February 1, 2021

Movement Matters: Mobility and Stability for Triathletes

Why is movement the foundation of the Performance Pyramid, and how can understanding it benefit your triathlon training? Listen in as physical therapist and TriDot coach, Dr. B.J. Leeper, answers this and more! Learn how to identify areas of your body that could most benefit from improved mobility and stability. Dr. Leeper discusses how functional movements can be used to increase range of motion for better performance and injury prevention. He also provides examples of mobility and stability training exercises to improve your swim, bike, and run.

TriDot Podcast .071 Movement Matters:  Mobility and Stability for Triathletes Intro:  This is the TriDot podcast.  TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries.  Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests.  Join the conversation and let’s improve together. Andrew Harley:  New podcast today and we are talking about movement.  How mobility and stability lay the foundation for us to train, improve, and succeed at endurance sports.  Guiding us in this conversation is Dr. BJ Leeper.  BJ graduated from The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.  He is a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and a USA Triathlon LI Coach.  He specializes in comprehensive movement testing and injury prevention among athletes and has worked with numerous amateur and professional athletes.   BJ is an avid triathlete himself,  training with TriDot since 2012 and coaching with TriDot since 2014.  BJ Leeper!  Welcome back to the Podcast! BJ Leeper:  Hey thanks guys!  Glad to be back. Andrew: Also thrilled to be joined today by Coach John Mayfield.  John is a USAT Level II and Ironman U certified coach who leads TriDot’s athlete services, ambassador, and coaching programs.  He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first-timers to Kona qualifiers and professional triathletes.  John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012.  John, it’s kind of like you have two years on BJ.  You started using TriDot two years before BJ used it and you started coaching with it two years before BJ started coaching with it.  So you’re our most tenure TriDot expert on the podcast today John.  Welcome! John Mayfield:  Well, expert in some ways, but definitely BJ’s got me on those others.  But great to be on with BJ.  He and I go way back to the early days of TriDot back to the Tri for Him days.  So, yeah, excited to get to hang out and learn from somebody that I’ve been learning from for years.  Glad to be here and glad to have BJ back. Andrew:  I'm Andrew the average triathlete, voice of the people and captain of the middle of the pack.  As always we'll roll through our warm up question, settle in for our main set topic about movement, and then wind things down today with our cool down.  Lots of good stuff, let's get to it! Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving. Andrew:  There are a lot of dynamic and static stretches that help us keep our muscles happily loose and limber.  And whether it’s preventative throughout the training week, or trying to fight off dreaded DOMS after a hard session; stretching can feel reeeeeeal reeeeal good when we take the time to do it.  Now there are some stretch moves that we kind of begrudgingly do because they’re uncomfortable but our muscles need it and there are others that we like to do because of the sweet, sweet relief that move can bring.  John, BJ…. In your own mobility work as an athlete what is your favorite static stretch to hold?  And here’s the thing guys.  Half the fun of this warm up question is going to be seeing you, or hearing you rather, try to describe how to do your favorite stretch.  So John, let’s start with you. John:  So this is intimidating because it’s one of those things where I am so nervous that I’m going to give an answer and then BJ’s going to be like that is the worst thing in the world that you can do.  You should never ever… Andrew:  And I make you go first. BJ:  Right, right, right. John:  I think mine kind of hits both of those things you talked about.  It’s the one that hurts real good.  For me I always have issues with my IT bands. They get super tight.  I start to feel it in my hips and in my knees when-- especially when my volume gets big, start doing those longer runs headed into Ironman distance races and that sort of thing.  So that’s just something that I always prioritize is working the IT bands. Especially the pigeon pose.  Yeah, I guess it is kind of harder to describe. But, kind of tucking the leg up under the body and kind of sitting down on it.  Sitting on the knee, laying on the knee if that makes sense.  Then I do kind of three different phases where I gradually put more weight, bigger stretch.  It’s kind of hard to get into, but once you’re there it’s kind of easy just to stay there and hang out for a while.  Probably because it’s after a workout and I’m lying on the ground.  So probably it’s a combination of a good stretch and just not wanting to get up. Andrew:  That’s fair.  Yeah, that’s fair especially as you’re talking about those longer sessions.  I love any stretch that lets me lay on the ground and not really do a whole lot.  So, BJ what about for you?  In your arsenal of stretches you’re familiar with and that you make athlete’s do, what’s your favorite one yourself to just hold and enjoy the relief? BJ:  Yeah, that’s a great question.  In full disclaimer as a PT, we’re going to leave the whole debate of static versus dynamic stretching alone for this because we could talk a whole podcast on theories behind static versus dynamic stretches.  For static stretches I use them and for me personally my tight areas are always in my mid back, my thoracic spine and my hips, and I think that’s not too uncommon.  The stretch I love that kind of checks all the boxes is what we call in the clinic the pretzel.  It’s the pretzel stretch.  We kind of stole it from a big personal trainer in our industry, Brett Jones.  He does a lot of kettle bell work with “StrongFirst” and he’s a great personal trainer.  They used to call it the Bretzel based off of him kind of coining it, but anyways.  To describe it, like you said, it’s quite challenging.  Basically you’re lying on your side, top leg is up at 90 degrees. You’ve kind of got your top hand on that top leg.  Your bottom leg you’re flexing back grabbing your ankle with your off hand and then you’re trying to twist and take your shoulder to the floor.  