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Your Gymnast’s Knees

Your Gymnast’s Knees

By Karen Goeller, CSCS

painful-knee-illustration-14526284I’ve spent many years coaching gymnastics and as a CSCS. The CSCS is responsible for effectively training the athlete for sports performance. The CSCS also helps bring the injured athlete back to competition fitness once cleared from their physical therapist or doctor.  That step in-between physical therapy and all-out competitive workouts is often missing. It is the job of the CSCS to fill that void.

Sometimes after a gymnast is “medically cleared”  they continue to have knee pain. It is not that the doctor or physical therapist was not effective. Once cleared, the gymnast often is not aware on how the body should function; it is a lack of awareness.

I was asked by a gymnastics club owner to “go over some knee exercises” with some of her gymnasts who had a previous knee injury and some who were recently cleared by their doctors. I would be willing to bet the owner and coaches had no idea I would be teaching their gymnasts how to properly stand, bend, and straighten their knee, but that is what these gymnasts needed. AWARENESS. Below is a summary of what we did so that you can help your gymnast.

As many of you have seen, a high percentage of gymnasts have over-pronation. That is a rolling inward of the feet. Many have one that is more severe than the other. That causes poor alignment of the ankle, knee, and hip. You see the knees fall in laterally towards one another. With that poor alignment, the gymnast often performs skills adding stress to the joint because of the force involved with skills. The poor alignment is often seen in the take-off for the cartwheel, round-off, side aerial, and front handspring. This poor knee alignment is also seen in the landings of dismounts and jumps. Over the course of time, performing skills and landing can cause severe damage to the body if the gymnast is using incorrect technique and/or has poor alignment.

So here is the report from the quick clinic I gave to this group. Throughout each exercise I reminded these gymnasts how each drill related to the sport, landing mechanics and skill take-offs. When an athlete knows the purpose of a drill they get more benefit.

Out-In-Neutral-Foot
I asked the gymnasts to stand straight with their feet together, simple. (Well, sort of.) Many in this group could not do that without over-pronating. It is very common for gymnasts to have over-pronation. They train barefoot with no arch or heel support several hours each week. (That’s why they need high-quality shoes when not in the gym.)

I asked these gymnasts to gently roll their feet out towards their little toe, then back in towards the arch in their foot, and finally back to straight/neutral so they could feel the difference between the three positions. (It is very important to be sure they do not roll too far in any position. You do not want them causing damage to the ankle or foot.) As they did this slow-motion movement, Out-In-Neutral Drill, I instructed them to look and their knees to see the difference in alignment. Some seemed surprised at the difference foot placement made in the knee.

After that and asked these gymnasts to bring their feet hip-width apart and again to slowly roll their feet out, in, then back to neutral. At this point, they all were able to clearly see the difference in ankle and knee alignment with foot position. I asked the gymnasts to perform this simple Out-In-Neutral Drill several times in order to see and feel their neutral foot position and proper leg alignment.

After the gymnasts performed the Out-In-Neutral Drill on two feet, I asked them to lift one foot off the floor and perform the Out-In-Neutral Drill on one foot.  Again, some seemed surprised at the difference the slight movement of the foot had on the knee alignment. I reminded them that the single leg alignment is important on the one-foot take-off and leap landings.

Once the gymnasts did a few repetitions they seemed to understand the relation between foot alignment and knee alignment really well. Before that moment, these gymnasts never realized that the alignment of the foot had so much effect on the rest of the body.

Side-Side-Neutral

After the Out-In-Neutral Foot Drill we did a simple weight shift drill. I call it the Side-Side-Neutral Drill. Believe it or not, when many gymnasts squat they tend to lean on one side more than the other. This is not something many people notice during the landing of the dismount because it happens so fast and the focus is on sticking the landing. The technique of the landing is imperative to maintain low body health.

I asked the gymnasts to stand hip-width apart and keep their feet in the neutral position. I then asked them to perform a ½ squat position as if they were landing a dismount. As I suspected, many were leaning on one side/leg. Others were bending at the knees with hardly any hip bend.  We made adjustments to proper landing mechanics at that point. (Landing a jump on beam is different than landing from a double back on floor or a dismount from equipment. Since the force is so much greater, it is imperative to teach proper weight distribution when landing.)

Once all were in the correct position, I asked them to perform the Side-Side-Neutral Drill, shift their weight to one leg, neutral/center, and to the other leg.  This was to remind the gymnasts that they must land with their weight centered, evenly distributed between both sides.

