Risk vs Benefit: Is Your Training Program Hurting You More Than Helping You?
Here at Austin Youth Basketball we have always been concerned about the dangers of the squat rack in young basketball players’ training regimens. We asked our expert Austin personal trainer (http://rustygregory NULL.com/) and friend Rusty Gregory for his advice and alternative ideas to keep our kids safe while they pursue strength gains.
There is little doubt that we all could benefit from exercise and more specifically, resistance training, to improve our health and fitness levels and our ability to perform at a higher level athletically. Both require a safe and effective program to prevent injuries and meet sport specific objectives. The consideration of risks versus benefits of any training program inevitably creates controversy as to which exercises and programs are the safest and most productive.
In this series, Risk vs Benefit: Is Your Training Program Hurting You More Than Helping You?, I will be addressing the technique of certain exercises that when performed correctly (or not at all) will help prevent injuries and maximize training for basketball. Often, a tweak here or there can greatly increase or decrease the probability of an injury occurring.
The exercise that tops this list is the traditional squat for basketball players.
There is little doubt that the squat is one of the best exercises to perform to strengthen the trunk (core) and legs; its multiple-joint, functional movement demonstrates just that. The squat synergistically activates the neurological system, muscles, joints, and movement pattern necessary to generate transferable strength and power to many different basketball skills. Therefore, squats are a crucial tool to training success.
Two safety considerations must be addressed before adding squats to your basketball workout program.
First, although scoliosis occurs in people of all ages and in boys and girls alike, girls are more likely to suffer from this spinal curvature. Typically, it begins to show up around the age of 10. Squatting with a spine-loaded bar sitting on the shoulders of someone with scoliosis is a recipe for disaster. The weight places forces and stresses on the back that the spine is not equipped to withstand creating a high risk of injury.
Second, the torso length / femur (upper leg) length / tibia and fibula (lower leg) length ratio. When these ratios line up correctly, i.e. the perfect “squat body,” all the forces created by having a bar positioned on the shoulders and upper back are equally distributed. (Keep in mind that even though your body lines up biomechanically correct, injuries still occur due to poor technique, excessive spinal compression, especially over time, etc.). This transpires when you descend to the lowest point or “seated” position of the squat with both heals on the floor, both knees directly above the toes, with the upper legs parallel to the floor, and with an arc in the lower back with your eyes looking towards the ceiling and your chest facing forward. However, if any of these levers (torso, upper, lower leg) are disproportionate to one of the others, the lower back and knees are compromised and are at great risk for sheer forces and consequently, injury.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t built for executing the perfect squat so, alterations need to be made to get the same benefits that the traditional squat provides. The following squat modifications allow for all the benefits from the exercise with a reduction in injury risk.
Primary Muscles Exercised: Quadriceps (Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius, Rectus Femoris), Hamstrings (Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus, Biceps Femoris), Buttocks (Gluteus, Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus), Hips, Core (Internal and External Obliques, Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Erector Spinae)
Procedure: Stand with your back facing the wall. Place the stability ball between you and the wall with the ball touching your buttocks and the wall. The ball will help provide support for your lower back throughout the exercise. As you lean against the ball, slightly walk your feet forward so that they are no longer directly under your knees and shoulder width apart. Keep your shoulders directly over your hips throughout the movement. This will force your back to stay straight. Lower your hips until you have reached a 90-degree angle in both your knees and hips. As you descend, the ball will roll up your back. Extend your hips and knees as you return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. The ball should always be in contact with your lower back providing it support. Your arms should remain by the sides of your body. Hold dumbbells for additional resistance.
Tip: Press the heels of your feet to the floor, not your toes or balls of your feet. This will help relieve any stress in your knees.
Equipment: Stability Ball
Want more information on Rusty and his commitment to providing you health and happiness? Check out his resource Basketball Performance: 15 Health Laws You Need to Embrace Now! (http://basketballhq NULL.com/basketball-health) and his Austin fitness website www.RustyGregory.com. (http://www NULL.RustyGregory NULL.com)
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to share Rusty Gregory’s experience, education and research on the topic at hand. The contents of this article are the opinions of Mr. Gregory and should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult with your licensed physician or healthcare provider about your specific health needs. Be smart with the lifestyle choices you make and all your health-related decisions.