Archive for “nervous system” Tag

Stretching Young Athletes with Bands

 

Young Athletes and Resistance Band Stretching

 

By Dave Schmitz
 

What age is good to start band stretching?
 

Is it appropriate to stretch young athlete ages 10 to 13 with Bands?
 

Are there precautions when stretching young athletes with bands?
 

As a band expert I have never felt doing band stretching with athletes younger than 14 was an effective way to improve passive mobility because of the hypersensitivity of the nervous system to passive over pressure stretching. Anytime I attempted to introduce band stretching to this age group, I met with a great deal inhibition and compensation. Passive overpressure stretching of young athletes for years seemed to be very noxious to the neuromuscular system which resulted in kids just putting their body through unproductive stress that the body was not mature enough to handle. The key word in this sentence was mature or from a functional standpoint integrated.
 

Band stretching is like any other movement skill, it must be integrated progressively which means eliminating inhibition by introducing the movement skill in a progressive manner. With band stretching that means:
 

  1. Using the correct band strength that provides the young athlete with enough resistance to initiate a contraction but does not put their muscle under inhibitory causing stress
     

  2. Providing a manual training stimulus using your hands and verbal cueing to guide them through the movement patterns
     

  3. Stressing the importance of opposite side stabilization and manually assisting with this so they can feel the impact of locking out the opposite arm and maintaining a solid foot contact against the wall
     

  4. Not overwhelming them by showing all stretching positions in one training session. Start with hamstring stretching first and then gradually introduce hip rotation, hip flexor/quad and ankle on subsequent sessions
     

    Other important keys to remember are that many of these young athletes are going through abrupt growth spurts which disrupt their neuromuscular control and coordination instantly. Lever arms are lengthened which in turn challenges dynamic stabilization. Also with this added length neural tissues become shortened leading to neurotension restrictions which are best addressed with rhythmical dynamic stretching versus using a static stretching approach.
     

    A Case Study
     

    My son Carter was 13 years old, 135 pounds and 5 feet 1 inch tall going into 8th grade school year. Carter moved very well for his age but had recently gone through a 3 inch growth spurt over a 2 month time frame which dramatically increased his hamstring and hip rotation tightness. Carter played soccer as well as football. He had become very interested in becoming the kicker for his 8th grade club football team. In watching Carter kick during the summer prior to his 8th Grade year, he was not able to get effective hip flexion with knee extension during the follow through of his kicks which had decreased both his power as well as accuracy. In accessing his Straight leg Raise (SLR) Test, Carter demonstrated only about 30 degrees of hip flexion with full knee extension.
     

    Up until this time, I had never implemented band stretching with Carter but decided to do a 3 week trial. For the first three 15 minute stretching sessions, I manually worked with Carter to insure proper movement and stability during the movement. I did not apply any overpressure but rather allowed Carter to create that with the band. My role was simply to guide the movements and assist with stabilization. After the first 2 sessions Carter started demonstrating very good neuromuscular control using a Red Small band and was able to perform all hamstring and hip rotation stretches effectively without my assistance. He stretched a total of 15 times over a 21 day period with each session lasting about 12 to 15 minutes. Many of the sessions were done prior to practice or before going out to play with his friends.
     

    After 3 weeks of band stretching, Carter’s SLR Test increased to 75 degrees and his kicking accuracy from 30 yards was 90%. After 6 weeks his SLR Test was 90 degrees and his accuracy was now 90% at 35 yards.
     

    Obviously after seeing this incredible change in Carter’s hip flexibility, I quickly started to adjust my opinion on band stretching for younger athletes. One of the other factors that I realized while going through this experiment with Carter, was level of muscle stiffness maturity he was experiencing. Carter’s tissues were stiff but not to the degree of an individual in his 20’s or 30’s Therefore by applying the correct stretching stimulus Carter’s tissues quickly adapted and lengthen which explained the dramatic improvement but also provided a stronger support towards instituting band stretching sooner than later in young athletes.
     

    Recommendations for stretching young athletes with bands

     

    Here are a few recommendations for starting a band stretching program for ages 11 to 14.
     

    1. Begin by using a red band before considering any stronger level band. Very important to not over tension their muscle tissue and make them struggle getting into the correct positions.
     

    2. As their coach or parent, you need to help them learn the movements and positions. They will need manual guidance and verbal cueing for at least 2-3 sessions before they can be allowed to stretch on their own.
     

    3. Start with 1 or 2 stretches and gradually implement the others as they master the initial stretches. Again keep in mind, this is not fun stuff and the motivation to train flexibility will probably not be there initially. Until they begin to feel functional improvement, getting young athletes to stretch effectively will require coaching patience.
     

    4. Stretch slowly but actively. 2-3 second progressive holds while performing at least 90 seconds of rhythmical movement in each position is important. Progressive holds are defined as maintaining increased tension for 2 to 3 seconds while still attempting to push further into the range.
     

    The video below will take you through what stretches I feel you should start using with young athletes.

    It should be noted the hip flexor- quad stretch is not performed but should be added into the routine once hamstrings and hip rotation stretches are mastered.
     


     

     

     

Overtraining Young Athletes – Part 2

 

 

Young Athletes

In my last article on overtraining, I offered the suggestion that as trainers and coaches, we must take a deeper look at how we program for and train our athletes. I have made a career out of advocating for the use of more moderate training intensity and volume with young athletes, but this goes even further – it goes to the route of our programming abilities and skills. How much time do we truly spend in designing, monitoring and dynamically adjusting our training programs?

