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Anecdotal Observations of Youth Athletes Specializing Too Early

Over the last 8 years I’ve had the privelage of training some amazing athletes. Since beginning my career as a strength coach, many conversations have taken place regarding athletes specializing in a specifc sport at too early of an age. My primary role as a strength coach is to ensure that my athletes are in peak condition to perform their best at their next sporting event (practice or competition). I’m also a sport coach (ice hockey and mountain biking), so I also understand the importance of sport specific skill aquisition, but at age is this appropriate? Too many times I’ve had to teach kids how to move for everyday athletic endeavors (crawling, rolling, squatting, walking, then running). All of these fundamental movements have excellent carry over to sport specific skills, but they’re learned in the wrong order.

We have just answered the question: When can an athlete focus on sport specific skills? When they have learned the fundamental movement patterns efficiently.


Trending Physical Acitivity & Accountability

As humans in a fast past world with obligations outside of keeping ourselves healthy, there is a need for us to hold each other accountable. How do we hold ourselves accountable? What if there was a way to check in on a website that is filled with people we admire and respect and witness on a daily basis? Does this sound familiar? It should, cause most likely you’re on it or know of someone who is participating in this social community on a daily, hourly, even minutely basis. Contributing to it, even if it is just a sentence. Yes, we’re talking about social networking; Twitter, Facebook, Linked in, and the list goes on.

Our main focus is going to be Twitter, considering that it’s simple and quick. The limit on character usage limits our desire to editorialize our efforts and/or excuses for why we did or didn’t take action to better ourselves. As I was checking in with my coach, he caught me editorializing my efforts and immediately pointed out, in spite of not getting my gym time in when I planned, I still got it done!

How do we check in quickly, effectively and in a language everyone will understand? Perhaps hash tags (#)? I’ve discussed with several other professionals in the field of strength & conditioning, health, and wellness regarding potential hash tags. And it’s gone through several versions, and I’m sure they’re will be many more, but most recently we’ve come up with Physical Activity Check in, hashed it looks like #PhysicalActivityCheckin or the short version is #PAC. For example: yesterdays #PAC was a workout at Anytime Fitness in Gig Harbor, WA. The main part of my workout was Dead Lifts and Turkish Get Ups with a Barbell. There was more to the workout, but hashing those two exercises leave open the possibility for other people to hash them and potentially inquire about technique, and ways of including them in their workouts.

Twitter appearance that used 124 of 140 character limit:

#PAC #PhysicalActivity#Checkin. #DeadLifts & #BarbellTurkishGetUps @ Anytime Fitness Gig Harbor WA (mentioned two other twitter users who’re inspiring this trend)

What is the ultimate goal with hashing this? I’d like to see hashing physical activity to become a trend, where tweeters all over the world are tweeting about their physical activity, being proud of what they’ve accomplished. Whether it’s 10 push-ups every hour, 100 burpees in a specific amount of time, personal record for a power cleans… the list can go on and on! A lot of other topics have had their trends, now its time for ours!

If you’re pondering the idea of hash tagging your physical activity, but not quite sure what to to hash, here is a short list. I’m inviting all of you to add to my list as many as you’d like! The sky is the limit!

#RDL (Romanian Dead Lifts)

Go wild!!! Let’s mention inspiring people we follow in our tweets as well to acknowledge those holding us accountable.

Lets get #Physical!

Institute of Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition Course

Two weeks ago I attended the Institute of Functional Medicine’s (IFM) Clinical Nutrition Course in Denver, Colorado. This is about my experience, the take a ways, and how I plan on applying the tools learned to my training practice. My hope is by reading this blog, you’ll be inspired to not only look into IFM, but will have a new way of looking in the mirror.

The course was very challenging considering I was an exercise professional in a group of 195 nutritional and medical professionals. Having the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry background equivalent to the nutritionists, I was able to hang in there with all the talk of food, and phytochemicals. The tools of a functional medicine screening exam are similar to those used by highly educated strength & conditioning coaches, and personal trainers. We look back at the client’s past and present to create a program to take them into the future.

There were 3 main take a ways from this adventure into the functional medicine world:

1. I was invited to assist in the mockup functional medicine screening room. There were several stations, Anthropometric measurements, Bio-impedance Analysis (BIA) & Pulse Oximetry, Vibratory and Touch sensory assessment. I was responsible for leading the BIA section for 2 days. This was an amazing experience because I got to learn about some tools that I currently don’t use but after this I’ll definitely be implementing.

I currently use BIA for body composition, but taking the time to teach someone how to do it, while explaining to a client/patient what we’re doing at the exact same time, over and over again for 6 total hours, made me realize that as and exercise professional we look at things much differently than nutritional and medical professionals. I know that they both have their separate ways as well.

The vibratory and touch assessment can be used as a way of not only assessing the client/patients’ vibratory and sensory perception in their extremities, but as a way of teaching the client to activate their mindfulness while executing simple movement assessments, I plan on utilizing these tools to improve squat and pushup technique.

2. The major tool taught and used throughout the weekend was the functional medicine matrix. A simple yet complex tool that took the client’s past, placed it on a time line, for the professional and client to take a ride down memory lane to see where life has been healthy, and life has not been so healthy.

As I’m sitting in the audience learning, I’m realizing that in the context of this course they’re applying it to chronic illness, and nutritional status. The question I sat with as I’m watching this is how am I going to apply it to my strength and conditioning practice? It’s simple! Go back into my athletes past, and we’ll find the source of recurring injuries, pains, time of life where there has been a decrease in performance, family history with athletics…and so on! I’ll even go into nutritional status and medical history so that when communicating with their health and nutritional professionals, we’ll all be on the same page.

3. The functional medicine world will benefit from us exercise professionals embracing the paradigm shift from medication first to functional medicine by making us a crucial part in getting the world in motion. We have the understanding, and desire to turn exercise into physical activity, and physical activity into fun games (races, sports, events). By understanding the various modes of exercise (energy systems, training modalities, etc…) we’re able to communicate the various nutritional needs associated with different training styles.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I sincerely hope as professionals working to create a healthy world we can all work together compliment each others’ practices.