How To Fix Dropping Bat Head, Dipping Back Shoulder Truth, & STOP Hitting Pop Ups For Baseball Softball Swing | 6 Ways To Flatten Batter's Bat Path

Discover how to fix an early dropping bat head, the dipping back shoulder truth, and put a STOP to hitting so many pop ups for the baseball and softball swing.  Learn 6 ways to flatten a batter’s bat path

Do You Recognize The 6 Early Warning Signs Of Hitters Dipping Their Bodies?

 

 

In the above video, we’ll be discussing:

  • Relationship between spinal engine and shoulder behavior in healthy effective swing,
  • Causes of unhealthy “dipping” of body in swing,
  • Head stability,
  • Arching low back,
  • Straightening out back leg,
  • Over-rotating upper half,
  • Over-rotating lower half, and
  • Core instability.

Hey, what’s going on. It’s Joey Myers again from the “Hitting Performance Lab. In this video, we’re gonna answer a reader question, this one is asking for advice to:

“Helping get youth players to stay on plane, and not dip their bodies when they swing”.

Now a couple things we have to define here, what ‘dipping’ is…

 

Relationship between Spinal Engine and Shoulder Behavior in Healthy Effective Swing

This is important to cover. Because there is some dipping that goes on, but I want to define what’s good versus what’s bad. What we should see with hitters, and good healthy spinal engine mechanics is, say with the righty, the shoulders will start in somewhat of a slightly down position, we call this the ‘Downhill shoulder’, and it’s just a side bend.

David Weck, founder of the BOSU ball, the RMT Club, and a lot of other cool stuff. He talks about this idea of the head over foot technique. The head shifts slightly over towards the front stride landing foot.  The side bend is crucial to the actual opposite action that’s gonna happen during the swing.

We’re gonna see the teeter totter effect of the shoulders starting down, and then they’re gonna flip up as I start my turn. Then what we should see is this shoulder, if we track the left one for a righty starts down, pops up. As we finish, should be back down again.  Think about those beautiful images of Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, in their finish, and the righties are kind of in this position. The lefties are in the opposite position.

We want to see a healthy accelerating-decelerating spinal engine, that is the healthy dipping that we should see if the shoulders or side bending.

6 Causes of Unhealthy “Dipping” of Body in Swing

1. Head Stability

I call it a ‘Collapsing backside’, so one of the causes of this is head stability. We’ll see a hitter will go chin to chest, when they’re at impact, going right into their sternum with their chin. Sometimes we’ll see the head go up (like looking up into the sky), we’ll see the bill of the cap go this way, and we’ll see the rear ear going to the rear shoulder, so for righties, right ear to the right shoulder. For lefties, left ear to the left shoulder.

There are some hitters in the big leagues that do this a little bit, they used to do this actually more in the past, they’ve been cleaning it up. But Andrew McCutchen used to go chin to chest, Bryce Harper would go rear ear to shoulder, Prince Fielder did what Harper did.  You even see Nolan Arenado more chin to chest. Because he tries to leave his head at impact, which I don’t recommend for younger hitters. When the head is in an unstable position, this creates a threat to the central nervous system. Wherever the head goes, the body follows.

If the head “rolls” (like Harper/Fielder)…when we’re rolling the head this way, you’ll see a collapsing of the backside, you see the whole body will dip, and it’s not a very strong position. Head stability is one of them, one of the causes of an unhealthy dipping of the body in the swing.

2. Arching low back

Arching the lower back, kind of similar to the neck, the C-spine. When we start arching the lower lumbar during rotation, which isn’t very good because you’re pushing the vertebrae together, and then rotating them, so you’re basically grinding. So, we don’t want to do that, and if we’re doing that, sometimes we’ll see this collapsing to the backside as well. You want to do it what’s called a ‘Hollow position’, or a ‘Hollow hold’, you can go on YouTube, and search “hollow hold gymnastics”, and you can find a video on how to practice this.  It’s basically taking the curve out of our lower lumbar, or lower back.

Imagine you’re lying on your back, on the ground, like you’re gonna do a crunch, you got your feet on the ground, your knees are up, and you go to do a crunch. What you have to do first is push your lower back into the ground, just want to push hard in the ground, create some pressure into the ground through your lower back.  That’s taking the curve out of your lower back, and doing what we call a hollow position. It’s a posterior tilting of the pelvis for those kinetic nerd jockeys like me.

3. Straightening out Back Leg

The other thing that could be causing dipping of the body in the swing is straightening out the back leg.  This tends to follow both head instability, and/or arching of the low back.

The glute fires, the back glute, for righties the right glute, and the right quad fires to straighten the knee. It’s the hamstring that we see in professional studies of hitters, back hamstring that’s turning on a lot more than you see in amateur hitters, where they tend to try and lock that back knee out. The glute locks out, and what’s happening is that back glute is trying to support and create stability in the lower back. Because it’s going into a bad position, a compromised position. As long as we can fix the hollow, get them into more of a hollow position, we fix the head movement with the neck brace drill. Not a stiff neck brace, but a soft one.  We don’t want to immobilize the head, just create feedback for movement.

If you can correct this, you can crack the lower back – metaphorically speaking of course – then you can start to work the hitter into bending that back knee a little bit more, using the hamstring, lesser the quad, and lesser the glute. Those are again trying to protect that lower back, that can be a major cause of unhealthy dipping in the swing.

4. Over-rotating Upper Half

I am starting to actually see this in some of my hitters, not in a lot but a few of them.  Where they’re actually over rotated at impact. They’re making contact almost behind themselves, and their sternum in the middle of their chest is out over in left field (for righties, reverse for lefties). We must get them to under rotate, so we do a lot of “deep” tee drills, and get them to try and pull the ball off a deep positioned tee. You set it up almost in line with the hitter’s belly button, and get them to kind of hook it, and hook it around to slow down that sternum.  The hitter should look and feel like they’re swinging their arms across their body. 