Remember, the force on the body when landing from a double-back can be 10-13 times the gymnast’s body weight. With some gymnast’s, one side could be taking more force than the other and in other cases the front of the legs could be taking on more force than the back.  With gymnasts who are primarily bending at the knees, the front of the legs-knees and quads take a much higher percentage of force than the back of the body-glutes and hamstrings. The front-load landing can put enormous force on the knees and over time may cause damage.

Since gymnasts dismount daily, it is imperative they line up their knees with their ankles and hips, but they must also evenly distribute their weight from side to side and from front to back.  Sometimes it is just as important to teach awareness as it is to physically strengthen the body.

SONY DSCWe took this a few steps further and added a medicine ball with more complex movements.  We carefully performed the chop exercise in order to simulate a landing but to also involve the core and upper body. We did this with both legs and then single leg. Adding the medicine ball made the movements challenging, but they were able to safely perform. This exercise is a great value because it forces the gymnast to focus on landing mechanics while building a little added upper body strength for bars.

Finally, during this session, we did include some traditional knee rehab exercises. Many gymnasts with knee pain have weak gluteal muscles.

I assigned the physical therapy bridge.  I call it a hip lift. The gymnasts lied on their backs, bent their knees and lifted their buttocks off the floor a number of times. In the hip lift position we also did the marching exercise, but I only allowed the gymnasts to lift one foot 2 inches off the floor in order to keep their hips up.

Next, I assigned the clamshell exercise. I instructed the gymnasts to lie on their side and bend their knees, keeping their heels in line with their spine. Once in position, I instructed them to keep their heels together, but lift the top knee towards the ceiling, opening their legs.  We did both sides.

Another exercise we did that day was the side plank. Added to the side plank hold we did plank hip dips. In the side plank position, I instructed the gymnasts to lower their hip to the floor and lift it back up. We did a number of receptions on each side.

And we did plank leg extensions and small kicks. In the plank leg-extension, I asked the gymnasts to lower their knees to the floor then bring them back up to a straight position.  We did single leg plank leg extension too. With that one the gymnast kept one foot 2 inches off the floor as they worked on the supporting leg, lowering and lifting the knee.  That leg extension is simple, but a great quad strengthener and form drill. And for the small plank low back kicks I asked the gymnasts to lift one foot 2 inches off the floor. I instructed them to keep their foot pointed and lower their toes to the floor and lift the foot 2 inches. I had them alternate these slow, low kicks.

There are so many things you can do to maintain or improve your gymnast’s health. Keep doing much of the conditioning that is well known, but also consult with physical therapists, chiropractors, and CSCS’s for ideas.

Karen Goeller, CSCS

www.BestSportsConditioning.com

www.KarenGoeller.com

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Exercise List to go with Video and Article

  • Out-In-Neutral Foot Drill
  • Side-Neutral-Side Drill
  • Physical Therapy Bridge (Hip Lift)
  • Clamshell
  • Chops
  • Single Leg Chops
  • Plank-Leg Extensions (Bothe legs and single leg)
  • Plank-Low Back Kicks
  • Side Plank with Hip Dips

 

Handstand Drills and Conditioning

It’s the time of year when gymnastics coaches start to focus on Handstands
 
The Handstand is the most important skill in our sport and remaining tight is essential!
 
Gymnasts of all levels perform the handstand several times throughout their workout. While performing many skills in gymnastics, the gymnast must actually pass through the handstand or vertical phase safely and efficiently. Without a good handstand, a gymnast may have trouble building skills and therefore progressing through the sports many levels safely and efficiently.
 
Read or download the rest of the article, published in Technique Magazine:

And for an entire book of Handstand Drills and Conditioning go to www.HandstandBook.com

#gymnastics #handstand #gymnasts #training #cscs #usagymnastics #usag #techniquemagazine #coachinggymnastics

It IS Urgent… Train NOW for next gymnastics season…

Plan NOW for next gymnastics competition season.

 

web-trainingad-beam-2011You can avoid frustration and high risk of injury by planning ahead and allowing your gymnast enough time to prepare.

Work on the new skills, strength, speed, and endurance now so next competition season is really fun! That’s why we all love the sport isn’t it? Gymnastics should be fun, not extremely stressful.

