Gallagher Performance Blog

Attitude is Everything

Attitude.

We've all heard about it since we were young. We've heard it from parents, family, friends, teachers, and/or coaches who preached the importance of attitude.

Sometimes it takes a certain individual to have an impact in ways others cannot. Likely you have had someone in your life tell you the same thing you've heard countless times before, but for some reason it sticks. It sinks in. These people capture our respect. We feel they are deserving of our attention and we finally listen.

When it came to the importance of attitude, my Uncle Gene was just one person who made a big impact on my views. My uncle served in WWII and when he talked attitude, I listened.

Why?

It had everything to do with that fact that he embodied the message of "Attitude".

During his time serving in WWII, he was on a test flight near Foggia, Italy when a parachute flare bomb failed to release from his B-25. The bomb was hung near the rear hook on the shackle. With the safety wire pulled, the vane was able to spin freely. Realizing the danger of the situation, he climbed down into the bomb bay and, supporting himself with his elbows, he freed the bomb with his feet. For his actions he was awarded the Soldier's Medal for heroism. I have this medal in my bedroom to this day.

Now while his actions were awarded, it was his attitude in that moment that was the clear defining factor.

He was no more physically capable than any others aboard that plane. As a member of the Air Force, these men all had to be in top physical condition to serve our country. It wasn't that he was any bigger or stronger than the next guy. Simply put, in that moment he displayed resourcefulness and selfless courage to step into that situation. His attitude dictated his actions. Because of his attitude and actions, he received recognition for what he accomplished.

In a world where accomplishments matter, attitude matters most.

So what are some key characteristics of the attitudes or mindsets which promote success, be it in sport or in life?

JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D., author of Your Performing Edge and an internationally recognized sports psychologist, has identified characteristics that make a champion athlete that are able to be developed by anyone who wants to excel in sport:
  • Enthusiasm and Desire – Top athletes have a hunger, a fire inside which fuels their passion to achieve an important goal, regardless of their level of talent or ability.
  • Courage to Succeed - It takes courage to sacrifice, to work out when you’re tired, to seek out tough competition, to stick to your program, to test your limits, and to overcome obstacles.
  • Internal motivation and self-direction – Direction and drive need to come from within. The goals must be ones that you have chosen because that’s exactly what you want to be doing.
  • Commitment to Excellence – Elite athletes know that to excel at their sport, they must decide to make it a priority in their life. They make an honest effort each day to be the best at what they do. At some point you must say, I want to be really good at this; I want this to work.
  • Discipline, Consistency, Organization – Elite athletes love what they do and it is easier for them to maintain consistency in training and in competing. Regardless of personal problems, fatigue, or difficult circumstances, they can generate the optimal amount of excitement and energy to do their best.
  • Being focused and yet relaxed – Champions have the ability to maintain concentration for long periods of time. They can easily let go of distractions and take control of their attention. They don’t let emotions get the best of them and cause poor performance.
  • Ability to handle adversity – Top athletes know how to deal with difficult situations. Adversity builds character, but adversity also reveals character. When elite athletes know the odds are against them they embrace the chance to explore the outer limits of their potential. Rather than avoiding pressure, they feel challenged by it. They are calm and relaxed under fire. Setbacks become an opportunity for learning.
Many of the points simply brings the message back to attitude and the attitude one activity decides to embrace. Attitude is everything and I feel that Charles Swindoll puts this into perspective very nicely:
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitudes we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes.
 
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/sports-training-and-life-after/

Q&A with Quad City Strongman

Quad City Strongman is the premier strength training gym in the QC area. From their experience and knowledge to community involvement, QC Strongman is first class all the way. Learn more about QC Strongman in this interview.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3Tq1PTzWEI[/embed]

Fascia & Muscular Adhesions: How they relate to pain and overuse injuries

What is Fascia?
The soft connective tissue, located just under the skin, is a white membrane that wraps and connects muscles, bones, nerves, organs, blood vessels of the body.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More related reading:

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

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

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

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

Painful Back? You May Be Hurting It By Stretching

What you need to know:
  • Many healthcare providers and trainers poorly understand how movement of the nervous system relates to several common pain syndromes and musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Dealing with neural tension is not as simple as just stretching. While stretching may feel good, it very easily may aggravate symptoms.
  • Once appropriate treatment of neural tension begins, patients often normalize their movement very quickly and experience pain relief. Often this pain relief is instantaneous.
What is Neural Tension?
Neural tension is rather unheard of yet it often plays a significant role in many pain syndromes and musculoskeletal conditions. We all understand for movement to occur in the body, joints must move and your muscles must contract. But did you know that your nervous system tissue must also move freely and unimpeded during movement?

Neural tension is commonly mistaken for muscle tension. Your nerves were not designed to stretch, but rather to glide and give during movement.
If some form of obstruction (soft tissue or bony) impedes your neural tissue then pain or restriction of normal nerve movement is a common result. This normal nerve movement may only be a matter of millimeters, but nerve tissue is highly sensitive and does not like to stretch. Thus if too much stretch is placed on a nerve, the result is adverse neural tension and that can create pain, limited range of motion, as well as other classical symptoms associated with nerve tissue (numbness, burning, shooting pain, etc.)

Neural Tension Treatment
The movement of your nerves, or neurodynamics, can be assessed by a licensed chiropractor or therapist trained in the process of detecting and treating neural tension. Screens or tests commonly used to identify neural tension help identify not only which nerve(s) have adverse neural tension but also where the nerve is being obstructed during its movement.  Identify where the nerve is being obstructed is critically important because treatment is tailored to the site of obstruction.

Again, this highlights the importance of an accurate assessment as treatment can be more accurately applied to the structure(s) creating adverse neural tension. Once treatment begins, patients often normalize their movement very quickly and experience pain relief. Often this nerve pain relief is instantaneous.

What Conditions Commonly Involve Adverse Neural Tension?
Some common conditions that adverse neural tension often plays a role in or is a complicating factor that must be treated include:
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Low Back Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching vs Nerve Mobilizations
A common misconception in the treatment of back pain and associated muscle tightness is the idea that one must stretch to get relief. Stretching may bring temporary relief, only for one to experience the tightness come back once again or, worse yet, an increase in their pain.

Interestingly, when neural tension is identified as the underlying reason for muscle tightness, the treatment of neural tension doesn't actually involve stretching. Excessive stretching can actually irritate your nerves and increase pain. Excessive stretching may potentially damage your nerves as well.

This should make the message pretty clear - stretching may not be the best thing for your back when it's giving you all the signs that it isn't responding favorably.

Rather than stretching, restricted nerves and the surrounding muscles require a different approach known as nerve mobilizations or nerve sliders. Qualified chiropractors and physical therapists will utilize nerve mobilizations to help entraped nerves slide better during movement. They will also treat the surrounding muscles or tissues that is obstructing your normal nerve movement. After treatment, they will retest your neurodynamics and repeat the process until your full neural movement is restored. This process may take a few treatments to clear up, or take several, depending on severity.

Research Supports Neurodynamics
The concept of neurodynamics or neuromobilization is originally based on the research of Michael Shacklock and David Butler. Over the past several years, further research has added to the scientific support of the concept that your nerve tissue requires full freedom of movement to remain pain-free.

The following excerpts are from Michael Shacklock’s book Clinical Neurodynamics: a new system of musculoskeletal treatment:
"Neurodynamics is an innovative management tool involving conservative decompression of nerves, various neural mobilising techniques and patient education techniques. Neurodynamics offers a fresh understanding and management strategies for common syndromes such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, nerve root disorders, carpal tunnel syndromes and spinal pain."

"Essentially the entire nervous system is a continuous structure and it moves and slides in the body as we move and the movement is related to critical physiological processes such as blood flow to neurones. This movement is quite dramatic and it is not hard to imagine that fluid such as blood in the nerve bed, a constricting scar, inflammation around the nerve or a nerve having to contend with arthritic changes or proximity to an unstable joint could have damaging effects, some of which could lead to pain."
Final Words
Neural tension can be present with many common musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain. Very often neural tension is easily mistaken for muscle tension, leading many to want to stretch in order to find relief. Stretching can be counterproductive and may aggravate pain symptoms. In order to treat neural tension, it must be examined accordingly. At GP, we are trained in detecting and treating adverse neural tension and why it is present.

If your pain is not resolving with other interventions, consider your pain may be associated with neural tension and you may benefit from the most appropriate course of treatment and client education.

More related reading:

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

 

Sports, Training, and Life After

When it comes to writing and keeping up a blog, demands of life and business can make it challenging to find time to sit down and put some good thought into something you hope your readers will either find a degree of value or connection with in reading. Sometimes the best inspiration for writing comes through simple conversation. In this case, I was having a conversation with a parent that generated some thought that got me to thinking I should sit and put my thoughts down.

Knowing some of the physical ailments I deal with on a regular basis from sports, this particular parent of one of our athletes asked me, “Would you do it all again?”

Essentially their implied question being, “Was it worth it?”

Easy answer. I said, “Yes.”

The sports of ice hockey, powerlifting, and Strongman have provided me numerous friendships, lessons, memories, and helped shaped how I approach life. I would never change that.

Keep in mind, while some injuries I sustained playing hockey were severe, what I deal with to this day is relatively minor compared to other athletes.

In fact, while I did sustain injuries during sport participation, I received just as many injuries and set backs in the weight room or in training. This is what I would have changed the most. I would want to go back to change my training habits and attitude when I was in high school and college.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, I was fully invested in training for hockey and had minimal resources. The Internet did not provided the amount of information it has today. I was using magazines or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding to find guidance on what to do when it came to working out and lifting weights. There was truly a lack of training info out there. Similar to most kids my age, reading over the monthly Muscle and Fitness was the closest thing we had to authority on all things bigger and stronger.

There were no seminars. No YouTube tutorials. No blogs or online forums. No ebooks. These didn't exist as a reference to help young, aspiring athletes guide their understanding of training.

Books on training were just as hard to find. As a kid, I absolutely hated to read books. But I had one exception. I loved reading autobiographies on athletes I looked up to. Athletes like Jerry Rice, Herschel Walker, Jaromir Jagr, and Mario Lemieux.

At times, these athletes would discuss what types of workouts they did growing up or still performed in the offseason. I recall reading that Jerry Rice, as a kid, would run after horses to get faster. During his career as the greatest receiver in NFL history, Jerry Rice was well known for always coming into the season in phenomenal condition from brutal offseason workouts. Herschel Walker did 1,000 push-ups per day and was an absolute force on the football field. Jaromir Jagr did 1,000-2,000 bodyweight squats per day as a kid growing up in the Czech Republic and he attributed that to the speed and strength on the puck which made him the arguably the greatest European-born player in NHL history.

At 14, I remember being obsessed with what highly successful athletes did as young kids and I put it all down on paper, writing up my own workouts based on what they did. Lots of bodyweight squats, push-ups, running hills and biking for miles.

So I got to work. I biked 11 miles around my hometown on some days. Others I would run a hilly 3-mile course. And everyday I did bodyweight squats and push-ups, working up to eventually doing 2,000-2,500 squats and 400 push-ups within 75-90 minutes. Plus, my brothers and I would just go outside and play for hours. Didn’t matter what it was. We just played for fun.

I got my first weight set and bench around that same time and took on more of a bodybuilding focus thanks to Arnold and Muscle and Fitness.

The mentality was pushing yourself as hard as you can. More was better. Soreness meant you were doing something right. Complete exhaustion or puking meant you had a good conditioning workout. This was my mentality through high school and into college. I figured if it worked for some of the best athletes on the planet, it surely had to work for me.

The problem became I wasn't getting much bigger or much stronger. Sure there were initial benefits during the early years. See when you are young; if you show up, train hard and keep adding weight to the bar, it works!  It works so well that it’s what I figured I could keep doing. But what no one ever told me was it only works for so long. You eventually reach a point of diminishing returns.

At a certain point, I had to seek out the help of a sports-trainer and that was hard to find back in 2000. My brother and I were heading into 12th grade and had a big showcase tournament coming up that summer. My dad was able to track down a guy for my brother and I to train with in preparation for that tournament. Under his guidance and direction, I was able to see improvements in size, strength, and speed that I was unable to achieve on my own.

