Here are the top neck and shoulder stretches everyone should be doing. Neck pain can have many different causes and almost all of them included muscle tightness and muscle guarding. Breaking up the tension in you neck and shoulders is one of the key elements to recovery. It is important that when performing stretches in the neck that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area. Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise. This week we start our series off with the Trapezius Stretch or commonly called the Trap Stretch.
– Place the back of one hand on your lower back making sure you are keeping that sides shoulder down
– Place the other hand gently across the top of your head, while the head is looking straight forward
– Apply gentle pressure to your head pulling your head towards the hand on head side until you feel a good stretch, no pain. (Do not push down)
– Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and perform for both sides 3 times
FAQ: When should I perform the Trapezius Stretch?
Whenever you have limited range of motion in neck or have tightness in shoulders. Perform at least 2-3 times daily. If you are working at a computer workstation, perform 1 time per hour.
When should I avoid performing the Trapezius Stretch?
If you experience an increase in localized pain during and prolongs after stretch, numbness, dizziness, or radiating pain during stretch, discontinue stretch and consult a doctor.
What matters most in strength & conditioning? The beauty of sports and the field of exercise science is that there is no ‘one-way fits all’ for athletic development. In fact, on the contrary, there are hundreds of different ways of getting an athlete to achieve the same goals. The million-dollar question is, which one is the best? The best strength coaches are the ones that can not only get an athlete to their goals faster than others, but also do it with the least amount of expense to that athlete. This may not seem like the old school mentality that, ‘the most successful athletes are the ones who beat the crap out of themselves day in and day out’. That mentality, though catchy for motivational videos, doesn’t paint the whole picture. Let me tell you what I mean.
The human body only has so much it can give on any given day/week/month/year. Imagine it like a debit card. You can use the money on that card freely for whatever you choose but the minute you overdraft, there’s going to be a steep cost involved. For an athlete, that overdraft could involve injuries, decreases in performance, exhaustion, etc.
So, lets break it down. Team practices, lifts, individual work, and everyday activities all result in expenses to the funds on that debit card. If we look deeper, even other forms of stress such as school/work load, relationship issues and financial stress can also deplete an athlete’s ‘total available balance’ for a given day.
On the other hand, there are also ways that we can draw an income or make direct deposits to refill that account as we go. These deposits come in the form of rest/sleep hygiene, proper nutrition and several forms of recovery strategies (ex. Stretching, foam rolling, ice baths, aquatic therapy). The higher the income, the more available funds we have at our disposal for athletic development.
The reason I tell you all this is to say that a great variety of skills coaches and strength coaches specialize in helping athletes ‘spend money’ from that account. Few, however, dedicate themselves to the intricate science behind continually refilling that bank account after expenditures. That’s like consistently spending money without a solid income and expecting to not overdraft or get into a lot of debt at some point down the road.
I don’t say all this to condemn tough training regimes. In fact, I’m all for pushing athletes to their limits given the appropriate circumstances. However, all this is to say that you need both sides of the story. If all we focus on is going hard in the gym and we disregard proper recovery strategies, an athlete will not progress as much as they could and it could put them at a high risk of injury. But, if an athlete has better recovery between workouts, they will not only be healthier and reap more benefits from their last training session but they will also be better prepared to capitalize on their next session. If your strength coach is not actively educating you on both sides of the story, then you might be working really hard while also leaving some free gains on the table. Awesome workouts mean nothing if an athlete ends up injured or burnt out when it comes time to perform.
It's interesting how thousands of specialized sport specific training programs are designed and implemented for Football and Basketball teams across the nation but other more obscure sports receive almost nothing. The common cop-out of trainers that don't want to take time to serve more obscure sports such as swimming, diving, competitive cheerleading and dancing is to say “the best way to get better at you sports is to just practice more.” The reality is that the body is like Play-Doh. It's highly adaptive and can be molded into whatever you want it to be able to do with the help of a detailed training program. From a biological standpoint, the body is not biased to what sports specific training it will adapt to or not. It adapts based on the demands placed on it.
