Being a father of 3 one boy athlete and two young female athletes, this article is probably my most favorite of all time. I will break this into two sections so follow along.
“Girls are stronger. Boys are stinky” This is what my 6-year-old little girl says when asked who is stronger. I want her to understand from a young age that women are not second-class athletes. My baby girl is never going to be sent over to the pink dumbbell rack and the treadmill and told to lift light while the boys are overtraining the squat. She’ll be under the bar with the boys, and if they give her a hard time, she will only have to say, “Don’t make me call my Dad!”
Sports opportunities are on the rise, and female athletes keep gaining more recognition. It isn’t near enough, but it’s slowly getting better. There are many incredible role models out there. Female athletes are my heroes because they do things with their brains and heart that the males need testosterone to do. They are fierce! This is all a good thing.
The bad thing is that female athletes are tearing up their anterior cruciate ligaments at an alarming and epidemic rate. This is sad, wrong, and most likely preventable, at least to a much greater degree than what is currently happening. Any sport where female athletes need to decelerate and change direction on their feet shows an ACL injury rate some eight times more than in male athletes.
The whole issue really came home to me when a good friend of mine, Dr. Jack Barnathan, DC (ISSA director of fitness sciences), gave his talk on female ACL injuries. I found the problem to be absolutely outrageous, especially when I learned what the medical community was doing about it.
I’m going to do something about it. I’m doing something about it right now. My strength does not lie in the lab or in the halls of academia. I do my work in the gym. I teach women how to squat.
First, I want to identify one of the problems. Bodybuilding is a sport. I give my iron brothers and sisters respect because they work hard and are more dedicated to diets than probably any other group of athletes. There are techniques used in bodybuilding that serve a special purpose for correcting issues of symmetry and proportion. Their primary goal is isolation. However, these techniques typically have no place in athletics. The human body is not meant to work in isolation but is rather a remarkable machine that does its best work when working in concert with different aspects of itself.
One of the biggest demons rears its ugly head in the name of isolating the quadriceps muscle group. This is the sinister and malevolent creature known as the leg extension machine. Since the predominant media force comes from the bodybuilding magazines, the public has learned all of its technique and terminology from them. Unfortunately, this includes our athletic and fitness community.
The bodybuilder, when posing in the mirror, is very concerned about the biceps, quads, rectus abdominus, and the pectorals. These muscles are not, however, the most important for athletic human movement. The more important muscles are those of the posterior chain, the ones that you cannot see in the mirror. The posterior chain starts at the heel and continues up the back of the leg right into the muscles of the lower back. As a group, they are under trained. This is one problem.
Bob Jodoin is an ISSA master trainer, a New York strength master trainer, a NBFE fellow, and a former director of strength and conditioning at Total Performance Sports. He is now a strength and conditioning coach as well as a personal trainer in sunny Orlando, Florida. Bob serves as a strength and conditioning advisor for youth sports to the Winter Springs Pop Warner Midgets, the Wild AAU 13U baseball, and M-PACT Sports.
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