“We don’t treat MRI’s, we treat people”
“We don’t treat MRI’s, we treat people”
Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will miss at least the next nine months after microfracture surgery to repair his injured knee.
Houston Texans officials gave outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney a projected recovery time of nine months after microfracture surgery Monday on his balky right knee. But it’s too soon to say if Clowney can meet that projection or regain the explosiveness that made him the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, according to one expert.
“The great part of this operation is, it’s really safe,” said Dr. Brian Cole, section head of the Cartilage Research and Restoration Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and team physician for the Chicago Bulls and White Sox. “The bad part of this operation is it doesn’t always work.”
Clowney has had two operations on his right knee during his rookie season in the NFL – a concerning development for pass rusher who relies on his legs to generate the speed and power needed to reach the quarterback. The 21-year-old missed six games earlier this year after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in September. During that operation, team doctors discovered damage to the knee’s articular cartilage – the covering that protects the bone, sources told ESPN.
The University of South Carolina product attempted to play through the pain until it became clear that the injury was significantly limiting his effectiveness. The answer was microfracture surgery, a procedure sports fans have learned to dread since its development by Dr. Richard Steadman in the late 1980s. Texans general manager Rick Smith said the team expects a “full recovery” for Clowney.
The human body cannot naturally regrow or repair cartilage. Without
adequate coverage from cartilage, the bones in the knee become overloaded. In the past, players who suffered from degenerative conditions in their knees were forced to either play through their pain or retire. Microfracture surgery offers an alternative, by drilling small holes into the area around the knee. This allows blood and stem cells to rush to area, protecting the knee and helping to promote healing in the affected area. But the resulting “cartilage” is not as strong as the real thing.
Once considered experimental, it is now the most commonly performed cartilage repair procedure, with some 130,000 to 160,000 microfracture surgeries performed each year, Cole said. And it’s largely effective – Cole’s team conducted a study which found 83 percent of NBA players were able to return to the court six to 12 months after undergoing the procedure.
But basketball and football make different physical demands on the human body, and every patient has a different response to the operation. While the numbers suggest Clowney will return to the gridiron at some point in the future, there’s no way to guarantee that it will happen in nine months or that Clowney will be the same player when he does return, Cole said.
Even under ideal conditions, the recovery window varies wildly from patient to patient, depending on the injury’s location within the knee, as well as the knee’s overall condition. Some athletes may return to physical activity in four to six months, while others can delay for up to a year. Some microfracture patients do not regain full strength until approximately 15 months after the procedure.
“You try to make projections and offer this linear thinking, ‘if this, then that.’ But the honest answer is that you can’t do it. It’s very hard to predict,” Cole said.
And a successful surgery would not necessarily prevent Clowney from experiencing future knee discomfort. At times, patients experience incomplete pain relief or a return of knee pain after a few years – each of which would hinder an athlete’s ability to perform at the highest level of professional football.
By Thursday, there was already skepticism among NFL players that Clowney would be able to return to form after the surgery. “He’s screwed. His game is all about explosion. That’s the problem. I’m out there dancing. I’m an offensive lineman. That’s a different ballgame. He’s screwed. I’m just being honest,” Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus told the Indianapolis Star.
Some NFL players, such as Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush or New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, remained productive after returning from microfracture surgery. Others, like former Cleveland Browns defensive end and No. 1 overall draft pick Courtney Brown, never returned to form. A 2007 Football Outsiders study found that just nine of 56 NFL players who underwent microfracture surgery remained in the league for at least five years after the operation.
Results are similarly skewed in the NBA. New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudamire had the surgery before the 2005-06 season and returned to average at least 20 points per game in each of the next five seasons. But Greg Oden, a former top overall draft pick and the league’s resident cautionary tale, underwent the operation three times and was forced into hiatus by age 22.
For Clowney, a prospective return will depend on his individual response over the next year to the operation’s rigors and subsequent efforts at rehab. In the meantime, Texans staffers and fans alike will hold their collective breath.
Do a quick Internet search for “proper running form” and you’ll get lost in scientific jargon: swing phase, stance time, loading rate, stretch reflex. But if you’re like me, you don’t need (or want) to know the nitty gritty science behind good form. You just want to know how to do it!
