Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
Theraguns are percussive devices used by athletes to help them warn-up and recover from their workouts and competitions. They have become increasingly popular in recent years. John Shepherd takes a look at the Theragun Elite.
Theraguns were invented around 2008 by chiropractor Jason Wersland. Wersland was unfortunately involved in a bad road traffic accident in the States when riding his motor bike. Paradoxically he was on his way to his final exams to become a chiropractor. The crash left him in a lot of pain – particularly soft tissue pain.
And it was because of this that during his convalescence he determined to invent a machine which would treat his injuries and manage his pian. Using DIY skills and bits and pieces of various devices he constructed a rudimentary Theragun. The rest as they say is history as Wersland gained backing and support for the use of his devices - so much so that Theragun, now branded under Therabody, is the leading percussive therapy brand in the world.
Putting it to the test
I trialled the Theragun Elite the second from the top of the range model in the company’s line-up behind the Theragun Pro. I found it has everything that any athlete would need for such a device (the Pro has, for example, a greater stall speed and storable programmes). The stand-out feature for me was the app guidance and Bluetooth connectivity.
Many times, athletes will get a hold of a device for massage or warm-up but do not know how to use it specifically, well the Therabody app takes away all the head-scratching. You connect your Theragun to the app and you can allow it to take over and lead you through a specific session.
I found this very intuitive to use and obviously of great value when starting out to use the device.
You can, for example, select the body part you want to work on from the app, and with the Theragun connected, work for a specific time on that body part. The app shows which attachment to use (there are five) and the recommended grip, for example, so that you can more comfortably get it into the area that you want to treat.
And a graphic indicates how to sweep the device across the relevant area making sure you get maximum benefits. A further cool feature is the fact that the app will actually switch the Theragun off after each treatment. You can also manually control the amplitude of the Theragun from 2400PPM to 1750PPM depending on the type of effect you desire and vary the pressure you apply (the stall speed being 40lbs).
To use the device sweeping movements are generally recommended. The lighter the pressure the more the effect will target recovery, whilst the stronger the pressure the more the effect will be stimulatory. If you have sore muscles and knots, it’s advised that you work around these to reduce the inflammation and apply gentle pressure.
So, don’t “hammer” away at the painful area, as in all likelihood you will make the area worse. You want to break down the knot and achieve increased healing blood flow.
After a treatment you will probably feel heat in the targeted area and sometimes a tingling feeling which is due to the increase in blood flow.
I’ve used the device for both recovery and for warm-up purposes and have found it to be useful for both. A specific example, I had a sore ITB and the Theragun certainly reduced the soreness over a couple of days of treatment.
I do like to see if there is any research on products tested (where relevant) and at the time of writing I was unable to locate any, unlike with for example, EMS/Bioelectrical devices. So, we have to rely on personal experience and more anecdotal evidence which is favourable for use from a wide range of sources.
The Theragun Elite is easily transportable and quickly charged and is a lot quieter than the previous third generation which I previously tested. Ergonomically it’s also more comfortable to use as a result of the subtle design tweaks.
Theragun Elite Specs
Can store 3 pre-set programmes
40lbs stall speed
2400-1750 PPM speed
120min battery life
Wireless charge enabled
5 various treatment attachments
SRP £375 $399
More info Theragun.com
I regularly get questions posted on aspects of jumping, sprinting and conditioning on my various social media and in particular my YouTube channel., so I thought I would share a couple with you with my answers.
QUESTION 1 TRANSFERENCE OF TRAINING
I have been saying the same thing for years be it with runners or swimmers. It is all about thinking about transference and keeping the exercises as close to the chosen sport or activity as possible. I believe in working on challenging stability and making exercises as proprioceptively rich as possible so that the athlete figures out how to create a feeling of 'stiffness' and control is really important. So using plyometric exercises combined with landing and taking off from a slightly unstable surface or Bosu Ball can work OR stepping up onto a Bosu Ball with a weight or sandbag on the shoulders might be more rewarding. Wonder what you think?
