Archive for “Adolescents” Tag

Understanding Low Back Pain in Adolescents

 

Low Back Pain in Adolescents

 

By Jake Moore

 

Every one of us has worked with a young athlete with low back pain. In fact, we have all likely have worked with and missed the signs of serious low back pain in our athletes. Looking back at my career so far, I’m sure I have. Of those young athletes with lower back pain, up to 47% have spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis (1). Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are injuries to the posterior vertebrae and result from excessive spinal extension loading. Unfortunately too many young athletes are over-trained and exposed to poor training, leaving them at risk for these injuries. On the positive side, these injuries are preventable with good movement training and knowledgeable coaches. As IYCA professionals we expect to be held to a higher standard than youth fitness professionals when working with young athletes. If we can recognize the signs of serious back pain, and how to train to prevent such injuries, it will go a long ways in diminishing low back pain amongst your youth fitness athletes, help those with low back pain get timely treatment and decrease the impact of low back pain into adulthood.

 

Young athletes are at a vulnerable time to develop low back pain from excessive trunk extension. In late middle school and early high school they may be participating in multiple sports throughout the year. It is not uncommon to be in-season for one sport and still participate in off-season training for their club teams. (It would be worth another article to discuss how these athletes would benefit more from developing fundamental movement skills instead of being in-season all year.) In addition these athletes will be asked to begin a youth fitness or strength and conditioning program in their school as part of their athletic participation. Meanwhile this athlete is at a time in their development where:
1. The rate of bone growth is often outpacing the lengthening of muscle and fascia, leading to tight hips and poor posture.
2. Growth plates are still open and bone density is not yet fully developed.
3. Core strength is not developed as the body adapts to having longer limbs.
4. Motor control and posture are continuing to be shaped.
If these athletes are asked to perform fully loaded strength movements with poor form with an immature and ill-prepared body, the body has but one choice to accomplish this task. That is to hang onto ligaments and bony restraints instead of utilizing muscular control.

 

youth fitness

 

Pelvic influence on spinal curves

 

The spine has three curves. A lordosis, or slight backward bend at the cervical and lumbar spine, and a slight kyphosis or forward bend at the thoracic spine. This helps the spine absorb shock and increases stability versus a completely vertically stacked spine. The lumbar spine position is controlled largely by the pelvis. The pelvis is able to anteriorly and posteriorly rotate based on the muscle pull on the front and back side of the body. The images below demonstrate the muscles involved in creating rotation of the pelvis. The line of action of the hip flexors and spinal erectors pull on the pelvis to create anterior rotation. This anterior rotation results in increased lumbar lordosis. On the other hand, the glutes, hamstrings and abdominals create posterior rotation and a decrease in lumbar lordosis. It’s common to see individuals with inhibited glute and abdominal musculature and tight hip flexors and spinal erectors. The result is a tendency to position the pelvis in anterior tilt and increase compression of the lumbar vertebrae. When this occurs repeatedly over time, the posterior structures of the lumbar vertebrae are at risk for injury.

 

youth fitness

 

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

 

Some of the most significant injuries affecting adolescents are spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. We all have likely trained athletes with this injury, whether we knew it or not. Spondylolysis refers to a stress reaction of overload to part of the vertebrae. In the lumbar spine this is often the pedicle or pars interarticularis. Spondylolisthesis is an advancement of spondylolysis with an identifiable fracture to the vertebrae and possible forward slippage.

 

youth fitness

 

The pedicles and pars interarticularis are located on the back side of the vertebrae and are placed under compressive and shear load when the spine moves into extension. Injuries to these structures often occur gradually over time. As an athlete is asked to do exercises that are beyond their ability for the core musculature to control, the lower back will drift towards extension to find stability. Think about trying to bend a copper wire. As you initially bend the wire a hinge point develops. As you do this over and over again the wire will bend more easily and eventually break. This is exactly what is happening to young athletes with spondylolysis. It’s critical that these individuals get treatment before it is too late (spondylolisthesis).

 

youth fitness

 

Recognizing serious low back injury

 

To recognize the signs of spondylolysis or athletes at risk, look at posture, core strength, hip mobility and activities. Posture is often excessively lordotic when doing squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, back extensions, push-ups and planks. These athletes may be some of your more capable squatters and deadlifters because they understand how to keep the spine from rounding forward. The problem is they can’t control spine extension. Athletes with poor core strength are more apt to use this type of strategy to make-up for inadequate active lumbar stabilization.

