Ask Mike Reinold Show

Adding Movement Variability to Athletes

On this episode of the #AskMikeReinold show we talk about adding movement variability to our sports performance programs. Sometimes you want your athletes working on specific sport movements, and other times you want more variability. To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to mikereinold.com/askmikereinold.

#AskMikeReinold Episode 231: Adding Movement Variability to Athletes

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Show Notes



Transcript

Student:
Yeah, we have Zach from New Jersey, “For athletes that are very repetitive as far as the motions and movements they do for their sport, how do you balance training those specific movements during rehab/strength and conditioning versus giving them some form of movement variability? How would this differ in season versus out of season? Thanks.”

Mike Reinold:
I like that. Great question, Zach. Especially if you’re not comfortable or super experienced with working with people through the spectrum of care, so through the spectrum of injury and strength and conditioning and stuff like that, oftentimes in the physical therapy and the injury world, we’re really just focused on the symptoms and some of the findings on their examination that we have, where we’re really kind of working on those things. And then all the way from the sports perspective, it’s all skill, skill, skill, and then strength and conditioning hopefully bridges that gap to an extent. So I think that’s a really good question.

Mike Reinold:
So, why don’t we start with this, and maybe we can give some examples. I know Diwesh can probably give some good examples of what we do, like with our off season training with baseball. Maybe even Dave and Lisa can talk about maybe some of the concepts that they see with their sports, Dave obviously with gymnastics and then Lisa, probably one of the most repetitive sports that we probably work with. So I think that would be kind of curious. I’d love to hear some of Lisa’s thoughts on that. But why don’t we start with you, Diwesh. When somebody’s coming to you in the off season, they just finished, let’s just say baseball just for the heck of it, if you don’t mind, and they just finished the baseball season, their baseball pitcher, how does movement variability and getting them in and out of those patterns when they come to you and just say like, “No, what I want to do, is this motion better?” How do we tackle that? What do we do?

Diwesh Poudyal:
Yeah. So the way that I look at it, I kind of break down what their sport typically does as far as the planes of motions, and the types of motions. So baseball, obviously, very much a transverse plane rotational type athlete. So what I want to give them a lot of early in the off season is I want to get them out of being super heavy on rotation, as far as volume goes. So I’ll give them a lot more sagittal plane stuff to begin with. Bring back that movement variability. They haven’t been doing a lot of sagittal stuff, more than likely. So we stick to some of our basic stuff for strength conditioning. So that’ll be sagittal plane work with lunges, squats, dead lifts, even some of our power production work. We might do more vertical power work, horizontal power work, and not necessarily crush them with volumes of our rotational power drills and stuff like that.

Mike Reinold:
That makes sense.

Diwesh Poudyal:
But then obviously, you got to keep in mind that as we do progress back in towards getting them ready for their next season, that movement variability actually has to go back down. We can’t be too variable as we’re getting towards the season. We got to actually get them ready for the specific demand of their sport.

Mike Reinold:
I like that. So early in the off season, we encourage movement variability because they’ve had so much, what’s the opposite of variability, invariability? [crosstalk 00:05:27]. Specificity? They’ve had so much specificity of movement that we actually want to get them away from that, let that body heal up a little bit, maybe get some more balance, kind of get them feeling a little bit better. But I think that’s great. Some people take that too far, and they do too functional and bilateral and everything contralateral, like training all season. And I think sometimes they then miss the boat on performance because they’re too worried about balance, especially when you’re an asymmetrical type sport. So I think that’s good.

Mike Reinold:
One other question for you, Dewey. As we get closer to the season, let’s talk rotation of a baseball player, for example. As we get closer to the season and now they start working with their skill coaches, maybe they’re throwing, maybe even they’re hitting, maybe it’s a field or something like that, and they’re starting to add more repetitions with rotation into their skill work, what do you do in the gym to counteract that increase in the specificity of their movements?

Diwesh Poudyal:
Yeah. So again, we don’t want to hammer the same exact qualities. So the way that we kind of do our programming is, so again, let’s use the baseball pitcher as an example. So pitching is very much max effort. Load through the hips, uncoil through the torso, release with the arm. So that’s a single max effort kind of throw. So in the gym, if we do want to continue working in the rotational plane, we’ll switch it up and give them something that they wouldn’t typically get in baseball, which might be a little bit more rotational plyo type work. So where they’re not going max effort, they’re still working rotation, but now it’s a little bit more about the short amortization phase, where we’re getting in and out of rotation. So again, it’s providing a little bit more variability than the very specific task of throwing a baseball, but it’s not so far on the other end of the spectrum that we’re only doing sagittal plane work. So there’s always that full spectrum that we look at. Instead of just living on either one end of the spectrum or the other, we kind of live somewhere right in the middle, depending on what they need a little bit more of or what they will benefit a little bit more with.

