Dr. Bill Sands, Transcript of Podcast Interview

The Dr. Bill Sands Interview with Your Host, Dr. Joshua Eldridge

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Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Gymnast Care Podcast. This is Dr. Joshua Eldridge. And today, we have one of the most special interviews I have ever done in my life. On this show today, we have Dr. Bill Sands.

Now, if you don’t know who Dr. Bill Sands is, then you’ve been living under a rock, I think. But let me just tell you a little bit about what Dr. Sands has done in his career. He’s been involved in Olympic sports for over 40 years. He was the Head of the Recovery Center at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and he was also the Head of Sport Biomechanics. I mean, just those two things alone make him an expert in our field of gymnastics. But he’s also written approximately 17 books, over 200 articles on sports performance and he’s written some of the articles that I quote most to athletes and coaches all around the world. He is a former gymnast, an All American. He was also a gymnastics coach that had three Olympians and many other national team members. He is known in the world as the leading expert, the leading researcher in Gymnastics Biomechanics.

This is a longer interview than we usually do, but this is worth every minute of your time. I was blown away by the information that I got from Dr. Sands. So without further ado, here is the interview and our fireside chat with Dr. Bill Sands.

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Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right! I’d like to welcome Dr. Bill Sands to the Gymnast Care Podcast. I’m really excited to have him here and I think that from me alone, his nose must be itching all the time because I quote him probably every day. So Dr. Bill Sands, welcome!

Dr. Bill Sands: Thanks, Dr. Eldridge! It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right! So, can you tell us, just to start out, what is your superpower or what’s the one thing that you do better than anybody else?

Dr. Bill Sands: Oh, that’s a difficult question. Yeah, I saw that on the list. I don’t think I have a superpower. Just patience and unwillingness to give up.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: That’s a fantastic one. Can you tell us a little bit about how did you get involved in gymnastics? And I know there’s a lot of stories out there about you from the beginning all the way to where you’ve progressed to now. Can you kind of walk us through just a little bit your history?

Dr. Bill Sands: Sure. It goes back quite a ways now because I’ll be 61 here pretty soon. So let’s see. I started – actually, the person that turned me on to gymnastics was a trampolinist named Brent Williams. He came to my high school in a small farm town in Wisconsin and did a trampoline demonstration, and I was hooked. I thought that was the coolest thing. I also thought the coolest thing to do was either be an Olympian or an astronaut. And being an astronaut was not likely, coming from a real small farm town, but I thought being an Olympian would be really cool. And the Cold War was on and I wanted nothing more than to beat the commies at whatever I could.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: [Laughs]

Dr. Bill Sands: So in those times – you may remember them, actually – that it was a time when beating the commies was palpable. Since that time, we don’t really have the Big Red Menace anymore, so I’m not sure exactly what it is that – how this has progressed – but there’s a lot of history involved in the Cold War and how – all athletes, I think, that were seeking international level performances were involved in that.

I did not have a high school coach. I learned gymnastics from books. And the high school I was at did not – well, it had, I think, three apparatuses. One was a parallel bars. There was a trampoline, and of course mats. So I ended up trying to teach myself. I crashed a lot. And then, I went to a nearby town to the YMCA. Really no one there, although they had another trampoline and was able to instruct me. Then I went to the Swiss Turners in another town. It was a little further away. They didn’t really have a coach either, so I ended up coaching myself there as well. A lady named Nancy Cradiger who, the last I heard, was back in Wisconsin, but I haven’t heard from her in a long time. She sort of became my coach when she came home from college in the summertime. After that, I went to the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Ken Allen was my coach. Really, a fantastic person and a fantastic coach. But he had his work cut out for him because I was “undeveloped,” and that would be kind.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: [Laughs]

Dr. Bill Sands: But I went there. There were no athletic scholarships. I went to college on an academic scholarship. And gosh! The first couple of years were really trying. The my freshman and sophomore years were trying. And Oshkosh was an NAIA school, so in my junior year, I competed all-around and I think I was second that year. I became an NAIA All American in the all-around, and as everyone knows, the NAIA is not quite as competitive as the NCAA, which was good for me because I wasn’t very competitive either. And we won the NAIA nationals that year.

So the following year, in my senior year, we were second, and I think that was the time I was named the NAIA Outstanding Senior Gymnast or something like that. Then following that, I had met Leonard Isaacs from Chicago while I was at Oshkosh, and I went down to work with him because I thought he was just an outstanding coach. I still do, actually. And he taught me how to spot and gave me the opportunities to learn the trade, so to speak. So I moved into coaching and found I was much better at coaching than I was at being a gymnast, which wasn’t actually all that far to go. I was there for two or three years, I think, as I recall. And then, I left to start the gym school with parent backing, which is kind of a typical way that things happen, and I started a gym school called the Mid-America Twisters that went from about – let’s see. 1977 or ’78, something like that, to 1983.

And then, after that I went to graduate school. But in my gym school, we had some great athletes. Let’s see. Three Olympians, numerous national team members and people in the world championships team and things like that. And frankly, I got a little bored. And then, I went back to graduate school, which I’d always promised myself to do and I had an opportunity to go to the University of Utah. I worked with Greg Marsden at Utah for the entire duration of my masters and doctorate and he taught me a great deal. The NCAA system wasn’t unfamiliar to me and I was willing at that point to be kind of a cog in the machine to get my graduate work done.

I tried to make myself indispensable so they hired me at the University of Utah as a faculty member, and I was there for – I don’t know. A number of years. I forget now. I got tenured and all that stuff. And then, I left there and did consulting for about a year. And then, became Department Chair at California Lutheran University. And from California Lutheran, I went to the USOC and was the Senior Physiologist at Lake Placid and the Head of Biomechanics and Engineering in Colorado Springs and Director of the Recovery Center.

Let’s see. Then I went to Colorado Mesa for almost three years. Then the NSCA. I was National Director of Education. And then now, to the East Tennessee State.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Which is I like that you’re in East Tennessee State because I was born in Kingsport.

Dr. Bill Sands: Oh, I’ll be damned. My wife works in Kingsport. Interesting.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Yeah. Every time I think about where you are, I think about that area. So it’s neat.

