Is Youth Strength Training Safe?

is Youth strength training safe

Youth Strength Training Safety

Is resistance training safe for youth athletes?  It’s an important question for every coach and parent.

The bad news…

You still hear it the myths. Weight training will stunt your growth.  It will make athletes muscle bound.  It is dangerous for youth athletes.

The good news…

It’s safe and effective. We’ve seen it for 20 years.  Today it’s backed by research and medical leaders.

Health Benefits of Resistance Training for Youth and Adolescents

Resistance training has been show to be safe and also have a number of health benefits. It helps;

  • Body composition
  • Cardiovascular risk profile
  • Reduce body fat
  • Facilitate weight control
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Strengthen bone
  • Enhancing psychosocial wellbeing

RELATED: Strength Training Is Injury Prevention

Is weight training safe for youth?  Here’s some experts answering.

The scientific and medical communities have come to a conclusion. It is that strength training is safe and beneficial for youth athletes.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association

Strength Training Is Injury Prevention

strength training helps prevent injury

Stay In The Game

In elite sports there is a lot of emphasis put on injury prevention.  It doesn’t matter how good you are if you are sitting on the bench, hurt.

Teams and athletes look to us to reduce their risk of injury.  We know there are many parts to injury prevention, but the foundation is often strength.

For the last 20 years, Velocity Sports Performance has known that good strength training is injury prevention.

  • Our experience with athletes in 11 Olympic Games backs it up.
  • Our experience with thousands of professional athletes backs it up.
  • A growing body of scientific research is starting to catch up.

is Youth strength training safe

RELATED:  Is Youth Strength Training Safe?

 

Be safe! Bulletproof your shoulders for baseball

bulletproof your shoulder from injury

Its springtime and that means it’s time for Baseball and Softball. Players and coaches know that maintaining shoulder health is important for these sports, but they don’t always know what to do about it. Use these simple exercises to bulletproof your shoulders and stay in the game.

RELATED: Discover the Secret Elite Sports Organizations Know About Building Champion Athletes.

In this video, Coach Kenny Kallen shares two exercises that help improve posture and increase mobility in the thoracic spine and latissimus dorsi. Using these exercises in your warm-up will increase functionality, stability, strength, and power in the shoulders. The ultimate result will be better-throwing mechanics and less pain.

Next, Coach Ken Vick explains why shoulder stability is so important for baseball players. He demonstrates the Band Y, T, and W exercises to be used in any warm-up or workout routine. Improve your baseball throwing mechanics by stabilizing your scapula and rotator cuff to control your follow-through. Improvements in this area translate into increased speed, functionality, stability, strength, and power in the shoulders.

Sports Medicine Specialist Wes Rosner shows you how the 1/2 Turkish Get-Up can help bulletproof your shoulder.  It can strengthen and stabilize the shoulders, back, and core to help prevent injury. You want all these strong and stable when it’s game time.

RELATED: Strength Training Is Injury Prevention

4 Myths about Muscle Pliability You Need to Know

Trainer performing graston technique

The term “muscle pliability” has been in the news around the NFL quite a bit. Tom Brady and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, claim that making muscles pliable is the best way to sustain health and performance. How true is that claim? While it’s a great descriptive term, we are going to shed some light on what it really means and how to create muscle pliability.

Defining Words

Our performance coaches, sports medicine specialists, and tissue therapists all find it to be a useful term.  Pliable expresses some of the important qualities of muscle. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary here’s what pliable means:

Pliable

a: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking

b: yielding readily to others

c: adjustable to varying conditions

That’s a pretty good description for many of the qualities we want in the tissue of an athlete (or any human for that matter). The problem is that it’s being mixed up with a lot of inaccurate and confusing statements.

Our Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka, says that “the word pliability, in my opinion, depicts the ideal muscle tissue quality. It is similar to suppleness, elasticity, or resilience. Unfortunately, I believe some of the explanations offered by Mr. Brady and Mr. Guerrero have created some misunderstanding of what ‘muscle pliability’ really is.”

