A Case Study of the 2005 Carmel Padres. Originally printed in Ortho-Bionomy News April 2006 Volume 16 Number 2.
Author: ARI STEIN
I love sports. Anyone who has known me over the past six years has had to listen to my ideas about Ortho-Bionomy and Baseball. From the moment I started studying Ortho-Bionomy in 1998, it has been my theory that the introduction of regular Ortho-Bionomy sessions into the weekly training regimen of a baseball team would result in several changes:
• Current injuries would heal quicker
• A reduction in the amount and severity of repetitive motion injuries, i.e. rotator cuff tears, tendentious, recurring muscle spasms, etc.
• An increase in all measurable statistical categories, i.e. batting average, fielding percentage, earned run average etc.
• Recovery time for pitchers would shorten, allowing them to throw more frequently with greater efficiency.
• In general, players would be as sharp and strong at the end of the season as at the beginning.The better the athlete, the better the response to the work would be.
The reasoning behind these ideas lie in the kind of injuries baseball players incur, what actually makes a ball player great and the working nature of Ortho-Bionomy.
Baseball injuries tend to be repetitive in nature. The body is asked to do movements it is not capable of sustaining and not designed to do over and over again. The body will compensate to allow for these movements over time, but like a car with a misalignment, eventually something wears out.
What makes a baseball player great is not necessarily strength, but his finely honed reflexes. His hand/eye coordination, instant reaction to a movement, ability to place his feet and so muchmore is based upon his ability to respond. The more finely tuned the nervous system, the better the athlete.
Ortho-Bionomy was developed directly from Osteopathic theory, which states that structure governs function, and that the body is born with the internal systems necessary to heal itself. In Ortho-Bionomy we use the body’s own reflexes as a way of stimulating a self corrective response. A system of re-education, Ortho-Bionomy addresses baseball injuries at their core. It is a way for the body to realign, track and stabilize itself from an internal perspective of what balance and stabilization is.
It’s these same reflexes in an athlete that get worn down and unresponsive, along with their attempt to stabilize the body, which create compensations in the body that eventually lead to injuries. It became apparent to me that Ortho-Bionomy and Baseball was a match made in heaven.
After four spring trainings gone by and not a single team willing to listen to my ideas, I approached Carmel High School, where my girlfriend’s daughter is now a senior. Coach Mike Kelly was more than happy to listen. After receiving a session and getting a better understanding of the work and my ideas, he spoke with the powers that be and received permission for me to work with the team. When we started the Carmel Padres were 12-1-1.
I didn’t start out to do a study. I just wanted to put this work out there and see if my theories were true. I was lucky enough to start a third into the season so there would be a substantial comparative difference. I also consider it lucky that these kids were as good as they were, as it showed that even at the top of your game, there is improvement to be made.
The school has an athletic trainer who does tapings, ultra sound and general treatment inside the school. Since the field is far from the main school, I was to set up in the equipment shed next to the field where the pitching machine was located. We started working once a week and quickly it built to twice a week. The week before and throughout the playoffs, I was there 3 to 4 days each week. For the semi and final championship games I went to San Jose Municipal Stadium with the team and did sessions in the dugout on several players prior to the start of each game. Sessions in general lasted 30-45 minutes in length.
I started working with two main premises as well as an understanding that these kids were not going to rest after a session; they were going to engage daily in the same activities that created their injuries and there was little chance of getting them to do any kind of rehabilitative exercise.
My first premise was that there were several areas of the body I would always work with besides the actual injured area. I felt these were key areas where movement locked up and were essential for creating balance and awareness in the body as well as increasing performance. These areas are the psoaslillium/sacrum, shoulder/ribs, knee/ankle/foot, ClI C2 and the clavicle/sternum connection.
My second premise was that since these kids were using their bodies as much as they were, they could not only handle work more frequently, they needed it. I also think that an athlete’s nervous system is so finely tuned, it processes information faster, so the extra input would be a benefit. Just like a race car, the more you race it the more it needs to be maintained.
While working I stayed very physical using Phase 4, Isometrics, Exploration of Movement and Phase 5. I started working with two players the first week and by the end of the season almost half the team was waiting their turn to get on the table. I left it up to the coach as to who would get worked on and when, with the idea to get their pitchers on the table as much as possible. Because of my availability prior to the playoffs no one received more than 2 sessions a week. As it turned out, only three of the pitchers were worked with regularly, but that turned out to be enough.
