Russ Paine practices as a sports physical therapist out of Houston, Texas and is the co-founder of mTrigger. Russ has an extensive background of knowledge and experience treating athletes of all levels. During this interview we discuss the topic of eccentric training. We cover how Russ uses eccentrics for the upper extremity and lower extremity, how he applies eccentrics with his athletes, and the benefits he sees from using eccentrics on a daily basis.
The use of eccentrics for the upper extremity, especially in throwing athletes, is important for training the posterior cuff and maximizing the scapular stabilizers as they work like crazy to maintain congruency of the humeral head in the glenoid. Eccentric control is really all about deceleration – in this case, deceleration of the arm during the throwing motion.
In the lower extremity, eccentric exercise involves controlling the knee flexion moment when landing from a jump, stopping, and changing directions. In ACL patients, the biggest deficits are seen in deceleration. When the quad is too week to eccentrically control the knee, you are unable to land in a deeper (more protective) knee flexion position. A stiff knee landing does not allow for proper control of that deceleration moment. This lack of quad strength is directly related to athletes not being able to return to play. You can perform a 90% limb symmetry index jump test with almost no quad (using calf, glutes, etc.), but the deceleration component is almost all quads. As rehab professionals, we really need to go through exercises that help teach athletes how to control deceleration. As Russ puts it, “Good race cars have really high horsepower, but the best race cars have really good brakes.”
When working on eccentrics, Russ touches on how important a visual representation of muscle activity can be. Since EMG activity decreases during the eccentric phase of motion, sometimes an athlete may think they are activating correctly – but it’s hard to know for sure until they can see it. Using mTrigger lets athletes see their muscle activity during an eccentric exercise. When you see the eccentric contraction, you can teach a patient exactly how to fire those muscles during the eccentric phase, which leads to improved strength and control.
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Here are a couple of bonus eccentric exercise videos that target the quad: