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DNS Running Course

DNS Sports Specific 3-Day Running Course
Santa Cruz, CA
May 6-8th, 2016

Registration

  • The course fee is $700 (USD)
  • In addition, there is a fee of 80 Euros (~100 dollars) for the Prague School
  • Please note that you MUST sign-up on the Prague School website prior to remitting payment for this course

Once you have completed registering with Prague School and paid the required fee, please click on the link below in order to complete the specific registration for the course. If you have any other questions please contact jeff@prefitpt.com for further payment and reservation info. Due to the expense involved in hosting this event and the presenter from the Prague School, all registration payments are considered final, and will not be refunded except under special circumstances. Space will be limited in order to provide an ideal ratio between instructor and students. We will be limiting the number of spots available to 35-40. We have spots already reserved and expect the course to fill up quickly, so reserve your spot early to insure your ability to attend.

Prague School Registration

Pay for the course here

General Information

This specialized 3 day course will be focusing on an introduction of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) concepts and principles and how they specifically apply to the running athlete. Come and learn how the Prague School of Rehabilitation approaches the assessment, rehabilitation, and training of the running athlete.

Dynamic Neuromuscular (core) Stability is necessary for optimal performance and is not achieved purely by adequate strength of abdominals, spinal extensors, gluteals or any other musculature; rather, core stabilization is accomplished through the precise coordination, synergy, and intra-abdominal pressure regulation by the central nervous system.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization according to Pavel Kolar provides functional tools to assess and activate the intrinsic spinal stabilizers in order to optimize the movement system for both pre-habilitation and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and performance!

Location

Precision Physical Therapy & Fitness
9000 Soquel Ave. Suite# 103
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
USA

Instructors

Petra Valouchova, DPT, PhD
Michael Rintala, DC

Course Organizer/Contact

Jeff Moreno, DPT, OCS (jeff@prefitpt.com)
Michael Rintala, DC (mrintala67@gmail.com)

Hotel Recommendations

Best Western Seacliff Inn – Aptos, CA (http://www.seacliffinn.com/)
Rio Sands Hotel – Aptos, CA (http://www.riosands.com/)

Course Objectives

  • Postural-locomotion function from a developmental perspective
  • Developmental kinesiology aspects for ideal stereotype of running and other sports performance
  • Biomechanics of gait and the running cycle
  • Basic core stabilization as a prerequisite for locomotion patterns
  • The role of the diaphragm during aerobic exercise; dual postural-respiratory diaphragmatic function
  • Correction and training of the proper breathing stereotype
  • The extremities functional differentiation for running – stepping forward and supporting function for the contralateral pattern of running
  • DNS exercise positions to train core stabilization as a prerequisite of the ideal running stereotype
  • Biomechanical and developmental kinesiology principles for foot centration & foot orthotics and selection of optimal shoes for different type of running
  • The most frequent types of musculoskeletal dysfunction resulting from non-optimal running stereotype and poor methodology of training: plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, knee pain, hip pain, low back pain
  • Stretching and coordination exercises from the developmental perspective in order to get ready for running; educating the runner

Poolside Chat

Following each day of instruction we are going to have a 1 hour open discussion on anything and everything related to the running athlete. This is a unique experience to help facilitate discussion and allow everybody to share their expertise and thoughts in an open forum. The discussion that will come out of this open forum will not disappoint!

This Isn’t A Meritocracy

I recently listened to a TED talk that asked the question, “Where do good ideas come from?” I think the default response is that good ideas come from libraries, universities, laboratories, etc. But the speaker argued that this is not the case. The speaker stated that coffee shops are the birthplace of good ideas. It is a community of people getting work done and/or talking to each other with the aid of a stimulant. What I think is most important is the fact that people are talking. In this field I often encounter people with a sense of entitlement,.. 

I recently listened to a TED talk that asked the question, “Where do good ideas come from?” I think the default response is that good ideas come from libraries, universities, laboratories, etc. But the speaker argued that this is not the case. The speaker stated that coffee shops are the birthplace of good ideas. It is a community of people getting work done and/or talking to each other with the aid of a stimulant. What I think is most important is the fact that people are talking. In this field I often encounter people with a sense of entitlement,..

