Medicine balls are weighted balls usually from 4 to 20 pounds that can be lifted, thrown, or slammed to improve strength, speed, power and overall body explosiveness. Medicine ball training has been used for decades by strength and conditioning professionals because of their low load and because they can be used almost anywhere including on the sports field or in a rehabilitation setting.  However, traditional strength and conditioning programs – those programs which include lifting large amounts of weight to make athletes bigger and stronger – have largely eschewed medicine ball training because of one main factor; the inability to sufficiently overload the athlete, the cornerstone of any strength and conditioning program.

However, as research continues and the strength and conditioning field has gathered more knowledge, a new age of strength and conditioning is upon us. While loading the athlete is still important, today is the day of functional training. Often an overused phrase, functional training can be defined as training the body in the movement pattern and velocity with which it is used in the sport the athlete plays. More simply, to improve the athlete you must train them to perform the skills that their sport requires and most sports do not require lifting a great magnitude of weight. Medicine ball training fulfills this need; medicine balls can be used in a variety of ways to approximate the body movements that athletes use in actual sport activities. Medicine ball tosses with a twist can be used to simulate baseball and golf swings, chest passes can be used to replicate basketball chest passes and overhead tosses can be used to mimic soccer throw-ins.

Additionally, medicine ball exercises can be performed at a velocity at or near that of the actual activity with which they are simulating. This is in keeping with the strength and conditioning tenet of specificity which states that to improve a fitness variable you must train that fitness variable.

In conclusion, while traditional weight training still has a place in strength and conditioning programs, medicine ball training provides a lot of benefits and should play an important role in a functional strength and conditioning program. If you would like more information on how to incorporate medicine balls into your training program, contact a FAST facility near you at www.fast-training.com.

*Black and white athlete pictures from ptonthenet

It’s hard enough as an adult to regulate body temperature and water consumption in the hot Arizona sun. With kids, it’s even more critical!

With the arrival of summer in Arizona one thing comes to mind HEAT!  As children get out school and start summertime activities it is important to guard against a very real danger, heat exhaustion/heat stroke.  Heat exhaustion/heat stroke is a heat related illness that occurs when the body cannot adequately cool itself through sweating.   Typically, heat exhaustion/heat stroke occurs when temperatures reach greater than 90 degrees F, or in other words every day in an Arizona summer.   Children are at a greater risk of getting heat exhaustion/heat stroke because their sweat rate is lower than that of adults.  The symptoms of heat exhaustion/heat stroke that parents should be looking for are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting.  As heat exhaustion progresses to heat stroke the victim may get confused as well.  In order to prevent heat stroke, parents should make sure that children hydrate before summertime activities in which they will be outside for an extended time (one hour or more).

Guidelines for hydration:

  • The hydration process starts the night before, kids should drink at least 32 oz. of extra fluid the night before (soda does not count , only water, Gatorade and fruit juice)
  • The day of the activity the child should drink 16 to 32 oz. of fluid 2 hours before (this allows time to assimilate the fluid)
  • During the activity the child should drink 8 oz. every 20-30 min.
  • After the activity 1 oz. of fluid should be consumed for every 1 oz. of fluid lost.
  • If your child has any of the symptoms of heat stroke especially confusion, nausea or vomiting seek medical attention immediately.

Have fun and stay safe this summer from all of us at Foothills Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.

With recent shows like “The Biggest Loser,” programs like P90X and in Arizona year-round baseball for kids, Americans are inundated with the message that more is better when it comes to sports and fitness.

We are told that the harder, longer and more often we work out the better we are going to be, feel and look. However, like everything in life moderation should be the focus.   As stress goes up in one area of a person’s life i.e. work or school, then less energy must be expended in another area, if not we run the risk of doing serious damage to our physical and mental well-being.

Working out and playing sports, while being a great way to improve athleticism and physicality, can also be an intense stressor to the body.  Therefore, we must understand that it is not always about how much and how many times you workout or practice, but how much and how many workouts or practices you can recover from.  Because if you workout too much you can actually do more harm than good.

Therefore, let me offer this suggestion the next time you feel the need to perform that intense body destroying workout or complete that gut busting practice and think to yourself if your mind and body might not be better served by some intense body replenishing recovery.