What did he do for me that I couldn’t figure out on my own?

He knew that I needed to get more explosive, more dynamic, better conditioned for my sport. What I didn't understand is that sometimes success from things you have done in the past is the worst indicator of what should be done next.

Lesson learned.

Then I think back on my college hockey career and the years I have spent competing as a strength athlete in both powerlifting and Strongman. The muscle imbalances and movement restrictions that started to creep in because of poorly structured training programs. There were plenty more lessons I learned about intelligent training structure and program design from a number of various injuries and setbacks.

Hockey, Powerlifting, and Strongman have all influenced me somehow from a training perspective. I wouldn't change anything about participating in these sports; I would change my preparation for them.

I feel bad for kids these days. I feel they have it worse then my generation. They have been duped into thinking they will be better athletes from participating in one sport. They are being sold speed ladders, specialty camps, and mass marketing fitness trends. I grew up with out any experts, now kids today are growing up with “experts” everywhere. They are being robbed of the option of playing multiple sports by coaches who demand their involvement in one sport throughout the calendar year. They are forced into specialization too early. And when it finally is time to specialize, they have no base of athleticism or strength because those attributes have been ignored due to lack of free play. You can’t build upon a poorly established base and that is why youth sport injuries are continually on the rise. I share the opinion that this is why the fastest growing surgery is pediatric.

So to answer the question of a concerned parent, don't be concerned about the game or the sport or whatever your kid chooses. You should be concerned about the lack of free play, the lack of movement and variability, the lack of smart training. Take interest in that. I believe this to be the important part.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/interview-with-mike-odonnell-dc-ccsp-cscs/

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

https://gallagherperformance.com/performance-training/athletic-development/

VBlog: Squat Depth - How Low Should You Go?

The age old debate on squat depth. How low should you go? This is our take on the subject of squat depth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQoOPLp3FUA

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

What's the Best Way to Build Muscle?

Muscle has a great importance to the body beyond being stronger and looking better. So what's the best way to build muscle? Learn more in this short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6UkKFDO0uU

 
 

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization: Advancing Therapy & Performance

Here at Gallagher Performance we not only strive to provide the best in chiropractic, rehabilitation and manual medicine treatments for our patients, but we also utilize comprehensive diagnostic methods and tools to help determine which treatment is best for you. This allows us to apply to most ideal therapeutic interventions. At GP, this could include any combination of the following: chiropractic manipulative therapy, manual therapy according to Lewit and Janda, Vojta Therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, neuromobilizations, and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS).

Despite many of our patients having previous experience with chiropractic or physical therapy, they are unfamiliar with DNS. Gallagher Performance specializes in DNS therapy. Dr. Gallagher has been studying and utilizing DNS since 2007. His extensive training and background allows him to provide a level of care that is unique to the Pittsburgh area.

Since DNS has implications in both physical rehabilitation and training, we spend a great deal of time educating our patients and clients on DNS and answering some frequency asked questions. With that in mind, the goal of this article is to help educate our readers about DNS and the significance this intervention has as it relates to pain or sports performance.

What is DNS therapy?
DNS is a revolutionary European approach in the treatment of back pain and several neuromuscular conditions. DNS therapy is based on the neuroplasticity of the Central Nervous System and targets the cause of pain/dysfunction rather than its manifestations. DNS therapy evokes ideal movement patterns by manual stimulation of developmental reflex zones and utilizes specific exercises to improve neuromuscular control. The therapeutic benefits become significantly expanded from previous standards of rehabilitation. Any one from infants to adolescents, chronic pain patients to athletes can all benefit from DNS therapy.

How does DNS compliment chiropractic adjustments? 
DNS therapy favorably compliments traditional chiropractic adjustments in several ways. When patients may be apprehensive about receiving an aggressive or forceful chiropractic adjustment, DNS offers gentle, non-forceful, low velocity manipulation that is well tolerated and safe. For those that receive traditional chiropractic adjustments, DNS works in concert to normalize joint function and restore muscular balance, leading to more sustainable improvements in reduced pain and improved function.

