November 2003 - Updated December 2017


Stephen M. Apatow
Founder, Director of Research and Development
Sports Medicine & Science Institute
Humanitarian University Consortium Graduate Studies Center
for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine & Law

Phone: (203) 668-0282
Email: s.m.apatow@esportsmedicine.org

Internet: www.esportsmedicine.org

Humanitarian University Consortium Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: HRI: H-II OPSEC.

The 11/19/03 presentation to recruits at the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Sub Station in Stamford, Connecticut focused on foundational training used in Olympic development programs for the optimization joint strength, stability, precision control of the human frame in space and injury prevention.  The initiative was one aspect of an elite development program and armed forces network being developed by Alan Sharkany Jr., former US Marine (Presidential Guard).

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, recruits awaiting deployment to boot camp and special forces training meet on the shores of Norwalk, Connecticut to endure the disciple of a program that tests their mental and physical limits.  Recently, biomechanics, judo and jujitsu training was added to the program under the direction of Stephen M. Apatow, Biomechanics Specialist & Technical Consultant, founder of the Sports Medicine & Science Institute.


According to the Merck Manual of Medical Information for Sports Injuries: "More than 10 million sports injuries are treated each year in the United States."  The seriousness of this problem points to the need for education initiatives which target injury prevention.

One of the most significant factors which relates to the mechanism of joint stress and injury is available information on correct postural alignment.  The subject of fundamental movement mechanics as a prerequisite to sports specific training is demonstrated in many top level eastern bloc development programs in sports such as gymnastics.  In eastern Bloc countries, classical ballet based choreography training provides a foundation for the correct execution of technical sports specific movement. Classical ballet training is considered the most advanced movement mechanics training in the world, providing a foundation for the development of joint strength, postural alignment and precision control of the human frame in space. 

In the United States, this crucial developmental step is in many cases overlooked with sports specific training incorporated without the needed developmental foundation (See: Why Eastern Bloc Countries Dominated the Gymnastics Field in Sydney International Society of Biomechanics in Sports, Stephen M. Apatow, Biomechanics Specialist & Technical Consultant).

In an effort to reverse this trend, the following information was compiled to introduce coaches and athletes to classical ballet based postural alignment ideals. 

The Mechanical Ideal

The Mechanical Ideal in Classical Ballet Training.
In order to develop precision control of the human frame and center of gravity, the body must be correctly aligned and connected as one unit. To do this, the weight must be placed over the center of the feet (A). Incorrect weightbearing on the foot/ankle complex corresponds with numerous injuries including ankle sprains, achilles tendonitis and bone growth patterns (bunions) to accomodate abnormal stresses. As the legs are bent, the knee caps should track directly over the center of the ankle and foot (A,B). If a plumbline drops to the inside of the foot complex, internal rotation of the knee joint is observed which is one of the most common mechanisms of knee injury and torsional stresses of the ankle/foot complex ( Sports Medicine Advisory Developmental Problems in Classical Ballet Training) Hip rotation (C) is the determining factor for the correct alignment of the knee, ankle and foot. Lack of range of motion in the hip complex many times contributes to significant torsional shifts in the pelvis and lumbar spine which contributes to numerous neurological and lower extremity problems. The upper and lower extremities are connected by the abdominal and erector muscles of the lower back. Lack of abdominal strength combined with 
disconnected alignment of the upper extremity and pelvis contributes to significant stresses in the lumbar spine. The shoulder complex (D) is held back and down with concurrent contracture of the pectoral (chest) and latissimus (upper back) muscles. If the shoulder complex is positioned forward (hunched shoulders) anterior shoulder injuries (long head of the bicepts tendon) and neurological stresses occur which affect the entire arm, wrist and hand complex (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome).  The correct alignment of the head and neck (E) is achieved when the base of the skull is aligned over the shoulder complex with contracture of the sterncleidomastoid muscles in the front of the neck. Anterior alignment of the head and hyper lordosis of the cervical spine has been found to contribute to the mechanism of joint stress and in extreme cases discal herniations. 

Coaches and athletes in all sports are advised to study and incorporate correct postural mechanics into all strength, speed, flexibility and sports specific training. 

Related Information:


Copyright 2017 Sports Medicine & Science Institute  All rights reserved