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How to Load Athletes at End Range of Motion

Athletes often need to perform their sports at end ranges of their motion. Here are some tips on how to safely load athletes at end range of motion. To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to

#AskMikeReinold Episode 209: How to Load Athletes at End Range of Motion

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Show Notes


Mike Reinold: On this episode of the Ask Mike Reinold show, we talk about loading at end range of motion with our athletes.

Mike Reinold: For this week’s episode, we have a pretty cool question. I kind of like this one. Kind of excited to hear what Pope has to say, but Zach from Detroit asks:

Mike Reinold: -When dealing with athletes who have extreme range of motion demands for their sport, which is a lot athletes, how do you go about loading them in their end ranges of motion? So great question, Zach.

Mike Reinold: You can’t say that all athletes are hypermobile because that’s certainly not true. We’ve all dealt with a lot of hypomobile athletes out there. But I do think athletes tend to be more mobile than the general population. Even the people that feel like they may be a little bit stiff or something that may be a little bit more loose jointed than we think.

Mike Reinold: Dave Tilley, everybody. Welcome to the show. Awesome. Mid-episode. I love it. It’s a good one for you.

Mike Reinold: So Dave, I want to send a huge apology to the crowd since I’ll have to repeat the question again for Dave. Just kidding. But all right, so Dave, this is a good question for you actually.

Mike Reinold: Zach from Detroit says: “When dealing with athletes who have extreme range of motion demands for their sport, how do you go about loading them in their end ranges of motion? So great question.”

Mike Reinold: Pope, why don’t you start this one? Because I know you have some good experience in this area and then Dave, gosh, I know you’re going to have some really good experience with this with gymnasts. And then obviously, Lenny and I with baseball.

Mike Reinold: Why don’t we start with Dan and Dave can start getting his blood pressure down and get him prepared for… Hey Dave, thanks.

Dan Pope: Well, I guess the athletes I have the most experience with is going to be with Olympic weightlifters. I don’t know that people often that Olympic weightlifters need extreme mobility, but we kind of do.

Dan Pope: We have to have a ton of overhead range of motion. You have to be able to squat super deep. And then you’re also at end range when you’re catching heavy, heavy loads. Right? So I do think that end ranges of motion are a little bit more stressful on the joints than say the mid range, right? So those end ranges tend to be the areas where people get hurt. So catching a snatch, sometimes the shoulder gets hurt, sometimes the hip, knee, whatever it is.

Dan Pope: The survey data even shows that. People come out of the hold and squat, that’s where people tend to get hurt. Right?

Dan Pope: So two things:

Dan Pope: 1. We have to be really conscious of the total exposures in those positions. I’m talking more from a coaching perspective when you’re trying to prevent injuries and not necessarily rehab. We have to be really conscious to amount of exposures, right?

Dan Pope: So we make sure that we have a consistent amount every week. We don’t have big spikes and we’re not putting ourselves in position. We’re overexposing that area, overusing that area.

Dan Pope: 2. The other thing is that you have to get super strong in those positions, too. So I think it’s a big time-balancing act for these folks because they have to get really, really strong in these positions. It’s important for performance and also injury prevention. Right? But if we overuse those positions, we also run into trouble as well. Right?

Dan Pope: So for me, I think that’s a good opportunity to take advantage of periodization. So maybe you’re off season, you’re temporarily unloading these positions and then you start ramping up over the course of time. You might have accessory programs once or twice a week where you are trying to strengthen the end range of the shoulder.

Dan Pope: Let’s say you’re working on waiter’s walks or you’re working on snatch bounds or something along those lines where we’re really strengthening the shoulder at the end range We’re working on things pause squats, we’re pairing the bottom position of the squat really well; But we’re also being very judicious with the application of these exercises.

Dan Pope: We’re not just throwing a ton of these movements without thinking about how the entire program operates together, I guess.

Mike Reinold: Keepers, Dan. You always come in very humble, like, “Well, I guess I could answer this,” and then you just lay the law down. Right? I mean just pure wisdom right there. So yeah, I mean, that’s amazing. I think Dan’s got a very… From the Olympic lifting section of this, that makes total sense to get some strength at end range in these positions and stuff that. That makes total sense.

Mike Reinold: I would include that as extreme end range to an extent. I think that’s super important. Gymnasts, on the other hand, may be a little bit different, right? Maybe a little different approach.

Mike Reinold: David, how do you approach getting these athletes stronger at their end range of motion?

Dave Tilley: Yeah, I’ll go with the lower body because Dan covered the upper body so well. So in gymnastics, the two ones that are most commonly thought about are like lower back and then the hip, right? So the spine being overextension causes the facet joints to become irritated and you get a spinal fracture, a stress fracture.

