Fit Pros, What Do You Know About Back Pain?

Alex Kraszewski is a Physiotherapist working in Essex, United Kingdom, who also holds a triple bodyweight Deadlift to his name. He’s here to talk about how to better understand back pain as a fitness professional.

Back pain sucks. If you’re a human being or you work with human beings, chances are you or your clients have experienced back pain that varied from either a mild backache to being disabled by pain. Despite the huge advances in medicine, the number of people suffering with back pain is spiralling out of control, and we don’t seem to be much better at dealing with it.

In most cases of back pain (nearly 90%), there isn’t a single source of pain. Scans and investigations might show disc bulges and dehydration, arthritis and compressed nerves, but there are no guarantees these cause pain. Relating pain purely to structure, without appreciating the bigger picture, is probably what got us in this mess with back pain in the first place.

Pain is influenced by almost everything in our lives, and the biopsychosocial model helps us appreciate how all these inputs can interact when it comes to pain. Stress, sleep, education and beliefs about pain, how we move and exercise and many other things, all influence pain. No one single thing causes pain, and if you make this assertion nowadays, the internet will strike down upon you with more vengeance and furious anger than Jules Winnfield.

Back Pain often has a mechanical component

But just because pain is influenced by more than how we move in the gym,  that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t value how we move in the gym, and under load. What’re we’re doing at any one time (context) dictates what movement strategies would be appropriate. To that end, we need to consider how motions, postures and loads  influence the load an exercise exposes us to.

Take a 100kg/225lb Deadlift. The things that will influence how, and where, that 100kg is applied to the body depends on;

  • Type of Deadlift used (Conventional, Sumo, Trap-Bar, etc) – Load
  • Positions used (neutral spine, more flexed or more extended) – Posture
  • The shape and size of the lifter (limb and torso length) – Posture
  • Movements used (interaction of the spine, hips and knees) – Motion
  • Volume of lifting (Sets & Reps, sessions per week/month?) – Load

And the result of these things include;

  • A more horizontal torso position (conventional deadlift) will increase spine load compared to a more vertical torso position (sumo or trap bar)
  • A more flexed or rounded spine position will load the passive structures of the spine and increase spinal shear forces compared to a more mid-range or ‘neutral’ position
  • More spine flexion for the longer-legged lifter with a conventional deadlift, compared to a trap bar deadlift.
  • Using more spine motion and less hip motion will load the spine more than the hips
  • More volume will increase spine load, regardless of form.

Exercise execution influences load, but we can’t use this as the only way to decide if something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Konstantin Konstantovs made a reputation for himself by pulling over 400kg with a round back and no belt

I’ll say that again. Over 900lbs with no belt and a round back. Go back 10 years and the thought of spine flexion under this much load would’ve broken the internet. Thankfully – we’ve moved on a bit since then.

Most of our clients aren’t mutants, so alongside thinking about the way we lift, and how it influences spine load, we also have to take into account the other ‘stuff’ too;

  • What does the rest of the training session and overall program look like?
  • How much rest and recovery is occurring outside of the gym (think stress, sleep, hydration, nutrition).
  • What does the rest of the week look like for motions, postures and loads (office ninja, manual labourer, or crime-fighting superhero?)
  • How adapted to one particular strategy of lifting is the client (is it a brand new way of doing things, or have they done it for years without a problem?)

If there is a balance between the way in which exercises are performed and what goes on in the rest of our lives (load), and our ability to recover from these things (capacity), we will adapt positively and get fitter and stronger. Injury risk increases when there is an imbalance between the load applied and our ability to recover;

The first priority as a fitness professional if pain or injury is reported is to have a healthcare professional check it’s nothing serious. After that, the fitness professional is well placed to identify the motions, postures and loads associated with back pain. We don’t say causing back pain, because this starts to move into a diagnostic and healthcare arena.

Back pain won’t have a clear medical diagnosis a lot of the time, but a ‘movement diagnosis’ can be an important factor to consider with a client’s pain. A movement diagnosis allows us to consider the motions, postures and loads associated with pain, without getting hung up on a structural source of pain.