Let’s try and separate some of the myths from what is true.

Myth 1: Muscles that are “soft” are better than dense

That depends on what qualifies as “soft” muscle.  Tissue Specialist Cindy Vick has worked on hundreds of elite athletes, including NFL players and Olympians across many sports. “Soft isn’t a word I would use for an athlete. When I’m working on an elderly client, I often feel muscles that could be called soft; they’re not dense. That’s not what I feel when working on elite athletes. Athletes who are healthy and performing well have muscles that have density without being overly tense and move freely. The tissue is still smooth and supple.”

This muscle quality is affected by many factors, ranging from stress, competition, nutrition, training, and recovery. At Velocity, maintaining optimal tissue quality is a constant endeavor.  Proper self myo-fascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.

Myth 2: Dense muscles = stiff muscles = easily injured athletes

Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies the reality and is in some ways completely wrong.

You have to start with the operative word: “dense.” Tanioka says, “Dense tissue can be elastic; elastic tissue is resilient to injury. What we have to look for is inelastic tissue.” Cindy Vick adds that “if you mean ‘dense’ to refer to a muscle with adhesions, or that doesn’t move evenly and smoothly, then yes, that’s a problem.”

Scientifically, stiffness refers to how much a muscle resists stretch under tension. It’s like thinking about the elastic qualities of a rubber band. The harder it is to pull, the stiffer it is. If a muscle can’t give and stretch when it needs to, that’s bad.

Imagine a rubber band that protects your joint. When a muscle exerts force against the impact of an opponent or gravity, stiffness can help resist the joint and ligaments from being overloaded and consequently injured.

“I agree with Mr. Brady’s statement about the importance of a muscle’s ability to lengthen, relax and disperse high-velocity, heavy incoming force to avoid injury.” says Tanioka. “However, I think that athletes also must be able to exert maximum power whether actively generating force or passively resisting an incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as well as lengthen. The ability of tissue to be durable and contractile is just as important as to elongate and soften when it comes to performance and injury prevention.”

In the view of our experts, it’s not about dense, soft, stiff, or other qualitative words. Instead, they emphasize developing function through different types of strength qualities athletes need.   Athletes must prepare for the intense stress and strain their muscles will face in their sport.  They need to blend the right strength training with mobility and flexibility.

 

Myth 3: Strength training makes muscles short

“It’s an old wives’ tale that took hold when body building techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according international expert and President of Velocity Sports Performance, Ken Vick, who has worked with athletes in 10 Olympic Games and helped lead the Chinese Olympic Committee’s preparation efforts for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“I’ll give you two great examples: Gymnasts are, pound-for-pound, very strong and incredibly explosive, yet they are known to be some of the most flexible athletes. Olympic weightlifters are clearly some of the strongest athletes in the world and are also generally very flexible. They spend practically every day doing strength training and their muscles aren’t ‘short’.”

RELATED: Why Athletic Strength Is More Than Just How Much Weight Is on The Barbell. 

In fact, proper lifting technique demands excellent flexibility and mobility. For example, poor hip flexor flexibility or limited ankle mobility results in an athlete who probably cannot reach the lowest point of a back squat. Our proven methods combine strength training with dynamic mobility, movement training, and state of the art recovery technology to help our athletes gain and maintain the flexibility and mobility required for strength training and optimal performance on the field of competition.

 

Myth 4: Plyometrics and band training are better for pliability

We hear these types of claims time and again from coaches, trainers, and others who are quoting something they’ve read without much knowledge of the actual training science. Our muscles and brain don’t care if the resistance is provided by bodyweight, bands, weights, cables, or medicine balls. They can all be effective or detrimental, depending on how they are used.

Sport science has shown that manipulating different variables influences both the physiological and neurological effects of strength training. Rate of motion, movement patterns, environment, and type of resistance all influence the results.