So you’re kind of creating this diagonal sling of stretch through your mid back and your hips and usually it’s just all you can do to breathe through it.  It check’s a lot of boxes.  It’s kind of one of my go to’s with myself and a lot of people I work with. Andrew:  Well, folks will definitely have to Google the pigeon and then Google the pretzel because I was trying to follow you through that in my head and just kind of-- not physically moving my body, but mentally...okay, the arm that way, this that way, and you lost me about half way through.  I’m sure it’s very simple if you see it, but yeah.  So folks go Google the pretzel and that’s Dr. BJ Leeper’s personal favorite stretch to hold.  Mine, guys, is the seated glute stretch.  Same thing, you’re going to have to Google it guys to see a good picture of it.  I’m going to try my best to describe it.  It’s the one where you sit on the ground.  You cross one leg over the other and then you kind of rotate your body as far as you can in the direction of the crossed leg and you use the opposite arm as leverage to apply pressure on the leg that is crossed.  In doing that it kind of releases that big glute muscle that you’re also sitting on.  You know we use that muscle when we bike, we use that muscle in our strength quite a bit and it’s not the muscle that gets the tightest on me.  For me it’s my calves, but there’s just something super satisfying about getting a nice stretch on those big glutes particularly when you’re sitting down.  So it’s one that I really enjoy.  It’s impossible to describe verbally just like you guys’.  So folks you’re going to have to google this.  But hey!  We’re going to throw this out to our audience on social media.  Go find us on Facebook, the I Am TriDot Facebook group. Thousands of athletes just talking swim, bike, and run on that group each and every day.  We’re going to post this up and John, myself, and BJ maybe even we’ll take pictures of ourselves doing our own favorite one to post to the group today.  So this is one where we want you to go find the post on the group and chime in, weigh in, let us know what is your favorite, most satisfying stretch to hold and bonus points if you post a picture of yourself wearing something TriDot doing your favorite stretch. Main set theme: On to the main set. 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Andrew:  Why is movement the foundation of the performance pyramid and how can understanding it benefit your triathlon training?  Today we’ll learn how to identify areas of our body that could most benefit from improved mobility and stability and we’ll discuss how functional movement can be used to increase range of motion for better performance and injury prevention.  We’ll also talk about how mobility and stability training exercises can improve our swim, bike, and run.  So, BJ what is the performance pyramid and what makes it the core principle for our discussion today on mobility and stability? BJ:  Yeah.  So this gets pretty deep.  It can get as deep as we want to go, but the reality is with the human body the body builds off different foundations for performance.  You’ve got this pyramid and you think of each level having a wide enough platform for the next level up to sit on and be stabilized.  We can call it the performance pyramid.  Sometimes the way I describe it with my patients or my athletes is thinking of a snowman.  So we’re going to talk about three major tiers of that snowman.  My kids were just out in the yard a couple weekends ago rolling some huge snowballs and it just kind of reminded me of that platform of the bottom obviously has to be big enough to hold the second and so on and so forth.  If we look at the basic model, really what the performance pyramid is, is it’s just basically how the body should correlate for optimal performance. Basically it’s an expression of your performance in essence.  It’s an expression of how properly balanced your pyramid or if we call it the snowman it. So if we define those three tiers real quickly before we dive into each of them.  The base of the snowman, the biggest ball at the bottom, is going to be our fundamental mobility and we’ll kind of discuss a little bit more about mobility.  When it’s solid it means all of our major moving joints and muscles are functioning properly and that’s the foundation just for basic movement patterns.  It’s kind of like the hardware of our body. As we move up the next tier, the middle of the snowman, is going to look like what we call fundamental stability and motor control.  It’s kind of like you can almost call it the software of the computer system.  It’s kind of the passing of the baton from runner to the next.  It’s kind of a chain of events.  You can kind of think in the physical sense if the base is the mobility the second one is the expression of that mobility; think broad jump, vertical jump, FTP test, power testing, 5K threshold testing.  That’s kind of the middle of that performance pyramid.  Then the top of it, the head, is going to be what we consider our skill in our sport; sport specific skill.  Those are the things like in triathlon that might be our swim stroke efficiency, our cycling, our handling skills on the bike, cycling pedaling efficiency.  It can be our running form, cadence, things like that that work off of that platform of mobility, stability, and so on.  So kind of in a nutshell that’s the balance of the pyramid and knowing that there needs to be a buffer.  Each level needs to be able to handle the next level up.  Otherwise it becomes quite imbalanced. Andrew:  Yeah, so BJ again I think this is something else for...while we’re talking about encouraging people to go Google things.  While you’re out there Googling these stretching moves go Google the performance pyramid.  When I did that in research for this episode there’s a couple places that have a nice visual of exactly what you’re talking about.  The performance pyramid.  It’s got the base of the pyramid as movement, just kind of with that premise that movement is kind of the foundation for your performance and then performance is level two above movement.  It made so much sense seeing everything you just said visually for me and it really showed that I know I for one am just exhibit A in the discussion of an athlete that has approached this pyramid the wrong way.  I’m highly focused on my performance, right, every single day in my day-to-day training.  