Gallagher Performance Blog

Similar to a growing number of athletic facilities across the US, Gallagher Performance places a significant amount of emphasis on assessing our athletes in order to address structural adaptations and movement dysfunctions appropriately during the course of the athlete’s training program. This trend is seen throughout collegiate and professional athletics as organizations are recognizing the importance of keeping their athletes healthy by promoting optimal training environments.

However, this service is rarely available to young athletes prior to sport participation or a training program. This is truly unfortunate since proper screening of athletes is not available when it arguably matters most, during the early stages of athletic development. Dr. Mike O’Donnell DC, CCSP, CSCS touched on this concept in a recent interview. He states,
“In North America, athletes start playing a sport as unprepared youth with no background in general conditioning. This isn’t always true, but we have no system to condition young athletes besides just playing the sport. In an Eastern model, camps are held without a sport focus to condition young athletes, and the specialization comes later. In general, early specialization is a mistake. This has been proven to limit progress, lead to early burnout, and increase injury rate.”
Certainly in an ideal situation, young athletes would be introduced to general conditioning prior to sport participation. Likewise, prior to the initiation of a general conditioning program and/or sport participation, young athletes should be screened to provide an understanding of any structural adaptations that will require individualized considerations to ensure continual progress in the pursuit of achieving athletic mastery and minimize the risk of serious injury.

Structural Adaptations: How Common Are They?
There are numerous studies suggesting that the majority of people in the general population, especially athletes, have developed various forms of structural adaptations. What are structural adaptations? Essentially they are alterations in the anatomical structure of the body due to repeated physical stresses placed upon joints and connective tissue. These adaptations often occur during the developmental years. Keep in mind, structural adaptations are not pathological in nature, but certainly require their own unique management strategies since they will impact movement mechanics and potentially be a reason for movement dysfunction. It is also important to understand that not all individuals with structural adaptations will present with symptoms, such as pain. In fact, the majority of them will not present with pain.

Below are just some of the findings from a growing collection of evidence that suggests how frequently structural adaptations may occur:
  • 79% of asymptomatic professional baseball pitchers have evidence of shoulder labrum abnormalities on MRI.
  • 40% of dominant shoulders in asymptomatic tennis and baseball players had evidence of partial or full-thickness rotator cuff tears on MRI.
  • 34% of asymptomatic individuals in the general population had evidence of rotator cuff tears. 54% of those 60 years of age and older had evidence of rotator cuff tears - so if you’re dealing with older adults, you could safely assume they are present in almost half of this population.
  • Recent research has demonstrated that high school baseball pitchers from southern, warm weather climates have decreased shoulder internal rotation range of motion and external rotation strength compared to northern, cold weather climate players. This is likely attributed to adaptation from the number of months spent participating in pitching activities during the calendar year.
  • 64% of asymptomatic people that underwent an MRI of their lumbar region had abnormal findings. Keep in mind these are individuals with evidence of lumbar disc pathology (i.e. bulge or herniation) who have NO symptoms and NO pain.
  • 93% of youth hockey players age 16-19 have evidence of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and hip labral tears. FAI is the result of bony overgrowth found at the femoral head and/or acetabulum of the pelvis. FAI has been linked to increased risk of injury for osteitis pubis and sports hernias.
  • 77% NCAA D1 and professional hockey players evaluated in one study had abnormal hip/groin MRI despite being asymptomatic. Hockey players are also more likely to have a structural change known in the hip known as hip retroversion, which allows for greater hip external rotation and reduces the degree of hip internal rotation.
  • 87% of 125 NFL prospects had findings consistent with FAI on MRI. The only independent predictor of groin pain was the degree of bony overgrowth.
  • Evidence suggests that roughly 25% of men in the general population have some degree of FAI despite being asymptomatic.
Conclusion
Structural adaptations are clearly a common occurrence both in athletes as well as the general population. The impact these adaptations have on movement cannot and should not be ignored. For example, individuals with FAI will experience varying degrees of limited hip flexion range of motion. This limitation in hip flexion will impact exercises such as squats, lunges, and other considerations in lower body training methods. If this limitation is ignored or missed, it can have potentially serious implications such as the development of labral tears or lumbar disc injury due to compensations in movement through the hips, pelvis and lumbar spine.

The key point to recognize is the presence of such adaptations have their own unique impacts on posture and movement that influence the design and outcomes of both training and treatment plans. Training programs need to take these issues into account, making considerations for differences in gender, age, level of physical preparation, primary sport(s) participation, and injury history. While some structural adaptations can be impacted by corrective strategies, others simply need to be accounted for in exercise selection and movement education in order to avoid causing them to reach symptom threshold.

References
  1. Miniaci et al. Magnetic resonance imaging of the shoulder in asymptomatic professional baseball pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 2002 Jan-Feb;30(1):66-73.
  2. Connor et al. Magnetic resonance imaging of the asymptomatic shoulder of overhead athletes: a 5-year follow-up study. Am J Sports Med. 2003 Sep-Oct;31(5):724-7. 
  3. Sher et al. Abnormal findings on magnetic resonance images of asymptomatic shoulders. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1995 Jan;77(1):10-15.
  4. Jensen et al. Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine in people without back pain. N Engl J Med. 1994 Jul 14;331(2):69-73.
  5. Kaplan et al. Comparison of shoulder range of motion, strength, and playing time in uninjured high school baseball pitchers who reside in warm- and cold-weather climates. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Feb;39(2):320-328. 
  6. Birmingham et al. The effect of dynamic femoroacetabular impingement on pubic symphysis motion: a cadaveric study. Am J Sports Med. 2012, 40(5), 1113-1118.
  7. Philippon et al. Prevalence of increased alpha angles as a measure of cam-type femoroacetabular impingement in youth ice hockey players. Am J Sports Med. 2013, 41(6), 1357-1362.
  8. Silvis et al. High Prevalence of pelvic and hip magnetic resonance imaging findings in asymptomatic collegiate and professional hockey players. Am J Sports Med. 2011, 39(4), 715-721.
  9. Larson et al. Increasing alpha angle is predictive of athletic-related “hip” and “groin” pain in collegiate national football league prospects. Arthroscopy. 2013, 29(3), 405-410. 
  10. Hack et al. Prevalence of cam-type femoracetabular impingement morphology in asymptomatic volunteers. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2010, 92(14), 2436-2444.
 
 
 
One of my favorite quotes I’ve heard. Period.

Identification and treatment of muscular trigger points is often a common therapeutic intervention of physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and other physical medicine providers. There’s an entire industry of products devoted to enabling people to work on their triggers points at home or at the gym. Clearly trigger points and muscular pain is a problem that many struggle with and yet never seem to resolve despite their own best efforts.

The bigger question many people ask is why. “Why do I have that trigger point?” Yes treatment of triggers points is valuable, but often the trigger point is a result of a poor functioning muscular and joint system. This is the why. Left unaddressed, poor function will continue to drive the presence of trigger points.

Trigger points arguably present to help stabilize our body and prevent unnecessary load or stress to tissues or joints that could potentially result in injury.

This is why we must evaluate for and restore proper joint function and proper movement function. Otherwise we have our answer to the recurrent presence of trigger points.

What this means is that resolution of trigger points is best treated with a combination of manual massage therapy/release techniques, chiropractic manipulative therapy when indicated, and restoring proper movement/posture habits to our body. Simply rolling on a foam ball is not enough. Sure you may get relief, but given enough time, that trigger point will return if not treated more comprehensively.

If you’re spinning your wheels why you can’t get out of pain or get rid of tight muscles, you need to identify the gaps in your approach because something is being missed that is driving those symptoms.

Looking for answers and a more comprehensive approach to helping you get out of pain? Give our office a call at (724) 519-2833.

 
For more related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/exercise-hacks-ep-11-train-abdominal-slings-functional-core/

https://gallagherperformance.com/a-movement-screen-will-never-show-movement-habits/

https://gallagherperformance.com/posture-movement-require-brain-education/

https://gallagherperformance.com/low_back_pain_causes_and_treatment_recommendations/

https://gallagherperformance.com/movement-that-enhances-performance-reduces-injury/
A testimonial worth sharing:

When I first visited Gallagher Performance 6 months ago, I went for a nagging discomfort around my shoulder on the right side of my back that had stuck with me for the past 7 years. Not only was this uncomfortable, but it was also a major limiting factor in my physical performance. For years on my own, I tried various types of stretches, mobility exercises, and strengthening exercises, all to no avail. Due to its chronic nature, I continued to research the potential issue, and was convinced it was fascial adhesions in that area causing the discomfort and limited mobility. From there, I went to a number of deep tissue massages from various professionals, but those only resulted in short-term relief, not the long-term fix I was looking for. I continued my journey by going to various physical therapists in the area. I would tell them I thought facial adhesions were causing this issue. They would listen, target that area with facial release methods, give me various stretches and mobility exercises, but still no results.

