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Eccentric Exercise For Stability

Stability has become a bit of a catch-all term, in my opinion. If someone gets hurt, "they needed more stability!" Nothing is more stable than a cast or a splint allowing zero movement. My challenge for the reader is to question what stability is and means while finding alternate ways of training "stability" and understanding the dynamic importance of all motor functions!

What is stable during a particular muscle action or athletic endeavor is very important for sporting health and performance, as when in a reciprocating being, one structure will stabilize while the opposite will be moving.

Looking at hamstring health in sprinters, Mediguchia & colleagues found a significant increase in hamstring injury risk in athletes with a larger anterior pelvic tilt dynamically or, said another way after the intervention, a significant decrease in injury risk as the pelvis was stabilized through a multi-modal intervention.

This corroborates similar findings in professional baseball, where the authors found that pitchers that spent the most time on the injured list lacked dynamic pelvic stability compared to their teammates (3).

Fatigue And Its Impact

“Winston was gelatinous with fatigue.”

― George Orwell, 1984

As fatigue sets in, coordination, which we will talk about in the next section, declines. To the coach's eye, it's when things look "off." Running-induced fatigue increases trunk flexion, and that pelvic anteversion is increased at the end of each half of a football match (4) may suggest that an increase in trunk endurance may be beneficial to counter these potentially negative adaptations (1).

Understanding that fatigue has such a significant impact on the stability of the trunk, as was so well shown in this study, makes you start to think about how you can draw out your ability to stay coordinated for a more extended period. Or building coordinative fitness levels to increase the functional stability of you and your clients.

Physiological Stability or Coordination Training

I will describe coordination in training when muscular tension does not over-match the body's ability to utilize oxygen and deliver oxygen within tissue. Input and output aren't over-taxing your system, so all your systems can coordinate with the work being done.

You can push intensity with this, but your ability to coordinate as long will decrease. This is a great way to monitor power or increase output as you become more efficient with an activity. Flywheel training allows you to become efficient in these movements with the timing and rhythm and monitor your power output.

Coordination training is one of the best ways to introduce flywheel training with a client or athletes' program. The flywheel combined with the app and the Moxy monitor are great ways to monitor and track progress with this type of work.

Eccentric exercise for stability with moxy monitor

Motor Learning And External Focus

Our focus dictates much of our neurology and our physiology. “External focus enhances the stability of a movement. In external focus, there is an unconscious, fast control of movement, whereas an internal focus and attention disrupts these stabilities." (p.81, 2).

Things can get much more complicated as our focus goes internally, which is why motor skill acquisition relies heavily upon external foci. The same goes for flywheel training, as we can pick a target, or we can monitor an app, and so on. All of this essentially improves our coordinative abilities.

FlyWheel Exercise Ideas To Play With For Stability

Step-ups

These can be performed with a belt attachment that challenges the legs and the trunk to find stability or a single-arm pulley attachment that will challenge the body even more. Expect a fair amount of shaking as you try this out.

SL Hip Extension (on reverse hyper)

The point of this exercise is to challenge the hamstrings at length, which will also challenge the stabilizing function of the hamstrings on the pelvis. Reverse hypers by themselves are a great accessory option, now you’re just taking it up to 11.

Pullovers (hips at 90/90)

This exercise gets performed with lighter kettlebells or much more aggressive options in the javelin community. This is something in non-javelin throwing sports that many throwers are intimidated by. Still, I have found this a great option to "grease the groove" and develop trunk stability with the arms moving.

Split Squats

A great option to challenge the split stance position. You will find where your weak spots with the movement are both within the exercise itself and when able to compare the difference side to side.

Rows in a split squat position

This puts a lot of emphasis on the stability of the front hip as the wheel pulls your arm and center of gravity forward and forces you to decelerate into your front hip. Thus creating more stability within the movement itself. Anything done upright will also challenge the visual system, therefore working on a different type of stability.

½ Kneeling Lifts

Taking the ankle and foot out of the movement puts more emphasis on the pelvis and trunk and utilizes your arms moving on the stable remainder of your body.

Squats (as an example with the Moxy)

Squat on a flywheel while wearing a Moxy monitor. You will see a desaturation, or utilization, of Oxygen. You will want to end your set just before going into an "occlusion." See previous blog, “Moxy Monitor Integration with FlyWheel Training,” for further explanation. This is working on physiological coordination with your exercise of choice, in this example, squats.

Squat with moxy monitor for stability

Conclusion

To conclude, stability has many factors; whether the exercise looks generally coordinated ties into whether it's physiologically coordinated. Our focus and neurology all impact what this coordination and stability look like.

Improving your movement vocabulary through different activities while increasing your physiological efficiency really allows you to "own" the movement and become more resilient to injury. Any movement or exercise can become more coordinated and efficient, so don’t limit yourself!

Andrew Hauser MS, L/AT, RSCC, PRT

Andrew graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Athletic Training in 2008 and obtained a Masters degree in Performance Psychology in 2020.  He has worked in a variety of roles in his 14 years of experience as an athletic trainer and strength coach, with his most recent role being the Director of Performance Rehab with the Los Angeles Dodgers during which time he was a part of their 2020 World Series team. Andrew's passions lie in both the strength and medical aspects of sport, but also in professional development and education. Prior to moving to L.A., he served as the Director of Health & Performance for the Atlanta Braves where he oversaw medical and strength staff and was able to integrate departments both in the Major League and Minor Leagues all while continuing to develop and refine his and his colleagues' skills. Andrew's experience in sport extends beyond baseball. He has worked with a number of athletes in the NFL, NHL, MLS and track/field and has become a sought-after consultant and public speaker for professionals and athletes nation-wide.

References:

  1. Jurdan Mendiguchia , Angel Gonzalez De la Flor , Alberto Mendez-Villanueva , Jean-Benoît Morin , Pascal Edouard & Mirian Aranzazu Garrues (2020): Training-induced changes in anterior pelvic tilt: potential implications for hamstring strain injuries management, Journal of Sports Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1845439
  2. The Athlete Skills Model
  3. Chaudhari AM, McKenzie CS, Pan X, Oñate JA. Lumbopelvic control and days missed because of injury in professional baseball pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 2014 Nov;42(11):2734-40. doi: 10.1177/0363546514545861. Epub 2014 Aug 26. PMID: 25159541; PMCID: PMC4216605.
  4. Koblbauer, Ian & van Schooten, Kim & Verhagen, Evert & Van Dieen, Jaap. (2014). Kinematic changes during running-induced fatigue and relations with core endurance in novice runners. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 17. 419-424. 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.05.013.

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