I agree that working on unstable surfaces can be great for proprioception and injury avoidance and learning that "control" needed. One of the best ways, I believe of challenging the long jump take-off, for example, is by using a low mat for the penultimate step (as you may have seen in a video or two of mine). This should only be a couple of cms high and it overloads the take-off improves force absorption and return. We use a 6-10 step approach as it is very demanding. So this drill is very close to the requirements of the long jump take-off and has that direct transference as you indicate. I'm not one for heavy weights and Olympic Lifts in their own right, although we do do these (with the mature jumpers) following more triphasic methods. For young athletes there are far better and much more specific ways to get stronger, for jumping and sprinting from my point of view. With older athletes it's then a case of working out what they need more specifically - which could include a greater emphasis on weights and a specific muscular action.
QUESTION 2 SPRINT TECHNIQUE
My right thigh gets higher than Asafa Polwell’s one. Maybe it’s just about increasing frequency?
Your knees need to do forward and up and not just up (as may be the case by the sound of it). Think about moving your hips to generate speed and lifting the heel from the back of the body to the front and across the knee to achieve this also. If you improve your hip speed then your stride length and frequency will improve as well as your technique.
There are plenty of videos on the channel which will help you with this.
Check out this one. https://youtu.be/2hlZnNWf_wg
QUESTION TRIPLE JUMP
Double arms or single arm action which is the best,what is difference between this two types.
Double arm is probably the best throughout all the phases from a balance and power transference perspective. A single or quarter on the take-off can allow for more speed .- but due to the way the arms can recover it can lead to imbalance in the hop going into the step. Computer models for what they are worth in the real world vindicate the use of a double arm action throughout the phases and also a hop dominant phase ratio.
Women tend to use a counter movement swing more for balance than propulsion. Hope this helps Here a useful video:
AND DON"T FORGET TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE JUMPER WHERE MANY MORE QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED. ONE OF THE STAND OUT ONES BEING HOW TO RETURN FROM LOCK-DOWN BY ENGLAND ATHLETICS MEDICAL LEAD, PHYSIO Stuart Butler. Click on link to view to go and watch video for more content.
If you are a young athlete (or even an older one) perfecting the triple jump is a bit of an arm wrestle. You get one part right, eg the hop only to mess up the step or the jump! Many coaches will say that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a perfect triple. I think that's important to consider as a coach or a jumper as invariably - and as I am eluding to - there will always be something that's not quite right in a jump. You've three take-offs, three arm actions (and these could all be different), you've huge forces to overcome .... no wonder the triple is one of the toughest track and field events to master.
As with most events though, if you spend a lot of time working on your technique (and developing the strength, speed and power) that's needed then it will pay off in the long run. And one of these biggest payoffs will be reduced potential for injury. If you don't hop properly with correct balance and landing mechanics for example, then it could well hurt. It's all a layering process of building up the physical and technical components.
I, for example, spend much time working on skipping drills, hopping drills and hop and bound combos with the young triple jumpers in order to hopefully create robust and technically proficient jumpers.
I've hence pulled together a video that will hopefully go somewhere to explaining some of the fundamentals when it comes to coaching young triple jumpers.
You can check it out BELOW:
Let me know what you think and stay safe
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I've found the device helps with recovery and can improve performance by stimulating fast twitch muscle fibre and improving motor learning. The MiTouch uses 5 apps and 3 types of bioelectricity to achieve its results.Check-out the affiliate link above.
And for more on the device SEE BELOW
I hope you are coping with lock-down and that in terms of your track (and other sports) participation you are at least maintaining your fitness and if you are a coach coaching virtually, if you're unable to coach face-to-face. I've been beavering away and have just published the summer issue of THE JUMPER. it's packed full of multi-media that will hopefully keep you interested!
In this issue we have articles on how to return to speed after lock-down written by top UK and England Athletics physio Stuart Butler. We also have an article on how to review and monitor your athletes' training by elite Brazilian coach Nelio Moura and an article on jumper's nutrition.
I write on the importance of speed for the long and triple jump and unearth some research which relates 100m (and other variables) to potential distance a jumper could achieve (for the long jump).
There are also more coach and athlete led features - for example, we talk to Gabe who's a coach of all track & field events based in Singapore.
There's also a feature on how Electro Muscular Stimulation can boost athletic performance, plus product reviews.