Often times, symptom relief experienced from a chiropractic adjustment can be short-lived with symptoms returning rather quickly. In contrast, when DNS is applied in a chiropractic setting, the approach allows for longer-lasting symptom relief due to therapy’s ability to improve Central Nervous System (CNS) coordination and joint stability which is then maintained by performing prescribed home exercises.

DNS therapy simply enables a chiropractor to effectively treat and manage a broad range of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. While traditional chiropractic may be limited in what can be done through chiropractic adjustments and passive modalities, DNS represents a powerful alternative to chiropractic care when dealing with pain syndromes and more complex structural pathologies where the effectiveness of traditional chiropractic is highly limited.

How is DNS therapy able to get me out of pain and moving better when other conservative therapies have failed?
The results achieved by DNS therapy are often difficult to achieve with traditional methods used by chiropractors and physical therapists due to the physiological phenomenon that occurs during treatment to minimize muscular imbalances, relieving painful protective muscle spasms, resulting in a more stable musculoskeletal system with improved spinal stability and postural awareness.

During DNS therapy, induced movements are controlled not locally, but by the higher levels of the Central Nervous System. This then results in faster and longer-lasting improvement in function and pain relief.  When combined with exercise, the promotion of joint stability and ideal movement becomes habitual and independent of conscious effort.

How are DNS exercises different from traditional physical therapy or physical training exercises?
In the majority of physical therapy and chiropractic clinics, as well as in personal training settings, exercises are performed that simply train muscles in isolation. The patient who has shoulder pain and is only prescribed shoulder exercises illustrates this concept. The fault in strengthening weakened muscles through isolation training is that isolation training will fail to unify the painful or problematic joint with the entire locomotor system. Sure you can perform all the isolation exercises you wish, but this does not guarantee that the strength or coordination gained will automatically transform into adequate performance.

DNS exercises are applied in accordance with development kinesiology or essentially how we develop motor function during childhood. As we develop, reflexive movements (primitive, postural, locomotor) become more refined and coordinated, ultimately leading to specific movements we produce later in life such as walking, running, jumping, reaching, throwing, etc.

However, developing these skills does not happen magically.  Learning to control the body and developing fundamental skills make up our motor milestones.  These milestones mark critical points in our development and there is a progression that these milestones follow.  This is known as developmental kinesiology. In simplistic terms, we need to be able to lift our head and support it, roll over, crawl, support ourselves upright, walk with assistance, and then walk without support.

The understanding of developmental kinesiology and critical motor milestones allows the provider to make exercise progressions and regressions during the course of therapy in order to appropriately address the underlying locomotor system dysfunction(s).

These exercises are applicable for patients with variety of acute and chronic conditions as well as for athletes who are trying to improve their performance and also prevent or rehabilitate injuries.

Often DNS exercises are conducted with active support from the clinician to insure that the patient maintains proper support and executes ideal movement. DNS exercises could include the use of stability balls or bands to further facilitate the desired response of the exercise.  These exercises are not only used to improve the stability of the spine, muscle coordination, balance and strength, but also to increase the body’s awareness and sensory integration.

Conclusion
All of a sudden, conservative management and treatment of patients and training of athletes looks a lot different than what is traditional accepted.

DNS is not only a magnificent approach for preventing and rehabilitating pain syndromes in the movement system it is also becoming extremely popular in sports performance circles. The same ideal patterns that keep an individual out of pain also maximize the efficiency of the movements, which not only reduces risk of injury but improves performance.

When you consider the principles of DNS, it truly is not about what exercises we prescribe or what exercises we perform, but rather what we are actually getting from those exercises when we perform them that is important. DNS provides a system of evaluation and treatment which follows motor development, thus providing an effective way to help our patients get the most out of therapy and our clients get the most out of training.

