Flexibility & Range of Motion, Do You Have Any?

flexibility arms raising

 

Flexibility, do you have any?

Flexibility: the ability to flex bend and move through a full range of motion. As humans, all of our bodies are designed for the most part the same. With a few differences between men and women obviously. Why then if all bodies are the same can some bodies move better than others?

Let’s ask Aristotle. “We, are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit?”

If all our bodies are the same, then the difference between flexible people and inflexible people are their habits!
I imagine during Aristotle’s day there were not many issues with flexibility because back then people moved around more. Today in our society we sit. When we sit down for hours at a time we are constantly telling our body that this is the position we want to be in. Then gravity takes its toll on us. We round our shoulders, and hunch forward making us less mobile in the t-spine. Sitting tells us to shorten the hip flexors, and turns off the glutes because we are sitting on them.

Sitting is human nature now, and is a bad habit that has consequences. We don’t make this connection that sitting is making us immobile. We just assume that our bodies don’t move through full ranges of motion anymore as we age! Or when we move it hurts because we have created muscle imbalances from all that sitting!

We wake up one day and everything hurts when we move because we are not movers anymore we are sitters. We want to get up and move because we know it is good for our health, but our limited range of motion makes it hard.
So what do we do to help restore our flexibility? Well we need to move! We need get up out of our chair and relearn how to move our body through a full range of motion. We have been inactive so long that a full range of motion is no longer achievable and some muscle groups are then forced to work harder than normal to compensate! How can we fix this limitation we have placed on ourselves?

Everyone knows the answer to how to get more flexible, and that is to STRETCH! We pick an area that is tight and we stretch it painstakingly for 2 min a side and viola! We are magically fixed. WRONG! Stretching for 2 minutes never helped anyone get more flexible. Think about it how many times have you reached down and tried to touch your toes hoping that they would come closer? It just doesn’t happen. The 2 minutes you spend on each side stretching, even if it is daily, will never add up to counteract the hours of sitting we do each day!

So then how do we become more flexible? By moving. By getting up and taking your body through a full range of motion! You need to move everyday through a full range of motion. Now be warned it is going to take time to get back to where your body used to be just as it took years of sitting to get you where you are now! But, by moving and doing something every day you can start the good habit of getting back to being flexible.

What should I do then to help improve my flexibility? I really suggest everyone learn how to squat properly. Dr. Kelly Starett says everyone should try to spend 10 min in the bottom of a squat every day. Your body knows how to do this it has just forgotten! You need to reteach it how to be mobile and move through a pain free full range of motion. You can use some assistance with weight to help you get all the way down there or hold on to a chair to get into a good position.

So you’re saying I shouldn’t stretch at all? Now, stretching can facilitate moving better, and there are plenty of good stretches that can help you relearn how to squat by bringing awareness to a certain muscle group by stretching it for a bit. But, if we never actually squat and move, all the stretching in the world won’t help us understand how to move better because we are not moving.

If you want to be more flexible try to sit less and move more. Re-teach yourself how to squat properly and use stretching to help this endeavor. It will take time but it is time you are investing into yourself to make you a healthier more mobile you!

Focus.Mindfullness.Meditation.Regen

 

Focus. Mindfullness. Meditation. Regen.

Visualization

In youth sports the most important thing for an athlete to be able to do is focus. Without focus an athlete will never really discover their true ability. At the youth age, athletes are all growing and developing at different rates. However, the thing that sets good youth athletes apart is their ability to focus, and put all of their attention into what they are doing.

To be fair, the same is true of most professional athletes. When the game is on the line it’s the more focused athletes that prevail. You could say it is because they have better abilities than other athletes but, that athlete was not born with those abilities, they made a conscious choice to put the effort, time and necessary focus to gain those abilities.

Wait, we can improve our abilities with focus? Yes, anything we put time and effort into we will get better at, including focus.

How can we improve our focus? We live in a distracted society. Everything is designed to stimulate and constantly bombard us with things, and information. Our bodies never fully get a chance to relax from information and stress overload. You are like your computer. When you work on the computer you can operate one window pretty well maybe two or three, but when you have many windows and tabs open its hard to get anything done. Even the computer can’t handle it sometimes, and has to shut everything down or turn off so it can run efficiently again. A computer has an on and off/reboot switch. Where or what is our reboot switch?

So what is this magic switch that can shut down our body and allow it to focus, and operate more efficiently? Meditation. The way I can describe meditation is the practice of focusing or being aware of your breath. That’s it only that. Pay attention, be aware of your breath, the life sustaining process. There are tons of way to meditate, but the easiest way to think about it is to bring your attention to your breathing.

Just try and do that for a few minutes, and only focus on your breathing. Breathe all the way in and out. It is harder than you think, to just sit there and count your breaths. All it takes is a few minutes a day! You can reset your nervous system, and escape all the stress of your life by just focusing on your breath.
We can use different breathing techniques to calm us down and relax us. We can also use different techniques to amp us up and energize to focus us on the task at hand.

