Three Reasons Our Athletes Are So Healthy

During a recent mentorship at MBSC one of the attendees asked me…

“What is the number one reason your athletes are so healthy?”

His question got me thinking and naturally I wasn’t able to give him a single answer so I gave him three.

I believe the “The Big Three” injury prevention moneymakers in our programming are..

1). Progressive Jump, Hop and Bound Progressions

2). Single Leg Training

3). “Anti”-Core Training

Let me expand on these ideas below.

 1). Progressive Jump, Hop and Bound Progressions

 Jump, hop and bound progressions are so valuable to us for injury prevention not because it teaches our athletes to produce force but because it teaches our athletes to accept force. Excuse me as I repeatedly steal this quote from Robert Dos Remedios but I think it’s perfect.

            “How fast would you drive a Ferrari with no brakes?”

Not very fast I’d bet. All of our athletes come in with the “Ferrari Mindset” they want to run faster and jump higher, and it is our job help them do that but first we need to teach them to land more efficiently.

From a connective tissue and motor control training standpoint progressive jump, hop and bound progressions are priceless. Research has shown that with progressive jump training, connective tissue adapts more “spring like” qualities, making it more pliable and elastic, therefore less susceptible to rupture.[i] Furthermore, progressively challenging our athletes to dynamically control posture and joint positions will make them more likely to do so when on the field of play.

The key in these drills is demanding landing proficiency prior to allowing increased intensity and reactivity. The benefits from this are two fold:

1). Demanding a perfect “Stick” landing in the early phases will ensure that the athlete is not hiding any energy leaks during programming of reactive progressions down the road.

2). Improved landing efficiency will result in a more efficient amortization phase resulting in improved power output on the back end of the movement.

Check out the videos below to see the progressions we use at MBSC.

Single Leg Hop Progression:

Bound Progression: 

Jumping Progression:

2). Single Leg Training

 Maybe I am biased because I work for Mike Boyle but I would argue that single leg training is just a more logical approach to lower body exercise. Whether you are an NFL linebacker or a financial analyst you live your life one leg at a time. Locomotion is by definition a single activity, this cannot be argued.[ii]

To be clear, I’m not arguing that bilateral exercise is bad (calm down powerlifting bro) I’m just stating that the single leg approach has more carry over for sports and everyday functionality.

Understand that the second we remove one foot from the ground, standing becomes a multi-planar activity. Although, activities like lunging, single leg deadlifting and single leg squatting occur primarily in the sagittal plane our posture during these exercise is being maintained by stabilizing musculature that is working in the transverse and frontal planes.

With out activity in our stabilizing subsystems we would collapse. This does not occur in bilateral exercise, simply because there is no demand for it. Walking and running is a unilateral, rotational activity. Preparing for it should evoke the same physical demands. I believe the reason we see so few non-contact knee injuries is because of the progressions shown below.

Split Squat Progression (Knee Dominant Supported)

Single Leg Squat (Knee Dominant Unsupported)

Single Leg Deadlift (Hip Dominant Unsupported)

3). “Anti” Core Training

 “If the spine is moving you are strengthening, not stabilizing. Core stabilization equals no movement of the spine.” – Michael Boyle

 Without a doubt I’d say the reason we see so few back injuries at MBSC is because of the programming choices we make when it comes to training the “core”. I personally feel cheesy using the term “core” but for lack of a better word we’ll stick with it.

We program exercises that teach our athletes to “brace” against movement at the spine instead of creating movement at the spine. We call this “Anti” core training, specifically Anti-Extension, Anti-Flexion, Anti-Rotation, and Anti-Lateral Flexion.

Teaching our athletes to bolster their core against movement is what protects their backs on the field but is also what allows them to move most efficiently on the field. Having a stable point at our midsection allows us to leverage the extremities to produce force. Athletes unable to brace and subsequently relax their core efficiently will demonstrate energy leaks through the spine and extremities when under stress in their sport, increasing chance for injury and reducing force output. To borrow a quote from Eric Cressey “You can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe.” Here are some examples of “Anti” core progressions that we use frequently.

Anti-Extension Progression

Ball Rollout

Wheel Rollout

Body Saw

Anti-Rotation Progressions

Anti-Rotation “Pallof Press”

Diagonal Chop

Diagonal Lift

Carrying Variations

Goblet Carry

Farmer Carry

Suitcase Carry

What is ironic is these three training interventions cannot be separated. Each one of these methods seamlessly supports the other. Single leg strength will improve if we train for functional core stability. Single-leg hopping will be supported by increased single leg strength and all jumping and hopping drills wen coached well can help train dynamic core stabilization. Good training supports good training and maybe like Mike Boyle always reminds us “injury prevention is just good training.”

[i] Schleip, Robert, PhD, MA. “Training Principles for Fascial Connective Tissues: Scientific Foundation and Suggested Practical Applications.” Http:// N.p., n.d. Web.

[ii] Ayyappa, Ed. “Normal Human Locomotion, Part 1: Basic Concepts and Terminology.” JPO: Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics 9.1 (1997): 10-17.