Dave Tilley: I think for that, it comes down to exposure, which is a huge one that Dan talked about too, is like when you add up how many times did gymnast may back bend during a practice or during a training week, it’s crazy.

Dave Tilley: It’s just with you guys and throwing. I think Dan probably has that too with overhead positions. Like you can quickly stack up way more than you’re ready for. So exposure is a big part of it.

Dave Tilley: But for me, I think that it’s all about trying to find other joints to try to take some of the load off, right? So maximizing the hip, the thoracic spine and the shoulder are going to help de-load that area.

Dave Tilley: The one that’s funky in gymnastics is the hip because if you look ballet or gymnastics or dance, they have really extreme ranges of motion. And the types of injuries that you get with the femoral neck full coming on the superolateral edge or kind of causing some labral stuff is compression based.

Dave Tilley: So for those athletes, it’s really about maximizing the soft tissue flexibility and trying to spare the laxity of the joints, the iliofemoral capsule and stuff that. That’s where people get into problems. They aren’t aware that you can be loose and tight at the same time.

Dave Tilley: Something I learned from Mike and Lenny in the baseball world is you can have a very stiff adductor complex and a very stiff rectus fem while still have a super lax hip capsule and that can cause micro instability of pinching on the wall.

Dave Tilley: So I think those are… We can’t screen the hip we can the shoulder, but we have to really have a good idea of radiology and some different things so we can look at what’s what.

Mike Reinold: That’s awesome, Dave. Great tips there from probably a sport that has the most extreme ranges of motion; because they have the ability to use that range of motion and then that’s part of that competition. They have to do that. Right?

Mike Reinold: Len, how about you in baseball? What’s your approach to loading people at end range in baseball? What do you think?

Lenny Macrina: Yeah, we do some. We definitely, I think for us in baseball, the shoulder is inherently a loose joint, so it’s a little easier than the hip. So we use a lot of rhythmic staves at end range, even starting off early postop putting them at end range, external rotation, internal rotation, different degrees of abduction and really working on the rhythmic stabilization to try to, “Don’t let me move. You stabilize that ball in the socket.”

Lenny Macrina: Because of that micro instability that Dave talked about that occurs in the hip, it happens even more so in the shoulder joint. So we’re trying to do everything we can to keep that humeral head within the glenoid.

Lenny Macrina: So whether it was a closed chain position, again, doing some rhythmic staves or don’t let me move you. So closed chain position is going to really approximate humeral head within the glenoid and then progressing to not a closed chain position. So open chain, so to speak some rhythmic staves.

Lenny Macrina: Then even I like to take an approach from Dan or even what Dave would do for the gymnasts and crossfitters and powerlifters is use some kettlebells and maybe get into an overhead position and in a stable position.

Lenny Macrina: So I’ll put them supine, maybe lying on the floor and holding something. Or if they’re doing some kind of kettlebell walk and then maybe doing a little rhythmic stave in that position as well. So again, you’re getting the approximation of the joint and then they have to stabilize. So that’s some ways that I to do it as well.

Lenny Macrina: But then we’re also doing some pretty heavy lifts. I’m not doing Olympic lifting with our guys, but I think anything that involves some kind of pole, some kind of deadlift, I really love. And I think the cumulative effects of doing all this stuff is going to cause just overall strength within the system.

Lenny Macrina: So just all that combined together I think is critical.

Mike Reinold: All right. So I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian here, although I think nobody said no, but then you all kind of said something else, which is kind of interesting.

Mike Reinold: So I think I’m going to be a contrarian yet agree with everybody, which is going to be, does that make sense? But how about this one right here? Here’s what we learned in baseball a little bit here about loading and end range.

Mike Reinold: This is what we’re seeing a little bit here. A lot of people in baseball right are loading an end range with weighted balls, right? And what they’re doing is they’re applying that loaded end range with weighted implement to try to get more load at that end rage, to build strength at that end rage, the build some load right there.

Mike Reinold: You know what I think we’ve noticed happening is that it actually destabilized them because it was the end range of the motion and they work on either loosening or damaging their static stabilizers or desensitizing the GTO or whatever it may be in that position.

Mike Reinold: It just makes me wonder:

Mike Reinold: 1. The concept of strength training in general;

Mike Reinold: 2. The concept of end range.

Mike Reinold: We’re seeing things where people are getting the end range and then forcing into more range of motion, which man, that’s like, like Dave kind of mentioned, it’s really… You’re going to have Sarman’s whole concept of the relative stiffness where you’re just going to get compensation, something’s going to happen. You’re going to jam. It’s your end range, right?

