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Ask Martin Vol. 27: Throwing Injuries

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.

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. I definitely belong to the second group…

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 keep coming back to. I’ve tried numerous other methods throughout the years. Some work, some don’t. But I find that these are the best for me.

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.

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.

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.

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.