Retiring From Powerlifting By Adam Davis (OR: How I learned to Stop Lifting Heavy and Love the Lunge)

I’ve rewritten this blog multiple times now. Originally I was just going to talk about lunges. A client of mine who’s a former trainer herself sent me an article regarding the common mistakes when both practicing and coaching lunges. This article upset me because it challenged how I’ve been coaching this movement for 6 years professionally. It was written by one of our favorite professionals in the industry to boot (Dr. John Rusin). I was forced to open my mind and accept new information. And for the first time since joining the OrthoCore Physical Therapy team, I told my clients I was teaching something wrong (well more like less efficient, we’ll say).

Now where am I going with all of this? Well first off, as a coach I have a policy that I never teach something that I don’t practice on my own, unless a client really needs something unique in their programming. I begrudgingly started to practice these new lunges. I’ve had a long love hate relationship with lunges since the first day I worked out my legs. I know their importance and the importance of unilateral work in general. But lunges suck. Or rather I sucked at lunges. So I avoided doing them for a long time during my powerlifting career. I wanted to focus on competition lifts like squats and deadlifts. Those were fun, short, and heavy sets that felt impressive. Lunges were long, grueling, and boring exercises that burned and used light weight. Not something a 23 year old powerlifter was excited to do.

Well now I’m 30 and have 3 notable prior sports injuries, arthritis of varying degrees in many joints, and a stability issue in my right hip. That issue is likely from years of ignoring lunges I’d wager. Well upon practicing these new lunges that better utilize the mechanics of the hip, I became more aware of this instability, as well as generally had better feedback from it. I had more control than ever before in this exercise when working on that right leg, and despite the muscles being stronger, it felt harder. My rotator cuff was working in ways it wasn’t before (yes your hips have a rotator cuff too).

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This newfound sensation with an old exercise blew my mind. How had I not come across this information on how to perform lunges in 6 years of training and 5 years of competitive lifting? My lower body program shifted to primarily focus on lunges first, and I began to go from heavy weight to lighter weight/higher reps. Now I perform them with unevenly loaded dumbbells to both challenge stability and engage the glutes even more than the original modification did. Compound movements like squats and deadlifts became ancillary lifts in my routine.

Ok so let’s get to the real point here. Ever since my shoulder injury 4 years ago, I’ve been out of the competitive lifting scene. It’s been somewhat of a rough journey as I was just months away from my first major competition (everything I had done before were unofficial amatuer meets that were a bit more loosely regulated). That really messed with me. I went through ups and downs trying to get back to the numbers I used to put up before that injury, never quite making it in any of the competition lifts. I even went through a period of depression because of it and gained a lot of weight.

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The last 2 or so years I’ve been getting back into consistent training and leaned out to a nice healthy level again. But I’ve still always been training for strength overall. So “going heavy” was my priority in a lot of lifts, even if I was sure to do things like care for my shoulder health and isolate where needed. I even got my bench press up to 235 lbs after rehabbing my left shoulder from an impingement! But even though I’m mechanically stronger than I used to be in my powerlifting days (I move weight more efficiently), the fact that the actual amount of weight I was lifting was so much lower continued to nag at me. That was until the last few months.

I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I will never compete again, at least not in any ranked league, and even if I compete in an amateur meet again I know I will be far outclassed. I had instead been focusing on my clients’ programs, and exploring new avenues like yoga. I specialize in corrective exercise and movement after all, why not broaden my own training to include more avenues regarding it? And although I was initially hesitant to admit there was information that contradicted what I coached, these lunges were my final step to finding where I really need to be training wise for my body at my age.

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Let’s wrap this up as I tend to ramble when talking about my own experiences. Focusing on these lunges first basically meant a lot of my strength and energy would be sapped for the big lifts. So I did what powerlifters swear never to do. I lifted lighter weight. My squats were endurance and mobility focused sets of 10-15 reps. My deadlifts stayed at low rep sets of 3-5 (I personally believe the conventional deadlift is risky for high reps), but the weight I used was relegated to weight that was normally not a 3-5 rep max. I also started to superset multiple types of deadlifts, so it was more like one set of 6-10 when combined, again helping my muscular endurance more than my usual training used to.