Flexion and Extension Based Back Pain – A ‘Movement Diagnosis’ for Trainers

One way of broadly categorising back pain within resistance training is as flexion- or extension-based. As far as the mechanical component of back pain goes, we are looking for whether a client’s back pain relates to a flexion or extension motion, posture, and/or load.  

This doesn’t mean we ignore the non-mechanical factors for pain, but it can identify exercise selections or executions that may be part of the painful picture to make changes accordingly. If we can do that, we stand a great chance of helping our clients reduce their pain, and get back to crushing it in the gym, and in life.

Let’s say someone is performing a roundbacked deadlift with a hip hinge that could do with better execution and is reporting back pain, we can lean towards that person reporting flexion-based back pain. The reasons for this might include;

  • The motion of spine flexion to extension to complete the lift
  • The posture of spine flexion under load
  • The load requiring control and resistance of spinal flexion

These factors are based on the way the exercise is being performed, but don’t forget to consider how much the exercise is being performed. Perfect technique doesn’t mean you’re invincible to unlimited volume and intensity, or that your recovery outside of the gym doesn’t matter.

If and when pain is present in this scenario,  we have a couple of options of what to change;

  • Coach the exercise in a way that changes the posture (round back towards more neutral spine) or motion (more hip hinge, less spine motion) – The Way
  • Reduce the load – either the weight on the bar, or the volume of the exercise – How much
  • Change the exercise (conventional block deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts or sumo deadlifts) – The Way

We can apply this any exercise. Understanding what could be contributing to back pain, and working around this, is developing the ‘trainable menu’. This is way better than just resting and waiting for pain to go away.

In the Complete Trainer’s Toolbox, I take a deep dive into the variety of factors within exercise that can influence spine loading, how to both modify exercise in the presence of back pain, and how to help rebuild the client who is struggling with back pain to get them back to their most loved and enjoyed activities.

The Complete Trainers Toolbox is available for a launch sale pricing for $100 off the regular price until Sunday February 17th at midnight. Get Alex’s presentations, as well as an additional 15+ hours of digital video content and 1.7 continuing education credits

How Coaches Can Create The Future of Healthcare: Interview with Dr Terry Wahls

When people find out I don’t want kids, my fitness industry friends seem to understand more than others. A lot of them even share the same feelings than me about reproducing.

That might be because we see the world in a similar way. If you make a living on helping people be healthy, it’s hard to not look around and feel completely hopeless for our society’s future. We are one brainwashed, overstressed, underslept, overworked, disconnected world, and it’s only getting worse.

Having kids in a world that keeps getting sicker, and the fight to be healthy gets harder and harder makes reproducing seem like an uphill battle.

Trying to advocate for your own health is a tough job, especially if it’s your actual career of choice. The health and fitness industry has enemies that constantly make it hard. They promote unhealthy behavior, they make candy cheaper than vegetables, and they pump misleading information that keeps the public in the dark.

It wasn’t until 2016, the year I got into politics, that I found out those same enemies I’d been dealing with for years in the fitness industry, were the ones funding politicians to push policies and bills that are leaving us with horrible health consequences.

And if you’re not dealing with corruption and greed, you’re dealing with uneducated politicians that don’t know what it takes to have a healthy society. Their view on health doesn’t go beyond conventional medicine, insurance companies, and misguided information. So even though their intentions are nothing but the best, like Bernie and Alexandria Cortez, their plan to keep people healthy, falls short.

Hoping to get the health and fitness industry involved in politics due to their level of education on the topic, I started talking about the need to get everyone politically involved, especially people like us (coaches) who connect the public to information they can trust.

I had a few people who supported my idea, but for the most part, I got reminded that getting political wasn’t a good idea for my business, and/or for my online presence.

Being as stubborn as I am, I kept at it.

I kept pushing, kept digging deeper, and I kept seeking out people who could help me figuring things out. I was part of two worlds I felt needed to be desperately combined. I felt so strongly about this, I was convinced that 5+ years from now I was going to leave the industry and get into politics because someone in the political system needed to advocate for our health.

Corrupt and uneducated politicians were not cutting it for me.

But first, I had to figure out what I needed to fight for once I got in. Even though my beliefs strongly align with the progressive side of things, some of their policies like health care for all, didn’t sit well with me and I had no one I trusted to talk to about it.

