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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/

A Few Words on Athletic Development

We get asked quite often about our training philosophy when it comes to athletes. Many parents want to know if the training their child will receive at GP is going to be sport-specific. While specificity in training matters, many of our athletes and their parents are surprised to learn how general or fundamental their training must be in the early phases. What needs to be clarified is understanding how much training experience the athlete has and the physical traits that must be developed. The vast majority of athletes we work with are involved in the sports of football, hockey, baseball, and basketball. Success in these sports are highly dependent upon power-speed qualities. We must train these athletes to develop the abilities that allow them to jump, sprint, cut, and dominate their opponents with brute strength. It's our job to make them bigger, faster, stronger, and more durable. It's our job to physical prepare them for the demands of their sport.

Aspiring young athletes are in need of building a broad foundation rooted in movements that will develop strength, speed, flexibility, and body awareness. For the evidence-based fans out there, we use movements and exercises that all have been proven through research to work. But more importantly, the exercises used have stood the test of time and have served as the backbone to athletic development programs for decades. Sprints, jumps, throws, compound strength exercises, Olympic weightlifting movements when appropriate, and general calisthenics have all play a role in the training of some of the greatest athletes in the world.

But the exercises are not simply enough. Almost every single one of our athletes must be exposed to a high volume of training without a high degree of variation. It's important to respect the neural adaptations young athletes or novice trainees undergo during the training process. High volumes of training will help ensure motor learning and skill acquisition while developing the connective tissue strength needed for more intensive training down the road.

This template serves to lay the foundation for the neuromuscular qualities required to meet the increasing needs for speed and power development. It's simple math really. If an athlete improves relative strength, that athlete will be faster and more explosive. Keep in mind that that other factors can be at play too. For instance, that same athlete must also maintain or improve movement quality to improve speed and explosiveness.

However, these are only portions of what goes into a quality athletic development program. It's much more than simple "strength and speed". This is why we feel the value of a qualified strength and conditioning coach or athletic development coach is severely under appreciated. Unfortunately, far too many people have been misinformed by either poorly educated trainers or by the internet. They haven't experienced the difference guided athletic development can make in their performance. Having a coach to guide young athletes not only in their development, but also in areas such as nutrition and cultivating the mind set needed to achieve their goals can give them a huge advantage over their competition.

That's why we love what we do at GP. Not only do we get to work with clients and athletes that have big dreams and big goals, but we also help them develop habits that create a healthier lifestyle. When we have them giving us their best, they deserve nothing less than our best!

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/understanding-the-benefits-and-concerns-of-youth-strength-training-programs/

https://gallagherperformance.com/periodization-keep-athletes-track-fo-success/

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

The Value of In-Season Training for Athletes

 



The need for focused off-season training is well accepted. However, outside of the professional and collegiate ranks, the same cannot be said for in-season training. This is truly one of the greatest sources of misinformation that exists when it comes to progressive athletic development and minimizing the number of non-contact related sport injuries. Routine in-season training can benefit young athletes in a number of ways.

With the majority of our athletes wrapping up their off-season preparation and starting camps in the next couple weeks, we get several questions from these athletes and their parents about what 'should' or 'should not' be done during the season to continue progressing in an athletic development model.

For starters, we establish how critical in-season training is for any athlete. This is not a sales pitch, it's the truth. In-season training may not have the same public acceptance as off-season training, but that does not mean it is not valuable.

In-season training has been shown to not only maintain or improve physical qualities (strength, speed, power, etc.) developed during the off-season preparatory period, but it can improve the rate of recovery between competition and maintain healthy muscle/connective tissue qualities as well.

What does that all mean?

Continue reading

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/

Athletes Must Understand This to Be Successful

The emphasis of many athletic development programs is typically rooted in developing the physical qualities needed in the sport of competition. Physical qualities usually emphasized are endurance/work capacity, strength, body awareness, agility, quickness, speed, and explosive power. Improvements made in any of the previously mentioned physical qualities can certainly improve an athlete’s fitness and physical preparedness for competition. But great athletes are rarely defined by their level of fitness and how ‘in-shape’ they are. They are defined by their ability to play the game and perform the skills of the sport. Great coaches and trainers understand this, being able to take an athlete’s newly developed physical qualities and transfer them to into improved skill execution or technical mastery of sport related movements.

This is accomplished by specificity of training.

In order to ensure specificity of training, it is first necessary to determine the exact physical qualities an athlete is in greatest need of. Many coaches and trainers refer to this as ‘identifying the deficiency’. Once the deficiency is identified and an understanding is developed as to how the deficiency is limiting on-field performance, the deficiency can be trained appropriately.

To identify deficiencies, the majority of coaches and trainers utilize tests to determine an athlete’s level of strength, endurance, explosiveness, and even flexibility. While these tests are often necessary and provide quantitative information that will help assess how an athlete stacks up in comparison to others, what these tests fail to indicate is how efficiently an athlete can perform sport-specific skills or maneuvers.

