Leaking No More

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Over the past few weeks I have presented to you a series of articles that discussed and addressed energy leaks. If you have no clue what I am talking about, and have not yet read Part I, Part II or Part III, I would encourage you to do so before reading the rest of this blog. They cover the most common regions of the body, that when adequately addressed via proper training / exercise, limit faulty movement, making you less susceptible to injury which allows you to achieve maximal results from training (strength and power gain, enhanced speed and agility, fat loss and muscle gain, etc.).

I will let you check those out in depth, but I know many of you do not have the time right now. So for an extremely quick recap…you have to properly train the core / trunk, hips (butt/glutes, lateral rotators, etc.) and thoracoscapulohumeral region (upper back, shoulder blade and shoulder) to ensure proper movement and limit energy lost during training and/or sport (these are the most common regions but not exclusive!).

When you do so through proper training, energy leaks are “plugged” through efficient movement. The timing and strength of the muscles that move the joints are optimized leaving you with efficient movement, enhanced strength and greater power. Not to mention a higher level of coordination, balance, mobility, stability and more. When all of these parameters are improved, you will experience a greater level of injury prevention, enhanced overall athleticism, and when nutrition is taken care of, a physique that the Greek Gods would be jealous of (or Goddesses for the ladies)!

So let’s take a quick look at a before and after example of a Momentum Athlete who fixed his energy leaks and addressed his nutrition with a specialized program that combined principles of both physical therapy, strength and conditioning and performance based nutrition. That’s what I call true performance training!!

Meet Steve, Milford High School quarterback and pitcher.  Steve came to Momentum with a history of shoulder pain; not good when your sports require you to perform repeated high velocity overhead throws (tossing a football and pitching a baseball).

Steve Before: shoulder pain, decreased performance

Steve After 2 Months of Performance Training with Momentum PT: pain free, athletic and 15lbs heavier!

Conventional lifting (at the gym with his buddies) was causing Steve to further exacerbate his issues and the advice he had heard from others about “strengthening his rotator cuff” was flawed.  What Steve needed was to fix his energy leaks, from the core and hips to the thoracoscaupulohumeral junction.

While targeting Steve’s shoulder was definitely a piece to the puzzle, if Steve did not fix his other weaknesses (energy leaks) he would have continued to experience pain, decreased performance and significant injury.  Without addressing the other energy leaks and movement faults, Steve’s shoulder would have continued to fall victim of the demands of his sport and his flawed movement. Eventually Steve would have experienced back pain, knee pain, elbow pain and more… common symptoms that precede injury and limit performance.

Don’t be left banging your head against the wall with poor training

But with the programming, coaching and guidance from Momentum, Steve utilized his outstanding work ethic and dedication and built himself a body that every athlete should strive for. He targeted his energy leaks throughout his entire body, leaving him with a body that is pain free, strong, powerful and one that utilizes efficient movement for optimal performance…not to mention 15lbs heavier due to a little extra lean mass (yep, 15lbs of MUSCLE in 2 months). He improved his movement, is the strongest he has ever been, is pitching at the highest velocity he has ever pitched and continues to feel great.

Athletes must address their weaknesses by” plugging” their energy leaks with an individualized training program. When they do so results are more than favorable and will provide them with the greatest opportunity to succeed in sport and life. That is what true performance training delivers, and is what every athlete (competitive and recreational alike) has the right to experience. So fix those leaks and experience pure performance!

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Free Performance Nutrition Handouts and Thank You

The Momentum PT Team would like to again thank everyone who attended the Youth Sports Nutrition Seminar March 21st and last night at Momentum. We shared tons of great information regarding performance based nutrition, and we were excited about all of the questions and input from the participants.

We also wanted to thank you for your donations to the Sharon Timlin Race for ALS research. For more information on how you can support this great cause please go here http://www.sharontimlinrace.org/. It is an amazing event packed with fun events that supports a great cause! Again we thank you.

With your help, between the two seminars we raised $300. And even better, Momentum has decided to match the $300 received from the attendees!! A total donation of $600 will be made to the Sharon Timlin Race for ALS. 

Its Always a Good Time to Give

The Momentum Team also wanted to thank you for your dedication to learning about how nutrition, along with proper performance training, can help keep your youth athlete from free from injury, healthy and performing at an optimal level.

 Winning Nutrition – Fueling Your Body for Performance and Success (Kids)

We know there was a lot of information covered last night! But don’t worry…in order to help you remember it all and quickly apply the information we have provided the handouts presented last night below. Utilize them and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Never enough information…just need a way to retain it all!! Click the links below.

