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Keyword: athletics

Treat the Athlete, Not the Body Part

I recently attended a medical conference in New York, focusing on current sports medicine concepts in baseball.  The presenters were sports medicine providers including members of the sports medicine teams from both the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. The conference was outstanding, discussing some of the most current research and treatment techniques for injuries afflicting baseball players from the Major Leagues to collegiate and youth athletes.  There were over 20 different presenters from orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists and athletic trainers; one of the biggest take home messages I learned was that there is little absolute consensus on treatments for different injuries.  There are a variety of different diagnostic and surgical approaches to a variety of shoulder and elbow injuries.  However, there was one consensus that ran through each section; the importance of core strengthening and stability as part of the athlete’s daily work-outs and rehabilitation process.

The idea of treating the entire athlete is not new; it is something that is discussed at almost every sport medicine conference and a topic that I have presented on a number of times in the past.  Unfortunately, players, coaches, and parents do not always have access to this information.  So there can be a lot of misconceptions out there amongst the non-medical population with regards to baseball players:

  • My shoulder hurts so I need to just rehab my rotator cuff
  • I want to throw harder so I need to hit the gym and get stronger
  • I lose my control the deeper into the game I throw, so I need to throw more in practice

For ideal results in performance, injury prevention and rehabilitation, the athlete’s entire body has to work in symmetry.  It is not about just one body part or one muscle group; it is about the entire body working in harmony to achieve a common goal.  So for the athletes that I work with, their programs focus on a variety of body parts from the rotator cuff to the peri-scapular musculature (latissimus dorsi, trapezius muscles, rhomboids, serratus anterior) to core and pelvic musculature, to the lower body.  The goal is to build strength, stability, and muscular endurance throughout the entire body to support the demands of their sport. 

You may now be thinking, how am I going to do this, my workout will take hours?  There is definitely a time and place for isolation, but the majority of the time, you can combine exercises to achieve the desired results.  There are still thousands of different exercises that you can do, but here are my top 6 exercises that I give to the majority of my throwing athletes to incorporate into their workouts:

  1. “Y’s” –  bilateral shoulder scaption prone on a stability ball
  2. “T’s” – bilateral shoulder horizontal abduction prone on a stability ball
  3. Bilateral scapular retraction to external rotation prone on a stability ball
  4. “I’s” – bilateral shoulder extension prone on stability ball
  5. Push-ups on stability ball or BOSU ball with holds
  6. Shoulder external rotation while in a side plank position

* Exercises should include high repetitions with little to no weight (zero to two pounds at most) focusing on slow controlled movements, body mechanics, and alignment. 

One of the athletic trainers at the conference said that “throwing programs should always be written in pencil, since they are constantly changing to meet the needs of the individual athlete.” I could not agree more, but I also take this philosophy to include all strengthening, rehabilitation, and maintenance programs. Every athlete is different and their program should be tailored to meet their specific needs, focusing on the entire athlete.
 

Guest post by:
Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
Athletic Trainer; Massage Therapist Charleston Battery
MUSC Sports Medicine

newsAPUSH, pre-calc, physics, AP Lit…most high school student’s course loads are extremely demanding and require hours upon hours of homework on a weekly basis. Turn a high school student into a student athlete and that already heavy academic load will require a secret decoder ring to decipher and maintain a balance between both schedules and demands…what time the game is Thursday, when that AP Bio exam is, where this weekend’s tournament is, oh, and what day are the SATs again? The demands placed on children to be well-rounded, philanthropic, smart, and athletic are ever-increasing. A huge study was recently released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) called the “America’s High School Graduates“ (PDF). Within the report, the high school transcript study analyzes transcripts from public and private high school graduates so that they can inform the public on things like our nation’s average GPA. The results of this study? It seems that high school students are taking more rigorous course loads and earning higher grade point averages. Overall GPAs increased from 2.68 in 1990 to 3.00 in 2009 with increasing course loads. Some other main points from the study include:

• In 2009, graduates earned over three credits more than their 1990 counterparts, or about 420 additional hours of instruction during their high school careers.
• A greater percentage of 2009 graduates complete more challenging curriculum levels than 1990 or 2005 graduates.

As an athletic trainer at Academic Magnet, one of the top academically acclaimed high schools in the nation, I see this fine line of kids balancing a full academic load with athletic responsibilities tip toed across on a daily basis. I often see my athletes doing their homework on the bus to away games, in study hall during shared gym time, or in the stands and/or sidelines before they play. In order to keep these two important aspects of a child’s life organized, as well as being successful, there are a number of things your student athlete can do to make both activities enjoyable and not a constant struggle.

Realize the commonalities of the two

Being successful in anything requires discipline. The same focus and determination you put towards your conditioning, technique, and workouts at practice can be applied to your studies, test preparation and effort towards projects and writing papers. Sports can provide a welcome relief to a long reading assignment. While conversely, academics can help teach you logic and problem solving which you can put to good use on the field.

Don’t over-commit yourself

While being a well-rounded student is important, enjoying your high school and not spreading yourself too thin is equally so. Practices and competitions are typically after school and in the evenings…times when non-athletes can go home and focus on homework, other extra-curricular activities, or hanging out with friends. Leaving some breathing room in your (already tight) schedule for some personal time will ensure that you don’t burn out. If you aren’t working at your full potential, both your schoolwork and your athletic abilities will suffer.

Time Management

Perhaps the most important key to balancing both academics and sports is learning to manage your time. You must make the most of every minute, or you will be miserable; there is no room for procrastination in this balancing act. When you’ve got both a demanding course load and a heavy practice schedule, you have very little time to waste. You’ve got to learn to make the most of the time that you have. Sit down on a weekly basis, and plan out your week ahead. Plan and schedule each thing that you can. Schedule set times for studying and stick to it. Distribute your time in the most efficient way possible in order to accomplish your goals. Take a look at your daily schedule and determine the ways to optimize your available time with more studying, more sleep, and time spent decompressing with family and friends. I asked one of my seniors, a multi-sport athlete (football and lacrosse), secretary of Spanish National Honor Society, President of Beach Volleyball club and an executive member of numerous clubs, how he manages all those commitments in addition to taking 5 AP classes all the while maintaining a 4.4GPA. His response was quite simple. “It’s the routine. If I don’t play a sport, I kind of just float around, but if you get a routine going of practice, get home, eat, shower, homework; it’s just way easier. And definitely don’t procrastinate because you come home tired. Also, use your time wisely at school”. So there you have it…out of the mouth of someone who walks that tight rope everyday.

Staying Motivated

Keeping your eye on the prize will help keep things in perspective. It’s easy to wonder why in the world you decided to take on both sports and academics, when you feel everything is coming down on you while you see your friends out having a good time. Remind yourself that this is what you wanted and that both things are equally important. Keep a positive attitude and remember that all of your hard work will pay off. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy your school experience as well as your sport. Don’t get so caught up in the demand of it all that you forget to enjoy yourself!

 

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