Physical performance tests fail to indicate an athlete’s needs in relation to game performance. To ensure transfer of training into improved sport performance, identifying an athlete’s developmental needs must take into account an analysis of all components involved in successful competition. Often, this involves a complete biomechanical analysis of movements related to sport-skill execution.

For example, the deep squat is often a staple of many strength and conditioning programs. It can be a tremendous exercise for building hip strength and power and for a variety of other reasons. But when you examine the sport-related movements of many athletes, one can come to the determination that the need to deep squat is not a priority for many athletes. Consider hockey and basketball players. These sports require hip external rotation strength and power to execute sport-specific movements (skating, lateral cuts, change of direction, etc.). Rather than placing greater and greater emphasis on improving strength in the deep squat, these athletes will be better served in developing hip external rotation through other exercises which more closely mimic the external rotation demands of the hips in competition.

Again, great athletes are rarely the strongest or the fittest. There are studies that demonstrate Olympic-level athletes and World Record holders are not the strongest athletes (with the exception being in strength sports such as powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting). Athletes on the highest levels of performance do not lift the greatest amount of weight in commonly used exercises, such as the clean, squat, bench, or deadlift.

More commonly, athletes will fall in the midrange of strength numbers. What this is demonstrating is a ‘point of diminishing returns’. Many athletes reach a point at which increases in strength or other physical qualities do not always equate to improved sport performance.

Successful athletes must be able to execute sport skills with technical mastery and precision. Regardless if you are a hockey, football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, tennis or track athlete, you need great acceleration, speed, agility (ability to change direction quickly), and the ability to jump high (which also requires explosive power). But arguably most important is the ability to perform all sport skills with mastery and precision of movement.

An athlete will never be successful if they do not have the ability to execute sport skills successfully. This is why technique must be closely analyzed and why the training of physical qualities must directly enhance the performance of sport-specific skill execution.

Analyzing an athlete’s sport skill technique and the demands of game play becomes a necessary first step to determine exactly what their training program should consist of. Often to correct and/or enhance technique, special strength exercises are implemented to develop the specific strength an athlete needs to execute movements more efficiently.

We addressed special strength exercises in this article. Special strength exercises are intended to replicate the exact neuromuscular pathways utilized in the execution of specific sport skills.

With proper analysis and identifying the ‘deficiency’ of the athlete, it enables the training program to have greater transfer into sport performance. The training program is continually adjusted as improvements in strength, speed, agility, and explosive power are integrated into technical mastery of skill execution.

Related Articles:

Training for Elite Athletes
Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes

Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT Programs

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a system of training characterized by high-intensity resistance or metabolic training with short/incomplete rest periods in between working sets. An example of HIIT is often advocated by Crossfit WODs (workout of the day) and other similar programs.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT is now the most popular fitness trend. HIIT has tremendous appeal to those looking to shed unwanted body fat and ‘lean up’ or ‘get in shape’ quickly because of its ability to burn body fat more efficiently. HIIT has been shown to produce greater improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic capacity with less overall training volume when compared to individuals who only perform steady-state aerobic exercise. In the public eye, a huge upside to these workouts is they typically take less than 30 minutes to complete. Sounds too good to be true, right?

However, what is rarely if ever mentioned, is the number of injuries sustained by participants.

In my opinion and experience, which may be similar to what others are also observing, the number of injuries associated with HIIT appears to be on the rise. What is especially significant to note is that these injuries are often debilitating in nature.

Not only is HIIT growing in popularity among the general population, but it also seems to be a growing trend among athletes. The point of this article is to discuss why HIIT is not an appropriate training program for athletes and provide some insight into why athletes should avoid programs that advocate high-frequency application of HIIT methods.

Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT
First and foremost, when training with heavy weights or performing complex motor skills (i.e. jumps, throws, sprints) it is highly critical that proper technique is learned during the initial stages of training. This is the key to not only continual development in regard to strength and all other physical abilities, but is fundamental to injury prevention.

Proper technique is the key to ensuring that strength developed becomes more useful not just in athletic skills, but also in everyday activities. For athletes, proper technique serves as the foundation for efficient execution of sport-related movement skills.

So why does HIIT fail athletes?

What appears to be most important in HIIT is overcoming a prescribed amount of resistance or finishing a prescribed number of reps in a designated amount of time, regardless of how it is done. From the start, HIIT does not place technique as the number one priority. For your viewing pleasure, Youtube provides numerous examples of this. I can recall watching a Crossfit workout during which a young female participant is doing her best to finish an overhead press. She had to contort her body in every way imaginable in her attempt to get the bar locked out overhead. Needless to say, I did not like what I saw.