A great technique to calm yourself down and focus is box breathing. You can use 4 seconds to start. You breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds. Breathe out for 4 seconds. Hold 4 seconds. Repeat. In the beginning try to get 10 rounds or so in.

This is also a good technique to use if you have had a stressful day. Take a few box breaths to let go of whatever just happened, and remain focused on what you can do! Use your breath as a reset button to help you block out distractions and remain focused for your best performance. You can do it! Try it out!

Failure, from a coaches perspective.

coaching young athletes

 

Failure. From a Coaches Perspective.

Visualization

Failure. Win or Learn

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”- Wayne Gretsky

Failure gets a bad rap. Of course I don’t actively want people to fail, I am not rooting against my athletes. It is my job as their coach to help them view failure differently.
I like these quotes by some of the best athletes in the top of their sport to help athletes better understand failure and how to use it to their advantage.
The way I like to teach my athletes about failure is: Win or Learn.

As an athlete we don’t want to lose. No one does. The best athletes do not like to lose either. The difference between the greatest athletes of all time, and just really good athletes, is their mindset and how they deal with failure.

Do they look at failure as an opportunity to fix weaknesses and grow, or when they fail do they blame teammates officials etc?

These two mindsets are the growth and the fixed mindset.

A Growth mindset athlete learns from their failures and sees them as an opportunity to grow and be better in the future, if they work on it.
A fixed mindset athlete believes that if they failed it was not their fault. They also believe that their talent is something that you just have, and you can’t improve on it. If a fixed mindset athlete is up against failure they quit, or don’t try, because they will let the fear of failure take over. Sometimes they won’t even participate because they are too afraid to fail.

As a coach, I am always trying to help my athletes identify with the growth mindset. Teach them to learn from their failures. They are not going to be perfect on every rep every time. If they were perfect every time, then why would they need me to coach them in the first place?

If an athlete always does perfect reps what is there for me as the coach to correct? If an athlete is not making a rep, are they getting frustrated or are they trying to figure out why they are not getting it?
This is my job as a coach, to expose them to failure over and over again. To help them deal with it. To not let it cripple them and be afraid to try, and to use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

I recommend all athletes, parents, and coaches read: Mindset by Carol Dweck to help get a better understanding of the growth and fixed mindsets.

What is Visualization?

visualization

 

What Is Visualization?

Visualization

We all do it as kids. We imagine it is the bottom of the ninth, we are down by 1 run, bases are loaded, and we are up to bat. We imagine ourselves blasting a home run clear out of the park. We can see it so clearly its almost real.

We don’t realize the power in this visualization until we make it happen! Visualization is a very powerful tool to help athletes learn and refine their skills, as well as mentally rehearse for a performance.
What it is going to feel like, smell like, taste like to be there? Who is there cheering them on? What time of day is it? What color jersey is the opponent wearing? The more real an athlete can make it feel in their heads the better the positive outward effect.

Positive visualization can help an athlete be mentally ready for a big competition because they have gone through scenarios in their heads already. This means the athlete will know exactly what to do in each situation, and will know what to expect, feel, and they will have no surprises.
Your brain doesn’t know the difference if you are doing an action or if you are thinking about doing the same action. Meaning the same areas in the brain that are active when you think about the movement, are also active when you actually do the movement. Visualization helps athletes learn faster by having them just imagine in their mind doing the movement. Again, the more the athlete can really “see” themselves doing an action the more likely they will perform that action better because they have already done it in their head.

Here is an example from one of our Velocity coaches.

“When I was younger and playing baseball I had some bad hitting days. My dad suggested I try to close my eyes and imagine myself seeing the ball leaving the pitchers hand. Then follow it all the way to the bat, and visualize where it was going to land. So before my next game, I did exactly what my dad had taught me. I imagined watching the ball, and how far I was going to hit it. I was mentally rehearsing all of this in my head before my next game. When my next game rolled around I had two hits, and each hit landed close to where I had imagined hitting the ball.”

Visualization isn’t a quick fix magic pill, and that will be the only thing you will need to do. However, visualization is a powerful tool that all athletes need to add into their toolbox to help improve performance or learn new complex skills!

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

fixed mindset vs growth mindset

How a growth mindset helps build great athletes.

We see certain athletes that can get through numerous obstacles, but how are they doing that? What allows them to work through practices, failures, learn new skills and continue to grow? It all comes back to their mindset, and mentally how they are working through these obstacles.

There are also those athletes that are incredibly skilled and talented, but seem to have the mental resilience of a peanut. They seem to crumble with any setback or pressure that comes their way.

It all comes back to their mindset, and mentally how they are working through these obstacles.