Finally, I found Gallagher Performance one day as I searched for a fix for my shoulder and decided to give them a shot. Since I was still convinced that fascial adhesions were my issue, I went for a deep tissue massage for my first session with Ryan. Ryan listened attentively as I told him about my symptoms and the fascial adhesions that I believed were causing my discomfort and limited mobility in that area. Once the session started, he went to work on those fascial adhesions that I so strongly believed were the culprit. But this is where Gallagher Performance separated themselves from all of the other practitioners that I visited. Even though Ryan started on the facial adhesions, through his extensive knowledge and expertise, he quickly identified that fascial adhesions were not the issue. In fact, I unknowingly had issues in other areas in my body that were the root causes of my discomfort in that area. From there, through Ryan’s genuine desire to help his clients, he introduced me to Sean in order to work through the multitude of issues that caused this chronic discomfort and limited mobility for the past 7 years. Since that first visit, I’ve continuously worked with Sean and have practically eliminated the issue that had limited me for so many years.

Ryan and Sean were the first professionals to take an honest and objective approach to my issue. Instead of allowing my unprofessional diagnosis of my issue dictate their actions and approach, they independently applied their experience and knowledge to diagnose my issue and set me on the correct path for a long-term fix. Sean’s expertise in his field, specifically his knowledge of DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization), gave me the tools I needed to fix the root causes of my issue. His unique knowledge of DNS was imperative to my early success, but as we continued to work together on my path to maximizing functionality and physical performance, his experience and expertise in every area physical therapy allowed him to effectively diagnosis and treat any issue that would arise. Even though my discomfort has subsided greatly, I continue to work with Sean on correcting other problem areas that are limiting the full functionality of my body that I require to perform at a high level as an ice hockey goaltender. Only when I began my work with Sean was I not only able correct a lingering issue, but was also able to (and continue to) maximize my physical performance and functionality in ways I’ve never experienced before.

In addition to my periodic visits with Sean, I have been working with Ryan on the nutrition and training side for three months now, and as with my work with Sean, experiencing results that I have never experienced in those areas. For years, I have tried various exercise and nutrition programs, but the results that I experienced (if any) were short-term. I was never able to stick to a nutrition plan for very long or have a training program that was designed specifically to my needs. Ryan met those needs by developing a nutrition and training program built on a very simple yet powerful concept – sustainability. No longer was I burning out of my nutrition program because it was to strict and unsustainable, nor was I giving up on my training program because I wasn’t seeing any progress. Through the scope of sustainability, Ryan develops programs that not only brings incredible results, but also have the ability to be adhered to for the long-term. In addition, since Ryan and Sean work closely together, Ryan is able to take the feedback from my work with Sean and adjust my nutrition and training plans accordingly. I never had success in the past using various cookie-cutter nutrition and training programs. But once I started working with Ryan, I began to see great results on a consistent basic through the plans that he developed specifically for me.

My experience with Ryan and Sean has been, and continues to be, exceptional. Not only is their knowledge and expertise high-level, but they are truly tremendous people. They genuinely want their clients to succeed and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. The level of support and professional expertise that I have received from both Sean and Ryan is unparalleled, and I can’t thank them enough for success they helped bring into my life.

I would not hesitate to recommend anyone to see Sean and Ryan. Whether you are an athlete or non-athlete, young or old, I have no doubt in my mind that Ryan and Sean will be able to provide the level of support you are looking for. Gallagher Performance is much more than just a chiropractor, a personal trainer, or a massage therapist – they offer a multitude of services that restore health, functionality, and maximize physical performance. If you are looking for a high level of expertise and support in any of these areas, I urge you to give Gallagher Performance a try. They are hand-down some of the best in the business.

-Zaid Alzaid

 
For more related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/dns-solves-pain-improves-performance/

https://gallagherperformance.com/powerful-innovative-approach-improving-body-functions/

https://gallagherperformance.com/before-you-go-to-a-chiropractor-read-this-first/



As Gray Cook says, pain indicates a health problem not a fitness problem. In rehab, we deal with pain and dysfunction. In exercise and training, we deal with dysfunction. Pain and health problems should be managed by a licensed professional with appropriate training.

Exercising in pain is not the solution and you should seek proper guidance on how to get out of pain and correct dysfunctions before resuming your regular exercise or training program. Otherwise you may just get stuck in the perpetual pain cycle. The plan is to reduce pain, improve the tolerance to exercise through graded exposure, dose exercise and train to correct dysfunctions.
The management of pain should not be left to unqualified individuals in the exercise/fitness industry. With the rise of continuing education programs and certifications intended to help fitness professionals identify, through screening, an individual's level of training readiness.

Movement screens are generally performed to assess for mechanical sensitivity (aka pain with movement) and/or abnormal motor control (aka movement dysfunction). The screens are usually graded on a scale to reflect a score indicative of that individual's current performance.

A sample scoring system would look something like this:

0 = pain

1 = can't perform movement or has loss of greater than 50% range of motion

2 = performs movement with compensation

3 = performs movement without compensation

Screening provides valuable information and obviously it is ideal to work one towards a higher movement score.

The issue I have taken up with screening is the tendency for some fitness professionals to act as a pseudo-therapist when a client is experiencing pain. In my opinion, unless you have a professional license to work with the human body (i.e. chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, medical doctor, etc.) you have no business providing 'rehab' or 'advice' to a client. The best advice you can provide is to have them seek a professional medical opinion from a trusted source.

Again pain is a health problem, not a fitness problem. Most people within the fitness industry simply have a personal training certification. Managing a client's pain is not within your scope. Pain is a referral to a medical professional. Once pain is managed properly, then exercise is reintroduced.


Got pain?

Give our office a call and let us help you get out of pain by providing you the tools to understand your pain, how to prevent it, and how to improve the way your body functions. The model at Gallagher Performance was developed to bring excellence in both pain management and exercise/fitness education.

 
For more related reading:

 
https://gallagherperformance.com/solution-long-term-improvement-back-pain/

https://gallagherperformance.com/receiving-value-treatment-training/

https://gallagherperformance.com/a-movement-screen-will-never-show-movement-habits/



Although we’ve worked with a broad spectrum of athletes - high school, collegiate, professional, former World’s Strongest Man, and elite triathletes - we work with just as many weekend warriors and those who simply love to be active. Whether it’s improving your running distance, increasing strength in the gym, or swinging a golf club without pain, we want to help you achieve your goals.

We also successfully treat those with overuse injuries, enabling them to return to the highly active lifestyle they enjoy.

Being active is an essential part to a healthy lifestyle. The many benefits of movement and exercise are well documented. Unfortunately, injury can become a reality for those that live an active lifestyle. When injury occurs, the effects are not only physical, but psychological as well. It is easy to become frustrated when your active lifestyle has been interrupted and concerned when you aren’t healing or turning around as quickly as you had hoped. Recovery from injury is a process that must be understood, appreciated and respected.

To help you better understand how to manage your own recovery from injury, here is a short list of items to be aware of so that you can respect the healing process and set yourself up for a timely and safe return to sport or activity.

Avoid Complete Rest

When injury occurs, it is often advocated to rest. Rest is a critical part of healing and the amount of rest one needs will be determined by the severity of the injury. Injury is a balance of load and capacity of tissues within the body. Once we exceed the capacity of a tissue (bone, ligament, muscle, tendon, disc, etc.) with a certain load, injury occurs. Rest helps restore the capacity of tissues by minimizing or removing load and thus allowing healing to occur.

As critical as rest is to the healing process, movement is equally, if not more, critical. In the absence of severe injury and conditions where movement would be contraindicated (i.e. fracture, dislocation), movement serves to facilitate healing. The majority of musculoskeletal injuries heal best when we don’t avoid activity, but rather when we modify activity. The important factor here being that one finds activities they can perform without pain and that will facilitate healing through movement. This may be as simple as walking or gentle range of motion exercises. However knowing exactly what you should do for your specific injury can be a complicated answer. This brings me to my next point.

Don’t Rely on Social Media Gurus to Solve Your Injury

When injury occurs, people want a definitive answer when it comes to what they injured and how to manage it. And there are growing numbers that are seeking this information out online without ever consulting a licensed healthcare specialist. This could be due to frustrations with the medical model, a growing consciousness to seek out “non-traditional” or “alternative” therapies, or simply wanting to avoid paying out of pocket when there is free information available online. There can be the mentality of, “Why pay someone to fix me when I can learn to fix myself?” Not that this is wrong, but please understand that there are limitations when it comes to purely trying to self-manage your injury.