What was even more disturbing to me was hearing the other members of the class cheering her on and applauding her when she finally locked out the bar overhead. They were encouraging her effort with absolutely no attention or care about her technique and safety. This is just one example of many that indicates how overcoming the weight was more important than how the lift was performed.
Other daily workouts may prescribe high-intensity metabolic conditioning that often requires participants to train to the point of exhaustion and, sometimes, to the point of throwing up. The mindset and main objective is primarily focused on overcoming a specific quantity of work as opposed to expressing quality in the work.
It is this mentality that can be detrimental to athletes and the general fitness population as well. There is a reason why physical therapists and chiropractors love Crossfit and other HIIT programs. HIIT programs are pretty good at producing patients.

Another unwanted factor associated with HIIT is the high degree of fatigue and lactate training loads. For athletes, how can they master movement and skill execution or build speed and strength in a fatigued state? The answer is they cannot. This is something the majority of coaches and trainers must understand. Lactate-based training is widely over-utilized and misplaced. This ultimately cuts into more productive training methods and increases the need for recovery. When it comes to HIIT programs, recovery is often not sufficient and will potentially push participants into a chronic state of fatigue or create an over-trained individual. Keep in mind, injuries are more likely to occur in a fatigued or over-trained state.

When it comes to HIIT, training principles regarding periodization, progressive overload, mastery of technique, specificity of training, and individualization of training are completely ignored. These principles, among others, are highly important when it comes to the safety and effectiveness of training athletes. They have been proven to be foundational in producing the most effective results from any training program.

Final Words
Training and sport science tells us that HIIT programs or any randomized high-intensity program is not conducive for efficient training and development of athletes in regards to strength, speed, power, and other physical abilities. Sure it may be trendy, but ask yourself does the program or exercise routine provide the development you want? Remember, development is always specific to your training demands. Also, ask yourself if your current training methods are more likely to make you a better athlete or a patient.

Related Articles:

Interval/Sprint Training vs Cardio: Which is Better for Fat Loss and Physique Development?
Training Hard vs Training Smart
Have You Mastered Your Movement?
2 Reasons For Your Lack of Results
Training for Elite Athletes

Athletes Do Not Need Balance to Be Successful

In the attempt to improve athletic performance or prevent sports-related injuries, it is common to read that muscles in the body should be balanced. At times, what “balanced” means is never fully explained and is often assumed to mean that muscles on both sides of a joint should be equal in qualities such as endurance or strength. As a result, trainers and coaches may advise athletes to perform equal training for musculature on all sides of a joint to ensure balance.

The intent is to achieve symmetry. Not just at one particular joint, but often throughout the body. The goal is to see symmetrical movement on both sides of the body. Consider how therapists and coaches will use movement-screening systems to evaluate movement and then apply correctives with the goal to ‘balance’ the body or to reduce the risk of injury.

However, one must question if this the most intelligent thing to do in relation to high-level athletic performance. 
From the few studies done on this topic and from observation, symmetry may not be an effective means of improving performance. Rather, It appears that the majority of high-level athletes are asymmetrical.

This should not be surprising if you have been looking closely at high-level athletes. I recently attended the ACA Rehabilitation Symposium in Las Vegas over this past weekend. Professor Stuart McGill was one of the featured speakers and he has extensively researched the factors which make great athletes great. Professor McGill provided numerous examples from cases he has seen over of the years of athletes being ruined by someone attempting to 'balance' their body. The intent was on improving their performance or ‘correcting’ movement, yet the end result was making that athlete a patient. Essentially, he cautioned us all as chiropractors, therapists, and trainers to be very wise in what we do with our athletes.

One example he provided was Olympic sprinters and how many of them have very stiff, tight ankles. He stated how this is necessary for their performance and ultimately their success as elite level sprinters. Their ankles must be stiff to serve as ‘springs’ for explosive running. Yet, as he stated, many therapists would want to ‘mobilize’ their ankles and ‘release’ or ‘stretch’ the musculature surrounding the ankle to improve range of motion. However, now you have robbed them of the very thing that makes them a great athlete in their sport.

His example brought to mind a high school football player who trains at GP. He is our fastest athlete and his ankles are incredibly stiff. This stood out immediately upon his initial assessment. Did we do anything to mobilize his ankles? No. We didn’t touch his ankles, understanding that his ankle stiffness is what made him fast. Made him incredibly agile and quick.

If you try to balance muscular development or joint function, it can potentially interfere greatly with an athlete’s performance. It’s important to remember that what makes athletes asymmetrical also makes them great. It is not only a consequence of their training, but often what their sport demands. To take time out of their training to balance their body arguably interferes with more productive training.

This does not mean that they do not do exercises to keep their body healthy and prevent injury. We have our athletes perform many exercises for this purpose, but they are typically done during the general preparatory period, not in the competitive or precompetitive periods.

Former Soviet Union sport scientists studied this concept. The Soviets understood that asymmetry appears to be a key to athletic success. Asymmetry that is produced appears to allow athletes to go above and beyond what other ”well-balanced” athletes are capable of doing. It seems that the asymmetry allows the athlete to perform on a higher level.

