Velocity Sends Athletes To Olympics For Unbelievable 10th Time

Velocity Sends Athletes To Tokyo Olympics

While the sports and fitness industries are filled with hype, flashy social media accounts, and short-lived personalities, Velocity Sports Performance is quietly continuing 2 decades of excellence by sending athletes to another Olympic Games.

When Velocity was founded in 1999 outside Atlanta, Georgia, Olympians from 5 countries were working with legendary coach, Loren Seagrave. Seagrave was an elite track coach and the founder of Velocity Sports Performance.  In that very first Velocity facility, USA Bobsled athletes worked with Coach Seagrave to improve their speed for the 2002 Winter Games.

That tradition of working with elite Olympic athletes continued as Global High-Performance Director Ken Vick set up shop in Redondo Beach in 2005.

“Olympic sports were always a passion for me.  I was a Weightlifting coach for several international level lifters and the intensity and passion of athletes pursuing their Olympic dream is unique,” says Vick.

He’d know something about that as he coached multiple athletes going to the Games and directed the high-performance team behind many others, even whole Olympic Committees. In the last decade under his watch, Velocity has supported 54 medal winners across 13 different sports.

Measured Performance

In Vick’s view “For a performance coach, one of the unique aspects of many Olympic sports is that they are measured objectively.  We time how fast someone runs, cycles, swims, or paddles.  You measure how far they throw or jump, or how much weight they can lift.”

This means that the results of training programs are much more visible.  “You can see if what you are doing with them is working.  You can’t hide bad training behind a great team or tactics,” he adds.

This has been a major influence on Velocity’s methodology in training, sports medicine, and recovery.  “Since we have always dealt with these Olympic athletes, we put added emphasis on measuring training variables and exploring the methods that produced the greatest results.  Velocity’s methods have been based on science, proven in the field, and continually refined to stay on top.”

Today Velocity has brought many of these training technologies and methods to the average high school athlete walking through their doors.  The elite-level devices, monitoring systems, and training methods are accessible to all.

Velocity has supported National teams and Athletes at the Olympic Games in these sports

  • Athletics (Track & Field)
  • Badminton
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Diving
  • Fencing
  • Freestyle Wrestling
  • Indoor Volleyball
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Sprint Kayak
  • Sprint Canoe
  • Swimming
  • Synchronized Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Track Cycling
  • Weightlifting

Supporting Athletes Around the Globe

International Olympic sport has a history of top coaches being recruited to countries with budgets and looking to improve their performance.  Working across borders is part of the game and one of the great opportunities to have a lasting impact globally.

Aspiring athletes and pros in the US weren’t the only ones to notice what Velocity was doing.  With a steady international clientele, the word was getting out.  Countries looking for better performance noticed.

In their build-up for the 2012 Olympics, Team GB brought their developing beach volleyball program to Redondo Beach and asked Velocity to help.  It made sense since Velocity had experience training so many top AVP and international players.  Now Velocity was tasked with helping them raise their game as the London Olympics approached.

The Chinese Olympic Committee had been a top nation in the medal count, but in 2013 they started working with Velocity in a few targeted sports and several of their provincial programs.  A few years later Velocity was working alongside another performance company called EXOS preparing athletes across the entire Chinese Olympic Program.

Velocity coach Mark Williams working with the Chinese Womens Wrestling Team that included two 2016 Rio Olympic Medalists.

“The experience of deploying Integrated Support Teams on the ground in China and advising their teams was incredible.  We had challenges that we never imagined but an incredible opportunity to have an impact,” reflects Vick.  “Making sure we could coordinate the sports medicine, strength training, speed work, conditioning, and recovery was a task.  There was an outdated system there, language and cultural barriers, and we were trying to make a major shift.  That’s a tall order, but we were able to see results.”

Years of working with elite performers have driven a methodology based on integrating these different domains.  When the entire integrated support team works together to support the effort of the athlete and the plan of the sports coaches, the results speak for themselves.

Velocity Supports Olympic Teams and Athletes around the globe

Winter Olympics Too

Velocity’s expertise doesn’t stop when cold weather hits.  Athletes and National Teams from the Winter Olympic Games have relied on Velocity as well.  Olympic hockey players, speed skaters, bobsledders, skiers, and snowboarders have all been trained by Velocity.

