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Creating a Spherical Athlete

When we are all taught the basic principles of movement, rehabilitation, and strength or performance training we all learn about the planes of motion. So why is it when we go to apply this knowledge in practice we evaluate,treat, and train our athletes/patients in one plane? Is it possible to evaluate,prevent,and treat injury this way when true function lives in all three planes of motion? The simplest answer is no, the reason being that if you took , for example, the motion of dorsiflexion and looked at how foot moves in the sagittal plane. By doing so you are ignoring the calcaneus moving in the frontal plane or the tibia moving in the transverse plane thus, creating dysfunction by increasing function in only one plane.
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If we took away the complexities of such movements in their most simplest form, function takes the shape of a sphere. Even the movement of a sphere is quintessentially functional, how it rolls in any and every direction freely and fluidly. As you compare the two pictures of the planes of motion one that is in most textbooks and the other I created. You will note how the one I created makes the sphere we just mentioned around our athlete. This is my idea of the Spherical athlete, someone who is able to move in all three planes of motion as efficiently as possible. What makes this athlete unique is that he or she trains within this sphere and if injury occurs he is treated within this sphere to create the optimum environment of success for this athlete/patient. What is also unique is that I can take that sphere and transplant it over any joint or joints to demonstrate how three dimensional they are in unison with each other. What I would like to know is how do those of you reading this create this sphere or spheres versus an egg, a cylinder, or a cone?

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Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES

Comments

  • I see you have taken Gary Gray courses
  • Yes I have they are great resources to evaluate and treat or train someone. How do you approach creating the athlete who can move efficiently in all three planes
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • It appears as if most of my earlier comments disappeared and left off after my Gary Gray comment. I believe there is value in working in single planes as well as tri-planar movements. I tend to start in single planes and progress in movement complexity as the athlete develops better motor control. tri-plane movements, can accentuate movement faults, especially if loaded.
    Just some thoughts...
    Ken Cieslak, DC, ATC, CSCS
  • Yeah I have noticed some technical errors when trying to leave comments. How do you feel about triplanar motions unloaded?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • It depends on the movement. For example, I frequently incorporate triplanar ankle AROM in weight bearing, but not with any additional load. Not sure if that is what you meant...
    I guess what I am trying to allude to is that I see value in all forms of exercise: OKC, CKC, 4x4, Sagittal, frontal, transverse... You name it. They all are beneficial at different stages in conditioning and rehab. I have been doing this closing in on 30 years and have seen a whole variety of methods being pushed as the "missing link" but in the end,I have found that the basic tenets of movement respond to all methods pretty much the same, as long as progression, quality, and loading are applied appropriately
  • Thank you for your response I always appreciate hearing others opinions on treating dysfunctions and injuries. When you alluded to methods being pushed as missing links what methods were you referring to? Also when you speak of the basic tenets of movement respond to all methods the same do you feel that applies to all populations being treated?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • working with isolated motions is as important as correcting isolated muscle weaknesses, particularly early on. I published an article about 20 years ago (one of the early articles on this) on functional rehab. and closed kinetic chain, and presented it at the convention (in the late 80s). Many have expanded on this concept of functional rehab. and focused on specific aspects of it. Like in the case of Gray, movement planes. But it's the same with muscle function/actions, joint kinematics, etc., etc. It's all "Functional Rehab." But I express caution, while full function is the goal, and functional rehab. is the best way to achieve that goal, it is still CRITICALLY important to isolate muscles, joints, etc. first to address isolated weaknesses and accessory joint motions. Functional rehab. becomes the primary focus after these "considerable" weaknesses or motion deficits are corrected.
  • Jose
    While I don't disagree with anything you are saying, I do think that the mark was missed in understanding what I was trying to convey with this discussion. Yes I agree that you must always go from simple to the complex and isolation followed by integration, but how does one prepare an athlete before/after an injury to perform well within their arena of competition? What are we as clinicians doing to change the culture of rehabilitation that graduates a patient to full participation before they have ,at the very least, seen their patient perform or simulated actions like dribbling/shooting a basketball, performing a front walkover or a backtuck, or even playing catch? Just because we have isolated a muscle or joint and corrected the dysfunction that has occurred does not mean they have returned to function or have performed something that is "functional". The term functional is also thrown around entirely too much, its become nothing more than a buzzword.
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • When we say "functional rehab." we are referring to simulated and actual sport drills that incorporate all the demands of the sport. Sometimes we refer to "how" functional an exercise is in comparison to another, as in: ...an exercise that uses multiple joints/planes/muscles is more functional than an exercise that doesn't... i.e. "leg press is more functional than either knee extension or hip extension by themselves". But to me and just about every other rehab. professional I know a functional rehab. program by default includes dynamic sport drills, otherwise it is incomplete. A throwing progression, X number of rebounds and put backs, etc., etc. That's what it has always meant to me. I guess what I meant to say at the outset was that functional rehab. is more than movement planes, more than multiple joints moving, more than multiple muscles contracting; it is the blending of all the above including kinesthetic training. Technically, focusing on movement planes specifically would be less functional than focusing on more things than the "planes". But always moving, like you said, from simple to complex, etc.
  • Jose