Let me illustrate this point with an example of someone who may go onto an internet forum or social media page and state, “If have an L4-L5 disc bulge with sciatica, what exercises should I do to help me get out of pain?”

If you are seeking an answer out online, keep in mind the most appropriate answer you should receive is, “It depends”.

Any advice you receive from someone who hasn’t evaluated you is truly just throwing darts in the dark and hoping something sticks. Most people on the internet and social media who are offering up advice when it comes to injury rehabilitation are not licensed to do so, thus you should be skeptical. Many of these same people try to position themselves as an expert for one reason or another, but reality remains they are not a licensed professional and thus you should be skeptical. Skeptical because how can someone tell you what to do when they haven’t evaluated you – in person.

When it comes to injury rehabilitation, the evaluation process is the most critical step to ensure no time is wasted in the early phases of rehab and to minimize complications. Evaluations should consist of orthopedic and neurological testing as well as biomechanical/functional testing to evaluate for structural pathology, movement sensitivities and functional deficits.

The sharing of symptoms through some online medium is extremely limited in its value and it inherently creates bias. It will bias the feedback and direction you receive from who you are seeking advice from since all they have to operate off of is what you tell them. But when you are evaluated live, in person, by a licensed professional, bias can fall by the wayside when things are discovered that you may not feel are all that important or relevant to your present injury. Yes, history and understanding your problem is important, but it’s only a part of the puzzle.

This is because as professionals, we are trained to evaluate with our eyes and hands to assist in the diagnosis of your condition.

Seek Out Professional Evaluation and Treatment

There are numerous products and programs currently online that essentially attempt to remove the need for someone to see a licensed professional for an injury or ailment. These products or programs will draw people in as they hope to learn what they can do to fix themselves. There is nothing wrong with that, as self-management strategies are important for anyone to learn. People who are dealing with pain or injury must learn why their pain or injury developed in the first place and what they can do to help prevent it from returning.

However the limitation to these products or programs is that they are mass marketed, attempting to appeal to a large audience and, therefore, are very general in nature. They are incapable of being highly specific to the individual. These programs or products may work for some, but when someone needs more individualized solutions they need to turn to a licensed professional such as a chiropractic rehabilitation specialist or physical therapist who approaches injuries and ailments from a functional perspective, not solely based on structural pathology.

Specialists exist for a reason. When your in-home or self-management strategies fail or if you are having persistent or worsening symptoms, you should seek out professional consultation. Specialist such as sports medicine physicians, rehabilitation chiropractors and physical therapists are capable of providing solutions to pain and injury through either diagnosing your condition, devising a rehab plan, and providing treatment. Massage therapists are another specialist to consider as many ailments and injuries have soft-tissue components that respond favorably to massage therapy by reducing pain and restoring muscle function.

Recognize the Gift of Injury

The recovery from injury is as much mental as it is physical. Believe it or not, there is a gift of injury – forced discipline.

What do I mean by forced discipline?

Injury often times forces us to confront the very reasons why we got injured in the first place. The reason could be faulty mechanics, sharp increases in workout or training volume, or ignoring warning signs our brain was sending us.

Professional specialists mentioned above should assist in the process of helping you recognize the reason(s) for your injury and given you the direction needed in your recovery. But it's upon you to be disciplined and mindful during your recovery process and beyond. This new sense of discipline can apply to making better decisions when it comes to your rehab program, your posture, your movement, and the amount of stress or work you place upon your body.

Failure to do so can often lead to someone rushing his or her own recovery, returning too soon to sport or activity or frequent relapses. Be disciplined and regain control of your body.

Understand the Science of Pain

Failure to apply discipline in your recovery can also result in the feeling that your injury will never heal. The reality is all injuries heal. But long after the site of injury has healed, pain can still persist. Pain becomes a reminder to some that they aren’t healed. They will believe they are still injured.

“So if my injury is healed, then why am I still in pain?”

Pain is a message from our brain that is meant to protect us.  Even though pain is meant to protect us, pain is not a reliable source of indicating the extent of an injury or even where the injury is located. The classic example here is phantom limb pain. Amputees regularly will experience this phenomenon. One may experience left leg pain, yet they do not have a left leg. If pain is purely related to damage or injury, how would one experience pain in a limb that doesn’t exist?

The reality of pain perception can be a difficult education point as this is typically a new concept for the majority of patients and one they may need some time to understand. But it’s critical as their beliefs about pain can complicate the recovery process. It’s extremely beneficial for patients to learn about pain and address fear-avoidance behaviors and other factors that will interfere with reactivation into normal movement, activities of daily living and sport.

Gradual exposure to correct movement which takes stress of tissues can help to desensitize the brain to pain signals. Movement re-education serves to reduce pain signaling in the brain. As one learns to move better, pain goes down. You need to break your pain cycle with a better movement solution. It’s that simple.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for reading. We hope this post was helpful. Please leave any comments or questions you may have. Share this post with those who you feel can benefit from understanding how to better approach recovering from injury or pain.

 
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/resetting-bodys-function-post-injury/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-hidden-causes-of-sports-injury/

https://gallagherperformance.com/technique_and_performance/

https://gallagherperformance.com/nutrition-for-faster-recovery-from-injury/

https://gallagherperformance.com/improved-approach-chronic-pain-management/

https://gallagherperformance.com/effective-treatment-shoulder-pain/

 
Movement is essential to the function of our heart, lungs, and lymphatic system. Movement is critical to keeping our muscles, joints, cartilage, and connective tissue healthy. Movement aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout our body and assists in removal of metabolic waste products.

These are points that the majority of us have either heard about or have come to understand about the importance of movement as it relates to our overall health.

Yet one major benefit of movement is often overlooked - the stimulation of pathways required for proper brain and body function.

Yep, that’s correct. Movement - especially of the spine - is required for proper brain function and coordination of activities such as concentration and learning, motor control, emotions, and optimizes organ and immune function.
There is a reason why you experience an increase in mental alertness after exercise or even a visit to the chiropractor. According to Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize recipient in Brain Research, movement of the spine generates 90% of the nerve stimulation used to run the brain.
The brain does not simply control the body, the brain requires constant stimulation and that stimulation comes from movement.

Movement charges your brain’s battery and enables you to think, function, and feel better.
Sound a bit too good to be true?

The work of some of the most prominent neurologists and physiologists in the world continually support the role of movement in brain and nervous system health.

The stimulation your brain receives from movement – once again, especially of your spine – is now being considered essential to optimal brain function and development. In fact, research is now showing that people who do not adequately stimulate their brain through movement have learning, memory, emotional, and behavioral deficits.
This is especially true for children because spinal joint receptor stimulation plays an integral role in the development of the child’s brain and nervous system. The effects of decreased stimulation of the brain in childhood have been linked to central motor impairment, developmental impairments, learning disabilities, and concentration problems like ADHD.

Regardless of your age, the message should be clear at this point: Movement does a body – and brain – good.
Get out and get moving.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/tips-on-recovery-and-restoration/

https://gallagherperformance.com/does-practice-make-permanent-how-practice-rewires-your-nervous-system/
Headaches are among the most frustrating and debilitating conditions seen by healthcare practitioners, from primary care physicians to chiropractors. When severe enough, headaches may interfere or prevent even the most basic daily activities that we take for granted, such as thinking, talking, and reading.

While a logical assumption would be that the origin of headaches is in the head itself, science suggests many of the most common headaches are generated from the joints, muscles, and nerves of the neck.

The head and neck is an inherently unstable system that requires a complex neuromuscular system to surround the spinal column for control of movement and protection from injury. 

Many daily activities, such as prolonged sitting and poor posture, can affect the function and health of the joints, muscles, and nerves of the neck. Poor posture or prolonged postures common to students and the majority of the working class can lead to muscular imbalances, restricted joint motion, and unnecessary strain on the neck and upper back often responsible for headaches.

Referred pain and micro-trauma explain how this strain often results in headaches. Referred pain is a neurological phenomenon which is responsible for the perception of pain at a location other than where the problem exists. Using the headache as our example, the problem exists in your neck or upper back, yet your symptoms and perception of pain exists in your head. Micro-trauma is cumulative, small scale damage that occurs in and between soft tissues (muscles, tendons, joint capsules, ligaments and nerves) in response to strain. The bodies response to this strain is to lay down small amounts of repair tissue. Over time, a build up of repair tissue can form adhesions or scar within the soft tissue altering function. Left untreated, these adhesions often lead to pain, tightness, stiffness, restricted motion, and diminished blood flow. The result is a negative feedback cycle, the cumulative injury cycle.



So how do we stop the cycle?