And you know what? I’m seeing tons of progress. My hip feels stronger every week. I’m still adding weight to my lifts even if I use less weight overall compared to even a couple of years ago, nevermind my powerlifting days. My shoulder mobility is more consistent, and my core imbalance is improving faster. To top it off, despite lifting so much lighter, I have more muscle mass on my body now than ever before, which helps keep my metabolism well regulated so I stay leaner easier, and cushions my poor arthritic joints.

So after 4 years of frustratingly chasing the dragon of reaching my former glory days. I’ve finally accepted that I’m not living those days anymore. I’ve retired from heavy weight you could say. I still challenge myself, but in ways that are more appropriate for my body given my history and needs. And you know what? I’m happy with my programming, performance, and body for the first time in nearly 5 years. The new year just started, so I guess this is my “new me”. Perhaps something as simple as reexamining your training programming needs is all you need for a “new you” as well. If you’d like to try and don’t know where to start you can always contact me. Otherwise I wish you all luck in your endeavours in health and wellness in this new year. And remember, it’s ok to be a different kind of athlete than you were last year.

~Adam




Foot Pain Due to Flat Feet

I know this comes as no surprise but I’ve been treating a lot of feet lately. Apparently when you open a second office with a Podiatrist that is bound to happen. A majority of feet problems that I see are due to flat feet. About 12% of the population have flat feet. That might not seem like a lot but when you consider the amount of people in the world, that’s a lot of fallen arches.

Most foot problems, that are due to flat feet, stem from weakness in the arches of the feet. There are a group of 9 small muscles in the foot that help to create and maintain the shape of the arch.

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Just like any other muscle in the body, if you don’t use it you lose it. The hard part about people with flat feet is that the muscles are constantly on stretch. A muscles that is constantly stretched, is going to be weak. So you are really fighting an uphill battle. The other difficult part for most people is they don’t know how to strengthen their feet. What do you do? Put a tiny dumbbell around your toes and do curls? As much as I would love to see people try that, it wouldn’t be effective. Here is one of my favorite exercises to do to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot (crazy socks not required, but recommended).

If you perform this exercise regularly it will help to strengthen the foot muscles and start to build up your arch. If you have a really flat foot, I also recommend wearing a foot orthotic to give a little extra support and bring the arch up to where it belongs.

I hope this helps to keep your piggies from aching and get you up and on those feet pain free. If you have any questions please contact us . Thanks for reading!

 

When it Comes to Swing Length Size Really Does Matter, and Shorter is Better

Something that always comes up when I’m working with my golfers is their backswing length. Many golfers, and teachers, think that it’s vital to get to the top of their backswing, and get the golf club parallel to the ground. While I don’t disagree that players need to get to a good position at the top of the backswing, I do think that everyone has a unique backswing point. That point is very dependent upon how much flexibility you have.

How Many Degrees Do You Need?

Most professional golfers have 60 degrees of rotation in their shoulders, and 60 degrees of rotation in their hips. If you add those up it’s 120 degrees of rotation that is available (I know, difficult math). Now, you don’t need 120 degrees of rotation to get to the top of a “normal” backswing (lets just use parallel to the ground as a point of reference). You only need about 90 degrees of rotation to get there. There are two problems that most amateur golfers are faced with though. 1: They don’t have even close to 90 degrees of rotation. 2: If they do, that still isn’t enough.

Some of you are probably saying “what the heck! You just said I only need 90 degrees to get to the top of my backswing.” Let’s look back at those numbers though. Pro’s have 120 degrees and you only need 90 degrees to get to the top. That gives us a 30 degree difference (I know, hard math again). The pro golfer will get to the top of their backswing and then start the swing with their hips without moving their shoulders. That gives a greater stretch through the trunk and shoulders, and requires those extra degrees of rotation to prevent the shoulders from coming along for the ride. This gives them power and consistency with their swing.

So What Does an Amateur Do?

If you don’t have 120 degrees of rotation all is not lost. You should certainly do some stretching to improve your rotation if you don’t. What I do with my golfers is find the spot in their swing where they can still move their hips in the downswing. From there we use the K-vest system for biofeedback to memorize where that point is and prevent their swing from getting too long. It also helps them to coordinate the start of the downswing with their hips vs. their arms like most do. Once they do the flexibility exercises and improve their rotation we can continue to lengthen the swing without affecting the power and consistency they have created.

If you don’t have a fancy K-vest system but still want to find the correct length of your backswing watch this video.