The Carmel High School Padres went 31-4-1 for the 2005 season. They won the Mission Trail Athletic League, were the Central Coast Section Division III Champions and were ranked 3rd in the state for schools its size.
The team as a whole had no injury keep a player out more than a week. There were rotator cuff injuries, ligament sprains, hamstring pulls, back spasms, a plethora of shoulder pain and more. We watched players who were on the disabled list when we started, come back, play and surpass all expectations. Batting averages went up, fielding percentages went up, and pitchers were able to throw day in and day out without losing velocity or precision.
Two things surprised me most. First, when there were injuries, the kids were not only able to play through their injuries but the injured areas actually got better as time went on. Second, all of this was accomplished over the course of 23 games with minimal time each week to work.
Following the summary is a player by player case study of their injuries, accomplishments and what we did together to help them perform injury- free and at peak levels. The statistics were compiled from Maxpreps.com and given to me by Coach Mike Kelly.
The 2005 baseball season for the Carmel High School Padres surpassed my own expectations. I saw this as an opportunity for pitchers, which it was, but it also turned out to be a boon for the hitters and fielders. I think the work we did allowed these kids to play to their fullest potential.
While this was not a double blind study and high school teams do not have professional athletic trainers available to them, I believe we demonstrate the potential this approach has, not only with the healing and prevention of injuries, but also the ability to increase the performance of an athlete.
I believe this way of working, from the inside out and through the nervous system, is one of the missing components from sports therapy today. I believe many of the injuries that occur do so because of misalignment and compromised internal tracking. The body is aligning and tracking itself in these ways for a purpose, to create stability and allow for the function asked, the best it can. When we try to manually strengthen and stretch a muscle to create balance without the body’s internal tracking being in sync with the movement, the therapy becomes incomplete. Many times, afterwards, we see the reoccurrence or just partial healing of the injury. Sometimes other injuries sprout from the original Ortho-Bionorny provides a bridge to this next level.
Ortho-Bionomy is not meant to replace, but to augment, modern athletic training systems. Because their respective working theories are different, they don’t replicate but enhance each other. We demonstrated what can be done with this work by itself.
It is proactive, noninvasive and completely natural. It has been proven to work. When combined with traditional athletic training, I believe we will see teams have the fewest injuries and quickest recoveries they have ever experienced. The bonus is the added output in production from the players in batting averages, runs scored and fewer errors. I believe these results could be reproduced for all sports. Translated onto the major league level, how much money would it save a team to have players back that quickly – not to mention how many more games could be won by increased production? With Ortho-Bionomy, the possibilities are intriguing.
Blake Cornish: Out Field, Utility
Blake is a multi sport athlete playing both baseball and football. Standing at a tall 5’5″, he had the nickname “Wee-Man”. He is also heavily muscled like a bodybuilder, with his shoulders and lats being
very developed and extremely tight. He had shoulder pain most of the season, but we did not start working together until just before the playoffs.
Keeping to the same ideas presented before we practiced balancing of his pelvis, lumbars and psoas while also working with the shoulder girdle and ribs. The pain subsided but never fully went away.
We had two sessions before the playoffs began.
It was right before the semifinal game against Sacred Heart Prep that we saw the potential in using Ortho-Bionomy pre-event.
Blake did not start that game, as his shoulder was bothering him that morning. After working with a couple of the starting players and having already put my table away Blake came up complaining of the pain in his shoulder. I had him sit on a stool while we worked. Practicing an isometric with his right rib cage/lat, the whole right side of his body seemed to relax and expand. Not only did his shoulder have freedom but his whole torso had a greater capacity to rotate and the pain was gone.
When Blake came into the game as a pinch hitter, Carmel was down 2-0 in the 5th inning of a 7 inning game. He calmly stepped to the plate and hit a triple off the left field wall that in any high school ballpark would have been a home run. The team failed to score but that triple lit a fire that ignited the team. Blake went in to play second base that inning and made a spectacular circus catch to potentially save the game. With the team feeling a turn of tides Blake led a rally the next inning hitting in 1 of 3 runs that brought Carmel back for a 3-2 victory and the eventual CCS Championship.
Blake had a spectacular year hitting .452 with 10 runs batted in and no fielding errors during the regular season. For the 3 game playoff run Blake hit .625 with 4 runs batted in. After the game I asked him what he felt like while playing. His response was that he was “seeing everything in slow motion”. I believe this was due to a combination of his raw excitement heightening his senses and also his body realigning itself as was evident by the ribs and shoulders moving as a synchronized unit. Blake will be back next year as a senior and we are looking forward to doing it again.
