Friday, 20 May 2011

Poll result 2: Favourite spectator sport

Our blog readers have had their say and it turns out RUGBY is the most popular spectator sport. And the majority of the SSZone team would agree (barring one or two ;-P). 
I suppose not much studying is going to get done amongst you considering the current Super Rugby season is followed by the Tri-Nations and then the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. =)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Football: Shoot from the hip

Starting position
Assume the seated position so that your back is flat against the back support when your knees are bent at the angle needed. This should be at 90 degrees between the hip and the knee. After the seat is adjusted for this positioning, place both feet flat on the foot platform about waist-width apart. Grasp the handgrips with a light grip to avoid build up of pressure during movement.
Joint movement: flexion of the hip and knee joint, dorsiflexion of ankle joint. 

Inhale slightly when ready to start and hold your breath as you extend the legs and push the foot platform away from you using the heels of your feet (with slight support from the balls of the feet). Push the foot platforms away until the legs are fully extended but not locked.
Joint movement: Extension of the hip and knee joint, plantarflexion of ankle joint.
Hold position after reaching the end position, exhale and relax the muscles slightly to slowly control the movement back to the original position (90-degree angle in the knee joint). You must keep the movement under control – do not bounce the weight stack. Maintain a neutral neck position and pelvic-spinal positioning throughout the movement. The entire movement should be one smooth, fluid motion.
Joint movement: Flexion of the hip and knee joint, dorsiflexion of ankle joint.

The Acetabulofemoral joint (hip joint) is the articulation of the femur and acetabulum of the pelvic girdle. It is a synovial joint whereby the round head of the femur fits into the cup-like depression in the pelvis (acetabulum). Hence it is a ball-and-socket joint. This joint is tri-axial but for the purpose of the leg press, only extension and flexion occur.
Three main ligaments reinforce the hip joint.
The Iliofemoral ligament attaches anteriorly from the inferior iliac spine of the ilium to the lower part of the intertrochanteric line of the femur. The fibres of the ligaments spiral medially as they run down, so preventing hyperextension of the joint.
The pubofemoral ligament arises from the pubic portion of the acetabular rim, and runs partly below the joint.
The ischiofemoral ligament consists of a band of strong fibres on the posterior side of the hip joint. It spans from the posterior of the acetabulum and attaches at the intertrochanteric line of the femur.
Hip Flexion
Flexion of the hip is primarily due to the contraction of the Iliopsoas muscle, which comprises of the iliacus and psoas components.  The Iliacus originates on the pelvic crest and attaches on the femur. The Psoas major, the longer of the two muscles, originates on the lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the femur. The agonists are the Rectus femoris, Pectineus and Sartorius. The antagonist is the hamstring, which lengthens during the contraction of the iliopsoas. The Gluteus Maximus and Adductor Magnus act as synergists. The hamstring also serves as a stabiliser during the hip flexion.
Hip Extension
The primary mover during hip extension is the Gluteus Maximus. The hamstring muscles, Biceps femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranus also contribute to hip extension (agonist). The Quadricep acts as the antagonist.
In future posts we will look at the knee joint and ankle joint in more detail. To end off here's a funny video clip about leg pressing from a tv commercial in the US - enjoy. =)


Leg Press
Functional Anatomy of the Lower Limb


Strength training for young rugby players
It has been an ongoing debate, whether or not it is advisable to allow young rugby players, or athletes for that matter, to engage in strength or resistance training.
Firstly, lets get through all the myths and misconceptions that you have been fed up until now. There is no factually reported, evidence based research that suggest’s that youth resistance training has negative effects on adolescents. Ok, lets breakdown that last statement, to ensure you literally understand what I mean by youth or adolescent resistance training. Firstly adolescents are those individuals who have undergone the process of puberty, and exhibit the physical characteristics of maturation specific to their genders. That simply implies that they start developing secondary sex characteristics.

