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Conditioning in Bloomington, IN

My Child Needs Better Conditioning.  Is Cardio the Cure?


One of the most frequent things I see as a coach is the parent who feels his or her child is never in good enough shape.  While conditioning woes may be the case for a handful, it’s probably fair to say that if your child is playing heavy minutes in 3+ basketball games every weekend, he or she is doing just fine.  


It is important to realize that at the end of a game, any athlete who has played significant minutes is likely a little tired.  The athlete who feels 100% at the end of a competitive game either rode the bench or put forth less than his or her best effort.  


A classic example that I like to refer to when talking about conditioning is former North Carolina Tarheel and Indiana Pacer, Tyler Hansbrough.  During his college days, he would frequently play only 2-3 minutes after the tip before taking a small break. Hansbrough required these breaks because his effort and adrenaline were so high at the beginning of each game, he would need a minute or two on the bench to catch his second wind.  With all that said, Tyler’s college teams were some of the fastest playing teams in current memory, and one look at Hansbrough is enough to tell you that he was a man amongst boys.  


If a guy like Hansbrough can afford to take a break after just 2-3 minutes of hard play, maybe you should rethink what it is that your child requires to be a successful basketball player.  Would you rather be the most exceptional athlete on the court for 34 out of 40 minutes or play a full 40 at a lesser capacity? Would you rather feel you can exert your strength against your opponent at the end of the game, or just hang on for the ride?  


The sport of basketball is highly anaerobic, meaning oxygen is expended far faster than it is taken in.  The average athletes work at 85-90% of their max heart rate at any given point that the clock is running.  When the heart is racing this fast, it is simply impossible to maintain near maximal power output for long durations.  The fittest basketball players are able to exert near maximal power for a handful of possessions and recover during short stoppages (free throws, timeouts, a short rest on the bench).  


Another common asymmetry between parental and coaching philosophy is the effect of distance running on the basketball player.  Many players like to run cross country in an effort to prepare for an upcoming season. Unfortunately, putting in heavy mileage at a relatively slow pace can have detrimental effects on power output.  Athletes who train at a slower, oxidative state are teaching their bodies that it is okay to perform at a middle-of-the-road intensity for a long period of time. The heart rate percentage of a healthy distance runner is rarely close to the 85-90% range, as performing at that capacity for a 20+ minute race is essentially impossible. In summary, not only is the athlete working at a capacity well below basketball speed, but they are also biasing their muscle fibers away from the fast twitch fiber type that is so valuable for sprinting and jumping.  


Hopefully the information above has provided better understanding of the energy systems required for elite performance on the basketball court.  Rather than quite literally running your athlete ragged, consider using shorter, more intense bursts with similar amounts or shorter rest. Also, consider the role of your child on his or her team.  If they frequently shoulder the burden of scoring heavily or guarding the other team’s best player and they consistently perform well, attempt to reframe your mindset. An athlete who carries his or her team on a nightly basis will be tired.  The well trained athlete will not allow fatigue to act as a detriment.


Seth Eash


At Home Arm Care For Youth Athletes

Arm Care for the Baseball or Softball Athlete

 

It’s that time of year, folks.  Baseball/Softball season is going strong and athletes are feeling the aches and pains that accompany all of their throwing.  Before long, an athlete who isn’t taking care of himself will likely complain of a rotator cuff that feels more like beef jerky than strong, athletic muscle.  Fortunately, a proactive athlete can keep the majority of these nagging issues at bay.  Through rigorous foam rolling and dedicated training on the small group of muscles that maintain shoulder stability, there is no reason an athlete should break down over the course of a season.

 

The simplest action an athlete can take in preventative care is dedicated use of a foam roller or ball.  If you lack a roller at home, you can use a softball, tennis ball, or even a golf ball to relax inflamed or “knotted up” tissue. By placing a ball against a wall and leaning into it, you can cover the area where the shoulder meets the outer chest, the deltoid (the round mass on the outside of the shoulder), and more importantly, the posterior side of the body.  

 

When rolling out the back, it’s important to pay attention to the musculature surrounding the shoulder blade.  Typical hot spots in overhead athletes include the area between the shoulder blade and the spine (middle of the upper back), as well as the meat below the armpit and the back portion of the shoulder itself, known as the posterior deltoid.  By taking care of these general areas and performing additional arm care, a great deal of the risk associated with throwing can be averted.  Please note that when foam rolling, you should not roll on top of the shoulder blades or the armpits themselves, as you could potentially do damage to the underlying tissues or lymph nodes. 

 

The above areas are likely to be tender in athletes who are in season or have recently increased their pitch count.  It is important to remember that when foam rolling tissue, you should do your best to relax into the ball or roller.  By remaining tense, you diminish the effects of foam rolling.  If you are simply unable to relax, try using a tool that is less dense.  For example, it is rare that I can tolerate a golf ball around my shoulder blades, but a tennis ball does wonders.  

 

Now that we have addressed mobility, we can also discuss stability and strengthening of the shoulder girdle.  The shoulder is by far the most mobile joint in the body.  While this allows us more function as humans, there is a cost.  A mobile joint suffers from greater risk of injury.  The more capacity for movement, the more likely something is to go wrong.  If the musculature surrounding the shoulder girdle is not strong enough to absorb the repetitive trauma of max effort throwing, an athlete is placed at greater risk of injury.  If you are looking for some sample exercises to cover stability through the majority of shoulder range of motion, please see this video.  Just as stated in the video, it should be noted that these movements are best performed with lighter weights or minimal band tension.  Controlling the shoulder blades can be difficult for young athletes who are still developing body awareness, but moving with intent is vastly more important than moving heavy weight in these small muscle groups.

 

While the information above may seem as though it is a lot to digest, an athlete who takes his or her time to complete this body care on a regular basis is only looking at 10-15 minutes of work.  The exercises mentioned above are all easily accomplished at home, and the foam rolling can be performed while watching television or lounging around before bed.  Just like studying for a big exam, the individual who partakes in smaller, more focused bouts of arm care will be better prepared for any test that stands in their way.

 

For those of you interested in the benefits of self massage and foam rolling, we at Teamwork Bloomington are fortunate to have the aid of Sports Massage Therapist Leisa Parks, who not only offers her services regularly, but also holds tissue health classes around the first week of every month.  Stay tuned on social media for posts about upcoming dates.  For more about Arm Care, please feel free to contact Teamwork Bloomington.

By: Seth Eash