Throw Baseball Injuries A Curveball
Physical conditioning can help prevent injuries in pitchers.
If baseball games seem to fly by more quickly, there's a good reason: In
recent years, rule changes in Major League Baseball have shortened game
time. Among the repercussions: Players now must deliver pitches within 12
seconds instead of 20. According to research in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise [2016; 48 (12),
2512-16], this shorter rest interval affects game performance and results
in increased inflammation and muscle damage for 2 days after game play. The
American College of Sports Medicine reports that, over time, this wear and
tear may result in "more severe overuse-type injuries throughout a
Providing your ball-playing clients with a well-conceived exercise program
may help reduce their risk of overuse-related injury. Here are some
recommendations from Kenneth Miller, MS, a NASM-CES, PES, and biomechanist
for the National Pitching Association:
Assess and reassess.
Assess the player in the preseason and throughout play to identify postural
and movement deficiencies, and to address compensations or restrictions,
using the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™)
The NASM Corrective Exercise Specialization provides additional assessments
and strategies that focus on impairments to specific body parts, including
the ankles, shoulders and hips. "Corrective exercise in-season is almost a
necessity," says Miller. The stresses of practice and game play are likely
to lead to compensations. (Learn more at www.nasm.org/CES.)
Keep tabs on the player.
For example, a pitcher may experience tension in the hip, but since his
elbow and shoulder feel fine, he keeps throwing. This lack of hip
flexibility can create compensations through the body leading up to the
shoulder or elbow. Players may brush off such cues, so be sure to stay
updated by assessing and asking questions about things like tightness,
soreness and/or weakness-anywhere in the body.
Be a team player.
"Work with the player's sports coach and sports medicine team," says
Miller. "Make sure you know when he is throwing and how much so you don't
overuse the player." Miller starts the dialogue by reaching out first.
"I'll let them know what I see and how I'm going to deal with it on my
end," he says. "Often they'll reciprocate." This means Miller can work on
issues the coach identified during a game or practice session, so it's a
Minimal Shoes, Maximal Gains
Switching footwear may impact strength, safety and race times.
Three recent studies report potential perks for choosing minimalist running
Stronger leg and foot muscles.
A study of 38 runners conducted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and
Harvard Medical School showed that running in MRS can increase muscle
volume in the extrinsic foot muscles (those attaching
the leg to the foot) and intrinsic foot muscles (which connect the heel and
toes). This is likely because MRS provide less stability and cushioning,
and no arch support, thereby increasing strength demands on both groups of
muscles, according researchers at PolyU.
A reduced risk of injury. Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK and Harvard Medical
School studied 29 runners to compare the loading rates (the speed at which
force is applied to the body) associated with different types of running
shoes. They found that running in MRS and landing on the ball of the foot
(which is typical for barefoot and MRS runners) results in significantly
lower loading rates than running in traditional running shoes (which is
usually associated with landing on the heel). Lower loading rates may
reduce the risk of running injury due to the reduced demands on the body,
the researchers reported in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise [2016; 48 (12),
Faster race times.
Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder's department of
integrative physiology tested 18 runners with sub-20-minute 5K times while
running in three types of shoes: one that was unweighted, one that
contained 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of lead pellets and another with 300 grams
(10.6 ounces) of lead. When the runners completed three 3,000-meter time
trials, they ran about 1% slower for every 100 grams of added weight,
reported Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise [2016; 48
(11), 2175-80]. Though the study was not specific to minimalist shoes, its
findings imply that the lower weight of these shoes could help runners
improve their times.
What Millennials Want From a Gym
Express yourselfie: This generation wants a workout that's unique, not
Novelty. Entertainment. Adventure. New experiences. Individuality. A
fitness tribe to call their own.
These are some of the "wants" topping the list of the Millennial generation
gym-goer. In the past few years, boutique fitness studios have noticed a
surge in membership, largely from this generation, because they cater to
specific, unique interests. Even so, more than 85% of boutique-goers belong
to multiple studios, which further highlights the Millennials' desire for
newness and variety.
These findings are among those reported in a Club Intel e-booklet on
www.Club-Intel.com-Looking Back So We Can See Forward-which shares
industry insights from the 2016 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. With
75-80 million Millennials in the U.S. alone, these 18-to-30-somethings have
the power to "change the industry," says the Club Intel report.
Fitness professionals looking to appeal to this demographic might benefit
from shining some light on what makes them, their facility and their
programs unique and entertaining…or by beginning to offer unique, targeted
options to round out their schedule of more-traditional classes. Also try
to change up routines to keep them interesting, and make time to connect
with clients: A true tribe has members who know each other well.