There appears to be enough evidence to indicate that perhaps we should not be anxious to 'balance' every athlete’s physical development. Keep in mind that this does not mean that you ignore development of antagonistic muscles. But you do not emphasize them to the same extent as you do with the main muscles and joints involved in the execution of the athlete's competitive sports skill.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/athletic-development-will-your-child-be-a-success-or-burn-out/

https://gallagherperformance.com/does-practice-make-permanent-how-practice-rewires-your-nervous-system/

https://gallagherperformance.com/commonmistakesindevelopingyoungathletes/

The Benefits of Performance Therapy


For those of you that are familiar with Gallagher Performance, you understand the importance we place on the integration of our sports training, chiropractic, massage, and manual therapy services. We feel this model allows for optimizing sport-based outcomes while keeping our athletes healthy and ready-to-train. The model is not completely unique, as chiropractors, therapists, physical medicine providers, and strength/physical preparation coaches are collaborating in similar models to better serve their clients and athletes.

With that in mind, one frequently asked question we receive is,
"How are these services different from sports medicine care I can receive from a physical therapist or other specialist?"
The concept of what is commonly referred to as ‘Performance Therapy’ can be seen as a unique and completely separate approach from traditional sports medicine or physical therapy. To illustrate this, here's a quick look at a comparison of the mindset behind sports medicine and performance therapy.

Traditional Sports Medicine
  • Reactive approach to sports injuries
  • Therapy and rehabilitation focused
  • Emphasis placed on passive modalities, manual therapies, manipulation, therapeutic exercise
  • Tissue-specific
  • Patient-centered
  • Occasional focus placed on "injury prevention" strategies
  • Primary goal is the return to training or sport abilities prior to injury
Performance Therapy
  • Proactive approach between coach, athlete, and doctor/therapist
  • Focus is on mechanical efficiency for skill acquisition and motor learning
  • Continual "tweaking" to optimize performance
  • Manipulation and manual therapies used for facilitation, to enhance the process of building mechanical efficiency
  • Skill-specific
  • Athlete-centered
  • “Injury prevention” is a by-product of the process
  • Primary goal is to enhance sport performance
We are very fortunate to have a skilled and knowledgable team of therapists and coaches working at GP. The dynamic created between therapist and coach allows us to not only screen each client and athlete prior to all training programs, but to also carefully watch their movement during each training session. The goal is identify specific movement qualities that could potentially have a negative impact on sport-specific movements, the acquisition of new skills, or injury prevention methods. This approach continues throughout the duration of the training program and allows movement dysfunctions to be addressed before they lead to greater issues.

Performance therapy becomes not just about normalizing function or "returning to sport", but optimizing the function of the athlete and "enhancing performance". Therapeutic intervention (or "treatment") occurs as needed during training sessions. This can include the use of a variety of exercises to improve stability/mobility or techniques that activate the nervous system to improve movement coordination. Regardless of the intervention, the goal is for athlete to adapt and improve more quickly than if training and treatment were approached separately.

The transition between training and treatment must be seamless. When it comes to performance therapy, we have noticed the following goals are achieved:
  1. Greater Body Awareness. By integrating the appropriate intervention into the training plan, there is an effect on motor control that generates greater permanence on a neurological level. Basically meaning the athlete masters new movement skills faster. The instant feedback from treatment allows the athlete to provide the coach or therapist with an understanding as to how they feel/move during training. Coaching the athlete thus becomes more specific, allowing them to learn and improve quickly.
  2. Optimization of the Training Session. Performance therapy integrated with training typically involves a lot of “tweaking” in order to meet the demands of the athlete. It provides the framework to keep athletes performing at their best more consistently. Several athletes receive some type of treatment or practice regeneration/recovery methods prior to competition. So why would they not receive similar interventions during an important training phase? Both serve the same purpose to optimize performance.
  3. Improved Monitoring of the Athlete. Performance therapy provides additional information on the readiness of the athlete to train. Both the therapist and the coach use this information to make educated decisions regarding the details of each training session, allowing for true customization of your training plan. It’s important that athletes are monitored for how well they have recovered between training sessions so you know how hard to push them. Also, athletes tend to have the ability to 'hide' things very well. Being able to identify slight differences in muscle tightness or movement abnormalities not only will allow us to make better decisions about the training session, but also help prevent more serious matters such as injury or overtraining.
Keep in mind that performance therapy is not intended to create athletes who are dependent on this model, but rather athletes who are held more accountable in the pursuit of their own goals. The coach or therapist is provided with the information needed to recommend the most appropriate "homework" for the athlete, such as foam rolling specific muscles, mobility or stability drills, and the use of recovery methods. Furthermore, performance therapy is not intended to serve as a replacement for other forms of therapy. It is not simply moving the treatment room to the training room. Even though the goal of performance therapy is to reduce the amount of time spent on treatment and return to sport measures, there is a time and place for other medical and/or alternative interventions that should be understood and respected.

