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When Should I See A Chiropractor?

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aaE3CIouTU[/embed]

In this video we discuss some important points to consider when to see chiropractor or why to see a chiropractor, especially one that has a sports injury and rehab specialization and practices in a functional movement model.

Some points to consider:

  • How important is your health to you? Health is an investment and requires a proactive approach rather than be reactive.
  • Do you want to get out in front of rather muscle tightness and joint range of motion/mobility restrictions before they get more serious or painful?
  • Most people are unsure of who to see for back pain and joint pain, even muscle tightness. They may see their PCP, but not receive the answers or solutions they were hoping for. They are looking for a provider they can trust.
  • Those that have a positive experience with a chiropractor or have one they trust, turn to them when they start to "feel off" or they feel their body is moving as it normally does or they start to feel pain.
  • Ideally, chiropractors who have a specialization in functional rehab, sports injury, and movement are the experts you should see for the most musculoskeletal conditions that we commonly deal with.
  • When, or if, you see a chiropractor is ultimately your choice and one that can prove to be beneficial and a worth while investment.
 
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-importance-of-functional-evaluation/

https://gallagherperformance.com/low_back_pain_treatments_that_just_wont_help/

https://gallagherperformance.com/solving-pain-influence-czech-rehabilitation-techniques/

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

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

https://gallagherperformance.com/solving-movement-problems-entertainment-vs-effective/

Summer Grind, Summer Blast

Lately it’s hard to find time to keep up with our blog. Life and business have a way of keeping you busy. Ignoring our social platforms may happen for a period of time, but we always revisit them. If there is one thing I’ve always hoped is that our blog would be informative, educational, and entertaining (at times).

The summer months bring on increased work load. Once May rolls around, we take it up a notch or two at Gallagher Performance. Summer is a grind, but it’s also a blast. We love the grind, love the process. With the volume of high school and collegiate athletes training for strength and performance, along with the patients we see ranging from acute care to rehabilitation to return to play, summer provides tremendous learning opportunities.

Reflecting back on the past several weeks, there are some friendly reminders and lessons learned or re-learn that I wanted to share:

  • Power-speed athletes thrive on power-speed drills and exercises. Just because one can squat or deadlift 500+ doesn’t mean they are explosive and fast. Yes athletes need strength and for many they will need a primary focus on strength training. However, those newly acquired strength levels must also be displayed in more power-speed dominant means such as sprints, jumps, throws as they have greater specificity to athletics than anything barbell related.
  • Athletes need to rapidly absorb force and rapidly generate force and do it on a level of unconscious activation. That brings me to another point of muscle activation. Muscle activation is a craze nowadays and rightly so. The overwhelming majority of the population will benefit tremendously from learning how to activate and integrate muscles such as their tibialis anterior, glutes, and scapular stabilizers to name a few. A lost art in muscle activation seems to be the use of isometrics. There is always an isometric contraction during the amortization phase of movement. Even during the most explosive movements, there is an isometric contraction. Isometrics are also awesome for reprogramming and generating a powerful mind-muscle connection, making isometrics a great tool for performance as well as rehabilitation. We have been utilizing a select few isometric drills for uprighting, motor control, and priming for improved force/strength generation. In a relatively short period of time, they have more than demonstrated significant value.
  • There is a right way to go about training and a wrong way. The right way will always be dependent on the needs of individual and their specific goals. Don't get caught up in hype, trends, and empty promises. Trust the tradition. There is magic in the basics of the barbell, free weights, sprints, jumps, and bodyweight drills. They have stood the test of time. Fads and trends come and go, the basics remain. Using these exercises is one thing, understanding how to structure them in a training plan is another animal in itself. Find a trainer/coach that understands training specificity or else you are simply wasting your time and money.
  • We are problem solvers. Either as a clinician or trainer/coach, the heart of what we do is problem solving. Maybe it’s a matter of ability or effort, but clinicians or trainers either have the ability or they don’t. The ability to problem solve comes from knowledge and experience and even instinct. When it comes to effort, frankly some are just lazy and don’t care to think hard as it complicates their job. Whether it is listening to what a patient/athlete is telling you or just simply watching, you’ve got to process the source of the problem and how you’re going to solve it. When it comes to performance or rehabilitation, everything makes sense. If it is happening there is good reason for it. If we don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense to us, but it always makes sense. Never dismiss a client or patient as not making sense. Make the effort to make a change. Change your perspective. Learn more.
  • We all need a coach. No one gets through life all on their own. We all have needed mentors and coaches at some point in our life. These may have been parents, family members, close friends, teacher, professors, bosses, etc. If we pursue something of significance, chances are someone helped us along the way. We need the help of others than have more knowledge, more experience, more accomplishments. I have had a number of mentors and coaches. For everything they did for me, I hope I can pass that on to those that I work with in the role as a coach.
  • Take time to get to know your clients and athletes. Show you care about them. We do more than just simply get kids bigger, stronger, or faster. We have an opportunity everyday to connect with our clients and athletes and hopefully make a positive impact. The reward goes far beyond cash flow. It’s about making a difference for the better.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and enjoy the grind!

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/do-you-really-need-more-mobility/

https://gallagherperformance.com/faqs-frequency-avoided-questions-of-strength-conditioning/

Prevent Re-Injury with Integrated Training and Rehabilitation

The majority of us will not get through life without sustaining some degree of injury. The joints of the back, shoulder, hips, knees and ankles are all very common injury sites for not just athletes, but the general fitness population as well.

Most injuries that develop over time tend to have one thing in common, a breakdown in the human movement system. Meaning it could be that you are performing specific movements with sub-optimal technique or perhaps muscle imbalances are responsible for your symptom presentation. Regardless of the reason for injury, the goal is the same; to make movement more efficient to ensure that once training or competition resumes, the chance of re-injury is minimal.

Efficiency of movement is rarely a goal achieved in therapy. Incomplete rehabilitation in athletes and the general fitness population has lead to a re-injury epidemic. The problem is rooted in either the push to return athletes to the field as quickly as possible or rushing patients through the rehabilitative process.

With the ever changing landscaped of health insurance, the overwhelming majority of athletes and patients deal with increasing out-of-pocket expenses and limited number of therapy visits. Ultimately, many patients never complete their rehabilitation process.

This may be for a number of reasons, but in most cases athletes or patients are discharged once specific objective and ADL (activities of daily living) measures are satisfied. Sure you may have minimal to no pain, full range of motion and seemingly adequate strength resorted, and basic activities are easy to perform, but this does not ensure you are ready to resume training and competition.

And this is exactly where most get stuck.

They are lead to believe they are ready to resume sport training or their exercise program, but soon after resuming they realize they aren't as ready as they thought they were.

The transitional period between rehabilitation and performance-based training is the most critical period to ensure complete rehabilitation and that the transition back into training and competition carries minimal risk of re-injury.
Sadly, due to points made previously about the state of healthcare, many personal trainers and strength coaches are finishing off the rehab process.

Why do I say sadly?

Frankly, the majority of personal trainers aren’t educated enough to be overseeing such a delicate process, yet many position themselves as psedo-therapists. I’ve lost count of how many personal trainers I’ve seen giving “massage” or performing “joint mobilization” during their training sessions. They have no training or qualifications to perform such work and ultimately the person at most risk is the individual they are working on. Word to the wise: if your personal trainer is performing such work on you and has no license to perform such work, run the other way and seek out a qualified professional.
Within the fitness industry, there has been a large growth in facilities that blend rehabilitation with prevention strategies within strength and performance based training programs. Done well and overseen by qualified professionals, this is a great way to manage what is seen both in a rehab and training setting. This process should not be handled improperly. Implementing “corrective” or therapeutic exercises strategies into a performance-based training program should be lead by qualified professional(s). There used to be a gap between the professionals in the therapy and strength & performance world. Progressively though, that gap is slowly closing as more therapists crossover into the world of strength & conditioning.

Returning from injury isn’t and shouldn’t be a quick process. It’s far better to train smarter through the process. Improving on the function of the body while adding qualities such as endurance, strength, reactivity, power, etc. will help ensure successful outcomes. It’s less about isolation and more about training systematically to re-groove movement patterns. For anyone who has suffered an injury, they all want to get back to their previous level of function while also building the confidence they will not re-injure themselves. It can and will be a detailed process that involves rest, manual therapy directed at specific joints and soft tissues, as well proper exercise progressions. And yes, this means regressing, substituting, and even just slowing down exercises until they are owned.

Once movement and exercises are owned, it opens the door to further progressions in a performance-based setting to help ensure a more complete rehabilitation resulting in reduced risk of re-injury. This has become a huge part of what we do at Gallagher Performance as we successfully help our athletes and patients resume an active, pain-free lifestyle.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/technique_and_performance/

Understanding the Benefits and Concerns of Youth Strength Training Programs

Benefits of Strength Training for Youth
Numerous studies have been published on the benefits of strength training in regards to overall fitness and health markers, muscular strength, injury reduction, sports performance enhancement, and confidence. Scientifically proven adaptations from strength training include increased neural drive, increased synchronization of motor units, and hypertrophy of skeletal muscle. These adaptations not only create a bigger, leaner, and stronger individual, but one who is able to express improved control and execution of complex sport skills while performing them at greater force and velocity outputs. So as a young athlete, if you have a desire to run faster, jump higher, or throw harder, you must first become stronger. Strength is the foundation on which all other physical abilities are built.

