November 16, 2015

    Guest Post: An Inside look from Sports Medicine featuring Scarlets’ Andrew Walker

    This week’s guest post features Scarlets Rugby Head of Sports Medicine, Andrew Walker.  Andrew is in his 4th year with the Scarlets and has over 15 years of experience in the industry.

    The Secret Recipe

    In Sports Performance a holistic approach is necessary to improve the athlete individually and also to prevent injuries. It is each person’s own different ingredients and how they are mixed, that provides the foundation for them to excel or to alternatively stumble.

    Athletes, coaches, sports medicine staff and other holistic performance staff need to combine and use the ingredients provided to continually improve the athlete, manage their load throughout a season and decrease their injury risks. SpartaTrac is an integral part of our elite performance approach, providing us with an individual Sparta Signature for each athlete. The Signature determines key variables for us as a performance team, on how to improve individual strengths, weaknesses and at the same time decrease the given injury risk.

    In rugby it is necessary to maximise strength to improve power, maintain maximal hypertrophy with appropriate periodization. Not one person is the same and every individual programme needs to be tailored to suit not only the position specificity, but also the training adaptation to allow optimal performance for competition.

    The menu that Spartatrac provides helps us target an individual’s optimal performance training model. This needs to be looked at in terms of a stabilisation phase for that given person to allow them to develop whilst producing the correct pattern. This will help the athletes ability to generate force in respect of LOAD, transmit the force optimally to allow the EXPLODE ability and finish the movement forcefully in respect of their DRIVE.

    We as the menu providers for our athletes need the building blocks in place to optimise performance at any level, from an athlete running a 100 metre sprint where stability is necessary, to a 20 story building stabilising in the wind. The SpartaTrac Signature allows for us to programme correctly and efficiently to achieve this in respect of warning signs . If then the programme is tailored correctly in respect of increasing the ability to transmit force over a 4-6 week period, we are improving the individual’s performance, whilst reducing the risk of injury in the kinetic chain. We look at this in terms of a corrective training approach. This in respect of a players specific scheduling or programming, can mean increased squatting to improve anterior and posterior chain ratios, increasing the proprioception work on a specific leg to improve knee joint stability or reducing running load to allow for maximal strength adaptations to improve a specific phase. All of these changes to an individuals schedule or programme through the information gained from SpartaTrac can improve performance and decrease injury risk.

    From research (Kovacs et al., (2004), Myer et al., (2006), Panjabi., (1992a), and Panjabi., (1992b)) we know that the human movement systems ability to provide optimal dynamic joint support and maintain correct posture during all movements prepares the body for higher levels of integrated training and this is where the information generated by SpartaTrac allows us at Scarlets to tailor specifically. We will of course then use the ingredients of specific plyometric or strength training which increases performance, prevents injuries and increases running economy, as well as develops stronger, fitter players that can recover quicker from games and training.

    Muscle imbalances can lead to injuries and poor performance of individuals and therefore this need to be addressed. This is shown in research by Panjabi (1992a) and Panjabi (1992b) where finding the neutral zone with stabilisation of the core musculature results in decreased dysfunctions of the human movement system and enhancement of the correct recruitment strategy. Therefore correct individual programming determined by the Sparta signature, which can also be combined with their proprioception Spartatrac result, is crucial to promote correct muscle recruitment at each phase, that will enhance the LOAD, EXPLODE and DRIVE phases and optimally promote improvements in strength, plyometrics, speed and power. This is generating specific transferable ingredients for optimal improvements of each individual in turn positively impacting competition.

    Stabilization is necessary for the preparation of the demands of the body and tissues that training will have on muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. A period of 4 to 6 weeks is necessary to achieve a central nervous system adaptation for stabilisation exercises that help prepare the body for extra load and exertion

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