In my last post I talked about a “checklist” of how to go about setting goals. This time I will share some of the goals that I have set in the training/athletic category (this will touch on lifestyle as well) and also some of my professional goals.
I’m definitely not the master of goal setting and I have become better at practicing what I preach by writing my goals out and sharing them with as many people as possible so that I am subconsciously held more accountable. I will also print out all my goals and put them in a couple of very visible places so they smack me in the face every time I start slacking off.
I’ll break this post down into two categories, my athletic/training (as well as some lifestyle) goals will come first and then I will touch on some of my professional goals.
For training if I have to some it up in one sentence….I will become this guy…..
Every week I get to read a number of articles, newsletters, journals and gardening magazines (only the first three are relevant to this post) and I get to digest a lot of information. Sometimes I see things that I shouldn’t do, sometimes I just find confirmation in the things that I am already doing and there is always something new that opens my mind to something I should be doing or incorporating into my training system. So here are some nuggets of wisdom: (more…)
I try to get these out on a Friday but I have been noticing that it’s always before or after. I guess the title should be random thoughts on a random day:
1. I have been quite busy with training, especially with the return of Matt Fields from the Tampa Bay camp (he played for Vero Beach this year). He is motivated and driven as ever and this off-season we are going to take his performance a step further from last year. Last year he made some incredible gains at Hocevar Performance (talk about strength and speed gains) while also going from 20% body fat to showing up at the Tampa Bay training camp at 10.3%. (more…)
A couple of years ago I talked to a colleague that played basketball with me (on a very high level) about his knee pain. I noticed that he had imbalances and was not doing anything about them, he said “I’ve had them before, nothing serious”. His team didn’t pay too much attention and kept him in practice for 4 hours a day (everything was sport specific and active play) while not looking into the issue. There was no recovery, corrective exercise, appropriate strength training, etc… Months later he tore his ACL. As bad as this was, less than a year later he injured it again (same ACL) because of innapropriate rehab and a speedy push to come back to playing. Much of it was not his fault as the people that surrounded him did not care enough about the player but rather the short term results of the team. Even though he is going to play again this year (after 2 years of non-stop issues), it’s not only physically, but also mentally tough for him to get back to his previous self.
Nobody really thinks or cares about knee issues until something bad happens. Remember, just because you don’t have knee pain, doesn’t mean that you are doing everything you should be to prevent it. Since I have had a lot of clients ask me about knee problems, I’m going to give some tips that are essential to incorporate into your training/recovery, so here goes:
1. Soft Tissue Work. For anyone that hasn’t purchased or doesn’t know what a foam roller is – find out and get it! Seriously though, Foam rollers are the poor mans massage therapist, soft tissue work for the masses. To explain what you do with in simple terms – Athletes (remeber if you have a body, you are an athlete….so it includes everyone) are instructed to use the roller to search for tender areas or trigger points and to roll these areas to decrease density and over-activity.. It is like self-deep tissue massage in a way. There will be many tight spots in your body, with the majority needing work, but in the case of the knee we will focus predominantly on the rectus femoris and quads.
Here is a little extra tip though: When you roll the quads and RF, begin by rolling with the leg extended and later on bend the knee and continue rolling it, this way you will change the length of the muscle while you are working it and the response will be better – trust me. As great as the foam roller is, nothing can replace soft tissue work performed by a specialist, for those who have never done it, I would recommend you find a good ART (Active Release Therapy) provider to get rid of the scar tissue and adhesions that have built up throughout your training. For those that have seen a practitioner, continue to do it…..
I know, I know, it was the only picture I could find….
2. Improve Ankle and Hip Mobility. I have said this many times over to my athletes, when you have knee issues the problem probably isn’t coming from the knee but rather the joint above or below it – hip or/and ankle. The lack of mobility in the hips can lead to knee problems and also low back issues and I can’t tell you how many athletes I see that have very imobile ankles (especially basketball players from all the taping and high top shoes). When you have crappy mobility in the ankles it makes the knee more mobile (unstable…..as the knee is meant to be a stable joint). I have shown a couple of exercises in previous posts but here is another one that you can use to improve ankle mobility.
Attention: Basketball Players!!!