    I wish I could say that all rehab professionals shared the same sentiment that you stated about dynamic sports related drills however, I have met many athletes (club sports, highschool, NAIA college, NCAA division1, and even professional level) that have been released prior to any rehabilitation at all, have not done any activity relating to their sport that would simulate the demands they require, or some who were unsupervised if they had done activity relating to their respective sport. Which is why I wanted to know how other professionals approached implementing movements that related to their patients/athletes needs. Once the athlete has progressed to a certain point, I am still curious as how other clinicians approach preparing a basketball player to euro-step, a tennis player to perform a backhand, or a wrestler to perform a single leg take down. Not necessarily using those specific techniques but just the approach others have to training muscle groups involved in motions like that. As this is a discussion its great to be able to pick the minds of other rehab professionals like myself because everyone can learn from anyone no matter how long or short they have been in the profession.
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • I think you are right on point on this Audric. And I agree, I'm always looking to be exposed to different perspectives as we all grow from that. The "functional rehab" topic received a ton of attention in the late 80s and early 90s, and I agree with you in that to this day, even after all the research and articles written on it during those years and up to the present, athletes (I include recreational athletes) are all too often discharged without any real functional rehab. I think many times it is because of the time constraints and the busy schedule most ATCs have to work with, more so than ignorance about the need for it. This is from an article I published in '94 from the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation (Volume 3 #2): "...Functional exercises should: emphasize normal movement and stress patterns at all joints in the kinetic chain; emphasize multi planar movements; demand simultaneous recruitment of various muscle groups; require concentric, eccentric and isometric muscle activity; demand stabilization, acceleration, and deceleration of motion; facilitate the utilization of normal proprioceptive mechanisms; and develop skills that will be needed for daily living and/or sports competition..."
    In terms of my approach (I am no longer a clinical AT, I have been a full time prof. for about 25 years), I teach my there. ex. students to: 1) break down the skills required of the sport into simple/smaller components, 2) create drills that emphasize/imitate different and small components of the sport requirements, 3) little by little combine those separate components into more complex drills that look more and more like the actual event, and 4) incorporate the same drills that are used by the coaches during team practices, 5) complete a functional evaluation made up of tests/drills that mimic the sport requirements, 6) allow the athlete "partial/controlled" practice with the team, and if all goes well after all this, 7) release to full participation. Of course all this goes after eliminated isolated muscle weaknesses, isolated joint stiffness, and athlete has good posture and core stability. Nice discussion you started. Good luck.
  • Jose

    Thanks for your contributions to the post. The portion of your article you sent is definitely helpful and appreciated in gaining a better perspective on creating more spherical athletes.
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
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