However heavy resistance training in prepubescent kids, could possibly prove harmful to them. This is viewed in the light that younger kids will not be able to cope with the intensity and volume of training typically exhibited in adult programs. Important to understand that this does not mean that young kids cannot “strength train”, as this understanding encompasses other avenues of muscular fitness, such as increasing their muscular endurance and resiliency through bodyweight exercises. This might not yield major increases in their benchpress or squat 1RM, but it will have a considerable effect on their underlying soft tissue structure (muscle, tendon and ligaments), as well as increased bone mineral density. This obviously has one obvious offshoot: increased strength = decreased risk of injury, due to a greater resielency to penetrating forces, especially those experienced in the game of rugby.
The greatest incidences of injury during any child focused activity, has been through poor instruction, lack of supervision, as well as poor program design (Jones et al Phys Sports Med 28 2000).
Rugby is a game which involves high speed collisions, quick reactions, awkward bodily placements and long periods in which the muscular system is under strain, therefore it is only logical that one engages a strength training program to offset the chance of getting injured. When dealing with younger rugby players, don’t disregard this element of strength training because of unfounded myths, and rather focus on the guidelines of program design to ensure your future Boks are well prepared in the early years to ensure that their full potential is one day reached.
The process of strength training at a young age is not that difficult at all, but just keep in mind that the child, adolescent and adult, function and conceptualise activities in completely different ways. Thus what might seem appropriate for an adolescent might not be for a child, in terms of its instruction, its complexity and obvious overall physical effect.
Ok, so we now know why all ages can engage in strength training, and since we want to see how it can relate to rugby performance in the early and late phases of childhood, what exactly are the parameters we need to ensure are maintained when strength training young rugby stars.
For the most part, schoolboy rugby players, and most notably development players, are only exposed to proper strength training instruction at the pre-elite stage, when talent identification programmes, and scouts essentially want to sign them up into their fraternities, with the prospects of future fame. This is all well and good, but it initiates a devastating process of fast tracking younger players into the big leagues, without an indepth look into either their training or playing history. It is often that we hear of sub 20yr players, been drafted into the ranks of super rugby, and only recently has the various South African unions, taken heed to exercise scientists calls to ensure athletic preparation in the younger years to promote career longevity and success. With this said there has been a number of initiatives aimed at preventing injury at the youth level, through programmes such as Bok Smart, which aims to educate coaches at all levels, of the importance of conditioning for the prevention of injury.
So what guidelines am I talking about? For one, it is important to note that the phase of greatest trainability in youth athletes is 14-18 months after their growth spurt, which is roughly around 14yrs for boys. However you must ensure that individual differences are accounted, and instead base their readiness for foundational resistance training with weights on their biological age (when they start maturing physically)
The accompanying table outlines the guidelines for strength training, through the phases of physical maturation, for rugby players
Mode of training
Length of training
Specific focus elements
General preparation/ non specific motor development, muscular endurance
Non specific but 2-3 days a week of activities that strengthen all major muscle groups
Bodyweight exercises, fun yet challenging games that involve gross muscular movements, eg, gymnastics
Low grade resistance training and technique development
Medicine balls, climbing walls, light dumbbells, climbing ropes etc
Hormonal and musculoskeletal system not ready for complex or high intensity training
Strength training introduction
Low volume, and lasting about 12-18months
Technique development, circuits to build work capacity, core strength and ligament strength develepmont
If biologically mature may begin some hypertrophy (muscle development training)
Dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, strength machines for technique and R.O.M
Increased bone density improved through strength modalities, aided by spike in testosterone levels
Training broken up into specific phases – general strength (GS), specific strength (SS) and competitive preparation (CP)
GS – 4x wk

SS – 3-4x/wk

CP – 2-3x/wk

GS and CP in the initial 1-2yrs and then intro of CP when ready
General anatomic adaptation and hypertrophy and
Transition to max strength, power and plyometrics, match specific strength
Barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, and later Olympic bars, strongman equipment, kettlebells
Intro into the pre-elite phase. Increasing levels to invoke performance gains alongside prehabilitation techniques

As we can see from the table, the progressional guidelines are fairly precise, and will induce an overall training response in athletic ability from childhood, through their rugby and positional specific training prowess that will ultimately succeed the phases mentioned in the table.
As a last note remember kids enjoy movement not precision, adolescents are impressionable and at a precarious age where they are either made or broken in terms of vital physical preparation, and lastly this preparation can later be honed into a well oiled and physically significant player in the latter years. So the take home message is ensure timed progression and understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your physical prowess as an athlete, without major flaws and cracks that will start to show, through a lack of proper training.
N. Orson (bachelor of Sport Science)
Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Baechle & Earle, 2008
ACSM Guidelines to Exercise testing and Prescription
Strength Training for young Athletes, Fleck & Kraemer