A skill should be performed 1000 times before it is competed. (That was my rule when I coached teams and in my gym.) That’s about 4-6 months of 10-12 repetitions per day 5 days a week. Most gymnasts do not perform 200 repetitions of a new skill each week. And then they are not really prepared for their meet. That leads to worry, lack of focus, then high risk of injury.

Call me today to set up a workout for your gymnast! Give them the tools they need to compete safely.

Private Gymnastics Training / Lessons here,  www.bestgymnasticstraining.com

Private Sports performance training here,  www.bestsportsconditioning.com

And FYI… I do not recruit gymnasts or tell them to leave their team coaches unless there is an abusive situation. I help them understand skills by offering drills, help with rehab from an injury, or offer sport-specific conditioning when there is a weakness.

One more note… Coaches who bring their gymnast to me so we can work together to help your gymnast get a generous discount. Coach is on the floor so we can discuss and coach together and one parent in the parent’s area for the workout.

#sports #gymnastics #gymnasts #privatelessons #privatetraining #training #nj #gymnasticsdrills #coachinggymnastics #gymnasticsparent #gymnasticsstrength #strength #gymnasticsconditioning #gymnasticstraining 

How to Increase Athlete Confidence…

How to Improve Athlete Confidence…

Someone asked how to build a gymnast’s confidence… The most common thing parents tell me after I work with their daughter is that their confidence has greatly increased.

Here’s my advice…
web-alexisbeamConfidence takes time to build. It happens after a series of successes and good days in the gym, school, or work. Confidence in an athlete/child is greatly affected by a coach, parent, or teacher. It is the adults along with those small successes often that help a child become more confident.

In sports lack of confidence can actually be a safety risk. lack of confidence can lead to worry, lack of focus, and even an accident. We should help our athletes build skills progressively and remind them of each success along the way. For the safest training possible, teach drills, build strength, teach skill progressions with perfect technique, then introduce the skill and build on that. Eventually the skill may be used in competition. Remind your athlete that they went through a long process to learnt hat skill and that is a great success. With each small feeling of success comes more confidence.

Remind your athlete often, possibly even daily, of all the progress she has made, the adjustments/corrections to skill technique she made, and how far she has come since she started the sport. We all started at the beginning, even coaches.

Give her a physical challenge (not extreme) daily and ask her if it was difficult. If she says yes, tell that she should feel good about getting through a difficult challenge and completing all the work. Remind her that many people cannot do all the work she has done that day and she should feel a real sense of accomplishment. Send her home with positive thoughts on her accomplishments and successes.

Increasing confidence is a process, but daily reminders of how hard she has worked, small successes often, and a reminders of her success work to improve an athlete’s confidence. As a coach it is important to help an athlete see how great they are. be the coach that boosts your athletes confidence. They will go through life happier, healthier, and remember your training forever.

Click here to read testimonials from my athletes parents.

Click here for info on Private Gymnastics Lessons.

Click here for info on Sports Conditioning.

#gymnastics #gymnast #sports #cscs #training #lessons #athletes #nj #privatetraining #privategymnasticslessons

Legs Plus Mini-Workout, 5 minutes!

Legs Plus Mini-Workout… Try it!

Sample mini-workout to see the effects of Legs Plus. Do all three exercise and then do  all three again without rest.

web-Legs-Plus-Wkt-Ad

www.LegsPlus.com

www.LegsPlusWorkouts.com

And please remember, what you eat will have a GREAT effect on your overall health and weight.

Stay healthy, stay happy, and have a wonderful New Year…

Legs Plus was created by Karen Goeller, CSCS in 2007. Contact her for book signings, speaking engagements, spokesperson roles, consulting in sports and fitness, or training.

You are responsible for your own safety. Stop if you feel dizzy, nauseous, ill, or injured. Do not perform if you have a history of back pain. See more details and specific instructions in the book.

#exercise #fitness #workouts #legs #core #weightloss #legsplus #gifts #books #newyear #resolutions

Don’t Rush New Gymnastics Skills…

Learning a new gymnastics skill takes time, sometimes ALOT of time.
by Karen Goeller, CSCS

Web-CassGiantsArticlePicIt normally takes at least 6-12 months to get a skill. Unfortunately, some coaches and gymnasts think it should happen in a week. That is often impossible, depending upon the difficulty of the skill. Think about how long it took to learn a cartwheel. Gymnastics skills take coordination, strength, flexibility, speed, power, and the mental ability to think before and during the movement in order to complete it safely.

