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Are You Packing the Shoulder Correctly?

Written on May 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm, by Eric Cressey

I gave a seminar this past weekend to an awesome group of over 80 trainers, representing 10 countries. 

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They were an enthusiastic bunch with a lot of great questions, but none stuck out in my mind quite as prominently as when a few of them questioned some comments I made with respect to "packing the shoulder."  With that in mind, I thought I'd pull together a webinar on the topic for you.  It's especially timely, in light of this week's release of Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body.  Check it out:

For more detailed upper body insights like this, be sure to check out Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body, which is on sale for $20 off this week only.

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Exercise of the Week: Building Shoulder Mobility and Stability

Written on May 15, 2014 at 10:30 am, by Eric Cressey

In this installment of "Exercise of the Week," I have a drill that combines a few of my all-time favorite shoulder health exercises into one comprehensive approach that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Check it out:

Also, for more exercises and coaching cues like this, don't forget to check out our Mike Reinold and my new resource, Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body.  It's on sale at a big introductory discount through the end of the week.

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Now Available: Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body!

Written on May 13, 2014 at 4:53 am, by Eric Cressey

I'm psyched to announce that Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body - the new product from Mike Reinold and me - is now available. This week only, you can get it at a great introductory discount HERE.

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This product reflects our up-to-date approaches with respect to optimizing upper extremity function and preventing and rehabilitation injuries, and is available in both DVD and online-only formats.  We're sure you'll enjoy it!

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Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body: Why Do You Feel “Tight?”

Written on May 6, 2014 at 2:26 am, by Eric Cressey

Next week, Mike Reinold and I will release our newest resource, Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body.  We're super excited to introduce the third installment of our popular series, and thought you might like a little teaser of what to expect.  Here is an excerpt from one of my webinars, "Understanding and Managing Joint Hypermobility:"

Keep an eye out early next week for the release of this resource!

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Assessments You Might Be Overlooking: Installment 4

Written on March 8, 2014 at 9:21 am, by Eric Cressey

I always tell up-and-comers in the strength and conditioning field, "If you aren't assessing, you're just guessing."  It's not as simple as just doing a sit-and-reach test and having someone hop on the scale for you, though. This series is devoted to highlighting some of the most commonly overlooked components of the assessment process – and here are three more evaluations you might be missing:

1. Previous Athletic/Training Workload – If you're trying to help a client get to where they want to be, it's important to realize where they've been.  For example, someone who has a history of overworking themselves might respond really well to a lower volume program.  Or, an athlete looking to gain muscle mass who has never trained with much lifting volume might be well-served to add some "backoff" sets and additional assistance work.

This is an incredibly important discussion with our professional pitchers, too.  Starting pitchers who have a high workload (some in excess of 200 innings pitched in the previous 8-9 months) need to wait longer to start throwing than relief pitchers who may not have thrown more than 40 innings in a season.  The former group might not start an off-season throwing program until January 1, whereas the latter group might already have eight weeks of work in by that point.

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Discussions of building work capacity get a lot of love in the strength and conditioning field, but I think we often lose sight of the fact that sporting coaches are also looking to build work capacity in the context of the athletes' actual sports.  Now, these two things don't have to be mutually exclusive, but if everyone is always pushing high volume all the time, things can go downhill fast.

2. Quad and Adductor Length - Let's face it: a huge chunk of the population doesn't exercise enough, and even most of those who do exercise regularly don't pay attention to mobility needs. As a result, their entire exercise program takes place in a very small amplitude; they never get through significent joint ranges of motion. Two areas in which you see this probably rearing its ugly head the most are quad and adductor length. 

Your quads are maximally lengthened when your heel is on your butt.  How often do you see someone encounter this position in their daily lives?

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Adductors are stretched when the hips are abducted.  When was the last time you hit this pose in your daily activities – outside of a fall on the ice?

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If you want to do a quick and easy assessment of where you stand on these, try these two (borrowed from Assess and Correct):

Prone Knee Flexion: you should have at least 120 degrees of active knee flexion without the pelvis or lower back moving.

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Supine Abduction: you should have at least 45 degrees of abduction without lumbar or pelvis compensation, or any hip rotation.

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I generally just check these up on the training table when people get started up, but these should provide good do-it-yourself options for my readers who aren't fitness professionals.  Also, if you find that you come up short on these tests, get to work on the two stretches pictures at the start of this bulletpoint.

3. Taking the Shirt Off – This is a tricky one, as you obviously can't do it with female clients, and even when male clients, you have to be sensitize to the fact that it might not be something in which they'd like to partake.  That said, you'd be amazed at how many upper extremity dysfunctions can be obscured by a simple t-shirt.  As an example, this left-handed pitcher's medial elbow pain was diagnosed with ulnar neuritis, and he was prescribed anti-inflammatories for it and sent on his way without the doctor even having him take his shirt off to evaluate the shoulder and neck.

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Needless to say, he sits in heavy scapular depression on the left side, and it wouldn't be a "stretch" (pun intended) at all to suspect that his ulnar nerve symptoms would be originating further up the chain.  Take note on how the brachial plexus/ulnar nerve runs right under the clavicle as it courses down toward the elbow.

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Crank the scapula and clavicle down, and you can easily compress the nerve (and vascular structures) to wind up with thoracic outlet syndrome, a very common, but under-diagnosed condition in overhead throwing athletes.  The more forward-thinking upper extremity orthopedic surgeons are diagnosing this more and more frequently nowadays; elbow problems aren't always elbow problems!

The lesson is that you can see a lot when you take a shirt off.  If it's the right fit for your client/athlete, work it in.

