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The Next Moneyball, Part Two: The Art of Winning With Aging and Injured Athletes

04/13/2014, 3:30pm EDT
By Justin Lin, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS

Here's the Formula

In Michael Lewis’s book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Lewis describes the Oakland Athletics’ 2003 amazing playoff run in which evidence-based statistics called Sabermetrics (B. James, C. Wright) were used to aid decisions made in drafting prospects and signing free agent players. The team’s general manager, Billy Beane, was highly criticized for his use of this method, but his belief paid off. Twelve years later, this strategy has transcended almost every major professional sport, enabling unpredictable and lesser-known athletes the opportunity to perform at a championship level TOGETHER.

Although an invaluable tool that helps optimize the grouping of players who in turn can increase opportunities to score against particular pitchers, teams, fields, and so forth in ways that have been illustrated by win percentages, Sabermetrics does not account for variables of the human body. For instance, past injuries and the ability to physically adapt new movements in response to those injuries can and must be factored into mapping out an athlete’s longevity and career. This foresight is invaluable to determine both the players worth as well as how integral his presence will be in a team environment the worth of the individual player in a dollar to metric see as well as the dynamic of the team as a cohesive defense. As you can see, there are many variables on the individual level that can contribute to a team’s success that are not addressed in classic Sabermetrics.

A new formula that applies this human element must be inculcated to look at injury risk and the potential of a player to make a return on investment despite past injuries. This is my goal – to introduce and implement a total risk measurement analysis that in turn dictates the Return on Investment (ROI) of athletic ability and sustainability.

In Part 1, I explored:

1) A hypothetical scenario of creating a potential variation of the “Moneyball” system for limiting the liability of an injured athlete.

2) The introduction of the Kinematic Sports Analysis System (KSAS).

Before we delve into the complexity of the theories and benefits of the KSAS, we must explore the background.

Loss of “Degrees of Motion” During Movement

We begin with an example about the infamous recurrent ankle sprain – perhaps some of you who have had such an injury.

Our minds immediately begin to form unconscious strategies to cope with injuries. We would all like to put weight on it, but that is simply not a possibility, rendering you immobile. Unconsciously, you have the option to keep trying to walk on the injured ankle, or start favoring the other side. It seems out of our control, but is it?

Now imagine that you unfortunately (and coincidentally!) injure the other ankle the next day. What are your options? Stay in bed? Not walk or continue with your life? Of course not. Naturally, you are going to adopt the next “successful” walking pattern, something similar to a very bad limp. It’s momentarily successful and provides temporary relief until it breaks down, at which point you’ve exhausted your options. In the physical medicine world, we call this “Degrees of Freedom.” When you take away one of the degrees, you will automatically choose the next best option, albeit inefficient. My mentors of the Institute of Physical Art, Vicky Saliba Johnson and Gregg Johnson, have made it their life’s work to prove that particular movement strategies are either efficient or inefficient, through their system of Functional Manual Therapy™.

So what’s next? Surgery? That’s what the western medical model seems to suggest and a sentiment that is blasted across every medical office as the only option for relief.

But isn’t there a better way? Do we have any choice in the matter? Some of my previous articles have the ongoing theme of options! (Refer to Stairs of Life and Getting out of the vicious pain cycle (www.thenoticeca.com/2014/01/29/)). We all have a choice, and this article is about the unconscious and conscious decisions that our bodies make.

Here is the real question–why hasn’t that ankle fully healed?

Would you believe me if I suggested that our body was a recording device of past physical traumas no matter how minor or severe? Is there a way to eliminate those past traumas so they don’t compound on life or athletic performance.

Literature suggests that our brain, in fact, defaults to shutting off our stabilizing structures to joints and muscles after an injury (Hodges Hides). The medical world has commonly referred to this pattern as inhibition. In a nutshell, inhibition is when something is either on or off. However, are muscles/joints as simple as an on-and-off switch? Of course not, our mind-body connection is complicated. In general, there are a number of problems in our nervous system that contribute to this inhibition.

Examples of such problems exist in the inability for a synapse to be delivered, processed, or not enough stimulation to generate a response from our system. But there is another possibility: the idea that the synapses may get misdirected to the wrong target or barriers creating a decrease in the processing rate to reach the target.

Neuroimpedence is the answer to why the ankle has not fully healed!

To better understand this delay, I am introducing a term that could help the scientific field of neurodynamics (nervous energy). Neuroimpedance is a measure for the delay in the reactivity of a proper stabilization of a joint/muscle to a set load (J. Lin, 2014). And a Neuro-impediment could be caused by a number of factors that create delays in our system.

There are two possible issues within the mind/body (neuromuscular) system:

1) Transmission

2) Capacity

Issues with Transmission

Let’s use a general computer analogy. When partitions or files are disorganized in our hard drive, the overall system is inefficient and tasks that should flow quickly are slowed, sometimes to a complete standstill. The issue is that the transmission has a longer processing time.