Experts also agree that there are many health benefits associated with strength training with research suggesting that strength training in youth can result in increased bone density, healthier body composition, and improved blood lipid profiles. Other benefits from participating in a strength training program also include reduced chance of injury during sport participation and increased self-esteem and confidence.

Now while to what degree strength and improvement in the weight room transfers into an athlete performing better on the field may be left in question, one thing that will always transfer to a competitive environment is confidence. I'm not talking having a massive ego or being cocky. Confident and cocky are completely different. Confidence is extremely important and strength has a unique way of improving confidence in children.

Concerns of Strength Training for Youth
Roundtable discussions including strength coaches, medical professionals, and researchers have focused on questions of concern pertaining to the strength and conditioning programs for young children. These concerns include injury rates, efficacy, and safety.

Among these experts, they have agreed on one common theme:

When a program is well supervised, form and technique are properly instructed, and the program is administered by someone who holds an appropriate certification, there should not be a concern for the child’s safety.

When it comes to weightlifting injuries, a large number of the reported injuries took place in a home gym or involved children who were unsupervised while they were lifting. In regards to minimizing risks in the weight room, many of the experts agreed that there should be an appropriate coach-to-athlete ratio (smaller ratios are ideal), proper education on strength training technique, and proper progressions for their training age.

Appropriate Age to Begin Strength Training
It is generally accepted that there is no specific age at which it is best to start a strength training program. However, it is recommended that children must be mature enough to accept and follow directions while also possessing an understanding of the risks and benefits associated with strength training. It is commonly accepted that if a child is participating in an organized sport, then this is an appropriate time period for them to begin a strength training program. Typically, for the majority of children this would approximately between the ages of 6-8.

Final Words
There are numerous benefits for youth to begin a strength and conditioning program. The program should be led by a qualified strength and conditioning professional and tailored to meet the needs in regards to age appropriate training, gender, and primary sport(s) of participation. Children should be willing and ready to follow instruction to ensure safety, quality training, and to meet their performance goals.

For more information on the topic of youth strength training and athletic development, please click on the links below:

Guidelines for Selecting a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer
Gallagher Performance - Staff Bios
Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Success or Failure: What Are You Setting Your Young Athlete Up For?
References
Faigenbaum, A, Kraemer, W, Cameron, J, Blimkie, R, Jeffreys, I, Micheli, L, et al. Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(suppl 5): S60-S79, 2009.
Haff, G. Roundtable discussion: Youth resistance training. Strength and Conditioning Journal 25(1): 49-64, 2003.

VBlog: Overtraining a Myth?

This short video discusses the reality of overtraining as it relates to human performance when it matters most. Overtraining is not a myth. Learn more here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyYQEVO7QOI

VBlog: Olympic Lifts and Training

The Olympic Lifts of the clean & jerk and snatch, as well as their variations, are commonly used to develop power and even as metabolic conditioning. What exactly is their role in training? We address our views in this short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVdjYkeq2AA

Warm-ups, Stretching & Mobility

What is the purpose of the warm-up? How important is the role stretching and mobility during the warm-up process? Plenty of clinicians and trainers preach mobility, mobility, mobility. Is mobility truly the answer? We answer those questions in this short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-mlmqBmNyg

Assumptions, Accusations, and PEDs

The controversial subject of individuals assuming and accusing other individuals of using PEDs has been brought up once again.

It's comical to me because I always here about these assumptions or accusations from a second hand source. I never hear it directly from the source. But, that's another story.

At this point in my life, I’ve heard it since I was in college. Not just me, my brothers as well.

Let me make something perfectly clear: I am a natural athlete. Ryan is a natural athlete. My brothers are natural athletes. Always have been, always will be.

Why I am writing this post is to ask the question, "Why do people assume someone is using PEDs or anabolics in the first place?"

Is it because they believe something is not possible?

Do they have this belief because they are not capable of the same achievement? Or do they believe that because they can’t do it, then no one can?

Do they somehow believe that they are the strongest natural athlete alive and if someone is stronger than them, that person is a cheat?

Looking deeper in the matter, I consider the attitude of the individual making the assumptions or accusations. They start with the attitude that they believe what others are achieving is not possible, all based on the belief that it is not possible for them. And the impossible will always be their reality, never achieving what they are truly capable of because a driven, motivated person will make it possible. They will always find a way and won’t quit. They will never allow themselves to believe something is not possible.

Want to know the secret of the strong?

It all starts will their mentality.

A stronger person will never question the abilities of a weaker person. It’s always the weak questioning the strong. Weak in mind and character will always equal weak in strength. The strong simply want it more. Strength begins with a change in attitude. Put your mind to it. Change your attitude. Put forth some real focus and thought to achieving your goals and forget what others say is or isn’t possible.

Besides, who sets the limit of natural strength and athletic ability?

Why do people feel the need to define what someone else is capable of or tell them what their limitations are and if they have been reached. The strong of mind and the driven athlete are made to push boundaries and create new limits. Ignore the haters and detractors. It’s up to us to impose the stressors needed for adaptation and elevated performance. Put in the work and the time. Remember, nothing worthwhile ever came from quick and easy. Strength is no different.

Don't fall victim to the poorly educated and allow them to shape your views on the limits of human potential and what is or what is not possible. You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved without the excuses and with plenty commitment, consistency, time, failure and above all hard work.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/training-take-it-seriously/

https://gallagherperformance.com/advanced-training-for-elite-athletes/

FAQs: Frequency Avoided Questions of Strength & Conditioning

It’s time to understand what training for an athlete is all about. Parents and athletes are seeking out training services in great numbers and are confronted with more options year after year.

A real problem for people is that they see stuff like P90X, Crossfit, bodybuilding style training, or any kind of general fitness training and they get confused into believing that it is good training for an athlete. What they need to understand is that these training styles do not necessarily give you high performance. Many times adults and their young athletes fall into the trap of pursuing training without truly understanding if it will be beneficial or detrimental to their athletic development. What we have compiled below are some common FAQs or Frequently Avoided Questions that should be answered before you begin an organized training program aimed at developing a young athlete.

1) What are the demands of the sport?
Does your strength coach/personal trainer actually account for the sport you participate in, understanding the biodynamics and bioenergetics of the sport and adjusting your training accordingly? Or do they simply plug you into their system and make you workout based on what they know how to do, not what you need as an athlete? Understanding the anatomy and physiology of sport is highly critical in the design of athletic and sport performance training. If you’re coach or trainer does not understand these concepts as they relate to your young athlete’s sport(s) of participation, they will fail to produce significant results.

Don't buy into "functional training" hype. Simply ask them, how exactly is this functional for my young athlete? You'll be surprised at the sales pitch you may hear.

Read more:

What is Functional Exercise?
Training for Elite Athletes
Identifying Strength Needs for Athletes
Guidelines for Selecting a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer
2) How does training impact a young athlete’s muscle fiber typing?
Muscle fiber typing is specific to slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. Understand that slow twitch muscle fibers are highly resistance to fatigue and do not produce much force, making them more favorable for use during distance/endurance training and lighter resistance training workouts. Fast twitch muscle fibers are more easily fatigued but they produce a great deal of force and are needed to be fast, explosive, and strong.

Coaches and trainers can run the risk of any transitional muscle fibers being pushed to low threshold, high endurance-based muscle fibers when they make power-speed athletes do far too much distance endurance training or high rep weight training. Power-speed athletes make up the bulk of team sports such as football, hockey, baseball, basketball, and track & field events such as sprinters, throwers, and jumpers. This is not a comprehensive list, but none the less provides you with an understanding of just how many sports are highly dependent on power-speed qualities.

Athletes need to utilize training methods that push transitional muscle fibers to a more high-threshold, fast-twitch muscle fibers. Transitional muscle fibers are highly sensitive in the young athlete, especially in the teenage years. If improper training methods are utilize, you will lower their ceiling of athletic potential.

Read more:

Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Success or Failure: What Are You Setting Your Young Athlete Up For?
Two Common Misconceptions in Endurance Training
3) Does quick feet training make sense for an athlete?
The majority of quick feet training involves the use of dot drills and speed ladders. These drills do nothing to reinforce proper mechanics of sprinting or ice skating. Just watch for yourself. When these drills are performed, kids are standing upright with minimal hip and knee bend utilizing short, choppy strides that impart very little force into the ground. This is completely contradictory to what any sprint or skating coach would demand from their athletes. The fastest guys are the strongest guys because they put more force into the ground. Quick feet training makes no sense.

