Most sports require movement and stability in all planes of motion. Just watch a basketball player. You rarely see these athletes move in only one direction. Instead, they consistently push off and land on one or both legs to jump, cut from side to side, and weave through traffic at all angles.
While the demands depend on the situation, I am not a big believer in restricting movement patterns. Sure, when you squat, you probably don’t want to see knees caving in (knee valgus). In this instance, your knee may not be sufficiently stable and may be relying on its ligaments for stability – probably not good.
But in sports, there will be lots of times where some knee valgus is unavoidable, and maybe even necessary for the specific task.
The question is: how do you prepare athletes for this?
Gary Gray, founder of the Gray Institute, has a very interesting approach to this problem. He believes that all joints follow a principle of Mobile-Stability: that all (probably most) joints and movements rely on some degree of three-dimensional mobility and stability to function properly. His philosophy does not support athletes restricting movements. Instead, Gray believes that athletes needs to work on this three-dimensional mobile-stability to prepare and protect them from the demands of their sport.
So how do you do that?
Don’t be fooled. The first key to durability is strength, but here are some exercises you can use to supplement your strength training. Use them in your warm-up or as accessory exercises to develop lower body mobile-stability.
Preparation comes from exposure. To prepare and protect an athlete, they must be gradually exposed to stress so that they can build up the durability to handle stress. Because of this, I don’t think the best strategy is to avoid possible scenarios and hope for good outcomes. Instead, Tim Gabbett’s approach may be best: “You want to train hard, you want to prepare for worst case scenarios, but you also want to get there as safely as possible.”
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge. He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
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