Truth: Muscle Pliability is a good thing

Like so many ideas, muscle pliability is very good concept. The challenge lies in discerning and then conveying what is true and what is not. An experienced therapist can, within just a few moments of touching a person, tell whether that tissue is healthy. A good coach can tell whether an athlete has flexibility or mobility problems, or both, simply by watching them move.

In either case, it takes years of experience and understanding of the human body and training science, like that which is possessed by the performance and sports medicine staff at Velocity, to correctly apply a concept like muscle pliability to an athlete’s training program.

4 Important Things You Need to Know Before You Do High-Intensity Workouts

hIIT training

High intensity interval training, CrossFit, and bootcamps are all popular and effective ways to exercise. While they are great methods to improve your fitness and performance, there is also a risk of injury if you don’t approach it intelligently.

Results and Risk

These programs often include skilled movements and explosive exercises like plyometrics and other high-intensity movements. Olympic lifts, sprints, power lifts, and variations on gymnastics are also common.

The benefits of these types of exercises are that they stimulate maximal muscle engagement and quickly take joints through their full range of motion. However, the same qualities that make these movements so effective also makes them very challenging if you haven’t been doing much fitness training.

“They are great exercises to get results because they are ground-based, engage multiple joints and muscles groups, and have high intensity” says Coach Ken Vick, high performance director for Velocity Sports Performance. “They are more athletic, but with that comes some risk of injury just as in sport. The key is to know your limits and follow good coaching.”

Keys to Success

Vick says for those who are interested in training this way, there are Four Steps for Success:

Assess your own readiness.

Have you done these types of workouts in the past? Do you have past injuries? Are there limitations in your joint range of motion? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to get some guidance before you start. A qualified coach can help assess if you’re ready, and a sports medicine professional can help identify any injury risks and how to alleviate them.

You don’t have to be in great shape before you can start taking these kinds of classes, but you do need to realistically assess your readiness with the help of professionals. They can give you a roadmap to a safe starting point.

Check your ego at the door

One of the benefits of these programs is the energy and intensity that comes from training with a group of people all pushing through a challenging workout together. Be wary that you don’t let pride and ego tell you to push yourself farther than you should, lest you pay some painful consequences.“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard someone say: I knew I was pushing myself too far,” says Coach Vick. “There will always be others better than you at any given exercise or workout. They may be younger or older, male or female.”

The key is to change your focus from competing with others to competing with yourself. Focus on improving your skills, technique, results, and your own PRs and you will not only get better, but you will stay safe.

Find an on-boarding class 

Find a class that on boards you with a coach who can get you involved safely rather than joining an advanced, competitive class. A good coach teaches you the correct mechanics and form for exercises and has variations to adapt them to your needs and skill level.

Know when to stop

Severe pain is always a red flag. While soreness is normal, the amount of soreness you experience with workouts should decrease as your body adapts over the first few weeks.If you experience joint pain, swelling or instability, stop. See a sports medicine specialist for evaluation. They can figure out how to eliminate the pain and how you can correct the underlying causes. They should work with you and your coach to adapt your training so you can keep building fitness while fixing your injury.

Research has shown that when an experienced coach or trainer is involved, the rate of any kind of injury decreases dramatically.

To prevent injury from happening in the first place, it’s very important to perform an active or dynamic warm-up to prepare the muscles to work at high speeds or under heavy loads. Some programs incorporate a warm-up into the workout, while others will show you what to do and give you time to do it beforehand.

Train Harder, and Smarter

Adding the intensity, motivation, and fun of these kinds of programs can inject new energy into your fitness regimen. All of these elements can help you work harder and push your fitness to a higher level than ever before. If you’re smart and follow these four keys, you can reap all the benefits and avoid injury.

4 Signs of Dehydration to Take Seriously

accuracy slide

No matter the season, it is important for athletes to stay hydrated in order to perform at their highest level. However, during the warmer months, dehydration is a very serious topic for not only athlete performance, but general safety and well-being. As the temperature goes up, so too does athlete perspiration.