 

youth fitness

 

An athlete with limited hip mobility is also at risk. Without flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors, the athlete will have to bend more through the spine on order to perform sport specific or weight room movements. Tight hip flexors will pull the spine into excess extension and poor glute and hamstring mobility will force the athlete to contract more through spinal erectors. The end result either way is increased posterior spinal loading. Any athlete who has made recent large increases in loading in the weight room should be monitored closely for low back pain. Football players and gymnasts seem to be most at risk as well as athletes participating in multiple sports at the same time.

 

Initial symptoms of spondylolysis may be a dull ache in the back with no initial onset. These athletes often have the most pain with running and jumping due to large ground contact forces. Squats, cleans, deadlifts, overhead presses, planks and leg lifts are also exercises that can increase symptoms. These athletes may be able to do every exercise in your program but have pain doing it. These symptoms may go on for months before they bring it to your attention. It may even recur every year, increasing during track season for example, going away during the summer only to return during football season. Once diagnosed, these athletes may be held out of sports and put in a brace for up to 6 weeks with another 4-6 weeks of rehab before full sport participation. An athlete who develops spondylolisthesis may battle low back pain on and off for the rest of their lives.

 


Keys to prevention of Low Back Pain in Adolescents Through Youth Fitness Programs

 

Low Back Pain Youth Fitness Solution #1
Teach pelvic tilt. Understanding how to pelvic tilt is fundamental to developing awareness of the position of the spine and pelvis. An athlete who does not know how to posteriorly pelvic tilt will have difficulty controlling trunk extension and rest on boney structures during exercise. The athlete who cannot anterioly tilt the pelvis will have a hard time learning how to hip hinge and keep neutral spine with squats and deadlifts. Teaching pelvic tilt is easily done if doing and floor based core exercise. Have your athletes start with knees bent, feet flat. Have athletes practice arching the lower back up off the floor, keeping the glutes and shoulders down, then have them smash the lower back down into the floor. This can be progressed to quadruped, tall kneeling and athletic stance positions. Once your athletes understand pelvic tilt, many of your strength exercises will be easier to teach.

 
Low Back Pain Youth Fitness Solution #2
Train in neutral spine. Have your athlete’s pelvic tilt both ways and then find a happy medium. That’s roughly what we would call neutral lumbar spine. To find neutral spine a stick placed along the lower back works well. The athlete should be able to contact the stick at the sacrum, thoracic spine and back of the head.

 

youth fitness

 

Floor based core exercise should use neutral spine as well. Dead bug progressions work very well here. Have your athletes lift one leg or extend one leg and opposite arm, keeping neutral spine. Check under their back to be sure there isn’t an increase in the gap between the spine and the floor. Exercises such as double leg straight leg lifts will be too challenging for most athletes without a progression. This is why kids put their hands under their butt if asked to do excessive leg lifts with a weak core.

 

Look at how your athletes perform planks. Ideally the glutes should be tight and spine neutral. The pelvis position should not change when doing planks or push-ups. If it does, then the abdominals are fatigued or the athlete has poor core control and the lower back passive restraints will bear the load. Discontinue the set. This means push-ups may be limited more by core strength than by upper body strength.

 

youth fitness

 

Neutral spine applies for other strength exercises as well. Athletes should be able to use the force couples around the pelvis, engaging the glutes and abdominals to help control pelvic position. Exercises should maintain lumbar lordosis without forcing end range lumbar extension. Back extensions for example should be taken to full hip extension without hyper-extending the low back. For strength exercises, the cues to squeeze the glutes and tighten the abs will often help create balanced forces around the pelvis to control excessive pelvic tilt.