The upper half over rotating, we can also over rotate the lower half…

5. Over-rotating Lower Half

So, we use a VeloPro to strap it to the back hip and back ankle.  We get them to try and keep the back heel on the ground (like George Springer), and keep the back foot sideways. If they’re over rotating, it could cause a collapse of the backside as well. Again, we want to be effective between our 90 degrees of fair territory, and when we over rotate either the upper or the lower half, then what we’re doing is we’re sliding our 90 over into foul territory, which doesn’t do us any good, any of our hitters any good.

The last thing I want to add in this video is fixing core instability…

6. Core Instability

There are things that you can do at the gym with your trainer, hopefully your trainer is versed on mobility and stability exercises (certified in the Functional Muscle Screen – FMS, or in TPI). When we’re talking core stability, you want to do a lot of things like planks:

So, you’re creating some rotation in there as well. You also want to do like ‘Hollow holds”, you want do things like that, you want to do maybe suitcase carries, where you’re carrying a dumbbell on one side of the body and trying to keep your shoulders square, things like that you can do. You can ask your trainer on how to create more core stability, but those are some things to think about if you’re asking yourself the same question as our reader: “Helping get youth hitters to stay on playing, and not dip their bodies when they swing”.

Work on the things we discussed, clean them up, and check them off your list. Your hitter will be in a more healthy body “dipping” position. Make sure that we’re swinging smarter by moving better, and before I let you go…

How To Swing A Baseball Bat WITHOUT Pinching Lower Back Pain: Prevention Tips

Discover swinging a baseball or softball bat pinching lower back pain exercises and common youth player injuries found in 14 year olds.  Get exercise resources for Spondylolysis, Sciatic nerve, stress fracture, and Quadratus Lomborum.

Before taking any of the recommendations in this post, PLEASE consult with a board certified physician first if experiencing lower back pain – do the research beforehand.  Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Rolfers, and MAT professionals are a fantastic way to start.  That being said, if the pain isn’t too bad and only occurs during or after swinging, which suggests mechanics may be at fault, then the recommendations in this post will help tremendously.

 

Derek Jeter: These Exercises Accelerate Swing Efficiency

 

 

I was recently introduced to Danilo Collins (pronounced Duh-nee-lo).  A 16-year-old baseball player in Florida.  Over email, he sent impact and follow through pictures (and video) of his swing, saying:

“Hey Joey, I have had this exact problem ever since I started filming my swing. During my final turn, at or near contact I find that my upper body tenses up. My shoulders shrug up, my face tenses up and tilts awkwardly, and my back arches in a weird, unnatural way.”

In this video blog, I want to address Danilo’s swing concerns using Derek Jeter as a model.  We’ll answer these three questions:

  • What does an efficient impact & follow through position look like?
  • What can impact & follow through tell us about movement dysfunction?
  • What exercises can a hitter do to correct this?

If we can get a hitter moving better, they’ll perform better.  Movement dysfunction puts performance on the back burner.  Let’s see how Derek Jeter’s swing compares…

What Does an Efficient Impact & Follow Through Position Look Like?

Last week, I posted this to my Facebook fan-page using Danilo and Derek Jeter’s impact pictures, and received great feedback:

[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/HittingPerformanceLab/posts/571869122942886/” width=”400″/]

Here’s the jist of the Facebook feedback, in comparing Danilo to Derek Jeter:

  1. Batting tee is set too far back for true point of contact,
  2. Detachment of front arm from rib cage – no extension, and
  3. Too much focus on turning faster.  By extending front arm at contact, then back arm after contact Danilo will increase his inertial force (CLICK HERE to see another blog post on this).

Those great Facebook comments aside, I want to focus on something else that most don’t…

 

What Can Impact & Follow Through Tell Us About Movement Dysfunction?

I feel fixing movement dysfunction is just as important as efficient swing mechanics.  Without correction, the body loses the ability to move efficiently.  This dramatically decreases batted ball distance.  Here’s what to key in on at impact and follow through using Derek Jeter as a reference point:

  1. Maintaining strict alignment of head and spine (core stability), AND
  2. Staying low on the pitch plane using back leg (core stability & glute activation).

If we compare Danilo to Derek Jeter, we can see a huge difference in the back leg angle, and how well the head, rib cage, and pelvis stack on top of each other.  When it comes to hitting mechanics my hitters work on the Hollow Pinch, which is pinching the hitter’s belt buckle and belly button together throughout the whole swing – even into finish.  We did a swing experiment on that here.

 

What Exercises Can a Hitter Do to Correct This?

I mentioned Core Stability & Glute Activation.  I want you to do something for me:

  • Stand up with your feet under your shoulders,
  • Squeeze your butt cheeks together as hard as you can (notice your pelvis change position?), and
  • Now, tighten your abs as hard as you can like you’re doing a standing crunch (did this bring your rib-cage down?)

Danilo is arching his back and extending his back leg, resulting in his lower back taking on sheer forces.  In the middle, taking a vacation, are his glutes.  To look like Derek Jeter in the Impact and Follow Through photo to the right, Danilo will have to do these TWO corrective exercises 1-2 times daily:

  1. Hollow Body Hold (core stability) – week 1: 1 set X 20-30 secs hold, week two: 1 set X 30-40 secs hold, week three: 2 sets X 30 secs hold, and week four: 2 sets X 45 secs hold…do every other day.
  2. Super Plank (core stability) – week one: 1 set X 45 secs hold, week two: 1 set X 60 secs hold, week three: 2 sets X 45 secs hold, and week four: 2 sets X 60 secs hold.
  3. Single Leg Floor Bridge (glue activation) – week one: 1 set X 12 reps each leg, week two: 1 set X 15 reps each leg, week three: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, and week four: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg.