When an athlete sweats, they lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. When an athlete depletes their body of fluids and electrolytes without replenishing them, they put themselves in grave danger.

Here are four dehydration warning signs athletes should take seriously:

Dark Colored Urine With Strong Odor

This is one of the easiest ways to catch dehydration at an early stage. If an athlete’s urine is dark yellow it is a good time to start drinking some water and stop the problem before it even starts.

Prolonged Weight Loss During Exercise

Weight loss of 2% or more during a training session is a good indicator of dehydration.  That would be approximately 2.5-pounds of weight lost for an athlete weighing 125 pounds. Weight loss during exercise is not fat loss — so stay hydrated before, during and after training and bring plenty of fluids to games and practices. 

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can be another sign of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Consuming a sports drink like Gatorade during exercise bouts longer than four hours or when under extreme heat conditions can help prevent muscle cramps.  This does not mean an athlete needs a sports drink for one hour of exercise — water would be much more beneficial to them than Gatorade.

Dizziness, Nausea and Fatigue

If an athlete is experiencing dizziness, nausea and fatigue, it is important to immediately begin consuming water or a sports drink and rest.  Also, it is important to avoid caffeine, as caffeine will increase urine output.

When you recognize any of these four dehydration warning signs, tell a coach or parent and begin hydrating immediately. Have fun and be safe this summer during your training sessions.

 

How To Protect Against ACL Injuries

slide power

Although Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are not as career ending as they used to be, they are still significant enough to greatly impact an athlete’s season and future potential. Because of this, they are obviously best avoided. Although no injury is completely unavoidable, preparation prior to competition is essential to reducing the risk. 

Two primary causes for a non-impact ACL injury: inadequate deceleration and poor muscular balance. Deceleration is the ability to slow down and control force production. This is an extremely important skill for athletes to master during training. When athletes lack the ability to decelerate efficiently, they put themselves at risk for a non-impact ACL injury during rudimentary actions like changing direction fast or landing from a jump.

The following tips are essential to include in your comprehensive preventative conditioning program:

Proper Warm-Up: A proper warm up is key for preparing the body for activity.  By warming up your muscles first, you greatly reduce your risk of injury during competition of practice.

Strength Training: Strengthening of the hamstrings, quads, core and gluteus musculature can help to maintain upper and lower leg alignment, thus reducing stress and excessive rotation at the knee.

Improve Balance: Single-leg exercises and drills can help to eliminate imbalance differences between the right and left leg.

Controlled Plyometrics: Vertical jumps and plyometric exercises should be included but must be controlled, not allowing the knees to collapse together.  This inward movement (valgus collapse) of the knees is a predictor of ACL injuries. Start by using both legs and progress to single leg lateral jumps.

Injury Prevention Screening: Screenings can be a key to possibly identifying individual needs, thus further reducing the risk of injury.  Mobility (range of motion) and/or stability (strength-related motor control) asymmetries must be addressed. The Functional Movement Screen and similar objective standardized measures can be used to assess for possible impairment of proper functional movement.

Consistency is key to reap the benefits from a comprehensive preventative conditioning program. For best results, the above listed workouts and training methods should be completed at minimum three times a week.

 

Understanding the Functional Anatomy of the Shoulder Complex and How it Relates to Your Performance

Athletes shoulder pain
The shoulder isn’t just a simple joint. In fact, the shoulder is a complex of multiple joints and muscle groups. It is incredibly mobile and allows you to generate force to throw a baseball or spike a volleyball.

To maximize your performance and reduce the risk of injury, it’s imperative that you understand how the shoulder complex functions.

The Shoulder is Designed for Motion

To better understand the function of the shoulder complex, picture a golf ball sitting on a tee. This is the glenohumeral (GH) joint’s function by design—a full range of motion through many planes but little structural stability.

The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for providing stability (keeping the golf ball on the tee) to the gleno-humeral joint.

Stabilizing the joint is easy when your arm is immobilized. However, it requires a lot more work when you’re throwing a ball or swinging a bat.