Instead of focusing on the overwhelming (not to mention boring) technicalities, stick to these simple, easy-to-implement and actionable running tricks. Not only will improving form dramatically cut your risk of overuse injuries so you can run consistently, but you’ll also enjoy it more and likely get even faster! The best part? You can do each of these things right now.
One important disclaimer: If you’ve been running for years and don’t have problems with injury or recurring aches and pains, you probably don’t need to alter how you run. Experienced runners who make significant changes to their form often become less efficient. That’s right — their form actually gets worse.
Many new runners tend to over-stride and reach out with their foot to take a longer stride. This creates a heel-smashing, aggressive foot strike that should be avoided because it sends far too much impact shock through the leg.
But heel-striking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter where on your foot you land with each step; there are enormously successful runners who are fore-, mid- and heel-strikers! The most important aspect is actually where your foot lands in relation to the rest of your body, rather than what part of your foot touches the ground first.
Ideally your foot should make contact with the ground directly underneath your body, rather than far out in front of it. A helpful way to think about this is “putting your foot down underneath your hips.” When there’s a straight line from your hips to where your foot lands, there’s no reaching or stretching the leg in front of your body.
This change in form reduces the impact your legs experiences and cuts your injury risk by creating a more fluid, efficient stride.
Your mom was right all those years ago: You should stand up straight. This applies to running posture, too.
Slouching, or leaning from the waist, is a common problem for many runners who try too hard to perfect that “forward lean” they heard was part of proper running form. While a slight forward lean is part of good form, it should come from the ankles, not the waist.
The best part? A slight forward lean from the ankles happens naturally without even trying. So don’t consciously try to lean forward. Instead, focus on running tall with a straight, erect posture.
To help you remember, pretend a string is attached to the top of your head and an imaginary giant is pulling it upward toward the sky. Creepy? Perhaps. But it’s an effective way to reinforce a tall, straight back with no slouching.
Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute (with both feet). The magic number for optimal cadence is thought to be 180 steps per minute, according to the legendary running coach Jack Daniels who observed at the 1984 Olympics that this was the average cadence of most elite runners.
But this isn’t a hard and fast number — it’s just a general guideline. When you’re running at an easy, comfortable pace, your cadence should be at least 170 steps per minute.
An average cadence of at least 170 for easy runs means you’ll reduce impact forces on your legs, cut your injury risk and even improve your running efficiency. How? With a shorter, faster stride, you’re “bounding” less and not introducing the stress that accompanies longer, more impactful strides. In other words, you’ll get hurt less often and probably get faster.
The next time you go for an easy run, count the number of times your foot lands in one minute, then double it (to account for both feet) to get your cadence. If your step rate is under 170, work on increasing it by roughly five percent every two to three weeks until your cadence increases.
To re-cap: Avoid over-striding, run tall and up that cadence. And that’s it! Focus on these fundamentals and you’ll reap the rewards: fewer injuries, more enjoyable runs and maybe even some new personal bests.
And doesn’t that make running a lot more fun?
For a man who was told he shouldn’t climb stairs, climbing Mt. Everest might seem an impossible, unreachable goal. Not for John Golden, who endured more than 20 knee surgeries over 20 years to repair injuries sustained from playing college football.
“I really felt a lack of hope,” John said. “I wanted to get out and be active, but each time I did, it hurt. So I fell into that cycle of not being active because it was painful.”
When faced with another surgery, John had a wake-up call. He realized that he was constantly presented with lists of things he couldn’t do instead of things he could do. He researched the top orthopedic doctors and focused his treatment on being active again, and not just getting rid of the pain.
“In my career, I challenged assumptions and advocated for myself, but not when it came to my health,” he said. “When working with previous doctors, I should have emphasized my desire for an active lifestyle and not just relief from pain.”
After talking with several doctors, John decided to work with Dr. Brian Cole at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Cole performed a double cartilage transplant to replace the damaged tissue in his left knee and leg.
John completed nine months of intense physical therapy after the procedure. As his healing progressed, he realized that he could do more than he first thought possible. Even though he had some activity restrictions, John came up with the idea of climbing a mountain.