Massage therapy, myofascial release, and IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization) techniques are just some of the tools utilized at Gallagher Performance to address scar tissue adhesions and neurological dysfunction in soft tissue. Along with these tools, we often utilize chiropractic manipulative therapy (adjustments), sensory motor stimulation, and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) to improve posture, positional awareness, and help restore muscular balance. The combination of these therapies have helped numerous patients find a solution to chronic headaches or migraines.

The next time your dealing with a headache, consider Gallagher Performance. There is a solution to headaches that doesn't involve taking medication. Call our office at (724) 519-2833 to schedule your appointment.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/fascia_muscular-adhesions_how_they_relate-_to_pain_and_overuse_injuries/

https://gallagherperformance.com/powerful-innovative-approach-improving-body-functions/

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-stretching-wont-solve-your-tight-muscles/
As physical medicine becomes increasingly specialized, chiropractors and therapists must remain educated and capable of offering the highest quality in their professional services, knowledge, and examination abilities. Regardless of whether you are entrusted with the care of an athlete, chronic pain syndrome patient, or post-surgical rehabilitation, we have the job of reaching successful outcomes for each individual we encounter.

We must find their real source of pain, their true sources of dysfunction. Even if it means identifying sources others do not know exist.

We should be able to perform orthopedic, neurological, and also functional assessment to not only diagnosis problems, but also determine how to prevent any future problems.

One such country that has encouraged this level of thinking among it’s doctors and therapists is the Czech Republic.

The emergence of Czech ideas within the United States has grown over the last 15-20 years. My mentor and residency director, Dave Juehring, DC, DACRB, CSCS and director of the Sports Injury & Rehabilitation Department at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA has one of the most extensive backgrounds in Czech approaches to manual medicine and rehabilitation within the United States. In my opinion, there is no brighter mind in the chiropractic rehabilitation world. He may not be well known by industry standards, but those that know him know his knowledge and skill set is second to none.

The knowledge and expertise he is able to share with his residents, rehabilitation interns, and students has a profound impact on our professional development.

Among many lessons, he really has helped us understand the approach taken within the Czech School of Manual Medicine as well as the Prague Rehabilitation School. The intent of this article is to share some of this knowledge and highlight how these Czech methods can improve rehabilitation outcomes and athletic performance.

Alternative Thinking
The Czech School of Manual Medicine truly has revolutionized the management of musculoskeletal pain. Early in the 1950s, neurologists by the names Vladimir Janda, Karel Lewit, and Vaclav Vojta took a special interest in the rehabilitation of the motor (aka movement) system. As western medicine became progressively more technologically driven, Janda and Lewit focused on the value of manual approaches such as chiropractic, joint mobilizations, and neuromuscular rehab techniques, such as PIR (post isometric relaxation) as critical pieces of the rehabilitation plan. Janda was instrumental in the assessment of muscle imbalances, Lewit’s in joint dysfunctional. Vojta was instrumental in the discovery of global reflex locomotion patterns.

Collectively, their research focused on joint dysfunction, muscle imbalance, and the assessment of faulty movement patterns.

These concepts became components of identifying “Functional Pathology of the Motor System”. In other words, identifying why someone has developed pain or a movement related problem. In contrast to traditional medicine, which had a growing emphasis on medical imaging (X-rays, CT scans, MRIs) to identify structural pathology as the cause of pain.

Developing Ideas and Techniques
The work of Janda, Lewit, and Vojta influenced the work of Pavel Kolar and his work now represents a very innovative and powerful approach to how the central nervous system not only controls but expresses movement. This approach is known as Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). The application of DNS has value from the neurologically impaired child to adults dealing with musculoskeletal pain to elite athletes. Kolar’s knowledge and skill set has landed him jobs with the Czech national teams in soccer, hockey, and tennis.

DNS has become highly effective in speeding recovery from injury, rehabilitate the body’s function as a unit, and enhance performance. Even the Czech President relies on his unique skill set. Kolar has worked with some of the world's best athletes, such as Jaromir Jagr, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic to name a few.

Thanks to the influence of these Czech clinicians, we are now able to look for predictable patterns of dysfunction within the human body and correlate them with pain or injury. It is in the Czech model we are able to piece together the clinical relevance of local, segmental joint treatments (mobilizations, manipulation), muscular imbalances, and central nervous system coordination of movement to optimize how the body functions and performs.

Read more on DNS here:

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization: Advancing Therapy & Performance
The Hidden Causes of Sports Injury
https://gallagherperformance.com/chiropractic-rehab-dns-treatment/

https://gallagherperformance.com/sports-chiropractic-rehabilitation-massage-therapy/
What is Fascia?
The soft connective tissue, located just under the skin, is a white membrane that wraps and connects muscles, bones, nerves, organs, blood vessels of the body.

This soft tissue is known as fascia. Think of fascia like the white fuzz inside an orange peel connecting and wrapping around the orange and the individual sections or slices.

At times, muscles and fascia are can become stuck or tear, resulting in soft tissue injuries or adhesions. Adhesions restrict movement and the quality of muscular contractions resulting in either soreness, pain, and/or reduced flexibility.

For a quirky take on fascia or "the fuzz", watch this video by Gil Hedley, PhD. The video provides great visuals as to what fascia looks like, how our muscles have to slide while we move, and what muscular adhesions look like and how they limit movement.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FtSP-tkSug[/embed]

How do you treat Fascial/Muscular Adhesions?
Treatment of fascial/muscular adhesions through manual or instrument assisted techniques have clinically proven to achieve successful outcomes in many acute and chronic conditions. Gallagher Performance offers a number of soft tissue approaches to treat painful or tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments. We have extensive training in identifying and treating muscular adhesions that compromise quality of motion and contribute to pain symptoms or reduced sports performance. Many overuse or repetitive use conditions respond well to treatment of soft-tissue structures through myofascial release, including back pain, shoulder pain, shin splints, runner’s knee (IT band syndrome), and plantar fasciitis.

Myofascial release is a manual or instrument assisted therapy targeting soft-tissue structures to reduce the presence of adhesive/scar tissue. Adhesive muscular tissue is arguably the most common yet most underdiagnosed condition in the entire human body. Muscular adhesions act like glue among muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and even nerves. As a result, this reduces flexibility, strength, and stability to the body by altering movement control patterns. Adhesive tissue along nerves can cause numbness, aching, tension, tingling, and in some cases weakness. This is condition is called nerve entrapment and can happen in an estimated 150+ locations throughout the body.

How does adhesive tissue develop within the body?
Often adhesive tissue develops in result to acute injury or from overuse/repetitive trauma injury. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive stress on the muscle and skeletal system without enough rest to allow the body to adapt. Studies show these overuse injuries account for more than half of pediatric sports injuries and often happen due to intensive focus on a single sport with an intensive practice and competition schedule. Unrecognized and untreated, they can sideline athletes from play and lead to more serious injuries.

Who is qualified to diagnose and treat fascial/muscular adhesions?
Sports medicine experts are advocating a greater role for therapists who can help athletes or active individuals recover without incurring lasting damage or hampering their activities. Specialists such as chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists who specialize in sports-related injury and rehabilitation are often the first line of defense in managing and treating overuse injuries. These licensed professional are best for identifying muscular or fascial adhesions as they related to overuse injuries and movement disorders. With specialized training, these professionals are able to detect and treat muscular adhesions, expediting the healing process and minimizing downtime due to overuse injuries.

This is exactly why at Gallagher Performance we have a team which includes a massage therapist and a board certified chiropractic rehabilitation specialist. We strive to offer our athletes and patients the latest treatments and evidence-based soft tissue and rehabilitation techniques. Helping our athletes and patients achieve and sustain their best level of health and performance is our goal.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/tendinitis-changing-treatment-and-improving-recovery/

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-stretching-wont-solve-your-tight-muscles/

https://gallagherperformance.com/3-benefits-of-integrated-training-and-therapy/
Low back pain is not an uncommon condition among the American population. Several studies have supported data that demonstrates up to 85% of the population will experience at least one episode of low back pain during their lifetime. Low back pain is responsible for millions of dollars in healthcare costs every year.

In most cases, low back pain is relatively self-limiting condition, meaning it reduces naturally over a period of a few days. That said, it is not uncommon for many to experience severe pain. For this reason, it is important to begin treating low back pain conservatively with interventions such as chiropractic, manual therapy, therapeutic massage, and/or proper exercise prescription. All these conservative interventions have demonstrated their ability to successfully treat low back pain and its causes.

