Friday, April 15, 2005

Strength Training

So, we lost Erica with a knee injury last night. She’s had issues with her knee partially dislocating and then popping back into the place in the past (subluxation), but it hasn’t been a problem in over a year. In this case, I’m not sure there’s much we could have done to prevent it, but we’ve had terrible luck with injuries this year and it’s got me wondering if some sort of strength training program next year will help cut down on some of the injuries. Anyone have any suggestions? The types of injuries we’ve had primarily are ankle sprains/strains. But we’ve also had some knee issues – torn acl, knee contusion, tendonitis (associated with a previous mcl tear), and now the knee subluxation.

On the track this year we’ve mostly run middle distance pyramid type stuff – we’ve trained less for explosiveness and more for speed-endurance. I wonder if this is part of the problem? The speed-endurance stuff is great for cardio, but less great for leg strength. Does anyone have a program they love? I still stand by my assessment that Chain-style primarily short sprint type work out is not ideal for the way my kids play the game (due to the higher number of turnovers/longer points). Any thoughts? I’m probably going to try to get one of the trainers here to design a work out program for us for next year, but I’d like to get some input first.


wood said...

I can tell you what I've done with SPSU the last couple of years. It seems to have worked, the only injuries we've had have been a few ankle sprains. We had one acl tear but it was a rookie in the offseason before we started our workouts.

First, I try and tell my players in late fall to be ready for the beginning of the winter semester because we're going to start plyos. I encourage them to start lifting with their legs. Squats, curls, extensions, etc. It's important to have a good base before starting plyos.

Because I don't monitor their workouts, I still start out the plyos really slowly. We do plyos twice a week before practice. I usually start out with having them do a couple of 40 yard knee ups and then butt kicks and carioca. We also usually start out with some lunges. They'll do that for a week, then they'll do the knee ups, butt kicks, and carioca before every practice. The second week I usually go to 3x10 ankle hops and 3x10 lateral jumps on one leg. I'll up the intensity a little every week, so that by the last week we do plyos (usually the week before sectionals), we're doing 3x5 depth to rim jumps.

Martin said...

Well, this is an area that I feel like I a good amount of expertise.

Many injuries can be attributed to muscles too weak to do what is required of them at a specific instant. It can range from a small problem to a large one. I personally lost my 2nd ACL because I hadn't lifted in a long enough time that my legs we're strong enough to handle the torque I gave them.

The answer is to make your players life. The seasons where I lifted I had fewer nagging injuries and felt better in general (assuming I lifted well). The process is pretty stright forward in my mind.

First, you develop raw strength. You don't have to try to bulk up, there are ways to get stronger without increasing muscle mass, but you have to get your players strong enough to do what you need. The method that I use is to spend a good bit of time owrking on single mucsle groups (quads, hamstrings, pectorals, etc.) As that goes on you put more emphasis on bi-articular motion (two or more joints). Things like rows, squats, presses, anything that makes you work multiple muscle groups in conjunction. In the end you should be only working multiple groups at a time. As you go from the beginning to the end you need to change the number of reps in a set so that by the end your are doing more sets of fewer numbers (5 sets of 3) where the emphasis is on keeping the weight high, and going through exploding motions.

This last phase (starting in the middle) should be in conjunction with hard plyometrics. Easy plyos are fine to do in the beginning, but to do high force production plyos (depth jumps) without injuring yourself you need to have a strength base that works.

The goal of these plyos isn't just to get faster, but to teach your now stronger muscles how to react and behave during your sport.

Any plyo that you can come up with that mimics the motion of an aspect of the sport is good because your body learns how to fire the muscles to that you don't get injured. With that in mind, these plyometrics shouldn't be "all out" in the beginning.

The way that injury can be prevented with track is to train for the types of points you expect. If the ladies are out there for a long time, they need to be doing longer stuff. Mix injogging and printing in different intervals so that you mimic the sport. These workouts will usually prevent muscle injuried, but muscles weak from running a long point are mire likely to give out on you and let you tear something. Hope this was helpful, I've got lots of other information if anyone wants it.


Tarr said...