Closing Words
Both sports medicine and performance therapy are necessary components in the health and performance of athletes. Failure to integrate therapy in a complementary manner can be a mistake. Without performance therapy there tends to be an increase in reliance on other forms of therapy that stress rehabilitation and recovery.

In sports, the term "game changer" is often used to describe an athlete or action that results in a successful outcome that changes the course of a game. The same can be said about performance therapy because of its ability to play an invaluable role in an athlete's development. If you've been experiencing lack of results or just can't seem to stay healthy, performance therapy may just be the "game changer" you have been looking for to improve your abilities as an athlete and GP is where you can find it.

Improve Reaction Time with Chiropractic

What you need to know:

  • For athletes, reaction time is highly important to success as many athletic events can be determined by tenths of a second.
  • Outside of practice and training, chiropractic adjustments appear to improve reaction time.
Reaction time is the ability to respond quickly to a stimulus. Not only important in sports, reaction time is important for day to day activities as well. Dependent upon nerve connections and signal pathways, reaction time is the time lapse between a stimulus and movement (i.e. sprint start or hitting the brakes to avoid an accident).

When it come to athletics, practice and training are critical to improving reaction time. Athletes receive stimuli from their eyes (position of other players, the ball, etc), ears (calling from players or coaches), and kinesthetic sense (body position). Elite athletes have the ability to reduce reaction time by selecting the most important information and then anticipate the actions of other players or the path of the ball quickly. In sport, the ability to react quickly provides a competitive advantage.

To have an appreciation of how quickly athletes need to react, here is a short video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2knwswvwDI
Nowadays, athletes look for competitive advantage wherever they can gain it. So what if you could boost your competitive advantage by improving your ability to react faster outside of practice or training?

Get ready for some very interesting news: chiropractic adjustments can have a beneficial affect on reaction time. A recent study conducted at the New Zealand School of Chiropractic tested the effects of chiropractic adjustments on reaction time. Two groups were utilized to test reaction times. The first group received chiropractic adjustments to the neck. For comparison, the second group was designated as the control group and received a short period of rest.

Results showed a significant improvement in reaction time for the chiropractic adjustment group over the group that only got to rest. The group that rested did show an average decrease in reaction time of 58 milli-seconds. In this study, that represented an 8% faster reaction time. The group that received the chiropractic adjustment showed an average decrease in reaction time of 97 milli-seconds, representing a 14.8% faster reaction time.

The importance of reaction time is not just limited to athletes and on-field performance, reaction time also has importance in other areas of life. The benefits of being able to react faster can make the difference in avoiding traffic accidents and preventing falls. As for competitive athletes who depend on the ability to react quickly to game situations, the addition of chiropractic care can prove to be beneficial. This study can help to explain why many athletes report the ability to perform better when they decide to include chiropractic treatment as part of their routine.

In fact, several athletes are advocates for chiropractic care, including Jerry Rice, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Aaron Rogers, Tom Brady, and Maurice Jones Drew. Reggie Bush, current Detroit Lion's running back and former Heisman Trophy winner, had this to say about chiropractic:
"As a professional athlete, I am highly competitive - only accept the best. When it comes to healthcare, chiropractic is an essential service. It keeps on-field performance at its highest level and contributes to the success of the entire team!"
Gallagher Performance successfully treats and trains athletes of all levels, addressing their individual needs accordingly. We integrate services such as chiropractic, manual therapy, massage, nutrition, and sports performance training to help athletes realize their potential.

The Essentials of Speed Training

What you need to know:

  • Training for speed is not the same as conditioning. Speed is an entirely separate physical trait than being "in shape".
  • Sport-specific speed requires an understanding of the sport and the individual athlete to help maximize their speed potential.
In our opinion, the most misunderstood and poorly implemented aspect of training athletes is definitely speed. Athletes are in need of practical and proven speed training methods. After all, if a player can't keep up with the speed at their current level, they run the risk of being cut or not playing much. Every athlete has the ability to improve their speed if they train the correct way. Below are some simple tips to help take your speed to the next level.

# 1 - Train Powerful Legs NOT Quick Feet

This can be said for any athlete. The world’s fastest athletes don’t have "quick feet". They have powerful legs. Unfortunately, many athletes have been coached to "move their feet quickly" and they now equate quick feet with speed. Ultimately, this creates an athlete who moves their feet quick, but they don't move very fast. It's important to understand the difference between speed/acceleration and quick feet because it will have tremendous implications in your training.

For example, many trainers and players automatically default to using agility ladders as a means of developing quick feet. This is nothing more than a gimmick when it comes to developing true speed and we discussed that here.

Want quick feet? Take up tap dancing. Athletes need powerful legs.

Toss the quick feet exercises in favor of some explosive strength training. As your strength and lower body power development improves, your speed will thank you.

# 2 - Focus on Short Distance Accelerations (10-20 yards)
Most sports are a game of quick, repeated bursts of speed coupled with changes of direction. Outside of track & field, most sports favor acceleration and deceleration over top-end speed. It is important to have top-end speed to stay competitive at any level, but if you aren't able to win the small area battles on the court, field, or ice, the chances of playing regularly are not in your favor.