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah, that’s very close. Yeah.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Yeah. Very close. Did gymnastics at all inspire you to go on? You said you wanted to do your graduate degree, but seeing gymnastics and what was going on with the human body, did that inspire you to kind of go that path that you’re going or was it just the boredom?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, the boredom came when I was coaching, actually. And the boredom with coaching led me to go to graduate school, but I’d always promised myself I was going to go back to graduate school. I have to say when I finished my undergraduate degree, I was so sick of school that I had to get out and do something else. And so, I took up coaching at that time with Leonard, and then the rest kind of proceeded as I described before.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right. So what are you working on now? What kind of things are you working on now that pertains to gymnastics or that you have done in the past year or so that is helping to protect our young gymnasts?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, it’s sort of most sports scientists are kind of hunter-gatherer species, so they sort of wait for interesting questions to come along. And then, they dig that up, look for shiny things, and then investigate that for a while and then wait for the next topic to come along. Right now, I’m continuing work that’s going on 25 years, writing up the information that I learned about spring floors, which is Achilles tendons and whatnot that I know you’re interested in.

And recently, I’ve also stumbled into some information as a member of the Scientific Commission for the FIG from a fellow researcher on the commission from Germany looking at vision – or that lack of vision, I guess – when people perform somersaults. So I think I may have that potential mechanism for how kids get lost in space when they’re performing somersaulting skills. And the other stuff with the spring floor is a long term project that’s been going on since, geez, 1994 or so. So that’s been a long haul. But I’m almost done. I’ve got one more paper to write, and then I’m going to move on to something else.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: And at National Congress, you said you were having some stuff published this past fall. Did that end up coming out?

Dr. Bill Sands: Yes. Let’s see. One was published in Gymnastics Science Journal. I have one paper right now that’s in review for the International Society for Biomechanics and Sports Journal. It’s called Sports Biomechanics. That’s in review. I haven’t heard yet. I have a paper on recovery that’s in review with the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And then, I have another spring floor paper that is – at this point, it’s with the coauthors. And they’re reviewing it and sending me back their comments and edits and so forth.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: And I have one more paper that I’m in the midst of writing on spring floors.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right. And then, can you go into – and this might be a long answer – but can you go into what’s going on when one of our gymnasts punches the floor. So as they do that – I think you said flick-flack – and then punch into the floor. Can you explain why we’re getting so many issues with Achilles tendons and calves, Sever’s Disease and all those things pertaining to the calves and gymnasts?

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah. It’s a story but with multiple plots going on. So I’ll try and take each line of reasoning as far as I can. As everybody knows, gymnasts usually put a flip-flop – or I call them “flip-flops.” The flick-flack thing sounds like an assault on the beach. But I still call them a flip-flop. And we know that – actually, just a recent publication showed that doing the backhand spring or the flip-flop before a somersault takeoff was more effective than doing a whip back. What we call a whip back or some people call a tempo salto. There is research data to show that the flip-flop is more effective. Both kinds of entries to a backwards somersault takeoff result in just astonishingly high forces that have to be taken by the ankle and the foot and the Achilles tendon and the Triceps surae group or the calf muscles. The forces can go from about 8.8 to about 17.2 times body weight. Those are the forces that are read in a force platform under their feet.

So the amount of force that’s being applied to the foot causing the stretch of the Achilles tendon is astonishing. And in fact, those forces are probably among the very highest we ever see in sport. Even triple jumpers don’t often get that high of force values. So when athletes punch the floor to do a somersault type takeoff, they’re enjoying 8.8 to 17 or so times their body weight during that takeoff and they’re going to have similar forces on landing.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Will that be for even our younger girls? So level 3, 4 5?

Dr. Bill Sands: If they punch effectively, yes.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: This last paper – well, actually, even the previous paper – on tumbling takeoffs shows that the spring floor – that’s sort of the other plot, I guess. I’m going to shift plots now. The spring floor is not an entirely well-tuned apparatus to jump from. It certainly has protected gymnasts for years and I’m not saying that it’s – what would I say? It’s not bad. It could be better. Let’s put it that way. We know that the spring floor is not tuned very well for the lower extremity actions of a gymnast and this odd tuning often results in the spring floor giving back or rebounding before the gymnast is ready to receive it. Now, the 3, 4, 5 kids, that’s seriously in their area. So not seriously as in bad, but seriously in their area. So when youngsters who are not very well developed and not very strong and not very skilled tumble, you often see their knees collapse during takeoffs. And that knee collapse, I think, is a property of the underlying spring floor and their weakness and their lower levels of skill and experience. But I think the spring floor does contribute to that knee collapse, and I have data to show it.

What I found in studying gymnastics takeoffs is that most gymnasts – and I’ve only found two exceptions in all the studies I’ve done, two individual athlete exceptions – show that during a takeoff, they actually bend their knees twice, and that does not make any mechanical sense to me at all. So when I found that – and frankly, it wasn’t easy to find – if you use typical filtering methods for biomechanics data, it oftentimes obliterates the second little knee bend. So sometimes the second knee bend is pretty dramatic and it’s easy to see and sometimes it’s more subtle and it looks like more of a hesitation, but it’s always there. So I think that second knee bend is partly due to the artifact of doing a flipping takeoff and partly due to the intermediate rebound or recoil of the spring floor. And that intermediate recoil, in my view, is one of the things that can cause foot, ankle and other problems.

The other potential contributor, I think, is the matting itself because when you look at how – especially with slow motion approaches – you can see how the foot sort of disappears into the foam and the carpet. And Bruggeman and others have shown that the distribution of forces across the rear part of the leg and the ankle are not necessarily ideal for all the muscles that are there. There are some obliquely directly forces that tend to concentrate the ground reaction forces into different segments of the Achilles tendon. And unfortunately, that means that the entire Achilles tendon is not necessarily taking the entire load. And when you shift the load to smaller parts of the tendon, you run the risk of exceeding the ability of the tendon to handle those forces.

That also goes for the feet. Most postures in tumbling takeoffs have the feet pronated, which means the inner border of the foot is lower than the outer border. And unfortunately also, oftentimes, the gymnast will put more weight on one foot than the other, particularly on twisting takeoffs, but also on plain – what should be symmetrical takeoffs are not always symmetrical.