“Many of the winter sports have incredible demands on the athletes. Take slopestyle and halfpipe events.  The forces these athletes experience on jumps and landings are enormous,” says Vick.  “We have to not only train for the event but sometimes, more importantly, to be durable and healthy.  If you cant practice and develop your skills on the snow because you’re hurt, it doesn’t matter how good you are.”

That’s why Velocity has hosted several national teams in its elite centers.  The impact was so visible that they’ve also deployed coaches and sports medicine professionals to work with teams and travel around the globe.

Elite Technology

Managing Velocity staff working with teams all around the world in different time zones presents challenges.  One of the solutions for Velocity is taking advantage of cutting-edge technology.

“Technology like our Athlete Management System brings together data from multiple sources so we can use our Integrated Support Team to assist those professionals out in the field.  Those coaches and sports medicine professionals aren’t on their own.”

One of the tools that they have used for years is a device from Australia called Gymaware.  Its measures vary biomechanical properties of athletes when they are jumping or lifting weights.  This highly scientific data can be sued to make programming decisions or day-to-day adjustments. 

“The Gymaware tool is a scientifically proven device that’s completely portable.  While I love using force plates, they are big and bulky so not great for a  team going from country to country every weekend,” laughs Vick.  “We get to use the same device to both test and train the athlete and the data feeds right into our athlete management system automatically.”

Today this same technology that was refined and proven with the world’s most elite athletes, is being used in Velocity centers for athletes of all levels.  Its also be used remotely by some athletes who follow digital training programs on their own.  This lets coaches monitor their training and make precise adjustments to the plan.

Road to Tokyo

One of Velocity’s US locations is an 11,000 sq ft facility hidden away in El Segundo, CA.  Once a site that once housed engineers helping send the mercury and Apollo astronauts to space, the spirit of innovation continues as athletes prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The sprint events in track cycling aren’t well known in the US, but they are known at Velocity.  After hosting training camps for the US team before the 2008 Bejing Olympics, they’ve now helped cyclists from 4 different countries.  One thing remains consistent for these athletes, being strong & powerful.  Track sprinters need strength to get the fixed gear bikes up to speed and power to sustain the high speeds attained on the velodrome track.

In 2012 Velocity supported the US Sprint team as well as Trinidad & Tobago athlete Njisane Phillips. Then for the Rio Olympics, they supported the entire Chinese team including the eventual Gold medalists in the Women’s Team Sprint.  They also hosted the Australian team in their Redondo Beach for a 1-month holding camp right before the Games.

Athlete Maddie Godby is a Team USA Sprint Cyclist who will compete in Tokyo. She has been training at Velocity Sports Performance with Coach Ken Vick.

Team USA athlete Maddie Godby is the latest track sprinter training with Velocity.  The 28-year-old international competitor came to Coach Vick with the goal of getting stronger and more explosive.

Training 2-3 days a week in the gym, she’s used that same Gymaware technology to monitor and prescribe highly specific training that fits her unique needs as an individual and as a sprint cyclist. 

“We are fine-tuning at this stage so there are targets and we want to hit the right zones.  Just to have that feedback is really helpful.  Sometimes that means adding more weight and other times it means less.” comments Godby.

So far, it’s working.  She performed at a high level in May in Hong Kong at the only international event in over 14 months.  She spent most of that time off the velodrome track since they were closed in the pandemic.  However, putting in time, training in the gym, has made her much stronger and explosive.  Qualities she’ll put to use in Tokyo. 

But there is more than just training according to Godby. “I’m really good at pushing myself and training hard. So in order to do that I needed to find ways to recover better. So that’s a really big part of what I’ve been doing at Velocity.”

Other Athletes in Tokyo

Like many Americans, Velocity will also be excitedly watching the Men’s Basketball competition in Tokyo. This location and its Redondo Beach predecessor have also trained USA Basketball team members Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in past off-seasons.

Swimming will also be high on the list.  Velocity was also under contract to support the Chinese Swimming Association for 2 years up to the Olympics Games.  Unfortunately, with the pandemic, that plan got cut short in early 2020 after over a year of work put in.  Still, several former Velocity staff members including Coach Zach Murray stayed behind to continue working all the way up to the Games.

The Olympic Dream

In the USA many athletes in smaller sports struggle to survive as they pursue their dreams.  Velocity has made it part of its mission to support these incredible athletes who are willing to dream.  Every year they provide sponsorships for athletes in smaller sports to help them on their journey.

