June 8, 2008

    Movements are Medicine: How to Start Choosing your Prescriptions

    At Sparta, we use an objective approach to determine our athletes’ needs by evaluating their Movement Signature on the force plate. Through the scan, we are able to determine and prioritize athlete’s needs. This is actually the easy part – force plate testing can be performed in less than five minutes.

    The hard part is to prescribe objective, scalable, and universal movements that allow you to quantify the training stimulus and track performance improvements. This approach is similar to a medical intervention. For example, 50 mg of a particular drug taken 3 times a day for 4 weeks will yield quantifiable results in objective measurements like cholesterol levels.

    Prescribing Movement

    Dosage is a critical element of the medical model; too little could mean zero effect, while too much could have disastrous consequences. It can also be very difficult to quantify the proper dosage of a movement stimulus. In order for movements to be quantifiable, they must first meet several key criteria:

    Objective: this means that there are clearly defined success criteria for completion of the movement. For example, on a deadlift the barbell must move a prescribed distance (floor to standing position) with a quantifiable amount of weight.

    Scalable: this refers to the ability to increase or decrease the movement stimulus by increasing or decreasing qualities like range of motion, stability, or muscular tension. One example is doing split squats from a three inch deficit rather than the floor.

    Universal: the ability to perform a given movement under the simplest of circumstances is the principal behind universality. Being able to provide an appropriate stimulus without extensive equipment or space becomes very valuable when working with teams and athletes who travel often.

    Prescription for DRIVE

    The Movement Signature quality of DRIVE is all about expressing strength and power through full flexion and full extension. One great prescription for hip extension is the Hip Thrust which has been popularized by Bret Contreras over the last few years. Not only does this movement fulfill the three criteria of objective, scalable, and universal, but it is also a great tool for teaching athletes how control their lumbo-pelvic positioning as they express some serious strength with the glutes and posterior chain.

    How to Hip Thrust

    Coaching Keys

    • Secure the bar in the crease of your hips

    • Brace the abs and engage the glutes to lock in a neutral spine and prevent excessive extension

    • Drive the hips into full extension before returning the bar to the ground

    As you evaluate your program, ask yourself the question: How do I know if I am getting better at this exercise? Am I moving more weight? Am I doing more reps? Am I using a greater range of motion? Quantifying the stimulus is the first step toward tracking your progress and improving your Movement Signature.

    How much medicine are you really taking? Too little will leave you sick, and too much might kill you.

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