Furthermore, the mobility and stability of the shoulder joint relies on muscle function. It will be compromised if there is a weakness or imbalance in the rotator cuff muscles.

Microtrauma Can Lead to Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that pull the humeral head (ball) into the glenoid (socket) during arm movement.

When these rotator cuff muscles aren’t doing their job well, there is extra stress on the glenohumeral joint.

The repetitive microtrauma that accumulates over weeks, months and even years can lead to injury. This is common with baseball and volleyball players and even CrossFitters. The pain starts slowly and builds up over time.  

It’s not just overuse that causes microtrauma to the shoulder. A common problem is that athletes continue to perform after they are fatigued. This means they are exceeding their ability to control motion through the shoulder complex. This is why youth baseball leagues and even Major League teams use pitch counts.

Whether throwing, hitting or pressing overhead, doing so when you’ve lost the ability to control the kinetic chain can lead to injury.

RELATED:  Check out some shoulder strengthening moves in 7 TRX Strength Moves for Your Upper Body

Function is Key

Shoulder treatments will help reduce pain and swelling when dealing with an injury. Unfortunately, this is where many athletes fail at rehabilitation. They “chase the pain,” treating only the area that’s hurt. It’s a quick fix to relieve the pain, but it fails to address the source of the problem.
Instead, you’re more likely to eliminate the risk of re-injuring your shoulder if you focus on improving the function of the entire kinetic chain. This requires a greater understanding of biomechanics, physiology and motor control.
 
Yes rehab should eliminate your pain. Still, it also should focus on targeting areas of the body that you may not think directly correlate to the shoulder. That’s how you fix it over the long run.

Coach’s Guide to Ankle Mobility

 

Ankle mobility has been the topic of wide discussion lately, and it’s no wonder why. Ankle injuries are one of the most common in training and sport.   Understanding a proper approach to gaining adequate ankle mobility can get lost in the complexity of training the inverters, everters, dorsiflexors, plantarflexors and other stabilizers that control the ankle.

In addition, the system of intrinsic muscles that make up the arches of the foot also play a role in ankle mobility. Furthermore, this does not take into account the relationships of stability and mobility that occur at the knee, hip, and lower back. With so much to consider where do you start in identifying and training an athlete with potential ankle mobility limitations.

As a coach, you want to make sure your workout and coaching program are not limited. This means you have to address any dysfunction that could relate to managing a current injury, readiness of returning to sport and reducing the possibility of re-injury or for an athlete who has never been injured.

  • It is important for athletes to train together however, knowing each athlete has different patterns and compensations for achieving movement is paramount.

    They should be grouped prior to sport specific training to address the corrective needs necessary for regaining optimal, functional ankle movement.

  • Being a hinge joint, the ankle is designed to move.

    For this reason, correcting and maintaining any asymmetries to an athlete’s ankle is of great importance. Proper movement should occur at the ankle and hip, which are designed for mobility, while the foot, knee and low back are designed to provide stability. An athlete has greater potential to improve within his sport if the efficiency of mobility and stability are taking place in the correct joints of the body. Utilizing the Functional Movement Screen for identification of ankle mobility restrictions or other asymmetries and dysfunction is essential for developing and correcting improper movement patterns.

  • Asymmetries are part of some sports.  Baseball, for example, demands differences between the right and left shoulder and track, so the athlete is constantly favoring one side. Those asymmetries are expected, however shoulder should be pain free and within an acceptable range of motion. These asymmetries should not affect the mechanics of the rest of the body’s fundamental movement patterns. These considerations must be taken into account when hitting the weight room or performing skill based movement drills.
  • Soft tissue release through foam rolling and mysofascial ball, as well as half kneeling correctives can all improve ankle range of motion.

    The biggest benefits come from addressing asymmetrical or dysfunctional areas of the body. This allows the ankle to move as it should, instead of as a stabilizer, which if compensating can limit ankle mobility.

Come get a Functional Movement Screen and proper corrective exercise program to get you back on the right path with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.