According to Vick, this is something he thinks is important as a coach and as the CEO.  “The Olympics, but more so the journey and pursuit of that goal, is inspiring.  Athletes like these give us insight into the human spirit and what’s possible.  That goes far beyond sport.  That’s why we love doing what we do and want to give back to those who inspire all of us.”

Tendon Injury Risk For Athletes After COVID-19 Time Off

tendon injury risk after covid-19

While COVID19 itself hasn’t shown any direct effects, the pandemic and our social distancing response probably will impact tendon injury risk for athletes.  You need to understand what is happening with your tendons while you are away from sport and what they will endure when sports return.

As athletes return to sports practice and competition after lockdown, they will be susceptible to tendon injury as they undergo spikes in their training load.  These acute increases in the volume of throwing, sprinting, jumping, and swinging can be a risk factor for tendon injury.

TENDONS NEED LOAD

Too much load and you get an injury, but too little and you get structural change. After just 2-4 weeks of unloading the tissues of tendons begin to lose their structure and ability to withstand big loads. That means athletes wont to be the same when sports return.

SHOCKS AND SPRINGS

Tendons improve athletic movement skills by transmitting muscle forces and by acting as springs. This means they need to be able to provide both elasticity and stiffness. To do this they need to be exposed to the right types of stimulus in training.

TOO MUCH, TOO FAST

Repetitive stress that overloads the tendon can create micro-injuries in the tissue that add up. These become overuse injuries. Runners and jumpers often experience this when they increase their volume too quickly. Throwers and volleyball players often experience this in the shoulder or elbows as well.

TENDONS ARE COMMON SPORTS INJURIES

Tendon injuries are common in sports. Tendon injuries you may have heard of include;

  • Achilles Tendon – Ankle
  • Patellar Tendon – Knee
  • Elbow Tendons – Tennis & Golfer’s elbow

These injuries can occur with either acute tears or chronic overuse. Tendon injury risk for athletes will be heightened as they haven’t been conditioned by normal sports practice.

PREPARING FOR THE RETURN TO SPORT AS WE REOPEN

Loading tendons enough to stimulate the structure and function is the key to being ready when sports return. At home, and before teams resume, proactive athletes can use isometrics, eccentrics and reactive plyometrics to train. These types of exercises are key ingredients to build resiliency and capacity in the tissue.

GRADUAL RETURN TO SPORTS

One of the biggest risk factors for tendons is how rapidly the volume of work increases. Muscles adapt faster than tendons and can overwhelm them. When an athlete has been doing very little and then starts full practice, the risk of injury to tendons is exponentially increased.

Gym Closed? It’s A Good Time For Working Out(doors)

running in nature

Gyms and fitness studios across the country are closing, and it’s a good time for training outside.

Even if your gyms not closed, you should probably be avoiding big groups to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, there are big benefits to exercising outside!

No Gym, No Problem

No, you don’t have the machines, or the group energy, or the coach encouraging you.

So is that going to be your excuse? It might be harder in some ways and different now that you aren’t going to the gym.

No gym, now is a good time to workout doors
There are added benefits when you train outside.

This doesn’t mean you can’t keep exercising. Use this as a chance to explore the fitness and strength you’ve been building in the gym in new ways. You’ve already been training in the gym, so now it’s time to get outside and play.

During the coronavirus outbreak, you can combine the benefits of the outdoors with exercise while keeping a responsible distance from people and improving your mindset.

Boost Your Mood

People are experiencing new stresses daily with Covid-19. Stress and isolation like that aren’t great for the psyche.

One solution, training outside, has been proven to boost your mood. 

A 2015 study from Stanford University found students just walked through a campus park for an hour were less stressed than those who didn’t.  There is a lot of compelling evidence that getting outside makes us happier.

Get outside around some green, and you’re likely to feel better.

Outdoor exercise monkey bars

Build Your Immune System By Training Outside

Reducing stress and anxiety helps boost your immune system.  Plus, sunlight can help kill viruses! However, it’s even more beneficial when you are training outside

While the exact mechanics remain a mystery, research has shown a wide range of health benefits to being outdoors.  From the Vitamin D boost of the sun to additional ions and phytochemicals from plants, they add up to a stronger immune system.

How To Workout Outside

When it comes to outdoor exercise, the first thing that pops into most people’s heads is usually running.

running in nature is a great way for training ouside
There’s more to exercising outdoors than just running.

And if you love running, that’s great—but if you don’t, there’s a whole lot more for you to discover.

Whether it’s your own yard, a park, or larger greenspaces and nature, everyone can find something fun and challenge outdoors.