Though he had never climbed a mountain prior to his knee issues, John set his sights on Mt. Rainier. He continued with physical therapy and found an experienced mountain climber to help him train.
“It was amazing,” said John. “Climbing Mt. Rainier was empowering on so many levels. To accomplish that after I’d been told I couldn’t do stairs was incredible.”
Never one to settle, John came up with a new goal: climbing Mt. Everest. He climbed 14 mountains in preparation for the expedition.
“I had to change my entire body to get ready for Mt. Everest. I learned to ice climb, prepared myself for the climate, and worked with the team to develop a strategy for climbing the mountain.”
In 2009, John arrived in Kathmandu to start his once-in-a-lifetime climb. He spent 50 days on the mountain, enduring harsh conditions and pushing his body to the limit. As they approached the summit, a sheet of ice broke and caused John to fall. The dangerous weather and John’s injuries forced them off the mountain.
“I am very grateful for my experience on Mt. Everest. I knew when I came back that I wanted to take this great journey and give it a voice. I was looking for a way to make my passion my life and give back to others.”
John got involved with company specializing in athletic training. He saw firsthand the benefits of personalized physical training and wanted to help others realize their goals.
John is currently the President of Product Pioneering at EXOS, a company specializing in proactive health and performance. EXOS trains professional athletes and military special operations groups and provides corporate game plans for large companies.
“I wanted to help connect people with solutions that give them hope and purpose. I feel that it’s a great way of giving back because I wouldn’t be where I am today without the transplant.”
Contributed by: allosource.org
Honoring the gift of donation, AlloSource responsibly develops, processes and distributes life-saving and life-enhancing human tissue for our communities.
Pop quiz: Are you currently reading this while hunched over your phone? If so, here’s a very scary wakeup call: Looking down at your phone can force up to 60 pounds of weight on your spine, according to a new study in the journal Surgical Technology International.
Most people spend an average of two to four hours a day slumped over their smartphones, according to the study, and that awkward position isn’t doing any favors for your neck and back.
The adult head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, so when you’re standing upright with perfect posture, that’s the amount of stress that’s on your spine. According to the new research, tilting your head forward increases the amount of stress—and therefore weight—on your spine. When you tilt just 15 degrees forward, that’s about 27 pounds; at 30 degrees, it’s 40 pounds; at 45 degrees, it’s 49 pounds; and at 60 degrees, it’s 60 pounds of stress.
Not only can that cause a literal pain in your neck, but it also puts stress on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, writes study author Kenneth K. Hansraj, M.D., chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine.
But as scary as this image is, we know you won’t be throwing out your phone, tablet, or e-reader anytime soon. That’s fine, just be sure to use it with proper posture, which means your ears are aligned with your shoulders and your shoulder blades are back in the neutral position. Yes, this means putting your phone pretty much directly in front of your face, but at least you won’t be dealing with a seriously stiff neck 20 years from now.
Episode 14.33 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.
Liz Yerly, MPT, ATC, CSCS, c-ART, LMT from Accelerated Rehab discusses Cross Fit Training: definition, misconceptions, concerns, avoiding injury, who should participate and how to compete safely with progression.
Cross Fit training by definition, is constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity. Cross Fit training is used by military, police and professional athletic organizations and produces tangible results for all levels of fitness. Cross Fit training combines Strength training with Endurance training and Gymnastics. Cross fit trains to get strong, be explosive, and powerful, not big. Cross Fit training is a scalable approach to exercise, suitable for any committed individual regardless of prior experience or fitness level.
Liz Yerly is a physical therapist with Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers and has experience treating the collegiate athlete to the weekend warrior. Liz sees many common orthopedic injuries, including post surgical patients and overuse injuries common in endurance sports. She has a vast knowledge of biomechanics, and is head of the Dartfish Running Analysis program which allows her to examine movement patterns and dysfunction during and after rehab allowing her to quantify movement, analyze gait, perform biomechanical assessments, and test performance and fitness levels. Liz participates in CrossFit as well and is familiar with the risks and benefits of this work out philosophy.