I’m somewhat focused on the skills required to be better in the sport.  I’m somewhat focused on my swim technique, my run technique, the skill side of things.  And I am barely focused on the actual movement capabilities of my body, right? I stretch and I work on flexibility and stability and mobility.  I work on these things as kind of an “Oh, cool I have 30 extra minutes today before I need to go to bed.  Let me do some stretching.”  It’s kind of an almost after thought for me and I know that’s the case for a lot of athletes.  So what steps can we take in our day-to-day training to reprioritize movement and make it the foundation of our athletic week so to speak? BJ:  Yeah, and again that’s a good question.  I think you said it.  It’s reprioritizing.  I think in order to reprioritize you have to believe that it is a priority right? It’s kind of that whole GI Joe, knowing is half the battle, right?  I think that another analogy that we can get into that I think really helps drive home this concept of connecting the dots is this analogy I’ve started to use a lot more with my athletes and it’s-- think of a 4 x 100 meter relay where you’ve got four of the fastest track athletes in the world. You could pair up Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay. Name the top 100 meter sprinters of all time and then you could pair that team up and race against you, me, Mayfield, Elizabeth James.  Obviously we’d have Elizabeth anchor right? Andrew:  As fast as we are-- BJ:  Elizabeth would be the anchor.  But picture that scenario and if that elite 4 x 100 meter team with Usain Bolt, if they don’t pass the baton and we do, we win every time, right?  In that analogy in thinking of how fast each individual runner is it doesn’t matter if the baton is not passed.  So when we think of movement a lot of times we get focused on isolated mobility or isolated strength and that’s kind of like focusing on just the runner being fast.  Now that’s important, but at the end of the day if you do not pass the baton it doesn’t matter, right? Andrew:  Yeah. BJ:  So when we think of like reprioritizing movement we know that it’s the individual efforts of flexibility of strength, whatever you want to call it, is important, but it’s really how are you bridging that together?  What is your motor control?  What is the software connection like with fundamental movement let alone talking about swim, bike, and run.  But fundamental movement allows us to express that even more on the bike and in running.  When we look at that balance, and we’ll give some examples of where people tend to get imbalanced, but it’s just knowing that that is a priority and then figuring out how do you make that happen in your training?  I think the key is obviously prioritizing that, understanding that that is important.  The passing of the baton is critical to accomplishing efficiency in what you want to do. John:  So, BJ you’ve already mentioned today...and you talked about it briefly on the previous podcast, both mobility and stability.  As we dive into more of these two core attributes of functional movement, remind us the difference between mobility and stability. BJ:  Yeah.  So mobility a lot of people are going to call that flexibility, right?  And they’re not completely wrong.  I mean it’s just more semantics of what you’re calling different things.  But mobility to me is going to involve both the joint...so we kind of talked about arthrokinematics or the joint mobility we need to have like in the shoulder. The requisite amount of natural joint mobility to be able to perform a movement.  Then you also have to have the correct what we call tissue extensibility or basically the muscle length of that area be appropriate for that task or that movement.  So mobility is going to kind of encompass the joint play and the muscular flexibility or the muscle length tissue wise in that area.  Again, think hardware of like a computer.  It’s the parts.  Then stability a lot of people you’ll hear using this maybe incorrectly thinking well stability is strength.  It’s like doing a plank; that’s training stability.  But really, like we were talking about earlier, stability is the passing of the baton.  It’s the training of what we call motor control which is the right muscle at the right time.  So it’s like the software of the computer system.  If you want to think about stability, it’s training patterns.  We’re all patterned in a certain way and if you don’t think you’re patterned in a certain way, if you’re sitting at home listening to this just sit there and naturally just cross your arms right now. If you cross your arms a certain way right now as you’re just sitting there and now just simply try to cross your arms the other way.  Unless you’re really adept at crossing your arms it’s going to feel completely foreign to cross your arms one way and then all of a sudden quick cross your arms the other way.  All of us have a pattern that we just tend to go to.  It takes a moment. Andrew:  Let it be known that I am a right arm over left arm kind of guy. BJ:  Yeah, I know.  It’s weird. You think about it and it’s like weird, but that’s a motor package.  Your brain doesn’t think about when you cross the arms the normal way because it’s a package. It’s all been driven into your software and to do it the other way you can repattern, but it takes some thought, it takes some time.  So in a nutshell that’s kind of the mobility, stability balance that we’re talking about. One feeds off the other.  You can’t have one without the other, but we do often talk about how it has to be mobility first, stability second and we can get more into that.  Mobility lays the foundation for stability to take place.  It’s just like that 4 x 100 meter example.  You have to have each individual being able to move before you can pass the baton.  So that’s the fundamental. John:  Kind of along those same lines, neither Andrew nor I were able to resist the shift and testing it.  So yeah, you’re right.  I lean right and going left...it just wasn’t right. BJ: I know.  I know. It’s funny. Andrew:  So BJ, let’s kind of just roll through a few questions specifically about mobility and then we’ll kind of move on to a few about stability.  That was a great definition that kind of gives us a good-- I think I’m definitely one who’s guilty.  I’ve done it on this podcast already where I’ve said flexibility where I meant to say mobility and hearing that definition is really a reminder. It’s more than just stretching. It’s more than the muscles just being able to have a certain range of motion.  