I'll be back soon with more commonly overlooked assessments.  In the meantime, I want to give you a quick heads-up that to celebrate National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness week and help the cause, Mike Reinold and I have put both Functional Stability Training of the Core and Lower Body on sale for 25% off through tonight (Saturday) at midnight – with 25% of proceeds going to MS charities. Just use the coupon code msawareness to apply the discount at the following link: www.FunctionalStability.com.

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Functional Stability Training Sale to Benefit National MS Awareness Week

Written on March 7, 2014 at 11:41 am, by Eric Cressey

I just have a quick "heads-up" blog for you today, as Mike Reinold and I just put both Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body and Core on sale today for 25% off.  It's National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week, so we'll be donating 25% of the proceeds to MS-related charities.

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Both products are available in both DVD and online-only formats. Don't miss this chance to get these resources at a great price – and help out an awesome cause in the process.  Just head to www.FunctionalStability.com, and enter the coupon code msawareness at checkout to get the discount applied.

Thanks for your support!

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Categorizing Core Stability Exercises: Not As Easy As One Might Think

Written on October 3, 2013 at 9:58 am, by Eric Cressey

Most people try to segment their core stability work into multiple categories when they are writing strength and conditioning programs.  As I discuss and demonstrate in today's video, though, they aren't as easy to subdivide as one might think:

If you're looking for more assessment, coaching, and programming strategies with respect to core stability exercises, I'd encourage you to check out our resource, Functional Stability Training of the Core. It's available in both online-only and DVD versions.

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The Deficit Deadlift: A Strength Exercise You Can Do Without

Written on August 15, 2013 at 7:25 am, by Eric Cressey

The deadlift from a deficit is a strength exercise that has gained some popularity in recent years, and it's popping up in more resistance training programs.  Unfortunately, it's an exercise that sounds a lot better on the internet than it plays out in the real world.  I have a lot of one-time consultations at Cressey Performance with people who have a history of lower back pain after deadlifts, and not surprisingly, a lot of them have attempted the deficit deadlift when they have no business performing it, as the risk-reward ratio is far too high.

To that end, in our recent Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body resource, I devoted a segment of my deadlift presentation to the topic.  Here's a free preview:

To view the rest of the presentation (and eight others), be sure to check out Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/10/13

Written on July 10, 2013 at 5:57 am, by Eric Cressey

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Sports Rehab Expert Interview – Yesterday, Joe Heiler interviewed me about the new Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body product, although we actually covered a number of topics. The interview is free.  Also, if you're interested in checking out FST – Lower, you can do so here.

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Elite Training Mentorship – The July update was just posted last week, and (along with an article and two exercise demonstrations), I did a webinar on evaluating scapular positioning to determine if the bench press is contraindicated for your clients, particularly those with a history of shoulder pain.

Groin Injuries in Hockey Players – This was an awesome post from Peter Nelson on Mike Reinold's blog – even if you have no interest whatsoever in hockey.  It parallels one of my presentations (Preparing the Adductors for Health and Performance) from the FST – Lower DVD set, and also leads in to some of Mike's material.  You'll get a little taste of the Postural Restoration Institute in this article, too.

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Now Available: Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body!

Written on June 17, 2013 at 4:10 am, by Eric Cressey

I am very excited to announce that my new product, Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body, is now available. This collaborative effort from Mike Reinold and me follows up on the first module in our Functional Stability Training system, FST for the Core, which was a big hit.  Since then, we've had a lot of inquiries about when the follow-up resources in this series would be available – and today's the day.

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FST for the Lower Body is a comprehensive program that combines the way Mike approaches rehabilitation projects with how I approach strength and conditioning programs.  We talk about a ton of topics that merge our philosophies.

The resource takes a hard look at the lower extremity and how to most effectively optimize function.  By addressing alignment, strength, mobility, and dynamic motor control, you can maximize your rehabilitation and training programs to reach optimal performance.

The lower extremities work in conjunction with the core to provide mobility, strength, and power to the entire body.  Any deficits throughout the lower body’s kinetic chain can lead to injury, dysfunction, and a decrease in performance.  FST for the Lower Body aims to help formulate rehabilitation and training programs designed to optimize how the lower body functions.

The FST for the Lower Body program can be applied to rehabilitation, injury prevention, and performance enhancement programs.

For the rehabilitation specialist, the information will help you restore functional activities faster.  For the fitness and performance specialists, the information will help you achieve new progress with your clients to maximize functional and athletic potential.  For the fitness enthusiast, the information will help you gain control of your lower body, maximize functional movement, and reduce wear and tear due to faulty movement patterns.

Here is the outline of presentations and lab demonstrations in the program:

  1. Reinold: Training the Hip for FST of the Lower Body
  2. Reinold: Assessing Lower Body Alignment and Movement
  3. Cressey: Preparing the Adductors for Health and Performance
  4. Cressey: Hip Internal Rotation Deficits: Why You Have Them and What to Do About Them
  5. Reinold: Training the Foot and Ankle for FST for the Lower Body
  6. Reinold: Understanding and Implementing Neuromuscular Control Progressions into Your Programs
  7. Reinold: How to Integrate Neuromuscular Control Progressions
  8. Cressey: 15 Things I've Learned About the Deadlift
  9. Cressey: Developing Lower Extremity Strength and Power Outside the Sagittal Plane

This video resource is available as a purely-online product, or you can also order the DVD set, if you'd prefer to have a physical copy for your library.  And, this week only, it's on sale for just $79.95, far less than you'd pay for even a half-day fitness or rehabilitation seminar.  For more information and to purchase, head here.

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