Some common back pain causes that respond well to a combination of chiropractic, manual therapy, massage, and/or exercise include:

Sprain/Strains: Injury to muscle and/or connective tissue, such as tendons or ligaments, suffered during activity, accidents, or lifting with poor form. Sprain/strains are extremely common and most range from mild to moderate (little to no tearing of tissue) and respond well to conservative treatment such as chiropractic, manual therapy, and progressive rehabilitation. Severe sprain/strains are characterized complete tears of ligaments or tendon ruptures. These may require surgical intervention.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction: These pelvic joints usually produce pain as a result of alter joint mechanics from lifting or straightening up from a stooped position. The pain is usually relieved with sitting or lying down. Muscular tightness in the low back and hips is common.

Facet Syndrome: Pain in the low back that is localized, sharp and provoked with either extension (arching of the low back) or a combination of extension and rotation of the spine.

Sciatica: Radiating pain into the lower extremity on the posterior thigh/calf/foot. Sciatica can be caused by central issues (disc herniations) or peripheral issues (piriformis syndrome, nerve entrapment).

Disc Herniations: Low back pain which may also radiate pain into the hips or legs. Typically worse in the morning; worse with bending forward; usually better standing than sitting. Because of the disc injury, muscle spasms are not uncommon. These muscle spasms serve to limit movement in order to protect the disc from further injury.

Piriformis Syndrome/Nerve entrapment: Radiating pain on the posterior thigh and leg caused by tightness in the piriformis muscle. This muscle is deep within the hip lays underneath the glutes. Tightness in the piriformis can create irritation by entrapping the sciatic nerve, thus creating the radiation of pain.  The sciatic nerve can be entrapped within the hamstring and calf musculature as well. Low back pain may also accompany hip pain.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome: This is a chronic form of muscle pain caused by trigger points. These trigger points are often present within muscles of the low back and hips due to any combination of joint dysfunction, postural imbalances, and/or poor stabilization/support function of the core musculature.

Spondylolishthesis: A fracture of the vertebrae resulting in pain with extension. Similar to sprain/strains, spondylolishthesis is graded in severity. Mild forms for spondylos can respond well to chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) and rehabilitation programs. This condition is frequent in athletic populations who perform repeated extension movements, such as gymnasts, football players, wrestlers, and weightlifters.

In many cases, several studies support that low back pain responds exceptionally well to the combination of chiropractic care, manual therapy, massage, and proper exercise instruction.  If you are suffering from low back pain, whatever the cause, consider Gallagher Performance for your evaluation and treatment. Our goal is to relieve your pain while teaching you what you can do to keep the pain from returning. Please contact us as we have every expectation that our chiropractic and rehabilitation programs will help you Experience the Difference.
 
This blog post was written by Dr. Sean Gallagher.

Gallagher Performance offers customized treatment plans. Visit our website for complete contact information. 
To schedule your appointment, call (724) 519-2833.
 
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-stretching-wont-solve-your-tight-muscles/
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzaixhJKgnQ[/embed]

Hi. I’m Dr. Sean Gallagher. Welcome to Gallagher Performance. I’d like to tell you about what we have to offer and why it might be a right fit for you to come check us out.

We offer chiropractic, functional rehabilitation, massage therapy, nutritional programs, as well as sports performance and personal training programs.

To begin with, my approach to chiropractic is different from what most have come to expect or have experienced in the past. As a chiropractor, my focus is on returning you to proper function and teaching you what you can do to keep pain from returning. Rather than spending 5 minutes with my patients, I usually spend 30 -60 minutes.

New patient evaluations are an hour long, as this allows me the opportunity to listen and understand their history as well as their desired goals and outcomes from treatment. All new patients receive a neurological and functional-based evaluation as this serves to create a working diagnosis and treatment plan recommendations.

Our functional-based evaluation and treatment plans are focused on looking at how you move so I can figure out strategies to help you move better and ultimately help you understand what could be causing your pain and what you can do to keep it from returning. The process is truly focused on you as the patient and your desired outcomes.

In addition to chiropractic adjustments or manipulations, I perform soft tissue treatments to improve the integrity and function of the muscular system. Massage therapy is offered here as well as it is extremely effective in treating painful or tight muscles and assisting in the healing process. Additional rehabilitation work focuses on improving movement qualities such as endurance, strength, stability, balance, agility, coordination, and body awareness.

When it comes to training, Gallagher Performance is all about individualizing the training process. That’s because we understand each person responds differently to training due to a multitude of factors that must be accounted for. We take time to understand your injury history, training experience, primary sport(s) played, and several other factors. Regardless of whether training occurs in a private or semi-private setting, clients are all closely coached through the entirety of their program to maximize results. This is what separates us and makes us unique from area competitors.

So if you’re looking to improve your performance, whether in sports, the achievement of your health and fitness pursuits, or you just need a tune-up to get your body feeling better, whatever the reason, come see us at Gallagher Performance. We are committed to you achieving your health and fitness goals and would love to be of service to you. Thank you.
For many of our readers, you may not be aware of the specialized background that Gallagher Performance has in personal training, athletic development, chiropractic rehabilitation, manual therapies, and sports-injury care.

Whether you are pursuing professional services for personal/performance-based training or you’re thinking of seeing a health professional about a sports injury, Gallagher Performance has two board-certified specialists who are capable of addressing your goals and needs.

Meet the Staff

Ryan Gallagher LMT, NASM-CES: Head Performance Coach
Ryan Gallagher is the Head Performance Coach and a Licensed Massage Therapist at Gallagher Performance. Ryan has quickly established himself as a highly sought after coach for athletic development, helping athletes achieve new performance bests while implementing specialized strategies along with manual therapy to keep his athlete’s healthy during their competitive and off-seasons.

Ryan has been involved in the fitness and sports performance industry since 2007. During that time, he has worked extensively with youth, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. He has also worked with competitive strength athletes in powerlifting and Strongman, as well as physique athletes (bodybuilding, figure, and bikini).

Ryan is certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and is also a Nationally Certified Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a concentration in Wellness and Fitness from California University of Pennsylvania.

To compliment his educational background, Ryan is an accomplished athlete in the sports of ice hockey, bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Strongman. HIs diverse athletic and educational background provide Ryan with an highly extensive and unique skill set that allows him to efficiently and effectively help his clients achieve their goals while staying healthy in the process.

Sean Gallagher DC, DACRB, NASM-PES: Director of Sports Therapy, Performance Coach
Dr. Sean Gallagher is the Director of Sports Therapy and also serves as a Performance Coach at Gallagher Performance. In 2009, Sean earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA. Prior to attending Palmer, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sports Science from Ohio University.

After graduating from Palmer, Sean entered a residency program in Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Sports Injury & Rehabilitation Department. The residency is the only one of its kind within a chiropractic college in the United States. Under the direction of former Olympian, Dave Juehring DC, DACRB, CSCS and Ranier Pavlicek DC, ATC, DACRB, CSCS, the residency provided Sean the opportunity to further the development of clinical skills in the realm of diagnosis, treatment and management of sport-related injuries. During this time, he received extensive training in manual therapies and developmental stabilization methods influenced by the German and Czech rehabilitation schools.

Sean graduated from his residency and completed his board certification in 2012, making him one of a select few chiropractors in the country that have successfully completed a rehabilitation and sports-injury residency. He is a board certified rehabilitation specialist through the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board (ACRB) that abides by the standards set out by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

To compliment his clinical training and experience, Sean also serves as a Performance Coach with years of experience working with athletes of all abilities and is a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) through NASM. He is an accomplished athlete in the sports of ice hockey and Strongman. During his time at Ohio University, he was part of the 2004 ACHA D1 National Championship team. In 2001, he was named to the NHL’s Central Scouting Service “Top 10” High School players in the US and was ranked among the top players in North America (US and Canada). As a competitive amateur Strongman, he has won or placed in several NAS sanctioned competitions since 2010 and was a National qualifier in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Our staff welcomes the opportunity to get you back to 100% and help you reach your fitness or performance-related goals. When you think of sports performance training and chiropractic rehabilitative care in the Pittsburgh area, remember the team of experts at Gallagher Performance.

 
Training Hard vs Training SmartThere are many components to consider when looking to promote proper recovery and restoration from training, be it from sport training or simply the goal of personal fitness. Similar to the considerations made in program design, one must be smart about the tools or tricks they use when it comes to nutrition, rest, and restoration techniques. In my personal experience, the overwhelming majority of individuals who train and compete on a regular basis commonly lack an understanding of recovery methods that are only going to help them optimize their training outcomes. They focus so much attention on their actual training, but fail to bring the same level of focus and attention to detail when it comes to nutrition or even proper sleep habits. When this occurs, training results are typically limited. There becomes a greater resistance to progress, leaving many in this situation feeling frustrated and confused. This is exactly why the understanding of rest and restoration must be passed on to the client or athlete. Yes, there is a difference between rest and restoration.