Mike Reinold: So we’ve learned things with the concept of striping where if you strengthen throughout a good amount of the range of motion, that’s when you’re going to get carryover. That’s where you’re going to get it.

Mike Reinold: But in this position, I don’t think I necessarily need strength. I think I need dynamic stability and I need end range control, not load. I think that’s a big difference right here. And believe it or not, I think all of you said that even though you didn’t. So how do you define load? Right?

Mike Reinold: But I think everybody wants to load, they want to get to end range using baseball. Let’s use gymnasts because this is absurd, right? That’s like getting them into a max prone extension and then trying to extend more.

Dave Tilley: Yeah.

Mike Reinold: It makes no sense. We would never do that. It’s not that they need to develop load in that position. They need to be able to control getting into that position and stabilized if they get into that position.

Mike Reinold: So I actually think we’re overdoing the concept of loading at end range. Dan probably said it best, but I also think, that’s the least end range. We’re talking about overhead. That’s the end range of your normal motion. Right? So you should be strong and stable in that position.

Mike Reinold: But again, even when you snatch, there’s all a generation. Right? And then control. It’s load control. Right? You got to think of it that way.

Mike Reinold: It’s not necessarily how strong can I get here? Can I jam it back into more extension, but can I stabilize in this position. Right? I mean, am I wrong?

Dave Tilley: I have just one thing I know that Dan-

Dan Pope: Dave’s, yeah, you are right. You’re right.

Mike Reinold: You could be wrong.

Dave Tilley: There’s something I know we all do that I think we missed over. Dan and the gymnasts do this a ton. I know in baseball, it is crazy how much prep drills and technical work and strength.

Dave Tilley: But there’s so much prep work in Olympic lifting before you snatch. There’s so much temple pause, e-centrics with squatting and overhead pressing that I think Olympic lifters and gymnasts do a ton of e-centric to prepare their joints for end range.

Dave Tilley: Guys will do slow tempo dips from the age of four to 30, before they ever do something crazy. Right? There’s so many years of extreme preparation that goes before they would just bounce dips at end range to further their shoulders. So that’s all I want to say.

Mike Reinold: Yeah. It’s a great point.

Mike Reinold: I feel like just right now, the trends right now, at least in social media, it’s getting the end range, forcing it into more end range and I think, yeah, definitely.

Mike Reinold: I think a lot of people that know me know that I don’t love the sleeper stretch for baseball players because you get the end range and just jam you, just torque the thing out of it.

Mike Reinold: So I think a lot of people are going to regret all this end range of motion torquing they’re doing on their hips in a few years. I think that’s going to come back to bite a lot of athletes. I think we’re pushing that a little bit too much.

Mike Reinold: I think the same thing would happen in the spine and the shoulder if you’re doing that. Right? So I feel the concept of loading and end range is a bit overplayed, right?

Mike Reinold: Let’s get as strong as we can within the functional range of motion and then be able to control and stabilize end range. I don’t know. That would be my goal.

Mike Reinold: Dan?

Dan Pope: This is probably just too much here, but I think for a lot of folks, stiffness is protective. Right? We are talking about getting stronger, stronger, stable back here. Of course, we need to be able to prepare the positions and need to be loaded. But the other part is like, we might want some stiffness. That might be a good thing, to have a little bit stiffness. It protects the joint.

Mike Reinold: It’s end range for a reason. Right? It end range for a reason. Right? So it’s either osseous or it’s protective from capsulate or something that.

Mike Reinold: We’re not talking about somebody with a restriction in their mobility in mid range and we’re trying to get him back to normal. We’re talking about end range. And I think that’s the big difference.

Mike Reinold: So I may be wrong. I may change my mind. If so, we’ll do a future podcast episode. It will be fantastic, but I don’t know. Maybe that’s just nomenclature because again, I think you guys all talk about loading end range, but I think we all said the same thing, even though it’s loading. I think it’s more about control and stabilization than actually loading and getting there.

Mike Reinold: What I don’t want to see is people laying on their stomach and trying to get end range load. No, I just had a cramp. I don’t even know what muscle cramped right there. You’re not supposed to do that. Right?

Mike Reinold: So I don’t know. Something to keep in mind. So great question. Thank you so much.

Mike Reinold: Another good episode. I appreciate it. Good feedback from everybody. Thanks Dave, for joining us. We appreciate that. And keep asking.

Mike Reinold: Head to Mike Reinold, click on the podcast link and fill out the form to ask us some questions, anything you guys want to talk about. Rate and review on Spotify and iTunes, and we will see you on the next episode. Thank you so much.