It’s the joints.  It’s all the little interconnected things in your body that are happening.  Anyway, so let’s kind of just ask a few things about mobility.  If we are intentional about improving our mobility in our training, what tangible difference will it make to our swimming, biking, and running? BJ: Yeah, I mean it’s huge and it obviously depends on where we’re coming from with our limitations, but another analogy we use a lot is it’s like mobility is in essence the garden hose.  If there’s a kink in the hose it doesn’t matter how good the source of flow of water you have coming out is.  There’s only going to be a trickle coming out at the end.  So it’s really about improving our ceiling and improving our efficiency.  Another thing we say all the time is you’re trying to drive the car with the parking brake on.  The engine is fine, but the parking brake is stuck on.  So you could train the engine; you could turn on the water harder, faster, or whatever you want to call it, but if there’s a kink in the hose, if the parking brake is on it won’t matter.  You’re just not going to be as efficient in your movement.  A lot of times you can still get away with it, you can still move, but you might be leaving so much untapped potential out there because your body is kind of fighting itself.  So mobility is going to be paramount to you being able to express the strength, the stability, the power that you do actually have.  It’s a big deal.  It’s a pipeline to unkinking the hose. Andrew:  I’ve heard the phrase before, a loose muscle is a strong muscle.  Is that true or is that just a fun antidote? BJ:  No.  And often we say the exact opposite.  Tightness follows weakness.  So when we look at-- and this is what we see all the time in the PT clinic-- a lot of times people have flexibility issues not because a muscle is being overworked because it’s so dominant, but because often it’s weak.  And that’s a big thing as we move forward in talking about the ability to train the body.  We have to often reset a muscle or relax a muscle before we can actually strengthen it. The other term we say a lot is strength has to have length.  So muscle has to be extensible or it has to be lengthened before it can be strengthened. Again, it’s paramount to that progression of the performance pyramid. John:  So all that said, what are the best ways to improve mobility?  Is it regular stretching or is it more nuanced than that? BJ:  Yeah, so I think the key is you have to have a way of assessing where the priorities need to be.  You have to have a way to, in essence, screen the body to identify where you need it. We talk a lot about in our industry we need a standard operating procedure in health and fitness as far as the personal training world goes especially because you go to ten different personal trainers, you might have five that screen you, might have five that don’t even look at you and screen you and just start right at it.  So I think the key is to identify where the restrictions are and then start to work into that.  And again, what that looks like is taking the body through some fundamental patterns of movement.  For example, if you can’t just simply bend over and touch your toes without significant pain, you no longer have a fitness problem, you may have a medical problem. So those fundamental patterns are critical.  You want to make sure you have them addressed.  Sometimes it’s good to get a professional on board to help with that assessment.  But again, even within our industry we need more of a standard operating procedure to identify and then target.  It’s kind of like we’ve talked before with being a sniper.  It’s not just about shooting at things, it’s about properly identifying the target, aiming, and that’s where your focus needs to be and there’s a lot of ways to do that, but I think the key is where you’re aiming for sure. John:  It sounds like part of that is finding the right person.  I know there’s a lot of guys in your field, a lot of guys that are chiropractors, PT’s, but we’re a little bit different in what we do, both the movements that we do and the amount of moving that we do. Sometimes we get some strange looks when we talk about doing in a day a lot of people do in a week.  So I know that’s something that I’ve experienced in my triathlon career is working both with medical doctors and more so on the physical therapy, rehab, chiropractic side that don’t really understand the triathlete, the triathlete’s body, the need, the demands, the damage.  I guess, kind of in lieu of that standardized procedure I think it’s also important to find the right qualified and knowledgeable person.  Someone such as yourself that really understands and knows what the athlete, especially a triathlete, especially a long course triathlete are on the same side too.  Those that are short course doing a bunch of high intensity stuff, constantly beating up their body in different ways, having somebody that knows and understands that as opposed to just someone that’s either specialized in surgical repairs or accident recovery or general back pain and that sort of thing.  I’m always a big advocate of finding the right knowledgeable, specialized person regardless of what it is.  Whether it’s your PT, your chiropractics, your nutrition, all that.  Find the person that knows and understands what it is that you need so that you can get that individualized attention and answer. BJ:  And that’s a good point.  We just had the Endurance Exchange this last weekend and again, a lot of medical professionals in that summit meeting and I think it’s valuable really like you said to find the right professional.  But within our world of triathlon there’s a lot of medical professionals listening to this right now and they would all probably agree they know the demands of the sport within their profession better than anyone.  So oftentimes it’s great if you can find an active triathlete who is also in that field.  I mean, they can relate even better and there’s a lot of them out there and there’s a lot of great ones.  I think that’s key. Andrew:  We actually this past week on the I Am TriDot Facebook group there’s an athlete that has been struggling with some knee pain on his long runs and kind of threw out a question to the group about hey, I’m dealing with this, should I adjust my workouts?  