Basically, rest implies sleep or doing something restful, such as a nap or relaxing while watching the game. However, rest does not guarantee restoration, or the recovery and renewal of the body’s systems (i.e. cardiorespiratory, neuromuscular, endocrine, immune, etc.) from training demands. Not all systems recover in the same time frame and their restoration needs will be dictated by training volume and/or intensity. For the purposes of this article, we are going to discuss the application of recovery and restoration methods as they apply to recovery of the nervous system, specifically the autonomic nervous system.

Keep in mind, it is the current state of the autonomic nervous system that should dictate both training load and restoration methods. Meaning, it should be determined whether an individual is in a state of sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance. The ability to recognize this is crucial in decision making and avoiding inappropriate training loads or restoration methods, as these can push you down the wrong path. Ideally, restoration methods should be as individualized as the training process if your goal is optimal results. But, in general, here are some guidelines that will help you identify where you may fall on the sympathetic-parasympathetic spectrum and how to apply restoration methods to bring you back into an optimal state of recovery.

A) Parasympathetic Dominance (most typically experienced by endurance athletes)
  • Signs and Symptoms: chronic tiredness or heavy fatigue, low motivation to train, low resting heart rate, low blood pressure, low libido.
Restoration Methods: use SYMPATHETIC based recovery protocols
  1. Active Recovery Training: The goal is to increase blood flow to the peripheral musculature, speeding up processes of aerobic metabolism inherent in recovery. These activities should ideally be of low muscular and metabolic load, such as an easy bike, swim, or circuits of body-weight exercises.  Avoid high CNS demands, keeping active recovery sessions within 20-30 minutes.
  2. Intensive Deep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage will up-regulate the sympathetic nervous system through increased proprioceptive input to CNS, which will influence changes in the state of the autonomic nervous system as well as the myofascial system.
  3. Cold Water Immersion: May reduce perception of fatigue and soreness after training sessions by up regulating the sympathetic nervous system.  Repeat 2-5 minutes in cold water for 3-5 rounds.
  4. Sauna: Increased core temperature results in increased sympathetic response and speed of metabolic processes. It should be noted that the parasympathetic response increases following sauna use. In general, when looking at recommendations for the use of the sauna to promote recovery, the sauna should be between 180-200 degrees for an optimal response. There are a number of various sauna protocols to aid in recovery. In general, repeat 2-4 rounds of 5-10 minutes in the sauna, followed by a cool shower rinse.
B) Sympathetic Dominance (
most typically experience by power-speed athletes)
  • Signs and Symptoms: elevated resting heart rate, elevated blood pressure, poor sleep, mood changes such as being more irritable, suppressed appetite, restlessness, poor or declining performance, low libido.
Restoration Methods: use PARASYMPATHETIC based recovery protocols
  1. Active Recovery Training: Yes, this has similar application and can be used in either parasympathetic or sympathetic dominance. Follow the guidelines as previously mentioned.
  2. Relaxation-based Massage: Soft, gentle touch can generate a powerful parasympathetic response. Massage with the targeted goal of promoting relaxation will down-regulated the sympathetic nervous system. Again, this is achieved through proprioceptive input to CNS.
  3. Hot Tub: Hot water immersion promotes relaxation and increased parasympathetic response. Greatest benefit is achieved when water temperature is around 102 for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Deep Water Floating and/or Swimming: Not as commonly known or utilized as other restoration methods, this method is exactly what it sounds like, floating in deep water. Deep Water Floating’s benefits come from the proprioceptive changes due to the body being unloaded from gravity. A common recommendation is to alternate between 5-10 minutes of swimming and 5-10 minutes of floating while using a floatation device to ensure complete relaxation.
Concluding Thoughts
This is by no means a comprehensive discussion on recovery and restoration methods. Other methods such as naps, meditation, relaxation techniques, EMS (electro-muscular stimulation), and reduction of training volume and/or intensity can be implemented with great success as well. Remember to be strategic in the selection of your recovery methods, keeping in mind how they impact the various systems of the body. These techniques will not overcome poor training, nutritional, and sleep habits. They are intended to be an adjunct to already properly structured training and rest schedule, allowing you to optimize your readiness to train and compete.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-poor-recovery-will-make-you-sick-sad-and-weak/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-2-most-common-reasons-why-results-suffer/

https://gallagherperformance.com/resetting-bodys-function-post-injury/
GP: Please introduce yourself and give our readers some information on your professional, educational, and athletic background and achievements.
To all the readers out there, my name is Ryan Gallagher and I’m the Head Performance Coach at Gallagher Performance. Along with that I’m a licensed massage therapist, corrective exercise specialist, and nutritional consultant. My undergrad education was in Sports Management with a concentration in Wellness and Fitness and was completed at California University of Pennsylvania. I attended Hocking College in Ohio for massage.

Most of my childhood was spent participating in almost every sport imaginable. Around my mid-teen years, I decided to fully commit to ice-hockey. I was fortunate enough to play at the junior level, but through high school and after, I had a number of different injuries that derailed my playing career. Once I was done with hockey, I committed myself to strength athletics and I have since been competitive in powerlifting, strongman and bodybuilding. While I have competed with success, my eyes are on bigger goals that I have set for myself. My plans are to continue to compete for as long as I can. As far as competing goes, I have some plans but will keep that quiet for now.

GP: When and how did you become interested in sports performance, fitness, and nutrition? What have you found to be the most rewarding?
It all started with the influence of my parents and older brothers. Growing up, hockey was an expensive sport to play. My parents were willing to sacrifice a lot of their time and money in order to let me play a sport I deeply loved (and still do). I can clearly recall hearing both of them say, “If you want to play normal, club hockey you can. You can just have fun and take it easy. But, if you want to play juniors, if you want to travel and get exposure, then you need to meet us half way. You will need to work for it.” Essentially what I was committing myself to was a part-time job of training for hockey. Three-a-day training sessions in the summer were the norm and hitting the gym throughout the season was standard. My parents were willing to support me, so I wanted to push myself to say thank you. Once the training and sports performance aspect began, training became more than just a “thank you”. For me, it became an immediate love. Having brothers that came before me and were highly successful didn’t hurt at all either. They provided a great influence and had years of know-how under their belts to help direct me from the get-go.

The most rewarding part of it all is the process. Everyone wants the outcomes, and they want them immediately. But, the process of working towards your specific goal will tell you more about yourself than anything. Those who can grind and stick with something for an extended period of time will often realize far more significant results than others. Notice I said significant, not necessarily successful. There is a major difference.

GP: As a trainer and performance coach, you have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients. You have worked extensively with youth athletes, as well as high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. You have worked with competitive strength athletes in powerlifting and Strongman, and physique athletes (bodybuilding, figure, and bikini). And you have done so with tremendous success. It’s uncommon to meet a trainer who is competent in handling such a diverse client base while providing them with the guidance needed for successful outcomes. What allows you to handle such a diverse client base with success?
This answer could be long winded and boring, so I will try to keep it short and sweet (kind of like me!). The obvious component is the understanding and education on how to properly address each individual and their specific needs. Despite all the accolades, degrees, or certifications one may have, it is my opinion that an incredibly invaluable skill set is the ability to read your client. To know when to push them, when to back off and how various external and internal stressors may be at play. These are lessons that no textbook can teach you. You either have that x-factor or you don’t.

GP: With the extensive amount of information available today, nutrition and nutritional advice can become extremely frustrating and confusing. What is your philosophy when it comes to nutrition? 
Perhaps it’s because I’m only familiar with the fitness industry, but there is a strong correlation with confusion and the fitness industry. I don’t think there’s an industry out there that is more confusing and frustrating. People love to create confusion because confusion creates dependency. So he or she that yells the loudest will more than likely make the most money. Especially if it goes against the grain of what is traditionally applied.

When it comes to nutrition and my “philosophy”, I guess you could say I don’t really have one. My end goal with clients is to establish a plan that is sustainable for them. If any one client can’t stick with a plan that is set forth, the success rate of that plan is drastically reduced. The approach is similar to the quote, “The person who goes 90% for years will go much further than the person who goes 110%, burns out, and quits.” That essentially sums up the approach I take with my clients.

Most clients just need direction. Whether that is a set plan to give them absolute direction or whether it is step-by-step process of educating them on healthy habits for long-term success. At the end of the day it comes back to knowing your client and how you need to tailor their program(s) to their needs at any given moment.