And perhaps the last thing that people don’t seem to understand because it happens so quick is that the lion’s share of gymnasts touch their heels when they do a rearward tumbling takeoff. Now, even some very good scientists have argued with me that that’s not the case, but I have to say the video is unmistakable. So only a small percentage of athletes can actually do that rearward tumbling takeoff and not touch their heels. They’re astonishingly rare. By touching their heels, that means that the dorsiflexion position or the toe towards the shin motion at the ankle is extreme. And when you couple that with the extraordinarily high forces that are seen in the ankle and the foot at takeoff, that’s a recipe for serious problems.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: And you said that as that heel starts to drop down to the floor, then you get the eccentric contraction of the calves or as that muscle is elongating because the heel is dropping, and then it tries to contract to protect itself.

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, whether or not it’s eccentric or not is probably unclear at this point. Jim Hay did a lot of work looking at muscle activations in the long jump. And what he found was that the typical approach, the kinesiological approach where you would just look at how the joint changed and then assume that the muscles that normally would do that action because of their line of pull have to be doing eccentric, static or concentric tension, what he showed was that oftentimes, the muscle is actually contracting statically, but the elastic connective tissue is what’s actually allowing the joint to change position. And in particular, in the ankle. That was one of the things that he saw in the long jump. So I wish I could say that it was eccentric-concentric coupling, but I have to say that it’s probably closer to static-concentric coupling with the connective tissue taking the brunt of the major load.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right. That makes a lot of sense. So let’s say our athletes can stabilize foot and knee somewhat, but traveling up the kinetic chain, they don’t have the ability to control themselves and their lower back or upper back or neck, do these findings at all transfer over into the possibility of an athlete injuring other places because they’re not in control of themselves?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, most certainly, yeah. And one of the things I found in the paper I’m writing up now – and actually, the other papers too – was that in the secondary knee bend, the knee actually moves forward away from the direction in which the somersault and the tumbling pass are directed. Unfortunately, when that knee moves forward, that action has to be opposed by a reaction. And so, you end up with sort of a postural nightmare with some parts of the body going backwards and some parts are static in the sense that the feet are stuck to the ground. The knee goes forward either because of the intermediate reaction or vibration of the floor or knee weakness or however you’d like to state it or a quadriceps weakness. And that knee going forward then has to result in some change at the hip, which usually means that the lower extremity ends up being less springy than one might like. And that loss of springiness doesn’t help the somersaults. So oftentimes, the athlete has to hyperextend the spine in order to continue the somersault that was already created. And as a result then, put stress on the spine.

So there’s a whole cascade of issues that can occur. And unfortunately, trying to describe a one and done scenario of how those happen isn’t always working because there are so many individual variations to how people manage their posture, forces and joint positions. It is highly dependent on each individual and their segment lengths and how strong they are and how fast the tumbling pass was going. And even, I found, the other vibrations that occur to the spring floor as they’re running and tumbling prior to the takeoff because the spring floor is not static and the takeoff is connected to the whole part of the spring floor that leads up to it. So putting force platforms under the spring floor, we found that we could not use the ground reaction forces under the takeoff area. Well confidently, let’s say, because the previous vibrations that were elicited due to the running and tumbling messed up the force platform ratings. Not in the sense that the platform couldn’t detect them. It detected them just fine. But the ability to draw conclusions on the takeoff aspect was muddied by the fact that there were already vibrations present.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: So what do you think is – through your research and practical experience – what are some of the things that kids can do as they’re coming up to the levels that can help protect themselves from some of these forces?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, I think kids and coaches, frankly, because I don’t think the kids can do it on their own and they’re too young. I mean, you have to find the adult in the room to make the changes. You know what? Oddly enough, I wasn’t a big fan of Tumbl Trak for a long time, but I’ve lately become more of a fan. I believe the spring floor is tuned too fast. So the spring floor goes down and up too fast for most gymnasts. Now, some gymnasts seem to be able to synchronize with it fairly well and their secondary knee bends are difficult to see. And then, a couple of athletes who are phenomenal physical creatures, it really seem to be just tuned for them just right. In the less than super elite athletes, I think the spring floor is tuned too fast so the floor goes down. It tries to come back up because the natural frequency of the floor is different than the gymnast motions. And then, when it comes back up, it causes a weaker athlete to hyperdorsiflex the ankle and then flex the knee again prior to actually leaving the floor. And in a sense, it sort of kills their bounce.

So people familiar with trampoline know what that means. If you could think of diving on a diving board where you try to do the approach on the diving board in a rhythm that has the board moving with you when you get to the end to compress it, what we’re seeing in the middle of the tumbling takeoff is a possibility where the – like the diving boars is actually going up and slapping you in the bottom of the feet. And so, that doesn’t really happen in a spring floor because the weight of the gymnast is holding the floor down. But it does end up being manifested by a rising force that causes the knees to buckle.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Would you point towards any specific resources that coaches and gymnasts can kind of get involved in to protect things like the knees and lower back?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, I think first and foremost, most kids are starting tumbling before they’re strong enough to stand it. The initial conditioning aspects of gymnastics need to be taken more seriously with youngsters. And I think you need to withhold or keep them off of a real spring floor until they’re strong enough to handle it. Oftentimes in gymnastics – and this was true in other sports too, having been at the USOC – skiers used to ski themselves into shape, boxers used to box themselves into shape and gymnasts by and large trick themselves into shape.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: [Laughs]

Dr. Bill Sands: And so, one of the things that gymnastics has to come to grips with is to have a criteria. A vaguer range of criteria, however they can be implemented, that would say that you have to be so strong before I’m going to let you do something that has a high impact character to it or high orthopedic demands. I would say that there’s a fair amount of conditioning, as boring as it may be, that needs to be done with youngsters before setting them loose on a hard spring floor. Now, one way of course is Tumbl Traks. I think another is to tumble on a matting that’s a little softer and slower such as the Air Floor and other things. I’ve studied the Air Floor and compared it to the spring floor. The Air Floor does slow down the natural frequency of the spring floor and that may help. Just plain old fashioned mats, thicker mats may help.