The reps and time can change for younger hitters.  Be sure to let the hips down slowly (4-secs) for each repetition for #2.  After 4-weeks on #1, turn up the heat by doing a Super Plank-Pushup.  Make sure to practice the same rules from the Super Plank.  The key is NO rotation of the pelvis.  You should be able to set a drink of water on the back of the pelvis when doing the movement, without spilling.

FINAL NOTE on Derek Jeter’s swing: we want head-spine alignment, but with a slight angle up and back over the catcher for more repeatable power.  Derek Jeter is more vertical like Tony Gwynn.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

When it comes to Online Baseball or Softball Virtual Hitting Coach Lessons, Hitting Performance Lab Reviews its Promise would Change Things for the Better in the Bat and Ball Space

Hitting Performance Lab LLC has reviewed the baseball, fastpitch softball, slow-pitch world since it announced the launch of The Feedback Lab back in 2013. Hitting Performance Lab LLC’s online baseball or softball private hitting coach virtual lessons promised to shake things up and 9 years later, facts are in.Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Previously, with even a passing glance, a person would notice that most private hitting instructors and team coaches lean their credibility on what level they made it to, how many years they’ve coached, how many lessons they’ve done, or their opinion based on someone else’s opinion. The Founder and CEO at Hitting Performance Lab LLC, Joey Myers, makes a point of saying “things were always going to change when The Feedback Lab launched”.

Joey Myers continues…

“Competitors in this niche are typically doing the same old thing. Hitting Performance Lab applies human movement principles that are validated by science to hitting a ball. Science isn’t meant to be trusted; it’s meant to be tested. They ask the question, develop the hypothesis, do the research, collect the data, and form a conclusion.

Playing experience and teaching are completely different. 30 years of coaching can translate into the same year of coaching repeated over 30-years. Doing hundreds of thousands of lessons depends on being effective (doing the right things) versus being efficient (doing those things right). And opinions, are like, well…ahem…everyone has one!

The Hitting Performance Lab knows they’re not perfect. They know the limitations and biases human have. Teaching kids how to hit a baseball or softball can get stale and drift dangerously into dogma, which is the graveyard to consistent long-lasting progress.

Like Bruce Lee once said, ‘A martial artist who drills exclusively to a set pattern of combat is losing his freedom. He is actually becoming a slave to a choice pattern and feels that the pattern is the real thing. It leads to stagnation because the way of combat is never based on personal choice and fancies, but constantly changes from moment to moment, and the disappointed combatant will soon find out that his ‘choice routine’ lacks pliability.’

Ultimately, Hitting Performance Lab knew it was going to be of huge benefit to their customers because by applying human movement principles validated by science to hitting a ball, results become predictable in nature. It’s like getting the cheat codes to the test. Once the rules are known, hitting gets easier. Kids catch on faster. They have more positive results. They stay in the game longer! Hitting a ball consistently hard isn’t easy, but it can be made it easier, and FUN! They actually hope others follow suit.”

Cole Case Study: Online Baseball Private Hitting Coach Virtual Lessons for Beginners Ages 7yo+

Cole BEFORE/AFTER Case Study: Online Baseball Private Hitting Coach Virtual Lessons for Beginners Ages 7yo+

Hitting Performance Lab was established in 2005. It has been doing business 17 years and it has always aimed to help every hitter trade physical ability for academic excellence! They want to make little boys and girls into hard working student athletes.

Currently, the closest thing to The Feedback Lab are VIDEO GAMES! Baseball is one of the slowest most misunderstood sports. At least fastpitch softball is faster paced! Sports are at war with instant gratification nowadays. Delayed gratification MUST get relearned. And it doesn’t help when the sport is being taught as an ineffective dogma that gets unpredictable results.

There’s too much frustration with the misinformation surrounding the craft, kids quit before realizing their full potential. It’s a shame. Applying human movement principles validated by science to hitting a ball can change that!

And The Feedback Lab improved on this by using science as a guide. Engineering, Physics, and Biomechanical principles matched up with what the best are ACTUALLY doing. One can use the online virtual hitting coach format to change the career trajectory of hitters across the country, on a computer.

There are ZERO boundaries. Joey Myers couldn’t imagine in 1996 when he was 16yos, living in Central California, and asking his parents to fly to Florida and work with a well-known hitting coach. Today, it can be done online! This alone was enough to make Hitting Performance Lab LLC’s online baseball or softball private hitting coach virtual lessons more popular with clients in the baseball, fastpitch softball, slow-pitch softball space, quickly.

The Feedback Lab is now available to buy and review at: http://gohpl.com/feedbacklab2

Hitting Drills To STOP Pulling Head Off In Baseball Or Softball Swing

Learn hitting drills to STOP pulling your head off the baseball or softball.  Discover a more balanced swing position when batting.

