Achieving Peak Performance

8 March 2017, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

Whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or simply someone who goes to the gym a few days each week, there is no doubt in my mind that you want to get the most out of your body.

For the time we all put in trying to mold and shape our bodies, for all the sweat, for the sore muscles, we want to get the most bang for our buck. Personally, I want to make sure that my body is operating as close to 100% as possible. Whether I'm at the gym with my buddies or playing baseball with my boys, I want to ensure that I'm pain free, that I don't have any physical limitations, and that I am moving as efficiently as possible. I'm sure the same can be said for you.

And, if you and I can agree that we want our bodies moving as functionally as possible, wouldn't we assume that that would be the case for a someone attempting to perfecting their craft at the highest level of sports? Wouldn't it makes sense that a professional athlete would ensure that they have zero limitations in their body?

In my opinion, an athlete wanting to be as functional as possible is a no-brainer. However, true, proper function is far from a common site in professional sports. Just this last week, the NFL held its annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana. For those of you unfamiliar with the Combine, it's an opportunity for representatives from every NFL team to see draft-eligible college football players as they perform various events that showcase their speed, power, and skill sets. Players will run the 40-yard dash, perform a standing broad-jump, vertical jump, they'll bench-press 225 pounds as many times as they can, etc. Essentially, it's one big NFL meat market. Prospects can improve their draft status or hurt their draft status, depending on how they perform.

The most "important" of all the drills is the 40-yard dash. I say "important," because the 40-yard dash is the event that gets the lion's share of the attention. Scouts will drool over a guy who runs faster than anticipated, and they'll shy away from a guy who runs slower than anticipated. In fact, one of the biggest stories coming out of this year's Combine was that a new 40-yard dash record was established.

Former University of Washington wide-receiver, John Ross, ran his 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds, breaking the previous record of 4.24 seconds. Let me tell you, friends, that is moving! Anything in the 4.2-range is flat-out flying.

But...

Check out his form during his run:

 

Notice anything that looks "off" in this picture? Check out the directional angle of his knee and foot! This athlete is attempting to run straight ahead (in a north-south direction), yet his foot and knee are pointed out at 45 degrees (in an east-west direction). THIS is the guy who ran a 4.22 40-yard dash. Yet he's quite literally running against himself. His form (and remember, form follows function) is doing him NO favors. In fact, he's costing himself time, energy, and, I believe, money. Typically, the faster these athletes run in the 40-yard dash, the higher they get drafted, and the more they get paid.

Even though this athlete has run the fastest 40 in the history of the NFL Combine, I believe he can be even faster. Isn't THAT a scary thought?

Can you imagine if this player would have run a 4.00 40-yard dash?

Or...what if...WHAT IF...this player ran a sub-4-second 40-yard dash?

I believe that if that happened, he would be a sure-lock for being drafted #1 overall in the upcoming NFL Draft.

And he'd also break the internet.

Folks from all over the world of sports would be losing their collective minds. They wouldn't know what to do with a sub-4-second 40. It would be the modern-day equivalent of Jim Ryun, who, in 1964, became the first high-school runner to break the 4-minute mark in the mile. For as much hoopla that Ryun received back in the day, the attention directed toward Ross would have been exponential.

But, sadly, we'll never know. Ross didn't break 4-seconds in the 40. He "only" ran a 4.22. Yet from my perspective, what is even sadder is the fact that, physically and functionally, I believe he left a lot on the table. What's also true, is that Ross is the perfect candidate for an injury. He might just be one of the guys we hear about suffering a "non-contact ACL injury" during training camp one year. His body is in no shape to plant is foot and change directions while traveling at a high speed. In fact, when he crossed the 40-yard-dash finish line, he pulled up limping. The reason? Calf cramps. Stay tuned, folks. My guess is those cramps are the first signal that his body is trying to warn him to the fact that he's out of balance. Unfortunately, it could be all downhill from here.

Honestly, when it comes to our bodies, the rest of us are no different than this high-level athlete. While we might not have the athletic ability to run 40 yards in 10 seconds, we still want to get the most out of our workouts or favorite sport. We want to get in shape, stay active, play for as long as we'd like, and decrease our susceptibility to injury. Those things can only happen on a functional frame.

The key to attaining a functional frame is the Egoscue Method. Egoscue is absolutely what will help you achieve, and maintain, a peak state of performance. If you're looking to unlock your TRUE potential, contact us today. We have clinics all over the world, and we are ready to unlock your inner-athlete!

QUESTION: What do you believe is holding you back from achieving peak performance?

As always, thanks for sharing these posts with your friends and family (it's easy, just click below)! Don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow Pete on Twitter, and you can follow me there as well. You can also follow me on Instagram, too! Let's connect!

Are Athletes Injury Prone or Dysfunctional?