Meal and Snack Recipes

Protein Shake Construction Guide

Better Options for Common Foods

Glycemic index (Sugars)

If you would like more information and many more easy charts you can apply immediately regarding nutrition, training, daily activities and more check out The Other 23 Hours E-Book. When you take care of your entire day, optimal health and enhanced performance are inevitable. Find out how with The Other 23 Hours E-Book.

Any feedback about the seminar would be great and much appreciated. Please leave a comment on Facebook and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter (to the right of the screen) in order to receive notification about free information that covers performance training, nutrition and much more!

THANK YOU!!!

Are You Leaking Part III

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

In Part I and Part II of this series I informed you about energy leaks, how they can lead to decreased performance and how, when they are neglected, will often lead to injuries that could have been prevented through proper training. If you haven’t read Part I and Part II, I suggest you do so before continuing with Part III.

 

From Part I to Part II the focus moved up the kinetic chain from the hip to the core, and in this piece I am going to travel a bit further north and discuss the thoracic, scapular and humeral region (upper back, shoulder blade and shoulder, which I will refer to as the thoracoscapulohumeral region).

Like the hip and core, the thoracoscapulohumeral region is a “junction” that requires an adequate amount of stability in order to efficiently transfer energy from one point to another. While many would have you believe that it is the lack of mobility at the shoulder that limits performance and increases your chances for potential shoulder/elbow injuries (sometimes it definitely is), it is more often the lack of stability at the thoracoscapular junction (upper back and shoulder blade)  that causes improper movement and the resulting symptoms at the shoulder and elbow.

The scapula (shoulder blade) is a zone of attachment for nearly 20 muscles, all of which have influence on the movement that takes place within the region.

 

With so many muscles influencing the movement (both stability and mobility), it is no wonder that there is a high instance for improper movement. Commonly, the scapula is not positioned or moving correctly, and therefore the rotator cuff and other muscles that control movement at the shoulder cannot adequately function.

With an unstable and “leaking” thoracoscapula junction, energy is lost and proper position, function and movement of the shoulder is compromised. If repeated with improper training and sport movement, the shoulder and elbow often fall victim of high forces that cause inefficient and painful movement.

You can think of the scapula as being the platform or base for proper movement and energy transfer through the shoulder and elbow. If the platform is not stabilized, the base for proper movement will be inadequate and energy will be lost and placed on the wrong structures leading to poor performance and overuse injuries. A fair depiction that will help you better understand this scenario is to imagine shooting a cannon from a rowboat (think throwing a baseball or football, serving in tennis, swinging a golf club, etc  with an unstable scapula for example)…it works a lot better from a battleship (stable scapula).

 

VS

I’LL TAKE THE BATTLESHIP PLEASE

The energy that is traveling through the scapula and shoulder, and down the arm has to go somewhere (according to the laws of conservation of energy).  If it is not able to travel the path that is most efficient, optimal performance is compromised and injury potential is increased as the energy and movement takes place at the wrong “spot.” The “wrong spot” often occurs at the shoulder (ball and socket) and elbow instead of making it all the way to the end of the chain (hand).

This will cause unwanted stress at the shoulder and/or elbow. When accumulated through repeated movement (improper training and/or sports), the unwanted stress will result in pain and injury…again resulting in decreased performance and a hiatus from sport / exercise / physical activities…pretty much life sucks!

So in order to prevent this from happening, we must first address the stability at the scapula in order to allow proper movement and energy transfer through the thoracoscapulohumeral region. When performed CORRECTLY, the following exercises are a good start to promote stability and proper movement, and help to minimize the unwanted energy leaks.

 

WALL SLIDE: Be sure to keep the core tight as you slide your forearms up the wall and get the shoulder blade as high towards the ears as possible at the top of the movement.

 

STABILITY BALL Y: Keep the core tight and focus on bringing the shoulder blades together to initiate the movement.

 

CABLE / BAND ROW: Like the SB Retraction, focus on initiating the movement with the shoulder blades coming together and focus on finishing with the elbow in line with the body and shoulder back…always keeping the core engaged.

While these exercises are great for promoting stability and proper movement at the thoracoscapulohumeral region for a majority of people, the most optimal training program will be one that is individualized. If you skip these steps and go straight to the “rotator cuff strengthening” as many programs do, you will only be reinforcing poor movement patterns that lead to decreased performance and injury.

