In the previous posts, I discussed several things that should be considered prior to beginning a weight training program. The Intro was a general overview of my “Big 3″ before diving into several bodyweight exercises that a lacrosse athlete should OWN before strength training, which can be seen here (Part 1).
The next component that is essential to an athlete’s success both in the gym and on the field, is flexibility. Flexibility can be described in basic terms as the athletes full range of motion through a particular motion. Several examples include lifting your arm over your head, touching your toes and bringing you knee to your chest. Flexibility is key for the athletes ability to perform full movement patterns, produce force and decelerate. Without adequate flexibility, an athlete may be at “end range” for a given movement, which can make them more susceptible to injury, and will also limit the amount of force that they can produce for that particular movement.
Take a toe touch for example. An athlete who is able to touch their toes, shows that they have enough flexibility in their posterior chain to reach down to the ground with ease.
Now I want you to do something for me. Picture an athlete in the bottom of a toe touch and then visualize them bending their knees to about a 90 degree angle. Look familiar? Seems like something that would be pretty important for face-off guys, especially since they spend a lot of time with their hands down on the floor! It is also a very important pattern for any lacrosse athlete who wants to include deadlifts as a part of their program.
Adequate flexibility for this particular move ensures that the athlete is not having to compensate in an area of the body to perform the toe touch movement, which will limit tissue trauma and potential injury. We can simplify it like this:
Athlete A and B need 100 degrees of motion to perform a particular movement.
Athlete A has 120 degrees of motion for that movement. Athlete B has 100.
Athlete A should be able to perform this movement with little risk for breakdown because they have more than the necessary range of motion. They can move through this movement pattern will relative ease, should not have to compensate to perform the pattern and will most likely not cause trauma to their body when performing the pattern. Athlete B however is constantly working at “end range” to perform the task and will most likely cause repeated trauma to their body, potentially causing a repetitive use or traumatic injury.
Take another movement such as full body rotation. A lacrosse athlete should be able to move smoothly through this pattern without a compromise in posture.
This movement is especially important for lacrosse players because it looks at the athletes ability to rotate throughout the entire body, which includes the trunk, hips, and lower leg. An athlete who is limited with particular movement will have a hard time rippin’ it like Rabil! The athlete will also be inappropriate for certain weight room exercises such as landmines and rotational medicine ball tosses.
An athlete who is unable to perform this pattern will be most likely limited in one of the following areas: thoracic spine, hips, or knees (tibia). If a lacrosse player were limited in one of these areas, it would be highly likely that it would force their body to compensative, which may cause breakdown in another area of the body! A comprehensive strength & conditioning program would ensure that these areas of the limitation are addressed to allow the athlete to maximize their rotational motion while limiting unhealthy compensation patterns.
The Toe Touch and Full Body Rotation are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flexibility for lacrosse. It is extremely important that any athlete who is planning on beginning a strength & conditioning program seek a qualified health professional to ensure that they have the proper flexibility necessary for training, and for sport!
Stay tuned to part 3 where we break down three of the most important ways that an athlete can improve their ability to recover between training sessions and between games!