Read more:

Don't Fall for the Speed Trap
Choose Consistency and Intelligence in Training, Forget the Rest
4) Does high rep weight training for time make sense?
The whole point of strength training is to improve the efficiency of how your nervous system works. The heavier the weight, the more motor units and muscle fibers your brain needs to call upon to execute the movement. The more motor units and muscle fibers in use, the more force you produce. But we just don't need force, but athletes need to produce force quickly. The faster they produce high amounts of force, the faster and more explosive they become. Pretty simple.

Your brain will not call upon a lot of muscle fibers to execute a movement against light weights. This process of selection exists on a continuum and you don’t get to high-threshold, fast-twitch muscle fibers until you start hitting close to 80% of your 1RM (rep max) or higher. It doesn’t matter how many reps you can do against light resistance. So while the P90X and Crossfit people are doing tons of reps with light weights and little to no rest intervals, you’ll never tap into those muscle fibers that power-speed athletes thrive on for success in their sport.

It’s the complete opposite training you want to do for athletics like football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and just about every power-speed track & field event. Especially for teenagers because you can influence the muscle fiber make-up and the ratio of slow twitch to fast twitch fibers of young athletes. This will have tremendous impact of the athletic development or destruction. Again, high rep weight training with little to no rest serves no purpose for a young athlete and contradicts the demands of athletics.

Read more:

Drop the Confusion, Athletes Need Consistency for Efficiency
Have You Mastered Your Movement?
3 Reasons You Should Train for Maximal Strength
Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT Programs
 

On The Use of Deep Squats and Intense Conditioning with Athletes

Lately, we have faced a number of questions regarding two subjects:

1) Why don’t we make our athletes perform full, deep squats?
To be very clear on the subject, it all comes back to the understanding of how different movements and work outputs affect your training goal.

Technique manipulation can have a tremendous impact on training outcomes. When it comes to the training of athletes, training outcomes must ensure high level of competitive performance in their primary sport(s). The considerations one makes when training for pure strength and power will be completely different from the individual training for maximal muscular hypertrophy. When training for strength and power, you want to set yourself in a position for the greatest mechanical advantage. An individual’s greatest mechanical advantage will also be influenced by their anthropometry. This becomes the context of making coaching decisions that will dictate technique and variations used in movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and Olympic lifts.

In sport, one can argue that there is some level of sport-specificity in utilizing ½ and ¾ squats as they may provide a greater transfer of training into the dynamics of certain sporting movements. Keep in mind that auxiliary or supplemental work in the training program must ensure muscular/connective tissue health and balance.

This is not to say we don’t utilize a full, deep squats. Some of our athletes are more than capable of performing them. For others, there is a greater risk to reward ratio and greater sporting outcomes can be realized with squat variations that impose less structural risk.

It really comes down to selecting the best tools for the job and removing the variables that don’t have a place in an athlete’s long-term goals.

2) Why don’t we use intense conditioning work with our athletes?
Understand that the adaptations an athlete undergoes from both a neuromuscular and energy system (aerobic and anaerobic) viewpoint will always be influenced by the structure of training load and volume in a given program.

“Explosive, not tired.”
At GP, that is a concept we communicate to all our athletes, but still this is a concept many of them have a hard time understanding. Many come to us with the goals of being bigger, stronger, and faster. They want it all and convincing how the process really works, through intelligent conversation, is a challenge.

Flash forward several weeks into the program and these same athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster through intelligent program design and execution. All aspects of the training program align with their goals and their bioenergetic (energy system) demands relative to their sport. There is conditioning work, but it is structured best to according to their needs. Conditioning work doesn’t have to push you face first into a pile of your own sweat and vomit.

Nowadays, young athletes assume conditioning and speed are the same and that by improving their conditioning, they will get faster. For many athletes, suicides and gassers come to mind. Intense practices run by coaches for no other reason that to make their players work hard also comes to mind. Players are instructed to sprint with minimal rest, pushed to exhaustion. Many trainers and "programs" utilize high-intensity conditioning methods. Sure you want your athletes to last an entire game and not get out worked, but this will not get them faster. Actually, it is counter-productive if speed is the objective since it is physiologically impossible to perform at your maximal effort without adequate rest. And it doesn’t ensure that they will be in the best condition either.

There is such thing as training parameters and workload capability. These concepts demand consideration when training athletes. Sadly, if you asked the majority of trainers and coaches what those two terms mean, you learn pretty quickly that you are talking to yourself. True speed is only developed at near maximal effort. Maximal effort depletes energy systems and strains the nervous system. All these need adequate time to recover between sprints. This must be monitored closely to ensure that a speed training session does not become a conditioning workout. Conversely, conditioning work must follow guidelines designed to help athlete’s maximize their conditioning without disrupting other aspects of performance. If conditioning training is performed at too high of an intensity, the training not only inefficiently conditions the athlete but can also interfere with speed performance and development. It will also interfere with strength and power development as well.

Are you getting the picture?

The very same athletes who want speed, strength, and size must understand that intense, non-directed conditioning only serves to inefficiently condition you and interfere with the goals and needs required for sport success. This is not our opinion; this is fundamental sport and exercise science.

Conditioning is a primary component in our training programs, for any athlete. However, conditioning takes on different looks due to the various energy system demands for the individual athlete. Conditioning is tailored to their needs. Just because a coach crushes them in practice with endless gassers, it doesn’t mean they are suddenly out of shape.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/guidelines-for-selecting-a-strength-coach-or-personal-trainer/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-essentials-of-speed-training/

Stay Strong and Heal Faster While Injured

Injuries are a part of sport and life. It is an unfortunate reality and a lesson some encounter with greater frequency than others. I have had my fair share of injuries as well. The reason why I am writing this post is because of my most recent injury.

Over the past 14 weeks, I have been prepping for a strongman competition in Iowa on May 16. The training cycle had been going smoothly and I was feeling good heading into the final days before my taper. Four days ago, I pulled my left bicep during tire flips. The tire flip is one event that is notorious for causing bicep injuries due to the large amount of mechanical stress it places on the biceps. Fortunately, I did not suffer a complete tear, no surgery needed. However, competing is out of the question. When you are self-employed and your job requires the uses of your hands, there is no need for any further set backs.

For some, injuries mean down time from training. They see injuries as an obstacle. Not in my mind. An obstacle is what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. There are still ways to train around injuries. Sure, I will not be able to do anything stressful with my left arm for 3-6 weeks, but I can still get a powerful training stimulus from a incorporating squat and single-leg variations for lower body strength, jumps/bounds/hops for more intensive CNS stimulus, and training my non-injured arm to help maintain strength and speed recovery of my injured arm.

Wait….what? Training your non-injured arm helps to keep your injured arm strong and heal faster?
There is truth to that statement. The phenomenon I am referring to is known as “cross-education”. It is well established that to minimize the effects of detraining, performing single-side training with the non-injured limb (upper or lower body) will allow you to maintain strength and accelerate healing in the injured limb.

Cross-education occurs when you strength train a limb on one side of the body. The result is an increase in strength in the opposite limb on the other side of the body due to neural adaptations. Cross-education appears to be effective for all muscles and joints of the body, from shoulders and hips to ankles and wrists.

A study published in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness demonstrated that strength gains in the untrained limb are typically in the range of 5 – 25% depending on if that limb dominance. Strength gains average around 35 – 60% increase in the trained limb. Additionally, it appears that less range of motion will be lost in the injured limb due to the cross-education effect – another major benefit.

There are other studies on the subject of cross-education, but still cross-education is not completely understood. Strength gains in the injured limb are most likely due to neuromuscular adaptations and increased neural drive to the untrained muscle. A similar hypothesis is improved motor control because training the healthy limb results in recruitment of high-threshold motor units in both limbs. Keep in mind, there is no evidence of hypertrophy (muscle growth) or changes in muscle fiber types in the injured limb following single-side training.

Cross-education highlights the importance of single-limb exercises during training and rehabilitation from injury. Helping clients or athletes understand cross-education may encourage them to continue an exercise routine during time of injury, as it can help maintain strength and speed recovery. Cross-education is a perfect illustration of how one can turn a weakness into a strength through focused training efforts.

 
Sources:
Lee, M., Carroll, T. Cross-Education: Possible Mechanisms for the Contralateral Effects of Unilateral Resistance Training. Sports Medicine. 2007. 37(1), 1-14.
Zhou, Shi. Cross-Education and Neuromuscular Adaptations During Early Stage of Strength Training. Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness. 2003. 1(1), 54-60.
 
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/prevent-re-injury-integrated-training-rehabilitation/

Why We Aren't Popular

Ryan and I have been fortunate to be influenced and mentored by some great coaches and athletes when it comes to the understanding of athletic development. There is no doubt that they have had a substantial impact on our abilities and coaching methodologies. Even with all the great mentors and book smarts, the lessons learned from being competitive athletes ourselves has had a significant impact on our coaching methodologies as well. From the point of view of an athlete, all that matters is wins and losses. At the end of the day, being an athlete is about developing your body’s potential for higher levels of performance. There are many coaches and many systems that currently exist which will have you believe their system is the only system. And they can be very good at it. With the amount of information that exists today in regards to developing strength, speed, power, etc., it’s not surprising why many trainers and coaches are doing their best to make the most “noise”. Noise may get you attention, but ensuring meaningful results is another story.