Batting Practice Secrets To Fix Swinging Too Hard

 

 

Batting practice and training seems to be met with a caveman’s mentality…Me see ball.  Me swing bat hard.  Me crush ball far.  I can always tell when a young hitter is swinging too hard by the following:

  1. Pulling the head,
  2. A clenched jaw, and/or
  3. NO balance upon the follow through.

One great Big League example of caveman swinging is Yoenis Cespedes of the Boston Red Sox.  In this video, we’re going to talk about how to correct swinging harder:

  • Problem with Reciprocal Inhibition relating to improper batting practice,
  • Cadence is key, and
  • Proprioception and swinging blind…

Problem with Reciprocal Inhibition Relating to Improper Batting Practice

Watch this simple demonstration on Reciprocal Inhibition (RI) from a Physical Therapist (start at the 0:38 mark):

 

 

Consider this:

  1. Imagine bicep curling a 25-pound dumbbell…bicep contracts while brain tells muscle on opposite side (tricep) to contract less,
  2. Now think about holding the same 25-pound dumbbell in mid-curl, arm is at a 90-degree angle, and forearm is parallel to the ground…
Reciprocal Inhibition

The quad (green) contracting more, while the hamstring (red) contracts less in this stretch. Photo courtesy: BandhayYoga.com

What’s happening there on #2 above?

It’s called an isometric muscle contraction, and is when both the bicep and tricep are contracting equally on both sides.

Your brain is smart.  One of it’s many jobs is to manage tension around a joint (i.e. the elbow).  To protect it.  When you have bicep tendinitis, the length-tension relationship is upset.  What happens is, the brain tells a muscle to tighten protecting a particular joint, until length-tension balance is restored…

How do you fix this?

According to the Physical Therapist in the above video link, you strengthen the muscles opposite the tight area.  The brain can then contract the tight area less and restoring the length-tension relationship around the joint.  And this ADDS more efficiency to dynamic movement…

Otherwise, this would be like driving your car with the parking brake on!

During batting practice (or in games), when we swing too hard, we’re driving the car with the parking brake on.  It seems counter-intuitive to what we normally would think.  But bio-mechanically speaking, this would be like the #2 scenario of the bicep -mid-curl above.  We see the head pull out and jaw tighten because the brain is protecting the joints in the neck (C-Spine) and jaw from overload.  And this can cause the hitter NOT be balanced in the follow through.

Cadence is Key

Did you know there’s a specific cadence, or tempo, to repetitive human movement?  According to the book Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running, by Danny and Katherine Dreyer, consider these two popular long distance movements:

  • Running – count how many times the right arm swings forward per minute.  It should be between 85-90 times.  Whether uphill or downhill.
  • Cycling – count each time the right knee floats up per minute while pedaling.  Should be 85-90 times.  Top cyclists change gears uphill or downhill to keep within these guidelines.

Faster than that, and tempo gets disrupted…parking brake gets applied.  Batting practice is no different when it comes to a specific tempo.  I once read someone say in a hitting forum that you have to swing as hard as you possibly can…wait for it…under COMPLETE control…

 

 Proprioception & Swinging Blind

Batting Practice Secrets To Fix Swinging Too Hard (a al Yoenis Cespedes)

Yoenis Cespedes swinging blind photo courtesy: MLB.com 😛

I know that’s a big scary word, but experiencing it is easy…stand on one foot, now shut your eyes.  You’ve just experienced Proprioception.

The best fix for swinging too hard is…drum roll please….

Swinging with your eyes closed.  Remember what I wrote about a hitter swings as hard as possible…under COMPLETE control?

This is how to practice taking the parking brake off during batting practice and games.

Also, remember the symptoms of swinging too hard I mentioned at the beginning of this video post…?  Here are the fixes:

  • Pulling the head – the chin should be somewhere slightly out front of impact,
  • A clenched jaw – get the hitter to keep a small gap between their molars as they’re swinging, AND
  • NO balance upon the follow through – have the hitter practice swinging as hard as they can with their eyes closed, while keeping balance.  If they fall over, then they’re swinging too hard.

The latter one, please DO NOT have them do this around any sharp or breakable objects that might hurt them :-/  You see, Yoenis Cespedes can win two All-Star home-run derbies in a row because he knows what pitch is coming, at what speed, and what location (for the most part).  He can get away from pulling his head.  In a game?  It’s a different

 

BONUS Material

Want to help put the batting practice parking brake on vacation?  Here are my two favorite corrective exercises that a majority of my new hitters have a problem with:

  1. Passive Leg Lower (hip mobility) – week one: 1 set X 12 reps each leg, week two: 1 set X 15 reps each leg, week three: 2 sets X 12 reps each leg, and week four: 2 sets X 15 reps each leg…do once daily.  Will increase running stride length, which indirectly can help them run faster.
  2. Ankle Circles (ankle mobility) – do three circles clockwise AND counterclockwise at each ankle position…do at least 2-3 times per day everyday.  Can get rid of shin splints and plantar fasciitis.
Thoracic Extension Exercises BEWARE

Discover thoracic (upper back) extension, flexion, and rotation exercises for baseball and softball players.  Learn foam roll, seated mobility, strengthening, and stretching routines in this post by Dr. Joe LaCaze of Rotex Motion.  Also, CLICK HERE to learn how to release low back tension using Rotex Motion.

Thoracic Extension Exercises: 3 Mistakes You May Be Making

Thoracic Extension Exercises BEWARE: “A Little Bit Of Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing”Thoracic Extension Exercises BEWARE

We read an article, see a post or watch a video about a movement we must do to be able to swing, throw or lift better. One movement that we see and read about a lot lately is “thoracic extension exercises”, which is the ability to extend our spine backward in certain movements that are helpful in the launch position for hitting, swinging and throwing.

It is an absolute fact that thoracic extension is a key part dynamic hitting, swinging and throwing, almost every pro we watch does it well.

We go on the internet and search “thoracic extension exercises” and we find a few that look good. We see quotes by experts that say, “lack of thoracic extension causes injury”, which is 100% true, by the way.