The hassle with them, with matting and stuff, is that if they’re unskilled, then the level of penetration of the foot may be a problem because if their heel penetrates the mat further than the toes, you can end up stretching the calf muscles and Achilles tendon more. So that would require that they have a pretty solid push from the handstand or handspring part to the foot landing and the takeoff. But again, that comes down to conditioning because they’ve got to be pretty strong in order to be able to push hard from their hands to get more upright so that they don’t bury their feet into the foam.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: The one article that you wrote about should female gymnasts lift weights or something to that nature, are those the type of exercises that you’re talking about developing the strength or are you talking about other exercises as well?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, weight training I think could be very beneficial for female gymnasts, and male gymnasts too for that matter, particularly early on. However, weight training cannot substitute for in the gym training – the old fashioned dips and jumps and landings and things like that because it’s very specific. What weight training can do is allow you to handle loads in a safe environment like in a rack or with a spotter or something that’s easy to control so you can be strong enough to withstand those forces that come at you later on.

I believe in the future, as gymnastics progresses, the ability to just trick yourself into high level performance is going to diminish. Now, I thought it would run out of steam earlier than this, and it’s still hanging on, but I think the future is going to have to require extraordinarily strong young athletes and the safest way to acquire that strength without hanging to beat the snot out of kids is to do it in the weight room. Virtually every other sport on the planet has figured out that you win in the weight room and you go into the gym for show and I hope that we would make that transition sometime soon. I know that people worry about bulking up and all that kind of stuff, but I can tell you a couple of words – it’s just nonsense. If it was that easy to bulk up by lifting weights, then every high school boy would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Uh-hm. That would’ve been me if I could have actually bulked up from weights. And your article, that article – and I’ll to it in our show notes – but that article, I think, gets into really good detail about talking about the lower reps across sets rather than high reps. And the same thing being that what they’re doing in the gym is probably creating more of the hypertrophy or the larger muscles than anything that a weight room would ever do.

Dr. Bill Sands: Oh yeah, I agree. Typically, bodybuilders who are the ones that are going to bulk up train in the 10 to 20 range of repetitions because that tends to build up the gunk in the cell. The real strong and powerful people usually don’t train with repetitions that high. Now, that doesn’t mean that every little kid that’s level 4 or whatever needs to go in and start lifting heavy. That’s not the case. Most of the time with young kids should be spent in teaching them how to lift properly. And then, when they get older and their skeleton has developed and their connective tissue has developed to a point where they can withstand it, then they can start putting some weight on the bar or machine or whatever they have that they find is useful. I’m a proponent of free weights, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use machines. It’s just that it’s harder to simulate real world motions with machines.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Right.

Dr. Bill Sands: So anyway, the idea that you’ll bulk up from it is just nonsense. That’s just not true. However, you have to use good judgment. You can’t have inexperienced, weak kids trying to lift really heavy. And with little boys, that’s a problem because when they get into a weight room, the first thing they want to do is see how much they can lift. And so, you need a responsible person to guide their training and do age appropriate things.

I often tell people that if you took all your knowledge and made a pile of it in gymnastics, and then took all the knowledge that exist in dance and in resistance training, the two other piles would be much bigger than your gymnastics pile because I think many of the kids in early stages should be learning how to lift and a lot of their time should be spent in dance because that’s fundamental to darn near everything. And unfortunately, dance teachers and dance training in gymnastics has fallen on hard times just because of the stupid Code of Points.

But in my view, if I was to do it over again, I would probably not do much in the way of apparatus training with those young kids. I would prefer to have them concentrate on dance work. And then, do their conditioning in the spirit of teaching them how to handle heavier loads that are coming as they get older.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: And there’s something that I’ve been talking about to different coaches, especially the more experienced ones, that there seems to be kind of what you talked about before – a common theme in gymnastics that it’s going to take 600 reps in order to get the skill or to build the strength to do the skill. What is your thought on – and I don’t know if you ever thought about it before, but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about – the process of chunking or breaking down these moves into easier to learn skills so that we don’t have to spend the amount of repetitions doing the skill and injuring the gymnast. Have you ever thought about that or thought about ways to start moving things that direction?

Dr. Bill Sands: Oh yeah. That was a common theme when I was at the USOC years ago before I worked at the USOC. Arie Selinger, who was the women’s volleyball coach and Gideon Ariel had a nice presentation describing how they got the women’s volleyball team in shape. And they used the concept that I’ve used ever since, and that is the idea of getting in shape first, and then teach them the skills rather than using the skills to get them in shape.

And so, they went so far as to find out that – Arie Selinger said there are two things you need in a women’s volleyball player. They got to be tall and they got to be able to jump. And so, when they looked at jumping, they found that they could do some modifications of the jumping technique, particularly the plant or the gather of the feet before the jump that would allow them to jump higher and faster. They took a biomechanical analysis. Gideon Ariel ran the numbers and found that the sheer forces at the knee were too high for the current strength levels of those athletes. So lo and behold, what an obvious common sense thing to do. It was to get them strong enough to withstand the sheer, and then teach them the new technique. So I thought that was astonishingly smart, but very rare in modern sport.

So I would say the same thing for gymnasts. There are many sub-skills that can be worked on. And a lot of times, the skill in a kip, for example, which seems to get almost all of the attention for those kinds of progressions like you described in numbers, one of the serious problems that I see is grip strength because oftentimes, the biggest problem in a kip is not the ability to rise above the bar, but it’s the inability to get their wrist on top of the bar. And so, oftentimes the reason they can’t do that is because their hand slides under the bar so far that it’s just too far for their wrist to go to get back on top of the bar. So if they worked on their grip strength, their hand wouldn’t slide under the bar so far, so they’re just in a better position to acquire support. So there’s a plug for working on grip strength.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: So just going back and what I’ve always learned with lifting weights and strength training, that’s one of the best ways to increase grip strength. Just to kind of bring it back to there. There’s other ways as well, but that’s a great way to increase grip strength.

