Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top 10 Programming pitfalls for ACL's

Recently I've been talking about programming nightmares in regards to the ACL and how common they are. Many athletes reading this will probably be able to empathize with some of these types of training. Programs right now should be better than they were 10-20 years ago and really they should be vastly better than they were 3-5 years ago. Yet I still see coaches and parents and even other athletes trying to implement these same type of programs. It makes sense though, they are just doing what they were taught in the endless circle of training under unqualified instructors. I realize most people mean the best but almost all the time it's better to leave it to a specialist (though some of those 'specialists' are still doing some of this stuff). Each of these could be books just within themselves, which is why I'm going to devote a full article on these later. So for now, I'll save you some reading time, but don't be afraid to ask questions.

1)Plyometric programs without a solid strength base
I probably see this one more than any other, and it amazes me. I still see way to many contacts, coaches having kids with close to zero training age doing Touches and even depth jumps. Over doing plyos is the quickest way to overtraining and injury. Plyometric or reactive type exercises like jumps, hops, box jumps, squat jumps, depth jumps etc. are all very very hard on your body, especially your nervous system. Your nervous system works everything, it is the strongest and most stable system in our bodies, if it is off we are off. But also if the body does not have enough strength and intra + intermuscular coordination your athletes are going to have some big problems.
If an athlete does not have enough strength than doing plyometrics will not lead to any gains, will most likely produce poor movement patterns and can be very harmful to his/her body.

2)Poor warm up, stretching and muscular activation techniques
-You are still the dumbass static stretching before training and competition. Wake up! You are literally weakening your athletes as well as dramatically increasing their risk for injury.

-You're the person that has athletes jog/bike for 10 minutes pre workout. Again, this significantly hampers an athletes ability to perform in training and competition. (I'll explain this further in the article.)

-You're not doing anything to active the muscles your athletes need, lengthen the others that are inhibiting them, or increase their efficiency before hand.

-You haven't figure out that your athletes cannot be leading their own warm-up

-You have no understanding of lung volumes, breathing, heart rates, and/or core temperature. You need a rise in core temp, the lungs need to expand by working, and the body needs to feel like it has already played for at least two minutes.

-And now for the worst one, You DON'T EVEN WARM UP!!
I should not need to say anything here, but coaches STILL DO IT. Ridiculous.

3)Low-No glute/hip dominant exercises
Your glutes have the ability to make you faster, stronger, larger, healthier and decrease your risk of injury. If you haven't figured this out yet it is time to either get out of training or open a book because you are either an idiot or you just have not applied yourself in too long. Either way, not good.

4)Too much static stretching of the hamstring
One of the functions of your hamstring works on the knee in almost the same way as your ACL does. To static stretch the hamstring you are decreasing it's ability to contract, and therefore decreasing its strength. For now, just stop stretching it all the time. Especially with female athletes.

5)Too much hamstring flexibility.
I know this is similar to four but they are different even though they run across each other.Too much length of the hamstring causes a decrease in function and can help your athletes go further into anterior pelvic tilt. Instead of working on flexibility of the hamstring work on it's strength but only in a functional way. ABSOLUTELY NO LEG CURLS.

6)Training in the same way you play. With ankles taped, knee sleeves on, while wearing high tops Bad Bad Bad.
During training is the most controlled environment you are going to experience. Take this time to strengthen the areas that are weak by not using these supportive cruches.

7)Too much attention to the knee itself. Look above and below the joint.

8)The VMO is not everything.
A program full of TKE's are not going to solve a knee problem.

9)Get off the isolated leg exercises
-Leg Curls: the hamstrings never work independently of the glutes in movement, so why would you train them that way. You also do not want to deal with hamstring dominance.
-Leg Ext's: I shouldn't need to explain this. How about, if you want knee and all other kinds of injuries keep doing non functional idiot exercises like these.

10) Not enough work on Dorsiflexion.
If the lower half of the leg cannot dorsiflex enough the rest of the chain will make up for it somehow, and many times it will result in the knee.

These are not all specific to just the ACL. They affect all kinds of things. More important is: Are you still doing stupid stuff? One weak link can damage the entire body through injuries and compensation patterns. Look at your programs, you might find some flaws. Replacing these flaws with good things can make a huge difference in your athletes success.

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