The Biomechanics of Volleyball: Jumping (Part 3 of many)

Jumping is one of the most innate things we can do as athletes. But, we cannot talk about jumping without talking about squatting, and you cannot talk about squatting without talking about quadruped (hands and knees) exercises, and prior to quadruped exercises there are supine positions that must be fulfilled. Let me quickly connect the dots so it makes sense later. These pictures represent basic movement perquisites to jump well…

Jumping is one of the most innate things we can do as athletes. But, we cannot talk about jumping without talking about squatting, and you cannot talk about squatting without talking about quadruped (hands and knees) exercises, and prior to quadruped exercises there are supine positions that must be fulfilled. Let me quickly connect the dots so it makes sense later. These pictures represent basic movement perquisites to jump well…

The Biomechanics of Volleyball: The Arm Swing (Part 2.2 of many)

Jumping is one of the most innate things we can do as athletes. But, we cannot talk about jumping without talking about squatting, and you cannot talk about squatting without talking about quadruped (hands and knees) exercises, and prior to quadruped exercises there are supine positions that must be fulfilled. Let me quickly connect the dots so it makes sense later. These pictures represent basic movement perquisites to jump well…

Jumping is one of the most innate things we can do as athletes. But, we cannot talk about jumping without talking about squatting, and you cannot talk about squatting without talking about quadruped (hands and knees) exercises, and prior to quadruped exercises there are supine positions that must be fulfilled. Let me quickly connect the dots so it makes sense later. These pictures represent basic movement perquisites to jump well…

This Isn’t A Meritocracy

PSPVB Final Blog PhotoI recently listened to a TED talk that asked the question, “Where do good ideas come from?” I think the default response is that good ideas come from libraries, universities, laboratories, etc. But the speaker argued that this is not the case. The speaker stated that coffee shops are the birthplace of good ideas. It is a community of people getting work done and/or talking to each other with the aid of a stimulant. What I think is most important is the fact that people are talking. In this field I often encounter people with a sense of entitlement. Generally, these individuals refuse to be open to new ideas, or assume their education from 30 years ago was the apex of knowledge in the field. I get it: no one wants to admit they are wrong. I know the tone of my blogs indicate that I may fall into this category of entitlement, but it could not be further from the truth. I am merely so impressed by recent research and my own findings that I often give my posts that extra “oomph” when I put my ideas to text. And I hope the stubborn people out there are reading my blog.

 

The TED talk reminded me of a quote by Conrad Hall. He said that “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” This quote should be plastered across universities, hospitals, libraries, and any place that intelligent people gather. I routinely encounter people who think they are omniscient. They believe they have the answer for everything, even if it is out of their specialty. Whether it is doctors of (insert specialty here), strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers, or sports coaches – far too many are guilty of this sense of mastery. Whether it be in one’s career, or sport, people must be open to new ideas if they are going to move forward. I am sure everyone has been guilty of this at one point or another. I certainly was a few years ago. Those who knew me then saw how steadfast I was to my health and fitness. I was going to be the best, if there was something out there that would give me a 1% increase, count me in. Once, Jonah Carson, my UCSC coach, was talking about me to another coach. He said that “if there was a National Championship on the other side of a brick wall, Austin would find a way to get through it.” When he told me this, I laughed, put a big smile on my face and wholeheartedly agreed with his statement.

 

During this time I thought CrossFit was the pinnacle of sports performance and fitness training. I would train about 6 times per week, even if I was in season. I figured I would be able to recover completely in between a 7am work out and a 6pm practice. In the off-season, that number oscillated between 6-9 times per week. I would do double days and triple days because I thought we lived in a state of meritocracy and the harder I worked, the more I was going to succeed. I was meticulous with my diet, measuring out my portions of macronutrients, took every vitamin that I thought would help me and most importantly: I made myself believe I was getting better. Throughout this time period I would drown out this nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me “You really aren’t jumping much higher”, “You don’t feel a difference with all these vitamins, do you? Because I certainly don’t”, and “You are too sore to walk…are you sure this is helping you?”.

 

I was eventually injured doing CrossFit. This was a moment of crisis for me, I thought I was invincible. CrossFit was essentially a habit, maybe even a small addiction. I craved it, that sense of accomplishment perpetuated by cognitive dissonance, the WAY above average cortisol levels adrenaline, the cult community. Only after reading The Power of Habit that I spoke of a few posts ago, did I retrospectively realize that this crisis is what allowed me to break my habit and be open to new information. I always thought that CrossFit was above science, that it was too new and too good to play by the normal rules. I made myself believe that the body was so amazing, it would just adapt to whatever you put it through and the outcome would be a bigger, faster, stronger me. No pain no gain, right? Pain is just weakness leaving the body, right? No rest days, right? This injury was a turning point, it shattered my sense of entitlement and ignorant arrogance. It was a necessary crisis.

 

What happened next could not have been more perfect, as if my own celestial stars were aligning. I started working at the best physical therapy office in Northern California, possibly all of California. I do not need to bore you with the details of what happened between now and then, but I have radically changed my thought process about EVERYTHING. Those who have worked with me in these two time periods can attest to that.

 

You see, I am lucky enough to work in a form of a “coffee shop” every day. I am surrounded by brilliant Doctors of Physical Therapy, and as much as I may consider them masters in the field, they are perpetual students. Each and every one of them is constantly deepening their understanding of the body. Ideas are bounced off each other daily and questions are encouraged. If I had not experienced my crisis moment, I never would have opened my mind to new ideas and allowed myself to think outside the box (any CrossFitters reading this, that is a pun for you).