When the information from Part I, Part II and Part III of this series is appropriately applied within a training program, significant performance gains (movement efficiency, strength, power, muscle size, etc) will be achieved and injury potential will be reduced.

In the fourth and final installment I will bring all of the information together and share with you the results of a performance program that incorporated these principles and helped an athlete achieve a pain free and high performing body…and 15 extra pounds of lean muscle in two months!…stay tuned.

Athlete of the Week

Mike Kozub Before

Mike Kozub After 2 Months of Performance Training

After 2 months of dedication to smart and hard training, Hopkinton’s Mike Kozub has made some drastic improvements to not only his movement and efficiency but his athletic physique as well. Mike has made it a point to give it all he has got when training at Momentum, and has done a great job taking care of his off day training, corrective exercises and nutrition from the guidance that he consistently receives from Momentum. We are excited for Mike’s upcoming season.

These are the results of a dedicated athlete who takes his individualized performance training program to the max. For these reasons Mike has won himself the title of Athlete of the Week and has provided another great example of what it means to be a Momentum Athlete…Great work Mike!!!

Are You Leaking Part II

If you missed Part I, I suggest you check that out first before reading the rest of Part II. Part I explains the underlying concept of why fixing your energy leaks is critical to overall health, fitness and performance. If left unaddressed, your energy leaks (weaknesses) will prevent you from achieving optimal performance (strength, power, speed, quickness, endurance…depends on your goals / sports / activities). And even worse, you will be at a much higher risk for injury. Optimal health, fitness and performance is hard to achieve when you are sidelined by injury.

So on with Part II…

From Part I, we will move our way up the kinetic chain: from the hips to the core. “Core training” has become a common, but often inappropriately applied concept that many fitness experts, enthusiasts and weekend warriors believe they are addressing. First, one must understand what actually constitutes the core. This would take a whole book by itself to adequately cover, so I will make it a bit more simple.

We will refer to the musculature that surrounds the hips, low back and mid back as the “core” (this is grossly simplified for the sake of this post as I could argue that the “core” could run the entire length of the body and could actually change depending on the situation!).

Much more complicated...but a good start.

The core has many functional “jobs,” but the main purpose of the core when it comes to movement during sport and everyday life is to prevent motion. When the core is properly engaged, energy is allowed to pass from one point to another (top to bottom, bottom to top, diagonally, etc). If the core is not properly engaged, and engaged with proper timing and strength, excess motion will occur at the hips and back and energy will be lost.

This will result in decreased performance, and in many cases, low back and/or hip pain. The majority of low back pain that plagues our athletes (as well as general population) is a direct result of energy leaks that occur at the core.

So what can we do??

Train to prevent motion, stop energy leaks and keep our athletes and general population performing at their best all while preventing injury. If we don’t address these energy leaks pitching  and batting velocities will be decreased, agility and speed will be much reduced, strength and power will suffer and overall athleticism will be subpar at best…and our athletes (more specifically their parents) will be providing a surgeon with the funds for a new Porsche.

I recently posted a piece on a favorite local restaurant, and within that piece also covered a few exercises that we can do to train anti-motion at the core in order to address energy leaks. They are very much applicable to this post…so here they are.

 

1)      Plank from Forearms               Hold for 30-60s

Tips: Keep your back straight, elbows right under the shoulders and don’t let the hips sag towards the floor.

 

 

2)      Side Plank           Hold for 30-60s per side

Tips: Keep your back straight, elbow right under the shoulder and don’t let the hips sag or bend.

 

 

3)      Anti-Rotation Press         10 reps per side (face the other direction)

Tips: Push the hands straight out from the chest and don’t allow the body to rotate by squeezing the core (stomach) and hips (butt).

 

 

 

In each of the exercises the goal is to resist forces (gravity and the resistance of the cable machine) from making you move at the core. Don’t let the belly button or hips drop to the floor with the planks and don’t allow yourself to rotate towards the cable machine with the anti-rotation press.

Master these exercises along with the exercises in Part I, and you are on your way to correcting 2 of the most common (but not specific to you…individualization is best) energy leaks we consistently observe among athletes and the general population.

In Part III you will learn about the last extremely common energy leak you likely need to fix, as well as an awesome example of how when training to fix these leaks, athletes become the strongest, most powerful and injury resistant athletes possible!

Are You Leaking Part I


By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

Don’t worry, this is not a personal question involving liquids of any kind!

