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More Stuff I've Changed My Mind on Over The Years...

Following on from my last post (here: ) talking about stuff I've changed my opinion on over the years..

Training Prevents Injury

Now, I still think training in a well rounded manner goes a huge way to reducing injury risk, but there is simply no way to actually prevent injuries from occurring.

I'm not even sure why I used to believe there was. I was quite convinced that developing mobility and strength would prevent folk from getting injured. This thinking likely came about as my personal injury history is mostly impact related, where having more muscle mass would actually have been beneficial. There's a reason you don't see many skinny rugby players!

So getting stronger and developing muscle mass is absolutely helpful in reducing injury risk, especially if there's a high chance of impact (contact sports, combat sports and extreme sports) But what about all the "off the ball" injuries.

If there was a sporting code that has their S&C pretty well dialled in, I'd say the track and field community is it. Are they perfect? Hell no, no one is.

But they do a pretty good job.

And still we see torn hamstrings, Achilles injury, knee issues.

And these guys are not weak.

So what are we missing?

Here's my current thinking, which as always is subject to change, I believe that the timing and coordination of joint actions matter more than pure strength. But then having strength reinforces those joint actions. This line of thinking has always floated around my head to some degree, but in meeting Gary Ward and studying Anatomy in Motion, this thinking has become my foremost thought process.

Why do hamstrings suffer so much? Is it due to weakness? If that athlete has a decent deadlift, good numbers on Cleans, uses Nordics, maybe even Kettlebell Swings (my personal top hamstring exercise) then it simply can not be strength.

Can it be that the hamstring is taking up the slack because something else isn't doing it's job right? I think so.

There's no way yo say for definite without having a person in for assessment, but lets stick with the hamstring for a moment. The hamstring is most active just before the foot hits the floor when running. The upper hamstring is highly active in the stance phase of running. And it's shortest at the terminal point of the backswing of the leg.

Tension and load go through the muscle when it is long, or lengthening.

The leg swinging through and extending out to reach the ground is putting length into the hamstring. The body stacking up over that foot as you pass through stance phase, that transfers length and force into the upper hams because the pelvis anteriorly tilts. Muscle being lengthened are muscles being loaded and this is where we see many injuries occur.

It nothing to do with flexibility, yes strength is a factor, but asking why the muscle is under so much load is the real question. Has a joint not moved enough or moved too much so that the loading vector going through the muscle isn't quite right?

No matter how strong we make those hamstring in this example, until we get them loading more cleanly, they will always be at risk.

The idea that "Everyone can....."

This must be a stage all young trainers go through, because I've met many with this same attitude.

I genuinely believed that everyone can do the stuff I could. The irony of that is, I can't' do everything everyone else does.

In my last post I joked that Seb warms up with my max Squat. It's a good joke because it's not far from the truth! So if "everyone can" why can't I squat like Seb?

I'll tell you why.

Lever length, something mentioned in the last post. Injury history, my back gets really twitchy with the big barbell lifts, so I max out very infrequently.

Training wants and needs, as much as I'd like a big squat, I came up as a runner, a cyclist and a martial artist. Seb on the other hand was in a powerlifting gym. Different starts. Plus, my wants and needs include being fairly strong but not maximally strong, I like endurance.

People's history will heavily influence their future. But what matters most is their wants and needs. Why would I insist that a person achieves some arbitrary marker when it doesn't fit their world view or goals? That's just simply pig ignorant.

Can everyone overhead press? No. Most can with the right steps, and I encourage that process for shoulder health. But it's the process that matters, being able to overhead press is sign the process has worked. But then so is improvements in thoracic mobility, improvements in scapula control, improvements in core control, improvements in pain or injury symptoms. It's never about the overhead press. It's about the individual. And for a triathlete, the overhead press is never going to be a priority, but the list of improvements that come about in developing a press, well, they matter.

So should everyone be able to........? No. But does looking at why they can't provide evidence into where they might see their fastest improvements as a an athlete, as a human animal? Hell yes.

Right we'll leave this one here, and I'll be back with more soon.

Leave me a comment or drop me a line on these thoughts, have you had similar? Have you worked with a coach who still thinks in these old ways?

Chat soon

Dave Hedges

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