The people I looked up to in the health world were conservatives or “not into politics”, and the people I looked up in the political world like The Young Turks, knew nothing about health.

The amount of money spent on preventable disease is outrageous. If we give people free “healthcare” with no system in place that focuses on patient education and health ownership, the amount of money we spend on disease will keep raising. Healthcare will just be a system that doesn’t let people die, while simultaneously keeping them sick.

Which is why it’s no surprise health advocates align with the conservative side when it comes to healthcare. They know Medicaid for all won’t save us when we live in a society that relies on the person in the white coat and insurance companies to dictate their health. But I can’t bring myself to support a system that lets people die because they couldn’t afford surgery, or a doctor’s appointment after their cut on their foot got infected.

Even though I don’t want the person relying on insulin to die by taking away their medication, I want the system to change that got the person relying on medication in the first place.

Over the last year I’ve felt quite alone with my views on things, until one lazy day where I was scrolling through social media and I noticed someone I truly admired in the health industry post something political on facebook.

Dr. Terry Wahls shared something about her son running for state senate. Terry Wahls is one of the pioneers of the paleo and functional medicine world. When I saw a post about her support for Stacey Abrams and researched her Son’s political background, I immediately felt a rush of hope. I had found someone who seemed to have the same political views and someone who would be way more educated on the topic than me.

I wondered “What kind of policies does someone like Wahls believe in? What is her son going to fight for? What do they think of healthcare?! Is her son influenced by her knowledge in health!?”

Really eager to know some of these answers, I emailed her. 2 minutes later I got an automatic response saying she got an overwhelming amount of emails….etc etc basically, not getting a response.

HOWEVER, a couple days later, she accepted my interview! I was finally going to get the answers to the questions I had from someone who I trusted and seemed to have the same views as mine.

I was excited to find out how we can bring positive change into the political system that advocates for our health. I wanted to know more about the policies I should be fighting for. And most importantly, I was hoping to find out what my future role in politics was going to be, because I wanted to bring massive change at the highest branches of government.

I got all those answers…..

And halfway through the interview, I found out what my future role was.

It’s not in politics.

It’s as coach, a connector.

Someone who connects people to the right information and show them how much control they truly have over their health.

Terry Wahls shifted my perspective and gave me the direction I’d been searching for.

Now I’m calling on all fitness and rehab professionals to join me and be the CONNECTORS we have the opportunity of being.

During this interview we go over: 

  • How much should the government be involved in our lives 
  • Is a federal solution the answer to getting our society healthy?
  • Will we ever have healthcare that isn’t influenced by corruption and uneducated politicians? 
  • What policies should we be fighting for? 
  • Why we should study the attributes of health and happiness? 
  • Should the fitness and health industry get politically involved? 
  • How to get your tribe involved to create affordability around being healthy
  • How coaches and health advocates can start creating change at the local level
  • How coaches could be the future of healthcare

Dr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. She is the author of The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine and the cookbook The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Modern Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions. You can learn more about her work from her website, www.terrywahls.com. She hosts the Wahls Protocol Seminar every August where anyone can learn how to implement the Protocol with ease and success. Follow her on Facebook (Terry Wahls MD), on Instagram drterrywahls and on Twitter at @TerryWahls. Learn more about her MS clinical trials by reaching out to her team via this email: MSDietStudy@healthcare.uiowa.edu

If you want to learn more about being a coach who takes a multi-factorial approach: Check this blog out, sign up for my newsletter, and/or learn from me in person!

 

I hope you enjoyed this.

Until next time 🙂

 

Lucy

 

A Shift in Sports Performance

By Michelle Boland, PhD, CSCS

There’s a huge lack of awareness of what individuals in the fitness and performance industry are capable of doing and can do. Fitness professionals are the most important practitioners in the health care system but can be the most overlooked. My first few years working in the sports performance field, I often got the question: “Why are you a strength and conditioning coach disappointed tone)?” That question always bothered me as it came with assumptions: that I was too good for the job, that strength and conditioning is attached to a stigma of higher education being unnecessary, the career is viewed as a fall back for people who like to exercise, or that I should be doing something more important. I am uncomfortable with all those assumptions.