The science behind learning a new skill is more complicated than many realize. First the neurological system is involved. Literally the nervous system in the body is learning what it must do, learning the movement. That is why gymnastics drills for skills are necessary.  And that is why coaches often spot skills and literally shape the gymnasts during movement. The mind and nerves must learn the sequence of movements to perform the skill.

After the neurological system is on board, with practice, the muscular system eventually starts to become conditioned for the movement. More spotting may be needed from the coaches until the gymnast has the strength, speed, power, or flexibility to perform the skill efficiently.  Specific conditioning for the sport and drills for the skills are necessary.

Even after the neurological and muscular systems can perform their duties for the skill, the mind must be convinced that it is OK to try it. This psychological stage can be the longest. It is often when coaches and gymnasts become impatient with progress. Mental comfort with the skill is a big part of why repetition is necessary.  The mind must be convinced that the gymnast can perform the skill safely. And it is the phase where confidence is built. Without the confidence, there can be lack of focus and injury.

I had a rule in my gym that a skill must be performed one thousand times before it is competed. That was usually enough time to go through all three stages of learning the skill. In my gym it took an average of 6-7 months to perform 1000 repetitions of the skill, 6 days a week, minimum of ten repetitions each day.

And then after the skill is learned, it still must be performed in a routine. That again, changes the mindset and ability to perform the skill efficiently.  During routines the gymnast’s muscles and mind become tired and the skill once again becomes difficult. A gymnast must go through the three stages again for the routine. This time, muscle endurance becomes a factor in addition to the individual skill technique.

Sadly, some coaches and gymnasts do not realize the three steps it really takes to be able to perform a skill successfully and they rush to “get” the skill. This can cause unnecessary stress, fears, and often injuries. So be sure to condition specifically for the sport and skills, spend time doing drills, and take the small steps necessary (extra mats, spotting, low beams, etc). Go through the phases, plan for several months of training the skill, and successfully gain that skill. Take your time now, so it is not wasted later.

Let me know how I can help your gymnasts… I can come to your gym and help your gymnasts or you can send them to me for private training.

Karen Goeller, CSCS
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Energy Drinks are DANGEROUS, especially for kids!

I just saw someone post a photo of two little boys about 9-10 years old with energy drinks in their hands. That is NOT what children should be drinking!!!

Look at these 3 websites…

Anything synthetic, generally speaking, is dangerous,” he says. “Energy drinks are a perfect example of that.
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/…/why-energy-drinks-and…/

Although healthy people can tolerate caffeine in moderation, heavy caffeine consumption, such as drinking energy drinks, has been associated with serious consequences such as seizures, mania, stroke, and sudden death…http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/3/511

Thousands of kids have faced serious — and potentially deadly — side effects after consuming energy drinks, new research shows… serious side effects, such as seizures, irregular heart rhythms or dangerously high blood pressure, the researchers found.
http://www.livescience.com/48765-energy-drinks-side-effects…

What Attribute Does an Athlete Need Most?

Someone asked a question many of you may be thinking…

kids-playing-sports-collection-008What attribute if there is one alone is it that makes someone a winning athlete?
Here’s my answer…
Really it’s PASSION for the sport. Without that passion, it is impossible to work through the difficult times. But a talented, passionate athlete will only succeed in a good training program. Perseverance and goal setting are important too, but PASSION will drive the athlete all the way.
No passion = no goals + poor work ethic.

www.BestSportsConditioning.com

Lymphedema: Sentenced to Life in Bed, but I Escaped

Lymphedema: Sentenced to Life in Bed, but I Escaped
ISBN: 978-1-105-18750-6

The reader will see how Karen Goeller went from being the bed-ridden patient to who she is today. This is Karen Goeller’s story, dealing with a cancer diagnosis at age 25 and the lymphedema for a lifetime. You will be inspired to push yourself to beat the odds, accept the challenge, and reach your goals. Karen Goeller has accomplished great success after the doctors told her that she would never work again. More than twenty years later Karen Goeller is living a full life, the life she was told she would never have. Karen Goeller wishes to help others dealing with lymphedema with her tips on exercise, resources, and other daily care recommendations. Readers will be inspired to push themselves to beat the odds, accept the challenge, and reach their goals.

To buy this book go to http://www.KarenGoeller.com.

Over 40 Articles for YOU

Over 40 gymnastics, health, and fitness articles for you at http://www.gymnasticsstuff.com/GymnasticsArticles.htm

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