Archive for the Low Back Pain Category

A Reaction to “Dirty Little Secrets of the Single Leg Training Craze”

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females with tags , , , on March 7, 2018 by mboyle1959

If you haven’t read this article, Dirty Secrets of the Single Leg Training Craze, don’t bother to continue. I can promise that the things I’m about to say won’t make much sense.

First off, let’s try to set the parameters of the discussion. No real strength coach, me included, is telling anyone to do only single leg exercises all the time. Therefore the premise of the entire article changes. There really are no “dirty secrets”.

What I have said and written is that for higher level athletes, we have found unilateral knee dominant movements to be not only safer but more effective. We continue to do bilateral power exercises ( Olympic lifts and variations) as well as both unilateral and bilateral plyometrics. In addition, with healthy athletes we continue to use Trap Bar or Hex Bar Deadlifts.

So the reality is that there really is no single leg craze, only a steady progression of good empirical thought reinforced by what we now understand about functional anatomy.

No Agenda

With that clarified, lets dig into the article a bit. Carl declares himself to be a man without an agenda yet the article reeks of agenda. Nothing generates Likes and views like telling a bunch of people what they want to hear. The man who thinks he is right loves affirmation.

In fact, opinionated pieces that profess to be not opinionated are perfect for the “see I was right all along crowd”.  Readers think “this guy (who has declared that he doesn’t have an opinion) agrees with my opinion”.

The good part about Carl’s article is that it won’t change the minds of those of us who really understand the issue and see through the smoke, mirrors, topic changes and deliberate confusion. What an article like this will do is reaffirm for the dinosaurs that they have a few more years until extinction.

Much like a 3 Card Monte wizard, Carl plays quickly, mixing facts and opinions and never clearly distinguishing when switching to one from another. He seems to express opinions as facts with no mention of opinion.

The Gloves are Off

Lets try to deal with some of the “unbiased” statements, one at a time.

Carl begins with the dichotomy of “the gloves being off” as he prepares to offer “ a fair and balanced overview”. This is paragraphs one and two. Either the gloves are off ( fight analogy) or, the article is going to be fair and balanced? Can you take the gloves off and write a fair and balanced article?

Clearly, at least from my perspective the article is neither fair, nor balanced?

The next five to six paragraphs discuss agendas, smoke screens and product sales? Very fair and balanced. As you follow the first few agenda-less, unbiased, paragraphs, you are given the impression that people like me gave up on bilateral squats because we have an agenda. We hide behind smoke screens in order to sell products?

My Agenda?

My only agenda is attempting to help teams win and to have healthy athletes. In the interest of full disclosure, I sell information products but, trust me, they do not represent a majority of my income. Also, I do not sell equipment. I do work for an equipment company ( I’m a speaker for Perform Better) but, I have not ever been involved in equipment sales as a profession.

Hands-on session at the Perform Better Summit in Munich

Game Changer

Carl goes on to say  “so far nothing has surfaced in any training facility that screams that moving toward split squatting is a game changer.” I would beg to differ? It is a game changer in my facility. Back pain has nearly disappeared, vertical jumps have climbed, and most importantly championships have been won at the collegiate, professional and Olympic level.

Ask Devan McConnell at UMass Lowell if he thinks single leg work has been a game changer. Ask Cameron Josse at DeFranco’s. In fact, ask any coach who has really committed to single work if it has been a game changer.

Gurus and Outcomes

Carl goes on to state that “most proponents of single leg training are the functional training gurus who use the visual appearance of exercises as their hallmarks to success rather than the outcomes of entire training systems”. As the author of New Functional Training for Sports, I might think that this is an un-opinionated and unbiased reference to me?

If in fact it is, I can again say that we are not relying on the visual appearances of the exercises but instead on the results of the exercises, both in what they are doing and, what they are not doing. Teams are winning and athletes are healthy. That is not appearance. We don’t appear to be healthy and, we don’t appear to be winning. We are healthy and we are winning. I have the stats to establish both.

Overused and Oversimplified

Next Carl states that  “saying that “because we run one foot at a time” is the most overused and oversimplified argument as to why an exercise is a superior or better option.”. Sorry, overused, maybe yes, oversimplified, yes, entirely accurate , yes. This is the science of functional anatomy? The musculature behaves differently in unilateral stance. The entire patterns are different. This is akin to telling the track coach, that bounding and hopping are overused and oversimplified?  Why not just do lots of double leg jumps and then go do the event?

A Path to Overuse

The next opinion is “doesn’t adding more exercises that load one leg cut a path to overuse syndromes and pattern overload the same gurus warn us about?” The answer to that would be yes if the gurus were saying that unilateral exercises decreased loading on the hips or knees? However, those I know that espouse unilateral training do so to avoid back issues? So, the agendas and smoke screens seem to emanate from the author vs the subjects?

Bilateral Deficit

Carl then moves into some really confusing talk about bilateral deficit. The reality is that the bilateral deficit exists and, that it explains what we see in unilateral exercises. We can use heavier loads because the body is neurologically wired to work unilaterally, not bilaterally.