And I’m somebody who in my history as an athlete my left knee will give me problems if I don’t do my prehab exercises to keep that area of my body ready for action and so I kind of chimed in and went back and forth with this athlete a little bit about their knee pain.  I’m somebody that I know very specifically what-- when I have that knee pain I’ve gone to an orthopedic specialist.  He’s a guy who was experienced in working with runners and cyclists.  He knew exactly what was happening in my knee. He was able to give me some exercises to do and hey if you do these exercises you’re going to be fine.  And guess what?  If I do those exercises, I’m fine because I know exactly what it is in my left knee that is the problem.  For somebody who is just posting to Facebook saying hey I’ve got pain in this area, it’s like well it could be a lot of different things and there could be a lot of different ways to fix it.  BJ, does it take a visit to a PT to assess that or are there any ways for athletes to kind of self-assess at home what is going on in their body so they can get it corrected? BJ:  Yeah.  I think there is definitely a capacity for that.  I think intuitively we know our bodies better than anybody, right?  So I think the key is to maybe get some guidance and spoiler alert-- we’re working on this.  We’ve been researching this for a while and developing specific triathlon screening for both mobility and stability like we’re talking about and it’s something we’re looking forward to in the future incorporating.  I think in the design of that is to be able to make it feasible that you can screen the major areas we need to screen as triathletes even on your own if that’s the worst case scenario.  So, yeah.  I think there’s some self-screening you can do.  Again, there’s a little bit of guidance you might need, but there’s some fundamental things.  We just need to know what normal is, right?  So what’s normal for a triathlete and is there a certain range where if we fall outside of normal?  Because when we talk about screening, like if you go to the doctor different professionals that have a standard operating procedure of screening; like every time you go to the doctor no matter if your knee is hurt or if you’ve got strep throat you’re going to get heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure screen and with that we don’t care how good it is, we care how bad it is right?  If we’re doing a screen we don’t care like-- oh, I’m so flexible here.  I just care if you’re below the cutoff.  I care if you’re really poor because then we’ve got an issue.  Then we have to prioritize it.  I think there’s ways to definitely do that in self screening. It’s just having the standard operating procedure and knowing what matters.  Again, we’re currently working on that in the triathlon space to develop something that goes even beyond just human movement, but specific to triathlon. So that’s something we’re looking forward to. John:  So when it comes to stability, is there a way to measure or know how stable or unstable a portion of the body is or is it hard to identify those areas as problematic without an injury being present or is there a way to know when that injury is perhaps on the horizon? BJ: Obviously injuries kind of force us to take a step back and look closer at things, but ideally you want to screen out deficits before they become a problem, right?  Stability is tricky especially when you’re dealing with athletes because when you’re talking about higher level movements a lot of guys can hide it, especially good athletes.  They can hide instability or energy leaks so to speak with higher level movements such as even cycling and running.  You might see a guy perform really well and not even know that he’s got stability issues. But again, he might only be getting 70% out of what his body is capable of because he isn’t passing the baton in certain areas of his body like he should.  I think the key to looking at this, and you see this in different sports how they measure it.  Like at the at the NFL Combine you see guys being tested for broad jump, vertical jump, and a 40 yard dash.  You’re looking at an expression of their stability, their power.  There’s some obvious things at higher levels, but I think what we have to do is uncover the fundamental levels in looking at stability like how well can you press up from a pushup position?  How well can you roll from your back to your stomach without using your legs, just using your arms?  There’s different fundamental connections that we can see or see that we’re lacking when we look at some basic tests like that.  There’s definitely some ways to test it, but again like we were saying before with mobility we need a standard operating procedure to be able to look at that. So looking at some foundational things when you’re looking at stability it’s not just a timed plank. Sometimes that gives you some info, but again that might only be telling how fast the runner is.  We need to look at how well it is your body passes the baton. There’s some basic ways to do that, but again we need some normative data to look at that and a standard operating procedure to do that.  So definitely important.  Again that’s where the professionals help out and they can help maybe give you some guidance with their screening system.  We subscribe a lot to functional movement systems.  We use a lot of what they have created with their screening system with Gray Cook and Lee Burton and that’s a great system out there that you can use as a resource to maybe help guide you or find a professional that uses that. Andrew:  So BJ, there’s going to be triathletes that are listening to this conversation and they’re taking it to heart, right?  They’re taking it to heart that okay, I as an athlete as a triathlete I need to be prioritizing mobility and stability.  I need to be prioritizing the way my body functionally moves so that I can pass the baton so to speak from body part to body part as I’m performing. And they’re going to want to know how do I work on this?  How do I fix this?  How do I improve this?  Because we know how to work on our swim.  We know how to work on our bike and our run.  You know, we go out there and we do our training sessions, right?  So when it comes to stability, what type of training work works our stability and improves it?  What tangibly should we be doing in addition to our swimming, biking, and running to become more stable in our movement? BJ:  The short answer is it depends, right?  