L-Eric Cooper performs lower front leg sweeps. R-ECF Member, Mary C, performs upper side Figure 8.
“In fifteen minutes you can improve sport performance and reduce the risk of sports injuries just by doing my program,” says Eric Cooper, owner of Eric Cooper Fitness in Los Angeles. He is speaking about his new exercise regimen, The ECF Dynamic Stretches Program. The Los Angeles certified fitness trainer and corrective exercise specialist has dedicated himself to 30 years of helping his clients improve personal fitness through his effective strengthening programs that are designed to help improve muscle balance, muscle function and reduce sports-related muscle injuries.
According to Eric, “The popular sport today is pickleball. Several of my clients are involved in the sport along with other including, tennis, golf, skiing and surfing to name a few.” Currently the pickle ball craze has made it the fastest growing and most popular weekend sport to date. According to the Sports and Fitness Association of America, pickle-ball has grown from 3.5 million participants in 2019 to 8.9 million in 2022, a 154% increase! It’s projected to grow another 22 million in 2023, producing a 148% increase.
The popularity of pickleball can be attributed to its affordability as well as increased interest amongst a wide range of ages. It has bridged multiple generations creating a competitive bond between the Baby Boomers, Gen-Xer’s, Gen-Yer’s and Gen-Zer’s. This sport has placed a huge demand on the bodies of older participants who are not accustomed to engaging in such a physically demanding sport. Many of these participants are experiencing bone facture injuries due to falls, muscle strains, and joint sprains as a result of poor movement patterns and weaker musculoskeletal systems.
Base on recent data from a UBS study, the injuries from pickleball are projected to rack up a whopping $377 million in healthcare costs this year in America, with a projected 67,000 emergency room visits, 366,000 outpatient visits, and 9000 surgeries directly linked to pickleball-related injuries.
Eric explains, “My clients who play racquet sports, particularly pickleball, would complain about neck, shoulder and back pain or injuries after playing these sports. I noticed the similarities of these injuries and concluded that the underlying issue was that they were not stretching and warming up before engaging in the sport, leaving them at risk for muscle strains and joint sprains. I set out to devised a plan that would help eliminate this problem. Soon after, I created the ECF Dynamic Stretches Program, a portable pre-sports warm up program to enhance sports performance and to reduce the risk of sport-related injuries.”
The Program’s training is broken down into three components; upper, core and lower body exercises that are executed on three planes of movement, horizontal, vertical and frontal. Each exercise mimics sports-like movements that include rotation, flexion, extension, abduction, adduction and circumduction. Small portable equipment is required for the program including lightweight dumbbells ranging from 1- 5 pounds, tennis, racquetball or pickleball rackets, lightweight or medium elastic tube bands.
The program consists of 10 exercises starting with the first training phase of upper and lower body rotational exercises – New Wave, Happy Face and Elbows To Knees. The second phase consists of upper and lower body figure eight movements – Upper Frontal Figure 8, Lower Front Figure 8, Upper Side Figure 8 and Lower Side Figure 8. Third phase features squats and overhead arm extensions- Dig N Reach. Fourth phase highlights front and back kicks and right to left side kicks – Frontal Sweeps and Front Back Sweeps. All exercises can be done with as few as 10 and as many as 40 repetitions, but the average is about 20 repetitions. The program takes about 15 minutes to complete, with an average pace of 2 seconds per repetition. It is recommended that the entire warm-up program is completed, and should be done 10 to 15 minutes prior engaging in the sports activity.
The ECF Dynamic Stretch Program is also perfect for large group classes or individual in-home workouts. The exercises have been widely used and performed by members of Eric Cooper Fitness, and as a warm-up before progressing into other training programs. According to Eric. “The program has been very successful in improving overall fitness and reducing the risk of injury amongst my members.”