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injury prevention

The Wisdom of Frank–Part IV

“Change It Up”

I met my friend Frank when I was 21 years old and working out at a local gym.  Frank was sixty-eight years old and in great condition.  He had been a professional boxer, army fitness instructor, and then a physical education teacher.  Frank was an incredibly well read student of fitness and human performance.  He was stronger, more agile, and fitter than most people in their twenties.  Success leaves footprints, so I was eager to learn from a master.

Frank was big on developing one set of skills for a defined period of time and then switching to performance parameters.  We would work hard on improving strength with squats, cleans, and pull ups for six weeks and then take a break.  The next six weeks would focus on speed and endurance–lots of jump rope, sprinting, and medicine ball throws.  I never got bored and I never got hurt.

The best injury preventative for athletes and fitness enthusiasts is a consistent change in activity.  Look at your training / competition schedule and alter your activity every six to eight weeks.  Better yet, take a week or two away from running, dance, yoga, lifting, baseball, or Zumba.  If you are older or more injury prone, that rest period might need to be stretched out to three weeks.

The popularity of the club system has young athletes playing the same sport year round.  In the clinic, we are treating young athletes with “old person” overuse injuries.  Playing multiple sports is infinitely more beneficial.  Taking layoffs from overused movement patterns and participating in a variety of athletic endeavors gives the body a chance to rebuild and recover.  It is no coincidence that successful professional athletes are the product of multi-sport participation.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

The Wisdom of Frank–Part III

“Leave Some In The Tank”

I met my friend Frank when I was 21 years old and working out at a local gym.  Frank was sixty-eight years old and in great condition.  He had been a professional boxer, army fitness instructor, and then a physical education teacher.  Frank was an incredibly well read student of fitness and human performance.  He was stronger, more agile, and fitter than most people in their twenties.  Success leaves footprints, so I was eager to learn from a master.

Frank said that it is always better to do too little than to do too much.  A training session should make you feel alive and awake, not beaten up and broken.  Frank recommended exercise sessions that involved about forty minutes of training and ten minutes of what we now call “recovery work”.  He often told me to take it easy, go home, eat well, sleep soundly, and enjoy being young.  “When you get to my age you will thank me.”

The latest trend in fitness is throwing your body into the propeller.  Lying on the floor gasping for air is a badge of honor and a sought after result.  As a physical therapist that treats the byproduct of this training method, I urge caution.  Most young athletes can only train super hard for eight to ten weeks a year.  Older clients have a much more limited recovery capacity and are unable to sustain that level of activity before an injury occurs.  The winner in the life long quest for health and fitness is the contestant with the fewest surgical scars.

Training related injuries are a tragedy.  It is easy to get swept up by the emotions of competition and the desire to excel.  As we age, maintaining an exercise habit that keeps us strong and injury-free is even more important.  I frequently remind myself to dial it down and then I say a silent “Thank You”.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

The pelvis and spine must be able to stay stable during reciprocal hip (one hip flexed and the other extended) movement patterns.  Walking, running, and sprinting are all reciprocal hip movement activities that require core coordination and isometric strength-endurance.  You can improve this skill with the Half-Kneeling Pallof Press.

Exercising from the half-kneeling position has multiple benefits:  It will improve your posture when you walk or run.  You need the split stance position to get up off the floor.  Becoming stronger in the half-kneeling position makes you a more efficient athlete and improves balance.  It creates a buffer zone of functional mobility and strength so you are less likely to suffer an injury.  Half-kneeling is the antidote for the physical damage produced by prolonged sitting.

Half-Kneeling Pallof Press Performance

Assume a half-kneeling position:  Place your left knee on an Airex pad and position the right foot in line with the right hip.  The left foot is dorsiflexed and the toes dig into the floor to stabilize the leg.  Keep the torso tall and the lumbar spine in neutral.

Resistance tubing is the most convenient tool for this exercise, but you can also use a cable column.  In the half-kneeling position, you set the tubing at chest level.  Align your body so the tubing is directly to your left.  Use a double overlap grip on the handle.  Start with the handle against the sternum and press the tubing out to arms-length and then back to the chest.  Stay tall and stable and do not let the resistance from the tubing pull you into rotation.  The legs should not move. To encourage stability, imagine you have a cup of water resting on the top of the right knee.

Select a resistance level that permits execution of all repetitions without losing the set up posture.  Switch to half-kneeling on the right and repeat the exercise.  If one side of the body is more difficult, start the exercise on that side.  Perform two sets of fifteen repetitions on each side.

I have found that this exercise works well when programmed with the Bird Dog exercise (see post from 5/12/15).  The Half-Kneeling Pallof Press is an upright Bird Dog that progresses the demands of rotation control.  For better posture, improved performance, and injury prevention travel through this exercise series two times:

1.         Bird Dog x 10 repetitions each side- hold ten seconds

2.         Half Kneeling Pallof Press x 15 each side

3.         Stir the Pot x 30 seconds

Physical Therapist, John Pallof – We Thank You!

To view video demonstration of the Half-Kneeling Pallof Press, click on the link below:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukpsUx_-NJ4&feature=youtu.be

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

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