It’s a funny irony that while we want everything else in our lives to be easier, we expect our workouts to be absolute torture. Listen to people talk about their personal trainers and watch their eyes light up when they say, “our last workout kicked my ass!” Meanwhile, TV shows like The Biggest Loser advertise by showing people on all fours, crying and pleading to make the workout stop so they can catch their breaths. There are even best-selling workout DVDs with names like Insanity, promising to deliver the toughest routine you’ve ever tried.
On the one hand, we want mobile devices that do our banking, cars that run on vegetable oil, and complete pre-packaged meals where all we need do is heat and eat, but when it comes to exercise, we insist on the most excruciating experience possible. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to change my body that way.
It goes without saying that losing weight takes hard work, but somehow, the modern world has become convinced that the only way to see results is to grin and bear it while you hold your feet to the fire. The way fitness is depicted on television and elsewhere in pop culture leads you to believe that losing fat means endless cardio, taking little to no rest between sets, working till you puke, and severe dietary restriction. The message is clear: to look good, you need to make yourself feel bad; you need to endure suffering.
But what if you don’t?
First of all, the idea that you need to burn an enormous number of calories through exercise—or that you even can—can be considered a myth. Eric Ravussin, a weight loss expert and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., told the New York Times that “exercise by itself is pretty useless for weight loss.” His point was that people easily consume more calories than they can burn, and that the extra strain of exercise stimulates appetite, making it even easier to replace the calories you worked off.
Just look at the numbers. According to research done by the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person performing high-impact aerobic exercise will burn only 533 calories in one hour. (Note that most people aren’t capable of sustaining an intense pace anywhere near that long.) Now consider that a healthy dinner of four ounces of skinless chicken breast and one cup of rice contains 385 calories. That’s right: Eat one light meal and you’re a stone’s throw from breaking even with the calories you burned in that day’s workout.
Does this mean exercise is useless for fat loss? Of course not. Aerobic training taps into fat as a fuel source and weight training builds muscle, which increases metabolic rate, so there’s plenty reason to work out, and work out hard. Research even shows that exercise aids in keeping weight off once it’s lost. A 2009 study looked at 97 women who had lost an average of 27 pounds each and then returned to their old eating habits. The exercisers—those following a walking or weight training program—regained less weight than those who did no training and, interestingly, the weight they did gain back didn’t go to their midsections.
The take-home is that exercise isn’t nearly as important as diet for pure fat loss, so no matter how hard you work, you won’t see results until you’re eating smarter. (However, exercise is still an important part of the equation.) And starving yourself isn’t the way to go either. Diets that promise weight loss faster than one pound per week aren’t to be trusted (yes, it can happen, but go in with realistic expectations), and if you do use one to lose weight more aggressively, you can be sure it isn’t all fat.
Professional athletes are getting injections of stem cells to speed up recovery from injury. Critics call it a high-tech placebo.
Elite athletes do whatever it takes to win. Lately, that’s meant getting an injection of their own stem cells. The treatments, developed over the last eight years, typically involve extracting a small amount of a player’s fat or bone marrow and then injecting it into an injured joint or a strained tendon to encourage tissue regeneration. Bone marrow contains stem cells capable of generating new blood cells, cartilage, and bone.
NFL quarterback Peyton Manning reportedly had a stem cell treatment to his neck in 2011.
Although the treatments have become a multimillion-dollar industry, some doctors say there’s only thin medical evidence they actually speed healing. In a report issued last week, public policy researchers at Rice University criticized the National Football League’s role in promoting “unproven” treatments to the public. Some players, including Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Sidney Rice, who’s now retired but won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks last year, have reportedly gone overseas for stem cell treatments and others have acted as spokespeople for U.S. clinics offering them. The Rice researchers, Kirstin Matthews and Maude Cuchiara, say the NFL should create an independent panel and fund research on whether stem cell treatments actually work, similar to what it did after facing questions around concussions and brain injury. “I think they should be more proactive. They should get ahead of this one,” says Matthews.
Sports Illustrated reports that hundreds of football players have gotten stem cell treatments, with many travelling abroad for types of therapy not offered in the United States. But it’s not only football players trying them. The tennis player Rafael Nadal is reportedly undergoing stem cell treatments for back pain, and the injections are also being sought out by soccer players and high school athletes.