 

So again, I challenge you to question everything, but also listen and rationally think through new ideas. Because I try to do this every day, I have had epiphanies about the biomechanics of volleyball, and sports performance training. Put yourself in opportunities to learn, because just when you think you have something figured out, you will realize you were wrong. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers (about what makes successful people successful) he states that, “achievement equals talent plus preparation.” He affirms that this country loves the idea of meritocracy, that hard work will get you anywhere you want in life. After all – isn’t that the “American Dream”? However, hard work is only part of the equation. Talent and the correct kind of preparation will lead to achievement. Do not just blindly chug away in the weight room with zero periodization, or focus on biomechanics.

 

Let that voice in the back of your head speak out, comment, ask me a question. What are you waiting for? This is the internet, where anyone can be anonymous!

 

Train Smarter to Play Harder

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: austineinhorn16@gmail.com

Schedule your appointment today!

The Biomechanics of Volleyball: Jumping (Part 3 of many)

PSPVB Final Blog PhotoJumping is one of the most innate things we can do as athletes. But, we cannot talk about jumping without talking about squatting, and you cannot talk about squatting without talking about quadruped (hands and knees) exercises, and prior to quadruped exercises there are supine positions that must be fulfilled. Let me quickly connect the dots so it makes sense later.

Jumping progression

These pictures represent basic movement perquisites to jump well. In order to jump functionally (there are MANY dysfunctional jumpers out there, if you have pain when you jump, that means you) you must be able to squat well. To squat well you must be able to preform quadruped exercises well. In order to preform quadruped exercises well, you must be able to support are your arms and legs while supine. If you look at every picture, the body position is pretty much the same. The only difference is how much you are fighting gravity.

 

The staples throughout all of these pictures are:

  • Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). To be able to create IAP, the diaphragm MUST be parallel to the pelvic floor, i.e. no arched or rounded backs.
  • Mobile hip. If you have immobility in the hip and are asked to squat or jump, your body is amazing at adapting and finding that needed mobility elsewhere. Wherever that mobility will divert to is the wrong place (often times it is the lower back, but it could other joints).

 

Jumping optimally is a by-product of loading the legs and core properly (just so there is no misinterpretation – of course other things are happening in the body when jumping, but to keep everything simple I am only addressing legs and core). Every anatomical part has a purpose, and they are all co-dependent. NEVER do we move in pure isolation. If you lift your big toe, there is a cascade of muscular events that coincide with that movement. So how can athletes prepare to improve their biomechanics? If you think that you can keep improperly squatting and jumping with high volume/intensity and the mechanics will work themselves out, you are wrong. Training fitness on top of dysfunction will only create more dysfunction and a higher susceptibility for injury.

 

You have to find your weakness and address it. Nearly everyone’s issues are caused by dysfunction at the hip or core. There are reasons why we crawl before we walk, and walk before we run. It is a developmental checklist for proper movement. Have you met someone who skipped crawling as an infant? Chances are they do not move quite right, and/or have pain.

 

It is funny what people chose to focus on when training for the squat/jump. Most everyone focuses on the concentric contraction (muscle contracted while shortening), when the perquisite to that is the eccentric contraction (muscle contracted while lengthening).

 

How you load is how you unload.

 

If you cannot control your descent you will not be able to control your ascent. If you bend forward excessively when you load, your body will attempt to extend your knees and hips simultaneously, but will not be able to. Your knees will extend first, then you will extend at the hip, but most likely the back because you never loaded your hip to begin with. Dysfunctions like this are prevalent with athletes everywhere. There is a chicken or egg battle within these dysfunctions too. For example, did the knees extend first because of a quad dominance? Or did the inability to load the hip correctly cause a quad dominance? I could go on and on, but that does not serve a purpose to you in this post. Again, the important thing is to fix your dysfunctions/weaknesses.

 

Rules to live by:

  1. Quality ALWAYS precedes quantity. One good squat is better than one hundred bad squats at 225 pounds.
  2. Again, how you load is how you unload.
  3. When squatting/jumping, torso and shin stay as close to parallel as possible. This helps ensure appropriate loading through the body.
  4. Big calves DO NOT mean you can jump high. Calves are certainly part of the equation but they are not the whole equation as many may think. More often than not, when I see big calves, I find a big dysfunction somewhere else.
  5. Pain is not some obstacle to be fought against. It is a beautiful signal of something going wrong. Don’t ignore it, embrace it. It is the check engine light that comes on before your ACL explodes, I mean, car dies. Your body will do whatever you want it to as long as you move correctly. (Here is a GREAT read on treating your body right – click here).