Sources:
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization & Sports Rehabilitation, Frank C, Kobesova A, Kolar P. Int J Sports Phys Ther. , 2013 Feb;8(1):62-73.
A case study utilizing Vojta/Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization therapy to control symptoms of a chronic migraine sufferer, Juehring DD, Barber MR. J Bodyw Mov Ther, 2011 Oct;15(4):538-41.
Cerebellar function and hypermobility in patients with idiopathic scoliosis, Kobesova A, Drdakova L, Andel R, Kolar P. International Musculoskeletal Medicine. , 2013, 35(3): 99-105.
Effects of shoulder girdle dynamic stabilization exercise on hand muscle strength., Kobesova A, Dzvonik J, Kolar P, Sardina A, Andel R. Isokinetics and exercise Science. , 2015;23:21-32, 
Developmental Kinesiology: Three Levels of Motor Control i the Assessment and Treatment of the Motor System. Kobesova A, Kolar P. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies., 2014;18(1):23-33.
The Prague School of Rehabilitation, Kobesova A, Osborne N. International Musculoskeletal Medicine, 2012;34(2):39-41.
Postural - Locomotion Function in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Disorders, Kolar P, Kobesova A. Clinical Chiropractic, 2010;13(1):58-68.
Analysis of Diaphragm Movement during Tidal Breathing and during its Activation while Breath Holding Using MRI Synchronized with Spirometry. Kolar P, Neuwirth J, Sanda J, Suchanek V, Svata Z, Volejnik J, Pivec M. Physiol Res, 2009;58(3):383-92.
Postural Function of the Diaphragm in Persons With and Without Chronic Low Back Pain. Kolar P, Sulc J, Kyncl M, Sanda J, Cakrt O, Andel R, Kumagai K, Kobesova A. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2012;42:352-362.
Stabilizing function of the diaphragm: dynamic MRI and synchronized spirometric assessment, Kolar P, Sulc J, Kyncl M, Sanda J, Neuwirth J, Bokarius AV, Kriz J, Kobesova A. J Appl Physiol. , 2012;42(4):352-62.
Importance of Developmental Kinesiology for Manual Medicine, Kolar P. translated from Czech Journal of Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, 1996;4:139-143.
Surgical treatment and motor development in patients suffering from cerebral palsy, Kolar P. Translated from Czech Journal of Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, 2001;8(4):165-168.
Long-Term Efficacy of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization in Treatment of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain, Bokarius AV, Bokarius V. 12th World Congress on Pain. Glasgow, Scotland. Aug 17-22, 2008. Presentation # PF225.
A case study utilizing spinal manipulation and dynamic neuromuscular stabilization care to enhance function of a post cerebrovascular accident patient, Oppelt M,Juehring D,Sorgenfrey G, Harvey PJ, Larkin-Thier SM. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies., 2014;18:17-22.
More related reading:

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

Bear Season: Join the Darkside

Note: This article is intended for entertainment purposes only. The nutritional advice that follows is neither “sound” nor “healthy”. However, from personal experience, this same advice has proved to be quite effective for achieving the intended results.
The days of 90 degree heat, high humidity, and constant back sweat are coming to an end. Autumn will soon be here. The cooler weather triggers the wearing of hoodies and sweatpants, the constant presence of static in your clothing, and the start of “Bear Season”.

Bear Season? What’s this you say?

I’m not referring to the hunting of bears. Although if I were on the topic of hunting, I’d have you know that I am in that camp of people who feel that if you’re going to hunt, might as well hunt an animal that will maim you if you miss.

But I digress. Back to the matter at hand.

Bear Season simply refers to that stretch of year (roughly October-February) when men should focus on getting big and, if you’re feeling adventurous, really, really hairy.

Gone are the days of being lean and “all chopped up” for summer. Those birds fly south for the winter.

For those of us who know the four seasons all too well, we realize that around the corner awaits the cooler weather of autumn followed by the bitter cold of winter. The cold ushers in the calling of a different breed of man. The man who answers the call of nature and won’t hesitate to pack on that winter insulation. He does so with the knowledge that not only will his body thank him, but his wallet too. As a larger version of your former self, you’ll constantly feel warm, capable of surviving the harshest of climates while also keeping that dreaded electric bill down as your home will be heated at lower temperatures during the cold months. It’s science.

Let us not forget that Bear Season brings forth the gift of the holiday season. With holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, who wants the stress of looking great or losing weight? The holidays and colder months of the year are prime time for the best and most nutritious of foods. Foods fortified with refined carbohydrates, sugar, icing, and saturated fats. Foods that will have your blood sugar feeling like it spent the day at Cedar Point and send you into the most epic of food comas. Don’t miss out. Like Darth Vader once said, “Join the Darkside.”