The NFL didn’t respond to questions from MIT Technology Review. Doctors offering the treatments say they’re promising and should be given a chance. Others say there’s not enough data. “Any of these injections have a placebo effect,” says Freddie Fu, an orthopedic surgeon who is chairman of sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and top doctor for the school’s sports teams. “We don’t know what we are putting in. We don’t really know what exactly what it does, biologically.”
Orthopedic surgeons hope one day to use stem cells to regenerate cartilage and other lost tissue. But wishful thinking, and profits, have gotten ahead of the facts, says Fu. “There’s a lot of marketing in orthopedics right now. I would say 15 to 20 percent of treatments are not effective,” he says. Unlike a drug, which gets tested for years and is then weighed by experts and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before hitting the market, the bone marrow treatments offered in the U.S. aren’t regulated.
At many private sports clinics and some academic medical centers,
such treatments have become routine. Kenneth Mautner, director of primary care sports medicine at Emory University and team physician for its athletics department, says he performs about two to four bone marrow injections a week. “I’ll be the first one to tell you it’s a new procedure,” he says. “The evidence from human studies is really weak at this point.” Still, Mautner says he thinks he’s seeing success in some patients, and there is plenty of demand. “We have patients who have the financial means, and who want to get back faster, before the literature can back it up,” he says. An injection of bone marrow for a sports injury costs about $6,000 and isn’t covered by insurance.
“Demand is exploding,” says Mitchell Sheinkop, a Chicago-area physician who says he’s injected bone marrow into the knees and hips of 400 patients in the last two years, in connection with a company known as Regenexx that is based in Colorado. He says he thinks the treatments are allowing some patients to postpone getting hip or knee replacements. Chris Centeno, the doctor behind Regenexx, says it’s a mistake to apply the same standards of evidence to bone marrow treatments as is asked of new drugs. “The university approach has the obvious advantage of evidence first but the obvious problem of a glacially slow and hyper-expensive process to translate therapies to patients,” he says.
But, Fu asks, what if the injections don’t really work? They could gobble up huge amounts of money for years until doctors gradually move on to something else. He notes how many NFL players used to suck oxygen by the sidelines, until they realized it wasn’t really doing anything. Now oxygen tanks are seen less often at sports events, Fu says. The Rice authors say what bothers them is the role that NFL players have had in promoting unproven treatments. One U.S. clinic, SmartChoice Stem Cell Institute, says it has signed former NFL linebacker Tom McManus as a spokesman. Meanwhile, clinics offering overseas procedures, like Precision Stem Cell, use images of players including Rolando McClain, now of the Dallas Cowboys, and promote media reports of players who have had treatments.
“Our patients are reading that and saying ‘We want what this guy got,’” says Shane Shapiro, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. Shapiro is now carrying out a test of the bone marrow treatment in about 25 older people with arthritic knees. The process is similar to that being offered by private clinics. After obtaining bone marrow through a biopsy, it’s spun in a centrifuge to concentrate cells. He says he ends up with about 40 million cells—a tiny fraction of which are stem cells. To create a scientifically controlled situation, each patient gets two injections: bone marrow in one knee and a placebo of salt water in the other. It will take another year to know the results. In the meantime, Shapiro says he’s turning away athletes who want to pay for the injections. “I have not felt comfortable charging for it without knowing if it really works,” he says.
Nobody loves ab exercises — but chances are you’re probably doing them anyway.
Many of us are plagued by a little extra around the middle, and while ab exercises can’t single-handedly undercover six-pack abs (they’re in there, somewhere), core workouts can improve your posture and balance, ward off low-back pain and build a base for tougher full-body workouts down the road.
You might not love any of the moves below, but incorporating a few new exercises to your ab routine can at least offer a change of pace. And mixing up your workout routine won’t only save you from boredom but can also bring about the results you’re so desperately working toward.
This simple move works the entire torso, helping you to build stability in the lower back, which improves everything from posture to your ability to perform more complex, demanding exercises. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Without any arching or rounding of the spine, contract your abs, and lift and lengthen the right arm and left leg. Keep both your arm and leg parallel to the floor, roughly in line with your shoulder and hip. You’re not aiming for height here, but length. Hold for a moment and gently lower down to your starting position. Start with 10 reps on each side, maintaining control throughout the entire set.
