Physical development of the young athlete: Doing it right Part 3

The first part of this series looked at the importance of providing the young developing body with lots of varied physical inputs, the pitfalls of sedentary living and early sports specialization. The second installment looked at gym training and how moving away from the conventional approach might serve us better in the long run. This third and final part will discuss nutrition; how our physical capacities are inextricably linked with what we eat. We understand that a good diet can reduce the likelihood of developing degenerative cardio-vascular diseases, but do we realize the effect our diets have on our movement? Less Grains, Please. The food we eat affects our organs, and our organs affect our movement. Paul Chek describes this connection in detail in this article: “Most people have little or no understanding of their organs in general, and because of their ignorance of what is inside them, they make diet and lifestyle choices that create stress on their organs and glands that disrupt almost every aspect of their body and mind” The practice of segmentalizing the body into separate pieces may be useful in terms of putting labels on body parts and teaching anatomy, but it has mostly served to diminish our appreciation for the oneness of the human body. Organs talk to and control muscles. Thus, Chek believes that you would be wise to look inward when dealing with chronic problems, describing how he has rehabilitated athletes with chronic muscloskeletal pain that could not be resolved until function was restored to the related glans and organs. The mechanism for this is explained as such: If an organ overheats...

Physical development of the young athlete: Doing it right Part 2

I have been taking a thoughtful look back at my athletic journey, from the day I first lifted a hurling stick as a youngster to the injury mire of recent years. Not-traumatic injuries don’t occur for no reason, so somewhere along the way my physical development was clearly hampered by some inefficient inputs to the system. Tracking back over the years to see what I could have done differently may selfishly help guide me going forward, but might also save others from making similarly perilous decisions themselves. The previous post focused on the need to supplement your sport with lots of fun and varied movement, and the injury-laden consequences of combining a sedentary lifestyle with participation in high-intensity sports.  As you become older and take your sport more seriously, naturally the more committed you are to improving, training harder and for longer. Paradoxically, in my case, that probably expedited my dates with the surgeon as I built strength on top of dysfunction. This brings me to those years between 17 and 23 where I trained the hardest and ploughed on through pain signals that were trying to tell me something, until I finally surpassed the body’s breaking point. If I could turn back the clock, here are some things I would do differently.   Body before Barbell I began to get stuck into weights when I went to College, and was lucky enough to have excellent guidance in the UL Arena. My goal was to improve my hurling by getting strong, and get rid of the crippling low chronic low back pain that had been a constant for years....

Physical development of the young athlete: Doing it right

If you could turn back the clock and begin your athletic journey again, what would you do differently? This is a question I often ask myself, and the more I learn and experience as a coach in the physical development of young athletes, the more apparent the answer the becomes: a lot. My current journey is one of restoring my body back to pain-free movement after years out of sport with injuries and surgeries, with an increasing appreciation for the complexity of the human body. There is a lot to consider; the nervous system, somatosensory and circulatory system all working together to help restore quality function to the musculoskeletal structures, while resisting the conventional model of compartmentalizing the body into muscles and isolated actions. The body always finds a way to work around restrictions in joints and tissue, until it is eventually unable to positively adapt to the inefficient stressors causing mechanical failure, and pain joins the party. But what causes these compensatory and patterns non-traumatic symptoms in the first place? Why is there a pandemic of hip and knee injuries in the young GAA playing population? You won’t get a straight answer for these questions with a Google search but they are certainly worth investigating, some other time. For now, we can agree that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. While I don’t have all the answers on how to get out of pain, taking a look back at my training practices over the years and what was missing, based on what we know now, might shed some light on the matter. If...