There are great minds in the fitness and performance industry who just happen to have a passion for training. Those minds are also not myopic, they are creating a paradigm shift in the fitness and performance industry. I am lucky enough to work with some of those individuals who blow me away every day with their level of knowledge and PURSUIT of knowledge. I will be referring to sports performance from a context focused on collegiate athletics, but inferences can be made throughout the fitness industry and the general population. The grand unified theory that I will be discussing is a theory that can be used to shift our performance training paradigm. We are going to raise the bar of what is possible and what we are doing with athletes and clients.

I recently returned from Dr. Ben House’s Functional Medicine Retreat in Costa Rica; Yes, a strength and conditioning coach attended a functional medicine retreat, this is the paradigm shift. One of the presenters was Dr. Bryan Walsh who provided this great analogy: A plant needs 2 things, water and sun. However, the soil it is in dictates how well the plant will respond to the water and sun. Well, humans are the same way. Our physiology is what dictates how well human’s will respond to diet and exercise. As a sports performance coach we need to apply our knowledge and PURSUE knowledge on human physiology in order for athletes to get the most out of training in relation to the outcome of performance.

What is Sports Performance?

We like to make things simple: If I program hang cleans, the athlete will develop the quality of power and perform their sport better. I can even objectively measure whether that athlete is improving in the hang clean exercise by testing. Boom. It’s as easy as that, right? But they play ice hockey, so how do I measure if getting better at the hang clean is making them a better ice hockey player? That’s a good question. I test their skating speed? Boom. Done. So, their ability to hang clean more weight and skate goal line to goal line in a quiet arena with about 10 people watching, no puck in play, and no stakes involved, is an indicator of game performance?

Performance is complex and multi-factorial and my job should be complex and multi-factorial. We are going to have to consider all aspects of performance which is governed by a complex interaction of variables: Task, Organism, and Environment. Performance improvement needs to consider EXPOSURE to elements of these variables and address CONSTRAINTS within these variables.

The specific task being performed is related to the goal of the task and the rules governing the task. The task can include shooting (skill specific) or it can involve an exercise during training; in all accounts it needs to be accomplished within the rules and be related to a goal. The goal of shooting is to put the puck in the net to score points (consistently AND WITH INTENT) and the goal of an exercise is to acquire a training quality with the idea of translating into performance.

How can we incorporate this into training? Manipulate the task (exercise) by setting rules and the completion of the rules accomplishes the goal (exercise). For example, the Kettlebell Deadlift can be accomplished by setting rules: start and end with the KB on a line, stand with midfoot on the line (shout out to Dan Sanzo). We can also educate athletes on the task in its relation to sport performance, which will improve intent.

In relation to performance, the sport itself involves rules, pace, and skills which all need to be specifically trained related to specific game exposure. Specific exposure involves incorporating all variables to the highest intensity or closest to game experience. An example would be creating competition within the specific environment of play, with the same people, with similar rules, with similar movements, and under similar pressures.

In relation to a team setting create competition days within the weight room and consistent testing to expose them to challenge (understanding what a ‘10’ feels like on a scale of 1-10 is a valuable tool). During high intensity practice days, practice at the highest intensity mimicking the game. Our job is to provide exposure to create adaptation and influence outcome.

The environment is what is acting on the system. It is the location of the contest, noise, crowd, weather conditions, and stakes of the competition. It is elements that effect the organism/player which can even include social relationships. Does the athlete respect/like the coach? Did they get into a fight with their significant other before the game? Do they respect their teammates?

Environment also includes the food available to the athlete. Coaches usually harp on athletes about their diet and body composition but rarely connect their actions to their goals. The environment we are creating for that athlete to succeed should do just that, help them succeed. The habits and routines that we want them to have should be facilitated through education, priority setting, and resources available. If you actually care about nutrition and you WANT your athletes to care, why are we creating an environment that provides pizza as a post-game meal? Does that action align with your goals? Is that creating and environment for that athlete to succeed?