By observing and studying three main aspects of every sport, you can design a structured program that can aid in the athletic development of athletes in any sport. First, one must look at the Common Injuries of a given sport and then develop a strategy to help reduce the risks for those injuries. Keeping athletes healthy and on the field/court should be the number one priority of any strength coach because nobody cares how good you helped make an athlete if he/she ends up with a torn ACL. The second area to study is the Biomechanical Demands of the sport. For instance; look at which muscles are being used and in what capacity they need to be able to function. You should also study which planes of motion the athlete typically moves through. Finally, understanding the Energy Demands of a sport will give insight to how to condition a given athlete. There are 3 main categories of energy systems within sports; ATP-CP (instant explosiveness, <10s), anaerobic efficiency (short high intensity functioning), and aerobic endurance (longer less intense endurance).
Just because your sport doesn’t require you to lift heavy amounts of weight doesn’t mean you should throw out the idea of a sport specific training program entirely. There are several factors other than weights that contribute to athletic development such as fitness, injury reduction exercise, proper movement mechanics, nutrition, sleep & recovery education, motivation/sport psychology, etc. The key is analyzing what the athlete specifically needs and then building a program that will help support those needs in order to help them stay healthy and perform better.
Most people acknowledge that proper nutrition is good for their health but few know exactly how to utilize nutrition to help in areas of sleep, injury recovery, energy/alertness, etc. Yes, there are countless medicines and supplements that can give a quick temporary fix to health problems but none of those will outperform a well rounded proactive lifestyle of exercise and nutrition. In this article we are going to lay out five areas that can significantly benefit from natural foods eaten at specific times.
- Nutrition for General Wellness: It is important to build foundational lifestyle habits that are beneficial to your overall health. Regardless of whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain weight you can use proper nutrition to get more energy, support your digestive/immune systems and reduce stress. People who build healthy lifestyle habits go much farther than those who jump on yo-yo dieting fads that are not sustainable in the long run.
- Performance Nutrition: It is important to know when to eat what types of foods that give your body what it needs before, during and after competitions or training sessions. Eating the wrong foods at the wrong times or not eating the right foods at the right times can significantly influence an athlete’s focus and energy levels throughout at game or workout. Proper post exercise snacks and meals will also help the body recover and rebuild for the next session.
- Body Composition Nutrition: You can use proper nutrition to optimize body fat % and Lean Body Mass. This helps athletes become more explosive, move better, run faster, and experience less wear and tear on their joint.
- Sleep Quality Nutrition: Some people come to believe that getting good sleep is a lost cause. The truth is, there are multiple ways that you can improve your sleep through nutrition and other lifestyle habits. For instance, there are sleep aid strategies that can help you fall asleep faster, get better quality sleep and not wake up as much in the middle of the night.
- Injury Recovery Nutrition: Often times, when people get injured, they feel like all they can do is rest and wait for the doctor to clear them for normal activities again. There are, in fact, several foods that support recovery by decreasing pain and inflammation and increasing tissue repair in the injured area.
*Always make sure to consult a nutritionist, dietitian or nutrition coach before making any significant changes to your diet.
By Seth Thomas, CSCS, PN1, USAW, XPS
Come join us at Foothills Golf Club, November 4th from 2pm - 5:30pm for our complementary golf and strength program. Hosted by "Golf Digest Best Young Teachers" Alex Fisher and Pritchette Physical Therapy, receive award winning golf and TPI training. While the event is free, please bring a toy donation for Toys for Tots!
- Free golf instruction from Alex Fisher rated by Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers"
- Free Titleist Performance Institute Evaluation and Strength Training Consultation
- 2-4 pm - Full Swing Analysis and TPI Fitness Training (Ages 16 and older)
- 4-5:30 pm - Junior Golf Performance Training (Ages 8 - 16 years old)
FOOTHILLS GOLF CLUB (DRIVING RANGE) - 2201 CLUBHOUSE DRIVE, PHOENIX, 85048