This means athletes must be explosive and capable of reproducing the same explosiveness during the course of a game. Short distance sprints are an excellent tool to develop acceleration. This allows for a higher level of transfer to athletics due to higher degree of specificity. Short hill sprints, sled drags, sled pushes, and a variety of acceleration drills will also be highly effective because they will reinforce ideal acceleration mechanics.

# 3 - Speed Work and Conditioning Are Not the Same

"Explosive, not tired." At GP, that is a concept we communicate to all our athletes. Nowadays, young athletes assume conditioning and speed are the same thing or that by improving their conditioning, they will get faster. For many athletes, suicides and gassers come to mind. Players are instructed to sprint with minimal rest, pushed to exhaustion. 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.

There is a 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 will get a blank stare in return. True speed is only develop 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.

# 4 - Make Lateral Starts and Transition Drills a Priority

Sport, namely team sports, requires movement proficiency in all directions. Most may seem like a linear sport to the observing eye, but watch closely and you will see otherwise. That said, speed training cannot be simply performed in a linear fashion. To make your speed training more specific, use lateral starts and bounds to reinforce explosive leg drive in lateral or diagonal directions. There are a number of lateral start variations that can be effective, such as lateral standing, lateral standing on outside leg, and side lunge position.

Building on the idea of multi-directional movement and explosive direction changes, you can progress your speed training to include transition drill exercises. These will allow you to replicate body positions and transitional movements that will directly impact your speed on the field or ice.

Seal the Deal
Following these tips will help you make more progress in less time and ensure that your training has the best chance to transfer into true speed development.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.

Gallagher Performance has a proven track record of improving speed time and time again. There is a reason why so many athletes come to us for speed development. If you’re interested in learning more about GP's approach to training athletes, our contact information can be found at www.gallagherperf.wpengine.com.

Athletic Development: Will Your Child be a Success or Burn Out?

What you need to know:

• Long term athlete development is a process that occurs over many years. This is not an "8 week program". Rather, it starts at an early age and continues on into adulthood. It is not simply a linear process, but is one that must be highly individualized to assist the athlete in reaching their full potential.
• The greatest challenge to coaches, parents, and athletes is the understanding of how difficult this process is. Athletes are dealing with massive changes in physical attributes, brain function, and sport skill acquisition. These all must be managed simultaneously while stressing the concepts of hard work in a positive environment.
The Case for Long-Term Development
When it comes to athletics, critical development begins at a very early age. As children mature, they progress through important developmental stages during their growth and maturation process. If long-term athletic development is of any importance to the coach, parent, or athlete, certain aspects of these stages must be addressed at appropriate time periods, otherwise the chances of the athlete reaching elite status is reduced.

Similar to other facilities and organizations that place importance on long term athlete development, the model used at Gallagher Performance began with a review of research and methods utilized in child and athletic development around the world. Through the review of current and past research/methods used with elite athletes and even military special operations, it was concluded that to truly address athlete development, a new way of looking at how to properly structure "strength and conditioning" programs must be considered.

Long-term athlete development models are being utilized around the world by more than 100 national sport organizations. For example, within the sport of hockey, there is no doubt that countries like the Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden produce numerous NHL players. The numbers becoming even more impressive when considering the population of these countries. Each of those countries has placed the primary focus on long-term athlete development models.

Early Specialization in Sports: It's Not Working
Early specialization in sport is becoming increasingly more common among children in the United States. The rationale behind such a decision typically being if a child plays one sport, year round, they will be more advanced than their peers, more likely to be the 'star', get recruited, and/or possibly go on to make millions. Is this all fact or just wishful thinking?

Recent research from UCLA reveals that early specialization in sport has very poor connection with young athletes achieving elite status. A survey of almost 300 NCAA Division I athletes found that 88% played two or three sports as children and 70% did not specialize in one sport until after the age of 12. These findings were already understood in former East Germany and USSR within their youth development programs.

Studies in East Germany and the USSR found that children who went through an early specialization program did have more immediate improvement in their performances. But these children also had their best performances between the ages of 15-16, had greater inconsistencies, many quit or 'burnt out' by the age 18, and they had greater rate of injuries because of forced adaptation compared to children who played multiple sports and specialized later in life.

Now coaches are beginning to recognize the negative impact early specialization has on athletes. Brent Sutter, former NHL player and head coach/GM for the WHL's Red Deer Rebels had this to say about players who focus on hockey 10-12 months out of the year:

“You just don’t have as many players today that are as good athletes as they used to be. Too much today, especially in young players, is focused on hockey 12 months a year ... You really notice the guys who are true athletes and the ones who are not. The ones you can take and play baseball or soccer with them and they get it. This is noticeable even at the NHL level. The true athletes are a little bit further ahead ... I want our scouts to look at athletes not just strictly hockey players."
This is not just a hockey issue. Arguably, the same can be said for athletes in any sport.