3. Activate Your Glutes (Butt). The main reason I bring this up is because research has shown that people with patelo femoral issues had a lot more weakness in the hip abductors and external rotators (the focus is on the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius). A great way to address is this to use activation drills during warm ups and even before certain exercises where you want the glutes to fire (deadlifts, box squats, etc…). I love the x-band walks in this situation, but keep in mind that you have to keep your trunk (core) tight and not compensate by leaning over (stand tall and stay tight).
Activating your glutes is good for SO many reasons
4. Balance Out Your Training. This one may sound logical to some of you but most people still do not adhere to it (even the people that know that should!). How many times have you just trained and focused on your quads because that’s just what everyone else does and you want them to be huge but completely forget about the glutes and hamstrings? Without even mentioning how important the posterior chain (backside of the body) is to performance and injury prevention. If you are not balncing out your training then you are asking for knee injuries.
5. Do More Single Leg Work. I have talked about single leg more in depth in a previous post. Here are the main reasons for implementing it in your training: decrease imbalances between left/right leg, improved balance and proprioception, strengthen knee stabilizers (VMO and gluteals), providing a change of pace in training. Another thing to add, not only will single leg training prevent knee injuries, it will improve performance and increase potential for double leg exercises (squat, deadlift, etc…)
6. Making Sure You Have a Thorough Warm Up. As simple as this sounds, there are tons of people that skip the warm up because “they are short on time” and need to skip something. Bad idea! And there are those who do a quick one minute warm up and go right to heavy weights. Another bad idea! Apart from improving performance, a good warm up provides better lubrication for your joints (by increasing viscosity of sinovial fluid).
7. Learn How To Land Properly And Absorb Force. As I observe athletes when they land I see almost no knee break and absorption with the hips. What hapens in situations like this is that all the joints absorb the force rather than the muscles and tendons. When you jump up in the air try to land with minimal sound, soft knees, soft feet, lower into a half squat while pushing your hips back. Not only will your knees thank you but so will your ankles, hips and lower back.
Better land right!
8. Your Body Should Be In Proper Alignment. If you are out of alignment your knee may be taking a brunt of the load just doing everyday things such as walking. Now imagine sprinting, running, squatting and deadlifting, you better believe that it will add up and inury is looming. It is well worth investing the time and energy to get your body in alignment.
9.Lift The Right Way. Tons of people will tell me that they can’t do a certain exercise because it hurts their knees. After evaluation I findo out the only reason that it is hurting their knees, is because they are doing it wrong! I find the squat to be the main culprit. I each everyone how to squat properly, from athletes to old ladies, because it’s that important.
10.Look Out For The Irritated Rectus Femoris. First off, to see if the RF is causing any knee issues you have to perform the modified Thomas Test: Sit on the edge of a table or counter with your buttocks on the edge. From here, grab one knee and pull it to your chest while laying all the way back with the head and neck relaxed. What you’re looking for here is the position of the lower leg in relation to the ground. If your lower leg is perpendicular to the ground, you’re fine. However, if your lower leg is not at perpendicular, you have a short or stiff rectus femoris.
Modified Thomas Test
If you fail this test miserably, which many of you will, you have to focus on stretching your two joint hip flexor that crosses the hip and knee – the rectus femoris. If you failed the test above then definitely start using this stretch:
Rectus Femoris Stretch
11. Anti Inflamatory Diet. Nobody thought I was going to bring up nutrition while talking about knee issues huh? Well it is THAT important. Here is a little more in depth explanation from Mike Robertson:
“Diet plays a role in inflammation, especially dietary fats. The fats, more specifically the fatty acids, we ingest directly affect our body’s production of eicosanoids (hormone-like substances) and the ratio of pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Cutting back on saturated fat, and even omega-6 fatty acids (arachadonic acid), which tend to be pro-inflammatory, while increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), which are anti-inflammatory, will help to prevent the occurrence and progression of systemic inflammation associated with mild infection, poor diet, and obesity.”
I hope that these tips help you out while preventing knee injuries or helping rehab an already existing issue. If you would like something more in depth then look no further than the Buletproof Knees Manualwhich is an incredible product that outlines everything from anatomy of the knee to prevention strategies and rehab after knee injuries.
Post a comment if you use any of these strategies and they help you out.