Ann Arbor Sports Performance

Returning to Sport with Plyometrics

Plyometric exercises are series of drills that utilize explosive forces in functional patterns to help you develop strength, power, and coordination. These exercises involve jumping. For instance, box jumps, lunges, skipping, burpees, jump squats, are all great examples of plyometric exercises. All of these exercises utilize a stretch-shortening pattern, also known as an eccentric-concentric pattern.

Why does it matter? 

We utilize this type of training in the advanced stage of rehab once you are ready to get back to doing the sport or hobby you love. As we repeatedly move in and out of this phase with progression, you WILL be able to perform better at your weakest point when you return to your sport or hobby.

As the idea is to perform these exercises RAPIDLY, you can see where even tiny errors start to magnify. This is where we take plenty of time with you INDIVIDUALLY to analyze your technique and safety throughout these exercises.

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when progressing Plyometrics:

If you are just starting out with this type of training, it is good to start off with bodyweight only. As you find yourself progressing through these workouts with ease, you can add an elastic band, tubing, weighted ball, or weighted vest for external resistance but nothing excessive. Think about going from bilateral to unilateral activities to make things more difficult for yourself. Increased resistance should NOT be enough to slow you down NOR should it be compromising form. Also volume with plyometrics should be low 3 x 5 reps, is pretty standerend...not doing it for time or 30+ reps. 

If your an athlete who is looking to get back to their sport FASTER and at a higher level then On Track Physio can help! Sign up for a FREE discovery session to learn more.

Ann Arbor, Mi

About the Author: Dr. Greg Schaible is a physical therapist/strength coach specializing in athletic performance. He attended The University of Findlay, graduating in 2013 with his Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). As a Track and Field athlete, he was as a 5x Division II All-American and 6x Division II Academic All-American. Greg is the owner of On Track Physiotherapy in Ann Arbor, Mi. You can stay up to date with helpful information and news on Facebook.

“Don’t Put Fitness on Dysfunction”

"Don't Put Fitness on Dysfunction." This is one of my favorite sayings from Gray Cook (physical therapist,). What he’s getting at, is we need a solid movement base – meaning joint mobility and stability, muscle flexibility, and balance – prior to training for strength, power, speed, and so on. Or before just going out and participating in a given sport or taking up something like jogging. Here is the Functional Performance Pyramid he came up with.

What this basically says is we need to move well before we should begin any training program or athletic endeavor. The purpose of this is not only to get better results from our training, but also to prevent the injuries that seem to go hand in hand with training and athletics.

The research is now clearly showing that the movement skills we once possessed as children, are vital to our health and performance as teenagers and adults. Research done in professional and collegiate sports, as well as in the military, is demonstrating that a base level of movement competency is necessary to prevent injuries. Not only that, but training and performance are enhanced in athletics. In the military it has been shown to correlate to drop out rates in basic training.

Here are two factors from the research that relate how well you move to injury risk:

1) Previous injuries 2) Right-Left asymmetries

These are the two biggest predictors of injury in athletics and in those that train, run, bike, ski, etc. Previous injuries we have experienced often create compensatory strategies to allow us to continue to perform our desired activities. Something as simple as an ankle sprain provides a great example. To continue to run, just in this example, the calf muscles tighten down to protect the ankle and you lose ankle joint motion. This requires compensatory motions from the knee, hip, and up the chain into the spine. This is meant to be a short term adaptation but often becomes chronic – a new way of doing things. Over time the accumulating microtrauma can lead to overuse type injuries such as plantarfascitis, achilles tendinopathy, knee pain, or back pain. Occasionally it can lead to bigger, more devastating injuries.

Right to left differences in movement (asymmetries) can create a similar scenario. Often our work, school, and athletic activities create these side to side differences that will have much of the same affect. We move well one direction, but not the other. Repetitively moving in our more mobile direction creates excessive wear and tear on our joints and muscles. When forced to move in our not-so-mobile direction repetitively or with great force (a.k.a sports), serious injury can result.

45 degrees of hip rotation on the Left and 20 degrees on the Right = Not Good!

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to movement quality and injury prevention. The research is showing that we’re playing with fire by just jumping into training programs or athletics without first assessing how one moves, determining base levels of strength, conditioning, etc. I prefer using the Functional Movement Screen and Y Balance Test with all athletes and those who want to train hard, but it can be any system that takes a good hard look at how you move prior to putting you under the bar or out on the field or court.

I think this quote by world renown physical therapist Diane Lee (who has worked with the Canadian Olympic team) puts in all in perspective: “Don’t run to get in shape, you must get in shape to run”. If you move well, you can train hard. If you have a ‘weak link’ then we must address that to help you meet your goals.