The key to finding the right outdoor workout for you is to engage.

Listen to your body and how you’re feeling. Find what enjoyable for you to do. Look for ways to and play to your workout. Try new things, vary it through the week, involve your kids as well.

Tips For Training Outside

  • Ease into It.  Outdoor exercise is adaptable to everyone’s level of fitness, but it might be different than what you’re used to in the gym.  
  • Exercise early. It’s easier to find excuses to avoid exercising outdoors at the end of the day.  In the morning you have more energy, the air is generally cleaner, the temperature tends to be lower.  Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the post-workout benefits of less stress and a better mood throughout the day.
  • Avoid temperature extremes.  Your body adapts to colder or warmer weather, but you should still avoid exercising outside in extreme heat or cold if not acclimated to it. In warmer temperatures, watch for signs of overheating. 
  • Don’t get burned. The sun is good for you, but too much sun is not. Protect yourself with a good sunscreen.  You can also wear sunglasses and a maybe a hat.
  • Drink enough water. “Drink 8 to 10 ounces of water in the 30 minutes before exercising outdoors. Then steady hydration through the workout should suffice. Remember that you can lose water through sweating even in cooler weather.

Workout Ideas

Training outside workout ideas
Just a few ideas of workouts you can try outdoors.
Better yet, lose some of the structure and just play around with this stuff outside!

Make outdoor exercises part of your lifestyle 

Many of us are conditioned to think of exercise as something we do in a gym.  With the gym closed and a need to stay away from groups, it’s a good time for training outside.

Get back to nature and start adding some outdoor variety to your training routine even when the gym opens back up.

Who Is To Blame for Kevin Durant’s Injury: What We Can Learn About Injuries In Youth Sports

Kevin Durant's Injury To Achilles Tendon

In the immediate aftermath of the injuries to the Golden State Warriors, the finger was being pointed.  Being pointed with blame.  Whose fault is a major injury like the Achilles tendon rupture of Kevin Durant? 

However, instead of focusing on the chatter about blame, what can young athletes, their parents and coaches take away from this?

I’d say it’s responsibility and perspective.

Blame for Kevin Durant’s Injury

Whose fault is it?  After all it must be someone’s, right?

Maybe KD himself?

Is it the Golden State Warriors staff? The team’s coaches or management?

What about the press and sports talk media, or just plain old social media?

Opinions aren’t hard to come by right now.  Sports talk shows and twitter are pointing fingers.

In the end, 99% of these guesses (and that’s all they are unless you were part of that process) are clueless. 

Velocity Knows About Injury Decisions

We are routinely part of these decisions in elite sports around the world.  We’ve seen both sides.  We’ve been part of the team or organization and on the outside as independent consultants for players.  We’ve had to give depositions on player/ management issues.  We’ve seen teams that are trying to better protect players and one’s that are just trying to win now.

Velocity’s staff has trained KD himself in the off-season.

I’ve also personally watched an international player go down with an Achilles tear in our own training facility.  Devastating when it was just 6 months before the World Cup.  The player had no history, no symptoms. 

It made no sense.

Until we learned a few weeks later that several other of the national team players also had recent tendon and ligament injuries in a few weeks span.

Turns out, the team doc used a particular anti-malaria medication for a trip to a third world country.  That medication put them at a higher risk of that type of injury.  The players weren’t informed of the risk.  That’s not cool.

Sports Injuries Are Complex

So from our elite sport perspective, here’s what you should know when it comes to answers why it happened; it’s complex.

Nobody likes to hear that.  They want black/white answers and someone to blame.  There could be someone to blame, we don’t know from the outside.  More likely, it’s a complex mix of factors.

Diagnosing and managing injuries has many factors and we are dealing with humans who don’t all go through the same process.

Most of the people we know on the staff of NBA teams are good practitioners working hard to help their athletes.

Most athletes are trying to balance their competitive drive, social pressures and the goal of preserving their financial future.

The Responsibility For Preventing Injury

Players have to make choices about whether to play or not.  Although many people would paint athletes as spoiled, undeserving millionaires playing a kids game, that is an unjust portrayal. 

A player like KD loves the game.  He’s a competitor.  He wants to be competing on the biggest stage injured or not.  He want his team to win. 

He also wants to protect his family and their future.  He wants to protect his greatest asset, his athleticism, skill and body.

