Being who you are, a determined athlete that takes his athletic career serious; makes you prone to injury more than the next guy.
The fact that you’re willing to put your body through the training and game day stresses that come along with becoming a great athlete means you have the potential to make a wrong move and really injure yourself.
That’s why I always recommend training under a great coach that can help you avoid these unfortunate side effects of playing a contact sport.
Luckily for you, you’re part of the OTA Nation, and I got your back.
Today I want to tell you the exact methods I use with the athletes I train here at the gym.
Fortunately, these are simple strategies that you can start implementing today, doing so will help bulletproof your body so injury can become a thing of the past.
This method is number 1 for a reason.
Every single athlete that walks through the front doors of Strength Camp always starts on a strength building routine.
Besides giving you the ability to strike the ground with more force, becoming stronger also has the potential to make every single joint in your body become sturdier.
Meaning you’re less likely to twist an ankle, blow out a knee, or hurt a shoulder girdle.
By progressively lifting more weight throughout your training phases, you’ll not only increase your neuromuscular efficiency but also elicit a response in all your tendons and ligaments that will help strengthen your joints.
Fixing Your Muscular Imbalances
99% of all the athletes I come in contact with usually suffer from some sort of muscular imbalance.
Whether it’s upper cross syndrome or lower cross syndrome, becoming aware of these imbalances and working towards fixing them will only help you become a better athlete.
So first, let me explain exactly how these imbalances occur.
The unfortunate side is that in today’s society it’s pretty hard to avoid developing muscular imbalances. The fact that most of us have to sit down for work or school means we are allowing certain muscles to stay in the flexed position for long hours of the day.
If we do this every single day of our lives, eventually it’ll catch up and we’ll start to chronically have some muscles tighter than others.
A perfect example is when you sit down at school, work, or even in the car, you’re allowing your hip flexors to stay in the contracted position without having the ability to extend them.
After years of repeatedly doing this, your hip flexors becomes super tight, which inevitably weakens the antagonist muscles, your glutes.
And as an athlete, your glutes are the most important part of your body. They’re your engine to your Ferrari.
So what to do?
I mean, you probably can’t stand up in class all day and as far as I’m concerned it’s physically impossible to drive your car standing up.
So the only option we have is to actively work toward fixing these imbalances.
We do this through corrective stretching and activation.
Check out Athletic Symmetry, the only corrective stretching program made to pinpoint your exact imbalances and help you develop a customized program to target your problem areas.
Learning to Brace Your “Core”
You probably weren’t expecting this strategy to make it onto the list, but it’s probably one of the most important aspects of being a bulletproof athlete.
Having the ability to properly brace your entire core will help keep your spine safe and healthy. Which is really important if you want to have a lengthy athletic career.
Now, first let me start off by explaining exactly what your “core” consists of, and no it’s not just your six pack.
The entire core is made up of:
- Rectus Abdominus
- Internal & External Obliques
- Transverse Abdominus
- Spinal Erectors
- Deep hip flexors
- Pelvic Floor and
Although each one of these muscles groups has a specific job, collectively, the most important one is protecting your internal organs and spine.
Think of these group of muscles as your own internal lifting belt.
If you’re currently using a belt in all of your lifts, you’re not allowing your natural belt to develop into what it was designed to do.
That’s where bracing comes into play.
By teaching your body to activate its entire core and bracing against the resistance of a barbell or impact, you’re ultimately ensuring 2 things.
- The safety of your spine
- Developing a core that can properly redirect energy from the ground up
Number one is pretty self explanatory, so I’ll elaborate on number two.
If you’ve been part of OTA for awhile you’ve definitely heard me talk about integration of the core.
If you’re new, I’ll give you a quick definition of what this is.
One of the main jobs of your entire core is to redirect kinetic energy from your feet all the way through to your hands.
Let’s take a baseball player as an example. These athletes need a well integrated core. If they don’t, they’ll most likely be very bad at batting.
Because when you bat, the energy to swing starts from your feet. From there the energy is directed up the legs, through the core, and dissipates through the arms where you’re holding the bat.
If you don’t know how to brace properly you’ll have strength leaks that can hinder your performance.
So how do I brace properly?
The simplest coaching cue is to pretend you’re about to get punched in the stomach, naturally you’ll tense up your abdominals to brace the impact.
I like to use this cue with my athletes when first teaching them to brace, but another technique that also helps is using your breath.
By creating tension in your core, while simultaneously breathing deep into your belly (pushing down your diaphragm) you create an even stronger “belt” that will for sure translate into your athletic performance.
If you use a belt to lift, ditch it and start using this bracing method before each rep on all your heavy lifts.
Within time you’ll start to notice a more solid core, which will help you on the court or field.
Now that you’re armed with 3 of my favorite methods to decreasing injury, start implementing them into your routine and within no time you’ll start feeling like a more solid athlete.
If you have any questions drop them in the comments below.