How do you help build the right mindset in a young athlete? We want them to strive, to compete, to work hard, but we don’t want their entire self-worth tied to winning or losing.

Mindset and learning

A really powerful answer comes in the concept of a “growth mindset” as proposed by Stanford professor Dr.Carol Dweck. The premise is that there are two basic mindsets that people use in the “talent” paradigm, fixed and growth.  A fixed mindset can limit effort and development while a growth mindset can enhance it.  Importantly, a growth mindset can be taught and fostered.

Fixed Mindset

Those with a fixed mindset believe that talents and abilities are “fixed” by genetics, chance, or other circumstances, and can’t be changed through any means.  They believe they are born with a specific amount of talent. In their mind failure at a task or skill is proof they don’t have enough talent.

People with a fixed mindset often resist challenges that could results in failure because they don’t want others to see this “proof” of lack of talent, or don’t want to acknowledge it themselves.  Challenges are viewed negatively, not as a chance for growth.

Growth Mindset

On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset believes that their actions and efforts can change their abilities. Basically, they believe working at something can help them get better. Because of this a failure or set back aren’t proof of their inferiority, but a natural part of learning.

Practical Coaching Take-Aways

  • Praise effort not ability.  This is critical in working with young athletes. It relates directly to the point below.
  • Teach that skills are primarily learned through work, not through talent. I thoroughly believe there are minimum thresholds of “talent” you need to succeed in sports. Still, after almost 20 years of coaching I have seen so much talent wasted on individuals who give up because they don’t have a growth mindset. Teach them this directly. Dweck talks about the impact teaching this topic has on college students and their success rates.
  • Create an environment where it’s rewarded to push your limits even when you make mistakes. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give your athletes. Freedom to make good mistakes. Mistakes that occur when they are trying to use the right technique, or a good strategic idea, or a creative play. There are lots of times when they have to push their boundaries of skill to improve, if we make these types of mistakes feared, then the athlete won’t grow.

Those interesting looking tools & Graston Technique

graston technique

Graston Technique

Ever Wonder What the Graston Technique is?

The Graston Technique® is an innovative, evidence-based form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to detect and effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, as well as maintain optimal range of motion.

The unique protocol uses specially designed stainless steel instruments, along with appropriate therapeutic exercise, to specifically detect and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or chronic inflammation. The instruments also are used diagnostically to follow the kinetic chain, to locate and treat the cause of the symptom as well as the specific area of pain. Graston Technique® is also frequently used as an effective protocol to maintain range of motion.

Graston Technique® does not need to be considered “painful” to be effective. Please inform your clinician if you are experiencing discomfort anytime during treatment. Patients usually receive two treatments per week during a four-to-five-week period. Most patients have a positive response by the third to fourth treatment. Graston Technique® is accepted nationwide by elite athletes and everyday patients, as one of the most effective treatments for rehabilitation and range of motion maintenance, especially when combined with other treatment modalities such as exercise.

Graston is just another effective way for athletes to recover faster. Combined with other recovery techniques, athletes can return to play much quicker than with traditional rest and icing techniques. If you are interested in Graston contact your nearest Velocity Sports Performance.

Is your injury ready for the GAME READY system?

game ready system

 

Game Ready Technology

The Game Ready system and getting you back to competition.

Game Ready’s innovative ACCEL® Technology (Active Compression and Cold Exchange Loop) sets a new standard in injury and post-op treatment, integrating active pneumatic compression and cold therapies in one revolutionary system. The system progressively increases and releases pressure while also rapidly circulating ice water through separate wrap chambers.

Until now, the RICE (Rest–Ice–Compression–Elevation) principles have been used only to passively control symptoms, moderating pain and swelling. But Game Ready® does more. Going beyond static cold and compression applications, ACCEL Technology mimics natural muscle contractions while cooling the tissue, helping the body to proactively aid lymphatic function, encourage cellular oxygen supply, and stimulate tissue repair. That is, it helps accelerate and enhance recovery.

Technology is advancing, and that means your recovery should be too. Don’t be scared of trying new things, and learning to be healthy.

What is the NormaTec?

NormaTec

 

What is the NormaTec?

You have probably seen thousands of pictures of individuals sitting in a chair with giant pants that look like balloons. They claim they are working on recovering their muscles, but what exactly are they using? The Normatec.
NormaTec is the leader in rapid recovery—the system gives a competitive edge to the world’s elite athletes, coaches, and trainers. The NormaTec Recovery Systems are dynamic compression devices designed for recovery. All the systems use NormaTec’s patented PULSE technology to help athletes recover faster between training and after a performance.

So how does the NormaTec actually work?

The systems include a control unit and attachments which go on the legs, arms, or hips. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with the patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern. When you use the systems, you will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to your exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.

The NormaTec is used to help athletes recover as quick as possible to get them ready to train again. Are you interested in trying a NormaTec? Call your local Velocity Sports Performance!