I find complete arrogance to exist when trainers or coaches speak in terms of absolute laws when it comes to specific systems or movements and their necessity for enhancing sport performance. For example, when one takes on the stance of broadly advocating movements such as Olympic lifts or powerlifting-based programs with a primary emphasis on the squat, bench press, and deadlift to develop strength-speed attributes of athletes, it must be examined very closely. There are many popular programs that exist today that can promise increased performance on a number of levels. It's all about selling a product. However, what escapes most is the fact that no element of an athletic development program should be carelessly added into the mix. You can't just randomly select a program based on it's popularity or how your buddy responded to it. You should not just add in something because someone told you to do so or you read it online.

What a lot of trainers, coaches, and athletes do not understand well enough is the impact movement has on the CNS. Movements such as the Olympic lifts, squat, bench press, and deadlift can all impose a significant amount of stress upon the central nervous system (CNS). The high CNS demand is generated from the necessity to execute these movements against maximal weights or submaximal weights at maximal velocity. The intent is to develop varying degrees of strength-speed qualities. It should be emphasized at this point that the typical athlete can adapt to only 2-3 CNS stressors at one time. Keep in mind, CNS stressors are not limited to physical training such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping, etc. CNS stressors will also include practice, games, competitive events, and time devoted to sport-skill acquisition. These all come with a cost to the athlete’s CNS reserves. Understand that the athletes will take a significant beating from practice and competition. So any strength and conditioning work that is integrated into sport work will also draw heavily on the CNS. Trainers and coaches must accept the fact that they end up losing something in the weight room. But whether it is due to ego or fear of losing specific performance markers, there are many cases in which trainers or coaches may overly stress their athletes in the weight room, eventually leading to negative performance outcomes.

The importance is this: introducing movements, such as the Olympic lifts or variations of the powerlifts, while an athlete is focusing on more important tasks, such as developing sport skill, can come with negative consequences.

Now don't get me wrong. The utilization of the Olympic lifts, squat, bench, and deadlift have been used by elite athletes around the world. They more than serve their purpose in developing qualities that power-speed athletes desire. However, they should not be applied without first understanding the context. Sure an athlete may become stronger in the squat, bench, or clean, but are they performing at new levels on the field? Is their new strength level transferring into improved acceleration, speed, or power outputs in competition? Has the process of achieving increased strength interfered with their sport performance all because it was poorly planned?

This is exactly why educating athletes on what they need to focus on at the appropriate times during the competitive calendar is such a huge part of the process at Gallagher Performance. Young athletes want to work hard, but they need direction. The same can be said for any of our training clients, regardless of their training goals. They are all willing to put in the work provided it pushes them towards their goals. We have no “system” to sell our athletes and clients on. We address their needs while providing them the understanding of the sensitivity of the process. This, in turn, creates a more educated, more independent individual who understands how to achieve their goals despite all the noise and nonsense that exists in the fitness industry.

Sure many of our posts and articles may not be the most "popular" or most "liked". We don't give away a lot of information like other popular sites. We don't have a popular ebook. We don't give out sample training programs that are easy to follow or apply because the context will vary for everyone. One person may apply it and see tremendous results, while another may see no significant improvements. Rather, we write with the goal to educate. When it comes to fitness-related writing, it is definitely more popular to give people "fish" rather than "teaching them how to fish". This could be considered a bad business model when you look at what is deemed as successful in the fitness industry. So if teaching people how to be more sustainable on their own is not popular, we can live with that.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/thinking-of-taking-your-child-to-a-trainer-read-this-first/

https://gallagherperformance.com/learn-how-to-spot-the-fitness-frauds/

How to Develop Physical Fitness

Recently, I was having a conversation with one of our clients about what it takes to be ready to compete in sport. The conversation mostly centered around athletics and how to be in the best "condition" possible. Specifically, this client was talking about certain people they know and hold in high regard as having a high level of physical fitness. All was going well until they said something very interesting.

In regards to someone they know, they said, "Man, are they fit. They are probably the most fit person I know."

When I asked them what makes that individual the "most fit" person they know, they just stared blankly back at me. There was no response and you could see the wheels churning away trying to figure out the answer.

Fitness is a craze nowadays. Women want to be fit. Men want to be fit. Athletes want to be fit. People want to be fit. Health clubs, personal trainers, smart phone apps, and infomercials want to sell you on becoming more fit. Slogans such as “Forging Elite Fitness” and titles such as “Fittest Man on Earth” or “Fittest Woman on Earth” make the concept of fitness very intriguing. Many people have come to believe fitness is a complex process. To most, the idea of “fitness” brings to mind someone who is muscular, lean, strong, and has stamina for days. This “idea” of fitness seems to be nothing but mere marketing and often leads people down the road of overcomplicating their exercise or training program.

So, that begs the questions, "What is fitness?"

Physical fitness is actually quite simple if we define fitness as “the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular physical task”. If your task is to compete in the 100m dash, then your fitness levels must enable you to successfully compete in that event. If your task is to start in the NFL, then your fitness must enable you compete at your highest level possible week after week.

Developing Physical Fitness
Physical fitness is achieved during the process of physical preparation or how prepared you are for competition. The ultimate goal of physical preparation is to have each athlete at their best during competition and is accomplished via a systematic process to promote adaptations that raise levels of both fitness and preparedness. Fitness adaptations thus follow the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). Meaning, if you want to gain muscle, get stronger, and be more explosive, you better be sprinting, jumping, throwing, and lifting weights to allow those specific adaptations to occur. The SAID principle also means that an athlete’s level of fitness should always be specific to their sporting demands.

Debating who is the most “fit” athlete or individual on the planet is a ridiculous conversation. How can someone say that an NHL defensemen who plays almost 30 minutes per game over an 82 game is more or less fit than an Olympic caliber decathlete? How is that Olympic decathlete more fit than a Navy SEAL? How is a Navy SEAL less fit than the “Fittest Man on Earth”? How is the winner of the Boston Marathon more fit than the World’s Strongest Man?

Do you see what I am getting at?

An athlete’s fitness levels (strength, power, stamina, energy system development, etc.) will always be specific to what is required by their primary sport form. Just because someone is the “Fittest Man on Earth” does not mean they will have the ability to withstand the demands of competing within another sport at elite levels. Personally, the “Fittest Man/Woman on Earth” title would be better renamed to “Fittest CrossFitter on Earth” because that’s all the title means. The notion that elite fitness in one event or sport is somehow superior to the fitness required in another is either arrogant or ignorant (possibly both).

Understanding Physical Fitness Adaptations
To better understand physical fitness and the specific adaptations that result from training, we must first consider the training system commonly used to achieve improvements in endurance, strength, and power. This training system is known as concurrent training. Concurrent training is defined as, “the simultaneous inclusion of strength training and endurance training within the same program.” Concurrent training may be a necessary means for some athletes and individuals. However, for most, the application of concurrent training is widely misunderstood and poorly organized in the pursuit of all things “fitness”. They want to improve endurance, so they do a lot of aerobic exercise. They may run, bike, or swim for hours each week. They also want to get lean and strong, so they lift weights 2-4 times per week. These are the people who train and train and train, yet fail to see significant improvements in any number of neuromuscular adaptations.

Aerobic and strength adaptations are very divergent. The human body is simply not capable of adapting appropriately to two very different training stimuli. You can go run for a long period of time or you can be explosive and strong from weight training. Now, I understand nobody wants to be both an elite marathon runner and Strongman. However, there are people who want high levels of aerobic capacity while also becoming muscular and strong at the same time. Unfortunately, many of these same people plateau quickly or fail to see significant improvements because concurrent training attenuates muscular growth, strength, and power gains. There is an interference effect created when one attempts to simultaneously improve both aerobic fitness and neuromuscular qualities such as strength and power. The training approach is doomed from the beginning if specificity and attention to detail in training organization does not enter the picture.

To understand why, we must then understand the competing long-term adaptations that occur from strength training and endurance training.

Competing Long-Term Adaptations
1) Strength Training (short duration, high force output)

  • Neural Adaptations – synchronous firing, recruits large populations of motor units, rapid rates of force development, improve rate coding
  • Endocrine Adaptations – Growth Hormone (GH) and Testosterone release, anabolic environment, stimulation of satellite cell activation and muscle protein synthesis
2) Aerobic Training (long duration, low force output)
  • Neural Adaptations – asynchronous firing, recruits small populations of motor units, slow rates of force development
  • Endocrine Adaptations – impaired anabolic hormone signaling, elevated Cortisol and catabolic hormone production, inhibition of mammalian target of rapamyacin (mTOR), essentially shutting down the pathways for stimulating muscle protein synthesis
This means that regardless of whether you perform aerobic exercise and strength training in separate sessions or during the same exercise session, the results can be negative depending on your “fitness” goals or needs as an athlete.