Stability Ball Tuck
Any move that requires the aid of a stability ball ups the ante, since you’ll be working more muscle groups to stay balanced and in control. Start in a full plank position, with your ankles resting on top of the ball. Using your core, pull your knees toward your chest. Your hips will lift as the ball moves toward your arms. Then roll the ball back to starting position. Repeat for a total of 10.
You’ve probably performed your fair share of bridges, hoping to target your hamstrings and glutes, and you’re certainly not wrong for doing so. But balancing on one leg requires the core muscles to kick in to keep your whole body stable while you lift and lower. Lying on your back with your arms by your sides, plant your right heel on the floor and extend the left leg straight toward the ceiling. Pressing through that right heel, lift the hips until your spine is straight. Then gently lower the hips back to starting position. Try for 12 on each leg.
Stir The Pot
Forget side crunches. Get at those obliques with the deceptively challenging Stir The Pot. Start on your knees with your feet on the floor and your forearms resting on the stability ball. Brace your core and roll the ball to the right and away from you. Contract the abs to pull the ball back around to complete a full circle, like you just stirred a pot of your favorite seasonal stew. Complete five circles in each direction, keeping the spine straight. The larger your circle, the harder it will be. If you need an extra challenge, move up from your knees to your toes.
Recruit additional core stabilizers with this plank variation. While keeping your hips level, bring the right knee as close to the right elbow as possible. Alternate legs for 30 seconds. To make things more challenging, try bringing the knee to the opposite elbow.
Lower-Ab Leg Lift
Work deep down into those lower abs with this Pilates-esque move. With your back flat on the floor, lift your legs straight into the air, squeezing the inner thighs together. Supporting your head gently with your hands (no pulling!), lift your neck. Contract the core to keep your lower back firmly on the ground, then slowly lower your legs until your feet are six to 12 inches from the floor (if your lower back starts to arch up off the floor, you’ll know you’ve lowered those legs too far). Keep your legs straight and pressed together as you slowly lift them back up to starting position. Try for 10.
The Inch Worm taxes your core to keep you balanced but also calls on arm and shoulder muscles to get involved in this on-the-go exercise. Bend at the hips, so that your feet and hands are touching the floor. Walk your hands forward until you’ve reached plank position. Keeping the ab muscles engaged, walk your legs toward your hands. Try to keep those legs as straight as possible (tight hamstrings won’t help) and your back flat. (Bend your knees more or widen your stance if your back is rounding too much.) Try for 10 — or go for 30 to 60 seconds if you’ve got the space.
Basic exercises that mimic the way we move in real life, build functional strength and prevent injury.
Human movement can be reduced to three basic categories: pushing, pulling, and hip extension (squatting, jumping, running, and even riding a bike). Functional fitness begins with learning good form for this essential repertoire and then gradually adding weight and difficulty to build stability and strength. Doing these exercises correctly with five pounds, in other words, is better than doing them poorly with 100. In the words of Gray Cook, one of the founding fathers of functional training, “Don’t add strength to dysfunction.”
Push-ups activate a chain of muscles – particularly in your arms, shoulders, chest, and back – that are key for everything from getting up off the ground to shoving something heavy into the back of an SUV. The humble push-up beats the bench press for developing this functional push strength because the push-up doesn’t take your back and legs out of the movement.
We rarely press overhead while sitting down in real life. Shooting a basketball, putting something up onto a high shelf – it all happens while we’re standing up, so standing presses are the way to go, creating a linked muscular chain from your hands down through your body core into your feet. Use kettlebells or dumbbells instead of barbells because they let the shoulder joint find its own way through a safe range of motion.
Whether swimming, rock climbing, or just hauling yourself over that wall in your next Tough Mudder, vertical pulling motions are just about the most basic things we do with our arms. Both pull-ups and chin-ups work the entire upper body as a unit, but chins engage the biceps more, while pull-ups de-emphasize biceps in favor of the upper back and triceps.