We talk to Markus Lundborg, the triple jumper and driving force behind the Triple Jumpers Podcast and social media.(70.6k followers on instagram!).
The Jumper is also packed full of links to my YouTube videos where relevant and external sources. So, all in all there's much to read, watch and listen to.
I hope the content assists, educates and entertains you, whether you be a fellow track coach or athlete or involved in another sport.
The days and weeks are becoming as one. The date is just a number and the name of the day attached to the numeral or numerals has become redundant ... to me and no doubt many others at least at this time of lock-down.
We humans live on routine and rhythm - hence the circadian rhythm. What happens when there is little structure and routine can be negative. However, training offers athletes and coaches from all sports something to create that routine and put rhythm back into lives that may be devoid of it in many other respects at present.
Sunday, Well, I think it was Sunday, I got up and realised that I had not been out of the house for 5 days (we have a garden and I'd been out in that in the glorious sun that the UK had been having on more than a few occasions). However, I hadn't trained for a couple of days. I felt without energy, listless ... I had to force myself to get out of the house and get to a local park to train. I decided to go to the one that's slightly further afield (1-mile away). Once there I started to run to get to the flatter area that I train on - about a further mile and a bit away. It was an effort, but as one step followed the next I got through one and a half tracks of music on my iPhone. Then I stopped - I didn't want to push on another 500m or so to my "track". I think this can be symptomatic of the current time i.e. that we can struggle mentally to push, "to do", no matter what the task may be. However, I must add that I dislike running for more than 10 minutes - okay, struggle to run more than 10 minutes. I guess, even at my mature age, my fast twitch fibres don't like to eke out the little oxygen they can process.
I walked the remaining distance to my training area and did some strides ... it then was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt light and fast and alive. Thereafter a good few drills were followed by sprints and some longer runs over 100m or so. My whole demeanour changed and I somehow felt more alive and positive (a feeling which remained for the rest of the day). Running fast (no matter how slow that fast may be) has always invigorated me throughout my life as an international athlete and after. The distance runner may have plenty of time to think as they churn through their miles and they'll have plenty of time to fight with the constant voice that might be saying "stop" "slow" "I can't go one". Yet, a sprinter will know how time can also slow down when running a distance that takes seconds. When you are running well, it's as if the world around you is still. You carve through space and time and are fully in-tune with your movements and everything feels easy ... fluent, effortless. You take your recovery but want that speed hit again. As your arms and limbs move as fast as they can they don't create tension, but harmony across your being and you just run - run as if there's nothing holding you back. It's a feeling that I'm lucky stil be able to experience.
My thoughts are simple here ... I think. You have to make yourself train sometimes but when you do experience these times (of which many are experiencing at the moment) then you need to do what your mind and body wants. If it's a 5-miler because that's your run distance then that's what you should do. If you are a sprinter then running fast is what you can feed your mind and muscles with. I think the word enjoy is what's describes what I suggest. I, you, we need to sometimes just enjoy what we can do as athletes. It can be difficult at these restricted times to strive, to train as if the Olympics or whatever important meet relevant to your level is fast approaching. But it's not. So, get out, and do what your body and more importantly your mind needs, not what your training plan or even your coach says ... sometimes you just need to do what you need to do to keep yourself, and I will say it, sane. Take that first step ...
We all keep saying it but these are difficult times. The lock-down will test the will-power and dedication of all athletes and coaches.
Keeping going and in my case setting workouts and replying to athletes through social media is crucial. I'll say though that it just isn't the same as doing so in-person. But hang-on you may say, don't you sort of coach through your YouTube channel? Well, yes I do - this was great, is great in its own right as an addition to my face to face coaching, but on-line only is not the same as getting to the coal face and actually coaching.
Nevertheless it's the only way that we can coach at present during COVID. As I may have mentioned in another post I have set up a wattsapp group - it contains all the athletes (young and not so young) who I have coached over the years (I'm hoping some will make a come-back accordingly!). I post workouts 6 times a week to the group. These are very much pick 'n' mix due to the facilities and home kit that each athlete may have where they live. However, I do try to make the workouts relatively generic so that most can do all of them. Generic they may be but also specific. We can train for most of the elements of the long, triple and sprints in "lock-down". Potentially the only non-inclusion being full on technique work - and even then you can do take-off drills for the long and triple and sprints on roads and hills.
