Recently I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Devon Lyon and Advantage Conditioning. I began off-season training at Advantage with a few friends in the spring of 2015 in order to get ready for the next hockey season. Devon's experience training Junior and Junior A players has helped to create a hockey specific training program designed to work on player weaknesses, both on and off the ice. The results proved themselves this season as I felt stronger and faster and has led to my number getting on the score sheet much more often this season. I would highly recommend Devon Lyon to all aspiring hockey players, whether you're just getting started or playing high level hockey.
The Importance of Strength Training
There is no greater feeling of accomplishment and empowerment than to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself! For some this may be to run a faster mile or to complete their first half marathon, for others it may be to drink more water in a day, for me it is lifting heavy! I realize that this is not necessarily an appropriate goal for all of our members, but strength training is not just about bench pressing your body weight or deadlifting double that, it is about increasing and maintaining optimal health.
Strength training is also referred to as resistance training; it is defined as the body utilizing force to move against a resistance. The resistance can come from a variety of equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, cable machines and body weight. Strength training programs can be extremely varied depending on the athletes’ goals and abilities. This is key when developing a strength training program as not everyone is comfortable with lifting weights. It is my job as a trainer to educate clients on the importance and benefits of strength training as well as the variety to program designs in order to meet their personal goals. Not everyone is interested in increasing power through explosive Olympic lifts performed with minimal repetitions, and not everyone is interested in increasing muscle endurance through high volume sets. Listening to the needs and goals of the client is how we are able to design the most effective, well-rounded program for optimal health.
So what are the benefits to strength training?
Osteoporosis runs in my family and as a woman I am concerned about this. Women tend to lose muscle mass and bone density at a higher rate than men do as we age, due in part to hormonal changes and increased inactivity. Strength training is the most effective way to increase both bone density and muscle mass. The denser your bones are, the less incidence of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Strength training also decreases the incident of muscle and joint injury and pain, helps to promote healthy body composition, increase self-esteem and confidence in athletic ability and activities of daily life, increase the energy stores used for activity, and increases metabolic health.
Strength training for optimal health
Strength training is the basis for quality of life. I have said so many times to clients that aerobic activity provides you with longevity of life through increased cardiovascular health, but strength training will maintain your quality of life as you age.
Challenging your muscles to resist force will increase strength in those muscles allowing you to maintain your independence while continuing to live an active, healthy life as you age. I realize that for some of us we may not be thinking of the implications our fitness has on our aging process, but trust me, the work you put in now will pay off in the future! Having a strong core and lower body will help you to maintain an upright posture and be mobile without assistance from a walker, having a strong upper body will mean that you will be able to carry your groceries into your home and pick up your grandchildren. Strength training allows us to participate in our lives as we age and not simply observe from the sidelines, which to me, is the definition of optimal health.
This young man has been a patient of mine and client of AC since he was 13. He has been signed by the Portland Winter Hawks in the WHL (Western Hockey League) and I could not be more thrilled.
Over the years I have worked with many of his injuries, for the minor “Chelsea my shoulder hurts” to the more involved ones that can happen when playing elite level sports.
When he was thirteen he would join his dad Kevin for personal training with a Gill Chitty and join in on our boot camps including off-season hockey with Devon.
He has been a joy to work with, always sporting a bright smile and a fun loving disposition.
This is one of the moments that makes me so happy to be an Athletic Therapist. Not just the rehab of bringing them back to the high level of sport they love, but to have watched them grow athletically and as a person.
It is a beautiful thing to work with kids like Darren.
Since you are reading this from your computer or phone right now, I am going to guess that you are probably not sitting/standing with perfect posture. Here is a quick 5 step guide to a simple yet effective exercise that you can hold while you read the rest of it:
1. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears
2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, like you are trying to pinch something between them
3. Push your shoulder blades down (think the opposite movement of shrugging)
4. Nobody actually stands like this, so relax your shoulders forward about 50% toward where you would normally hold them
5. Great! Now try to hold this position for the rest of this article. If you feel any pain or discomfort, relax and gently repeat from step 1.