We are sold, so we start out to improve our thoracic extension with only the knowledge about how to do a few exercises.  Let’s explore some options…

Foam Roller

One of the most common thoracic extension exercises is laying on our back and rolling on a foam roller. The best thing about this exercise is that it is simple and relatively safe. On the other hand, since all the bones in the thoracic spine attach to ribs, it does not really do any permanent good because we just can’t extend far enough back on a foam roller to completely activate and strengthen all the muscles that extend the spine.

 

The “Superman”

Another common exercise we can do on our own is lying on our stomach and doing an exercise called “Superman”. We lift our entire upper body off the floor with our arms out or above our head and we arch backward with our head, upper spine and lower back. This exercise may be fine for some, but there is a risk that we will aggravate the lower back if we have already had any problems in that area.

In my experience, this exercise is counter-productive because we don’t want to arch the lower back anymore than it already is, we just want to arch the thoracic spine. Unless we are incredibly flexible already, most of us cannot control the thoracic movement without the lower back getting involved.

 

Seated Rows

Seated Rows is another exercise trainers teach as a good thoracic extension exercise. While there is nothing really wrong with the seated row for what it accomplishes to strengthen the rhomboid and some other muscles, it doesn’t really target the deep muscles that extend the spine.

 

 

We can either “go with what we know” or learn “what we don’t know that we don’t know”.

Here is what most people, even many experts, don’t know about creating more thoracic extension.

Before doing any exercise to improve a lack of range of motion or lack of movement, we need to ask ourselves these questions:

  • “What is keeping me from making the movement in the first place?”
  • “Is it just weakness in that one area or is the opposite movement so tight or locked-up that it is keeping me from making the movement?”

If we sit at a desk, work on a computer, text on a phone, read, drive, etc….we may be locked in thoracic flexion, the opposite movement to thoracic extension.

 

5 Things you MUST know about Thoracic Extension Exercises

  1. We have to first activate all movements that keep us FROM going into extension before forcing ourselves INTO extension.
  2. Not only must we activate and strengthen thoracic flexion, there are other movements we must do first that restrict thoracic extension.
  3. If we do thoracic flexion, thoracic rotation, and thoracic side bending, we have cleared every restrictor to movement for thoracic extension. Then it is as simple as strengthening that movement.
  4. Now we are good to go? Wait, there’s one more…
  5. If we can create all these movements while rotating our shoulders outward and hips inward against rotational resistance at the same time, then we are golden! Not only have we accomplished every movement, we have created the stability we need in the lower back and shoulders and have also synchronized the same movements we use in hitting, swinging and throwing.

Using the RotexMotion floor models with the following thoracic extension exercises, will save you and your hitter a lot of time, effort, and pain…

[From Joey Myers] Check out this post I did on Rotex Motion.  It’s been a game changer for my players, and myself!  This exercise is brand new.  If you’re interested in investing in the RotexMotion floor models, then go to TheStartingLineupStore.com, pick floor models, and don’t forget to…

15 At Home Strengthening, Stability, & Rehab Exercise Tips For Catcher's Knee Pain, Sever's Ligament Syndrome, & Osgood-Schlatter

Discover 15 exercise tips you can use to strengthen, stabilize, and rehab knees for symptoms surrounding catcher’s crouch knee pain, Sever’s ligament syndrome and Osgood-Schlatter disease…

Osgood-Schlatter Disease Treatment:

 

 

Sever’s Disease Rehab Exercises:

 

15 Ways To Prevent Injury, Minimize Damage, & Rehab Knees

 

Fragile.  What a “dumb” joint.  I heard one of my 8th grade hitters, who took a break from lessons to play football, busted his knee requiring surgery, and would be out for 6-8 weeks.  Another one of my 7th grade hitters busted his knee playing soccer, requiring minor surgery.

And yet another hitter of mine, a Junior in High School, tweaked his knee playing basketball at school, and will be undergoing an X-Ray (which will probably turn up negative), followed by an MRI to be safe.

And btw, all these hitters are smart young men, who have performed above and beyond for their age in the batter’s box.  I frequently tell my hitters, you’re no good to your team sitting on the “shelf”, so take care of your body.

So, what’s the answer?

Now, we can’t pull out ye ol’ pocket crystal ball, reveal an injury before it happens, and avoid it.  But…we…can…prevent them!  We’ll get into what we can do in a moment…but first,

Studies show today’s young athletes are sitting 80% of their day.  Athletes are specializing in one sport earlier and earlier in life.  If you read my recent post on 4 Tips On How To Train Springy Fascia, then you’ll remember the first rule of Fight Club is…ahem…training fascia is, to vary training vectors (i.e. be varied in different movement planes of motion)Healthy fascia HATES moving in the same way over and over again – like a 2yo, it gets bored easily!

On top of all that, observe the following reality about young female athletes from a New England Baptist Hospital post titled, “Why Do Female Athletes Suffer More ACL Injuries Than Males?”:

“High school female athletes in the United States suffer 20,000-80,000 ACL injuries per year. The issue isn’t only that female athletes are prone to these potentially season-ending injuries: the National Institutes of Health reports that female athletes are two to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts.”

For young female athletes, factors that contribute to this increased risk are the differences in sports undertaken and in gender anatomy and structure (duh!).  The truth is, a wider lumbo-pelvic-hip complex puts the knees in a structurally compromised position.

For all athletes, the knee is considered a “dumb” joint, oftentimes stuck, or rendered unstable, between two immobile joints – the hip and ankle.  When the “bookends” are tight, stiff, and immobile, then the knee becomes unstable or “fragile”.