I therefore expect the athletes I coach to be only a few percentiles off being near performance ready when they return to the track when and if lock-down ceases. (Hopefully, there will be some slight relaxing of the restrictions in the near future which will allow at least small group, spatially distanced coaching.).
WHAT HAVE I LEARNT DURING LOCK-DOWN?
Personally don't put too much pressure on yourself. As a coach you are looked at as a leader - but you need to be led sometimes and also supported. Accept that somedays you'll not be "on it" as much as others. Your motivation will return - you wouldn't be coaching otherwise.
DEVELOP OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR COACHING OFFER AND YOUR KNOWLEDGE
I'm trying to keep my social media going and am working on new ideas and developments - of which in another post. Another Jumper digital magazine may be in the offing
Reading coaching books and watching videos is something that we will have more time for.
I've recently attended two webinars organised by England Athletics. More on these in another post.
ATHLETES WILL TRAIN
I've had to tell some of mine to ease back a bit as they have more time to train and therefore think that more is better. It can be but not all the time and especially with young and developing athletes.
Lock-down has forced me to think of other ways to resistance train (difficult if you don't have weights). I produced a video for on this subject recently - see below.
I've used the more-me time to train and do more of the workouts that I set for the group. It's always useful to know what workouts actually feel like.
Yes, keep busy but find the time to switch-off and do something different - or nothing. I went for a long walk the other day (6 miles) to a local place I'd always wanted to explore. the sun was out it was peaceful and I returned positive.
I hope that you fellow athletes and coaches are making the most of this period and not just surviving it. It will come to an end and hopefully as individuals we'll be stronger, more learned, but more importantly better people.
LOOKING FOR PLYO BOXES, MED BALLS, HARNESSES, SLEDS, SHOTS, JAVELINS AND ALL OTHER TRACK & FIELD EQUIPMENT THEN CHECK OUT NEUFF ATHLETIC.
Nelio Moura is one of the world’s top jumps coaches - his position as such was cemented into place at the 2008 Olympics when he coached both long jump event winners – Maurren Higa Maggi (Brazil) and Irving Saladino (Panama)
JS: How did you get started in coaching?
Nelio Moura: I was pretty young, 19 years old … I had just finished college (physical education) and my former coach told me about a job opportunity four hours by bus from my home in São Paulo … I didn’t think twice. Every Friday night I would take the bus, coach a young group of athletes Saturday and Sunday, leave a programme for the week and come back home. That routine repeated for one year, until other opportunities appeared in Sao Paulo.
JS: Were you an athlete yourself?
NM: Yes, I used to be a triple jumper… not very good though! I was an age group national team member, but as an adult I realised my progress would not be enough to reach elite level. So, I decided to study and invest in a coaching career very early.
JS: Have you always coached the jumping events?
NM: As a former jumper myself, my main interest has always been in the jumping events. However, at the beginning, I used to coach everything, from sprints to race-walking. As I matured as a coach, I was able to focus on a smaller number of events. Nowadays, I work mainly with horizontal jumpers and a few sprinters and hurdlers.
JS: Where are you based? What’s athletics like as a sport in Brazil?
NM: My base is in São Paulo. I work at Ibirapuera track which belongs to São Paulo state government and for a private club, E.C. Pinheiros.
Athletics is not so popular in Brazil, and lately we are facing a lot of institutional problems, at both the state and national federation level. We are seeing traditional sponsors leaving the sport and it has been very difficult to replace them. Government support also reduced drastically since the Rio Olympic Games.
JS: Brazil has had many talented jumpers - is there any specific reason for this?
NM: It is difficult to say. Tradition, for sure, but there’s not really a “school” of horizontal jumps. Probably the likes of Adhemar Ferreira da Silva, Nelson Prudencio, João Carlos de Oliveira and more recently, Maurren Maggi, make Brazilians believe they can be good jumpers…
I'VE BEEN TRIALLING AN EMS DEVICE AND LOOKING INTO THE VALUE OF THIS MEANS OF TRAINING AS A WAY TO BOOST SPEED AND POWER. CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH INDICATES EMS COULD BE A REALLY USEFUL WAY TO IMPROVE ATHLETE
As I indicate I have been looking into how EMS works and my interest has been really piqued. I have discovered research that shows how it really can boost performance. Plus, in using the NuroKor MiTouch device I have become aware first-hand of the potential of EMS and bioelectrical technology.