 

Concepts to think about:

  1. Find and address your weaknesses/dysfunctions. Test, add corrective exercise, and re-test. If you do not see a change, your corrective exercise is not addressing the issue. Most of the time, movement patterns can dramatically change with the correct neuromuscular activation.
  2. Put yourself through the progression. Can you create intra-abdominal pressure? Can you keep a neutral spine via the IAP throughout the gambit of movements?
  3. Whatever is most sore after playing/training is what you are predominantly using. For example, if you are doing olympic lifting movements to improve explosiveness in your jumping, and you are always complaining of back and upper trap soreness, let me introduce you to Mr. Reg Flag, because you two are obviously not acquainted.
  4. Lastly, ponder this: there are no strong or weak muscles in the body, only strong or weak muscle patterns. (If you want more information on that statement, email me).

 

Train Smarter to Play Harder

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: austineinhorn16@gmail.com

Schedule your appointment today!

The Biomechanics of Volleyball: The Arm Swing (Part 2.2 of many)

PSPVB Final Blog Photo

6/3/14 Update:

I no longer check the comments section on this blog post. If you have any questions do not hesitate to email me at austin@prefitpt.com. Otherwise check out our new sports performance website and dedicated sports science blog www.precision-sports-performance.com.

Also, the arm swing blog has taken a bit longer than expected, but it is still on the way.

 

Disclaimer: Within this series, I will probably get on a lot of people’s nerves. It can be a touchy and controversial subject. I will do my best to label what are just plain facts, and what is my opinion based on these facts. I invite you to question what you know, and my opinions.

 

Seeing is believing right? My goal in this post is to show you as much as possible and explain why it looks as it does. Last week I showed you how all throwing/hitting sports are the same. This week I will go into more detail on the pre-swing phase with more specificity to volleyball.

 

First, there are pretty much only two ways to throw a baseball/hit a volleyball, beginning with a high elbow or a low elbow. While both may be successful, one is much safer than the other. Any guesses?

 

I’ll let you decide throughout the post, I will do my best to just show you the facts.

 

I introduce to you the Russian Maxim Mikhaylov. Just to name a few of his accolades: In 2012 he won an Olympic Gold Medal, and earned Olympic Best Scorer and Best Spiker (these are awards won by statistics, not popularity contests). In 2011 he won; World League MVP, Best Blocker, and Best Scorer, World Cup MVP, and Champions League Best Server. This is just a few of his awards – in short he is really, really good looking (Zoolander anyone?). Did I forget to mention he’s only 25? Now check out his arm swing.

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 10.14.28 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 10.15.42 PM

 

Welcome Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho, or Giba for short, to my blog. He has been named MVP for the 2004 Olympics, 2006, World Championship, 2007 World Cup, and the 2007 Pan-American Games. He is also really really good.Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 12.38.17 PM

This is Kerri Walsh-Jennings, most notably known for winning the last 3 Olympic Beach Volleyball Gold Medals. Her and Misty May-Treanor might go down in history as the best duo to ever play beach volleyball. As a side note, the success of Kinesio Tape might owe everything to her. Surprisingly there aren’t many HD photos or videos out there of her attacking, here’s what I could find.

2728346915_4772d21925_o Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 1.13.07 PM

 

Now what do all of these athletes have in common?

Success, check.

Can hit really hard, check.

High elbow, check.

Lastly, and maybe most important of all, they all have shoulder injuries.

All of the athletes here have had or currently have shoulder problems.

Mikhaylov is missing this season due to a shoulder injury, so much for all that training he has put in. Check out his picture a little more in depth: look how high his shoulders are in his jump. This immediately “disconnects” his muscular kinetic chain from shoulders to hips and greatly reduces the amount of power available to him. It is scary to think that he could hit even harder.

Giba, shoulder injury. But look at his entire posture, my neck hurts just looking at that. Also, he is not rotating through the ball as much as he is piking (this should be obvious by now, you don’t pike to hit a volleyball).

 

Kerri Walsh-Jennings takes the cake though – 4 shoulder surgeries. Twice has it been the rotator cuff. She has had her shoulder taped since college, and in May of 2008 she said “I [have] been playing with a bum shoulder for 9 years.” Her shoulder is fine, or at least it used to be. She was not born with a “bum shoulder,” she simply has been using it incorrectly her entire career.

 

 

I heard an analogy the other day during a TED talk that applies perfectly to her situation. It is as if she goes and kicks a coffee table, and then only treats the bruise. She sees the bruise as the cause of the tenderness and discoloring. Her next plan of action would probably be to put more Kinesio Tape on it, massage it, and ice it. Meanwhile, she continues to kick the coffee table, always wondering why this bruise continues to appear. If she would simply change her swing mechanics, her shoulder would be much safer.

 

 

Why would it be much safer? Well, glad you asked. Her (this applies to most of the other dysfunctional athletes with a few exceptions) deltoid has become so dominant from achieving a high elbow position incorrectly.  This dominance has severely weakened the antagonist to the deltoid. Any guesses of what that is? Drum roll please…the rotator cuff, the one she has had surgically repaired, twice. It is visible here in her shoulder mechanics.