Don’t become one of those people who fall victim to trying to lose weight and look great during the holidays simply for vanity reasons. For all those people who want to look their absolute best for holiday get-togethers with family or friends, I’d like to encourage an even greater amount of people to do the opposite.

Push back against the establishment.

Why not get as big and bloated as possible for these social events?

I’m talking bloated to the point where from 20 feet away people can’t tell if your eyes are open. Bloated to the point where people are concerned about your health and well-being. You know, the kind of concern where an individual pulls you aside, lightly grabs your forearm while leaning in to whisper, “Is everything okay?” Of course this is then followed by the puzzled reaction on their face when you answer, “Everything’s good. I’m doing this intentionally. I couldn’t feel better.”

How does gaining 30, 40, possibly even 50 pounds sound? If that isn’t enough to seal the deal, then let me cover a short list of what you can expect over the duration of Bear Season:

  1. Breathing heavily while walking up stairs.
  2. Breathing even heavier while sitting.
  3. Sleep apnea. You’re welcome.
  4. Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  5. Constant sweating.
  6. Intense pressure in your head anytime you bend over (ex: tying your shoes).
  7. Having to find new places to shop for clothes. Get familiar with Casual Male XL and the Big & Tall store, even if you’re 5’6”.
  8. The need to understand how much walking is involved before agreeing to go anywhere.
  9. The constant glares and stares of other people regardless of social setting.
  10. Being the guy nobody wants to sit next to on an airplane.
  11. Relatives or in-laws making sure you don’t sit in chairs that may not support your weight (i.e. whicker furniture).
  12. The bigger you get, the more attention from men you’ll get. Not in that way, just more of a, “Do you play in the NFL?” way.
Now you’re all in. You’re clearly convinced that Bear Season is for you and it’s time to give you the game plan. The game plan to lead you into bloated glory. You must be armed with the knowledge of how to execute your weight-gain and realize your full bloat potential. So without further adieu, here are some extremely effective foods to help you achieve your goal of being big, bloated, and a true beauty:
  • Pancakes and Waffles
  • Eggs (especially cheesy eggs)
  • Hashbrowns
  • Bacon
  • Bacon wrapped Kielbasa (aka Swine on Swine crime)
  • Anything casserole (i.e. sheperd’s pie, cheeseburger pie)
  • Chili (add queso and oyster crackers for that extra boost)
  • Red Baron oven-ready pizzas
  • Frequent visits to Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Five Guy’s, Popeye’s, Qdoba, Chipotle, Red Robin, Buffalo Wild Wings or any combination of the above.
  • Pop, Gatorade, and fruit juices
  • Generous portions of Chinese food
  • Hibachi restaurants
  • Any All-You-Can-Eat Buffets
  • Cookies and Pasteries
  • Twinkies
  • Little Debbie cakes
  • Cereals such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Reese’s Puffs, Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, or if you’re like our pap, you mix them all together.
  • Ice cream or Custard (the good kind made with cream, egg yokes, and sugar)
  • Add ranch, bacon, or cheese to anything that’s within reason
  • Salt, salt, salt, and more salt
  • Whole milk or Chocolate milk and lots of it
Keep your portions big. I mean so big it’s absurd. If people aren’t making rude remarks to you about how much you eat, you’re not eating enough. Simple as that.

Now that you have all that you need to get big and thrive during Bear Season, it’s up to you.

You truly only have one choice: Join the Darkside.

More related reading:

 
https://gallagherperformance.com/what-is-natural-talent/

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
 

Quotes and Insights From Buddy Morris, Strength Coach of the Arizona Cardinals

Buddy Morris is the Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Buddy has a way of telling it like it is, not shying away from speaking his mind when it’s against popular cultural opinion within the world of sports performance training. I was fortunate enough to learn form a mentor of mine, Dr. Mike O’Donnell, who worked under Buddy at the University of Pittsburgh.

To this day, I enjoy reading and learning anything I can from Buddy. I have come to learn that when Buddy speaks, you should listen.