Conclusion
Long-term athlete development serves as a framework for athlete development in sports. It is a system that integrates age-appropriate training and recovery programming with competition while maintaining one consistent goal: the development of athletes.

At GP, we take an educated and unique approach to proper youth development in sports, focusing on a wide variety of motor, coordination, and other developmental skills. Athletic development is a process and certainly not one that should be rushed. Don't just take our word for it. Sports science and coaching experts around the globe are endorsing this model and implementing it to ensure the best outcomes for their young athletes.

GP Athlete Spotlight: Matt Fisch

Matt Fisch (6'5", 190lbs) is a starting power forward for Franklin Regional HS and plays his AAU basketball for the FCA Tar Heels. He will have specialized attention given to adding quality size to his frame while improving overall strength/power in preparation for the upcoming season.

Matt has terrific abilities and difficult to contain when he is on his game. He has already demonstrated the motivation and determination it takes to succeed. We are excited to have him part of GP. Time to go to work!

Welcome to GP, Matt!

GP Athlete Spotlight: Paul Emanuele

Paul Emanuele (RB/DB, Franklin Regional HS) is currently in training with specific attention provided to strength/explosive power and speed in preparation for a number of combines this summer, with the most recent being this weekend at the University of Pittsburgh.

Like all athletes who see consistent improvements, Paul has been a hard worker since day one. Tremendous athletic ability and hard work are always a dangerous combo. Paul has the speed, quickness, and power to break open a game at any moment.

Welcome to GP, Paul!

Don't Fall for the Speed Training Trap

 

Driven by Business
Speed, Agility, Quickness (SAQ) training has a unique ability to draw larger amounts of young athletes with promises of becoming a faster, more agile version of themselves. These facilities or individual coaches commonly use methods such as high speed treadmills and ladder drills. The SAQ system is terrific for business because they appear to provide athletes with what they need. However, these systems often fail to produce sustainable, long-term adaptations to improve speed.

When you consider what true speed development is all about, you begin to see why these methods do not work. And even why they may carry a high injury risk with them. Sure these methods will work for some athletes, but they are typically athletes that are already slow. Does this justify using less efficient means? Let's take a look.

# 1 - High Speed Treadmills
The mechanics needed for ground based speed are entirely different from the mechanics utilized on a treadmill. On a treadmill, the surface moves underneath you whereas on land, you must move over the surface. Training on a treadmill does nothing to develop an athlete's acceleration or drive phase, arguably the most important element of speed in sports. High speed treadmill training becomes about who can pick up their feet and put them down the fastest instead of how much force is being applied to the ground. Furthermore, at high speeds it becomes easy for form to breakdown and ingrain poor mechanics.

#2 - Ladder Drills for Foot Quickness
Ladder drills simply make you good at ladder drills. There is no correlation to actual speed development and developing one's ability to have 'quick feet'. Any benefit to speed can be negated by teaching athletes to chop or shorten their strides. These drills are best suited for a dynamic warmup, but if you think you are going to develop Robert Griffin III agility you are only fooling yourself. Agility is developed from improving relative strength and the practice of sport skills.

How True Speed is Developed
The science behind the world's fastest man, Usian Bolt, gives insight into what true speed development is all about. More important than how fast an athlete moves their legs is the power in their stride. An average runner's stride applies about 250kg (550 lbs) of force to the ground in roughly 0.12 seconds of contact. Bolt's stride applies over 1000 lbs of force to the ground in roughly 0.08 seconds of contact. That's a significant difference. High speed treadmills and ladder drills will not develop high level speed because they ultimately fail to train the physical abilities that enable an athlete to realize their true speed potential.

Speed and acceleration should be train through proper technique instruction and developing power-speed qualities such as limit/maximal strength, explosive strength, ground reactive forces, and rate of force production. These abilities train athletes to develop high amounts of force in a brief amount of time, developing the power that enables them to accelerate quickly and achieve top end speed faster.

The process of speed development must also take into consideration the concepts of Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD). Young athletes, both male and female, have unique time periods during which their speed development is very sensitive. These "windows of optimal trainability" must be capitalized on or else the athlete's true speed potential will never be realized. For the vast majority of youth athletes, they miss these windows of opportunity because of over-competition and under-training that is often seen during the ages of 8-13.

Final Thoughts
As with any physical quality, the critical periods for speed development will vary between each child due to his or her genetic makeup. Each critical period respects the stages of human growth and maturation as scientific evidence demonstrates that children vary considerably in their rate of response to different training stimuli. Some children may show potential for speed at age 10, while others may not display the same potential until years later. Consequently, a long-term approach to speed development is needed to ensure that athletes who respond slowly to training stimuli are not ‘shortchanged’ in their development.

This is why a knowledgable coach who understands LTAD models and is skilled in recognizing "windows of optimal trainability" for speed, strength, stamina, suppleness (flexibility), and skill development should be sought out. If the the trainer or coach who is responsible for training your child does not understand LTAD models, I would think critically about the services you are paying for.