GP: As a massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist, you have integrated recovery and corrective strategies for your clients and athletes. What are your thoughts on the importance of movement quality and recovery strategies in client progress?
Pushing the limits of the human body and sport performance doesn’t necessarily come without paying a price. Our goal is to keep our athletes and general clients healthy through the process, but aches and pains inevitably settle in. Some people may be baffled by that, but take your squat from 500 lbs to 600 lbs or your 40-yard dash time from 4.50 down to 4.40 and, trust me, your body is going to be feeling it. Wanting to minimize the effects of hard training, most of our athletes partake in an in-season care plan that is set forth to include weekly treatments to injured areas or general recovery work to help them stay fresh. These guys and girls are getting the snot kicked out of them sometimes during their athletic events. Once they feel the difference in how taking care of their body helps their performance and overall well-being, they’re hooked. Some of them come in anticipating an hour massage on their low back because their low back is sore, but we may do an hour of extensive hip and abdominal exercises instead. That is a judgement call. That client will end up leaving with no low back pain and in a much better place both physically and mentally. Some will need more focused soft tissue work, others there may be other factors at play. Again, it comes back to knowing what your client needs and what will truly benefit them.

Establishing proper movement is critical and the foundational element in determining long-term development of the client you’re working with. If they don’t move well for them, then really, it’s all for not. I emphasize moving well for them because it’s different for everyone based on individual physical traits and characteristics. There is not a textbook way of performing any movement. Yes, there are obvious technicalities to each movement, but how it’s applied to everyone is different, and often not textbook.

I could go on about how the whole fitness industry can be it’s own worst enemy, but that would be more of a rant than anything. People need to get off their high horses and realize that because a movement isn’t done to their personal specifics, it is not necessarily wrong for that individual and the goals that they have.

So proper movement for the individual has to be established first. Once that is established you would be surprised at how many issues are removed. Especially once that client becomes stronger. Strength never hurt anybody.

GP: You have become sought after by both athletes and coaches for your ability to develop speed. If anyone would doubt it, your results speak for themselves. You have had the ability to further develop athletes who have either plateaued or failed to achieve results in other training programs. What do you attribute this ability to?
You won’t get anywhere without a substantial amount of knowledge and experience backing up your intentions. I was fortunate enough to start training and working with athletes at a very young age. So even at my age, I’ve been able to put in close to 10 years of professional experience working with clients from various demographics with an array of end-goals. The good trainers eventually make it to the top while, unfortunately, some really poor trainers are there too. The education, and arguably experience, only take you so far. It goes back to my earlier answers. Understanding your client, knowing them almost better than they know themselves, and being aware of how to direct them will set the framework for continual development.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/3-simple-steps-to-reduce-your-risk-of-sports-injuries/

https://gallagherperformance.com/3-benefits-of-integrated-training-and-therapy/

https://gallagherperformance.com/faqs-frequency-avoided-questions-of-strength-conditioning/
The number one priority of any coach or trainer should be the health of your athletes. At GP, we look at any and all entities that should be addressed to increase the wellness of each of our athletes. This takes into account biomechanical/movement quality considerations, exposure to inappropriate training, the compatibility of current training loads and parameters, nutritional considerations, and the coordination of therapy and restoration techniques.

The process of developing athletes and ensuring they remain healthy in the process can present a major problem and one that could be remedied with both higher coaching education standards and the utilization of performance-based therapy.

1. Raising Coaching Education and Qualification Standards
To ensure the health of our athletes while realizing their athletic potential, we spend countless hours on improving movement efficiency as well as balancing workload compatibility during each training session and block. Statistics consistently demonstrate the more mechanically efficient you are, the less injuries you have. Movement efficiency also translates into athletes having higher levels of performance while expending less energy in the process. Expending less energy means less fatigue. This is important since athletes are more likely to get injured in a fatigued state.

Workload compatibility refers to the importance of understanding compatible training methods when addressing a dominant physical ability during a phase of training. For example, this demands that the coach/trainer understand if they are trying to develop alactic sprint abilities why glycolytic or anaerobic-lactic training must be restricted or avoided.

In the attempt to improve any number of physical abilities, most coaches/trainers often fall into the trap of pushing their athletes too hard in training. They understand that in order for athletes to perform any number of biomotor abilities (speed, strength, work capacity) at higher levels, they must push them during training to create a specific adaptation. In the process of achieving adaptation, often times they manipulate variables (intensity, frequency, duration, workload, etc.) without any understanding as to why they are making the change. As a result they compromise the athlete’s ability to adapt appropriately and set the stage for injury.

Simply put, more educated coaches understand workload compatibility and the development of specific biomotor abilities as they relate to an athlete’s sport. They have a system of checks and balances that dictate training variables and they are constantly monitoring their athletes to avoid declines in performance standards and injury.

Movement efficiency and the proper management of training loads/parameters is a relatively poorly understood concept by the majority of trainers/coaches when most of them have simply taken weekend certification courses and are under qualified, with no background in sport and exercise science. This is far too common in the US, as trainers with minimal experience and knowledge of these concepts as they relate to sport often find themselves responsible for the coaching and development of athletes.

This approach is in stark contrast to the coaching qualification process in the former Soviet Union, where the development of coaches/trainers was a scientific and well-planned undertaking. Those who wished to become coaches had to be high-level competitive athletes themselves and were required to take entrance exams in subjects such as biochemistry, physics, biology, and physiology. The applicants who made the cut were entered into one of the country’s Physical Culture Institutes to undergo four to five years of a rigorous, scientifically oriented coaching curriculum. Coaching in the former Soviet Union was not something one decided to do a “whim”. Coaching and the development of athletes was viewed as a career that required specialized education, mentorship, and training.

It doesn’t take long to realize why the Soviet Union dominated international athletic competition for as long as they did once you understand the qualification criteria for their coaches was a serious and intellectual process.

Athletes should seek out coaches and therapists who have the competitive sporting background and accomplishments, educational background and accomplishments, as well as clinical competence, methods, and track record to keep athletes healthy and performing at their best. Period. Anything less, and you should be skeptical about what you are getting.

2. Integration of Performance-Based Therapy
In addition to raising coaching education and qualification standards, excellence in therapy is another component that is often missing when it comes to keeping athletes healthy. Unless you have integrated sports medicine and therapy (sports chiropractic, massage, manual therapies, recovery methods), eventually an athlete will need to reduce the overall volume/intensity/frequency of training. What you are able to learn about an athlete in a therapy session is invaluable and can serve to help guide what you do in training.

As Dan Pfaff said best,
“A top athlete is like a formula one car and have you seen how much fine tuning they do with those things? The ability to run your hands over an athlete and know what is restricted gives you immense inside information into their functioning. You cannot expect the athlete to tell you either because they are terrible barometers when it comes to knowing what they are ready for. Just asking “are you ok for today’s workout?” is not enough because their motivation is so high athletes do not necessarily listen to what their own body is telling them.”
Therapy serves to normalize joint and soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament) function and promote movement efficiency by removing dysfunctional movement patterns. Similar to training, therapy cannot be randomly applied. Random application always equals random results. Therapy must be strategically implemented during the training plan. It should not be ignored that therapy provides a stimulus/stress to both tissues and the nervous system and, depending upon the athlete’s needs, must be utilized appropriately.

For instance, some forms of therapy can serve to promote recovery and restoration by pushing an athlete into a parasympathetic dominant state. Conversely, other forms of therapy can up-regulate the sympathetic nervous system and will either heighten performance levels or prolong the recovery/regeneration period depending upon when therapy is applied. Another factor that must be consider is how each individual athlete responds to therapy. Some athletes may respond to intensive therapy sessions just as they do to intensive training and therefore proper rest/recovery must be accounted for accordingly during the training week.

Closing Words
Both higher coaching education/qualification standards and performance-based therapy are necessary components in the health and performance of athletes. The more coaches know, the better they are able to serve their athletes and address their needs appropriately. Failure to integrate performance therapy in a complementary manner can be a mistake, as there tends to be an increase in reliance on other forms of therapy that stress rehabilitation and recovery rather than optimizing performance.

Related Articles:

What is Performance Therapy?
Have You Mastered Your Movement?

 
"He who treats the site of pain is often lost."
- Karel Lewit

The purpose of this article is to provide some basic information about the importance of understanding the role posture and function have in pain and movement dysfunction. The hope is that you will gain an understanding of why your chiropractor or therapist must evaluate and bring into consideration issues that may not seem related to your pain.
When it comes to dealing with chronic musculoskeletal pain, the site of the pain is rarely the actual source of the pain. This concept is often missing or ignored in traditional North American treatment. Let's look at shoulder pain as an example. All too frequently the shoulder pain patient is provided an evaluation and treatment that is solely focused on the shoulder. Depending on the professional you see, the shoulder is typically treated with any combination of adjustments, passive modalities (ultrasound, electrical stimulation, laser), manual therapy, or shoulder exercises. If those fail, you may be referred for shoulder injections or you may become a potential candidate for shoulder surgery.

