Jan 29, 2015
On Their Own

By Dr. Brandon Marcello

While much time in the weightroom is spent with athletes concentrating on mobilization, stabilization, and strengthening, little time is spent talking about what they should be doing once they leave the room to carry on their daily tasks. So for our work with Stanford University men’s water polo team, we created a self-care portion of our program.

Note: This Blog accompanies the feature story, “From the Top Down,” which appears in our March 2011 issue. •••

This regimen is used to provide basic guidelines and recommendations to all of our athletes about soft tissue hygiene and spinal and postural awareness. Even if our athletes are only slightly compliant with the self-care guidelines we give them, our jobs as strength coaches are helped immensely.

Because many of the injuries (or precursors to injuries) we see in water polo athletes are related to soft tissue quality, educating them on types of soft tissue work they can do on their own at home will pay huge dividends down the road if they embrace it. Some of the self-care soft tissue work we prescribe includes many of the same modalities utilized in the weightroom, such as using a tennis ball or massage stick on trigger points.

We also want our athletes to be aware of their posture. Since they are sitting so often–on their bikes, in class, in the dining hall, and while they are studying–we also use the self-care program to teach our players how to sit to prevent excess shortening of the hip flexors.

When in class and while studying, I want them to try and keep their shoulders down and back so their backs are flat. Many people sit too low, contributing to excess shortening of the hip flexors. While riding a bike especially, we want to make sure they’re using a proper seat height. In the weightroom, we spend lots of time working on increasing the length of shortened hip flexors and pecs and activating the glute muscles, so we don’t want that work to come undone when athletes are engaged in everyday activities.

Brandon Marcello, PhD, NASM-PES, NASM-CES, CSCS, USAW, is Director of Sports Performance at Stanford University. He oversees the athletic performance enhancement programs for Stanford’s 35 varsity teams, and also works to develop sport-specific strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, nutrition, and recovery programs for the softball and women’s water polo programs. He can be reached at: [email protected].

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