The biggest missing piece in preparation for athletes in every sport I have worked in, is a focus on building connective tissue strength and joint integrity.
In parkour sprained ankles, knee pain, sprained wrists and elbow pain are all epidemic but very little focus is spent on developing the connective tissues. In crossfit you see torn up shoulders, ruptured achilles, and busted discs and again joint preparation is almost non existent when I was training in Mauy Thai we did no preparatory work for the neck before training the Thai clinch, every body suffered neck pain afterwards, same story for Jujitsu and arm bar day.
After my most recent seminar I asked all the attendees what their biggest takeaways from the day were, without fail they all mentioned the joint development work that we did.
Most of the people who come to my seminars have some background in movement and fitness and for the most part people have some idea how to strengthen the big prime mover muscles, and how to develop speed, endurance and stamina, they may be working with pretty poor models for how to develop these things but for the most part people have no model at all for developing joint integrity.
The key observation is that connective tissue takes far longer to adapt then neural or muscular adaptions, while different types of connective tissues have different metabolic rates and the same is true for specific muscles and neural properties in general it seems that muscle adapts to a exercise about 10 times faster then connective tissue and neural adaptions are faster still.
You can double the strength of your legs in a matter of months to achieve a similar level of connective tissue strength improvement can take years.
This can be disheartening and it is certainly less rewarding to spend months plateued on wrist push up variation then to add 40 lbs to your squat in the same period. In the long run however if you wish to play with the least inhibition you need to address this and have the patience to know that while you may not be able to get immediately better the diligent practice will unlock new levels of performance down the road and keep you safer in the interim.
I have been working my wrist preparation drills for 2 years now the level of performance change is low but the volume of hand balancing and hand supported training I can handle without developing wrist pain has increased tremendously.
I first encountered joint preparation work in the gymnastics world but in very unsystematic and poorly explained way, I then ran into some systema based joint rotation work, more systematic gymnastic joint integrity work through Christopher Sommers and Ido portal‘s work, and most recently I have been influenced by Todd hargrove from Better Movement and Andreo Spina of Functional Range conditioning. All of these pieces had value but none perfectly fit what I wanted to do at least the material I got the chance to see, in the last 2 years I have developed my own approaches to joint integrity work some of that will be made available through the website in the future. In the mean time I figured I would share some of my biggest influences.
This whole interview with Coach Sommers is well worth watching
Any jumping rebounding athlete should be doing these drills from Andreo Spina
I struggled for years building my squat flexibility I made allot of progress with the squat protocols from Ido Portal and finally broke through my last plateau after my most recent training under his method.
This is a good wrist preparation routine from my friends at GMB fitness
And another one from an old friend Scot Hagnas of Crossfit Portland
and one last one for the shoulders from Ido