Mike Reinold:
I like that. And as we get closer to the season and they’re doing more, let’s just say hitting and throwing rotational, do you decrease your volume of stuff like med ball throws that are in that fashion, so that way we’re not just layering on too much?

Diwesh Poudyal:
Yeah, exactly. So our super aggressive metabolic shot put scoop toss variations will go down a little bit because they’re doing exactly that if they’re swinging or if they’re throwing.

Mike Reinold:
I like that. So in the off-season, you kind of see it’s a progression into those techniques and then almost like a progression out of those techniques as their skill work comes down. I like that. That’s great.

Diwesh Poudyal:
Exactly.

Mike Reinold:
Dave, obviously with the gymnastics world, you deal with a sport that has some very specific movements that are a little bit more diverse maybe than some of ours. But I don’t know. Any thoughts on this question, from your perspective?

Dave Tilley:
Yeah. I think the really good example to use here is kind of a squatting and impact volume, because that’s huge in gymnastics. The injury most correlated with lower body injuries is impact force in gymnastics. But obviously, there’s a lot of other people out there like basketball and volleyball who have those forces. And it’s interesting because Dewey and I are starting to work a lot more actually on giving lectures to some of the national coaches on long-term athletic development models, and this is a perfect example. So for example, it’s a really good for them to come out of their season and take a break from squatting volume, because typically, they have patellar femoral issues, they have some low back stuff and it’s just so much impact and so much force. It’s stuff like 15 times their body weight, thousands of times per week. So we try to pull them away from that specificity, but we do want to try to use that three-month block to develop their capacity for down the road.

Dave Tilley:
So maybe we use split pelvis patterns, or step-ups, or hinge variations that are a little bit more joint friendly on the things they’ve been using over and over. But we also might do some specific glute accessory work for side plank clamshells and things of that nature because we know down the road, those are important for squatting impact volume. But also, impact is really important too, because we want to take them away from the impact forces. But we know from Joe Cook’s research and Kyle Docking’s research that we want to maintain some of the integrity of the Achilles and stuff like that. So seated calf raises and tiptoe walks and doing some low-level plyos, we know they’re going to be important down the road. So it’s not like we’re doing gymnastic squatting and impact volume, but we’re going to set the stage for it down the road.

Dave Tilley:
And then kind of what we’ve been doing a lot more, especially with a lot of the college NCAA athletes, we know Achilles tears and knee issues are huge in that population, so we’ve been trying to use Joe Cook’s research to maintain slowly ramping up over six weeks of their last August before they go back to pre-season, to get their impact volume up with plyos or build up their squatting patterns. And we’re finding after three or four years now of doing this, that kind of giving them an on-ramp to go back up to their college pre-season is really, really important and they feel really good. Because unfortunately, what happens is they don’t have any impact or squatting volume in their conditioning program, they go back to the gym, and they start tumbling and doing landing and it blows them up and they have a lot of really problematic issues in pre-season. So I think that’s in gymnastics, but that’s probably very valuable for a lot of other sports.

Mike Reinold:
That’s awesome too. So, Dewey mentioned in a sport like baseball, it’s the repetitions that we’re focused on, so the extreme repetitions. Dave brings up another great point. It’s all about impact and loading and stuff like that. So if you’re a basketball player and you get to the off-season and you go to your strength and conditioning facility and the first thing they want you doing is plyo jumps and stuff like that, that tells me they don’t get that point. You just jumped on wooden floor for several months. Your knees, your ankles, everything’s taken a beating. You need to get some variability away from repetitions, you need to get some variability away from loading, you needs some variability to get rid of lots of things.

Mike Reinold:
So Lisa, from your perspective. So Dewey kind of talked about repetitions, Dave kind of talked about loading. From you, how do you get movement variability in probably one of the most specific, repetitive things where you literally just kind of just do the same thing over and over again? What do you do for movement variability in rowers?

Lisa Russell:
Yeah. It’s probably the most repetitive sport there is. I couldn’t really think-

Dave Tilley:
And running.

Lisa Russell:
And running. Yeah.

Mike Reinold:
That’s a good point. Yeah. I guess. But you know what? At least running’s reciprocal to an extent.