The organism category is the player. This incorporates sports psychology, exercise physiology, and biomechanics. The role of the sports performance coach is usually boxed into the silo of biomechanics and physiology. We assess movement and fitness in order to develop exercise programs that will improve the qualities tested (at least that’s the goal). We want to create structural (ex. increase number of mitochondria) and functional (ex. decrease mile time) adaptations. This is where WE thrive. We can sit at a computer for hours and create complex rep schemes and program design. It’s what we love. But the athlete can easily sabotage your program by wrecking it with outside factors.

Show awareness that other factors exist besides your block periodization plan. Don’t take things too personally when an athlete comes in and isn’t excited to do your epic 5-3-1 rep scheme that day. Maybe they just failed an exam, were up until 2am studying, found out that their parents are getting a divorce, just broke up with their significant other. Maybe they perceive you as a jerk and don’t want to do your program. CREATE A WELCOMING TRAINING ENVIRONMENT AND TRY TO BE A GOOD PERSON. Performance needs to factor in all aspects of stress load, exposure, and avenues of interventions because they all matter. The whole matters, not just the parts. A HUGE part is psychological.

We need to create an environment where people can express their struggles and emotions. We currently live in a world full of superficial relationships with social media friendships. We shouldn’t play therapist but we should create an environment that encourages dialogue and communication where people can understand each other and express themselves. Having a sport psychologist referral is a way to incorporate an interdisciplinary collaboration. If you want to learn more about this or understand how it effects everyone, even professional athletes please read this article by Kevin Love titled “Everyone is going through something.” 

Sport performance coaches should explore knowledge of how psychological, physiological, biomechanical (Human), and environmental (Environment) factors interact with the performance outcome/result (Task/goal). We should respect the dynamic nature of constraints and their respective contribution to performance at any given time (Glazier, 2017).

Reducing the number of constraints within each category/component can improve the number of possible configurations that a complex system can adopt in respects to contribution to performance (collective output). Constraints within these variables/categories can create limitations and barriers (ex. fatigue, anxiety) Small-scale changes may have a large-scale impact. A component of this would be to consider actions that are excluded by constraints compared to actions that are caused by the constraint.

How do we do this?

Create a holistic/interdisciplinary approach to performance:

Steps for a better outcome as a fitness or performance coach:

  1. Create a team of referrals and professionals. We need to break down the silos (Glazier, 2017). We need to create an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to sports performance. Find local physical therapists that you trust to deal with pain, find a local psychologist, and find a local sport nutritionist. Talk to the people you surround yourself with and learn about their areas so you can speak the same language. You will lose by-in and confidence if you speak negatively about other professionals or if the athlete is hearing different opinions.

Environment: Holistic Approach:

 Provide them with the tools to succeed outside of exercise; with the illusion that they have knowledge of the exercise they are participating in. Seriously though. Are athletes leaving with an understanding of how to exercise when they leave college? Do they know how exercise improves health? Do they have a baseline knowledge about exercise and health?

  • We often lose sight of how the other 22-23 hours in a day outside of the gym can influence performance and health.
  • Provide them with education and an understanding about how sleep, nutrition (micronutrient and macronutrients), stress, and gut health (yes, we have conversations about the microbiome and probiotics) which can all have an enormous effect on performance and health.
  1. Open communication and provide resources about social connections (interactions with other players), intentions, skills for crucial conversations, and creating a successful environment.
    • Consider both inter-individual and intra-personal relationships
    • Environment breads quality of life and genetic expression
    • Have conversations about who they associated themselves with: Do the people they surround themselves with support the process of accomplishing their goals or do they do the opposite?
  1. Set an example of behavior/habits.
    • Ultimately you need to work on yourself before you can help or attend to others.
    • EXPRESS GRATITUDE. Gratitude is the opposite of threat so create an unthreatening environment in which athletes genuinely know that their work is appreciated. (Learned this from Dan Sanzo).

Organism: Create opportunities to make better people

  1. Provide opportunity to develop as athletes as people. Instead of complaining that an athlete is immature or misbehaving, that can be an opportunity for a life lesson. Show that you care outside of how much weight they can lift.
    • Create a process driven environment instead of a goal driven environment (shout out to Kyle Dobbs).
    • Attending college should not just be a time to chase a degree or grades in the hope of getting a job. College is about learning to understand who you are and who you want to be. Students and athletes often become lost after graduation when they lose their identity as a student or athlete.