I believe that the “fragmentation” of the same sort is occurring after injuries – this is my example of neuroimpedance that occurs in our bodies. Our system must experience a defragmentation to simply reorganize it – proving that there is not a true “On/Off” switch.

Why is it that when we try to balance on the previously injured ankle it shakes? Perhaps the body doesn’t know how to filter the information. This is where my concept of neuroimpedance is the logical progression and often the missing link in making sense of it why injuries just don’t get better.

Based on this logic, a joint or muscle that is physically healed isn’t fully recovered! Certain core muscles that stabilize those joints don’t come back (Hodges, Hides). The neuroimpedance of those muscles, in my view, is too high and in order to take that inhibition away we need to eliminate the causes of impedance.

Additional reasons for neuroimpedance, other than the signals being inhibited, could be mechanical in nature. For example, a joint that has shifted off-axis or alignment, or has been scarred down to other surrounding tissues, will disrupt the ability for those joints and tissues to produce an efficient movement (G Johnson).

The hard drive fragmentation metaphor I used above is representative of the transmission of messages from the brain to muscles/joints. To build on that analogy, imagine that the neuromuscular system is akin to an internal wireless modem or processing unit, a method by which our mind and body processes stimulation. Let’s say most people have the ability to operate at 3G. High class athletes operate at 4G and then there are the Lebron James’ that are 4G LTE. The difference is the capacity or the bandwidth capable of handling denser data (load/stress). Essentially, these athletes contain a higher concentration of nerve bundles.

Issues with Capacity

Do we all have the potential to run at as high as a 3G, 4G, or potentially a 5G? Absolutely. However, that’s top secret and is introduced in my Kinematic Sports Enhancement Program!

When an injury occurs, the neuro-impediment is sometimes too high to overcome and we revert to the archaic dial-up system. Recall the dialing and the static noises of the AOL online days, searching for that connection. Eliminate that neuroimpedance, and take out those barriers; get back to 4G! Increase the capacity for that ankle joint to handle stress or demand and we all win!

Unfortunately, we don’t get back to 4G and a defragmented state until we retrain the brain to fully reintegrate towards a more efficient state. New flexibilities and strengths go unrecognized until our brain interprets and filters the signal.

So what is KSAS and how is it useful?

Simply, the KSAS assesses the impact of injury on the performance. It gathers quantitative data through skilled functional tests, visual analysis of movement, and a formula I created for neuroimpedance. It uses concepts about the issues in transmission and capacity. Neuroimpedance is the binding thread that gives us a wealth of information in two realms: a predictive and an athletic quotient component.

Predictive: Injury risk where my category ranges are Mild (minimal likelihood of injury in the next 1-2 years), Moderate (possible injury in 1-2 years), Severe (likely to get injured within 6 months)

Athletic Quotient: Athletic Functional Capacity (AFC) (Below Average, Average, Above Average, Athletic, Elite).

There are more uses with this system but for the purposes of this article we will stick to these two ways.

Here’s a short graph:

KSAS
/ \
Predictive AFC
| |
Neuroimpedance
(The proposed fundamental thread and missing piece to all of it)
/ \
Transmission & Capacity

The Moneyball Secret: Eliminate the neuroimpedance in our aging athletes and restore what was once dominant

Here’s a wild thought: let’s take Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Matt Kemp, Derrick Rose, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton and restore them to an efficient 4G machine! If we properly implement the KSAS program, it will change the game!
Continued in Part 3: Would you believe that you can SEE neuroimpedance by watching your favorite athlete move?

We can and we will get better Together,

Sponsored by Justin Lin, DPT, MS, CFMT, CSCS

Justin Lin, DPT, MS, CFMT, CSCS

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Dr. Justin C. Lin PT, DPT, MS, CSCS, CFMT, is the owner and director of Rehab and Revive Physical Therapy it is ranked by the people and users of Yelp.com as the #1 practice for the past 3 years in a row. He is author of Amazon's Hot New Releases,  Rehab the Mind, Revive the Body: Foundations for Healing. Dr. Lin grew up in Irvine and attended Boston University where he earned his Masters of Science and DPT at Marymount. He is an adjunct professor at Chapman University's Doctor of Physical Therapy at the Crean Graduate School. In the community, he's involved with his alma-mater University HS (Irvine), he organizes reunions, conducts motivational speeches about integrity and character, and is Scholarship Chair for a service scholarship at UHS. He hosts a free Youtube called "Our Health Channel" to talk about latest and trending information as well as interviews the best providers about what they do well.
 
For more guidance on health and healing from Dr. Justin C. Lin, please read Rehab the Mind and Revive the Body, which can be found on Amazon at the following link:  http://www.amazon.com/Rehab-Mind-Revive-Body-Foundations/dp/0990713415?tag=rrpt-20.
 

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