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 1.25.41 PM

Normal upward rotation of the scapula should be at 60° with full shoulder flexion, so where are those extra 20°? They went into her shoulder joint. Her dysfunctional shoulder has created hyper-mobility in her shoulder joint, which makes her prone to dislocations and, you guessed it, rotator cuff tears. So if the rumors are true, and she tries to play in the next Olympics, she better hope her shoulder stays together, or maybe she will just go get another surgery. I wonder if she has a loyalty punch card with her surgeon, 3 rotator cuff surgeries and you get one free!

 

Ok, so the volleyball swing is doomed, right? I have shown you three of the best volleyball players in the world, and they all have shoulder problems. Maybe we should just suck it up and accept volleyball and healthy shoulders just don’t mix.

 

NO, NO, NO! I heard someone the other day saying that the volleyball arm swing is an unnatural movement and we should just accept that and continue to deal with injury. You can do nearly anything with your body and remain injury free as long as your mechanics are good enough. Here are my knights in shining armor…

 

Welcome back Clay Stanley, 35 years young, 10 years of more reps than Mikhaylov, and playing for the USA. His awards include; Best Server at 2010 World Championships, 2008 Olympics, 2004-05 Champions League, Best Scorer at 2008 Olympics, 2004-05 & 2005-06 Champions League, and last but definitely not least, MVP at the 2008 Olympics and the 2007-08 Indesit Champions League Final Four. Oh, he also has a Gold Medal from the 2008 Olympics. But I do not have time to list all of his awards, I want to talk about his mechanics. By the way, ZERO shoulder injuries.

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 12.35.07 PM

 

First picture: Right elbow is low, with internal rotation of the shoulder, about 45 degrees of thoracic rotation and slight back extension.

Second picture: His hips start the acceleration phase, simultaneously with his left arm beginning to come down. His right elbow is still below his shoulder and he still has about 45 degrees of thoracic rotation. He begins to go into external rotation of his right shoulder.

Third picture: His left arm has finally come down to drive his right one up, he gets more external rotation as his shoulders finally start to come around.

Fourth picture: His left arm is all the way down which drove his right one all the way up, he finally comes out of external rotation and simultaneously extends his elbow and lastly snaps his wrist on the ball.

 

This is Paula Pequeno of Brazil. The MVP of the 2008 Olympics, and has 9 Gold Medals, 2 of them being Olympic Gold Medals. Here are the observations I made directly on her video stills.

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Guess the ONE thing she does not have? A shoulder injury. Are you starting to notice a trend here?

 

Check out David Lee, not only is he an extremely nice person, his swing mechanics are a personal favorite. I had the opportunity to talk to him at a tournament once, and he has no idea of his mechanics. He believes that he is just getting his arm into a neutral position to hit in any direction (not the worst answer).

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 9.23.58 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 9.25.42 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 9.43.41 PM

 

I’m sounding like a broken record now, Lee also has no record of shoulder injury.

 

I will now talk about baseball because it has been around for so much longer and has a TON more money being poured into research. Volleyball is still in it’s infancy.

 

Here is some more evidence favoring this method of ipsilateral rotation. Greg Maddux again, this picture is just beautiful. Look at the rotation in his core, elbow below shoulder, left arm driving the right arm, centrated spine, I could go on and on.

GregMaddux_2006_001Here is a wonderful comparison of Greg Maddux again, and Steven Strausburg.

mag_illo_strasburg3

mag_illo_strasburg4

 

You can see the end position is still nearly the same, but how they got there is COMPLETELY different. Due to the lack of resources and objective science for volleyball, we MUST look at ipsilateral rotation in other sports for help, baseball in particular. Strasburg has yet to play a complete season, while Maddux played 22 without shoulder injury. This isn’t just good luck vs. bad luck. It’s just good mechanics vs. destructive mechanics.

 

I may or may not decide to go into even further detail of this next week. Meanwhile, keep rubbing that bruise, or stop kicking the coffee table, it is your choice. After all it is your body and your sport. I am not trying to persuade anyone, only trying to inform. That being said, I leave you with a favorite quote of mine from Neil DeGrasse Tyson “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” 

 

Train Smarter to Play Harder

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: austineinhorn16@gmail.com

Schedule your appointment today!

 

The Biomechanics of Volleyball: The Arm Swing (Part 2.1 of many)

PSPVB Final Blog Photo  Disclaimer: Within this series, I will probably get on a lot of people’s nerves. It can be a touchy and controversial subject. I will do my best to label what are just plain facts, and what is my opinion based on these facts. I invite you to question what you know, and my opinions.

 

The volleyball arm swing.

 

This technique probably differs the most within the volleyball world. Elbow high or low? Hit with your shoulder or by rotating your hips? Focus on internal and external rotation, or elbow extension? Should I do pull ups or push ups to improve my arm swing? When do I get my elbow up? The list can go on an on, yet there is hardly any science telling us what do to specifically in regards to volleyball. I hope to solve that within this series.