Injuries are part of sports and they are a threat to any athlete pro of amateur.  For talent pros and amateurs, injuries are a threat to financial stability from pro contracts, endorsements and college scholarships.  If you get hurt, you could lose it.

It’s also a threat to lifelong health and function.  Injuries can take a lifelong toll on your physical well-being.  They can threaten your enjoyment of a sport and physical activity.

So, on every level players need to also take responsibility for themselves.

RELATED: Here’s A Proven Way To Reduce Injury Risk

Athlete’s and Self Reliance

But any athlete can be responsible.  It’s one of the great lessons sports can help teach.

Of course this is different for a highly paid pro who comes to us and spends thousands of dollars on training, rehab, recovery and more.  That’s basically a business investment.

Want to play better and recover faster, be responsible and get to sleep. 

Want to be a little bit more fit or gain more muscle, eat better.

RELATED: The Most Important Strategy So Athletes Can Recover Better

In fact, this is one of the most rewarding things we see working with young athletes.  The choices they make, on their own to be self reliant.  Young men and women being proactive in their life.

Not blaming, and not waiting.  They start eating a little better at school.  They go out for that extra run on their own.  They put down their phone and go to bed a little earlier than their peers.

The types of injuries that struck Golden State were devastating.  The fear is that the team didn’t do enough (which appears unfounded from our knowledge).  This should be a reminder or wake-up call that you need to be responsible to take care of yourself. 

Don’t count only on your team, your staff, your school, etc…  Be proactive in taking steps to reduce your risk of injury.  Be proactive if injured in managing your treatment and recovery.

KD’s Decision To Play Injured

Whether or not the risk was worth it for KD to go into that game can truly only be answered by KD.  What was the importance of competing to win versus the risk of injury to his career? 

Did pressure from the media or team mates sway his decision?

Did he just want to be the hero?  The one we idolize in sports for overcoming pain and injury.

Even the most rational person would be hard pressed to not absorb some of that pressure.

We don’t know.

Young Athletes Need Perspective On Playing Injured

However, I’d like to see this as a lesson for young athletes.  For their parents and coaches. 

We are questioning if it was a good decision for him.  He’s an adult and one who has experience.  He has advisors and got outside opinions.  He’s won before and financially sound. 

Yet, too often, young athletes feel that same pressure.  Kids, high school and college players.  They don’t have the same experience tor wisdom to draw from.  They don’t have millions in the bank already.  They haven’t reached the pinnacle of their sport.

I’ve watched as we evaluated young athletes for functional after returning from injury.  They were clearly not ready to go back. 

But they did…

Because the parent really wanted them to overcome and play. 

Because a medical professional was negligent in confirming if this player was functional, didn’t and cleared them anyway. 

Because the team, teammates or even other parents pressured them.

Some of them were all right.  Some ended up with another surgery.

So how come there is so much outcry and questioning of KD’s decision, when we see young athletes risking so much all the time?

Let’s improve the conversation about risk.  Young athletes don’t have the perspective that parents and coaches should.  All of us can improve this.

What Next For Youth Sports Injuries

The injury to Kevin Durant is horrific and has made people speculate and talk about responsibility.  Let’s use this as an opportunity to expand the conversation about responsibility and perspective in youth sports injuries. 

There are serious risks when playing hurt and trying to compete when the body isn’t ready.  Every young athlete, coach and parent have a responsibility to truly consider this as well as being proactive in lowering the risk of injury.

Youth Sports Injury Resources:

Positive Coaching Alliance

Stop Sports Injuries

HealthyChildren.org

Very Well Family

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-myofascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.

MORE INFO: Mobility vs Flexibility: They are different and it matters for athletes

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

Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies 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 a 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 incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as lengthen. The ability of the 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 bodybuilding techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according to 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.

Sports 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 a 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.

How Velocity Helps Athletes Improve from Injury to Recovery

Sports Injury Rehab

After a sport or orthopedic injury, people set a process in motion.  The decisions throughout that process can determine whether they recover quickly. Whether they lower their risk of future re-injury.  Unfortunately, those decisions can lead to a slow recovery and condition lasting for years.  Velocity offers an approach to sports injury rehab that is not the traditional model.

The traditional therapy model might have the injured person going to 8 – 12 sessions of treatment. Then just turned loose to manage on their own.

The Traditional Model

This traditional model is often focused on treating the symptoms and reducing pain. Too often it doesn’t address the underlying causes of that problem.
 