Task: Choice of Training Modalities: Train them HARD and SMART:

  1. Provide challenge and exposure. Challenge athletes personally and physically. Provide athletes with fitness and challenge so they can physically increase the body’s ability to cope with the physical stress of their sport. Challenge them mentally by creating competition and make them think. Challenge them with accountability and standards.
  • We should understand that there is more than getting athletes to increase their max deadlift weight. There are consequences to training (especially myopic training), which implies both positive and negative results. Increasing an athlete’s deadlift max may reduce their performance on the field. Performance enhancement is complex and multi-factorial. The important thing is how the athlete plays their sport.

Conclusion

 The Grand Unified Theory was originally introduced by Newell (1986). In order to accomplish a performance outcome we need to consider how organism, task, and environment interact to influence behavior (coordination and control). Constraints within these categories provide boundaries and limitations that reduce the number of coordinative configurations (options) and create compensations that impact behavioral output. A limitation to performance can be anxiety. Lack of exposure to any of these variables can create anxiety due to lack of control. Anxiety as an emotion can physically manifest shifting from an external to internal focus of attention.

We also can take away from this theory that there are no absolutes. Sports performance can and should incorporate a wide variety of knowledge and the PURSUIT of knowledge. If you do what you have always done, you will be what you’ve always been. Explore not just the what but explain how and why it happens. We need to start rewriting what our industry is rather than letting people define what our field is. There is no such thing as having all the answers but change happens when we ask the right questions and pursue the answers…

References

Glazier, P.S. (2017). Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Sports Performance. Human Movement Science, 56, 139-156.

Newell, K.M. (1986). Constraints on the development of coordination. In M.G. Wade & H.T.A Whiting (Eds), Motor development in children: Aspects of coordination and control, 341-360.

 

The Breathing Strategy Hierarchy

A couple of years ago Bill Hartman opened my mind to a new way of assessing someone’s movement needs. Since then, Through Bill and Zac’s work, I’ve developed a movement assessment that helps my clients move better. When clients move well, progressing them to lifting comes with little to no problems.

This morning while running on 5ish hours of sleep, jet lagged, and after too much coffee, I decided to take the students through my thought process when picking breathing activities for my clients. I will be refining this and adding the lower extremities, but in the meantime, learn what breathing and arm position a client needs when picking activities.

Also, sorry for the gum chewing :O

ENJOY! and let me know if it helps, or if it didn’t and you’re still confused. If this doesn’t make sense, I will find a better way of explaining it.

Before you watch this, if you’re new to this whole breathing thing, watch this video, and check out my article on it, first!

 

The End of Dieting – Interview with Kelsey Flanagan

Are 30 day challenges where you cut out certain foods or follow a certain diet a thing that we should stop encouraging? If we’re wanting our clients to get results they can sustain, are we better off helping our clients change their relationship with food vs encouraging another diet?

In this interview, Kelsey shares her nutrition approach she takes with clients. The results say it all:

Learn about Kelsey’s approach, start implementing a few things she talks about with your clients, or find someone like her to work with your clients if things are out of your skill set.

Where to find Kelsey:

Her website: https://kelseyflanagannutrition.com/

Instagram account: @kelseyflanagannutrition

Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/kelsey.flanagan.180

Courses/businesses mentioned if you want to take the route she took:

Precision Nutrition

Hormone Specialist Training 

 

 

 

 

 

Fixing Upper-Body Lifts with Breathing

I want my clients’ upper-body lifts to look good. When they look good we can really add load and increase their strength. If they fall apart and complain that it hurts, we can’t really progress.

During this webinar, I go over the mistakes I made early on that left me with little to no results. I go over what I do now to get my client’s shoulder mobility to increase and their pushing and pulling to look good 🙂

If you struggle understanding all this crazy breathing stuff, this webinar is PERFECT for you.

Enjoy!

Resources mentioned in the webinar:

(let me know if I forgot one)

A Safe Training Environment for Scared Rehab Clients

Do you work with the post rehab/chronic pain population? I’m sure you get a few who are scared of strength training, who think their body is fragile and only capable of low level activities like yoga and pilates.

How do you gain their trust and progress them through a program without them feeling like your training is going to hurt them?