Training Hard vs Training Smart


"People are incredibly innovative in their efforts to screw up training."

- Charlie Francis, Canadian Speed Coach

When it comes to sport training and many training systems, there are aspects that are poorly managed or misused in their application. One that is very common is the lack of understanding of physiology as it relates to bioenergetic training parameters and workload compatibility in sport.

Programs and coaches may frequently implement high lactate training loads into their program for a variety of reasons. Exhaustive shuttle runs, suicides, gassers, extended sets, and 'circuit' style workouts are all examples of lactic training. The problem is even though they may be performed with perceived 'maximal effort', in order to accomplish the prescribed work, individuals are training at a medium intensity. This level of intensity is too slow to develop speed. They teach muscles to behave slowly. Furthermore, the recovery requirements are high and thus cut into the ability to perform more intensive work that would directly improve speed and explosive strength.

There is not much justification for the frequent use of lactic training loads when the nature of most field/court based sports is alactic/aerobic with varying degrees of lactate influence. This is illustrated by the influence of bioenergetics on mitochondrial concentration in skeletal muscle. Mitochondria are responsible for energy production and oxidative potential. More mitochondria means greater energy supply and faster recovery. Mitochondrial concentration is elevated in skeletal muscle by anaerobic-alactic and aerobic training, while anaerobic-lactic training results in their destruction. Lactate threshold training must be appropriately prescribed and closely monitored.

This is just one example of why training loads and parameters must have compatibility to ensure the greatest transfer into sport performance improvement. The sports training world has fallen victim to a number of gimmicks in the name of profitability. Gimmicks such as high speed or anti-gravity treadmills, ladder drills, and exhaustive circuit-based training are examples of training that has very little to no carry over into athletic performance. Read more about this here.

For athletes and individuals who take their training and health seriously, your results are too important for someone to 'screw it up'.

Drop the Confusion, Athletes Need Consistency for Efficiency



What you need to know:

  • Neural efficiency is the key to becoming a better athlete, this is known as athletic mastery.
  • Mastery requires time, intelligent programming, hard work, and dedication to consistency.
Consistency Matters
The primary goal of any athletic and strength development program should be neural efficiency. Fact of the matter is the nervous system controls and coordinates every movement and every function in your body. The nervous system thus is the regulator of strength and movement coordination. This is why ALL successful athletes have periodization implemented into their programming. Periodization is a fancy word for structured, intelligent programming to address individual needs.

Any athlete that has reached elite status in their sport has used periodization to address their needs and to ultimately promote positive, long-term adaptations from the learning of repeated actions by the nervous system. One observation that can be made of such programs is how little they seem to change or when a change is implemented, it follows a progression based on what the athlete is displaying or what they are capable of from day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month.

Don't Let Fitness Trends Confuse You
Programs and/or trainers that endorse 'muscle confusion', randomized daily workouts, or continual change to exercise without following proper programming will always fail to develop an efficient nervous system. Sure for the ADD crowd and those that get bored easily, this appeals to you. Or maybe you are that person obsessed with 'fitness' and have become convinced workouts of this manner are the Holy Grail. If you are one of these people, be my guest. That's your choice. This article is specific to athletes and those that want to see consistent, sustainable results from their hard work. Not to simply have a workout entertain them.

Randomized workouts may sound interesting, even cool. The marketing placed around these workouts will spin words and science to make them appealing to the masses. Ultimately the end result is not allowing the athlete or individual to properly adapt to their training and achieve mastery.

How can adaptation and mastery be a bad thing when you want to improve? Want to be great?

Mastery is the Goal
For many, the frustration with mastery is it requires time. A lot of time. Mastery is a long-term process. This is exactly why great coaches and great athletes stress fundamentals at any level, from 7 year olds all the way up to the professional ranks. Think about it. Coaches don't just go through random drills at practice and if they do, they likely don't last long or frankly shouldn't be coaching in the first place. Fundamentals are reinforced because the better an athlete is at the fundamentals, the greater chance of success they will have when performing more complex sport skills.

Mastery is a grind. Its prerequisites are consistency and discipline. Mastery takes years to develop and this becomes a problem when the fitness industry wants to sell a 'quick fix'. And most Americans want that 'quick fix'. They want results now, not later. They don't want to put in years of work when they see programs that advertise how they can 'get ripped in 60 days' or 'get faster in 4 weeks'.

That's a Wrap
Athletes should recognize that their goals will not be solved with today's latest fitness trend. The only way to achieve mastery is through consistent, focused effort to become efficient in all fundamentals and sport specific skills. The message should be clear. At GP, this is something we feel strongly about and want to provide you with the information needed to make the best decisions for your goals. Mastery and efficiency are critical to the athlete and we addressed the importance of that in this article.

Is your training program allowing you to develop the mastery needed to achieve your goals?

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  • 4484 William Penn Highway

  • Murrysville, PA 15668

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