Fitness is Specific
Physical fitness is thus specific to the end goal of physical preparation. The physical preparation of an American football player should be different than that of an MMA fighter. Football players do not need to have the "fitness" levels of MMA fighters. Each of these athletes must develop their physical fitness qualities to meet the demands of their sport. Consider that American football players must develop power-speed qualities that are essential to their success at high levels of competition. Some trainers and coaches feel that some of their football players need better aerobic fitness or conditioning, so they have them perform high volumes of gassers or long distance runs in the off-season. As said before, this can prove to be a huge mistake. Being "fit" for football has very little to do with how many gassers you can complete, how fast you can run three miles, or what your Fran time is.

The same is true for other power-speed athletes (hockey, baseball, lacrosse, sprinters, throwers, etc.) Senseless and poorly implemented aerobic conditioning will have negative impacts on the neuromuscular qualities needed for successful participation in these sports. These qualities are important to their “fitness” as an athlete. Sure, go ahead and perform endless miles of running or biking. Go on with your absurd amounts of circuit-based training. But when you rob these athletes of their ability to develop higher levels of strength, speed, and power, it should be no surprise as to why it happened. Aerobic fitness cannot be prioritized to the point that more important qualities (strength, speed, and power) suffer.

But, isn’t a decent aerobic conditioning base essential for these athletes as well?

Yes. However, there are more optimal ways to develop their aerobic energy systems to meet the demands of their sport. Don't make the mistake of assuming aerobic capacity is the same as being "fit". Aerobic energy system development will always be specific to the athlete's needs. Similar to resistance training, aerobic development should be periodized and appropriately dosed to developed the specific energy system demands without impairing performance.

Conclusion
Fitness is not simply achieved by going nuts, but rather being productive in specific approaches to your sporting demands. If you are unsure of how to appropriately address your fitness goals or needs as an athlete, then first start with a knowledgeable coach who understands the complexities of physical preparation for sport and is able to guide you in the process. For some, the concept of fitness requires a bit of a “reality check”. Sure you may want it all. You want the elite level endurance, strength, speed, and power. But, often this is not realistic. Prioritize your fitness goals and address them accordingly in specific phases of training. This process requires patience.

Remember, fitness is a highly specific quality that is ultimately dependent upon the physical preparation process for your sport of participation. Understand your training must mirror your demands for sport. If training is not addressing your specific needs as an athlete, you are wasting your time. Don't let some general or poorly defined concept of "fitness" guide your training.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/physical-preparation-vs-fitness/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-truth-about-functional-exercise/

https://gallagherperformance.com/ultimate-runners-guide-to-injury-prevention/

Genetics vs. Hard Work

Lately, the age-old debate on the role of genetics vs. work ethic in determining training outcomes has been a popular discussion with our athletes. Recently, some of the results our athletes have seen during their time training at GP has been chalked up to “genetics” by some outsiders. From their perspective, training is all the same. At the end of the day, they are lifting weights, running, jumping, etc. There was not, or could not, have been anything special about our training system that allowed these athletes to excel beyond what they had previously done. In their opinion, the results these athletes achieved had everything to do with being genetically “blessed”.

What becomes apparent with their argument is the lack of appreciation that exists in regards to the sophisticated nature of training methodologies aimed at long-term athletic development. Long-term athletic development is a concept many coaches, trainers, athletes, and parents are either unfamiliar with or don’t have the patience for. They want immediate results; regardless at what expense those results come with.

When athletes approach us for coaching, we have a big task on our hands. There is a lot of information we must gather regarding each athlete in order to design the most effective training program possible. Keep in mind, there is an incredible amount of detail that will influence how each athlete will respond to training and it is our responsibility as coaches to know the details and address them appropriately during training. The information we gather by spending sufficient time testing and analyzing various performance markers before and during training becomes invaluable in understanding what to address with our athletes.

When designing and coordinating the training plan, we also account for each athlete’s current state of readiness to train. There are a number of factors to consider when determining readiness to train and this information is critical to know as a coach. The ability to identify the degree of intensity and volume an athlete can handle during each training session is critical to progress and avoiding unnecessary training loads. We want to ensure that each training session produces quality work, not pointless work. It’s incredibly easy to ruin an athlete; getting them to progress year after year is a tremendous challenge.

What critics fail to see is exactly how much work, quality work, these athletes put in week after week for months. They don't acknowledge the endless hours of discipline and hard work that athlete was put into a training system that addresses their developmental needs. Instead, nowadays, people find it more convenient to simply blame genetics for their comparative lack of progress or dismiss the athlete’s hard work and suspect cheating (i.e. drug use).

This is truly a shame because it is the culture sport has created. It’s unfortunate to have a young athlete become bigger, stronger, or faster and, in turn, have their peers and others in their lives ask them, “What are you taking?”

Let me be clear about something: if you are failing to see progress in your training program or are seeing more time on the bench than on the playing field, chances are you are simply being out-worked in terms of quality of effort and direction in your training.

You really should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself how bad do you want it. If you want to be great in your sport, greatness is not something you simply decide. You must act upon it. There is a lot of discipline and hard work required to become an elite-level athlete.

Roughly, how much hard work?

You may or may not be familiar with the “10,000 hour rule”. The rule basically states that 10,000 hours is the amount of work needed to reach mastery in any discipline or skill. Even thought the rule has received some criticism, the point remains that it at least provides us with a tangible number when understanding how much time is needed to develop a high-degree of mastery in any pursuit.

Let’s break down the 10,000 rule a bit further. If you practiced your sport two hours a day, five days per week, it would take you just under 20 years to reach your 10,000 hours. More commonly, most young athletes practice their sport 1 hour per day, 3 days per week. At this pace it would take an athlete 64 years to achieve mastery. As you can quickly tell, being a “recreational” athlete will never allow you to reach elite status. Mastery requires time, a lot of time, and thus is a serious decision to dedication that one doesn’t make on a whim.

Remember, hard work is only one side of the coin. Anyone can work hard. Anyone can go nuts during a training session and work to complete exhaustion. For novice trainees, this may even produce some results in the beginning. But what happens in the coming weeks or months when you stop developing and hit that dreaded plateau? This is one of the biggest problems we see, especially in developing athletes. Far too often, talented kids stop developing because of poor attention to individual considerations. When working with young athletes, there has to be a period of development that cannot be rushed. This requires an extreme amount of patience on the part of coaches, athletes, and parents. Athletes must earn the right to progress by being consistent in gradual development.

At GP, we consider coaching athletes to be a long and potentially slow process. We also acknowledge that some athletes may not be interested in this approach. However, our interest is not just in creating quick and easy success for athletes, but directing a process that will allow them to reach their true athletic potential. From a coaching stand point, anyone can create changes in an athlete. It’s not hard. Simply having anyone perform an exercise or a routine that is new will create change. But, is that change purposeful? Was it directed towards meeting that athlete’s needs? Or was the change made to simply make a change without an understanding as to why the change was made?

This is where hard work within a well-directed training program, under the guidance of a knowledgeable coach will trump hard work without direction. Our training system tailors each program to meet the individual athlete’s needs, differences, and current level of readiness to train.

It is not uncommon for some of our athletes to tell us they have “worked harder” during training sessions. They are accustomed to coaches running them into the ground and trainers mindlessly make them do high-intensity work with little rest. What else do we hear? We hear these same athletes are failing to improve. Rather many of them feel extremely fatigued and unmotivated. Sure they saw some results to start, but lately they are frustrated and confused.

When first starting at GP, they may feel that our system of training looks “easy”. This is a huge mistake. Our training may appear to be “easy”, but each training session is demanding. Each session is extremely detailed and may move at a slower pace than some athletes care for. News flash: if you’re more interested in going nuts than being productive, there’s not much any training system can do for you. Simply put, if you work hard to get better as an athlete, but also have some detailed thought applied to your training, the results will be greater than you would ever expect.

Yes, athletes with superior genetics do exist. Their genetics will allow them to progress more rapidly and experience great adaptations to training stimuli than athletes with lesser genetics. But they are more rare than you think. When it comes down to it, quality work in a well-designed training program aimed at long-term athletic development, under the guidance of a knowledgeable coach likely has more to do with superior athleticism than genetics alone.

As the saying goes,

“Genetics are the hand you've been dealt, but it's how you play the hand that counts.”
 