Below is a video of my protocol for these types of clients. How I take them from scared fragile clients to regular gym-goers 🙂

 

If you’re interested in learning more about pain, I’ve written about it here and here.

If you want to know more about studying your target market check out this post.

Until next time 🙂

Lucy

 

Connection of the Week- Aline Thompson

Every single profession you’ll find people who are exceptional, average, and below average. In the physical therapy world, it has been a double edge sword to be introduced to countless exceptional physical therapists who are providing a service that is not seen with most PTs. It has made the standard that I hold people in this profession, very high.

As a trainer of the post rehab population, I want nothing but the best for them. I care about my clients just as much as I care about my family. If my family had to see a physical therapist, I wouldn’t want them seeing a below average one.

I don’t like seeing my clients dependent on a PTs hands to put their body back together every 5 weeks for the last 2-5 years. It makes me sad seeing my clients scared of moving because of the maladaptive beliefs they developed from the PT’s lack of proper communication. It disappoints me that PTs haven’t educated my clients on how the amount of pain they’re experiencing doesn’t equal to amount of tissue damage.

When I voice my frustrations on this field, it gets confused with frustration and disrespect towards all PTs. Which is not the case. It’s frustration towards the PTs who don’t know how to communicate with people in pain, keep patients on a reoccurring schedule that last for YEARS, and those who scare patients from living because they believe they’re one sneeze away from blowing out a disc.

My frustration comes from witnessing the ones that I care about go through unnecessary suffering, and knowing there’s better treatment out there

To expect below average therapists to change what they’ve been doing their whole career is unrealistic. The chances are very low for a whole industry to change. But what CAN happen is the younger crowd going into this profession knowing and being influenced by exceptional PTs.

Which brings me to my Connection of the Week, Aline Thompson.

She’s one who meets my high standard and if you’re in the rehab and fitness industry, you’ll definitely want to start following her.

She recently put together a blog post filled with resources if you’re wanting to learn and understand Pain Science.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on this topic but it didn’t take long for me to acknowledged most professionals don’t know how to communicate with people in pain. I’m not just talking about physical therapists. I’m talking medical doctors, coaches, massage therapists, chiros, the list could go on and on.

Most our clients will experience pain as some point in their life, and the lack of this knowledge could seriously hurt them….in more ways than one.

If you’re interested in making the health, fitness, and rehab industry better, Aline’s guide is the perfect place to start 🙂

Until next time 🙂

Lucy

 

 

 

Three Ways to Build Breathing Buy-in

The #1 question I get is “How do you get people to buy into the breathing?” 

Coaches REALLY struggle getting people to buy into breathing but to be honest, It’s not a hard sale….IF you’re working with the right people, you understand your target market, and you’re a good coach.

In the following video, I go over three reason why you’re struggling getting people to buy into it and how to start getting better at it. 🙂

Until next time 🙂

Lucy

Connection of the Week- Programming for the Newbie

I work with future personal trainers. Which means they know nothing, have zero experience, and they’ve been exposed to internet famous fitness pros who look great but actually suck at training.

They’ll often ask my opinion about certain exercises they’ve done in the past or ones they’ve seen at the gym.  Sometimes it’s exercises that I think should never be done like bosu ball squats. But most of the time they’re asking about exercises that are targeting a specific area like abs, glutes, and the upper back. All things they’ve heard are important.

It’s taken me a while to figure out a good answer because these exercises are not technically “bad”, they just don’t make it on my top list to pick from.

Are you putting something like a Russian Twist into someone’s training program and deprioritizing things like squats, deadlifts, upper body pushing or pulling? What are you trying to accomplish with that exercise? Are there other activities that would give you what you’re trying to achieve and them some?

My programing (the strength training component) is only composed of three things. These three things are big priorities.

1) Lower body bilateral and unilateral lifts: Squats, deadlifts, split squats, step ups…etc

2) Upper body Pushing and Pulling: Horizontal and Vertical

3) Accessory/Core: Activities that most likely have a breathing component to it that drive things like rib cage retraction, trunk rotation, hip rotation, anti-extension, anti-lateral flexion…etc

1 and 2 help my clients build muscle, gets them stronger, loads their system, improves their fitness, and most importantly, makes them anti-fragile.