So, what can we do to prevent injury, minimize damage, or treat a knee injury?  I wanted to share a list of credible FREE resources parents and coaches can use to reference for knee speed bumps…

  1.  Overcome Knee Pain: Exercises and Solutions for Crunchy Knees (Gold Medal Body Fitness)
  2. Speedy Recovery? Ice Bath Benefits Not What They Seem (Hitting Performance Lab)
  3. 5 Simple Solutions For Anterior Knee Pain (Breaking Muscle)
  4. How To Do The Splits: Proven Hip and Leg Stretches for Splits (Gold Medal Body Fitness)
  5. Are You Weak In The Knees? (Breaking Muscle)
  6. Dr. Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD is one of my favorite resources for troubleshooting injuries.  Click Here for a YouTube link to view the videos he’s done on dealing with knees.
  7. Identifying the What and Why of Valgus Collapse: Part 1: Identifying the What of Valgus Collapse (FunctionalMovement.com)
  8. CLICK HERE for a YouTube video of Charlie Weingroff demonstrating how to fix knee valgus using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT).
  9. The Do’s and Don’ts of Training Squats (CharlesPoliquin.com)
  10. Building Your Arsenal: 5 Exercises for Bulletproof Knees (GymnasticBodies.com)
  11. How to build Super Knees (Forum Topic at GymnasticBodies.com)
  12. Have a favorite training website with an overwhelming amount of info on it?  Here’s a trick to filter information for what you’re looking for…go to Google, type the following into search engine: “site:<<insert actual website w/out www. here>> + keyword…for example “site:gymnasticbodies.com knees”
  13. PAY-FOR Local in-a-town-near-you Programs: Yoga and Pilates
  14. PAY-FOR Online Program #1: https://gmb.io/ff/#choose (I have no affiliation with this program)
  15. PAY-FOR Online Program #2: https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/gb-courses/stretch-series/#titleBar

If your athletes move better, then they’ll perform better.  The knee is considered a “dumb” joint, so make knees SMART (aka “antifragile”) again!

Baseball & Softball Sports Performance Physical Therapy Shoulder Rehab Exercises | Dr. Jocelyn Vartanian Of Pro~PT In Fresno, California Interview

Watch this baseball and softball sports performance Physical Therapy shoulder rehab exercises interview with Pro-PT Physical Therapist Dr. Jocelyn Vartanian from Fresno, CA.

“And Your Shoulder Blade Strength Starts to Pick Up, Your Shoulders Start to Feel Better.  You Add Like 2, 3, 4 MPH On Your Velo Like That, ‘But I didn’t Throw Harder’”

 

 

 

In this podcast interview, we discuss

  • You’ve had a huge influx of new clients, athletes… what are you seeing coming in right now?
  • What do you see different in softball, girls coming in with injuries versus the guys? Or is there any difference?
  • What’s your advice on the ankle side of things?
  • What top two things would you suggest they do to help with those ankles?
  • On low back stuff, what kind of advice would you give the ladies?
  • What’s your advice on shoulder? You mentioned that the boys are the elbow really elbow heavy shoulder…
  • “And your shoulder blade strength starts to pick up, your shoulders start to feel better. You add like 2, 3, 4 miles an hour on your velo like that, but I didn’t throw harder”
  • Let people know where they can find you…

CLICK HERE to download the full interview transcript.  This is one of many episodes from our Swing Smarter Hitting Training Podcast, CLICK HERE to download other fantastic episodes like this one.

And if you’re close to California’s Central Valley, and want to work with Dr. Jocelyn, then CLICK HERE to get in touch.

Tight Hip Flexors? Low Back Pain Relief Strengthening Exercises

Discover these little known low back pain relief strengthening exercises.  Learn how to dynamically stretch and release hip flexor tightness for athletes, beginners, bodybuilders, runners, and seniors.

How To Stretch Hip Flexors

 

 

“Why Are My Hip Flexors so Tight?” How To Stretch Hip Flexors (Release Or Strengthen?)

Post and video by Dr. Joe LaCaze, founder of RotexMotion

Concerning how to stretch hip flexors, I have seen, performed and taught every conceivable method of releasing them from tightness.

As a flexibility specialist, I stretched thousands of patients and athletes using the most popular muscle and fascial release techniques. I got so proficient with these stretch techniques, I taught seminars to other doctors and therapists…

As a neuromuscular therapist, I performed soft tissue techniques to release muscles from strain and tightness. I learned how to perform manual Trigger Point Therapy from a few masters.

As a performance enhancement specialist, I integrated PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching and neuromuscular therapy with dynamic exercise for reestablishing normal movement patterns for the muscles and fascia we worked on.

This journey was all in an effort to discover how to stretch hip flexors and release strain and tightness for two main reasons – to create more…

  1. Stability in the lower back and pelvis, and
  2. Mobility in the hips and the thoracic spine.

We have been in the habit of looking at certain muscles like how to stretch hip flexors, and thinking they are too short and tight. Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  • Logical thing to do with short tight muscles,
  • Primary hip flexors causing problems, &
  • 4 Reasons hips flexors are short and tight.

Logical thing to do w/ short tight muscles

In the past 15 years, with the help of some of the most renowned doctors, therapists, strength coaches, trainers and skills coaches, I have developed a much different view on how to treat these short, tight muscles. It has completely changed my understanding of how to stretch hip flexors.

If we have short, tight hip flexors, we should ask ourselves:

  • “WHY are they so short and tight?” And,
  • “WHAT are the restrictions to these muscles performing to their highest capability”?

Primary hip flexors causing problems

How To Stretch The Hip Flexor

How To Stretch The Hip Flexor: psoas major muscle

There are four primary hip flexors but the one we hear about most, the one that causes us the most problems is the psoas major muscle. When we hear or read about the psoas major, 99% of the problems associated are attributed to it being short and tight.

