Regaining Mobility After A Sports Injury


Sports (and life) have great potential to cause injury. Whether you were tackled, hit, or simply stepped wrong and fell hard, that injury can keep you on the sidelines of the big game. Injuries to joints especially, require a great deal of time and work to regain strength and mobility.

For most people, physical therapy is the key to recovery.

Recovery and Prevention Go Hand in Hand

At STACK Sports Performance and Therapy, we know that recovering from an injury is only half the battle. Our board certified physical therapists work with our patients and athletes strengthening muscles and increasing range of motion using both traditional techniques and cutting-edge technology. Our practices include therapies like dry needling, tens units, Normatec compression boots and sports and medical massage.

Once strength and mobility are both returning, we can begin to assess the mechanics of how you move with a Functional Movement Screen. This helps your Doctor of physical therapy to see which movements need to be retrained to prevent strain, fatigue, and future injury. By the time you are fully recovered, you may also find yourself stronger and more mobile than before!

Regain an Active Life

Sports is life for a lot of people. Don’t let your injury get in the way of doing what you love. We recognize the importance of returning to your life and being able to do everything you used to do, especially at the same level of endurance.

Recovering from injury can be a long road. But at Atlanta’s STACK Sports Performance and Therapy you’ll get the best care and training possible. Check out our physical therapy “menu” and find out how we can get you back to being active!

Posted on behalf of STACK Sports Training & Therapy

4 myths about Muscle pliability you need to know


The term “muscle pliability” has been in the news around the NFL quite a bit recently. Tom Brady and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, claim that making muscles pliable is the best way to sustain health and performance. How true is that claim? While it’s a great descriptive term, we are going to shed some light on what it really means and how to create muscle pliability.

Our performance coaches, sports medicine specialists, and tissue therapists all find it to be a useful term to express some of the qualities of muscle. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary here’s what pliable means:

Pliable

a: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking

b: yielding readily to others

c: adjustable to varying conditions

That’s a pretty good description for many of the qualities we want in the tissue of an athlete (or any human for that matter). The problem is that it’s being mixed up with a lot of inaccurate and confusing statements.

Our Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka, says that “the word pliability, in my opinion, depicts the ideal muscle tissue quality. It is similar to suppleness, elasticity, or resilience. Unfortunately, I believe some of the explanations offered by Mr. Brady and Mr. Guerrero have created some misunderstanding of what ‘muscle pliability’ really is.”

Let’s try and separate some of the myths from what is true.

 

Myth 1: Muscles that are “soft” are better than dense

That depends on what qualifies as “soft” muscle.  Tissue Specialist Cindy Vick has worked on hundreds of elite athletes, including NFL players and Olympians across many sports. “’Soft’ isn’t a word I would use for an athlete. When I’m working on an elderly client, I often feel muscles that could be called soft; they’re not dense. That’s not what I feel when working on elite athletes. Athletes who are healthy and performing well have muscles that have density without being overly tense and move freely. The tissue is still smooth and supple.”

This muscle quality is affected by many factors, ranging from stress, competition, nutrition, training, and recovery. At Velocity, maintaining optimal tissue quality is a constant endeavor.  Proper self myo-fascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.

 

Myth 2: Dense muscles = stiff muscles = easily injured athletes

Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies the reality and is in some ways completely wrong.

You have to start with the operative word: “dense.” Tanioka says, “Dense tissue can be elastic; elastic tissue is resilient to injury. What we have to look for is inelastic tissue.” Cindy Vick adds that “if you mean ‘dense’ to refer to a muscle with adhesions, or that doesn’t move evenly and smoothly, then yes, that’s a problem.”

Scientifically, stiffness refers to how much a muscle resists stretch under tension. It’s like thinking about the elastic qualities of a rubber band. The harder it is to pull, the stiffer it is. If a muscle can’t give and stretch when it needs to, that’s bad.

Imagine a rubber band that protects your joint. When a muscle exerts force against the impact of an opponent or gravity, stiffness can help resist the joint and ligaments from being overloaded and consequently injured.

“I agree with Mr. Brady’s statement about the importance of a muscle’s ability to lengthen, relax and disperse high-velocity, heavy incoming force to avoid injury.” says Tanioka. “However, I think that athletes also must be able to exert maximum power whether actively generating force or passively resisting an incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as well as lengthen. The ability of tissue to be durable and contractile is just as important as to elongate and soften when it comes to performance and injury prevention.”

