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I just found out yesterday that we should stop doing rotational medicine ball movements because they are bad for your back. Now that I have recovered from the initial shock I am trying to figure out what I am going to do to train the athletes I work with, the programs I consult with and how do I explain to the thousands of athlete’s that I have coached over the years that everything we were doing was wrong! Obviously I have to eliminate rotational movements because some noted guru misinterpreted or took some science or pseudo science out of context and then passed it on to a group of coaches. The group of coaches happened to be baseball conditioning coaches, maybe not the most enlightened group, but very impressionable.
Let’s put this silly and absurd idea to rest immediately, rotational movement are not bad! Just like anything it is dependent on context, mode and where they are placed in the training program. Remember there are three cardinal planes of movement, sagittal, frontal and transverse and the body must be able to move through all three planes without restriction at will. A significant amount of force reduction against gravity occurs in the transverse plane, therefore to prevent injury avoiding rotational movements would be a huge mistake. Modes of exercise like medicine ball, kettle bell and stretch cords enable rotational movements to be trained in various patterns that can prepare the body for the demands in the specific sport or movement you are preparing for.
Rather than focusing on the danger of rotational movement take at look at the composition and make up of your core training program. I firmly maintain that if more than 15% of your core work is done in seated, prone or supine positions that you need to revise your program. Stress standing work and moving work in all three planes of motion that prepares the body for the forces encountered in the sport. Train the so called anti gravity muscles in postures that stress those muscles the way they were designed to be stressed. For baseball to not train rotational movements would be negligent. I am convinced that the plethora of oblique injuries that have occurred in pro baseball over the past several years are due to incorrect training design – too much isolated abdominal work done in supine positions. There is not enough rotational work standing to improve the deceleration ability of the muscles of the trunk, especially the oblique’s that function to decelerate the highly ballistic actions of hitting and throwing. If it is done it is done almost exclusively with cable machines that do not stress the deceleration phase of the movement. Remember a simple rule of thumb- you are what you train to be. You do not play in a phone booth, sport and life is ballistic, reactive moving though wide ranges of movement in demanding postures, don’t eliminate rotation build your program around rotation.