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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Archive for 'fitness'

This is a follow-up from my previous post. Limited thoracic spine rotation can be detrimental for the shoulders, low back and lower extremities with sports and strength and conditioning activity. Consider the impact of asymmetry or stiffness on a golfer, swimmer, thrower, tennis player or even someone doing rotational and pressing working the gym.

Asymmetrical and repetitive activity can lead to deficits as can faulty positions during work and daily life. This simple exercise with the foam roller can be helpful in facilitating optimal mobility and better kinetic chain motion. This video comes from my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine.

I work with many weekend warriors, strength training enthusiasts and overhead athletes in my practice. One of the more common dysfunctions I see in this population is either asymmetrical or general thoracic spine hypomobility (decreased range of motion).

This can predispose you to shoulder, back and hip dysfunction, as well as increase the risk for overuse injuries. In addition, it may also alter the natural biomechanics of movement, thereby negatively impacting performance. With all the sitting and screen time we engage in, it is no surprise we are developing a generation of people with forward heads, rounded shoulders and kyphotic posture.

This leads to reduced thoracic spine extension. Additionally, I often encounter decreased thoracic spine rotation. If this becomes restricted, asymmetrical overhead athletes may face increased stress on the lumbar spine, hips and glenohumeral joint. Common dysfunctions I treat related to this is rotator cuff tendinopathy, labral pathology, mechanical back pain, and hip pain to name a few.

To combat stiffness and promote more optimal mobility, I encourage my clients to perform daily mobility work. I have included a video I filmed for PFP Magazine in my column ‘Functionally Fit’ below that illustrates an effective way to combat reduced T-spine extension.

Be sure to check back for my next blog post on how to increase thoracic spine rotation.

Whether doing prehab, rehab or training, I believe in using single leg exercises to attack asymmetries, imbalances and motor deficits I uncover in my assessments.  Learning to control one’s body in space with the effect of gravity in a weight bearing position is instrumental for sport and injury prevention.

Furthermore, facilitating ankle mobility and proper knee alignment during a loaded squat pattern is something most athletes and clientele I work with need some help with.  to that end, I utilize several different single leg reaching progressions and exercises.  One of my favorite ‘go to’ exercises is the anterior cone reach.

2-hand-ant-cone-reach

I recently featured this specific exercise in my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine.  Click here to see the video demonstration.

This is a great exercise with progressions and regressions for clients of all ages and abilities.

Click here to read the entire column.

carter-runAs a father, coach and physical therapist working in a sports medicine environment, I am all too familiar with youth injuries. While we can not prevent every injury, I do believe we need to do everything possible to keep our young athletes out of harm’s way. In today’s ultra competitive society, parents are faced with pressure to “keep up” or fall behind.

Contrary to what research and real life has to say about it, organizations and coaches who want to win now tell parents and players you need to choose one sport at an early age if you want to be the best.  I see the club fees that organizations charge, the emotional heartbreak of not making the top tier teams and the grind of all the “extra” training sessions for skill work, speed training, etc. that athletes endure.

Gone are the days where just playing for your school team is enough to garner attention at the next level.  It seems as if athletes must play in AAU, clubs, travel teams or showcase opportunities to stand out.  It is apparent to me as if we have become hyper focused on training our children to obtain a scholarship at such an early age.  Some of the things I hear parents say illustrate to me their are pushing their children very hard to meet these expectations.  The idea that sports should be fun for young kids seems to be lost on the coaches and parents in many cases.

My 9 y/o son (picture above running the ball) told me one reason he does not want to play Pop Warner football next Fall is because of all the practice time required.  We practiced 5 days per week in August, followed by two hour practices 3 nights per week and a Saturday game during the regular season.  He loves the game and was one of the best players on his team, but the time and exhaustive training simply wore him out.  So, he says he wants to play soccer next Fall instead.  I told him this was fine as he needs to be the one that wants to play - not me telling him to play.  He also plays basketball in the Winter and soccer in the Spring.

As a parent, I want to encourage others to listen to their kids and put their own goals and interests aside.  We should not try to live vicariously through our kids on the court or field.  Sports should not be work for young people, and adults should not care more about the game than the participants at a young age.  As coaches and medical professionals, we need to do everything in our power to promote health and  life balance for young people.


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If you follow my blog, you may remember that about this time last year I posted some info about a compilation of body weight training resources.  Well, a new version is back for 2015, and as a person who contributed to the project, I wanted to make you aware of the offering.  It is available from today until March 27 at 11:59 PM and includes content from different disciplines within the health and fitness community.

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