Flexibility and strength training for sports
« You don’t need to train your legs a lot for mma or grappling sports »
« gaining or training for strength will impair your flexibility »
« Flexing your knees more than 90 degrees (squat below parallel) is bad for your knees »
Wrong! Maybe those are the reasons why knees are the most injured in any given sports. The lack of good, logical information and the abundance of bullshit training available on the net is mind-boggling.
- Thinking you don’t need your legs in grappling or fight sports is like trying to fire a canon from a canoe. Your lower body is as important as your upper body
- If your ego won’t allow you to lower your weights to go through the full range of motion, only than you’ll lose flexibility.
- Your knee is biomechanically made to bend more than 90 degrees. In fact, you should be able to squat down until your hamstring touches your calf. You can’t? Yes it’s probably a flexibility problem, coming from the ankle, the quad, the hip or lower back. See the lack of flexibility as a way to protect the joints. Your lack of flexibility did not cause a problem. A problem (nutritional or structural) or an injury caused your lack of flexibility.
Instead of trying to stretch a muscle that is already too tight, try to figure it why it is pulling so much, why it is tight in the first place. I don’t see it much as a tight muscle, I see it more like an overworking muscle, some type of compensation. This is where a good strength coach or Osteopath can guide you on the right path.
When you shoot for a single leg, your hips and knee joints are often caught in weird positions, depending on where your opponent is going and where you want to drop them. Better yet, you think only flexibility will save you from the torque of landing a triangle on a bigger opponent? Strong and healthy knees will.
Most of injured knees and backs have two things in common, a strength discrepancy and a weakness in the chain. When you train for sports, training like a bodybuilder has some benefits but if it’s all you do, you miss the big picture. The body moves as a whole.
The knee needs a structural balance. It starts from the foot and ankle, all the little intricate muscles are there to signal the nervous system what and how to fire up the posterior chain, the hips, the core.
As in a chain of command, the generals give all the special forces soldiers their given task to be ready for war, but what if one of the teams can’t do their tasks? A big fuck up somewhere or, someone has to do the job for them.
When the foot and the eyes initiate’s a reaction to an action from the opponents, the body fires up. Let’s look at the Ippon seoi nage. Once the grips are established, Tori pulls Uke in with a fight, with the low and upper back, arms, hamstrings and quads working hard for both fighters. Once the throw is initiated, the core and the legs do all the job. When you add the knee drop, healthy knees will make a difference between a snap and success.
In BJJ, we see most injuries between transitions. In the butterfly guard, the knee can and will be fully bent as a defense or when you try to sweep a bigger opponent. Good and strong knees will make a big difference.
In different sports, take figure skating. The landing after a triple axel puts 3 to 5 times the weight of the body on the landing leg.
In football, running, sprinting and charging is the most important aspect of the sport. The bigger problem is the danger of external forces applied on the lower body where some of the impacts can have career endings consequences.
Generally, you’ll see weak VMO’s (inner part of the knee) where you see the knee buckle in when performing a squat for example. It could also come from a weak gluteus medius. But it doesn’t stop there, we also, often see a strength discrepancy in the hamstring, the antagonist muscle of the quad, which is often needed to counter the shoot, leg locks, heel hooks and some of the throws in the stand up game. If your hamstring doesn’t fire up when needed, bye bye knees!
So gaining strength is a no brainer. Strong and healthy knees will save you from being taken out from your favorite sports indefinitely.
Last in order but not of importance, if not the most important, is nutrition. I’ve said it often, nutrition is the foundation of good health, tendons and ligaments included. If you feed the body well, the response is obvious. I’ve often met people where all I could do for the moment is change their nutritional habits. Just like that, inflammations disappeared, muscle stiffness as well. No more back pain, less joints stiffness while energy increased. By feeding the mitochondria well, you give it the energy to recuperate and repair the damaged tissue if needed.
Take Vitamins C and E for example, the most significant benefit of these nutrients is their role in producing collagen, a protein used in your skin, tendons, ligaments and other flexible structures in the body. Vitamin C s also a strong anti-inflammatory.
Furthermore, if you constantly eat processed food (acidic foods), it may rob your body from very important minerals such as calcium[i]. If you keep at it, calcium deficiency can lead to serious health issues such as High blood pressure, Fatigue, Sleep problems, Nervous tension, Calcium deposits in arteries and joints, Kidney stones or gallstones, Susceptibility to bone fractures, Osteoporosis, Muscle cramping, Restless leg syndrome, etc.
One very common ingredient found in most of the boxed processed foods in super markets is High fructose corn syrups. It robs your body of Chromium, Magnesium, and Zinc. Deficiency in the elements can lead to Impaired immune function, hair loss, lowered blood sugar regulation, elevated triglycerides, discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, obesity to name a few.
There is more to it than just simply strengthening your knees and low back or stretching, structural balance and nutrition is the key. Evaluating your needs is primordial; don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. We are the team that will make you perform at your best.
Yours in strength,