 

General overtraining syndromes impact both the central nervous system as well as the endocrine system. Given that the regulation of many hormones within the endocrine system serve to oversee and manage our stress levels, it is fair to imply that general overtraining could be considered a stress related issue.

 

Two types of general overtraining have been recognized –

 

1. Addisonic Overtraining – This version is related to Addison’s disease and involves a reduction in the activity of the adrenal glands. This class of overtraining impacts the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system, but shows no striking signs at first. A general stagnation or dip in an athlete’s performance (day-to-day) may be an indication or symptom.

 

2. Basedowic Overtraining – This version is connected to thyroid hyperactivity and named after Basedow’s disease (also known as Graves’ disease). This class of overtraining impacts the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system and brings with it a host of identifiable symptoms (reduced reaction time, tire easily, poor motivation, appetite and sleep requirement changes).

 

I offer these two definitions in an attempt to encourage us all to take a closer look at our young athletes when they walk in our doors. As I mentioned in last week’s article, over the past number of training sessions, I could see subtle signs of both these overtraining conditions in the actions and reactions of my athletes.

 

The Winter Holiday (complete with inappropriate nutrition and sleep deprivation) had combined with Final Exams Week (complete with undue amounts of psychological stress, inappropriate nutrition and sleep deprivation) leaving many of my young athletes looking and feeling lethargic. That isn’t to say that notable extraneous circumstances alone (i.e. Winter Holiday coupled with Finals) will always account for a potential overtraining situation, in fact, very often it can be quite subtle:

 

  • Broke up with girlfriend or boyfriend

  • Received a ‘C’ in math

  • Doesn’t understand English homework

  • Is freaked out about driver’s test coming up in a few weeks

 

(more…)

Young Athletes And Injuries

I had an absolutely amazing meeting yesterday about Young Athletes.

 

It was with Scott Hopson – the international Director of

Education for Power Plate.

 

Known widely as ‘vibration training’, Scott wanted to get

together with me in order to discuss the potential of using

vibration training with young athletes.

 

Now, I have only known Scott for a few months, but already

understood him to be an exceptionally intelligent man and

someone who I respect a great deal.

 

Having said that – I had my reservations about the meeting.

 

I am a traditionalist to the core when it comes to creating

training programs and developmental strategies for young

athletes, and I really wasn’t terribly convinced that

vibration training would have much of a place in my system.

 

Boy was I wrong!

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to change directions with

my career or add a new component to my training systems,

but my meeting with Scott taught me a lot about something in

particular….

 

…. I have been right for a long time.

 

We talked about nervous system fatigue and its impact on

progressing a young athletes’ ability.

 

We discussed the importance of creating proper habitual

patterns of movement and the role that has sporting success.

We shared our views on over-training parameters and the effect that can have on young athletes injury potential.

Scott offered his perspective and I offered mine.

 

And we were in full agreement with each other.

 

In fact, the conversation drew me back to an experience I

had earlier that day with one of my Young Athletes.

 

Britney is a 14 year old soccer player who is currently

attending my summer development camp.

 

And yesterday morning, she came looking tired, pale and

extremely low energy.

 

After chatting with her and her Mom about what was the

matter, I found out that for the past few nights, Britney

had been trying out for a new soccer team and that each of

the 2-hour practices had involved nothing more than wind

sprints and various forms of ‘agility’ training.

 

Her new Coach, it seems, considers this time of year to be

the ‘pre-season’ and so was working at increasing the level

of his athlete’s ‘mental toughness’ and ‘conditioning’.

 

And this is the kind of crap that goes on day-in and day-out

worldwide with respect to young athletes and sport.

 

Coaches who don’t know.

 

Trainers who don’t get it.

 

And the troubling part is that it really is a simple equation.

 

Any sort of training stimulus sends the body into a

state of catabolism (a breaking down phase).

 

If the training was not too tough and in accordance with

proper recovery strategies (sleep, nutrition etc) the body

will ‘bounce’ from this catabolic state and become anabolic

(a building up phase).

 

But the primary factor necessary for this to happen is the

‘toughness’ of the training.

 

And I’ve got to tell you, we absolutely stink at this particular point.

 

We make things hard all the time for our young athletes and

truly believe that if they aren’t sweating or near

exhaustion, the training session just wasn’t worth the time.

 

Nothing and I am nothing could be farther from the truth.

 

That’s not to say you don’t train your Young Athletes hard

from time to time or create enough bodily stress in order

to create an adaptation – you certainly do.

 

But it’s the mindless attention we pay to the ‘hard’

component of our training programs that need a serious

second look.

 

On this topic specifically, here’s what you’re going to

learn in Complete Athlete Development:

 

1) Why training sessions that last more than 50 minutes are

a bad idea for teenage athletes.

 

2) How to create a training system that keeps your young

athletes getting faster, stronger and more flexible without

the risk of over-training them.

 

3) How to design speed and strength programs that are

exactly what young athletes need – in the right doses and

using the correct form.

 

You know, many Trainers want to earn a living working with

young athletes.

 

Several Coaches want to know what’s best so they can create

championship teams.

 

Most Parents will shell out thousands on dollars in order

to ensure the sporting success of their children.

 

And yet just over $200 for a complete system that shows you

all of that is considered ‘not worth it’ by some.

 

Honestly, I don’t think I understand that.

 

Give Complete Athlete Development a try for a risk-free

365 days and see the power of what you don’t know –

 

http://www.developingathletics.com/cad-short-copy.html

 

Because what you don’t know is destroying our young athletes.

 

‘Till next time,

 

Brian