By: Anthony Campo
The most important aspect of doing corrective activities such as soft tissue work, stretching, and mobility training is to determine your level of need. The more you participate in a sport that involves highly repetitive movements, the more corrective work you will have to do to stay healthy. It is also important to note that by “sport” I don’t just mean baseball, football, or basketball. I mean any repetitive physical activity that you partake in on a consistent basis. If you are on a proper training plan, it should involve a wide variety of exercises that are geared towards you needs and weaknesses. However, if your goals are power lifting, lifting training will become more repetitious, and the chance of injury will increase due to highly repetitive movements that can build imbalances. To become a top level power lifter, it is completely normal to develop imbalances. In fact, there actually can be some benefit to developing certain imbalances that can make your lifting mechanics more efficient. The take home point here is that you need to be assessed on where you are on the spectrum of proficiency vs. ——-> Chance of injury. If your imbalances are leading you to fall closer the injury side of the scale, is would be in your best interest to use some corrective training methods to help improve upon some of your imbalances. Referring back to the power lifting example, no matter how strong you get, if you get injured it can cause a huge setback. So let’s take a look at a specific lift like the bench press. Becoming highly proficient at the bench press will almost certainly result in some shoulder internal rotation, and shoulder mobility deficits if a whole bunch of time is not dedicated to corrective work. This is perfectly normal to a certain extent, and in a way your body is actually morphing into a more efficient bench press machine. So if your goal is to be a top level bench presser, initially you may not need to worry too much about this. However as the mobility decreases and imbalance continues to grow, the risk of injury can reach a level where it would be in your best interest to start taking corrective work seriously. If corrective work is ignored for a long enough period of time, the chances of injury gets closer and closer to 100 percent. In this example, and injury such as a large rotator cuff tear can result in over a year’s time in recovery. However, on the other end of the spectrum, let’s take a hyper mobile rookie just beginning to bench press. They are looking to become a respectable power lifter. It would not be in this individuals best interest to dedicate a whole bunch of time on corrective work, because that are still a ways back as far as trying to develop proficiency in the sport of power lifting. Their time would be better spent training the bench press. On the other end of the spectrum, if someone is using the bench press to get stronger, but they have another sport besides power lifting, corrective work should be utilized more often to decrease the chance of injury in their sport.
So now let’s take an athlete in one of the major sports such as football. Bench press can be a great exercise to promote a positive neuro-muscular adaption for these athletes. However, their “sport” is not power lifting, it is football. Although this individual is trying to become more proficient at the bench press, their main goals fall with becoming better at their sport of football. This means that they should spend a larger amount of time doing corrective exercises as to not lose any mobility that they need to become a more proficient football player.
Now to bring it all together, training for football will also result in some imbalances. Again it is imperative to address this based on need. Let’s take a defensive end in football. If they are always playing on one side of the line, they might always be driving off one foot more than the other, and going one direction more than the other. This athlete would be at a high risk of injury if they have been training a long time, and have a large deficit on one side. It would be beneficial for this athlete to make sure they train unilateral lower body movements in the gym to try and correct the imbalance from one side to the other. Training the other side equally will not hurt the athletes proficiency at the sport whatsoever, and will drastically reduce the risk of injury.
Now let’s take a throwing athlete, such as a quarterback. They traditionally develop large imbalances because they are always throwing with one side, with bio mechanics that are completely different one side to the other. Throwing can be one of the most repetitive movements that an athlete practices. In this instance the athlete’s primary goal of being a proficient thrower will surely result in the body morphing into a throwing machine, and having many imbalances. However these imbalances are working to make the athlete a better thrower and trying to correct them might result in the athlete becomes less proficient at throwing. It would not be beneficial for this athlete to try and correct these imbalances, because it would not decrease the chance of injury (might actually increase in this case,) and it would make them worse at their sport. It is also important to note that for this throwing athlete, they might run a higher risk of being injured in any other movement other than throwing. In my opinion this is one of the reasons we see a high risk of injury of quarterbacks (When scrambling) and American league pitchers (When running bases,) when they are performing athletic movements outside of what they normally train.
Another “sport” that many often do not think of is running. Running seems to be one of the most popular exercises these days. There has been much research done to validate the fact that long distance running on a consistent basis is not a very efficient exercise choice for body composition and fat loss. However many individuals are training for running events, or just do it on a consistent basis because they enjoy it. If you live in a area with bad weather, then you know that when the weather finally gets nice there will be a slew of joggers on the roads. Many of these individuals have not done anything in months, and they start running as their first and only choice of exercise. Unfortunately, not only is only running not a very efficient choice of exercises, from my experience it results in the highest rate of overuse injuries. Long distance running is the most repetitive exercise hands down. It needs to be viewed as a sport. Many people view running as something than can just do without any preparation. Nobody would step into the gym for the first time, and try to dead lift 500 lbs. Yet many individuals will have no hesitation in going out for a 5 mile run after sitting on their couches for the past 5 months.
If you do start running consistently, remember to treat it as a sport. The longer you do it, the more imbalances you will develop that are putting you at a higher and higher risk of injury. Long distance running is so repetitive, that in my opinion it needs a high amount of corrective work right away to help promote healthy movement patterns. I am not going to go into a lot of detail, but I will just say that long distance running can lead to devastating deficits in posture, movement patterns, and overall function. Walking or sprinting actually promotes far better mechanics than long distance jogging, so I will advise many to train walking or sprinting more often to help correct some imbalances and deficits initially. So long story short, if you are training long distance running, make you are doing a lot of corrective work. I would say that you should do a minimum of 30 minutes of corrective work for every hour of long distance running you do.