But in practicality I think there’s a lot of ways we can see within triathlons just generally where triathletes tend to lose some function here. I think that if we look at the injury prevalence we can kind of start by looking at that and working backwards. So let’s look at most common injuries with triathletes.  We know it’s typically in the running department with lower leg injuries.  When we look at running, your platform in running is single leg.  You’re only on one leg at a time, otherwise you’re walking which obviously happens in triathlon too.  But the ideal is that you’re running.  If we look at single-leg stance, and assuming we’ve checked the boxes on all the other fundamental levels, if we’re up to standing postures and we’re training running we want to look at single-leg stance and look at stability in that position. There’s a lot of drills you can do and we talk a lot about how the king and queen of single-leg stance is the glutes and your core.  If you don’t think the glutes are important with running and running fast, just go to an elite level track meet and look at the sprinters.  They’ve got some glutes and that’s definitely something you can tell is a powerful muscle group.  Unfortunately in the endurance world you tend to look at-- and again we could get into philosophical debate or kind of theories of form fits function.  But you look at distance runners and the glutes fall off a little bit.  So we know that we have issues with endurance and running for long distances with maintaining glute integrity.  So glutes are a big one.  Again if we look at injury prevalence in the bike it’s typically going to be lower back and hips.  Injuries just aren’t as prevalent on the bike and swim, but they happen obviously.  So when you’re looking at that again you’re looking at stabilizing the pelvis.  You’re looking again at glutes and core.  Then when we look at the swim, the most obvious areas we see injured in those individuals is going to be in the shoulder.  So we’re looking at stability through the scapula, the scapula thoracic joint, the shoulder joint.  All these areas are areas that we know tend to need work. So again, we’re saying these just generalized stability training statements, but each individual is going to be different so we need to make sure it’s specific to them.  Because if they're working on 30 different things that really don’t matter, they might even be strengthening things that are making things worse for them.  I always tell people it’s like I could give you multivitamins to take every day, but if you’re still eating at McDonald’s it really doesn’t matter.  So it’s like, okay we’ve got to pull out the low hanging fruit here first, address that even if it’s just a couple specific drills versus doing 30 minutes of work that really doesn’t matter.  I’d rather have you do three minutes of specific work that’s really hitting your biggest deficit. John:  So BJ, how much of this is having stronger muscles and how much of this is neurological, really teaching the body how to use the muscles and creating those neurological pathways?  Is it a combination of both?  Is this a neurological function?  Is it purely muscular?  How do those work together? BJ:  Well and it can be either or.  It can be both.  Think of our snowman analogy we were talking about earlier, our performance pyramid. You definitely can have people that have imbalances there.  Some people need to simply be stronger and you think of the imbalanced athlete who the bottom snowball is huge.  They have all the fundamental mobility.  I picture the hyperflexible gal who’s taking the yoga class every single day and never hits the gym, never hits weights or weight training.  They’ve got mobility to boot.  They’ve got that huge base, but their ability to express that mobility is limited.  They don’t have power behind it.  The middle of their snowman is thin.  They can’t connect the dots.  Then you’ve got the opposite and I typically think of your overpowered athlete who’s got the huge base in the middle.  This is often what you see in triathlon unfortunately where the base of their snowman is thin.  It’s as small as the middle and they really don’t have the fundamental mobility. They’ve got all the power. They’ve got the strength.  I had a guy I worked with years ago.  I remember this story all the time where he came in and he was really chained up through his mid back and his shoulders and we talked about his programming.  What was he doing at the gym and he was in his late 50’s.  He basically went on to tell me that he was doing the same six lifts he had been doing since high school and I told him we can help you, we’ll get you started, but honestly the time spent for you at the gym you’d be better off spent in enrolling in a yoga class.  And he kind of rolled his eyes, he laughed at me and was like yeah right. He comes back in six months later and we hadn’t been seeing him for a while, but he comes in later and he was like, “I just want you to know I’ve been taking yoga for the last three months and I feel like I was back when I was 20.”  So he reprioritized, he balanced out his tires so to speak and he worked on mobility.  He already had the requisite strength.  He was then able to unkink the hose and tap into that by unlocking his body.  So there’s some athletes like the hyperflexible gal who’s at yoga all the time, they simply need to be stronger.  Then there’s some athletes like the guy who’s at the gym, he was already strong, he just needed to work his flexibility and mobility and to balance that pyramid.  All in all we need both, but we need to know where we’re imbalanced and work on it. Unfortunately that’s hard because when we go to the gym we want to do what we’re good at.  The guy who’s been doing the same six lifts since high school, he does it because he knows he’s good at it.  He doesn’t want to go to the gym and look like a fool, right?  And that’s how we all tend to be, but ideally you just need to pick a couple things where you suck at and work on it.  That’s really where you’re going to make the biggest change. John:  That’s one of those that kind of stings a little.  I was a member of a big box gym for years and I went to the pool a lot and occasionally got in the hot tub or the sauna and walked by the weights on my way to the treadmill.  But yeah, that was for years.  I’ve gotten better.  