 

youth fitness

 

Low Back Pain Youth Fitness Solution #3
Improve hip mobility. As mentioned earlier, the hip flexors can create a force pulling the pelvis into anterior rotation, increasing lumbar lordosis. Keeping the hip flexors mobility is essential to allowing for neutral spine positioning when strength training and running. For younger athletes a specific static hip flexor stretch is not necessary. You can adequately train the hip flexors with lunges and split squats to develop mobility and neuromuscular control. Again use a dowel held along the spine and cue abs tight to improve pelvic control during the movement. On the other end of the spectrum, the athlete with tight hamstrings may not be able to utilize their glutes well when doing deadlifts, squats or getting into athletic stance. Getting the hamstrings more mobile will help young athletes access their glute strength and decrease demands on the lumbar extensors. Again, an isolated static hamstring stretch is not needed. Get your athletes to hip hinge with a stick and RDL with a neutral spine and you will develop functional hamstring mobility and trunk stability. These types of exercises along with many of the hip mobility exercises from your IYCA certification will help your athletes develop great hip mobility and allow for decreased demands on the lumbar spine during training and sport participation.

 

If you encounter Low Back Pain in Adolescents or an athlete who complains of LBP, take it seriously. Suggest that they see a therapist or physician for further evaluation. If their back pain is still there, suggest they see an orthopedic specialist. To help diminish the risk of spondylolysis, teach pelvic control through fundamental movement patterns and core exercise. Correct excessive spine extension just as much as you would the athlete who tends to round over. Teaching athletes how to move well and stay injury free is the essence of an IYCA professional and avoiding Low Back Pain in Adolescents. Being aware of the risk of spondylolysis in adolescent athletes will help direct those who need it to medical attention while improving the quality of training for all our athletes.

 

 

1. Motley G, Nyland J, Jacobs J, Caborn D. The pars interarticularis stress reaction, spondylolysis, and spondylolisthesis progression. Journal of Athletic Training 1998; 33 (4): 351-358

 

If you are interested in learning more about proper programming for youth fitness programs check out the IYCA Program Design System.

youth fitness

 

 

The Biggest Problem in Youth Sports Training?

 

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Youth Sports Training Mistakes

The most common problem facing Trainers & Coaches today with respect to developing young athletes over time is the ability to plan long-term. The personal training and coaching professions are most typically based on a session-to-session consideration – clients pay per session most often and Trainers create training programs one session at a time. The same is true for coaching sport – most Coaches script out one practice plan at a time, rather than create a relative flow for an entire month or even season.

 

Limited Plan… Limited Gain

 

The problem with this industry standard as it relates to youths and adolescents is that this type of shortsightedness serves to limit the potential gains made by a young athlete. It is not unlike running a business or corporation – when business owners take the time to organize their objectives and action steps for a given month or year, they almost always are successful at implementing the plan. Far too many business owners, Trainers and Coaches feel as though their actions during a sales drive, training session or practice is what will lead to positive change, when in fact it is the planning that occurs before these actions that accounts for the true gains

 

Become and Objective Monster

 

No one can learn how to create 6 or 12 month Youth Sports Training plans in a day.

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It takes time and diligent effort to acquire this skill, but your ability to get better over time will have a direct and positive impact on both your young athletes’ success rate as well as your businesses ability to attract new clients. Set an objective for yourself to create a system or plan that allows you to develop long-term and wide-focused agendas for your young athletes. Take several days or weeks if need be to create a system that is streamlined and easy to implement – although your are looking for a comprehensive system, the more basic you make it, the more easy it will be to adhere to.

 

Action Steps

 

Start simply. Take a piece of paper and write out where you want your young athletes to be in 4 weeks. Create headings and then just fill in each category. For instance, what skill sets are you working on now? To what degree of competency do you want an athlete or team to be able to demonstrate that skill set in 1 month’s time? This can also be applied to elite adolescent athletes. Are you working on squat or power clean totals right now? If so, where do you want these numbers to be in 4 weeks?

 

(more…)

The Truth About Kids Fitness Program Design

 

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Okay, so I admit to being overwhelmed.

 

When I sent yesterday’s email out asking for people to offer
their thoughts on the matter of Kids Fitness Program and ‘training kids under twelve’,
I wasn’t expecting such a huge outpouring of passionate
responses.

 

My blog is loaded with comments.

 

I received no fewer than 20 emails on the topic.

 

I even had 4 people call me to tell me what they thought.

 

The IYCA certainly is comprised of some passionate people…

 

… And I love that!

 

And now that we’ve established the fact that training
children under the age of 12 is an absolute must, it begs
the question – how do you do it?

 

Weight training – Is that safe for a kids fitness program?