Craig Vandervort: Senior Third Base
Craig and I started working together on March 16th. He’d been relegated to pinch hitting for about 5 games due to a rotator cuff injury. An orthopedic surgeon told him to save the money on the MRI because he knew what they were going to find. He thought it would be necessary to have it surgically repaired after the season. He recommended physical therapy, and then to see how it goes and play when you can. Craig’s PT at the time consisted of heat and thera-band exercises.
Craig has a very developed upper body due to genetics and weight lifting. After working with Craig the first time it was apparent there was no space available for the head of the humorous to move in the shoulder joint. To keep stability the body had lashed his shoulder so tightly it had limited range. As Craig tried to make the necessary movements at the speed needed to play the game he ultimately injured himself.
We spent a lot of time practicing Phase 4 with the shoulder joint/rotator cuff assembly, upper ribs, pectoral muscles, the clavicle and sternum connection along with the lats, teres major and minor and rhomboids posterior.
We had three sessions over the course of 10 days. During the third session I was holding a light compression with him in a side lying position. His shoulder after a moment made a very loud pop or crack. I don’t think it was the joint. I think it was muscle adhesions separating. The body did this by its own volition. Within a few seconds the shoulder started to move. We did some isometrics and exploration of movement patterns then finished. That was a Thursday. I told him to keep moving it, slowly working with its range and by next week he could be playing.
The following week came and Craig started at third base again. When he went on the DL, his batting average was .318 with 3 rbis through 10 games. The remaining 23 games Craig hit .500 with 17 rbis and raised his fielding percentage from .818 to .875 making only three errors over the rest of the season. Craig did not miss another game. After two more sessions we just did tune ups as needed to give more time to others. Craig was voted to the MTAL All League first team.
Daniel Kleinkopf: Senior OF P
Daniel had an interesting problem. He suffered from diagnosed shoulder tendonitis in his left arm. During our first session I noticed the muscles of his left forearm had contracted in such a way to keep the elbow bent. Because the elbow always remained bent he had incomplete extension of the bicep, so that every time Daniel threw, he pulled the bicipital tendon at the top of the humerus with such force that it was always inflamed.
Our first session was on March 23rd. Daniel made sure to get on the table almost every time I was there. We practiced isometrics and phase 4 with the whole arm from clavicle to hand. We also paid lots of attention to the war the lats and posterior rotator cuff muscles helped to stabilize the shoulder through movement. Within three to four sessions Daniel’s pain in the shoulder started to subside. His mother even commented that his arm looked as if it was lengthening. We were able to maintain the shoulder throughout the season.
Over the Easter Tournament Daniel pulled a hamstring. Practicing Phase 5 and Phase 6 seemed to help this injury the most. Daniel also was able to make use of the ultra sound machine in the trainers’ room. The hamstring never kept Daniel off the field. He had 2 errors in his first 11 games and only 2 errors in the last 25 games. In spite of this nagging injury Daniel was able to be productive raising his batting average for the time we worked from .304 to .348, driving in 10 rbis while scoring 19 runs ending the season with 15 rbis and 23 runs scored.
Devon Krayenhagen: Senior Pitcher
Devon was a lot of fun to work with. He is a good athlete who stands at 6’2″. I started working with Devon to keep his shoulder in shape. He was the Padres closer and middle relief pitcher. Our first session was on March 23rd. We worked one or two times and during the playoffs two to three times a week.
I started with basic pelvic balancing; working with the psoas and lumbar spine, using mainly phase 4 and isometrics. With his shoulder I regularly used phase 4, isometrics and a lot of exploration of movement for both diagnostics and re-education of movement patterns. I found EOM to be important in the prevention and enhancement areas of our work.
The first week of April, while running laps, Devon re-injured his left L5/sacrum area; an injury he originally sustained playing water polo. Pushing off his back leg was extremely painful. We were able to manage the injury while he continued to pitch. After 4 or 5 sessions Devon was experiencing no pain. It did not bother him again the rest of the season, though we always addressed the area with each session.
Devon pitched as a reliever one or more innings in 28 out of 33 possible appearances throwing for a total of 50 innings. Devon’s arm was as strong at the end of the year as it was at the beginning. He was dominant in the playoffs; pitching the last 5 innings of his High School career allowing no runs and picking up both saves; the last to win the CCS Championships.