 

The volleyball arm swing is a lot more complicated than it seems – there is way more to it than meets the eye.

 

First off, a volleyball arm swing is a rotation of the body. The term is “ipsilateral rotation”, rotation of one side over a fixed point. Right handed volleyball players rotate their bodies around an axis/fixed points that is their left side. Think of your left scapula and left hip being the hinges on a door, and the rest of your body being a less rigid door. Believe it or not, a volleyball arm swing is only slightly different from a baseball throw, javelin throw, discus throw, some really big basketball dunks, or a tennis serve. They are all ipsilateral rotations. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

 

Meet DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers. One of the best dunkers and shot blockers in the NBA. url-2Meet Matt Anderson, one of the few players to leave college early for a big six figure contract in Korea. He now plays for the USA and is the future of USA volleyball.Matthew Anderson, Gyorgy Grozer Meet Clay Stanley, widely considered the best opposite in the world, also one of the best servers in the world (the serve and attack arm swings are the same).volleyball06142012 US Men Look  Improvement France

Meet David Lee, one of the best middles in the world. Was an invaluable part of the 2008 Gold medal team.

dsl 13

Meet Andy Roddick, one of the best tennis servers in the world. (Psst, his mechanics also happen to be phenomenal). Check out this serve that he hit so hard, it didn’t bounce off the clay, but rather cratered itself into the ground. Honestly, I don’t know how ESPN doesn’t open with that clip every single SportsCenter. Australian Open 2007 - Day 11 U.S. Open Day 6 Meet Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers to ever play. Not to mention he played 22 seasons without ANY serious arm injuries. Go ahead and Google “Greg Maddux Injury History.” You will undoubtedly break Google because nothing will come up.imagesMeet Ashton Eaton, recently won the 2012 Olympic decathlon by setting a new world record. After viewing a photo of him coming out of the blocks for a race, our entire office came to a stand still because he is so biomechanically perfect. This perfection is what ensured him such dominance. I mean, the guy could have qualified to compete in nearly every event on it’s own. But no, he decides to be a boss and do them all. 628x471 images-1 Have you noticed any similarities yet?

 

First, look at their left arm. The position is nearly the same in every photo (sorry for the backside of Matt Anderson).

 

Look at their left legs. All of them are in some amount of hip flexion, those who are further along in the rotation have more hip flexion.

 

All are slightly side bent to the left, this is not the best for their bodies, but it creates a mechanical advantage and thus improves their performance. It is one of the few deviations from a perfect ipsilateral rotation. This deviation will create more power, but it will also lead to inconsistency and injury (cue Giant’s pitcher Tim Lincecum. Fantastic mechanics except for his HUGE side bend to make up for his lack of height. This contributes to his inconsistency).

 

Now for the why… Fixed points and muscle slings. Don’t worry, I’ll explain. Their left arms are down by their sides because it’s just part of the rotating/rolling pattern. Believe it or not, they are actually contracting their shoulder muscles NOT to rotate their arm closer to their body, but to rotate their body closer to their arm. In theory the left arm should look more like Eaton’s in the discus throw. The left arm and hip are acting as a fixed point, like the base of a crane. The base doesn’t move and brings it’s loads closer to it. Their left leg is going into adduction and flexion because of what the right arm is doing. Here is my crummy cell phone picture displaying the muscle slings from shoulder to contralateral hip. The picture is from a PHENOMENAL book (Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance, The Janda Approach, by Phil Page, Clare C. Frank, and Robert Lardner) if you’re a movement nerd like me. What to notice in this picture is that the lines follow the grains of all the muscles. They are the lines of force that the muscles will create when working in unison.

photo

We must train to use these muscle slings and normal human movement patterns. Why would you train any other way? You don’t buy a race car and drive it off-road expecting it to put up faster and faster lap times. I like one analogy in particular; say you have two cars of equal horsepower and torque. One is a Ford Mustang, the other is a Formula 1 car. In front of them is a track of unknown variables. They know there will be turns, hills, and straight-aways, but not what each of them look like. They will have to react. Assuming the drivers are the same, which car will win?

 

Right, the Formula 1 car. But why? It is because even though it has the same amount of power as the Mustang, it is efficient in putting that power down onto the ground, and controlling its body around all those variables. The Mustang will excel in the straight-aways, but that is it. Most likely it will crash, and the owner will rebuild it to go even faster in a straight-away with expectations of winning the race (sound familiar to most training methods?)

 

Now equate these two cars to athletes and training methods. The Mustang is the average athlete still doing pull ups and bench press for their arm swing, they run 20 minutes for their “cardio,” and they doing leg curls on whatever machine is available.