The psoas major is responsible for lifting the thigh once it gets to 90° (parallel the floor), and everything after that, about another 45%. So it would seem that if it is short and tight, it would easily be able to lift the thigh to its limit. That is actually opposite to what happens.

If it is short and tight, it will also be weak and won’t be able to perform its normal function to full capacity. There are also neurological reasons it won’t be able to perform, but that’s a little complicated for this article.

Important to swinging and throwing athletes, the psoas major is also responsible for stabilizing the lower back, that is where it attaches to the lower spine. If the psoas major is short, tight and weak, it does a poor job of stabilizing against dynamic rotation and puts the lower back at high risk of injury.

The lower back will also become tighter as a protective mechanism and will not completely release its tension until the psoas major is strengthened through its entire range of motion, among other things.

 

4 Reasons hips flexors are short and tight

Problem #1

There are restrictors to the movement of the psoas major. These are mainly the deep hip muscles (the deep external hip rotators) and the hamstrings.

Solution to #1

Strengthen these muscles, don’t constantly stretch them. A strong muscle is much more flexible than a weakened muscle due to constant stretching.

Problem #2

The psoas major is WEAK because it has been constantly stretched, massaged, released, etc.

Solution to #2

Since the psoas major is almost 100% responsible for lifting the thigh past 90° to about 135%, it needs to be strengthened against some sort of resistance through its entire range of motion.

Problem #3

Almost everyone in our society sits for most of our non-athletic activities – driving, working at a desk, watching TV, reading, texting, etc.

Solution to #3

If we sit as part of our lifestyle, we will probably not change that. What we CAN do is to super strengthen our glutes, hamstrings and the deep external hip rotators. Those are the opposite muscles to the sitting muscles and they will help to release them as soon as we stand up and start moving.

Problem #4

If the hip flexors are unequal in the balance of strength, they will not be able to lift the thigh symmetrically. If the psoas major is weak, a muscle called the TFL (tensor fascia lata) will pull the hip and thigh outward and will create very complicated problems that are difficult to resolve in both the hips and lower back.

Solution to #4

Strengthen the TFL and hip in internal hip rotation against a strong rotational resistance, THEN strengthen the psoas major through its full lifting action, against resistance.

For those who have access to the two RotexMotion floor models, here’s the Inward Hip Rotation exercise to accomplish this…

 

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Discover swing performance training exercises review of Rotex Motion floor models for sale in Fresno and Clovis, CA.  Big benefits for baseball and softball players, pitchers, and golf athletes.  Learn how to improve hip and shoulder mobility, core stability, flexibility stretches, and thoracic extension for hitting.

You Too Can Experience More Flexibility & Better Movement Patterns In 5 Minutes A Day With Rotex Motion

 

 

Since this COVID-19 thing, we’ve been busy with a Rotex Motion movement experiment.  The system has been on my radar for a little over a year.  And it was developed by ex-Navy Seal Dr. Joe LaCaze, who’s also a Chiropractor.  By the way, he understands the spinal engine and springy fascia.  Always a good sign.

Anyway,Rotex Motion: Move Better Equals Perform Better

I’ve been testing myself and some of my players using the Rotex Motion movement system.  And I have an excel spreadsheet to share with you.  But before I get to the results, let me explain the phases of the Rotex Motion experiment:

  • Week #1 on myself: Hip Internal/External Rotation
  • Week #2 on myself and my wife: Ankle Dorsiflexion
  • Week #3 on myself: Seated Trunk Rotation
  • Next 4-weeks on my players: Ankle Dorsiflexion
  • Next 4-weeks on my players: Seated Trunk Rotation (this is ongoing)

In this Rotex Motion post, we’ll cover:

  • Highlights from my movement experiments using Rotex Motion…
  • What happened to Ball Exit Speeds, downloading swing mechanics, & hitter feels
  • And next steps to get started using Rotex Motion movement systems…

Highlights from my movement experiments using Rotex Motion

CLICK HERE to download the excel spreadsheet, so you can follow along.  Here are some highlights:

  • PLEASE NOTE: I was getting used to the BodyROM app with the Active Hip, got better with Passive Ankle Dorsiflexion measurements, and finally have a handle on the Seated Rotational measurement.
  • Also NOTE: My right hip and ankle were injured during my time in college on two separate occasions, so you’ll see how Rotex Motion really made a difference there.
  • After one week: Internal hip rotation on my right side significantly improved by 21-degrees!  And the left improved by 8-degrees. 26/29 degrees afterwards – almost balanced.  Before, my right side internal hip rotation was REALLY restricted.
  • After one week: Ankle Dorsiflexion on right side improved by 24-degrees!  This may have been a little human error with the measurement.  Left side improved by 9-degrees.  Even if right improved as much as left – to 26-degrees – it still would’ve had a 12-degree jump!
  • After one session: my wife’s Ankle Dorsiflexion improved by 9-degrees on her right, and 13-degrees on her left.  Btw, she has a bum right ankle as well.
  • After one week: my rotation to the right significantly improved by 24-degrees, and my left by 26-degrees!  105/103 respectively, now they’re virtually balanced.
  • For my players, after 4-weeks doing “Foot, Ankle, Calf” exercises one time or less per week didn’t see a big change in range of motion, but did see a balancing of the ankle.
    Rotex Motion: Ankle Inversion & Eversion

    Photo courtesy: Crossfit.com

  • For my players, after 4-weeks doing “Foot, Ankle, Calf” exercises two times per week improved in a range of 4-10 degrees on the right ankle, and 4-6 degrees on the left.  Also, they had a great balancing effect of the ankle, which I think is even more important.