In an article at ClubIndustry.com that shares these and other tips for
boosting Millennial membership, Brian Kane of the Precor marketing research
and commercial management team writes: "Boutiques are a reminder of the
need to be different and focused. Being all things to all people is a
strategy that is unsustainable in a mature industry where competition is
greater than it has ever been." In other (very Millennial) words: You do
The Security Risks of Wearable Tech
Health information on trackers may not be as secure as you'd like.
A new report warns that wearable tech that tracks health and fitness data
may put consumers' health info at risk. Researchers from American
University and the Center for Digital Democracy note the lack of adequate
safeguards protecting the confidentiality of this data. While the report's
authors assert that policy makers must take action to protect consumers in
"today's Big Data era," you may want to read over companies' privacy
policies before letting them mine your data. You'll find an analysis of the
privacy policies of "some of the leading wearable providers" in Appendix B
of the report
Health Wearable Devices in the Big Data Era: Ensuring Privacy,
Security, and Consumer Protection
, available on Democraticmedia.org.
Myth: Body Builders Have Stronger Muscles
Can you spot the strongest athlete here? Neither can we.
Curiosity about the connection (or lack thereof) between muscle hypertrophy
(size) and strength has been around since as early as 1955. Though many
people believe that long-term adaptations in strength depend upon gains in
size, there is remarkably little evidence to support that. When a team of
researchers examined the evidence last year, they found a weak correlation
between changes in muscle size and muscle strength after training. That's
not so surprising when you consider that muscle mass is lost during
detraining, while strength often remains steady. Further, low-load and
high-load resistance training each can trigger similar growth in muscular
size, though the strength gains from each of these differ.
"As the story goes with exercise-induced changes in strength, neural
adaptations are contributing first, with muscle growth playing a more
prominent role in the latter portion of a training program: However, there
is little direct evidence that this is actually true in an adult partaking
in a resistance training program," explains Jeremy Loenneke, PhD, senior
author of the article, published recently in Muscle & Nerve
[2016; 54 (6), 1012-14]. "Our paper highlights many potential issues with
how we think about changes in strength following exercise."
Exercise Amps Up This Fat-Shedding Hormone
Irisin is a proven fat-burn booster.
Here's a research finding that could inspire clients to break a sweat:
Exercising the body's muscles boosts production of the hormone irisin. Why
is that so great? Recent groundbreaking research from the University of
Florida found that exposing samples of fat tissue to irisin resulted in a
20-60% reduction in mature fat cells. The researchers reported in the
American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism [2016; 311 (2),
E530-41] that irisin helps quash fat-cell formation while encouraging the
transformation of white fat cells (which store calories) to brown fat cells
(which burn energy).
Power Down to Power Up!
Cellphone calls can thwart fitness gains.
Theaters and automobiles aren't the only places a cellphone should be
O-F-F. Two recent studies warn against talking or texting during workouts,
too, Science Daily reports. These actions lower exercise intensity and
impair posture and balance. Using your cell solely for workout music,
though, is A-OK.
To Work the SA, Subtract the Plus Phase
The highest EMG activity in the SA occurs during a traditional pushup's
concentric (not plus) phase.
If you're using the pushup-plus exercise to activate the serratus anterior,
recent research concludes that traditional pushups work just as well. In a
small study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders [2015; 16,
23], researchers studied the effects of PUP variants on (among other
things) the electromyographical activity of four shoulder muscles,
including the SA, during concentric contraction. They found that the
highest EMG activity of the SA occurred at 55 degrees of elbow extension
during the concentric phase of the PUP and not at the plus phase.
If, however, your clients are doing a modified pushup, add in the plus.
This study found the highest SA activity during the plus phase of
Another way to increase SA activity? Place the hands wider apart.
A study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science [2016; 28 (2), 446-49] reports that SA activity was greater during traditional pushups
performed with palms spaced farther apart (150%) than when in neutral
(100%) or narrow (50%) positioning.
Motivation Showdown: Competition vs. Friendly Support
Want to exercise more? Go head-to-head with one of your peers.
And the winner is … competition. In a randomized controlled trial,
researchers examined several methods to improve attendance in workout
programs via an online social network. The study published in Preventive Medicine Reports [2016; 4, 453-58] found that
competitive ranking features (leader boards, anyone?) provided greater
incentive than did pep talks (via an online chat tool) from supportive
The Sweet Smell of Success
A whiff of Citrus sinensis flowers and Mentha spicata may
Spearmint and orange essential oils were found in a very small study (of 20
physical education students) to improve lung status when administered via
nebulizer (diluted with saline) before a 1,500-meter running test,
according to the
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
[2016; 13, 36]. The students who nebulized also showed significant
reductions in average running time. Researchers recommend further
investigation due to the small sample size, but that doesn't mean you can't
enjoy a whiff of one these scents before your own workout (consult your
physician regarding nebulizer use).