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/6-factors-that-influence-an-athletes-dedication/

https://gallagherperformance.com/attitude-is-everything/

 

Nutrition for Faster Recovery from Injury

As an athlete, injury is unfortunately part of sports. Athletics have varying degrees of both assumed and inherent structural risk to the human body, arguably making many sports we love to compete in “dangerous”. However, injury is not simply unique to sport. Frankly, injury seems to be part of life. Sure, there are preventative measures one can take to minimize or reduce the risk of injury. The reality is, there is no such thing as complete injury prevention. Similar to the weather, an honest professional will tell you we cannot forecast injury with absolute certainty. Yes, there are athletes who carry higher or lower “chances” of injury based on their movement quality and must be managed accordingly to minimize exercise-related or non-contact injuries. In some circumstances, such as collision/contact related injuries, injury is something we have little control over. Despite the lack of control we may have when it comes to injury, we do have the potential to influence the recovery and healing process for the better. This is good news since getting back to sport or living a "normal" life as quickly as possible is something most people would sign-up for in a heart beat.
Understanding the Healing Process
When you suffer any form of injury, the site of injury enters a traumatic state and inflammation occurs. For most people, inflammation brings negative thoughts to mind and their initial reaction is to stop it in its tracks. I mean, isn’t that what we’ve been told for years? But, is inflammation really unwanted or should we consider that it is part of our body’s process responsible for healing? The truth is, the right amount of inflammation is a good thing and necessary to initiate the healing process from injury. Inflammation provides signals to the body that something is wrong with certain structures or tissues. The body responds by kicking your immune system into high gear to start repairing damaged tissue.


When injured, the body needs to recover and you must supply it with the raw materials needed to promote optimal recovery. These raw materials come in the form of calories, protein, dietary fats, vitamins, and minerals from whole food or supplement sources. Ideally, nutritional strategies for injury recovery must be customized to the individual for optimal response. However, applying some general considerations can be beneficial in speeding up your return to play.

Nutritional Strategies for Injury Recovery
1) Calories
When injured, there is an increase in what is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is essentially the energy (or calorie) expenditure while your body is at rest. When recovering from injury, BMR has been demonstrated to increase by 15-50% since your body is using more energy to repair and regenerate damaged tissues. The rise in BMR means you must increase your caloric intake accordingly to ensure optimal recovery.

For example, if your caloric intake is 3,500 kcal/day, your new caloric requirements could range from 4,025-5,250 kcal/day (15%-50%) during the recovery process.

2) Protein
Protein is an essential component of our cells, bones, muscles, organs, connective tissues, and skin. Protein is made up of individual amino acids. Amino acids are important for the repair and remodeling process that injured bone, muscle, or connective tissue undergoes during the healing process. The amount of protein the body utilizes for injury repair is significant and your daily protein intake will need to increase accordingly. To gain an understanding of how your protein intake should be adjusted during the healing process, let’s consider the following:

The average, sedentary individual may require an intake of 0.8g/kg of protein per day. Athletes and highly active individuals can often require 1.0-1.5g/kg of protein per day.

Example: 200 lb athlete = 91-136g of protein per day
That same athlete, when injured, may need 1.2-2.0 g/kg of protein per day.

Example: 200 lb athlete = 110-182g of protein per day.
3) Dietary Fat
Dietary fat consumption should be devised to promote tissue healing and minimize unwanted inflammatory responses. It is well known that trans-fats and omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body. During the initial stages of healing, it is important to consume an appropriately balance of omega 6:omega 3 fatty acids. Consuming more omega 3 fatty acids helps to keep inflammation at adequate levels.

Rather than putting on number on dietary fat consumption during the recovery process, focus on making better food choices. This means increasing the consumption of quality, healthy fats such as coconut oil, butter, fish oil, avocados, and olive oil while doing your best to minimize or avoid eating foods high in omega 6 fatty acids such as fried foods or food sources that contain safflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, and soybean oil.

4) Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required by the body in relatively small amounts, but are critically important for a number of metabolic reactions essential in allowing the body not only to survive, but also to thrive. The process of recovering from injury only places a greater importance on key vitamins and minerals to ensure that metabolic processes involved in cell proliferation and tissue remodeling occurs appropriately.

Micronutrients such as Vitamins A, C, D, K and the B vitamins along with minerals such as magnesium, copper, and zinc can enhance the function of the immune system, assist in inflammation control and collagen synthesis, improve the production of red blood cells, and improve healing rate. Supplementation recommendations will depend upon appropriate therapeutic doses, as well as the individual and the extent of injury.

5) Herbs, Spices, and Tea
Certain herbs and spices have demonstrated impression abilities to manage inflammation during the acute phases of recovery. Some of the herbs and spices can even help reduce dependency of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some examples of herbs, spices, or teas that can assist in inflammation/pain control as well as tissue regeneration are turmeric, ginger, garlic, bromelain, and green tea.

Concluding Thoughts
It’s important to help your patient, clients, or athletes understand sound nutritional habits and patterns during the injury recovery process since it brings special considerations to the forefront. Consuming adequate calories to provide enough energy and sufficient amounts of building blocks (both macro and micronutrients) for tissue repair and regeneration is critical to appropriate healing. When it comes to inflammation, remember the name of the game is inflammation control not inflammation suppression. Inflammation is needed for healing, but must be kept to sufficient levels. Both too little and too much inflammation can interfere with and delay the healing process.

Allow these nutritional strategies to work for you. Not only will they promote a faster return to sport and competition, but also ensure more comprehensive healing while reducing associated risks of re-injury.

More related reading:

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

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

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

https://gallagherperformance.com/dietary-fat-is-not-the-bad-guy/

Year One at Gallagher Performance

After completing my Sports Injury and Rehabilitation residency in September 2012, making the decision to start up this business with my brother, Ryan, was one of the most daunting tasks I have ever encountered, including all the efforts to get it started and keep it growing. Considering I had offers for some well paying jobs all over the country, why would I possibly want to take the risk of launching a business? As a sports chiropractor with a specialization in rehabilitation, I had job offers to perform patient rehab in established offices, working as little as 20 hours per week. I could do that along with writing, consulting, and putting on seminars – all while enjoying plenty of free time. However, I saw a huge problem. That wasn’t me. As much as I enjoy what I do as a sports chiropractor, I equally enjoy assessing and evaluating athletes, designing training programs, coaching, being in the gym, training, and helping athletes achieve their goals. There was no way I could find personal fulfillment in my job unless I could be directly involved with both the training and therapy of athletes. More money or less hours didn’t matter to me.

About the time I was wrapping up my residency at Palmer College, Ryan was finishing his massage therapy schooling and working full time as a trainer while residing in Ohio with his wife, TIffany. For years, we had dreamed and talked about starting our own business that integrated not only our services, but our educational and professional backgrounds. We knew we had a unique approach and the desire to provide quality in our sports performance training, chiropractic, massage, and nutritional services. We believed that if we did things for reasons that were in line with our values, the business would grow to provide fulfillment beyond just money. We wanted to measure our success by delivering great results to our clients and athletes.

GP opened in April 2013 and has experienced steady growth every month since our opening. Our sports performance training services have become increasingly popular. With the summer upon us, athletes are coming in looking to capitalize on their off-season by improving their abilities (speed, strength, power, agility, etc). Each athlete we have worked with has seen tremendous results, which speaks to our business model, the individualized approach we use with each athlete, and the character of our athletes. We are receiving large amounts of referrals, which, to us, is the greatest compliment our business can receive. Slowly, GP is gaining the reputation for having an approach that is unlike any athletic development program in the area.

We have seen our sports performance training services utilized by athletes who participate in soccer, cross country, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, and football. We even have a client who is preparing for military special operations in hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL. With that said, our training services have especially become popular among football and hockey players (high school, college, amateur, and junior level).

Reflecting back on the past year, there have been lessons learned and constant reminders of why we do what we do at GP. To begin with, we are consistently reminded that regardless of sport or competitive endeavor, the primary goal of any physical preparation program is to prepare the athlete for the demands of the competitive season and/or higher levels of competition. This sounds simple in nature, but is incredibly complex at times as an overwhelming majority of our young athletes need to master the fundamentals of general calisthenics and body weight exercises before introducing the execution of movements with either increasing resistance using external loads or at increasing velocities. Some of our programs may not seem “advanced” and it’s for a good reason. Too many young athletes, and sometimes their parents, have bought into the idea that they should be training “like the pros”. Kids need the basics, and a lot of them, before more advanced training can be introduced.

Another lesson we continually learn at GP is the importance of promoting structural balance and recovery for our athletes. At any age or level of competition, it’s imperative to recognize the stress an athlete’s body experiences during their competitive season(s). Often a number of precautions and considerations must be made from the onset of training and throughout the duration of the off-season to restore balance to an athlete’s body and facilitate recovery. This becomes increasingly important as an athlete ages and progresses through higher levels of competition, as they accumulate greater amounts of wear and tear. The recovery and regeneration protocols used at GP have been a welcomed addition to our athletes’ programs, since many of them have never been introduced to approaches that keep them healthy and their performance levels more consistent. We do whatever it takes to keep our athletes healthy and injury-free as they seek to improve specific performance markers.