3 allows my clients to do 1 and 2 without having many setbacks due to movement limitations, pain, or injuries.

Realistically speaking, clients will only train twice a week. So that gives you about 6-8 exercises per program. That’s not a lot. The 6-8 exercises should be ones that give you your biggest bang for your buck. There’s no room for fluff. Every single exercise should have a good reason to be on there.

When adding an exercise to a program, ask yourself: what do I need to deprioritize to put this exercise in my client’s program?

Like the Russian Twist. Does it take the place of any of your client’s main lifts? Then I’m not interested.

Then ask yourself what are you trying to achieve with the Russian Twist? Abs? because I have other activities like Low Bear that also target abs….AND helps with rib cage retraction, drives air into the posterior thorax, gives the shoulder blades a rib cage to glide on, opens the ISA, helps shut off an overactive low back, opens the pelvic outlet, makes walking effortless, helps restore ROM in the extremities, and most importantly it carries over to other things that I’m trying to achieve on the training floor.

And that’s why I wouldn’t do the Russian Twist. When students ask about these kind of exercises, I feel bad that I keep saying I wouldn’t do them. But as you can see, for me to use something in a client’s program, the exercise really needs to deliver. It needs to give me more than the ones I’m currently using.

That’s the kind of training I like to provide to my clients and honestly, it’s the kind of training I want the students to develop.

It’s rare for students to come in with great mentors. These students usually have only been exposed to big box trainers that have personal training as a part time job while they’re waiting for their real job to begin, and the famous internet trainers. What a horrible influence. The quality of training is just not the same. They haven’t been introduced to people like Mike Robertson, Pat Davidson, Justin Moore, and Michelle Boland.

and I feel like it’s my job to help bias them towards my bubble of the industry. Even though they probably feel like I’m forcing it on them, but that’s neither here nor there.

The world desperately needs better coaches.  

So to help guide them in a better direction, I went on my facebook and asked my circle in the industry where they would send brand new personal trainers who wanted to learn about programming.

Key word: BRAND NEW.

Because let’s be honest, if I send a brand new trainer to Pat Davidson’s seminar, It will ALL go over their head. The terminology, anatomy, coaching, implementation….everything. It takes experience to be able to do what Pat is teaching. Which is why I love him but I can’t expect a brand new personal trainer to implement what he is doing with his programming.

I want resources/mentors that have made things simple and digestible. A philosophy that will make them biased to progressive strength training. Resources that will guide them in the right direction so one day they can read Pat and Michelle’s work and they’ll be able to take it in.

I’m with brand new personal trainers 5 days a week. I see the look on their faces when I start talking about hip adduction with an acetabulum moving on a fixed femur. I notice the inability to subconsciously know what to do when the client is not doing things correctly.

I see the lack of experience 5 days a week.

I’ve had to look back and figure out how I got to where I am at now. That way I can appropriately progress them through without overwhelming them, but at the same time letting them learn from all of my personal mistakes and experience. I don’t want them wasting their time doing lateral band walks to “target glutes” as part of a triset when they could be deadlifting.

With my efforts to set them up for success, I’m doing exactly what two people on facebook said

 

100% agree with what Elsbeth and Kris said there. Learning how to train themselves and then mastering their coaching skills should be two big priorities for newbies. When a trainer lacks experience they only have their own body that has gone through it, which is a huge advantage because you can actually demo the activities that you’re trying to get your clients to perform. Have you ever seen a trainer who can’t squat trying to get a client to squat? I have. It’s not pretty.

You can have the best programming in the world but if you can’t demo or coach someone into a simple squat or hinge, the programming will never work.

Multiple people brought up Mike Robertson which I was pretty happy about. Mike makes everything digestible. He is my #1 blog for new trainers. It’s how I got started in this industry and I was in the same place these students are at now. His product Physical Preparation is the perfect product for beginners! If it were up to me, all the students would go through it. .

A couple people mentioned Pavel and Dan John. I’ve never seen their work so I have nothing good or bad to say about them. I do plan on checking them out for the students though!

If YOU have an resources for new trainers leave it in the comments below!

 

Until next time 🙂

Lucy