tennis player backhand

Who Can Benefit From Biomechanics Coaching?

Recently a few people have asked me variations on the question of “I’m not injured, can Biomechanics Coaching benefit me?”

The answer is – yes, in fact that is the perfect situation! Here’s why…

The Biomechanics Coaching system is not about immediate pain relief (although some of the techniques can give great results for this too!) but it is about looking at the body as a whole and noticing and correcting patterns that are causing inefficient or faulty movement patterns. This will mean that the athlete is in a better position to be able to display strength, speed, fitness etc.

Let’s use a theoretical example – for instance, a rugby player who has problems with his  hamstrings. They always feel tight and he sometimes pulls a hamstring, but is generally recovered well enough to train again within a couple of weeks. This situation is far from ideal, but can be managed. However, if and when the injury is more severe he will be out for a much longer period, and find it harder to get back to peak levels.  In this case an ideal situation would be for him to consult with a Biomechanics Coach as soon as he notices there is something not right (regular tightness and minor tweaks in this case would be signs that something is not right). The Biomechanics Coach would then do a full screen on the player, finding any problems and giving him the tools to correct them with simple exercises he can do anywhere. In this example, he may just have tight hamstrings….or he may have problems with the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the leg, or a tightness or weakness in the hip that is causing the hamstring to work harder than it should, or a spine stability problem…..and so on. Whatever the case, the player will have the information about the cause of the tightness and a proven way to improve the situation.

Another example might be a girl who plays tennis. Perhaps she is having shoulder problems, mainly on the backhand. She has seen a physio and got some shoulder strengthening exercises but still hasn’t got 100% pain free. If this person came to see me, as a Biomechanics Coach, I would not only look at the shoulder but also the feet, knees, hips and spine as well. The reason for this is that there could be many problems elsewhere on the body that could cause shoulder pain, and looking at the shoulder only may not get to the root of the problem. In fact it is often the case that a shoulder problem has its origins lower down the body, for instance in the hips (especially in a sporting environment where the legs are always involved as well).

The most shocking example I have heard along these lines is of a tennis player who had multiple surgeries to a painful shoulder with only minor improvements. He ended up visiting a Biomechanics Coach and becoming pain free within a few sessions by working on his….opposite leg! In this case, as with many that I see on a daily basis, the pain was not an indication of the root of the problem but rather just where the weak link in the chain happened to be.

Often as Biomechanics Coaches when starting to work with someone we have to go backwards to go forwards – meaning that the person wanting to be able to perform better in their chosen sport may be looking for a harder exercise or training program to get to the next level, when often the answer is to fix something seemingly minor that may be causing problems with every movement they make. To give you a visual idea of this, here is a ‘performance pyramid’ that Biomechanics Coaches use:

Here we can see that where we want to be improving is ‘Global Muscle Performance’. However, if there is a problem in ‘Core Stability’ our performance will be affected as we will not be able to get into position/stay tight/output as much power as possible with the global muscles. And further down the line, if we have problems with (for instance) muscle spasm, we may not be able to get optimal firing patterns to stabilise the core and/or perform at the higher levels. This may mean that to improve a skill such as sprinting for instance we have to go all the way to the bottom of the pyramid and reduce a muscle spasm or mobility issue in the hip, then build on top of the larger base our pyramid has.  In this way peak performance can be reached safely.


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