Thursday, February 19, 2009


Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. We are reaching critical mass here at EHS, hosting our county tournaments & even some state tournaments at our place. On top of that, helping to get our baseball team ready for the spring. Plus a lot of social stuff, christenings, weddings etc. I will get back to posting on a steady basis as soon as things calm down a little. Plenty of topics to get to.

Any way, keep asking questions! JH came up with a good one. He had the opportunity to hear Dr. Stuart McGill speak. JH mentioned Dr. McGill speaks of the importance of "bracing" in back health. Here's my take on it, and I would like the opinion of others if I am on the right track with this:

A lot of McGills work is in the industrial settings, with industrial "athletes" who have to do heavy lifting repetitively for hours at a time. Compounding this is equipment that often constrains these workers to lift in certain patterns. A good example is my brother, who is a pipe fitter. His job often requires him to lift unbalanced loads on a scaffold in tight quarters. He's closing in on 50 now, and has never hurt his back. It's also interesting that his abs are ripped, and the guy hasn't done a situp since high school.

When I asked him his secret, he explained to me how his work often requires his torso to be in one spot while his arms are stretched somewhere else lifting pipe with one hand, and maybe holding a bracket in another. His (unconscious) strategy is to splint his body rigidly in order to hold his balance to accomplish the task without something falling on someone 100 feet below. There is no space to "load" and "explode" as you would on an athletic field.

McGill also makes an interesting point that once a structure is permanently compromised mechanically from an injury, bracing may be a skill that needs to be encouraged & taught. Porterfield & DeRosa agree.

I think this is where Tracy Fober's olympic lifting hybrids could come in handy. A mixture of bracing & ballistic movements occur, and quite subconsciously. It all comes down to chapter 3 in "Athletic Development- The art & science of functional sports conditioning".

1. Analyse the demands of the sport
2. Analyse the qualities of the athlete
3. Understand the common injuries in the sport


JH said...

I know you're busy but thought you may enjouy reading this article.

It's from Dr. McGill.

wrw7772000 said...

Joe -

I think the topic of bracing is quite important, especially after listening to Dr. McGill.
Let's face it - we don't move in set patterns - our movements are dynamic and often require us to operate in "less than optimal" positions. Our bodies allow us to move in these patterns but we acknowledge that some movements put our bodies more at risk than others. So...we have to perform a movement while at the same time putting ourselves in the best position to be successful.
Bracing is one of those tools that can be used to protect and actually enhance movement.
Your brother has it right on and you are exactly right - in the industrial setting, movements and job set ups are not always optimal. So we need to teach people how to be successful in a less than optimal environment.

As always, thanks for your excellent thoughts and insights!


JH said...

Here's where I get I little fuzzy on the idea of bracing.
Bracing is essentially a co contracting of teh "core" musculature correct? If that is true, in movement, especially of the spine, their must be an agonist/antogonist relation ship between the contractors (shortening) and noncontractors (lengthening) muscles. In terms of athletics the spine moves. In the industrial setting where I work, we see the interspinalis muscles become (in my humble opinion) deconditioned especially in transverse movement. As a result, we still deal with back pain even though their "core" muscles are strong as can be. I also don't know that I buy the idea that our spines only have some manyb
"flexes" in them before they break. The analogy he used was that of a wire bending which will eventually break. Unlike a wire, the body has the potential to actually become better with use. So for me the search continues to find that balance between bracing (protecting the back) and moving (using the back) to perform functional activities in a wide variety of settings.

Joe Przytula said...

Industrial athletes are prone to what Janda called, "pattern overload" probably more so than a h.S. athlete. I think this has a lot to do with the kind of atrophy JH speaks of. With the h.s. athlete, we may ask them to throw with the contralateral arm, or run backwards as part of the recovery/restoration program. I think a similar strategy may play an similar role in the industrial athlete.

Jeff said...

Everyone makes really great points!

McGill has been the pioneer for spine research. That said, his studies are analagous to Dr. T. Hewitt's at CSM.

We have to find a way to communicate to the researchers to include TP and allow for variability in motion in designed research to make it more practical for front line practitoners to apply.