Something else we have come to appreciate more and more is how valuable the education our athletes receive is to them. In talking with our athletes, we have consistently discovered that they do not understand how or why an athlete must train according to the demands of their sport. This is a foreign concept to many of them. The educational process provides our athletes with the knowledge they need to understand how an athletic development model is applied to their sport. This has proven to be invaluable because our athletes truly appreciate understanding the mistakes they have made and understanding they are receiving guidance that has their best interest in mind, based solely on their needs.

The educational process and witnessing the development/results each of our clients and athletes achieve, to me, has been the most fulfilling part about what we do at GP. The smile a young kid gets when they step on the scale and see that they are 10 pounds heavier or the high-five and genuine enthusiasm shared when they set a new personal best in strength, jumping, or speed makes it all worth it. And as for our clients who are training to lose fat and/or improve general fitness levels, we love to get feedback that their body feels great, they are training pain-free, and are able to enjoy the training process while maximizing the benefits of their efforts.

The vision for GP was an easy one to establish. Ryan and I made the choice to build a business that was fulfilling both personally and professionally. The process has not been an easy one, but it has been rewarding and we are enjoying it.

We also acknowledge that GP would not be what it is without the consistent support we receive. A sincere thank you goes out to all you – clients/athletes, parents, family, friends, social media followers, and professional colleagues – for your continual support over the past year. Without you, GP would not be what is today, and we look forward to many more years to come.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-we-arent-popular/

https://gallagherperformance.com/two-years-at-gallagher-performance/

 
 

Stress Overload and Injury

In the world of athletics and pursuit of elite level performance, injuries are a given. However, the prevention of sports injuries is never as simple as identifying movements or exercises that should be avoided. It would be nice if it was that simple and if we could solve all the injury problems for athletes across the globe by eliminating one particular movement. Unfortunately, the human body is too complex to be solved by one solution that can be applied to everyone.

Rather than debate the role of specific exercises in a training or rehabilitation program, loading parameters and progressions, or whether certain exercises pose greater risk than reward, the purpose of this article is to discuss a much deeper concept that is at the heart of injury prevention and management, the balance between stress and adaptation.

Hello, My Name is Stress
Stress is something each and every one of us is all too familiar with. Whether it’s related to financial struggles, work-related problems, academic pressures, athletic expectations, family or relationship issues, stress is a common theme of the human existence. Now while these forms of mental stress are responsible for many reactions within the human body, for the purposes of this article this is not the kind of stress I am talking about. Rather, we will be discussing what is known as biological stress and how it relates to injury.

What is Biological Stress?

Biological stress accounts for all the physical demands (stress) placed on our bodies, both mechanical stress and metabolic stress.

Mechanical stress is a measure of the force produced and absorbed by the entire neuromusculoskeletal (NMS) system, including components such as nerves, muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and bone.

Metabolic stress is a measure of the demand placed on all the systems responsible for energy production/recovery and involves every major organ system in the body, such as the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, endocrine, and immune systems.

As you can tell, both mechanical and metabolic stress are highly interrelated. The greater the degree of mechanical stress, the greater the degree of metabolic stress.

Balancing Stress & Adaptation
Training is best defined as, the targeted application of stress designed to disrupt homeostasis and put the body’s defense mechanisms at work; remodeling, strengthening and improving the efficiency of many different systems throughout the body.”
Factors that Influence Biological Stress:

  • Training Volume
  • Training Intensity
  • Training Frequency
  • Exercise Selection
These simple variables are what define individual training sessions and the training block/phase. They will dictate the amount of biological (mechanical and metabolic) stress, its application to the human body, and how much stress is applied. The training goal becomes to apply the correct type of stress in the appropriate dose/amount while targeted to the appropriate areas necessary to improve performance.

Training and biological stress is one side of the coin. The other side takes into consideration factors that influence adaptation. What makes the training process enormously more complex than it appears is what happens in between sessions as our body responds to the stress of the training session or adapts. The complexity stems from how many variables are involved in how we adapt to the stress imposed by training.

Factors that Influence Adaptation:
  • Genetics
  • Training History
  • Nutritional Habits
  • Sleep Quality
  • Mental Stress
Our genetics, nutritional habits, level of mental stress, training history, and sleep play a critical role in how quickly our body’s systems and tissues are able to rebuild and adapt from the stress of the training process. Get enough sleep, eat well, have better genetics and a long history of training, you will adapt much faster and respond quicker to the same level of training/stress than someone who is experiencing higher levels of mental stress, has poor sleeping habits, a poor diet, and lesser genetics. Even minor differences in any one of these factors can have a major impact on the ability to adapt to your current training.

Out of Balance, Out with Injury
By now, it should be clear that looking at sports injuries solely from the standpoint of the use or misuse of particular exercises or protocols doesn’t paint a very complete picture of why they happen. Even when discussions of injuries extend into the realm of assessing various movement patterns and joint function while trying to predict or minimize risk of injuries purely through improving quality of movement, often times these discussions fail to consider the fundamental concepts of the stress-adaptation balance.

The truth that is rarely discussed is that every athlete and individual is truly different and no two people will ever respond to a given training program or level of stress in the same manner. Recently, the days of individualized training have been replaced with current fitness trends of bootcamps, CrossFit, P90x and other such programs that irrationally encourage anyone and everyone to do the same thing.

Not only do such approaches always fail to consider a person’s individual ability to adapt to stress, they often preach that results are a direct result of nothing more than lots of effort with lots of intensity. The classic American attitude of “more is always better” approach has spilled over into training, training with high intensities at increasingly higher volumes. Now combine that with no individualized considerations and what you have is a recipe for injury. Current fitness trends seem to place a greater importance on the business model rather than having an appreciation and understanding of the complex function of the human body as it relates to developing a quality training program for the individual.

When you consider the stress-adaptation balance, it's not surprising why the injury rates are continually rising in youth sports. Young athletes today are under incredible pressures to specialize in one sport, be it from coaches or parents, and this is why it’s become sadly common to see athletes as young as 12-14 suffering from chronic stress injuries like tendinitis, or the more correct diagnosis of tendinosis. The ‘multi-sport’ athlete has been replaced with the ‘single-sport, all year long’ athlete. A year round competitive schedule, lack of properly constructed sport practice, and lack of time dedicated to physical preparation and athletic development is largely to blame for the huge increase in youth sports injuries in recent years.

I just happened to catch a recent interview with Tommy John on Dan Patrick’s radio show. For those of you who may be familiar with his name, Tommy John is a former MLB pitcher and the “Tommy John” surgery is named after him since he was the first individual to have the medical procedure of ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. When asked about his thoughts as to why the surgery is so common now, Tommy John has this to say,
“I really believe….that sports, high school sports, little league sports, have become year round. And they force these kids at a very young age to pick a sport and that’s the only sport that they play, they train at. And you have these….pitching academies and your kid comes in and pays $2000-$3000 and you go in every Saturday and work on pitching. And I tell parents this, “If the best pitchers in the world don’t pitch year round, then why should your kid pitch year round?”….You have to get all these great surgeons that do Tommy John surgery, or did Tommy John surgery, they cringe when you say ‘year round pitching’ because you must let the arm rest.”
Without knowing exactly why, Tommy John nailed the central issue when it comes to several sports injuries, the lack of appropriate rest to allow the body the chance to recover and adapt to the stress placed upon it. Despite his example of baseball and pitching, the truth is each sport has it own unique injury rates. It truly all comes back to stress and the inability of most coaches and trainers to respect the stress and adaptation process. While some athletes are capable of adapting to stress far more efficiently than others, no one is immune from the effects of a poorly designed training or sport preparation program. Such programs are run by coaches or trainers that chronically stress athletes with little understanding of how to facilitate recovery and adaption, ultimately leading to injury.

Final Words
Regardless of whether you are a doctor, therapist, coach, athlete or simply just train to be healthy and stay in shape, this article was to present you with a more complete view of the role stress and adaptation play in the injury process. There is certainly value in assessing the degree of stress specific exercises may place on particular joints/tissues and whether or not they are appropriate for an individual given their needs or limitations. Failure to consider the role of stress tends to lead to an approach to injury prevention based purely on exercise selection/avoidance rather than one than also places consideration on biological stress and adaptation management.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/ultimate-runners-guide-to-injury-prevention/

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

https://gallagherperformance.com/prevent-re-injury-integrated-training-rehabilitation/

https://gallagherperformance.com/magnesium-for-better-health-athletic-performance/

Physical Preparation vs Fitness: Know the Difference

For athletes new to GP, physical preparation is a term that is unfamiliar to them. Sure they are familiar with “strength and conditioning” or “speed and strength” programs. Many of these athletes come from high schools and colleges that have a strength and conditioning (S&C) coach. If they do not have the luxury of having a S&C coach at their high school, they are often familiar with the “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” programs that many coaches hand out to their players, especially our football players.