Dr. Bill Sands: Oh yeah, there are lots of ways. And I don’t want to be dogmatic because every time anyone is dogmatic, you should probably run from those as fast as you can.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: [Laughs]

Dr. Bill Sands: But there are lots of ways to do this job and it doesn’t have to be weights, but the spirit of weight training should be in the things that you’re doing. And if you can use weights, that’s wonderful, but I know most gym schools can’t afford them or don’t have the room for them. So you got to use your imagination and come up with things that can make that happen. Now sometimes it’s bends. Those work fine too. Sometimes it’s partner exercises. Those can also work. But the resistance that the athlete experiences has to be more than they’re accustomed to. And that’s the problem with using their own body weight. Because then, about the only way you can get overload is to increase the number of repetitions. And we know that increasing the number of repetitions starts to move you towards bodybuilding and endurance activities. And that’s not where we want to go.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: And another subject that you covered at National Congress was abdominal strength. What’s the optimal way to train abdominal muscles for what gymnasts are doing? So is it more of the repetitions that we see in the gym or is it a different type of method?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, frankly, I think you need to do a little of both, but I don’t think the idea of doing hundreds of repetitions of abdominal exercises or side bends or arch ups or things like that is really smart. Most of the time, you’ll find that abdominal muscles or the muscles around the midsection are predominantly fast fiber. And so, they don’t even respond well to these hundred repetition sets. You’re better off overloading them carefully and ensuring that they maintain good posture, but doing that with loads that are a little heavier and that they would probably fail in less than 20 repetitions. So if you can take that approach and do so safety, then I think that’s a smarter way to go, especially considering the typical fiber type distributions that you find in those muscles.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Could you give us an example of like a regimen that you’d use for a day when you’re training abdominal muscles and would you train them every day?

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah. Abdominal muscles seem to respond nicely to daily training. Not all muscles do and not all exercises do. Abdominals seem to be one of the ones that you can do fairly often. I would say that when you do crunches, you need to alternate from the kind of crunch that looks like you’re rolling up a piece of paper with the kind where you keep a pretty straight back and lift the entire trunk by using your abdominal muscles. Oftentimes, the crunch actions don’t engage the abdominals in the same way that a straight back “rise of the trunk,” for lack of a better word. I don’t know. And I can’t draw it so… That does.

And if you are familiar with McGill – I think it’s Stuart McGill – in Canada who does a ton of work on studying backs, he doesn’t like to see crunches at all because he thinks they’re potentially damaging. Now, on the one hand I understand and respect his research. On the other, I also understand and know that gymnasts have to do crunches because the nature of the movements that they do, particularly swinging on bars and the infamous “hollow position” does require that the athlete be able to do a crunch or a crunch type position or a contraction. Pick your term. So I know those have to happen and a gymnast needs a very supple spine. Much more so than most other sports do.

So McGill’s work, I think, points out the potential threats to a healthy spine by doing too much of a good thing and beating them up by doing hundreds of repetitions of various abdominal exercises just to me doesn’t make sense. You don’t get much of a benefit from it from the strength standpoint and the constant and high number of repetitions are going to increase the orthopedic demands on the spine, which is just plain dumb. If I’m going to do exercises, I want to get maximum benefit in the minimum amount of investment. And so, I don’t know why you would do that unless it’s punishment and we know we don’t want to use exercise for punishment.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: What do you think is good and what do you think is bad – since we brought up the hollow position – but what do you think is good and bad about the hollow position?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, it has its place, and arguably, I would say the place for the hollow position is mostly when you’re on hand support. But straight is going to be better than hollow in most cases. There are some swing techniques on uneven bars and there are some snapping techniques at the waist and hip and trunk that require a contraction. So there are some specific techniques that require the contraction or the crunching motion of the bending of the spine.

But I guess the modern look at how gymnastics techniques have evolved is that massive changes in body position are not as advantageous as gymnastics goes along. That’s an awkward way of saying it. If we think back to bends horizontal bar when people were doing a hecked dismount back before the multiple somersault things became so popular, in the initial stages of the development of that skill, people used to go over from the handstand into a great, big arch, swing down, and then do an awkward-looking tap that had enormous body position changes. And then later, people found out that you didn’t have to do any of those body position changes and you could accomplish the same thing.

So I think that gymnasts need to know the body positions, but straight, as gymnastics evolved, is almost always the best shape. And so, if you can do it with a straight back, I think you’re going to be at an advantage later on. And certainly as gymnastics evolves, as we’ve seen from bent arms to straight arms to, well, just about every other limb segment you can think of, the straighter you are, the better it looks. And generally speaking, the more effective the mechanics. So I would argue for a straight spine whenever you can achieve it.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: And one of the things that I find, which is awesome that you say that, but one of the things that I find in gymnasts of all ages – so even the ones that were former gymnasts – when I gave my talk at National Congress, we had this young lady who was just ripped. She was probably 27 or 28. She couldn’t lay on her back with her knees bent, shoulders back on the table and tighten her core without getting into the hollow position. So she wanted to bring her pelvis back up and shorten those abdominal muscles. But it’s amazing how gymnasts can’t do straight.

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah. Female gymnastics, women’s gymnastics is predominantly a jumping sport. Now I know uneven bars, it has upper body things in it. But if you look, the other three events are jumping. And if you look at jumping athletes, that’s the way they are. They have enormous quads. Pathetic hamstrings. Great, big glute muscles, weak abdominals and strong lower back muscles. So that’s the profile of a jumping athlete. So on the one hand, it serves them for jumping, but if taken to extremes, that’s never a good thing. So you want to try and make sure that there’s a balance and I would say that your chances of achieving that balance are slim or none, but I think you need to constantly pursue it in an attempt to keep everything balanced and healthy. I don’t think that just a few exercises before or after practice are ever going to overwhelm all of the skill training and whatnot that happens, but I think you’d want to try and aim for that even though you’re not likely to achieve it.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Nice! I like that. So can we switch gears a little bit and talk about recovery?

Dr. Bill Sands: Sure. Yep!

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right. Because this is another thing that I love to talk about, is recovery, and you’re an expert at it. But just tell me, what’s your thoughts on gymnastics and recovery and practicing four hours a day, every day? What can a 10 to 12 year old take? What can’t she take? What’s your thoughts on all that?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, unfortunately, it’s going to be pretty individualized. So you’ll find some athletes that are astonishingly durable and other athletes that can’t do the same workloads. But even without the same workloads, seem to accomplish the same. So I don’t have a recipe for you, but I can say that in most cases – well, I shouldn’t say that. Not in most cases. In all cases. When in doubt, work less. So there’s a common thing where when you get to the – especially near the period of the season where competitions really matter, the tournament season and so forth – when people tend to think that, “If I could just get 2% more” or something like that on their training “that then I could just cream them!” And that’s an enormous mistake.

