Monday, August 21, 2017

Movement Efficiency in Mixed Martial Arts - Part IV

In the last several weeks we have been discussing movement assessment in the mixed martial arts athlete and how this can guide our training.  Single leg activities are also critical to sports and sports performance.  Recent studies in the American Journal of Sports Medicine state that single limb testing is one of the most important movements to test as it has the highest predictive value to performance in sports.  

Single Leg Squat – In this test, the athlete is asked to perform 10 repetitions of a body weight single leg squat on the right and on the left.  During this test, you are assessing the ability of the athlete to stabilize their knee in the front plane AND their pelvis in the transverse plane.  It is normal for an athlete to have slight movement at the knee and hip but excessive movement (greater than 10 degrees) and a large variance right to left results in an increase in injury risk and decreased athletic performance (as result of loss kinetic energy across the system).

Rational:  Single leg squat is one of the best indicators for athletic performance and injury risk in athletics.  This is true in sports which require a significant amount of single limb motion like running.  This is especially true for the MMA where a lot of the sport is kicks, knees and explosive power coming in single limb movements.  Symmetry in control of the knee in the frontal plane and control of the pelvis between the right and left lower limb is critical to optimizing performance, explosive power and keeping injury risk to a minimum. 

Training Impact:  For training purposes, the athlete is asked to perform a single leg squat using a resistance they can control throughout their range of motion while controlling motion at the hip and the knee.  The contralateral limb should be positioned in an athletic position (limb in a slight hip extension – mimicking a running position).  During the course of the exercise, the athlete should prevent the contralateral limb from touching the ground at any time.  Once proficiency is maintained at a given weight, the athlete is then progressed through progressively increased loading and eventually progressing to hopping.  Hopping should be performed in the following progression, anterior/posterior once proficient, medial and lateral once proficient all 4 directions.  If a loss of motion is considered, this could also guide some additional stability and mobility exercises that can be performed. 

Considering the importance of single limb testing, it is also an important movement to train and to train correctly. In this example, we see a MMA athlete lunging across the cage during dynamic stretching.  As he does this, you also see (in this still) his right knee adducting toward midline. This valgus motion is the motion that we are assessing in the previous test and a motion which we want to correct.  This motion, in a closed kinetic chain, results increased stress to the ACL, MCL, labrum in the hip and medial structures of the ankle.  If this poor movement pattern is repeated over and over with every repetition and every training session, then this results in an athlete that will do when training, when performing double leg takedowns and when fatigued in a fight.  Allowing this motion to occur in training will result in this motion occurring when this athlete shoots of a one leg or double leg take down.  This means less force (speed of take down) and increased likelihood for this motion to result in a non-contact ACL injury during.  This pattern trained over and over can result in adducting at the hip and possible injury when the athlete is fatigued and when power and stability matter the most. 

Video - in this video we demonstrate the proper form for this exercise which ensures we are training full range of motion and proper movement patterns at the same time.

In addition to this mobility exercise, adding the lumbar hip disassociation exercise will aid in the MMA athlete in improved hip mobility and provide strength and endurance to the hip and core complex.

We hope you enjoyed this series and make sure to come back for more next week.   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. 

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