Many strength or athletic development coaches aren’t lucky enough to have a physiotherapist working alongside them. That means when an athlete gets injured, someone else has to step up to help. Whether qualified or not, a little knowledge can go a long ways in assisting athletes through sensitive injuries. As both a physiotherapist and a coach, below I hope I can share some things coaches can look for and how they might look to tailor training when it comes to hamstring strains. injuries
About Domhnaill Fox
Domhnaill (Donie) Fox is physiotherapist, athletic development coach, and co-founder of RTP Physiotherapy in Ireland.
Entries by Domhnaill Fox
Look around social media and you’ll find that the ankle has become the joint of the moment. Can’t squat well? Must be poor ankle mobility. Set a sprint personal best? Gotta be the ankle stiffness. There is no doubt that good ankle joint function is critical as it is one of the first joints to absorb impact in any ground-based sport. But it is also one of the most complex joints we have and, like any joint, it works in coordination with the whole body. When we look to improve ankle mobility and function we have to keep these points in focus.
Our understanding of movement is by no means complete. We may never have a complete grasp of the complexity at play when we watch athletes move and perform in sport. If we acknowledge that then we must respect the inherent wisdom of the body to solve problems and adapt to situations in the most efficient manner. The role then of training becomes that of providing problems for the body to solve in the direction we want performance to go – faster, higher, harder.
All projects have a starting point. A chance to take stock, get the lay of the land, and analyze needs. In rehabilitation and performance this is usually some form of a physical assessment. In order to start with rehabilitation, you have to know where you are beginning from. This is what the assessment process aims for.
The athletic development community has recently looked more at physical education and how it can assist athletes. Much of the discussion centers around the coordinative development of movement and how to develop higher levels of trainability/physical literacy/physical competency. But physical education is more than just doing, it is also understanding. This cognitive aspect of physical education is central in the reconditioning process. Athletes that are educated about the cause of injury, healing process, and training in general will generally have better outcomes.
The purpose of this article is to give any readers an insight into how I think about and prepare people for change of direction tasks. These change of direction tasks are simply that, not agility tasks. We want athletes to be able to change direction powerfully, quickly and efficiently in competition. In preparation, I like to look at these qualities in reverse: efficiency, speed and power. Change of direction all starts with promoting efficiency by understanding the attractors of the movement.
Some exercises are built for load, and some are built for athleticism. I see a lunge as an area for improving coordination, mobility and co-contraction in all planes of motion. What it is not, for me, is a movement pattern that invites heavy resistance. I feel as though when it comes to lunging variations and progressions a lot of coaches and physios divert down the resistance path to the detriment of the other qualities I mentioned above.
Usually any injury negatively affects movement patterns in the short term and, if left unaddressed, indefinitely. Whether it be due to pain, inhibition or central motor control changes these alterations in movement need to be addressed early, consistently and progressively in a rehabilitation program. Good quality, simple movement in rehab is the cornerstone to regaining function.
Often coaches and physios are armed with a wealth information on training methods, trends, and data. Coaching is about how you turn that information into a successful outcomes with their athletes or patients. Unfortunately most formal training does not identify or teach those steps. This is what I realized after I finished university and started working as a physio. I was taught WHY and WHAT, but never taught to coach.
Reactive strength training places quite a specific tissue load on the body. The rapid stretch-shortening effect of the acting chain of muscles, tendons and connective tissues is seen by more conservative physiotherapists as risky and they think it should be avoided for the most part. This presents a disconnect between how a sport is performance and how injured athletes begin to their return to play preparations.