This week's article was written by Elliott Williams, a therapist in our Del Mar clinic.
In southern California we are plagued with pressure from coaches in every realm that if your kid doesn't play NOW, he or she will miss out on the opportunity to play at all. What's also true is that non-contact injuries are prevalent—at an all time high, actually—at the same time the pressure to succeed at a sport at a young age increases.
Let me tell you why we shouldn't be worried about mastering a single sport at a young age, or at least why I won’t be when it comes that time for my children. To master a movement, requires that one actually move first, and our kids don't MOVE. They sit for the majority of their day, and then when the time comes to play their year-round sport, they do the same movements over and over and over. Repetition is necessary to get good, or even great, at things, but the body requires more than repetitious movement. It requires different movement in different planes, it requires different joint action and muscle interruption.
For example, one thing that we at Egoscue consistently see in most basketball players is tight upper back, rounded shoulders, feet and knees that point outwards, and the infamous “tight hips.” Why? because when they are playing defense they have a wide base, their arms out, feet out, shuffling left to right with their back rounded and head up. When on offense it’s the same thing, wide base, back rounded, etc. Not coincidentally, we often can assume what their limitations or symptoms are before they even step foot in our clinics.
Making constant dysfunctional movements adds layers of compensations upon layers of compensations. And, while you and I might not be an elite-level athlete, our dysfunctional movement patterns still show up in our daily lives. For us, our compensatory movement presents itself when we place our hands on knees and push ourselves up out of the chair, or out of the car, or off the couch, or the toilet etc. You and the basketball player might very well be coming in with the same symptoms such as low back pain, knee pain, or shoulder issues, all due to the same problem: your compromised posture and dysfunctional movement patterns.
But allow me to refocus on our kids. Recently, two of our VP’s here at Egoscue and I, traveled to New Orleans for the World Golf Fitness Summit put on by TPI (Titleist Performance Institute). They had some of the most respected people in the golf world presenting on what to do with their golf students, professionals and juniors, alike. It hit me that throughout all the seminars, I kept hearing different variations of the same message: “STOP HITTING GOLF BALLS.”
Speakers want their clients to go have fun, do something different, and measure their progress by what they are adding in that isn’t golf. We at Egoscue know what the end result is when that happens, and it isn’t shocking to us. We know that these golf instructors will see a better golfer, with better overall function, and fewer limitations; the exact thing that Pete Egoscue has been saying for 30 years. And, it’s no secret that Jack Nicklaus has given that same piece of advice to so many that ask him for his opinion on how to get their kids to the PGA Tour.
We were in New Orleans to present on The Patch, our portable obstacle course. The thinking behind The Patch is simple: reciprocal training. What you do to one side you to do the other, what you go over, you go under, if you turn left you also turn right, etc. It seemed like the entire WGFS event played right into our hands, and it was a thing of beauty. It’s not about how many golf balls you can hit, how many jumpers you can take, how many passes you can throw or ground balls you field. It’s about changing the stimulus and requiring the body to work in different ways, on multiple planes. IF we do that, non-contact injuries are limited, if not gone completely. If we as parents do this for our children, the opportunity to play at a high level will be an option, even without "specialization." Why? Because we’re creating athletes, not just basketball players, golfers, or baseball players. The pressure to create a sport-specific focus at a young age is mounting, but the truth is that giving our kids room to be kids and “play” (like you and I did when we were kids) will benefit them much, much more down the road. By allowing them to develop functionally—free to move without any rules or expectations—they’ll return to their sport more balanced, stronger, faster, and with more power. And not to mention with less likelihood of an injury.
QUESTION: Is your family moving enough?
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Apparently walking has become extremely difficult. And, come to find out, we humans aren't designed to do it.
At least, that's what Purdue University is telling us.
In one of the most ridiculous studies ever released, researchers at Purdue have come to the conclusion that we're clumsy and shouldn't be walking on two feet.
And, just so we're clear, this isn't an early April fool's joke.
Actually, quite the opposite. Instead, "science" (I'm using that term very loosely here) has proven that today's younger generation can't, in fact, walk and chew gum at the same time. Essentially, they have morphed into a bunch of stumbling, bumbling newborn colts who can't stand on their own legs, and as fellow humans you and I are getting grouped in with them.
For the study, Purdue followed 94 undergraduate students and asked them to track and report each and every time they tripped, stumbled, and fell. Not surprisingly, 52% of participants fell at some point over the course of the four-week study, with each student averaging one slip or trip per week.
I'm honestly not surprised at the study's numbers. I have zero doubt that these students tripped, slipped, fell, etc. However, what I have a problem with is that Purdue (somehow) came to the conclusion that humans aren't designed to walk.
According to the study, "These findings also highlight that walking on two legs is a challenging task that is mechanically unstable, even for young, healthy adults."
You're telling me that for thousands of years, we've been struggling to stay vertical? You're telling me that when our hunter-and-gatherer ancestors were running after their dinner, they weren't supposed to be doing that? You're telling me that springing into action when my son runs into the street "is a challenging task" that I wasn't designed to do?
Purdue...Purdue...you're embarrassing yourself. Let's all just go home and pretend this study never happened.
Because, I mean, you can't be serious...
After all of your research, you aren't a little curious why only one in three older adults fall each year, yet one in two younger adults falls each week? You chalk the older adults' stability up to them being more cautious, but I have to disagree. I believe it's because they're exponentially more functional than today's youth. I've worked with 88-year-olds who can fold themselves in half to touch their toes. I've also worked with 20-year-olds who could barely touch their thighs. That, Purdue, is a problem. Actually, that's the problem you overlooked when conducting your study. The older generation actually had physical activity throughout their lives. They ran, jumped, climbed, skipped, and crawled. The younger generation? Not so much.
And, about those young adults being "healthy." Don't you realize they're actually the most unhealthy of all generations? Haven't you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Our 20-somethings are in serious trouble. If they aren't currently experiencing pain, disease, and sickness, they will. Their lack of motion isn't just making them clumsy (remember, Purdue, the body is a use-it-or-lose-it mechanism), it's shutting down their metabolic system, which in turn is compromising their immune system, adrenal system, lymphatic system, etc. The higher the metabolic rate, the healthier the individual. The slower the metabolic rate, the more unhealthy the individual. I honestly believe Purdue contradicted themselves by using "mechanically unstable" and "healthy adults" in the same sentence. I don't believe those two things can actually coexist. If you're mechanically unstable, you're unhealthy.
Yes, these kids are being labeled "clumsy," but the situation is much more grave than that. If you'll forgive my bluntness, these kids are dying right before our eyes. Forget being clumsy, this group of kids aren't going to live as long as their parents. That's a scary, scary thought.
Yet, we can't forget that their clumsiness and their higher mortality rate both have the same cause: They've stopped moving.
As I stated earlier, our body is a use-it-or-lose-it mechanism. It's a stimulus-response mechanism. I believe today's youth has stopped placing positive stimuli on their bodies, and their bodies are responding accordingly.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the Purdue study?