I’ve gotten better, but yeah that was definitely-- And yeah, I’m not a weightlifter. I’m a swimmer and a runner and I’m good at those and yeah, let’s do those in front of a bunch of people at the gym, but yeah.  I’m kind of the one that I’m going to go pick the machine that’s kind of behind a pole or behind a corner because I don’t want anyone to see me trying to lift weights. Andrew:  So BJ, hearing you say...like that story was great.  I think that story is going to hit home for a lot of people listening.  A little bit of a podcast tease-- we have an episode coming up that’s going to be about how to push through a performance plateau.  What happens when you’ve been training and training, you’ve been working, you’re trying to get faster and you’re just kind of stalling out.  Where your 5K pace is just the same every single month.  Where your FTP is just the same every single month and you’re just not able to break through at a certain point.  Knowing that episode is coming, hearing the antidote you just gave about the body builder, the weightlifter who wasn’t able to fully tap into his strength performance, do you think mobility and stability is an opportunity for a lot of athletes who are maybe stuck at a plateau to kind of bust through and improve if they’ve been lacking the mobility and stability work? BJ:  Yeah, absolutely.  Because you may already have the requisite fitness you need.  I mean, we all want to get better, right?  You may already have the power that you need. You just need to be able to express it. You’ve got that kink in the hose where there’s nothing wrong with the flow of water.  It’s just unkinking the hose to realize that potential and a lot of times it just simply improves your efficiency so you’re not going to fatigue out as quickly and you’re going to have more work capacity there.  I think it’s a small switch to flip.  The problem is isolating...you know, we’re all managers of this scarce resource in our world we call time.  So it’s like how do I have enough time to do X, Y, and Z. The problem I see is a lot of times we think this work on mobility and stability has to look a certain way.  We think it has to be two to three times a week of like a 30 to 45 minute session and the reality is it doesn’t have to be. If you have been a sniper and know exactly where to aim, it can simply be three to five minutes a day of working that specific thing that you need the most and maybe it’s just two drills, but it’s knowing what those drills are for you and prioritizing that and committing to that.  That’s the hardest part is the commitment to that.  I’m a big fan of keeping it simple because I’m not going to commit to that 30 minute strength session if I don’t know why I need it and I just know I should. It’s hard to commit to, but I can commit to three minutes.  I can commit to that.  So it starts there and then obviously it can build and progress, but it’s definitely a big thing that you can simply do and unlock a lot of potential. Andrew:  For athletes, you know they’re hearing this, they want to have a nice base to their snowman.  They don’t want to have a little chicken leg snowman.  Maybe they heard you talk a little bit earlier about the most common triathlon injuries and themselves oh yeah, I do struggle with a tight back or tight calf or a sore knee.  If we kind of have some areas in our head that we know we struggle, what are maybe some good go to resources that triathletes can go to find out how to strengthen certain areas of their body? BJ:  Yeah, and I’m going to flip that question a little bit because I think the key is it’s not a knowing how to turn something on.  It’s how to turn something off and that’s where the struggle is. Because you can go on YouTube, type in glute strength or core strength or whatever and you’re going to find thousands of videos on X, Y, and Z for those types of things.  I always tell people you don’t need help or need a professional resource to help you turn something on.  You really need that professional to help you turn something off. Not to get too long winded, but we operate with a principle we call the three R’s which is reset, reinforce, reload. The whole premise of that is in order to turn something on and reload the system I need to turn something off first oftentimes.  Not always, but oftentimes we have to turn something off first and that’s kind of in that reset world.  It’s like the stretch where you're consistently stretching our IT band and lateral hip all the time.  You foam roll it every single day; unless you reinforce that and reload the reason it’s getting tight and reload the muscle that might be weak that’s causing it to get tight, you’re going to foam roll and stretch every day for the rest of your life.  It’s never going to stop.  I mean, you’re going to spin your wheels forever.  So the idea is finding where your deficit is, attacking that with first turning off what needs to be turned off and then you have this opportunity to go in and turn something on.  Again, there’s so many resources on turning something on, but I think that’s where we fall short is we’re doing all this work and it’s falling on deaf ears because we still haven’t turned off and inhibited that muscle that is dominating in a wrong way that needs to be shut down. Cool down theme: Great set everyone!  Let’s cool down. Andrew:  Our last week’s episode here on the TriDot podcast was called Revisiting the Power-Stamina Paradox and I’ve got to say.  I just want to be a little honest John because you and I did that episode together.  I was a little nervous John, actually to put that episode out there because it was new for us.  It was kind of a different take on a TriDot podcast episode and in 70 episodes we’ve never done anything like it.  What we did, we took a previous episode that we had already recorded, we kept the main set and we just recorded a new intro with a new warm up and we recorded a new cool down, but we kept the main set.  We were, at least I was, I was a little nervous because I didn’t want it to feel like a rerun.  I didn’t want people-- because we have plenty of things to talk about here on the podcast. We have plenty of swim, bike, and run topics to get to, but John when you and I and Jeff Booher, and Elizabeth, and Jeff Raines we were kind of looking at the episodes we have out there and there’s just a handful of episodes that we feel like are so important to what TriDot training is and are so important to the success of your everyday triathlete that we didn’t want these five, six, seven episodes getting lost in the shuffle of 100 episodes that we will have down the road.  