Me in 2008 at 300 pounds.

Throwing and Health Part II: Internal Health

In Throwing and Health Part 1: Joint Injuries, I examined the influence of training as a thrower and some of the implications that would have on joint health. Today I want to talk a little more about health from the internal perspective

On my first day of college I weighed in at 228 pounds (103kg), after the first year I had increased my strength and weight to a great degree. At the end of my freshman year, I weighed in at near 256 pounds (116kg). My diet was simple, better known as the “seafood diet” by those of us on the team . . . “YOU SEE FOOD, YOU EAT IT” was the methodology! Along with all of the food, I consumed extra protein, carbohydrates, creatine monohydrate and glutamine daily. I was on a very similar plan nutritionally as most of the football players at our university. Bigger-Faster-Stronger was also a known motto for what we wanted from training. The late Stefan Fernholm was a legend in throwing and specifically for his speed-power training feats at such a large body weight.
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The high degree of horsepower and torque in throwing can lead to overuse injuries in some athletes.

Throwing and Health Part I: Joint Injuries

Jason Young is an Olympic discus thrower. Be sure to visit the Discus Dynamics website for more information about his eBook.

Throwers are unique athletes and sometimes not given the credit which is deserved for how hard they train and their feats of athleticism. When working with clients in the fitness industry, they are often surprised by my level of mobility and speed. In their eyes I look like a really big dude that likely has lifted weights too much. Then I demonstrate an exercise and they are awakened at my ability to do basic gymnastics, jumping, balance, and coordination at a body weight of 280 pounds. Just as it is hard to see from first glance how dynamic a person is, it is also very difficult to evaluate injury potential and underlying problems. This series is just a taste of what I would like to expand on in the future for the bettering of health in our sport.
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Sweet Number Six

Yesterday the Swiss Championships took place in Frauenfeld and I captured my sixth straight title. And while I again had little competition, this victory felt a extra special. The crowd was small, but with my parents arriving the day before the meet I knew I had fans. The European championships organizers also used the meet to fine tune their preparations, including live coverage and interviews from Schelbi in the infield, a live stream, and the official European Championships hammer retrieval car. My top athlete also made the women’s podium for the first time.
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Ask Martin Vol. 27: Throwing Injuries

Do you have a question for me? “Ask Martin” questions are chosen from inquiries submitted by members. So join now and you’ll also get access to a wealth of other training information.

Do you have any tips on maintaining a heathy back or addressing common back injures while throwing? -Andrew

Believe it or not, this is the first time I have written about injuries in throwing events. I have never thought about writing about it since, to be honest, I haven’t really had any injuries. But maybe that fact is itself worth writing about.
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April Training Update

According to Dr. Bondarhcuk, hammer throwers can be divided into three groups.  The first type of thrower has slow winds, but accelerates sharply in each turn.  An example of this type of athlete would be Lance Deal. The second type begins with fast winds, but accelerates insignificantly during the turns.  A good example of this type of athlete is Sergey Litvinov.  The third type of athlete winds at an average speed and accelerates moderately during each turn.  According to Bondarchuk, one type is not better than any other type.  As he notes:

Membership in one or another group depends first of all on this athlete’s individual peculiarities, as well as on the number of turns used.  It is very important that the observed difference in the structure of the rhythm of throwing not only does not prevent the athlete from showing a high level of athletic achievement, but also, on the contrary, in all cases facilitates this.

Rather than forcing an athlete to throw one way, a coach should find out what way is best for the athlete and build upon it.
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Recovery: The Other Side of Training

Training at an elite level isn’t just about how hard you train; it’s also about how well you recover.  My training group trains ten times each week.  In order to be fresh and get the most out of each training session, it is important that we not only train properly, but also do the right things outside of training in order to take care of our bodies.  I find this just as true for me, even though I’ve never had a major injury or even an injury that has required me to miss a practice (although, in hindsight, I should have taken it easier after my bruised rib in 2008).

Proper recovery requires two things: time and resources.  As an undergrad, I was fortunate enough to have both the time and resources to do everything I wanted.  I was never rushed for time and the school had a full staff of trainers, a sauna, free massage, sports medicine specialists, and state of the art equipment.  All those resources remained when I began law school, but my free time dried up, forcing me to cut back on my hour-long post-workout routine.  Since moving to Kamloops, things have changed yet again; I now have ample time, but limited resources.

To give you an idea of all the things an athlete can do, I’ve outline some of the recovery methods I’ve used throughout the years.  Some work, some don’t, but since what works is quite individual it is helpful to list them all:
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I Hate Steel Handles

Every hammer thrower you meet will be quick to show you the callouses, blisters, and bruises on their left hand.  We aren’t looking for sympathy.  And even though I’ve written about this topic briefly before, I am not whining either.  Since we don’t tend to be the biggest of throwers, it is one way to show that we work just as hard.

Since moving to Kamloops, I have noticed that my hands have slowly gotten worse.  I’ve now added swollen to the list of ailments.  When talking with Kibwe last weekend, we realized we couldn’t even make a fist with our left hands  When I attempt to make one, my fingertips can’t even come within an inch of my palm.  Even using my other hand to squeeze my left hand together can’t get the job done.  The only thing I’m thankful for is that I’m right-handed, since I will surely have some arthritis to show for this in a few decades.
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Year in Review; Year in Preview

I have ended the year on a good note.  Coach Bondarchuk reduced my training volume to approximately 25 percent of its normal level this week.  The extra rest has paid off.  Today I threw 61 meters (200-00) with the heavy 8-kilogram (17.6-pound) hammer.  That is little more than one foot off of my personal best with that weight.  Add in six more months of training, a little warmer weather, and the adrenaline of competition, and hopefully some good throws will result in 2009.
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Mt. SAC Relays

After having a great week of training in the Arizona Sun, I competed at the Mt. SAC Relays this past Sunday. Things went well, but not quite as expected. At the end of my last practice before the competition, I fell and hurt my rib. The pain was minimal, but enough to throw off my rhythm. As the winner opened the competition with a world leading mark, I was struggling to make the finals. I luckily ended with a respectable mark of 65.32m (214-04), but am eager to compete at full strength so that I can continue what I think will be a great season. After returning to Seattle, I was happy to find out from my doctor that my rib is only severely bruised, and not broken. The pain should subside in the next three weeks, and in the meantime, I have adjusted my competition schedule for the coming weeks. Read more

November Update

I just published my first legal article today! If you have a weird interest with tax law like I do, check it out: Client-Auditor Communications and The Privilege Doctrines: An Analysis of United States v. Textron, 26 TAX MANAGEMENT WEEKLY REPORT (BNA) 1555 (Nov. 5, 2007). Besides that, training continues to go well. Because I was working this past summer, I was not able to train as much as I would have liked to. I also pinched a nerve in my lower back that slowed me down. Since I arrived back in town I not only found more time to train, but I also have been rehabilitating my back. The process is slow, but the good results are finally starting to return. I doubt I will compete indoors this season as the main goal will be the 2008 Olympic Trials in June. Read more