The type of leaks I am referring to are energy leaks. I have briefly discussed energy leaks in a past post, but it is a crucial piece to understanding why proper movement is critical for overall health, fitness and performance success…and thus a concept that needs to be expounded upon!

You can think of an energy leak as a site where energy is lost in the body along its path to producing movement. The energy leak will occur at a joint that is unstable either from lack of strength, the inability to contract the proper musculature or the improper timing of muscular contraction (or a combination of the three). When a joint is unstable, the energy produced at any one point cannot be efficiently transferred to another point and produce optimal movement.

Like a broken bridge, energy leaks decrease or completely prevent the flow of traffic (energy)…Good Luck!

The lack of proper energy transfer, and the subsequent deficient movement, will result in decreased strength, power, speed and quickness (all of which are essential for athletic/fitness success). And worst of all, the deficient movement, especially when produced repeatedly during sport, recreational training/activities or activities of daily living, will often result in injuries.

For example, let’s take a look at running / sprinting…a common form of recreational fitness and a movement pattern found in almost every sport (except for golf, bowling, spelling and mathletics…all worthy sports, just no running).

When running there will be an action/reaction force between the contact of the “drive” leg and the ground. This force allows for the individual to essentially pull themselves over the surface and propel themselves forward. Depending on how strong and in which direction the force is that occurs between the foot and the ground determines how fast the individual moves.

For optimal movement and maximal speed, the force produced at the foot needs to be as strong and efficient (in the right direction…down and back) as possible. This force must be able to travel from the “drive arm” through the shoulder, upper back, core, and hips and down the knee, ankle and foot to the ground. If there is a leak along the way, energy will be lost from the system, the force between the contact foot and ground will be reduced, overall performance (in this case speed) will be compromised and injury potential will increase.

A Closer Look

Let’s take a closer look at an energy leak that is all too often observed in the untrained or improperly trained individual.

A common energy leak originates at the hip but is most apparent when observing the knee. When the glutes (your butt) and other supporting structures at the hip are functioning properly (contracting at the right time and with adequate strength) the femur (upper leg) is able to stay in optimal position which allows the knee to stay aligned. Optimal position results in the most efficient energy transfer which provides maximal performance and decreased injury risk.

When the glutes are not functioning properly, the upper leg is allowed to fall inward which produces a “caving in” of the knee (valgus). The caving in of the knee results in poorly directed forces being placed upon the knee (and supporting structures such as the ACL and MCL) and all too often results in significant injury. And even if an injury is not suffered, the energy transfer to the foot and ground will be reduced, due to improper direction of force production, resulting in decreased speed (or quickness, agility, etc depending on the intent of movement).

Notice how the force is directed in on the knee…no good for the surrounding ligaments and other structures (ACL, MCL, etc)

Other examples of the detrimental effects of a “caving knee” as a result of improper / insufficient training include, but are not limited to:

1)      Poor jumping / landing mechanics: Often observed in basketball or volleyball players

2)      Poor cutting mechanics: Often observed in basketball / football / soccer players

3)      Poor hip and leg drive: Often observed in baseball / golf / tennis players

4)      Poor lifting mechanics: Often observed in individuals who are training either for sport or recreational purposes.

In each situation there is an energy leak that can be addressed through proper training that would allow the individual to enhance overall performance (vertical leap, change of direction quickness, pitching and batting velocity, weight lifted, etc) as well as stave off serious injuries that will result in an overnight visit to the Emergency Room and ensuing nap on the surgery table.

The training would target the supporting structures at the hip (glutes, deep lateral rotators, etc) depending on the individuals unique movement faults / energy leaks. Proper activation and strengthening is a must and cannot be passed over (although some of the “corrective” exercises may seem too low level and not important to some…dead wrong!). If the time is not taken to establish efficient movement, activation and specific strength of the stabilizing musculature, there is a great risk for performance decrease and injury.

Some exercises to address glute weakness include the side lying clam, glute bridge and wall glute iso march…all of which are critical to perfecting and understanding how to perform correctly.

 

 

If you are leaking, your performance will suffer, pain will surface and in the worst case scenario (which is becoming all too prevalent especially among our youth athletes), significant injuries will occur…

In part 2 learn about the other common energy leaks that are plaguing our athletic as well as general population.  Fix these and experience enhanced performance, health and fitness while drastically reducing your risk of the ever increasing, and absolutely unnecessary injuries.

What are your thoughts?…leave them below.

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