9 August 2016, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

The Olympics are in full-swing, and I love it! Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Games. Summer, winter, doesn't matter. I love seeing athletes from all over the world, many of which are teenagers or in their early 20s, competing to bring home the gold for their respective country. They work for years to get one shot at glory. Oh, the pressure! Oh, the challenge! Oh, the celebration!

But of course with sports you not only have the thrill of victory, but you also have the agony of defeat. While every competition has winners and losers, unfortunately some competitions have those athletes who get injured. None of us like getting injured, but that's the nature of playing sports. Think about being in elite company, whether you're a professional athlete or an Olympian, working, training for years, dedicating your life to your craft, only to succumb to injury. So frustrating. So heart-breaking. And, sadly, for some athletes, it seems as though they are always getting injured.

But are some athletes truly injury prone, or are they just dysfunctional? In other words, are they "unlucky," or are they writing checks their body can't cash? (Thanks, Top Gun)

While some might argue that certain athletes are injury prone, I believe if we examined what was actually happening with the athlete's body, we would see that joint dysfunction is the underlying cause of their injury. What I see when I watch sports is that all athletes have a functional "ceiling." Our body has adapted and compensated to the point where we're "capped" on what movements we can do without pain and injury. Depending on our dysfunction(s), what is painful for one person might not be for another, and what's challenging for me might be completely easy for you. It's important to remember that, by design, we humans are supposed to be able to do all types of movement pain free. Essentially, if you can fathom it, you can do it. However, for many of us, that's just not the case, and I want to explain why and show you a couple examples of what I'm talking about

Not only are the Olympics ramping up, but the NFL season is rapidly approaching here in the United States. Just a few days ago it was reported that the Cleveland Browns have appointed Robert Griffin III as their starting quarterback. For those of you not familiar with RG3, he is an incredible athlete and a talented quarterback, but he has been injured throughout much of his playing career, both college and professional. He has suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) on his right knee (multiple times), a torn Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) on his right knee, and once dislocated his left ankle while throwing on-the-run.

Many folks say that RG3 is "injury prone," but I just don't buy it. Yes, it's true that he has had multiple injures, but I think the good people evaluating him are overlooking one glaring piece of the puzzle. While most of them have been focused on the site of the injury--the ACL, LCL, and his dislocated ankle--I'm focusing on what I see after watching only 30 seconds of this video:

Did you notice that his left hip isn't doing anything?

He's squatting an incredible amount of weight and basically only using his right side, especially on his way up out of the squat.

Is anyone else seeing this?

Watch it again if you need to. As he squats, notice that his left hip starts elevated, stays elevated, and then rotates back in order to get out of doing any work. Because his left hip isn't working properly, a dysfunctional cause-and-effect chain-reaction is set in motion.

His right side was screaming for help (ACL/LCL tears), while his left side became completely disconnected. The hip, knee, and ankle were no longer a congruent unit. When RG3 tried to push off his left leg (while running to the right) to get into position to throw, his left ankle basically said, "Uh...not today," and dislocated. There was such a breakdown in the chain-link of joints (hip-to-knee-to-ankle) that his body could no longer hold up under the stress. He was asking his body to do something that it functionally couldn't do. Remember that functional "ceiling" I was talking about earlier? This is that, and RG3 is a perfect example. He's an incredible athlete, but he's also incredibly dysfunctional. I don't believe he's "injury prone." I believe he asked his body to go beyond its functional ceiling.

When watching the Olympics the other night, I saw it again. This time it was in the gymnastics arena. There's ZERO doubt that gymnasts are incredible athletes, but many of them are also incredible dysfunctional, and, in my opinion, ticking injury-time-bombs waiting to go off. In what was, without question, one of the worst injuries of the Olympic Games thus far, French gymnast Samir Ait Said broke his leg during the vault portion of the men's competition. You can watch the video on your own, but be warned that it's gruesome and extremely hard to watch. While the injury was horrible, those of us within Egoscue could have told him something bad might be headed his way.

Take a look at these still shots from his vault approach, and notice the direction his feet and knees are pointing:

His knees and feet should be pointing straight ahead when he's running, but they are not even close to that. They are pointing out at 45-degree angles to his body. Also notice how much his upper-body is having to compensate and rotate to keep him moving toward the target. His body is fighting itself. His dysfunction is taking him in an east-west direction when he needs to go north-south. It's a recipe for disaster, and unfortunately for this gymnast, that's exactly what it was. He quickly found his functional ceiling when he made contact with the landing pad. Not only was his Olympic dream shattered, but his career might be over as well.

Just like RG3, Ait Said's initial trouble started with his dysfunctional hips. Anytime I see a client presenting with this foot and knee position during the gait evaluation, I know exactly what's happening, or more accurately, what's not happening. With this example, his hips have shut down. They aren't functioning properly, yet his body knows that it still needs to get foot clearance as he walks and runs. As a result, his body has begun swinging the legs out and around in a circumducting manner. Instead of going straight ahead, the legs' initial movement is "out" to allow enough room for the foot to travel in front of his body without him tripping on each step. Only when he is able to restore hip function will he be able to change his gait and drastically decrease his risk for injury.