I learned from Ed Jorgensen from Norway, because they even have data on it to show that when you get towards or near your peak performance that is towards the tournament season, the trick to not overtraining is to cut back. And you only have to cut back 5%. It’s not enormous. You don’t rest and get out of shape. But you have to cut back. And if you do, and then be patient and take your time, you’ll find that you will gain that 5% or more back by just taking your time. But the – how do I put it? The risk-benefits problem is that if you go for that 2% or 3% in trying to cream your opponents, the potential costs are enormous and the benefits are 2%. So an injured athlete doesn’t help anybody. And when you push the edge of the envelope, that’s where you’re likely to end up, is injuring yourself in the pursuit.

I agree, in the pursuit of wonderful, noble things, but you’ll find that most – how would I put it? Most competent, intelligent coaches know that when they get near their peak performance levels, that is not the time to put the hammer down. You’re better off resting more. And usually in gymnastics, that means throwing them out of the gym. Because usually in gymnastics, if you’re planning to work for four hours, kids and coaches will find a way to fill that four hours with work. And so, about the only way you can really get them to rest is to not let them train as much. So it’s difficult to do low intensity and low volume days in gymnastics.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: And that’s something that I see, and I get the argument from coaches and gym owners, “Well, the parents are paying for them to be here so they have to be here.” What do you say to those type of arguments? How would you explain it or what would you point them towards to say, “Hey, this is why we shouldn’t be doing this, why we should be taking more time to rest”?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, I guess you might have to ask the parents why are they there. I mean, are they there just to fill up time and get babysitting services or are they there to win? And winning at each level, I think, is what their goal probably should be, and they have to trust the coach to know when enough is too much. And I have to say back in the day, in the early Cretaceous period when the earth was still cooling, I used to have a class for my parents that was called “Gymnastics Appreciation.” And we used to hold it at one of the kid’s houses so that I was off my turf and on their turf. And then, we would – in those days we used Super 8 film. That’s how old I am. Because VHS tapes weren’t even invented yet. But we would meet at their houses and we would discuss those things so that parents understood that there is time to work and time to rest, and what you’re paying for is the whole package and not minutes on a clock.

And so, the minutes on the clock would be important only if they’re in the preparatory period where you do strive to try and fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of work. But in the periods when they’re getting ready for competition, workouts need to be short and sweet. There’s an interview of Nelli Kim, who people may not remember, but a gold medalist in Montreal and Moscow and whatnot. A fabulous athlete and she only trained one-and-a-half to two hours a day when the competition season was hot.

Now, that sounds like heresy to most gym coaches in the West, but you might consider that back in the day, we used to do compulsories and optional routines and learning skills and everything else in the same amount of time that people now do optionals. And to be honest, the progress of skills and whatnot, although admittedly is better, it isn’t that much better when you increase the amount of training time 100% and I don’t see 100% improvement in skills. So we might want to sit back for a second and figure out that maybe less is more.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: I like that a lot. The other question I had for you on this whole subject is what about a hard practice? So your coach gives you a hard practice – which athletes think they need to have hard practices as part of being an athlete – but what’s your thought about recovery after a hard practice? So you go in and you do your four hours and you’ve just been – in the army we called it “smoked.” So you’re having trouble moving back around. What’s the recovery rate after that?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, it has to be a multipronged approach. So first and foremost is nutrition. There is complete consensus on the use of nutrients to enhance your ability to recover. Embarrassingly, one whole ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) meeting was held – I think it was in Baltimore – and the major conclusion of the whole thing was chocolate milk. I mean, I’ve been professing the advantages of chocolate milk for years, but that’s one of the very first and simplest things that you can do because you need to improve or increase their carbohydrate intake in this magic period that supposedly goes for about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on who you read.

Now, one thing that is important though is that that 40 minutes to an hour is just the optimal time. It’s not the only time. Because your body will continue to process carbohydrate and protein throughout the rest of the day, the evening and even through the night. So you want to try and get carbohydrate and a smattering of protein in immediately after training. But then, that doesn’t mean that’s the only time you eat it. You should go home and have a regular meal and all those sorts of things to make sure that you’re meeting your energy needs. First and foremost, the thing that has to be replenished is carbohydrate. Then, a close second is protein, and fat is a very distant third. But that’s, without a doubt, the first thing I would do and it’s probably the simplest and easiest thing to do.

After that, it’s a little hairier after that. So there are different proponents of different recovery methodologies or modalities. At the Olympic Training Center, we had massage, steam, hot yoga, a sauna, hot tubs, cold tubs and all that kind of stuff. I can give you kind of the list in order of things that you might pursue. After training, the first thing that seems to be beneficial is dynamic compression. So that one seems to have a very nice consensus. Unfortunately, it requires apparatus. So there are a couple of companies that make things, NormaTec probably being the most advanced at this point. Unfortunately, the device is kind of expensive. So that, I would argue, is a no brainer and a slam dunk if you can afford them. We use them at the USOC. They sent 25 of them or so to Beijing. We know they work.

After that, it can be just static compression. Different kinds of garments, compression tights and those kinds of things. Those also help. Then, comes ice or a cold plunge. Using cold helps affect – well, let me back up. Using compression helps reduce the amount of lymphatic fluids and whatnot that are present in the interstitial space or the space between cells. As a bit of illustration, if you look at the circulation of fluids throughout the body, at rest, about – well, let’s put it this way. During exercise, the amount of fluid that leaves the capillaries in the muscle will increase eight to tenfold over the same circulation at rest. And so, all the stuff that goes out of the capillaries generally speaking doesn’t go back in. And so, you’ve got cellular debris and broken proteins and a bunch of other junk – immune cells and whatnot – that accumulate in the spaces between cells that has to be flushed out.

And so, while people tend to jump on the bandwagon of increasing circulation as a means of recovery, that presumes that the waste products have been eliminated from the spaces outside of the circulation, which by and large they haven’t. And unfortunately, lymphatic vessels are fairly fragile and the valves and whatnot are fairly fragile. So you need some means of flushing all of those cellular debris components and whatnot away from tissues so that the healing process can begin. At that point, increasing circulation is going to be a great deal more beneficial, and you can do that with a cold plunge. Heat is probably less desirable because it’s also a precursor for inflammation. Cold doesn’t seem to do that. It does seem to reduce inflammation while encouraging the shell core effect to enhance circulation at the same time.

So first is nutrition. Second is compression, dynamic compression. And then, kind of as a sidelight you could do static compression, then cold plunges, cold baths or something like that.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: At what temperature, approximately?