The biggest thing to look for is the ability to start your hips without your arms. I always err on the side of short. You will be surprised how short you can make your swing and still hit the ball a far distance.

I hope this helps to improve your power and consistency with your golf swing. If you have any questions please contact me. Visit OrthoCore and learn more or make an appointment. Enjoy your new shorter, more powerful, swing.

Balance with Pitching

Balance and posture were the first two mechanical flaws I was taught to look for when I became certified through the National Pitching Association (NPA). The NPA is a group that was founded by Tom House who is the throwing coach for the G.O.A.T. (Tom Brady for those who live outside of New England), Drew Brees, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, and so many other top athletes that this blog post would be 18 pages in just names alone. Their mission is to focus on strength and conditioning techniques that enhance a players skills and reduce their risk of injuries. In short, they look at the body first and performance second. You can’t be a division 1 pitcher if you can’t stay on the mound. Balance and posture is so important to this group that they don’t even look at anything else until this mechanic is fixed.

When we talk about balance we aren’t talking about a pitchers ability to stand on their drive leg for a long period of time. Quite honestly that doesn’t even matter that much. What we’re looking for is the pitchers ability to keep their shoulders level, through their stride, and delivery of the baseball to home plate. Any deviation from this level position will lead to a compensation which can lead to arm injury and break down over time.

Here are a couple of examples of good posture through delivery.

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Here are some examples of bad posture through delivery. They most common coaching mistake we see is telling a player to “get on top” of the ball.

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Now some of you reading at this point might be thinking, “Hey Matt Harvey was a dominant pitcher and Okajima was an World Series winning All Star.” That is all true but how long were they dominant and, at what cost.

A players inability to maintain their balance and posture through the delivery can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Literally any restriction in anything from the ankle up to the trunk can cause a loss of posture in the players delivery. I always recommend that a player get screened by a qualified movement specialist to be sure you are attacking the correct strength and flexibility deficits that are causing the problem. That being said here are some of the most common causes of loss of posture that I see with my pitchers.

Flexibility:

If a players hips and trunk are tight it will limit their ability to rotate which can lead to a loss of posture while throwing. Here are two simple stretches that you can do to help improve your hip and trunk mobility. If you try to do these exercises, and its really easy, then flexibility probably isn’t the reason behind why you are losing posture. It’s still a good idea to perform them regularly to maintain the flexibility that you have. Try doing 15 repetitions holding each repetition for about 3 seconds

Hip IR/ER with Twist:

Sit on the ground with a bat. Rotate one leg in and the other leg out keeping a 90deg bend in the knees. Once your legs are touching the ground rotate your arms towards the leg that is rotating in.

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Open Book:

Lie on your side with both legs bent up to 90deg. Rotate your arms open like a book.

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Core Strength:

Your core muscles are what keep your trunk upright while you are twisting as you throw. They also help to transfer the energy from your legs up to your arm. That means that by doing this exercise not only will you be able to better maintain your posture, you will also be able to throw harder (and who doesn’t like that). Perform 15 repetitions on each side and hold this reach/kick position for 3 seconds.

Plank with Reach:

Get into a tall plank position focusing on squeezing your glutes and keeping your core tight. Stay stiff and alternate reaching with your hands out in front of you. It’s important to prevent your hips from twisting while you reach.

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Plank with Kick:

Get into the same tall plank position. Alternate kicking a leg up in the air. Make sure that your hips don’t twist. Also make sure that your back doesn’t arch as you kick up.

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Balance:

Well it’s what we’ve been talking about the whole time. Didn’t you think I was going to give you an exercise to work on? Balance is important in your trail leg but also your landing leg so be sure to work on this on both legs. You may notice a difference between your legs which is completely normal. The more you work on it, the more your legs will equal out. Try to do 15-20 repetitions on each leg.

Single Leg RDL:

Stand on one leg. Keeping your back straight, balance on one leg and kick the other leg back. The goal is to get your body parallel to the ground without rounding you back. This is a really challenging exercise so don’t get frustrated if you have trouble with it. Just keep practicing and eventually you will master it.

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I hope this helps you improve your strength and flexibility to limit any loss of balance and posture that you might have in your delivery. If you haven any questions or problems please don’t hesitate to contact me on our website, www.orthocorept.com , or via email, IanM@orthocorept.com.