The key to unlocking one's full athletic potential is to ensure the entire body is functioning at its optimum level. Yes, the hips are the hinge-pin of the body--they are the basis of support for the upper half and the locomotor for the lower half--but we can't ignore the shoulders, knees, and ankles. Athletes, whether young or old, professional or recreational, owe it to themselves to get functional. If an athlete isn't functional, they're doing themselves, and their teammates, a disservice. Their performance will suffer, and they are at a greater risk for injury. Restore function, and reverse the process! If you're looking to get started, get in touch with your local Egoscue clinic and schedule an appointment today!

QUESTION: What dysfunctions have you noticed when watching your favorite team or athlete compete?

As always, thanks for sharing these posts with your friends and family (it's easy, just click below)! Don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow Pete on Twitter, and you can follow me there as well.

Rory McIlroy's Biggest Injury Concern

9 July 2015, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

Apparently the #1 ranked golfer in the world isn’t bulletproof.

On Sunday, the PGA’s top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, posted this photo on his Instagram account, revealing that he had completely torn a ligament in his ankle while playing soccer with his buddies.

 

 

Of course it can be said, and it has been said, that his injury was “foolish” and “stupid.” Should the No. 1 golfer in the world be playing soccer? That’s debatable, and folks have weighed in on both ends of the spectrum. I think it’s safe to say that sarcasm and vitriol have ruled the Twitter-sphere over the last few days.

But, while everyone is worried about the short-term impact this injury will have on his World Golf Rankings, I think there is a far greater concern that Rory hasn’t even thought about. Most of the concern has focused around Rory’s ankle, and rightly so. That’s where the injury occurred, and there needs to be focus there. He’ll certainly need to have an intense, tailored rehab program geared toward rehabilitating the ankle. That’s a given.

Everyone in the golf world is asking about when he will return to the course. Early estimates say he’ll be out for at least 6-8 weeks, but most likely longer that that. There was actually talk of him playing through this particular injury, but he confirmed today that he will miss the third major tournament of the year, The Open Championship, scheduled for July 16-19 at St. Andrews

However, I believe Rory’s focus shouldn’t be solely on his ankle, and he shouldn’t worry about when he’ll tee it up again. No, I believe there is a much, much larger potential problem starting him in the face. It’s an issue that is lurking under the surface that he most likely has no idea is even there.

Rory’s hip function is in serious jeopardy.

Think about it: proper ankle function leads to proper hip function, and vice versa. Remember, the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone, and it’s a two-way street. While Rory is hobbling around in a boot for the next several weeks, it might just be his left hip that suffers the most. Take a look at this picture:

Specifically, take a look at the middle of the picture where it says, “Terminal Stance” and “Pre-Swing” as these need to be our areas of focus. As you go through the gait process, Terminal Stance is when your “standing leg” reaches the end point of its contact with the ground. The Pre-Swing phase is when that same leg begins to swing forward. Your hip flexes, lifts your foot off the ground, and propels the leg forward to continue the walking process.

But there’s a key moment where I want us to focus for a second, and it’s precisely what Rory will be missing during the gait cycle for the next several weeks. Focus on the Pre-Swing phase. At that moment, the ankle starts to plantar flex (as if you were pointing your toes to the ground) while the hip is still in extension. When you’re in that toe-off position, the body is readying the hip for engagement. The hip flexor (one of the most important muscles of the human body) is being called into action. The hip is being asked to work, providing a key element to the gait cycle. But for Rory, that isn’t going to happen. He’s in a boot, and he’s on crutches. Not a good combination. Because his ankle isn’t allowed to function properly, there’s no way his hip will function properly. Truth be told, he’s in jeopardy of his left hip shutting down.

Even after the fact when he's out of the boot, because he’ll be timid to load his left foot and ankle when he does return, and because he hasn’t loaded his left hip in weeks due to being on crutches, I believe Rory is setting himself up for a major injury sooner rather than later. If his left hip to shuts down over the next several weeks, he’s really rolling the dice on whether he’ll ever make a full recovery. With Rory’s swing (and any golfer, for that matter), his left hip is incredibly important. It’s his lead hip, his weight-acceptance hip, the one that has to be able to stay down, loaded, and engaged as the club head approaches the ball.

Please understand, I’m not trying to play Nostradamus, but I’ve seen compensatory injuries far too often throughout my Egoscue career to not see it coming. If you’re doubting what I’m saying, you can reference the numerous times I've discussed Tiger Woods' injuries HERE (listen to the radio segment I did), HERE, HERE and HERE.

Not only is Rory in danger of losing hip function, but because he’ll be overcompensating with his upper body during that time as a result of the crutches, he is setting himself up for an upper-body injury down the road as well.

For Rory’s sake, and for the game of golf, I truly hope that history isn't repeating itself and we aren’t seeing the beginning of the end for another No. 1 golfer in the world.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on Rory’s injury and future?