According to Velocity Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka; “When underlying problems such as restricted mobility, muscle imbalances, poor joint stability or lack of functional strength aren’t addressed the risk of re-injury and/or chronic pain often remains.”
 
Underlying problems can lead many individuals to experience a frustrating cycle of pain and injury. This leads to re-entry into the healthcare system, more treatment, and release.  They can go through that cycle repeatedly without ever getting to the root of the problem.

Velocity’s therapy model grew from working with the world’s elite athletes and teams.  In that arena, performance is the name of the game and results matter. 

Eliminating Pain

Instead of “chasing the pain” alone, Velocity looks at the big picture of the athlete as a whole.  They evaluate basic fundamental movements, mobility, stability, and function. Doing this allows identification of an individual’s needs and to create a roadmap to recovery.

functional sports injury rehab with professional athlete
A Velocity specialist works with a professional athlete to assess a movement dysfunction.
 
“Whether it’s an Olympian trying to win to a medal, or a serious weekend warrior, they have common goals in therapy. They all want to eliminate pain and be able to perform at their highest level.  No one wants to be restricted from the sports and activities they love.”
 

Athlete Centered Sports Injury Rehab

From the initial assessments, Velocity creates an integrated treatment plan. It involves rehab specialists, massage therapists, trainers, nutrition coaches, and mindset coaches.
 
This means that for many people who have experienced the traditional healthcare model, this integrated approach is a refreshing experience.
 
Some of those people have experienced working with a rehab therapist, or even a massage therapist, but few have seen a coordinated effort. A sports injury rehab approach from multiple specialists. A plan with with athletic strengthening, movement training, nutrition and mindset.  This is a whole new dimension.
 
Manual sports injury rehab on weightlifter
Tanioka provides manual therapy to a member of the US Weightlifting team in preparation for the World Championships.

Tanioka explains this perspective, “It’s the model we strive for in our Athlete-Centered approach.  That means we focus on the individual as a whole, their goals, and what they can do, instead of what they can not do.  We want them to stay as active as possible, restoring function and getting back to full, pain-free sport and activity.”

Velocity built the model based on the demands of elite sport.  Training, Recovery, and Rehabilitation are the cornerstones.  They are facilitated with Mindset and Nutrition to help athletes achieve their goals.

For elite athletes, this makes sense and they have the mindset to do everything possible to recover But weekend warriors and young athletes may not be exposed to a comprehensive support system.
 
They might not be exposed to effective solutions.  They might not have access to high level specialists.  This often ends up with them frustrated. They may find their progress stagnates through the traditional process.  Their risk of re-injury can also be higher because of this.
 
Effective sports injury rehab isn’t just a short series of visits. In the Velocity model, it’s a mindset of integrating all the elements. This helps achieve faster recovery, and sustain high performance.   “Instead of seeing therapy as something to merely eliminate symptoms, we help people to recognize what their body requires. To start building good habits to be able to take care of their needs” says Tanioka.
 
Velocity delivers solutions for athletes and active individuals. By integrating a full spectrum of disciplines, it offers a new model of rehabilitating sports and orthopedic injuries.
A person can return to full, pain-free function, and maintain that performance for a long time.

How To Protect Against ACL Injuries

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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.

Y Balance Test: What It Is & How to Use It

Following an injury, an athlete can experience significant changes to their motor control, which can affect their overall functional symmetry.

The Y Balance Test is one way to test an athlete’s risk of injury and functional symmetry. The test measures pre and post rehab performance, improvements resulting from an athlete performance program, dynamic balance and return to sport readiness.

Performed for both upper and lower body, the results take into consideration age, sport and gender.

When incorporated into the functional exam, the Y Balance Test has the ability to identify if an athlete is susceptible to risk.

Training smarter, which includes using the results from the Y Balance Test, can result in the reduction of re-injuries, as well as prevention of initial injuries.Click through the slideshow to watch Wes Rosner lead Angelina through the Y Balance Test. 

How to Do the Y Balance Test:

  • Start with right foot on center platform.
  • Use left foot to push reach indicator in forward direction.
  • (Note: The left foot cannot be placed on top of the reach indicator.)
  • Return left foot to center while under control, without touching down.
  • (Note: The left foot cannot touch down during the test.)

Repeat in each direction, switch feet.
Repeat with upper-body.

The Y Balance Test Addresses the Following Areas:

Upper: Medial, Infrolateral and Supralateral Reach
Lower: Anterior, Posteriormedial and Posteriorlateral Reach[/fusion_text]