Muscle ups, Plyometric training, and how they apply to being a rehab specialist

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am lucky to have to some really smart, dedicated, good-looking friends who also happen to amazing strength coaches. Not only do I often get to talk shop with them but I actually spend weekends with them learning how to pick up and put down heavy things. It’s funny, the first time I went to one of these “strength and conditioning” seminars, I jokingly said, “I am going to a powerlifting seminar. I’m sure nothing I learn this weekend will be applicable to clinical practice.” You see where this is going. (I was obviously very, very wrong)

I recently attended Supreme Strength 2.0 put on by my buddies Todd Bumgardner and John Gaglione. At the start of the day, everyone in attendance introduces themselves and talks about what he/she wants to get out of the day. When it came to me I said (or at least, I tried to say. Ok, this is what I was thinking and maybe a few of these words came out in a coherent sentence.)

I have found very quickly, especially when dealing with athletes that when they come in complaining that they have low back pain while deadlifting or shoulder pain while overhead pressing, that it is best to examine their technique first and foremost. Most of the time, I have found that fixing their technique is just as effective to decreasing their pain as any manual therapy technique in my tool box.

Whether you follow Craig Liebenson’s “Bridging the Gap” between rehab and training or Charlie Weingroff’s “Training= Rehab Rehab = Training” philosophy, you are well aware that the lines have become very blurred. The benefit here is that everyone gets better and learns from each other. Most of all, it benefits the client/patient because we as professionals now have a greater ability to give each individual what is best for them rather than what is best for them (so long as it fits within our tool box of what we prefer to do). Hopefully, this will end the insanity of Mrs. Jones going to a chiropractor with back pain and being told she needs and adjustment, going to the physical therapist and told she needs exercise, and finally going to a massage therapist and being told she needs soft tissue work.

I digress….

The following are two situations in which a strength and conditioning background  helped patients in a way I would never have been able to without the knowledge imparted on me by some really smart friends.

1) The technique of a muscle up (quite frankly, what a muscle up is)– I had an athlete come in with low back and shoulder pain. She said that her coach was intent on her doing a muscle up on a straight bar. Here is a video for those unsure of this exercise…

He makes it look easy. Trust Me. It’s Not.

Not only that, but check out the shoulder elevation and internal rotation needed to complete this exercise. It’s shoulder impingement waiting to happen. Couple that with the fact that someone doing this needs to absolutely own a regular pull-up and we can now start to see how/why this athlete has shoulder pain.

Ironically, a few weeks prior to this encounter I had a chance to attend Chad Waterbury’s Rings and Power Tour at Ranfone Training Systems. The first exercise Chad taught was the muscle up. Among the keys to this exercise: 1) A False Grip 2) The ability to pull yourself up into the mid torso region of your body, making the transition easier 3) a crazy amount of strength required to make numbers 1 and 2 possible.

I had this conversation with the athlete and she quickly realized that 1) she was not ready for this exercise and 2) attempting this exercise was aggravating her shoulder.

Finally, I showed her the video of Chad Waterbury doing a muscle up:

2) In- season plyometric training for a basketball player is not how he should be spending his time in the weight room Any plyometric training for an athlete with movement and strength deficiencies is a problem, but that’s for another post. This particular conversation occurred with a high school basketball player’s father. He was talking about plyometric training for his son continuing throughout the season. On the surface, it makes sense. Basketball is a plyometric sport where jumping and change of direction are paramount.

However, to put it simply, we need our athletes to focus on the things they don’t do in their sport. For basketball players (and most athletes) plyometric training and conditioning is the basis of what they do every day. Therefore, strength training and corrective work should be how they are spending the majority of their supplemental time in the weight room.

Again, our ability to communicate with the client is often just as important as physically treating their injuries. It’s impossible to have one without the other.


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