Cueing Through the Ground With Push-ups and Planks

When working with clients, there is a tendency on planks and push-ups to just hang out on the shoulders. This is fairly incomplete and doesn’t allow us to take full advantage of the exercise. With the management of overhead athletes as well as general population clients, we all need proper coordination through our upper extremities.

At first, the thinking is everyone knows how to plank, right? Eh, not so much as it turns out. The big-ticket items are making sure that we have a neutral spine, or have manipulated the position to target what we are after. Then we want the entire body under tension; things like the six pack, quads, butt, etc. We have made sure that the eyes are lined up with our fist to protect our shoulders in the basic plank. But, we can’t stop there! Are our shoulders under tension? How can we better the time under tension?

 

A huge muscle that goes unnoticed by most people and doesn’t get the care it necessarily needs is the serratus anterior. Big Latin words. This muscle starts on the ribs just under the armpit and kind of looks like the serrated edge of a knife. Hence the name. The muscle then courses under the shoulder blade to the inside border closest to the middle of your back. It is responsible for holding the shoulder blade down flush to your ribcage as well as giving it the proper mobility it needs to reach your arm overhead. Without this muscle firing properly, we would (and some of us have) experience shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, biceps tendonitis, bursitis, and any other form of itis you can think of in the shoulder region.

 

Traditionally in physical therapy, we throw a patient down on a treatment table, tell them to reach for the ceiling with one straight arm, and repeat this exercise x10 multiple times throughout the day. This is called a serratus punch and is a fairly non-functional exercise. It is designed to just get the serratus working again. What if it isn’t causing trouble yet? How can we make it functional?

Here is the simple answer! Especially in the warm up when we are performing planks and push ups to get ready for the rest of the lift we can cue everyone to push their arms through the floor. Getting that little extra reach will get that muscle working really well and with repeated bouts of this, we have taken control of most of our shoulder problems.

Advertisements

New Year; Back to Basics

We have made it to a new year.  First and foremost, Happy New Year! Let 2017 be the year for everyone.

In this first week, we have already heard all the questions regarding fine-tuning fitness and nutrition (will beet juice be the best option for me to reach my improved endurance–undisclosed baseball pitcher).  This is where I have to inevitably redirect the conversation to the basics.

  • How much water are you consuming daily?
  • How many hours of sleep are you getting?
  • What time are you going to bed at night?
  • How many vegetables do you consume in a day?
  • Why are you still pitching from a mound in November and December?

The misunderstanding is that the athlete’s must think they are rhetorical.  Most times by the second question, the jaw will drop and there is silence.

Sleep is probably the best recovery tool we have in our arsenal and the best part is that it’s free!  Take advantage of this.  Life happens sometimes, we understand, but make it happen.  Get your best attempt at 8 hours daily.  Research has shown that getting less than 6 but more than 9-10 will make you more obese than your counterparts that get 7-8 hours.

Get to sleep before midnight.  Those hours of sleep that you get before midnight are twice as beneficial as those after midnight.  Why?? That is still unclear.  We could speculate that maybe it has to deal with your primitive sleep-wake cycles and how pineal/melatonin intervention plays a role.

Drink water plain and simple.  Even if you “need” some sort of flavor just drink the water. Studies have shown that drinking 100-120 fluid ounces of water daily is beneficial to clearing metabolic waste products and improved metabolism.  Other studies have shown a more complicated method which is essentially your body weight in ounces cut in half (i.e. 200 pound individual converts to 200 fluid ounces cut in half would equal 100 fluid ounces of water daily).

Eat your veggies.  They are packed with micronutrients that will help in the recovery process.  If you want to get better suck it up and eat them.  The more colorful the better.

Stop year-round throwing programs please.  Give your arm a break and allow us as Sports Performance coaches to bring integrity back to that shoulder and elbow.  This is preventative in the sense that tendonitis, tears, synovitus, bursitis, and surgery are at an alarming high in youth sports.  There are probably a number of reasons why, but sometimes we just need to demonstrate common sense.  If I work in a meat packing factory and do the same task over and over what do you think the outcome will be?  Funny thing is they wrote an entire manual about it back in the 1980’s.  I know that pitching isn’t the same as cutting meat repetitively, but the principle is the same.

We could definitely get pretty in depth about different modalities, but this a simple list that we can start with.  Get some consistency here before we start fine-tuning.