So what we decided to do was take these super important, essential episodes and kind of repackage them to put the material out there again for people that maybe missed it the first time or maybe didn’t fully understand it the first time.  So long story short, last week we tried that for the first time.  We took our episode, the Power-Stamina Paradox, and John and I played the main set. Then John and I talked a little bit more about what the power-stamina paradox is and why it’s so important.  Long story short, I bring this up on our cool down today because we got a lot of feedback this week from you guys, the audience, thanking us for that episode.  A lot of athletes expressed that they understood it a little bit better hearing it the second time or they just kind of let it go from their mind and it was good to revisit it.  A lot of people expressed that they enjoyed getting to hear Coach John Mayfield offer up his thoughts on that episode.  So thank you all so much for the kind thoughts.  We’re going to do this...not every month, not every other week.  We’re going to do it every now and then.  We’re going to push an essential episode back up to the top of the list for you guys to hear again because they are just so court to what we believe triathlon training should be like.  I just wanted to play really quickly. We got a podcast voicemail from a member of the audience just kind of sharing his thoughts on this episode and I wanted to playing it for you guys today. Dave Clark:  Hi Andrew and the rest of the TriDot team. Dave Clark from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Just want to say thank you very much for revisiting some of the episodes that we did listen to, but we’ve forgotten.  I just relistened to episode 70, Escaping the Power Paradox.  I just wanted to say thank you.  This time around it made a lot more sense understanding the fact of we need to get strong before we go long or we need to build power. Just understanding that made a lot more sense and so I just wanted to say thank you. Andrew:  So thanks so much to Dave Clark for that very kind comment.  Again, that was an episode-- and John maybe you weren’t nervous.  I was a little nervous to put that out there.  Again, I didn’t want people feeling like it was a rerun per se and that’s why we called it a revisiting of that topic because we just felt like it was a topic that was so important to revisit.  John, what did you think being able to listen to that episode and do that again. John:  It very much was a question of how it would be received and as you mentioned it certainly was not for lack of material or topics that we want to cover. It was much more, this is a critical issue that is often misunderstood.  There’s a lot of tradition out there that defies this logic.Again, what we do fortunately for us is not based on logic or philosophy or what makes sense.  It’s based on data.  This is one of our favorite phrases.  We get these questions and one of our best answers is we’ve got a podcast for that and that particular episode was perhaps used more than any other because those questions would come up.  Why is my training built like this?  Or how should I go about training this year?  Or I’m racing an Ironman for the first time, do I start building my volume now?  All those questions are very common and we answer that question with well, check out the Power-Stamina Paradox podcast.  I think too, as he mentioned, sometimes hearing something for the second, third, fourth time it really starts to make sense and you get a good understanding of it.  And even as BJ mentioned in our discussion today, the more you understand the how and the why, you buy into it.  I think that’s what we’ve been able to achieve a lot, and too, like I said it flies in the face of tradition and what’s been held up as the right approach or just the approach.  It’s kind of, for a long time was held as gospel that we do high amounts of volume and we work on building high amounts of endurance early in the season and then at the end kind of as an afterthought you add a little bit of intensity in.  You know, that’s how triathletes trained for decades.  It’s taken some faith and that’s what is so great is the athlete’s have trained fast before far, strong before long and the results prove that it is a better way of training.  It produces better results in less time with fewer injuries.  That’s our ambition to realize for every athlete.  We felt it was important to reinforce that message and provide just a reminder of what’s out there and a resource as you mentioned, just a little bit more perspective on it and application of how it works. Yeah, it was a little bit of a risk and we didn’t quite know how it was going to be received, but it’s been great. I think I've received more feedback this week from that episode; ironically an episode that was largely already out there.  So that was just great confirmation that this is something that connects with the athletes, the athletes value.  So it was great.  I appreciate everyone that did reassure us that we took a little bit of a risk there and it seemed to pay off. Andrew:  Yeah, so big thanks to all the athletes who reached out whether it was on Facebook Messenger or on the I Am TriDot Facebook group or whether it was Dave who took the time to go to the website and record a podcast voicemail for us. We’re so thankful for all of your thoughts and hey, stay tuned and we’ll see a few months down the road what will be the next episode that we decide is important enough to revisit. Well that’s it for today folks.  I want to thank BJ Leeper and TriDot Coach John Mayfield for talking mobility and stability with us today.  Shout out to TriTats for partnering with us on today’s episode.  Head to Tritats.com to get everything you need to show up to your next race looking like a pro.  Enjoying the podcast?  Have any triathlon questions or topics you want to hear us talk about?  Head to Tridot.com/podcast and click on submit feedback to let us know what you’re thinking or you can leave us a voicemail like my boy Dave did.  We’ll have a new show coming your way soon.  Until then, happy training! Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew.  For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com and start your free trial today!  TriDot – the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.
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