This action is known as setting the shoulder blades, or scapulas, and is the fundamental movement for many shoulder strengthening and rehabilitative exercises. The ability to maintain this position while moving is known as scapular stability, and it is a crucial component of a healthy shoulder.
Most people tend to sit and stand with what we call rounded shoulders or a slouched posture (picture a person slouching at their desk.) This position puts the rotator cuff muscles on stretch, which is a very poor position to function from. This greatly increases their likelihood of injury. Most of the shoulder injuries that we see in the clinic directly involve these muscles. Many people have heard the term rotator cuff, but what does it mean and why is it so important?
The rotator cuff is a group of four small shoulder muscles that each have distinct actions, but work as a unit to secure the shoulder any time we use our arm. There are 2 main structural reasons that these muscles are often injured:
- The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body, which means it is also one of the least stable. The stabilizers of the shoulder have to work harder than most other muscles to secure and protect the joint.
- The rotator cuff muscles are drastically outsized and overpowered by the primary movers of the shoulder like the pecs and deltoids.
Hopefully these reasons illustrate the importance of proper scapular stability during movement and the importance of proper scapular posture while sitting or standing. The more often this position is encouraged throughout your day, the more likely you are to avoid injury while placing demand on your rotator cuff muscles.
How are you holding your shoulders right now? Performing posture checks throughout your day is a great way to make this position feel natural and keep your shoulders injury free!
Although many peoples’ first thought of boxing is often the combative side of the sport, it has much more to offer!
Being involved in the sport competitively over the past 11 years has given me the opportunity to see the many benefits of non-competitive boxing for many different people. It was important to me as a boxer, trainer and athletic therapist to come up with a program that was fun, accurate to actual boxing training, and safe for people from all fitness levels. It doesn’t matter if you are an elite athlete, weekend warrior, or someone just starting to exercise, boxing can be a great addition to your fitness program.
What Muscle Groups Does Boxing Training Work?
You may be thinking that boxing is an upper body activity, but one boxing training session at Advantage Conditioning will change your mind. Between the strength work, footwork drills, core work, and punching exercises it is truly a whole body workout. I have yet to meet one person that has put a solid effort into a round of punching a heavy bag that was not sucking wind by the end of it!
What Makes Boxing Training Burn Fat So Well?
The premise of “HIIT” or “high intensity interval training” refers to short bursts of activity that generally use large muscle groups or whole body movements at a high level of effort. This “burst” of activity uses something called your anaerobic energy system.
The anaerobic energy system is used to produce muscle contractions during the first few minutes of exercise prior to the aerobic energy system taking over. By using a high level of effort over a short duration followed by intermittent breaks, the body is pushed to consume more fat than it will during traditional “cardio” or “aerobic” movements like slowly jogging or biking. This form of exercise has been widely popularized in recent years as the ultimate fat burning and conditioning system, but it is not a new concept. In fact it has been around for as long as boxing has been a sport.
Boxing training is typically comprised of a series of “rounds” with a set time frame. For example, a given station will be 3 minutes long, followed by a 1 minute break. This keeps the body in a high fat burning state throughout the workout.
Why Boxing Training?
Boxing training is a great form of exercise for all of the above listed reasons, but one of the most important reasons is that it is FUN! I cannot think of a single person that I have worked with over the years that did not enjoy putting on a pair of gloves and throwing some punches. It is a satisfying skill set to pick up, you can get a great workout in a short period of time, and is unlike anything you have tried before.
Besides, hasn’t everybody wanted to punch their trainer at some point?
Certified Athletic Therapist
A common phase I hear as an Athletic Therapist and Trainer is “I can’t squat, it hurts” or “this is as low as I can go”, these statements always lead me to say, “well let’s take a look.”