While the stats on pitchers can be misleading take away the game against Monterey, a division 2 team with blue chip college recruits, Devon’s era for the 33.1 innings we worked was 1.05 up only half a point after an entire season. Devon was named to the MTAL All-League first team.
Justin Lyons: Junior 2nd Base 55
Justin injured himself during practice sliding into 2nd base sometime between the Anzar game on 5/5 and the PG game on 5110. I did not see him until Monday the 16th. He was limping around with a light boot on his foot. He wasn’t getting any treatment and the’ orthopedic physician told him it would be at least three weeks before he could play. There was only two weeks left in the season.
We worked with his foot for about 30 minutes using Phase 5, Phase 4, visual isometrics leading up to physical isometrics and exploration of movement. The next time I saw Justin was Wednesday. The boot was off, the constant pain was gone and he could walk. We worked again that day, the 18th.
The first playoff game was Saturday the 21st. At this point Justin could lightly run and did not play. He kept chomping at the bit but the coach and I advised him to be patient. Our third session was on Monday, the 23rd, the day before the semi-divisional playoff game. Justin started that game at 2nd base and played great defense. We had one more session before the championship game. He started that game going 2 for 3 with 3 rbis and a triple. I saw him over die summer. His foot is doing fine.
Kyle Kretchmer: Senior 1st Base Pitcher
Kyle was the one true blue chip player on this team. An extremely smart, talented and motivated kid, Kyle received a full scholarship from UNLV to pitch and play first base.
Until we started working together Kyle just pitched in relief appearing in 15 games pitching 25 innings with a record of 5 saves and one win with no starts. He made his first start against Gonzales on April 27th, the day after we started working. There were 10 or so games left to play which included the playoffs.
Mainly we were doing shoulder maintenance. There was a point where he strained his right calf muscles. Working with Ph 5, visual and physical isometrics the problem cleared in a couple sessions. The most interesting part was yet to come.
While working with his shoulder I was drawri down to the elbow. Holding the “triceps in comfortable relationship to the ulna there was a lengthening opening of the muscle/joint. Using exploration of movement after the release we found his arm moving freer than ever in all of its planes. That was Thursday April 19th. On the 21st Kyle started the first playoff game against Pacific Grove; their league rival. Kyle pitched a complete game shutout throwing only 63 total pitches in seven innings (Division III plays 7 inning games).
The playoff games were played on the 21st, 24th and 28th of May. Kyle pitched in all three games starting the first and last while notching the win in all three. In the second game he came in when they were behind to record 2 scoreless innings while his teammates rallied for a 3-2 victory. Kyle started the final game of the playoffs going 5 innings not giving up a run until the 4th inning when they were up by six runs.
All in all Kyle started 6 of the last 10 games Carmel played in a stretch from April 27th to May 28th. He pitched in 8 of them. His record for those games was 6 wins and 1 loss. He pitched a total of 25 innings over that time allowing 15 runs over 10 games with teams scoring in only 3 of them. His ERA as a reliever was a very good 0.56. As a starter his ERA was 3.36. Again as stats can be deceiving, take away the one game to Division II Monterey and his ERA as a starter was 1.83.
Over that same period Kyle hit .416 with 11 runs batted in, 2 doubles, 4 home runs with 3 walks. Kyle made All CCS First Team and was tied for 2nd place in the state of CA for home runs with 13.
Ryan Pacheco: Senior SS P
If anyone looks like a ball player, it is Ryan. He’s a natural with lots of talent. Unfortunately Ryan has had injuries all his life. When he was born, his left hip was accidentally pulled out of the socket by a doctor. This created an imbalance in the hip, sacrum and femur that can easily be palpated and visually seen. On top of this he always has had shoulder pain.
We started working March 16th. Our first session was great. We practiced Phase 4 and isometrics with all affected areas working a lot with femur and ileum rotations, sacral balance and shoulder girdlel rib relationship. After that session he had greater range and no pain in the shoulder and he felt as if his hips were like rubber.
After our second session his body really synched up and he went on a tear. That next week he was named Athlete of the Week by the Monterey Herald. Throughout the rest of the season Ryan experienced little to no pain at all. We continued to work basically once a week.
When I started working with Ryan he was hitting .310 with 6 runs batted in, 3 doubles, 1 home run and 3 stolen bases with a fielding percentage of .838. For the next 25 games he hit .398 with 21 rbis, 9 doubles, 4 home runs, 2 triples and 18 stolen bases with a fielding percentage of .906. Ryan was named to the MTAL first team. I think Ryan experienced the greatest increase of all the players I worked with.