 

The Formula 1 car is one of my athletes who will train specifically to their sport and energy system. Whether it be correct energy system training, or resistance/weight lifting exercises with emphasis on optimal human movement patterns, we all are designed to move the EXACT same way. Yet we vary so much on training and techniques. Some of the stuff people do boggles my mind…Injury-300x292 box-squat-2bad

 

Now you may be thinking, “Well…how do I prepare myself to utilize these muscle slings so my arm swing looks like these guys?” Well you’re in luck because that’s what I will be talking about next week. I will also address what happens after prolonged bad shoulder mechanics. You can have completely different pre-swing mechanics and have the same outcome, that does not mean they are all right.

Out of all the rotational athletes I talked about, guess which one has the worst mechanics? I’ll give you the answer next week.

 

The proof is in the pudding. I have to mention that I have not given you my opinion in this blog post. I have shown you the world’s greatest athletes, pointed out how they all rotate nearly the same, and talked about how they move based upon today’s leading research. These observations, whether you chose to acknowledge them or not are why I believe what I do (I urge you to stop being willfully blind or create some cognitive dissonance to disregard these facts). I chose to believe things that have actual evidence supporting them, stuff you can see and feel. The beauty of biomechanics is you get instant results. You can feel how it is directly affecting you.

 

Could these athletes all really be where they are today based purely on talent and luck of not getting injured? No. They are as close as we can get to biomechanical perfections whether they know it or not, and I thank them for it because I love to watch them move.

 

Train Smarter to Play Harder

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: austineinhorn16@gmail.com

Schedule your appointment today!

The Biomechanics Of Volleyball: Ready/Defensive Position (Part 1 of Many)

PSPVB Final Blog Photo

 

Disclaimer: Within this series, I will probably get on a lot of people’s nerves. It can be a touchy and controversial subject. I will do my best to label what are just plain facts, and what is my opinion based on these facts. I invite you to question what you know, and my opinions.

 

First, let me define two components of this post.

Ready Position: The ready position is putting your body in the most optimal position to react to the ball.

Squat: A lowering down of your center of mass with equal flexion at the knees and hips (i.e. keeping torso parallel with shins). This is a HUGE generalization, the squat deserves its own post. Be on the look out for it.

 

Here is a list things I have heard about the ready position from coaches:

-Be on your toes

-Get your hands low

-Have high hips and a high chest at the same time (try it, let me know how your back extensors feel afterwards)

-Move your feet

-Don’t move your feet

-Relax your arms/Let your arms hang

-Rest your hands on your knees like you just finished a marathon. Ok, now remove them, that’s your ready position.

The list can go on and on…I find that coaches often times do not know how to arrange their players’ bodies to optimize their reactivity to the ball. Just like the in-practice punishments, they may be regurgitating what their coach taught them, or trying to create a solution to a problem they do not understand.

 

Most of the time the ready position looks something like this…

volleyball-serve-receive-1

 

It saddens me that this picture is found under “Volleyball Techniques” from the website listed in the picture. I will assume all my readers understand that a rounded back is bad and not address it. In this position the athlete’s hips are inhibited from working, the girl in the middle will move even less because she is on her toes. Being on her toes like this is actually decreasing the efficiency of her thighs and hips, as well as causing excess stress on her knees. In order to even see the ball, she must crane her neck into severe extension (no, you CANNOT strengthen a player’s neck to combat this dysfunction. That is like asking a Smart car to play the role of a a semi-truck).This athletic posture causes so many problems. How many times have you found yourself saying “I totally should have/could have gotten that ball”, “I just wasn’t fast enough”, “I couldn’t move me feet to react to the ball.” The standard “ready position” does nothing but prevent you from reacting to the ball and lead to injury.

 

 

The ultimate ready position will be more similar to a plain old squat.

THIS IS NOT A SQUAT:wod-main

THESE ARE SQUATS:Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 4.03.02 PM Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 3.59.02 PMAll the muscles in your legs should be contracting either eccentrically or concentrically, ones you have not even considered (Flexor sling anyone? Topic for a future post). Torso should be parallel to shins, entire spine should be in a neutral position, and the core should be properly stabilized. The shoulder blades should be firmly affixed to the thorax via proper shoulder girdle function (paging everyone’s absent Serratus Anterior). Having a stable shoulder blade will allow for efficient and and mobile Glenohumeral Joint function (shoulder). It is all about efficiency and balanced musculature.

 

So what does a proper ready position look like? The pictures of Sergio Santos and Reid Priddy are great examples.

Check out Sergio Santos from the Brazilian Men’s National Team. He is nearly 40 and still one of the best in the world. He can thank his biomechanics for that, whether he knows it or not.Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 2.03.42 PM

Look at that perfection. From left to right, he is reacting to the ball while maintaining flawless biomechanics. His torso is parallel with his lower leg, his feet are planted flat on the ground which allows him to access all power from his entire leg. His spine is in a neutral position, shoulder blades and core are stable, and his arms are mobile. This his how a ready position should look like.