What happened to Ball Exit Speeds, downloading swing mechanics, & hitter feels

That’s great, improved range of motion and a balancing of the ankle…so what?!  How did it affect “hitters”?  Here are the observations I found within the four weeks of dorsiflexion with my hitters ranging in age from 10-years-old to High School seniors.  Specifically, this group is mostly made up of High Schoolers…

  • Keep in mind, our weather in California at the time was moderate, 65-70 degrees.  Not super hot, so ball wasn’t flying more than usual.
  • Getting into certain hitting positions like Ankle eversion (keeping back foot sideways), think about turning inside of foot down and outside part up.
  • About 30-40% of the guys broke their highest ball exit speed, or was consistently high with them.  In other words, their numbers weren’t jumping, but stabilized.
  • They frequently said things like: “I feel more stable”, “I have a better connection to ground”, “My swing feels easier”.

 

Next steps to get started using Rotex Motion movement systems

Here are the steps to getting started:

  1. Invest in Rotex Motion system at the TheStartingLineupStore.com (range in price from $149 to $529*),
  2. Download BodyROM app on android or iphone (one-time $4 fee),
  3. Once you get the system, then CLICK HERE and follow instructions on how to use the BodyROM app to measure (you won’t be good at first, so practice, practice, practice),
  4. Of those BodyROM videos, start with the first one, Ankle Dorsiflexion Measurement, & Torso Rotation Measurement
  5. For direction on where to start with the exercises (this would of course depend on what package you invest in), go CLICK HERE and click the “Foot, Ankle, Calf” first.
  6. Follow the “Foot, Ankle, Calf” exercises 2 times per day (morning and evening), everyday, for one week.  These exercises take me 3-minutes to complete.  Measure again to get the after.
  7. After week #1, I’d click the “Rotational Performance” link on the same exercise training page, and do those once or twice per day, everyday for one week.  These exercises take me 5-mins to complete.  Measure again to get the after.
  8. If you invest in the handheld only, then I’d click the “Handheld Exercises Only”, and pick out 3-5 exercises, do them 1-2 times per day, everyday, for a week.  The exercises you group together should revolve around the same joint, then measure that joint using the BodyROM app, and you’re off to the races!
  9. Any other questions, then please let me know.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Discover importance of diaphragmatic breathing techniques on sports performance and psychology for baseball and softball athletes.  Learn how to STOP anxiety, famous athletes who use breathing techniques and the 4-7-8 breathing study.

Breathing Technique For Hitting: Why Hitters Shouldn’t Breath Like “Normal”

 

 

Before we get to the breathing technique for hitting a baseball (same for softball), consider breathing is one of the most commonly dysfunctional movement patterns today.  In other words, nowadays “normal” breathing IS dysfunctional!

Breathing Technique For Hitting A Baseball

Photo courtesy: MobilityWOD.com YouTube video

Why?  Here are a few reasons off the top of my head – you could probably think of others:

  • High levels of stress hormone cortisol throughout the day because of constant bombardment of mind numbing hamster-constantly-on-the-wheel technology (phones, video games, etc.),
  • Overuse training – doubling training efforts without doubling recovery efforts (dangerously over scheduled youth athletes), and
  • Injuries to certain areas of the body, playing a one-sided dominant sport (i.e. baseball and softball), and imbalanced training (without proper flushing of waste by the lymphatic system), can build a shorter breathing pattern, which can cause a constant drip-drip-drip of the fight or flight response throughout the day.

One of my hitter’s dad asked me what physical training I recommend outside of a busy baseball and football schedule, and I said either Yoga or Pilates.  I HIGHLY disagree with most hitting coaches putting ORGASMIC emphasis on explosive, Olympic, Cross-fit, or whatever else type of performance training out there.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for physical training geared for performance, but corrective maintenance training SHOULD precede performance – if we want healthy moving athletes.  If you put fresh 80,000 mile tires on a Lamborghini with a misaligned front end, then you’ll be lucky to get half the miles out of the tires!  Also, the tires won’t be your only problem.

Let’s connect what an effective breathing technique for hitting a baseball means to hitters…

World renowned strength and conditioning coach Brett Jones says this about “anatomical” versus “biomechanical” breathing in a post titled, “How Your Breathing Relates to Your Movement”:

“Anatomical breathing match refers to the natural matching of the inhalation and exhalation with extension and flexion of the spine/body. Extension facilitates inhalation and flexion facilitates exhalation. As the body gets compressed (flexion) exhalation dissipates the pressure and extension assists in opening the thoracic area to assist in inhalation. In addition, anatomical breathing can be used in stretching where the exhale is used to enhance the relaxation into a stretch.

Whereas, in the biomechanical breathing match we flip those actions. Inhaling to increase the intra-abdominal pressure during flexion and exhaling to improve muscular action and stability during extension. Biomechanical breathing match is key to being able to handle loads through the body during performance. During a dead-lift, kettle-bell swing or a kettle-bell military press the biomechanical breathing match allows us to amp up our strength and stability.”

The video above demonstrates this biomechanical breathing technique for hitting a baseball.  I’ve had quite a few of you ask about this, so here you go!  The description says the above YouTube video is about…

“Identifying and correcting low back extension loading issues through the correct sequence of breathing. If we can get our athletes to breath better across all movements and under load, performance will improve.”

Dr. Mark Cheng, one of my many favorite strength and conditioning coaches, says:

“When you truly own a movement pattern, strain isn’t part of the picture.”

There are a couple other resources I’d be estupido not to mention that plays right into improving breathing technique for hitting a baseball:

The above video is only 3-min and 41-secs, so there won’t be any breathing technique for hitting a baseball notes.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the REPLY section below this post…

Move better, perform better.  Enjoy!