Dr. Bill Sands: The ones we found effective was around 50°F to 54°F. Yeah. So it’s not freezing cold. It’s uncomfortably cold, I can tell you that, but you don’t have icicles fall off you.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Right, right.

Dr. Bill Sands: And you have to judiciously apply it. So you go in and out and in and out and in and out. That encourages the shell core effect.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: You can put icepacks on things. That’s great for local problems and whatnot, but I’m not talking about rehabilitating an injury. I’m talking about recovering. And so, that’s a more systemic thing that covers the whole body and not just a sore ankle and so forth. For that, you go to the medical people and they’re going to put you on ice.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: So when you go under the cold plunge, are you talking about two to five minutes or less coming out?

Dr. Bill Sands: To begin. Yeah. To begin it’s pretty short.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: It’s pretty short, yeah. And your tolerance for cold will go up the more you use it. And frankly, generally, people feel better not immediately after the cold, but a few minutes later, they feel better and their tolerance will grow and they will sort of become more encouraged. They’ll encourage themselves to take the cold plunge more seriously and stay in there a little longer. But you don’t have to be in there for half an hour or even if you’d want to. That’s not necessary. You get in for a few minutes. When you feel good and cold, then get out, and warm up again, and then get back in. It’s kind of harsh, I have to admit, but you only have to do it three or four times. That’s plenty. And for children, I would say probably not so much.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: I think that it would be better for children, the real youngster gymnasts, to – the cold plunge and heat therapy and that sort of stuff, the whole body stuff is probably contraindicated. Kids don’t necessarily suffer from it, but temperature regulation in children is a little twitchy. So I would say – if I have to say in public – I would say you need to attenuate that stuff and not do so much whole body things like saunas and steam rooms and cold plunges and hot tubs for children. It’s probably not the greatest idea.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: Their temperature regulations is not mature.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: A cool bath maybe for them if they’re having trouble with recovery?

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah, yeah. But again, not in it for very long. When they start to – their teeth are chattering and things like that – that’s plenty.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: And that usually happens pretty fast.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Okay.

Dr. Bill Sands: And they don’t have to do their whole body. They could just do their legs to enhance circulation down there if that’s where they’re sore.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right. After a cold plunge, what’s the next thing?

Dr. Bill Sands: Then I would say then you get to massage, and it’s kind of a tossup then. Massage… Let’s see. Well, not stretching. That’s commonly thought of as being the end all and be all to recovery. Stretching actually interferes with recovery. It doesn’t help it. So the idea of finishing practice and then doing a 15 minute stretching thing, it’s okay for flexibility, but don’t use it for recovering because that’s not going to happen. Stretching actually detracts from recovery.

Then, I would say just the typical warm down. Allow your body to get back to normal temperature and normal metabolism before going to bed. So sleep and power naps are very helpful for enhancing recovery.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: So what about my high school students that are going to practice from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM, and then they’re going home doing three hours of homework and getting to bed about midnight and waking up at 6:00 AM? What’s going to happen to these young athletes that are not sleeping at least eight hours?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, the requirements for sleep vary with people, but by and large for youngsters, they need as much sleep as they need. One of these days, schools are going to figure out that the natural day for preadolescence, people are going through adolescence and immediately post-adolescence, is to start late in the morning and go to later at night. Now, unfortunately, the problem is not so much that they go to bed late. It’s that they have to get up early. And school systems need to come to grips with the idea that that’s probably not the smartest way to do things.

If you recall when you were in high school, trying to get there for that 7:30 AM class and you felt like dog breath and looked like you were hung over even though you weren’t. But yet around 10:00 AM or so, you tend to wake up, and that’s just the way circadian rhythms work in youngsters. So if you can get study halls or have a delayed appearance at school, that would be very nice. However, the more sleep you can get before midnight, the better. Sleep before midnight is superior to a long lie in in the morning. For example, typically, they stay up late on Friday night and Saturday night with the intent of remedying things by sleeping late in the morning on Saturday morning or Sunday morning. We know that sleep early in the sleep cycle is a little better than sleep late in the sleep cycle. So that would be another thing to consider.

I would also say that the primary problem that they face is schoolwork and they have to learn to study and they have to learn to be astonishingly efficient. That means no TV while they’re studying, no distractions. We know that although kids think they can multitask, we know with abundant data, the consensus is in, people cannot multitask effectively. You can only do one thing at a time. So shut off the TV, take the ear buds out. None of that stuff so they can get their homework done in a respectable amount of time.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Great! Anything else on recovery that you think is critical for parents?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, the most I would say from a parent’s standpoint is to provide them with healthy meals. And if that means taking a plate with them when they pick them up, there’s no harm in eating in the car as long as the meal is complete and healthy. That may provide them with a few extra minutes to get the wash done and get a head start on homework so that they can get to bed at a reasonable hour. Unfortunately, I do know that that’s not always possible. But whenever you can, keep an eye on youngsters and ensure that they are indeed recovering.

If they’re not recovering, then the parents need to just say that Suzy Cream Cheese isn’t ready and the coaches need to understand that the idea of gymnastics training and participating in it is to do better and not just occupy time. And so, there are numerous times when athletes do – in distance running, it’s called “junk mileage.” And in gymnastics repetitions, I often see that. The only person who needs to see another repetition is the neurotic coach. The kid has already figured out, and I don’t care if they’re a billionaire. They couldn’t buy a better repetition at this moment. And just pounding away at further repetitions is not always the answer. Sometimes, it’s smarter to back away and come back at it tomorrow. So the one more, one more, one more thing, while indeed intoxicating at times, doesn’t have to rule your life.

There was an old adage, “Don’t go in to win the warm ups.” Understand that it matters when the contest is here and reducing training load a little bit here and there is enough to often come back as an investment, profoundly enhancing performance for a relatively minimal cost. So if coaches can look at their motives, parents and gymnasts too, because if the idea is to see how much punishment you can take, well then, let’s take away all the mats and all the safety mechanisms and make it a test of guts. But I would prefer to see gymnastics be a test of skill, preparation and ability and talent. And for that, I think, as an adult, well let’s make it as safe as possible. And safety doesn’t stop at the mat. You have to be intelligent enough to know that, “Oh, that’s far enough!” And we’ve got our goals today. Continuing to press doesn’t always work. When you’re training a dog to do something and the dog does it right, continued practice doesn’t make sense to the dog because the dog thinks that every time you try to do the same thing over again, that the dog must have got it wrong before and the dog is trying to figure out how to change it. Because they got it right, they got it right! Practice isn’t always necessarily needed to enhance performance. Most of the time, what’s needed is increased fitness. And tired athletes don’t get stronger.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: I like that. It’s good stuff [Laughs]. Well, I think that you’ve answered so many of my questions that I’ve had since I heard your presentation back in August. Yeah, this was amazing. Just having you on and talking.