Lisa Russell:
Yeah.

Mike Reinold:
Yeah. Over and over again. Yeah. Bummer.

Lisa Russell:
The other kind of interesting piece I was thinking about while everybody else was talking, rowing doesn’t really have an off-season, so you come, in New England anyway, you come off the water around late fall, early winter, and then you’re just on a rowing machine indoors. So your repetitive pattern never goes away. And if anything, it gets worse because your load usually increases when you go indoors, and people don’t always account for that because the ergs are heavier than the water usually. And so you’re literally hammering repetitive, on repetitive, on repetitive.

Mike Reinold:
All right. Let me ask you a question from there. Why? Because no other sport … You don’t end your basketball season and then go play more basketball.

Lisa Russell:
I mean, I think it’s partly cultural. I think that’s a big piece of it. I mean, I guess you think like a runner, right? Runners don’t tend to take a break from running. They usually keep running. I feel like endurance sports is kind of similar, like long distance cyclists don’t tend to get off the bike for a month or even a couple of weeks. I mean, coaches will build a week or two de-load, where they don’t let the rowers touch an erg or the water, but it’s a week or two out of 12 months.

Mike Reinold:
Right.

Lisa Russell:
Yeah. And the other kind of scary piece when you talk repetitive rowing, usually a lot of coach designed training, like strength training programs, are also incredibly high repetition, really repetitive movements in the gym. So you add super repetitive on the water and then you add, I’m talking four by 40 or just times, like get as many reps in as possible for an entire hour circuit. It’s hundreds and hundreds of reps, and that’s what people think they need. That’s what people think they need to do. And a lot of times it’s the same movements as rowing. It’s squatting, it’s a bench pull. So within the culture of rowing, there is not an understanding of needing variability. So I feel like that’s where I’m starting to see a lot more masters rowers who come in with knee pain or hip pain or this or that. And it’s because their body just knows how to go this way and that’s all they know how to do.

Mike Reinold:
Right.

Lisa Russell:
And so I think the wonderful thing, when they especially start strength training with us is, they finally get rotational movements and lateral movements and just start to introduce their body to all of these other pieces. And what I’ve seen most success in is maintaining those variety of movements during the season and not dropping them away, because you have such heavy, repetitive forces through all of your joints. Giving any amount of rotation, even if it’s just rotation with breath or something simple, is hugely injury preventative and just makes everybody’s bodies feel better. Otherwise, rowers are tight and can’t really do much but literally move back and forth.

Mike Reinold:
But they’re really good at that one movement.

Lisa Russell:
Hopefully. Hopefully really good at it. So I feel like, from at least what we’ve talked about, rowing is a little bit different in that because the sport currently doesn’t really have a major off-season, you don’t get a time to introduce these movements during the off-season and then fade them away and then kind of bring them back. I think keeping the variety of movements throughout an entire year for a rower seems to be more successful and helpful.

Mike Reinold:
That’s awesome. That’s great advice, like you said, too, for runners and cyclists and stuff like that. The importance of that. I know that’s something that I know Diwesh has talked about with runners and stuff too. But I like it. And then I would just add briefly, just from the non-athletic population, talking about somebody sitting at their desk all day in this posture all the time. We always kind of say with postural adaptation type things, that sometimes just resetting it, so we kind of call it reverse posturing, is just enough. You don’t have to necessarily … So Lisa, good examples is a rower, you don’t have to go in there and try to max out your bench press just because you have such a good row.

Mike Reinold:
But what you need to do is you need to tell your body that you still want to be able to do that at some point in time. So, when we talk about reverse posturing with a lot of our things, it’s about doing the opposite so that way your brain doesn’t get stuck, your body doesn’t get stuck thinking of that one pattern. So if I’m sitting all day at my desk like this, if I just do some reverse posturing type things to kind of get my shoulders down and back, to get my neck in a more neutral position or something like that. You don’t have to do that all day. You don’t have to sit at your desk like this. This is very fictitious. That’s not posture. But you just have to tell your body that, hey, I still want this variability in my movement. And believe it or not, that tends to click. So the more you sit like this all day, the more that you probably just need to just assure that you’re frequently reversing your posture, and then I think that kind of tells your brain and your body enough.

Mike Reinold:
So, awesome. Great question. Thanks so much. If you got more like that, head to the website, mikereingold.com, click on the podcast link and be sure to rate and review us on your podcast. Flavor of choice. We’ll call it that today. And we’ll see you on the next episode. Thank you.