Fact: Sergio has put himself in a position where he can constantly react to the ball in an explosive manner. You simply cannot argue with these biomechanics and his success.

 

Myth: Your hands are closer to the ground if you are leaning over versus squatting.

Get up out of your chair, put yourself in the incorrect ready position with your arms dangling, shoulders protracted. (Feel all that work your back, neck, and calves are doing? I am sure that is great for reacting to a ball, and injury prevention). Now sit your hips down into a squat. I guarantee you your hands did not get ANY higher.

 

Myth: I need to lean over to place weight on my toes so I can react. Or, I need to be on my toes to move fast.

Wake up! Leaning over like that to place weight on your toes disproportionately loads your calf and causes a sheering stress through your knees. It stretches your hamstrings and glutes, thus inhibiting them from powerful contractions. Proper jumping, sprinting, reacting biomechanics require extension at the knees and hips simultaneously before plantarflexion (extension at the ankle). You will lock your knees out first and then thrust your back up to try and jump, equalling more stress and inefficient movement. Or you will never get any hip extension. Hip extension is the driving force for all powerful movements.

If potential forward energy is desired, just hinge at the ankles to go forward while maintaining proper squat mechanics.

 

I have corrected many people’s ready positions, the first thing they ALWAYS say is, “I can actually move to the ball now!”

 

PLEASE debate with me. I love to talk about this and would enjoy explaining it further, or even being proved wrong. I only try and preach what science has already proved to be right. If you need more evidence, just look up photos/video of some of the other elite passers – Rich Lambourne and Aleksey Verbov for example. They pass and move with the same biomechanics.

 

If we continue to play and teach with improper mechanics, we merely perpetuate an incorrect jumping mechanics, ready position, and arm swing. This will inevitably result in failure, or even worse, cause you pain. I am here to help. Please question what you know, and learn. Experiment with yourself and seek results. Never stop getting better.

 

Train Smarter to Play Harder

 

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: austineinhorn16@gmail.com

Schedule your appointment today!

 

 

In-Practice Punishments (Part 4 of 4)

PSPVB Final Blog Photo

 

Finally, we come to the last post in this series. I am excited to be done with this topic, not because I’m sick of it, but because I have so many more topics I am eager to share with you all. I have talked about everything I can imagine in regards to in-practice punishments. It may not seem that important to many, but how many times have you preformed exercises like the ones I have spoken of in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3? I am sure it is a countless number of times. To think that the body will not begin change due to these exercises is asinine. Instead of giving you a list of exercises, I will talk about the big picture exercises.

 

There is no magic recipe for the best exercises, but there is definitely a right and a wrong. An easy way to steer yourself in the right direction is just to ask, “Does this exercises make me better at _________”. Keep it simple – there should not be some free association where, “since I’m running, it’s improving my ‘cardio’ so I’m getting better at ________”. Do NOT get me started on “cardio,” it is such a stupid, generalized, and misunderstood term.

 

Sidebar: If you are playing volleyball, STOP RUNNING as a method of training. This belongs in a post of its own, in the meantime just take my word for it. Seriously, I hate hearing my volleyball athletes tell me how they just ran for 4 miles, 15 minutes, etc.

 

Do not think too hard, when you perform some sort of metabolic exercise, you should feel the same as you would when playing your sport.

 

For weight training, does this directly improve your ability to play _______ sport? For example, would you rather have some big bulky club of an arm or a quick arm for volleyball?

Psst, the answer is quick arm. So why are you still bench pressing? Because you see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweet photos of himself benching enormous amounts of weight? Because it is what your college coach told you to do? Because you saw it in the most recent issue of Men’s Fitness (where they “unleash the 60 secrets great abs and big chests”)? Because you saw some video of an international player telling you that it is his secret to success? (Another topic for a post in the future, but just because it worked for one athlete does not mean it will work for you! Even at the highest levels of sport people are still training incorrectly). Because you don’t know what else to do and follow what every other uninformed athlete does in the gym? Hits close to home, doesn’t it? I know, I did it too. If only I could turn back time.

 

If you can not make it in for a session with me, then I challenge you from the depths of the blogosphere: Make yourself the guinea pig, try new things (these new things should come from reputable, professional sources in the field. Men’s Fitness is NOT one of these). Experiment! But be careful, do not make the same mistake I made. Do not lie to yourself because you so badly want the results from some “proven,” “elite,” workout routine. I take my athletes through a myriad of exercises and movements, but they all have the same staples: scientifically based energy system training with an emphasis on optimal human movement patterns. The final and often overlooked component is making each session an enjoyable experience. If you are having fun, than you are more likely to continue training and push yourself further.

 

Train Smarter to Play Harder

 

Please comment or feel free to email me with any comments, critiques, or questions.

Austin Einhorn, CSCS

Volleyball Skills & Conditioning Specialist

Contact: austineinhorn16@gmail.com

Schedule your appointment today!

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