I’ve already written about Bilateral Deficit here.  Unilateral Training and the Bilateral Deficit

 

Back Squat and Split Squats

In this section Carl goes on again to restate that switching to unilateral knee dominant training has not proven to be effective. Valle states ( for the second time) “so far nothing has surfaced in any training facility that screams that moving toward split squatting is a game changer. I’ve previously cited the study on academy rugby athletes that compared squats to split squats where the data showed similar results, not dramatically different results.”

Again Carl ignores those of us that have seen split squatting as a game changer. But, most importantly, Carl ignores the reason that we switched. The motivation to move toward unilateral knee dominant work was not the performance benefit as much as the injury prevention benefits.

The rugby study cited actually supports my/ our position as the study showed that unilateral training and bilateral training had equal benefit.

Injury Risk

What Carl neglects to mention are quotes like this from none other than Frans Bosch ( a big unilateral proponent) .

Bosch states’ “ not only is the value of deep squats questionable, but so is the claim that double leg squats are particularly suitable for improving strength in the legs. Strength in the back muscles may be the limiting factor, rather than strength in the legs, and so double leg squats may in fact be a maximal strength exercise for the back muscles”

This is very much in line with my “transducer” argument. I stated a few years ago that the back was a bad transducer.  The back is not an effective vehicle to get force from two legs to a bar held on the back. That is just reality. The back becomes the limiting factor in squatting. That is not opinion, that is fact. You can watch 100’s of failed squats and you will rarely see the legs give out while the torso remains solid and erect. I have competed in powerlifting and have watched literally thousands ( probably millions) of squats and failure occurs the vast majority of the time via a rapid lumbar flexion.

Conclusion

This article seems to be a deliberate attempt to pander to the bilateral audience? All I could think of as I read this was the Henry Ford quote “ if I had listened to everyone else I would have invented a faster horse”.

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Complete Core Questions

Posted in Core training, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Training with tags , , on November 16, 2017 by mboyle1959

I’ve been getting some great questions from viewers of Complete Core and, figured the best way to answer was via a blog post.

1. Recently I was in a seminar by a good physiotherapist. She told us that we can’t make the little core muscles stronger (i.e. multifidus) like the big ones (i.e. rectus abdominis, oblique). But we can make them more skillfull, so they could know when to swicth on and off. That is what she called stability. And she said it is a great way to use unstabile surfaces like big balls. For example lie on a big ball with the stomach and raise the left leg and right arm. In the “What is the core” video you seemed to don’t like the use of balls. What is your opinion on this?
A- We don’t use the stability ball much any more. I think we can do the same quadruped type exercises without the ball and, the effect will be far more “real world”. I think if you look at the quadruped section you can see that core stability ( in my opinion) is being able to move the hips or shoulders without the spine compensating. I’m not sure if the addition of the stability ball helps.
2. I think I have a good book for you. When you mentioned swimming under the pool I thought you might want to read this.
Patrick McKeown – The Oxygen Advantage
This is a revolutionary book about nose breathing and CO2 tolerance. I use this on myself and clients and have big results. Better recovery (short and long term), health and mental fitness. I think you can use this with your athletes too.
A- I’ll check it out. I think we are going to see much more interest in how we breath over the next few years. That is why I spent so much time on it. I was completely wrong about breathing and readily admit it.
3. I know that sit-ups and crunches are bad for the spine, but I didn’t know that leg raises were bad. Are leg raises, L-sit holds and hollow body holds bad for our spine or do they just not help build a better core?
 So my question is am I hurting my people with these exercises or do these exercises not help them to achieve  better core mechanics?
A- I’ll answer 3 and 4 together below as they are related. 
4. Also I think you mentioned (57:50 in the video) that we would never do hanging leg raises in a functional way. But when you climb a rope while using your legs, I think you do the a hanging leg raise. You have a high grip, then you raise your legs as high as possible, hook the rope with your legs, you “squat up” with your legs and then re-grip again higher. Also it is true that when you rope a climb like this you don’t raise your extended legs just your flexed legs.
A- I am not a fan of leg raises. As I mentioned in the video I’m not a fan of long lever hip flexion. With the exception of punters in American football, divers and gymnasts, very few people will use long lever hip flexion. I have also found that those with longer legs can get back pain from hip flexor oriented leg work. I think if your athletes climb ropes, they might need that function?
5. I would like to ask if some of the exercises I have used before are healthy or not in your opinion:
Is the Twist holds rotation of the thoracic or the lumbar spine?:

A- Absolutely lumbar. I would never do this under any circumstances. Ask yourself, why you do it?
Same question as above about the Windshield wipers?

A- Another exercise I would put in “silly, waste of time category”. Again, ask yourself “why would I do that “? 
Kettlebell windmills (if the the flexion happens in the hips and not in the lateral flexion of the spine)?

A- I like Steve but, would never do these either. I like them even less with the slam. I guess my question in every case is ” why are you doing this” and ” what do you expect to accomplish”. I think as you view the examples in the program you’ll see that we really cover why, what and how.
Check out Complete Core and see what you think?