There is a movement within the S&C industry that has more and more coaches referring to themselves as coaches of “physical preparation”. The concept of physical preparation, as it pertains to athletes, incorporates much more than simply strength and conditioning. Buddy Morris, current Head Strength/Physical Preparation Coach for the Arizona Cardinals, has said:

“We're coaches of physical preparation. What we do encompasses more than just conditioning and strength. There are a lot of variables we have to look at it with each individual athlete and each individual group. In this country, I think if anything, we place too much emphasis on strength. I'm not downplaying the importance of strength, but I think we put too much emphasis on it and too much volume."
Physical preparation accounts for both performance enhancement as well as injury reduction measures. It's important to us that our athletes understand the concepts of physical preparation and why the services and training they are receiving at GP have only one goal in mind: to prepare each individual athlete to meet the demands of their sport and competitive season.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, our programs may look very simple. And depending on the athlete’s age and training experience, our programs can be very oriented on the fundamentals. But the biggest mistake our athletes can make is assuming simple means easy. Our programs are very demanding.

Physical preparation is one area where many programs fall short in their attempt to develop athletes. Young, well-intentioned athletes want to improve their current fitness and/or strength levels. This is all well and good, but what some coaches and athletes must understand is there is a difference between fitness and preparation. It's one thing to be "fit", it's an entirely different story when it comes to be prepared for sport competition.

Preparation vs Fitness
I recently was given the privilege of developing and coordinating the off-season strength/physical preparation program for the Franklin Regional ice hockey teams. To say I am honored would be an understatement and it is a huge compliment to our business. This is a tremendous undertaking and one that comes with many challenges. Many of these young hockey players are novices when it comes to strength training, needing a solid foundation of stability, strength, and neuromuscular control. Others have more training experience and also play for other amateur hockey organizations in the Pittsburgh area. Some of these kids play 60+ games a year. Understanding the stress their bodies endured during the competitive calendar and collision nature of the sport must be considered in the development of their training program to promote continual adaptation and proper preparation for the upcoming season.

This is where the development and preparation of the athlete must match the biodynamic and bioenergetic demands of the sport of ice hockey, not merely developing “fitness” or “strength” levels. Considerations of biodynamics (biomechanics, kinematics, and kinetics) will govern what exercises are used in the development of the athlete. Bioenergetics characterizes the nature and contribution of the human bioenergy systems towards training and competitive actions.

The development of physical abilities and specialized work-capacity will be specific to the training stimulus. This follows the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). To help us understand the concept of specialized work capacity and how truly specific the development of “fitness” levels can be, let’s consider the nature of most team sports.

When considering the physical abilities that make an athlete successful in sports such as hockey, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, what comes to mind is speed, power, strength and anaerobic-alactic capacity. To achieve athletic potential, all these abilities are necessary to train and develop so that physical abilities match the demands of sport.

What is not listed above and often a missing component in many S&C programs is developing the athlete’s ability to accelerate or how quickly an athlete can increase their speed. It is a rare occurrence in hockey, as with other team sports, that an athlete reaches top speed and must sustain that for an extended period of time. What you see far more often is that the ability to accelerate is a constant factor in athletic success.

Charlie Francis stated that most 100m sprinters do not reach top speed until 60m into the race. In other words, these athletes are accelerating for the first 60m of the race. This is not just true of sprinters, but the majority of other athletes as well and this has implications on their training.

According to Coach Francis, the major requirements for the 100m race are broken down as follows:
  • Start/acceleration: 0-30m
  • Speed/maximum velocity: 30-60m
  • Speed endurance: 60-100m
Training Implications
In this day and age, the marketing of gimmick products or programs towards athletes is driving much of the training industry. High-speed treadmills, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programs, speed/agility schools are designed to increase pocket books, yet often can fail to deliver promises on performance enhancement when it comes to speed, acceleration, power, strength, or energy system development as they relate to a specific sport.

The ability to accelerate has major implications for explosive, alactic-aerobic sports. Athletes participating in these sports must have the ability to perform repeated bouts of acceleration and recover quickly. Acceleration ability is trained through plyometrics, acceleration training, and strength training. The ability to recover quickly is developed through proper energy system development of both the aerobic and alactic components. This doesn’t mean that an athlete needs a separate and specialized program for each of these components to be trained. Rather it means a well-organized and structured program must account for biodynamic elements, acceleration/speed, plyometrics, strength training, and an understanding of the positional bioenergetic (energy system) demands of the sport. These attributes must be understood and trained accordingly.

 
Related Articles:

Are You in Need of More Intelligent Training?
Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT Programs
Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Don't Fall for the Speed Trap

What's the Deal with the Tape?

Similar to the current trend of marketing driving training (discussed in this article), marketing appears to have a similar and undeniable impact on services provided in the world of physical medicine. From the latest and greatest in modalities such as laser therapy and electrical muscle stimulation to musculoskeletal injury interventions such as kinesio tape (KT), the colorful tape that gained popularity from the Olympics.

Earlier this week, a GP client was speaking of someone they know who recently got “taped” because they were having knee pain while running. This client went on to explain that a few days after getting taped, the very same person went out for a run and felt a “tearing and pop” in the same knee that had been taped and is now in worse pain than before.

Our client wanted to know, “What's the deal with the tape? Is it effective or is it a cheap trick?”

Kinesio Tape: Legit or Hype?
What seems to be at the center of any benefit from the application of KT is something known as novel sensory input. Basically, this means when you tape someone, they feel it. Sensory input changes “output” – in this case – motor control and perception of pain.

In the case of the painful knee (or any joint/muscle), stick some tape on it and odds are in your favor that the patient will feel slightly better for a brief period of time.
But is this really “therapy”, getting at the root of the problem, or simply masking pain symptoms?

First, we must start with an understanding of pain. Pain is your body’s way a telling you something is wrong. Pain with movement indicates a movement problem and no amount of tape will ever solve a movement/biomechanical problem. However, taping is very effective at altering proprioceptive/sensory feedback. Sensory input will dampen pain perception, thus making it easier for your brain to ignore pain signals and you are now feeling “less pain”. This is known as “sensory gating”.

You feel less pain and you are happy, so what’s the problem?

You have disrupted the injured tissue’s ability to tell the truth, now you are more likely to continually overload a compromised structure and worsen the condition. To illustrate this phenomenon, one only needs to recall Manteo Mitchell, the sprinter who sustained a fracture of his fibula – wearing KT – while running the 400m in 2012 Olympics. The applied KT allowed the athlete to distribute more load on a painful and compromised ankle. The tape did its job. It blocked pain and allowed the athlete to feel capable of competing, but unfortunately the result was a worse condition than before the tape was applied. Keep in mind, this isn’t always the outcome of taping but it certainly is a risk one must understand.

Not only are companies claiming the pain relieving benefits of KT, now some are stating how their tape prevents injury or enhances performance. Just go to their websites and read for yourself. Spider Tech’s website has the tag line: “Recovery, Performance, Prevention” and Rock Tape (on their About Us page) has this to say:

“I discovered that the tape can be used to ENHANCE PERFORMANCE. I found that taping in advance of exercise promotes increased blood flow to the muscles, thereby reducing fatigue.”
Marketing with fancy words and convenient KT placement on some elite athletes does wonders for a product’s popularity. But are the claims substantiated?

There are few high-quality studies on taping, but a recent systematic review of the research literature revealed that KT had insufficient evidence to support its use for musculoskeletal injury. Studies have shown that benefits from KT are generally minor, brief and inconsistent in nature. The value of taping is unclear, with several experts dismissing the effectiveness of taping as placebo only. The systematic review conclude that KT did provide short-term pain relief and even range of motion (ROM) improvement, but failed to offer any long-term results to patients.

In Closing
For the most part, taping is a lot of marketing hype. At best, taping is mostly a minor and imprecise method of pain control. The amount of tape being used by athletes lately is silly and, in my opinion, its popularity has more to do with marketing than results. Sure taping may make someone feel better and in a “results now” society this can go a long way to keep patients satisfied. However, there is no long-term solution to be found with any amount of tape.

Where does one turn for a long-term solution?

At GP, we consider ourselves part of a growing body of providers who strive to identify the repetitive movements and postural abnormalities that cause pain and discomfort by performing thorough and detailed examinations. Assessments and individualized treatment plans aim to identify the underlying cause of your condition rather than merely alleviating symptoms.

The more accurate the assessment, the more accurately treatment will target a patient's pain generators. At GP, we stress a collective and active approach on the part of each of our patients through education. By clearly educating each patient on their condition and why they are performing prescribed exercises, the focus becomes about patient empowerment and providing them with a sense of what they can do for themselves. This typically results in great patient compliance and shorter treatment plans, with the average patient realizing fully recovery in 4-8 treatments. Many patients quickly improve in as little as 2-3 treatments.

Reference:
Mostafavifar M, Wertz J, Borchers J. A systematic review of the effectiveness of kinesio taping for musculoskeletal injury. Phys Sportsmed. 2012 Nov;40(4):33-40.

 
More related reading:

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

https://gallagherperformance.com/technique_and_performance/

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-therapists-should-understand-strength/

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