lat pullovers to hit those three muscle groups…or you could do chin-ups and hit all those muscles and more in a single exercise. chin up training for soccer More work in less time is the definition of efficiency. Spend less time in the gym by training movements, not muscles.

Another benefit of ‘movements not muscles’ is the added carryover to athletics. Joint and muscle isolation exercises have minimal carryover to athletic performance. If you want to perform better, use exercises that use multiple joints, and require you to take your body through space.

Chin ups, squats, lunges, skipping, sprinting, push-ups, bench press, rowing exercises (strength based) etc. all are beneficial when training for soccer.

Strategy #4- Emphasize ACL injury prevention

Non-contact ACL (a ligament in the knee) injuries are very prevalant (especially in females). This is where an ACL is torn without the occurrence of body contact. In soccer, it often happens when an athlete plants their foot, and then pivots in the wrong direction.

This ends in a crying athlete sitting on the sideline, missed playing time, and questions about whether we are pushing our kids too hard.

Single leg balancing drills, and Nordic Hamstring Curls are awesome for establishing good control and reducing the risk of ACL injury. The band assisted variation shown below works awesome for younger female athletes and anyone else training for soccer who lacks the strength to do the non-assisted version.

Strategy #5- Train only 2-3 Days Per Week

You often hear stories of people training 5-6 times a week, but for most people that is neither practical, nor effective when training for soccer.

Nobody get’s stronger in the gym. Everyone get’s stronger when they rest in between workouts at the gym. If you train too frequently, you don’t give your body time to adapt. If you are training hard for 2-3 sessions each week, and aren’t seeing results, the first place to look is at your recovery habits:

  • Sleep (Athletes training hard need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night)
  • Diet (Are you getting enough quality food)
  • Stress (work/school/relationships etc.)

Work hard, and then rest and recover. A training session should last approximately 45 minutes, plus warm-up and cool down.

Strategy #6- Keep conditioning specific, yet general (NO JOGGING)

Soccer is made up of a series of sprints, alternated with periods of lighter activity, or rest.

Strikers need fast breakaway speed to shake off defenders. Likewise, defenders need speed in order to follow their man. When the ball is on the other side of the pitch however, the constant jockeying for position occurs at a much slower speed, and the demand to be glued to your man lessens.

The conditioning portion of training for soccer must match this tempo: alternated periods of high intensity activity with periods of low intensity activity or complete rest.

That said, conditioning can take many forms. Sprinting, pushing/pulling sleds, jumping, burpies or basically any other kind of movement that requires the use of a bunch of different muscle groups can be considered conditioning.

Conditioning is a great place to add variety to your training.

Running slowly for a long period of time, only makes people good at running slowly. So stop jogging unless your sport is distance running. Instead, work as hard as you can for 20-60 seconds for your selected exercise. Rest for a minimum of 2-4x as long as you just worked. Repeat for 5-25 minutes.

Conditioning can be done at the end of a strength training for soccer workout, or on a separate day. If you have multiple practices and games that week, it can be omitted entirely as you are likely getting enough of a training stimulus from that.

Strategy #7- Keep the nutrition plan simple

People way over-complicate nutrition in many cases. The tendency is for people to ‘major in the minors’. They end up worrying about counting calories, limiting gluten, and obsessing over carb to protein to fat ratios, and overlook the most basic nutrition advice: Eat natural food, not processed junk.

If you eat food that has roots or parents 80% of the time, you likely will meet all your nutritional goals! Read your food labels. If it has more than 3-4 ingredients, or you can’t pronounce the ingredient names, find something else to eat.

Strength training for soccer program:

For athletes who are training for the first time, we will keep everything really simple with a basic, yet balanced training program. Exercises in this program include:

  1. Single leg multi-planer hops
  2. Walking Lunges
  3. Pushups
  4. TRX inverted row
  5. Nordic Hamstring curls
  6. Chin ups (use a band for assistance, or just do the lowering portion if needed)
  7. Side plank with reach through
  8. Conditioning (optional)

 Enter your email below to download the full training program in printable format:

Download: Strength for Soccer- Training Program

Request A Free Consultation ($97 Value)

A Quick Rant on the Definition of Metabolism

It makes me pull my hair out when people say ‘I have a low/high metabolism’ without having any clue what it means.  Good or bad, it’s most often it’s used as an excuse for why this person is skinny, and that person isn’t.

How many times have you heard this:

“Oh Jane can eat those cookies because she has a really high metabolism!”

there-it-is

Its even more troublesome the number of companies who prey on the lack of understanding of the term metabolism. There are lots of people selling all types of magic beans designed to make people skinny with no effort. A quick trip to Google will show you what I mean.

I want to take a moment here to provide a clear definition of metabolism. Next time your friends say the word ‘metabolism’ feel free to correct them, and point them in my direction if they have questions.

Everything that happens in the body is driven by chemical reactions. Each chemical reaction requires energy to kickstart the process. This includes the creation of energy from foods. Some reactions will use more, and others less.

The real Definition of Metabolism:

As defined by the world leaders in nutrition coaching at Precision Nutrition the definition of metabolism is:

“The sum of reactions that take place to build up and break down in the body.”

Therefore every action you take that causes a chemical reaction to occur in the body will boost your metabolism. This includes obvious things like exercise, but also includes things like eating food. Certain foods require a fair amount of energy to digest and can be considered a metabolism boosting activity.

The National Strength and Conditioning offers this definition of metabolism:

“A measure of the calories required for maintaining normal body functions such as respiration, cardiac function, and thermoregulation”

Metabolism therefore is all of the reactions occurring within the body to keep it alive. Of note, is the fact that significantly more activity is occurring in muscular tissue than in fat tissue. Therefore the absolute best way to boost your metabolism is to gain muscle mass! That way, you’ll burn more calories even when you are at rest.

So What?

Yes. Some people naturally have a higher metabolism, and others have a lower metabolism. If you understand the definition of metabolism, it becomes clear that you can control it!

At some point, you need to take ownership of what’s happening to you, and resolve to make it better (like Dan JVD did here). If you are overweight, or have low energy levels, it’s within your power to change it! In most cases, it doesn’t take much, so put the excuses aside (even if they are completely valid) and decide to be better tomorrow, than you were today.

Take the first step by following the athletic meal guide which you can download below. For more guidance book a free consultation and I’ll help you come up with a concrete plan of action to help you reach your goals.

Request A Free Consultation ($97 Value)

Download 21 Superfoods + Athletic Meal Guide