Squat form is very important for not only exercise but also life. The squat is one of our functional movement patterns, it’s how we strengthen our thighs, butt, and how we pick up our kids. Squat form has many variables that will affect why we feel pain or when asked to do it a certain way, we feel like we are going to fall backwards. Through this series we are going to look at the many areas of our body that are major players in squatting.
Starting from the ground up: the ankle.
“The ankle?” you ask? “Stretch it for squatting, but it’s nowhere near my butt.”
Here’s the scoop, your ankle needs to be able to go through its full range of motion, particularly the dorsi flexion (toes towards your shin) to achieve your full squat depth. Having a tight Achilles tendon, calf, or restriction in the ankle joint will affect your squat. Often when assessing patients with knee, hip, or lower back issues I will see changes in the squat form. Common occurrences are feelings of instability, or a weight shift to one leg, or their knees collapsing in. Among other tests, I go to see what the ankles are doing. If there is limited range of motion at the ankle then our body is going to find a path of least resistance to achieve the movement demanded. To get squat depth, our weight may shift to the more mobile ankle, the knee may collapse in to gain more range at the ankle or it will hit the joint barrier and our weight will shift back and we will feel unstable. This is just one example of the many players in squatting, we will get to the others throughout this series.
A quick check:
Place your foot against a wall (depending on how wide your foot is, approximately 5 inches) and make a little measure mark with tape. Now turn around and place your big toe at the inside edge of the tape, kneel down into a short lunge position (cushion under the knee if you have issues kneeling), keeping the heel of the front foot in contact with the ground. Now shift your weight forward in a straight line and try to touch the wall. Ideally, (everyone is different) you should be able to touch your knee to the wall or come fairly close. Compare side to side – if there is a big difference or you’re more the 1-2 fingers from the wall, then working on your ankle mobility would be a great venture.
Stay tuned for the next Step, Tricks and Tips to improve your ankle mobility.
Learn • Move • Live
Certified Athletic Therapist
Ashley Phommarath (fondly referred to as “little Ashley” by our patients) has been interning at the AC clinic for 1.5 years now. She started with us during her clinical practicum her knowledge and clinical skills continue to grow as she continues in the clinic collecting her hours for certification. Ashley’s passion for athletics, injury prevention and rehabilitation continues to flourish as she is in her practices for the third season with the Fort Gary Twins (MMJHL) and Churchill High School Bulldogs as their student Athletic Therapist. As a true believer in off season training and injury prevention, she puts her heart into the clinical and field application of AT. This is evident with her commitment to her teams, from bringing her foam roller and lacrosse balls to all her hockey and football practices, to setting up mobility and off season hockey training for the Twins. She has become very involved with the AC family, expanding her knowledge of strength and conditioning by mentoring with Devon Lyon while he did the off season hockey training for the Fort Gary Twins.Read More
Brendan is currently finishing his Athletic Therapy degree at the University of Winnipeg (UW); he has been working for AC as one of our knowledgeable personal trainers for the last year and a half. Brenden has first hand experience understanding the importance of injury prevention, management, strength and conditioning from years of playing hockey himself. Over his academic career he has honed his field skills while working as a student therapist with the UW’s Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) men’ s and women’s wrestling team, UW’s Manitoba Colleges Athletics Conference (MCAC) men’s basketball and the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s (MMJHL) St. Vital Victorias. Brendan has been a great addition to the AC team and we are excited to be part of his evolvement in the rehabilitation and strength and conditioning field.Read More
Arlyn started as a student therapist in the AC Athletic Therapy clinic over 2 years ago. Over that time she has proven to be an invaluable resource and integral part of the Advantage Conditioning team. When she is not in the clinic she is out front working as our Administrative Assistant. Arlyn graduated in June from the Athletic Therapy program at the University of Winnipeg and is currently collecting her field and clinical hours in preparation for her certification exam in June 2017. Along with being knowledgable about injury assessment and rehabilitation, she has additional training in custom brace fitting and orthopedic products. We are very lucky to have Arlyn on the AC team.Read More