We pull on things all the time, but pull strength and stability are even more valuable for correcting the forward lean we develop sitting at a desk all day. There is no better tool for horizontal rows than adjustable fitness straps. Hung from any doorway – or even a tree – straps allow for a more efficient row than other methods because of the way they demand head-to-heel core stability.
For the most elemental of human movements – sitting down and getting back up, or lifting something heavy off the ground – there is no better exercise than the squat. But form is incredibly important for preventing injury, so start with unweighted “air squats” to develop a full range of motion before adding weight.
Athletic power is the ability to accelerate weight – it’s not just about applying force, but applying it quickly. Almost every sport depends on power, from sprinting to driving the pedals of a bicycle. The kettlebell swing is the perfect foundational power exercise, Boyle says, “because it’s simple and explosive.”
The strength in hip extension comes from your posterior chain, a string of connected muscles running from your hamstrings up through your glutes into your lower back. Nothing trains the posterior chain better – while protecting your lower back against the lumbar pain so typical of middle age – than the dead lift. Russian kettlebells make the perfect learning tool because even the light ones – use a 20-pounder to get the movement down – have handles high enough off the ground that you don’t have to bend over too deeply to get started.
The most surprising functional-training advance of the past 15 years is the understanding that knee pain nearly always begins with weak hips – specifically, the stabilizer muscles aligning the upper leg, from the hip down into the knee. Walking lunges, a kind of exaggerated striding motion, build solid leg joints for everything from the deep knee bends of powder skiing to walking up a flight of stairs. For the walking lunge, simply take one big step forward, plant your foot, and bend your forward knee 90 degrees while bringing the rear knee low enough to almost touch the floor. Repeat with the other foot.
From LOCKERROOM: It’s no secret that it takes tremendous effort, passion, and dedication to succeed in sports and fitness. Great athletes aren’t born – they’re made. Hard work is an essential part of the game and every serious athlete knows this. However, if you want to truly progress in your sport and develop yourself into the best you can be, then you have to go beyond just pure talent and hard work. You have to adopt certain habits and lifestyles that can help you reach your highest level.
If there’s one group of people whom you can learn this from, it’s the elite athletes. They’re the ones who’ve merged talent and hard work with special habits to reach the highest levels of their sport. If you look at elite athletes across different sports, you’ll realise they possess many similar habits and traits. Regardless of what sport or activity they do, these habits are the cornerstone of what makes them elite and what separates them from the rest of the field.
There are plenty of essential habits and qualities that you can adopt, no matter your sport or activity. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a hobbyist, incorporating these habits will help you get to the next level and bring you one step closer into being the best you can be.
Training smart: Elite athletes don’t just train hard (that’s a given!), they train smart too. This means constantly working on their weaknesses instead of merely sharpening their strengths. It also means constantly learning new things in their sport, whether it be a new technique or a better, more efficient way of doing something. Continuous improvement (no matter how small) is the goal of smart training.
Setting Effective Goals: Effective goal-setting involves setting goals that are highly specific, challenging yet doable, and measurable. Elite athletes set both long-term and short-term goals and use these as milestones for their progress and development. By constantly setting goals, they get a better picture of what they’re doing right, what they have to work on, and how they can improve.
Visualisation: Visualising success as well as their performance on the field is a common habit of many elite athletes. This not only primes their bodies for performing the activities, but also prepares their minds and bodies for what can or will happen. The key to effective visualisation is being as specific as you can be, imagining every detail possible during the performance (ex. the taste of the air, feeling of the muscles moving, etc). The more specific the visualisation, the better.
Surrounding themselves with people who are better: Elite athletes constantly surround themselves with people who make them better, both in sports and their personal lives. This could be anybody, from the a special coach who knows how to work with the athlete to a training parter who does something better than him/her. By surrounding themselves with people who make them better (especially those who know more or are better than them), they improve quicker and significantly accelerate their development. As the saying goes, iron sharpens iron.
Taking care of their bodies: Most people think of elite athletes as people who train non-stop, 24/7. But in most cases, this simply isn’t true. Elite athletes know that recovery is part of their training and they take their recovery very seriously. This means allotting enough time for their bodies to rest and recover, eating and living healthy, and getting plenty of good sleep. They know that their bodies are their weapons, and they take care of them accordingly.