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah. Well, I’m glad I could help.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Yeah. Is there anything else that you think that I didn’t ask or that you think is important for parents and coaches and athletes that maybe you don’t hear out there in the mainstream gymnastics community that they need to know about?

Dr. Bill Sands: Well, I often use the word “sensible,” and I’ve even titled some articles that way – thinking sensibly about this or that. Especially with kids, I think you need to have a healthy perspective on what’s necessary. Now I’ll admit, even when I was training, that if someone asked me, “Let’s go down to the pool hall and screw around” in my small, little farm town in Wisconsin, I would have said, “Screw you! I want to go and work out!” And you would have had a hard time keeping me from working out. I mean, I used to use – I don’t know if they call them that anymore – but I used to use a rattail comb to sneak in to the gymnasium at my high school after hours and just turn enough lights on the balcony so that nobody would see me, and then I would go up and work out on my own. And I got caught every once in a while and thrown out, but that’s the nature of the passion that’s involved.

So was what I did healthy? Hmm, borderline. And sometimes the adult has got to step in and say enough is enough. But kids are – especially young gymnasts with their perfection orientation – they’re going to want proceed, they’re going to want to work hard and they’re driven in most cases to do that. So most of the time, you don’t have to put the hammer down. What you need to do is be intelligent about selecting the optimal approaches to training and not necessarily the maximal approaches. And sometimes just because they’re durable, it’s not license to beat up on them.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: I like that. That’s very good wisdom for everyone involved in gymnastics. If a parent or a coach wants to find out more information about gymnastics or this type of information, is there a book that you recommend or about anything else about gymnastics or life that you think would be good resources for parents and coaches and even gymnasts?

Dr. Bill Sands: Hmm, that’s a good question. You see, I’ve written a lot of books. Unfortunately, from a skills standpoint, they’re a little on the dated side, but I think the coaching methodologies were actually years ahead of their time because it seems like just now, a lot of the things I’ve professed are coming to the fore. So you could certainly look for my books. I think they still are around here and there. You might check eBay or something like that, I suppose.

Lately, I haven’t found – what I would have hoped would have evolved was sort of the stateswoman of the sport. In Japan, Kaneko was the statesman for men’s gymnastics when – well, earlier when the Japanese men were so dominating. Then they dropped off, and then now they’re back. And I’m wondering if Kaneko  has passed away, but we don’t seem to have a good statesperson for talking about some of the things we’ve talked about today. Why do we do this? What’s about it that matters? And what kind of character are we trying to build in youngsters? And certainly, committing to a goal and busting your hiney to reach that goal is an important aspect of growing up, and I believe wholeheartedly in that.

So hopefully, there will be people who will come along that can do the statesman/stateswoman type talks, discussions, writing and so forth that can help develop the culture of gymnastics further. Right now, we’re pretty enamored with winning medals and making money, I would say. So we’ll have to keep in mind that at the end of the day, there are still kids that have to do it. And even though we may have seen it a million times, for each child there is a first time. And we have to be as excited about their first time as we were about our first time.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: If people want to find out more about you, where should they go?

Dr. Bill Sands: Email is probably the easiest. You have my email, I guess, so you can post that if you like.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: All right. And I’ll put that in the show notes. So Dr. Sands, thank you so much for coming on. I think this is going to be a go-to resource for people, especially on recovery and talking about the lower extremities and what’s going on. I think a lot of people are going to find this extremely helpful and I’m excited to share it with them. So I thank you.

Dr. Bill Sands: Good! Well, thanks for putting this together.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Yeah. I can’t wait till August comes around and I can see you in person again at National Congress.

Dr. Bill Sands: Yeah. Well, we’ll see if I get invited.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: [Laughs] I think you will. I have a feeling.

Dr. Bill Sands: All right! Thanks so much!

Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Thank you so much, Dr. Sands! We’ll talk to you soon.

Dr. Bill Sands: Okay. Bye-bye.

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 Dr. Joshua Eldridge: Dr. Sands, thank you so much for joining us. We’re back here at the Gymnast Care studios and just, that was amazing! I just can’t believe how much information, every time I listen to Dr. Sands or I speak with him, that I get, and that he imparts to us in the gymnastics community. So thank you for joining us, Dr. Sands. That was amazing! And I hope you guys that are listening now got something that you can put into practice today. There was so much there. Just one or two things, take today, get it into practice, get your athletes recovering better, get them excited about taking care of their bodies so that they can stay in gymnastics longer, they can decrease some of the injuries that they’re getting and just be amazing gymnasts. And that’s what I know Dr. Sands is all about, is just protecting those young gymnasts and wanting to see our sport just go up to the next level. And every time I hear him talk, he’s talking about things like that.

So make sure you head over to our website, gymnastcare.com/session6 – and that’s the number “6” – and we just have a ton of notes that we took today that we’re going to put in there so that it makes it easy for you to find everything that Dr. Sands talked about today.

Once again, Bill Sands joining us for the Gymnast Care Podcast. It was amazing. Thank you guys for joining us at home. I know we went a long time today and we respect your time, but this was worth every minute. So this is Dr. Joshua Eldridge with Gymnast Care. I’m so glad you joined us. If you need anything, make sure you send us a message from Gymnast Care or you head over to Facebook and send us a message there. Either way, we’ll get it and we’ll get right back to you as soon as possible and we’re looking forward to seeing you next time on the Gymnast Care Podcast. Have a great day!

Dr. Joshua Eldridge

About Dr. Joshua Eldridge

Dr. Joshua Eldridge has specialized in protecting gymnasts from injury. He is the inventor of The X Brace, and has developed a treatment protocol for Sever's disease and heel pain that has helped thousands of gymnasts throughout the world. Dr. Eldridge brings practical, easy injury care and prevention that can be done at home.