 

Speed and Agility – How do you teach that to pre-adolescents?

 

Plyometrics – How much volume, sets or reps?

 

So while I’m glad that everyone who responded seems to
understand the need for training and instruction with kids
under 12, do they know how to design and implement
programs for this age group?

 

Maybe.

 

But it is a very tricky science.

 

Especially when you factor in the reality that you’re likely
going to be dealing with several kids, all of whom have
different learning styles and abilities, and the potential of
over-zealous Coaches and Parents who are looking for
results NOW… As completely silly as that is.

 

Here’s a quick crash course for you on how to program for
kids under 12 years old –

 

:: Always start by arranging your training group into a semi-
circle around you being sure to avoid any natural hierarchy’s
that typically plague this age group

 

:: Introduce the first exercise being sure to verbally explain and
then visually demonstrate

 

:: Be positive with all commentary and feedback

 

:: The program itself should follow this sequence –

 

a. Coordination 1 (demo)

b. Game Play

c. Coordination 2 (demo)

d. Game Play

e. Technical Instruction

f. Game Play

 

:: Choose coordination exercise that stimulating any of the
following physical characteristics –

 

a. Balance

b. Kinesthetic Differentiation

c. Rhythm

d. Spatial Awareness

e. Movement Adequacy

 

 

 

And that’s how you create successful kids fitness program under
the age of 12!

 

Want the rest of the story?

 

All the specifics and some samples of how it works?

 

Click the link below and get your hands on my brand-new Kids Fitness Program
‘Secrets to Program Design’ course.

 

More than 1,000 Fitness Professionals worldwide have already
purchased this groundbreaking course and have become better
Coaches and Trainers IMMEDIATELY because of it.

 

Here’s your link –

 

http://www.iyca.org/course/programdesign

 

 

‘Till next time,

 

Brian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Programming for Youth

The Youth Sports Mentality:

Without a Plan, You Will Be Mediocre at Best

 

The most common problem facing Trainers & Coaches today with
respect to developing young athletes over time is the ability to plan
long-term.  The personal training and coaching professions are most
typically based on a session-to-session consideration – clients pay per

session most often and Trainers create training programs one session

at a time. 

 

The same is true for coaching sport – most Coaches script
out one practice plan at a time, rather than create a relative flow
for an entire month or even season.

 

 

Limited Plan…  Limited Gain

 

The problem with this industry standard as it relates to youths and
adolescents is that this type of shortsightedness serves to limit the
potential gains made by a young athlete.  It is not unlike running a
business or corporation – when business owners take the time to
organize their objectives and action steps for a given month or year,

they almost always are successful at implementing the plan. 

 

Far too many business owners, Trainers and Coaches feel as though

their actions during a sales drive, training session or practice is what
will lead to positive change, when in fact it is the planning that
occurs before these actions that accounts for the true gains.

 

 

Become An Objective Monster

 

No one can learn how to create Programming for Youth for 6 or 12 month plans in a day.  It
takes time and diligent effort to acquire this skill, but your ability
to get better over time will have a direct and positive impact on

both your young athletes’ success rate as well as your businesses

ability to attract new clients. 

 

Set an objective for yourself to create a system or plan that allows

you to develop long-term and wide-focused agendas for your
young athletes.  Take several days or weeks if need be to create a
system that is streamlined and easy to implement – although your are

looking for a comprehensive system, the more basic you make it, the
more easy it will be to adhere to.

 

 

Action Steps

 

Start simply.  Take a piece of paper and write out where you want
your young athletes to be in 4 weeks.  Create headings and then
just fill in each category.  For instance, what skill sets are you
working on now?  To what degree of competency do you want
an athlete or team to be able to demonstrate that skill set in one
month’s time? 

 

This can also be applied to elite adolescent athletes.  Are you
working on squat or power clean totals right now?  If so,
where do you want these numbers to be in 4 weeks? 

 

 

Create Critical Path

 

Once you have organized your thoughts on where you would like

to be in 4 weeks, you have to consider how you are going to get
there.  On the same or a different piece of paper, right out how
many training sessions or practices you have with this athlete or
team between now and 4 weeks from now. 

 

Date each training session or practice on your piece of paper.  Now,
using your skills as a Trainer or Coach, literally just fill in the blanks. 
Compare where you want to be in 4 weeks with the number of
training sessions or practices you have between now and then.  In
order to accomplish your 4-week goal, what action steps along a
critical path must be taken? 

