Monday, August 7, 2017

Movement Efficiency in Mixed Martial Arts - Part II

Last week we started the discussion on movement efficiency in MMA and we finished with the question, So, how do we assess that?  So this week, let's begin to take a look at some of the movements that we assess in these athletes and how these equate to injury prevention and performance enhancement. 

Testing the MMA athlete

Plank - In this test, the athlete is placed in neutral spine and neutral hip position, feet all the way together and head neck in neutral position.  They are then asked to maintain this position for one minute period of time. 

Rational:  The plank is a critical position for assessing the stability of the core.  The goal of this test is for the athlete to be able to stabilize while maintaining neutral spine position and neutral hip position.  In this test, the athlete must sustain stability this position within 10⁰ of flexion and extension AND rotation.  Maintaining stability in flexion, extension and rotation is critical to provide stable base for the lower kinetic chain to pull on, to generate force from and allow efficient kinetic energy transfer across the entire kinetic chain.

Training Impact:  For training purposes, the athlete is asked to start training this basic movement correctly.  The key to training is to ensure the athlete is maintaining neutral spine and hip position throughout their training.  Once this achieved, movement and resistance can be added to this movement.  In addition, the push up portion of the dynamic sumo stretch has a big carry over to this test therefore it is critical to ensure this movement is being performed correctly.  Once this is perfected, an exercise like the plank crawl is a great addition to the MMA athlete’s core training routine. 

Plank Crawl

Next we need to look at the core's recruitment in in combination with the pelvic and hip musculature.

Side Plank – In this test, the athlete is place in the neutral spine position ensuring that the athlete is not in a retro-trendelenburg position.  The feet are placed on top of one another and the non-weight bearing arm is placed on the hip.  Head and neck are maintained in a neutral position.  They are then asked to maintain this position for one minute period of time. 

Rational:  The side plank is a critical position for assessing the stability of the core and the endurance of the gluteus medius.  The goal of this test is for the athlete to be able to stabilize while maintaining neutral spine position and neutral hip position (hips not rolling forward or back).  In this test, the athlete must sustain stability this position within 10⁰ of lateral sidebending (moving hips up or down toward the surface) AND rotation.  Maintaining stability is critical to provide stable base for the lower kinetic chain to pull on and to aid in preventing internal rotation of the lower kinetic chain in single leg stance activities.

Training Impact:  For training purposes, the athlete is asked to start training this basic movement correctly.  The key to training is to ensure the athlete is maintaining neutral spine and hip position throughout their training.  Once this achieved, movement and resistance can be added to this movement.  Once this is perfected, an exercise like the side plank with the CLX is a great addition to the MMA athlete’s core training routine. 

Side Plank with CLX


Next week, we will begin the discussion and look at ways we can assess these athletes and how this can guide our training.  If you enjoy our blog, please share the passion and follow us on Instagram @BJJPT_acl_guy or on Twitter at @acl_prevention.

Dr. Nessler is a practicing physical therapist with over 20 years sports medicine clinical experience and a nationally recognized expert in the area of athletic movement assessment.  He is the developer of an athletic biomechanical analysis, is an author of a college textbook on this subject  and has performed >5000 athletic movement assessments.  He serves as the National Director of Sports Medicine Innovation for Select Medical, is Chairman of Medical Services for the International Obstacle Racing Federation and associate editor of the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training.   He is also a competitive athlete in Jiu Jitsu.