Headed out to PHX-AZ recently for continuing education from the Katalyst Shoulder training group at EXOS (formerly known as Athletes’ Performance). Got word of this from Sue Falsone, formerly lead physical therapist at EXOS-AP (as well as the first female PT-ATC in Major League Baseball as she has spent the past few years with the LA Dodgers). I was willing to register for this knowing that what it looked like was modified Indian Club training. In Sue’s own words that is exactly what it was to be except with progressions and programming specific to overhead athletes and consistent with the scientific literature on the shoulder joint in these athletes.
The Katalyst group, including primarily Doug and Jeff Larish, did not disappoint. Doug’s research on overhead athletes and the shoulder joint is beyond extensive and this is the real heart of his expertise. The information he shared on energy transfer, interaction torques, and movement efficiency was all top notch. Going through the literature with him to establish the variables critical to successful programming for training clients and athletes was fantastic and I will continue to dig deep into his references to further my own understanding. Doug and Jeff definitely have complementary styles and it helped to see that even though they work together their implementation strategies varied some. Many ways to Rome as they say and I will spend the second half of this piece breaking down how I believe I will be able to successfully apply the techniques in a way specific to my training program for volleyball players.
We also went over postural assessment, anatomy, and the nature of arm injuries with Sue. Her expertise and presentation style is always a breath of fresh air (I have seen her speak on the thoracic spine previously). Hearing such an expert speak on how throwing/hitting athletes believe there is something special about their arm when it really does have to be an extension of proper function occurring through their entire body was refreshing. That statement does not read as anything more than exactly what it says for those who choose to be contrarians. No one said it does not take a tremendous amount of effort to keep these athletes healthy and functional at a high level. It is the edge of the blade after all. What I consistently see amongst such experts is a refinement of the process and details that others consider as too tedious or difficult to manage. Like I tell everyone, “That is the job!” The job is not as the description entails. The job is doing all of the things that you have to do to make sure that you consistently deliver the results you need to. Some of the specific ways Sue has experienced this are amazing and I encourage everyone to see her speak whenever you may have an opportunity to.
In the videos below I am highlighting a basic organizational sequence I have started practicing with a few athletes based on the progressions from the Katalyst shoulder training group (although I modified part of the activation series to integrate the half-kneeling posture). I can see implementing indian clubs as a specific focus of the shoulder training programming done with my group to be immediately beneficial as a successful link in the efficient organization of training done with the kinetic chain in mind. To write that more clearly using indian clubs in order to highlight the need for stability of the shoulder joint in dynamic, overhead, 3D motions (using the Katalyst group language there haha) really just turns the arm into a pendulum, which given the necessary concentration on posture and scapula stability, increases the demand on the shoulder and trunk musculature. This provides a nice training effect that shows you what kind of control/coordination (successful integration of stability and mobility qualities) your client/athlete has in a relatively low-intensity environment that can be modified simply to be a specific movement and shoulder warm-up progression, a cool-down/modified mobility session, or its own specific session entirely where you have a client or athlete with very specific limitations. Very interesting stuff that I will be working to fully understand and utilize for quite some time. In the videos there are some specific goofs on my end, including letting my inside shoulder drop on the posterior reaches, but as with everything these were best efforts so critiques should be viewed as they are given the opportunity for correction. My next session will be better still :)
Mobility and Activation
Indian Club Activation Series
Indian Club Variations