Questions from New Functional Training for Sports and FSC 6

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training on January 13, 2017 by mboyle1959

I got a few questions from someone who had bought New Functional Training for Sports

NewFTFS_Coverand Functional Strength Coach 6.0fsc6webimageso, I figured, why not make it into a blog post? So, here goes.

1. What is your opinion about RFESS jumps? Can they be used to develop power?

I love rear foot elevated split squat jumps as well as explosive step ups as power exercises. We do both

2. Why do you emphasize a 5 second holds in quadruped opposite extensions and other exercises?

We use five second holds to eliminate momentum and cheating. My old friend Al Visnick ( a PT) once said “if you want to develop stabilizers, you need to give them time to stabilize”.

3. Why you do not want your athletes and clients to hold plank for longer than 30 seconds?

In a word, because it’s boring. I just can’t see any reason to do it.

4. What number exercise ratios would you suggest between anti-rotation, anti-extension and anti-lateral flexion exercises? Are there any recommended stability levels?

Ideally I’d love to have 2 of each per week. In a four day program we can generally do that. In a two day we might get one anti-extension and one anti-lateral flexion.

 

PS- if you want your questions answered every day, why not check out Strengthcoach.com ? It’s the best choice for strength and conditioning information on the internet.

Do Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats Cause Back Pain?

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training with tags on June 10, 2016 by mboyle1959

I just got back from speaking at the Perform Better Summit in Orlando.  Before my talks I took in Stuart McGill’s talk ( he is always one of my favorites and has greatly influenced me).

Recently Dr McGill has been vocal about Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats potentially causing back pain, particularly SI joint pain and as he calls it “pelvic ring” disruption.

We probably use the rear foot elevated split squat as much as anyone and, have not had any increase in SI joint pain or back pain in general. In fact, we switched to the split squat variations in response to back pain from heavy back and front squats. ( to finish reading, click here…)

 

Does It Hurt?

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training with tags on March 25, 2016 by mboyle1959

I can’t tell you how many times I say the same thing. People ask “should I do ____?”

I always answer Does It Hurt?

This might be my favorite article I’ve ever written.

Does It Hurt?

Hand_Crushed

Unilateral Plyometrics in a Rehab Setting

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Uncategorized with tags on March 14, 2016 by mboyle1959

No lower extremity rehab process is complete until the athlete or client can control eccentric actions on a single leg. Unfortunately, the process of getting an athlete to take off and land on one leg can be a difficult one. Frequently athletes are cleared to participate in sports who have not done any single leg plyometric activities.

In order to truly understand lower extremity rehab it is important to understand the difference between unilateral take offs and landings and bilateral takeoffs and landings. It is also important to understand that running is a just series of unilateral takeoffs and landings.

In rehab settings, unilateral strength exercises like step ups, step downs and various types of single leg squats are widely performed and widely accepted. However, the process of extending or expanding the rehab into the area of eccentric strength and power is more difficult and probably given less consideration.

To further clarify, think of eccentric strength as the braking system. Any client who has experienced a lower body injury or who is returning from a lower body surgery must be able to land effectively to avoid re-injury.

These landings take three forms:

Jumps- a double leg take off followed by a double leg landing


Hops- a single leg take off followed by a landing on the same limb


Bounds- a single leg take off followed by a landing on the opposite limb

What becomes difficult for therapists and athletic trainers is figuring out how to gradually return an athlete to jumping, hopping and bounding as a sequential part of the rehab process. Unfortunately in most rehab settings bodyweight is a constant that must be accounted for.

In order to counter the effect of bodyweight we utilize equipment like the MVP Shuttle and Total Gym Jump Trainer. Both pieces allow athletes to jump and eventually hop with loads that are less than bodyweight. With both pieces we are able to add velocity and a graduated eccentric load.

totalgym

If you are involved in lower extremity rehab one or both of these pieces becomes a “must have” in your clinical setting. The great thing about both pieces is that you can work towards bodyweight jumps and hops in a very gradual way in conjunction with your lower body, strength oriented, rehab progressions.

It is important to remember that in sport what goes up, must come down and that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The patella-femoral issues we see so often in rehab are very likely caused, at least in part, by our inability to properly develop the essential braking system. Remember, restoring the ability of the system to move from zero to sixty is inconsequential when there is no braking system.

If your job is rehab, you owe it to yourself and your athletes to take the time to experiment with both the MVP Shuttle and the Total Gym Jump Trainer.

 

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat vs Back Squat?

Posted in Hockey, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Training Females with tags on March 8, 2016 by mboyle1959

Although the results of this study have been posted before this article does a nice job breaking things down.

http://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/promotions/newsletter/rear-foot-elevated-split-squat/

The funny thing is now the squat people are trying to paint the RFESS as dangerous ( damages the pelvic ring?). This seems to be a a totally unfounded Hail Mary pass as the results pile up.

Here’s 2 time Olympian Meghan Duggan with 160×10

PS- we have next to zero injury issues with RFESS vs, about 20% on average with back squats.