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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Do you suffer with shoulder instability, shoulder weakness, poor trunk control or chronic shoulder/back pain? One of the biggest issues overhead athletes have is poor proximal stability, often leading to scapular dyskinesia. In turn, undue strain and force can cause stress on the rotator cuff and/or labrum.

In addition, nagging back pain can also occur as a result of repetitive micro-trauma. Improving pillar stability can reduce stress with hyperextension and rotation that creates stress and injuries in the lumbar spine.

This exercise is a unique and challenging way to improve shoulder and torso stability. In some instances, the stress on the wrist can be difficult, and in these cases I suggest using a closed fist on the stationary arm or moving to the knees. It is particularly effective exercise for swimmers, gymnasts, overhead athletes, and anyone with a history of shoulder instability.

Click here to read the entire column.

One of the great things about being a columnist for PFP Magazine is that I often get to test out the latest fitness equipment on the market. While there are certainly some very gimmicky things out there, I have some ‘go to’ selections in my toolbox, such as the BOSU®NexGen™Pro Balance Trainer. It is the latest version of this training tool.

In my clinic, I rehab lots of athletes suffering from gluteus medius weakness, poor pillar stability and decreased hip stability. Many of my clientele are working to make it back from ACL reconstruction. One of my preferred strengthening exercises to target the shoulder, torso and hips is split squats. Once the client masters proper form on the ground, I move to an unstable setting using the BOSU®.

It is essential to challenge athletes to avoid valgus collapse. The BOSU® introduces instability at the ankle forcing the body to adapt during the split squat movement. Avoiding dynamic valgus and trunk dominance during training will help with injury reduction efforts for the client.

In the video below I produced for my PFP online column, you will see how to use this exercise effectively to improve strength, stability and proprioception.

 

Click here to read the entire online column.

Bridging is a fundamental exercise to promote hamstring and glute strength. In addition to hip strength, I look for opportunities to enhance anti-rotation/pelvic stability with many bridging progressions due to the weakness and asymmetries I see in my clinic. It will also facilitate hip dissociation.

The stability ball provides an element of instability that can further challenge hip and pillar stability. This exercise is big bang for your buck exercise that can be used in rehab and training circles. Check out the video below that is part of my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine.

Click here to read the entire column.

 

If you follow my blog, then you already know I have a 16 y/o left-handed son who pitches. As a sophomore, he is in the early stages of recruiting and has been to 3-4 showcase camps. He has good size at 6’3″ tall and 184 pounds. He has been up to 82 mph.

We have been told he projects at the D1 level, but he just needs to throw a little harder. Baseball is all about bigger, faster and stronger these days. Analytics and numbers rule the day. Coaches have told us that once he consistently throws 85 plus, the offers will start to roll in.

So, the big push for many pitchers today is gaining velo. There are lots of programs and “experts” on the subject offering online programs, weighted balls, velocity training tools, throwing programs, etc. The two questions I always have are:

  1. What is safe for throwing athletes?
  2. What is effective?

As a physical therapist, I only want to pursue things that satisfy both questions above. Personally, I do not believe there is a quick fix, or any one program that will deliver the goods.


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One of the biggest challenges for clients overcoming knee injuries and surgery is regaining their quadriceps strength and fighting atrophy. This is increasingly so for my clientele on crutches for any extended period of time. It is paramount to use modalities early on in the rehab process such as electrical stimulation and blood flow restriction training to combat atrophy and loss of strength.

Once appropriate, I always move to single limb training to eliminate imbalance and asymmetry. While pistol squats are one of the most effective single leg quadriceps exercises, not all clients can perform this movement. So, in many cases I opt to use a single leg box squat (see video below).

For more information on specific progressions and regressions, click here to read my entire online column. Keep in mind that you should never force through any painful range of motion as this likely indicates excessive strain on the patellofemoral joint.