This is part of an article that I wrote on the history, use and application of EMS. In future I will post the rest of it. Reference is made to Charlie Francis - one of the first coaches to document the use of EMS in the training of elite athletes. In his book The Charlie Francis Training System you'll find an in-depth article on EMS usag and his protocols which still stand scrutiny today. If you want to get a copy and I recommend that you do then see link below and right.
Contemporary EMS research indicates tremendous potential
Research reviews are always good places to start when it comes to looking at the efficacy of a claim. This is because they pool previous research studies against pre-determined criteria in an attempt to discover an outcome – that’s to say in the case of this article, whether EMS can assist sports performance.
Researchers in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research carried out such a review in 2012. The researchers identified the type of EMS used and the most relevant parameters for improvement for high performance sport, such as speed strength, power and jumping and sprinting ability. They also identified three types of users – non-athletic populations, trained subjects and crucially elite performers (they placed a specific focus on the elite).
This scientific analysis revealed that EMS is effective for developing physical performance. The team noted:
“After a stimulation period of 3-6 weeks, significant gains (p < 0.05) were shown in maximal strength (isometric Force max +58.8%; dynamic Fmax +79.5%), speed strength (eccentric isokinetic Mmax +37.1%; concentric isokinetic Mmax + 41.3%; rate of force development + 74%; force impulse + 29%; vmax + 19%), and power (+67%).”
And in terms of specific sports improvement:
Vertical jump height increased by +25% (squat jump +21.4%, countermovement jump +19.2%, drop jump +12%).
Sprint speed by as much as -4.8% in trained and elite athletes.
The team concluded: “The EMS offers a promising alternative to traditional strength training for enhancing the strength parameters and motor abilities described above. Because of the clear-cut advantages in time management, especially when whole-body EMS is used, we can expect this method to see increasing use in high-performance sports.”
Well, we all know what I'm talking about ... the world has been shut down by the virus and we all seem to be playing a role in one of those Hollywood disaster blockbuster movies - which scientists will come up with the antidote? Hopefully many as the world's best try to pull something together.
For us track athletes and coaches this is a difficult time (and of course it is for everyone else). We would be gearing up for the season now and hopes would be high about what was going to happen on the track and at the pit, in my case over the next few spring and summer months. Now, we are on a more or less 'lock-down' basis.
I continue to coach by remote means - using wattsapp for me seems to do the job. I'm encouraging athletes and parents where relevant to post and to not only share the workouts and how they're doing them which I post, but also fun snippets - everyone needs to smile at times like this..
I've been coming up with some specific workouts that can be done at home or in confined spaces. The silver lining to all of this I guess is the fact that in the process I'm getting fitter (and hopefully too will many tens of thousands also).
I've just ticked over with my fitness in recent years and not really extended myself - well, I'm no spring chicken either. However, now with no athletes on hand to call on for demos, I guess I'm still lucky enough to be able to do the exercises myself, After all this is over - who knows - I may even enter a masters competition. If I can keep it up I'll definitely be fitter.
Staying in shape and maintaining fitness should be the goals for athletes
Staying in shape and maintaining fitness should be the goals for athletes ... it's likely a long-haul before a return to competition, so take the foot off a bit and train to maintain and also for the enjoyment of being fit. With the warmer months just around the corner, what better way to get out of doors with our daily 'pass', to do some exercises and enjoy nature and indeed life.
This seismic event has put many other things into perspective and I'm sure there will be many bucket-lists being created now. For athletes that bucket-list should include embracing and enjoying once again the ability to compete and to train socially and really appreciate the freedom of being able to run, jump and throw.
BELOW is a real-time workout which you can follow along to, There are three circuits and it should take you about 20-25min, including warm-up and cool-down. It's a specific, well, relatively specific one in regard to what you can do indoors, which will help maintain speed, power and some elements of technique.