 

This is the essence of how to develop a long-term approach to
working with young athletes.  You will simply just write out your
next several training sessions or practices in order to meet the
objectives you have laid out for 4 weeks from now.

 

 

Critical Path & Beyond

 

This system can easily be applied to 6 months or even a year.  Just
follow the same type of procedure as mentioned above – set out an
objective for the time frame and decide where this athlete or team
needs to be within that time frame. 

 

Let’s say you have a 13-year-old athlete for 6 months and you want

to determine an objective and critical path.  Take out a piece of
paper and write out where you want this athlete to be in 6 months. 
Be descriptive with this – what skill sets do you want him to have
mastered?  What kind of movement-based techniques will he show

great competency in. 

 

Once you have decided that, break those large objectives down into

more manageable ones and make them your first 4-week objective.
To get to your end destination, where to you have to be at the end
of this month?  From there break it down even farther by deciding
on how many training sessions or practices you will have over the
next 4 weeks and design them in accordance with your 4 week
objective.  Next month, do the same thing.

 

 

The End Result You Need

 

An amazing thing happens when you create objectives and critical

plans like this.  You will start seeing results in your athletes and
teams beyond what you ever-dreamed possible.  Failing to plan is

one of the biggest concerns facing this industry.  It seems everything
is taken on a session-by-session basis with no vision or thought to
the long-term.  It could argued that individual Trainers and Coaches
didn’t know how to plan for the future… well; now you do!

 

Practice the skill of objective writing and critical path creation.  It
will take time to design a system that flows well for you, but it is
more than worth it to your young athletes’ and teams.

 

 

 

‘Till Next Time,

 

Brian

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget that tomorrow, Tuesday November 5, I am
unveiling the IYCA’s first CEU course – The Insider Secrets
to Program Design. Everything you ever wanted to know about Programming for Youth
and how I create training programs for the kinds of situations that
you face everyday…. Stay by your email for the announcement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Complete Athlete Development: No More Guessing

No more guessing.

 

Proven strategies that work every time.

 

Complete Athlete Development:

That’s what you get when you follow what is in the DVD

An all-inclusive training system for working with

young athletes ages 6 – 18.

 

And yes. It’s been internationally field-tested and

proven to work.

 

Over 15,000 young athletes worldwide have been exposed

to my training system. And I may a lot of mistakes

with them along the way.

 

That’s kind of like the built-in guarantee of Complete

Athlete Development.

 

I’ve made mistakes and am certainly never afraid to

say I was wrong.

 

I used to work endlessly on linear speed technique.

 

Teach my young athletes who to accelerate forward,

drive their arms and get full hip extension with every

stride.

 

Then I realized I was wrong.

 

It’s not about linear speed. It’s about angles and

deceleration.

 

That’s why I created my Principles of Movement.

 

They teach young athletes how to accelerate and decelerate

through a progressive sequence –

 

1) Repeat Statically

2) Repeat Dynamically

3) Repeat Randomly

4) Predictable Specificity

5) Random Specificity

6) Individualization

 

 

I also used to think that working with pre-adolescents

was nothing more than playing some random games.

 

Tag

 

Sharks and Minnows

 

Capture the Flag

 

 

Then I realized that these games had to be cloaked in

certain aspects of coordination.

 

That without these coordination efforts, young athletes

would be grossly deficient in certain areas of athletic

ability by the time they reached the teenage years.

 

Some of the coordination facets include –

 

1) Kinesthetic Differentiation

2) Balance

3) Rhythm

4) Spatial Awareness

5) Movement Adequacy

 

 

Ever since I adopted all these ideas and put them into

practical use, I have seen the injury rates of my young

athletes drop considerably while their overall performance

increase dramatically.

 

Have a look at what other Coaches worldwide have to

say about my Complete Athlete Development system –

 

www.DevelopingAthletics.com/cad-short-copy

 

This training system has changed the philosophies,

training styles and lives of countless Coaches worldwide.

 

And all because I was in the trenches making mistakes.

 

Until I found the secret to it all…

 

www.DevelopingAthletics.com/cad-short-copy

 

 

‘Till next time,

 

Brian