Notice the pattern? Everything is focused around the shoulder. That's where the pain is, so that's where my problem has to be, right? The same pattern can be seen with low back pain, neck pain, knee pain, etc. This seems like rational thought, but what if you, as the patient, do not respond? Does this mean that conservative treatment failed? Does it mean you need surgery? What if only focusing on the site of pain caused something very critical to a positive outcome to be missed?

Looking Beyond the Shoulder
Czech physician Vladimir Janda likened musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction as a chain reaction, thus stressing the importance of looking beyond the site of pain for the source of pain. Janda observed that due to the interactions of the skeletal system, muscular system, and Central Nervous System (CNS), dysfunction at any one joint or muscle is reflected in the quality and function of joints/muscles throughout the entire body. This opens the door to the possibility that the source of pain may be distant from the site of pain.

Janda also recognized that muscle and connective tissue are common to several joint segments; therefore, movement and pain are never isolated to a single joint. He often spoke of "muscular slings" or groups of functionally interrelated muscles. Muscles must disperse load among joints and provide stabilization for movement, making no movement truly isolated. Meaning shoulder movement does not occur only at the shoulder, but is dependent upon the function of the spine, rib cage, pelvis, and even the ankles. For example, trunk muscle stabilizers are activated before movement of the upper extremities begin; therefore, shoulder pain can be caused by poor core stabilization.

Hopefully you are coming to realize that while you may have pain in a specific area, it's not always the cause of the pain. Going back to the shoulder, a 2006 study that reported 49% of athletes with arthroscopically diagnosed posterior superior labral tears (SLAP lesions) also have a hip range of motion deficit or abduction weakness. This illustrates a key point. How often do you see shoulder pain/dysfunction treated by correcting hip mobility and stabilization patterns?

Outside of glenohumeral joint range of motion and rotator cuff endurance/strength, has your shoulder evaluation included any of the following items:

#1 - Breathing Pattern
The average person will take close to 20,000 breaths per day but until recently the impact breathing has on movement and dysfunction has been largely ignored. Proper breathing certainly provides great benefit to athletes and individuals who display a variety of movement dysfunction.  Neurologist Karel Lewit said, “If breathing is not normalized, no other movement pattern can be.” Understanding the impact proper breathing has on the body and how to restore ideal breathing patterns is critical in both athletic development and rehabilitation.

#2 - Thoracic and Cervical Spine Function
Spinal posture lays the foundation for shoulder function. Improper function of the thoracic (mid-back) and cervical (neck) areas of the spine will compromise the function of your shoulders. Imagine the spine as a series of cog wheels, movement in one area will impact all areas. This is visualized in the picture below:



Regardless of whether they are sitting or standing, the majority of people tend to fall into a posture very similar to what is seen on the left. Increased kyphosis of the thoracic spine (rounded mid-back) is a major reason for forward head posture and rounded shoulders. There are seventeen muscles that attach to the shoulder, many of them influencing the position and movement of not just the shoulders, but spine as well. Shoulder function is dependent on proper spinal posture and without correction of spinal posture, the shoulders don't have a fighting chance to stay healthy.

#3 - Mobility of the Opposite Hip and Ankle
The importance of looking at hip mobility was emphasized previously, but let's also consider the ankle. This ankle becomes of particular importance when dealing with overhead throwing athletes. Dysfunction at the ankle will alter mechanics up the kinetic chain and place undue stress on the shoulder and elbow. Correcting any muscular tightness or poor joint movement of the ankle sets the stage for ideal throwing mechanics and the prevention of shoulder injuries.

Closing Thoughts
Despite focusing on shoulder pain, many of these concepts hold true for any type of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Before abandoning all hope or 'learning to live with the pain', consider that being evaluated by a professional who will look beyond your site of pain could be the solution you have been looking for. That's why these concepts form the foundation of the examination and treatment process at Gallagher Performance.
What you need to know:
  • Many healthcare providers and trainers poorly understand why someone ‘feels tight’.
  • Dealing with muscle tightness is not as simple as just stretching.
Why Muscles Become Tight
The human body is designed to move and movement requires varying amounts of stability and motion. When movement occurs, patterns of stability and motion can occur in efficient or inefficient ways. As structures accommodate movement, the load placed on everything from joints to muscles and tendons to nerves changes and these changes can produce symptoms. In the process of wanting to avoid symptoms, the body will often develop compensation patterns. A common result of this compensation process is the feeling of being 'tight' or 'tension'. This tension serves a protective role, thus it is referred to as protective tension.

The development of protective tension and the reason behind its presentation is one of the least understood mechanisms in musculoskeletal care. The body is smart enough to constantly monitor loads and prevent excessive load of any given structure to ultimately help prevent injury. If you are feeling 'tight', there is a reason and your body is sending you a signal. However, many people will ignore this signal until more pressing issues develop, such as pain. So how does one handle a muscle that ‘feels tight’? Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as just stretching. Stretching often provides temporary relief because of underlying joint dysfunction, stability and/or mobility deficits, or muscular weaknesses that need addressed.

Thinking Beyond Stretching
To illustrate this concept, let’s look at the classic example of someone with ‘tight hamstrings’. The common solution many people hear from coaches, trainers, medical professionals, and the all-knowing local gym guru is, “You should stretch your hamstrings more.” So the well-intentioned individual chooses to stretch their hamstrings more often because they feel they have received good advice from someone they perceive as knowledgeable.

However, the majority of people will eventually find themselves in a cycle of temporary relief from stretching. They stretch, feel better, then some time later they feel tight again. So they stretch more and more, but fail to have any sustainable results all because they received very poor advice from the start. Be critical of your information source. Just because someone owns a Mac doesn’t mean they are qualified to be a programmer for Apple. Get the point?

Discovering the reason behind your tight hamstrings (or any tight muscle) is a complex process. Here are just few common reasons why hamstrings develop protective tension:

#1 - Poor Posture due to Weakness of the Abdominal and Glute Musculature
The anterior pelvic tilt is a common posture seen today. As the pelvis rotates forward due to stability and muscular control issues, this places stress on the hamstrings since they attach directly to the pelvis. Not only is this a static posture consideration, but also applies to dynamic posture or essentially the posture one assumes while moving. Movement will place greater stress on the anterior and posterior abdominal slings. These slings serve as a link between your shoulders, spine, and hips. Weakness in their ability to control pelvic and spinal movements, such as rotation and extension, can create overactive or tight hamstrings. In this case, the hamstrings will continue to feel tight until the underlying issue of correcting posture and pelvic/spinal stability are improved.

#2 - Adverse Dynamic Tension of the Sciatic Nerve
Peripheral nerves, such as the sciatic, have their own unique biomechanics to allow for movement of the arms or legs. Nerves are surrounded and encased by muscle/connective tissue, so they need to be able to ‘slide’ through tissue during movement. If they can’t slide, tension develops because nerve tissue is highly sensitive and can be injured very easily if too much stress is applied to it. Hamstring tightness can be attributed to the sciatic nerve or its  branches, the tibial and common peroneal nerves, being entrapped within the hamstrings and/or calves. The detection of neural tension requires specialized training. Those that are qualified utilize specific soft tissue work and neural mobilizations tailored to treat neural tension.

#3 - Accumulation of Adhesive Tissue within the Hamstrings
This is common in athletes and runners because of repetitive use. Adhesive tissue can develop within musculature in response to overuse, thus affecting how a muscle contracts and lengthens. Typically a muscle that does not lengthen appropriately will create the feeling of tightness. Again, specific soft tissue work is tailored to treat adhesive tissue and allow for proper hamstring function.

#4 - Joint Dysfunction of the Pelvis or SI Joints.
Abnormal joint mechanics will alter muscle function. If joint centration or how the joint moves is altered, this will alter length-tension relationships of muscles surrounding the joint. This affects muscle function and will potentially place tension on the hamstrings. These are best addressed by joint mobilizations or adjustments/manipulations. Licensed chiropractic professionals are well trained in identifying abnormal joint mechanics and the impact it has on the body and nervous system.

Final Words
Protective tension in a muscle develops for various reasons and must be examined accordingly. At GP, our assessments are used to identify protective tension and why it is present. This provides us with the information needed to design the most appropriate course of treatment and client education.
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Contact

  • 4484 William Penn Highway

  • Murrysville, PA 15668

Hours of Operation

  • CHIROPRACTIC
    Monday-Thursday: 9am-1pm, 3pm-6pm
    Friday: 9am-1pm, 3pm-5pm
    Saturday: by appointment only
  • MASSAGE & TRAINING
    Hours are by appointment only