Hey AJ, Martin, others. Sorry to hear about Erica. I just want to back up Martin's comments on the importance of plyos.

We (Purdue) lost our unbelievably fast woman (25.5 in the 200, that's not a typo) to an ACL tear while playing at Michigan's indoor facility in January. The injury happened in an incredibly mundane way: she was running down on the pull to set a mark, she stopped hard on her left leg, pop.

But in retrospect, this is not incredibly surprising. We're talking about a girl who has spent her entire athletic career building explosive power and speed in her leg muscles, but never learning how to stop hard. In a 200, you just run through the finish line. All of a sudden she was put in a field sport (on an unforgiving field) and told to stop hard. I should have seen it coming.

So how do you prevent these sorts of injuries? You train your muscles to decelerate as well as accelerate. A great coach I know (we'll call him Michael B, no that's too obvious, we'll call him M. Baccarini) says that cutting is all about deceleration. So this is not just injury prevention, this is also training for success on the field.

Plyos are probably the best easiest way to build the right kind of strength. When you're doing all those 1-leg hops and so on, make sure to emphasize that the landing should be quiet - no big thump, no bouncing. Absorb the impact using your muscles - that's how you train them. Also, don't just go forward/back and side-to-side; go in all directions so that you teach your body to react to jumping and landing every which way.

The same principles apply to weightlifting. Don't explode up, settle down, and repeat. Your upward and downward lifting motions should be mirror images of one another. For most ultimate players (i.e. ones that are not either unusually weak or unusually strong), I think you can get a ton out of training with plyos and never using a weight at all.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the core muscles- Abs and back. Plus, Pushups & Balance. All the leg strength in the world is useless if it's attached to a weak core.

Also, for legs, try to do exercises that strengthen ALL the muscles. Many injuries result because the quad is way stronger than the hamstring. Or the outer quad is stronger than the inner quad.

We (UofMich) don't lift weights as a group, but we do plyos, core strengthening, sprints, stretching, balancing and agility work. Over the last few years, we have really seen our injury rates go down.

Tarr- I remember that injury. I'm sorry it took her out for the season. About our indoor surface (field turf)- I'd take it in a heartbeat over a hard field with divots in terms of being prone to cause injury.

Tarr said...

Yes, what Miriam said about core strength. All the regulars (push-ups, sit-ups, etc) are important. Tossing around a medicine ball is a great way to work on agility and balance, as well as excercise all the same torso muscles that you use to generate power on hucks.

I also agree that it's really important to work all the muscles in a balanced way. Doing a ton of leg extensions without developing the opposing muscles can actually increase the chance of injury. This is one of the reasons that I'm a big fan of doing plyo workouts where you move in every direction.

My favorite plyo workout is probably "clock jumps". I jump out to 12 o'clock, then back, then out to 1:30, then back, then out to 3, and so on, all the way around the clock. I do it once on each leg, then once on both legs. If you can do that, landing cleanly each time, and you're not tired, you're in great shape. Sometimes I add two more half circles, except now I jump from the left foot to the right and then back to the left (for 12 through 6) and right to left back to right (for 6 through 12).

Like any workout, you've got to ramp up with this sort of thing. What I listed above is 72 ground contacts. I've heard you should start at a little over 100 ground contacts per workout, and eventually you can ramp up to around 200.

And I agree Miriam - I'd take your field turf over most winter practice spaces any day. For Purdue indoor practice meant 6AM on 4 basketball courts or, if we wanted more space, on blacktop... While certain injuries might be more likely on yout fieldhouse than on grass, overall it's a pretty nice surface.

Jake said...

Any suggestions for a college player coming off a hamstring tear? It's been about 9 months since the injury, but I'm still not 100%. I'd judge that my jumping is about 70%, and speed 85%. I've done all the physical therapy and minor strength training exercises, but I've been having trouble finding exercises that don't rely 100% on the hamstring. Any suggestions for explosive speed training, focusing on hamstrings? Thanks a bunch.

L. Wu said...

Coach Boyle's new book, Advances in Functional Training, would be a great start, and has whole subsections on knee prehab and the like.

And of course, there's always =)