In the view of our experts, it’s not about dense, soft, stiff, or other qualitative words. Instead, they emphasize developing function through different types of strength qualities athletes need.   Athletes must prepare for the intense stress and strain their muscles will face in their sport.  They need to blend the right strength training with mobility and flexibility.

 

Myth 3: Strength training makes muscles short

“It’s an old wives’ tale that took hold when body building techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according international expert and President of Velocity Sports Performance, Ken Vick, who has worked with athletes in 10 Olympic Games and helped lead the Chinese Olympic Committee’s preparation efforts for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“I’ll give you two great examples: Gymnasts are, pound-for-pound, very strong and incredibly explosive, yet they are known to be some of the most flexible athletes. Olympic weightlifters are clearly some of the strongest athletes in the world and are also generally very flexible. They spend practically every day doing strength training and their muscles aren’t ‘short.’”

In fact, proper lifting technique demands excellent flexibility and mobility. For example, poor hip flexor flexibility or limited ankle mobility results in an athlete who probably cannot reach the lowest point of a back squat. Our proven methods combine strength training with dynamic mobility, movement training, and state of the art recovery technology to help our athletes gain and maintain the flexibility and mobility required for strength training and optimal performance on the field of competition.

 

Myth 4: Plyometrics and band training are better for pliability

We hear these types of claims time and again from coaches, trainers, and others who are quoting something they’ve read without much knowledge of the actual training science. Our muscles and brain don’t care if the resistance is provided by bodyweight, bands, weights, cables, or medicine balls. They can all be effective or detrimental, depending on how they are used.

Sport science has shown that manipulating different variables influences both the physiological and neurological effects of strength training. Rate of motion, movement patterns, environment, and type of resistance all influence the results.

 

Truth: Muscle Pliability is a good thing

Like so many ideas, muscle pliability is very good concept. The challenge lies in discerning and then conveying what is true and what is not. An experienced therapist can, within just a few moments of touching a person, tell whether that tissue is healthy. A good coach can tell whether an athlete has flexibility or mobility problems, or both, simply by watching them move.

In either case, it takes years of experience and understanding of the human body and training science, like that which is possessed by the performance and sports medicine staff at Velocity, to correctly apply a concept like muscle pliability to an athlete’s training program.

A Beginner’s Guide to Protein


“Hey, Coach, why should I eat protein?”

Athletes of all ages ask us this question all the time at Velocity. Simply put, protein is what is going to make you stronger. A body that is getting sufficient amounts of protein is able to effectively grow and repair lean muscle mass. Without enough protein, your muscles will struggle to repair themselves after your workouts.

“That sounds great! I definitely want to get stronger and recover fast, so what foods should I eat to get my protein?”

Animal sources like chicken, fish, and beef are great options.  Animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which are the actual components responsible for the growth and repair of your body’s muscles, bones, and tissues. Remember, milk and eggs come from animals, so they are also excellent options for a protein-rich diet. Try your best to choose animal protein options that are lower in fat, such as skinless chicken rather than fried chicken.

If animal proteins aren’t your thing (I’m looking at you, vegetarians and vegans), consider pairs of foods such as beans with rice, or nut butters with wheat bread. The beans or nut butters have proteins, but only when paired with the rice and bread, respectively, do they contain all nine essential amino acids.

“OK, that’s very helpful. But what if I’m a really picky eater? Are there any other ways to be sure that I’m getting enough protein?”

Many athletes include protein supplements in their daily diet. High quality whey proteins are the best option for athletes – particularly people without food allergies. Whey is a protein extracted during milk production, it belongs in the “animal proteins” category that we previously discussed. Check the labels and look for things like BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) and glutamine. If you’re lactose-intolerant, try to choose a hydrolyzed whey protein.  These have already been broken down into their simplest forms, so they won’t cause digestive issues, and they will also be absorbed into your body more quickly. Vegetarians and vegans should look for plant-based protein supplements containing hemp and pea proteins. These contain ample amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

“Thanks, Coach!  One last question before I head to the store to get my protein: How much should I be taking each day?”

Every athlete is different, but a simple beginner’s rule to follow is to get 25-30 grams of protein five times per day. More specifically, someone who wants 150 pounds of lean muscle mass (such as a very fit and lean 170-pound athlete) should be eating approximately 150 grams of protein each day. It can sometimes be difficult to get this much protein into your daily diet, so using both foods and supplements throughout the day is recommended. Also, always try to get 25-30 grams of protein shortly after every workout because this is when your body is most receptive to the benefits that proteins provide.