Why?

You are going to learn something.

Below is just a short collection of his thoughts that I have provided me with some insight into what it takes to better yourself as someone who works with developing young athletes.

Buddy Morris on the current state of the personal training and sports performance industry:
“(Personal training in the private sector) is one of those professions that’s about who you know, not what you know. If it was about what you know, there’d be a lot of guys on the street right now.”
“These days, everyone is looking for the top secret program and the “easy way” to lose weight, get in shape or become a better athlete. Here’s the secret: THERE IS NO SECRET! It’s all about things like commitment, effort, dedication, perseverance and WORK! You think that might be why it’s referred to as, “working out”?”
“It’s also become ridiculous with the athletic population. Every guru is out there trying to sell his miracle top-secret never-seen-before program to make you a super athlete. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times; “a good coach gets a lot done and goes a long way without gadgets, gimmicks or toys to enhance performance.”
Buddy Morris on the qualities of a great coach:
“The best coaches are the ones that can make adjustments.”
“The real magic will be in how you make adjustments on training day and use your heighten powers of observation and problem solving to make the training optimal on the training day.”
“Training readiness: The maximum amount of stress the body can handle or tolerate at any given time will fluctuate on a daily, hourly, and minutely basis.”
Buddy Morris on the importance of continual learning and development:
“I am far from an expert and I still have a lot to learn even after more than 3 decades in my profession.”
This is a personal favorite of mine just because there are far too many people marketing themselves as THE expert. The best trainers and coaches are humble and they are always trying to develop their craft. They don’t believe they know it all, so they actively pursue more knowledge. Buddy Morris more than gets this and it's exactly why several other coaches learn from his example.

More related reading:

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

Why Therapists Should Understand Strength

As a chiropractor that specializes in manual therapy and rehab protocols, I see patients dealing with a variety of problems. Now while the conditions can vary greatly, the common denominator that all my patients share is that they are either in pain or unable to perform a specific activity at a level they desire. Being able to provide a service to help people was exactly why I got into chiropractic and it is why I work to continually develop my craft and treatment philosophy. My treatment philosophy has helped to develop my system for how I go about evaluating and treating each patient that comes to me for help. As valuable as my education and residency has been to developing my treatment philosophy, the insight and knowledge I have gained on strength and conditioning as an athlete and coach has been equally valuable.

A great mentor of mine told me that with his background as a strength coach, he uses that background and mindset everyday with his patients. Some years later, I continually have a renewed appreciation for what he communicated in that statement because looking at my patients through the "lens of strength" can provide me with a refreshing perspective.

Why?

Simply put, strength matters. Strength has the ability to cover up dysfunction. Strength will directly impact movement quality. Strength will improve mobility or flexibility issues. Strength has tremendous ability to minimize or reduce overuse injuries. Strength becomes a focus in my treatment plans and the advice I provide my patients.

In my opinion, a major player in the outcomes of patient care is the quality of advice they receive. Much of the advice I provide is directed at my patient's current exercise routine. And, at times, the advice is very blunt. The type of advice that is often tough to swallow on their part because it means big changes

What does that advice look like?

Say you are dealing with low back pain that is worsened from repetitive flexion. You can’t tolerate bending forward to tie your shoes or get nervous just thinking about picking up something from the floor, yet you love your group exercise class that has you running through dozens of crunches, sit-ups, air squats, and wall-balls. Your back is not going to respond to any form of therapy until you remove the irritating factor (your group exercise class) and follow the advice of substituting in more appropriate exercises that promote a healthy back.

Say you can’t properly lift your arms overhead with ideal form and posture through the shoulders, spine, and hips. Now you want to participate in an exercise routine that includes Olympic lifts such as the snatch and overhead pressing. What you must understand is that you lack the prerequisites to perform loaded overhead exercises. This is why your shoulders or low back hurt after overhead pressing or performing a full snatch and you need to be advised accordingly.

Advice should be constructive, providing a solution. However, there is some advice that is simply unacceptable. The classic example of this is the runner who develops knee pain, decides to see a doctor and is told, "Stop running."

Unacceptable.

The solution is rarely that simple. Maybe that runner lacks movement control in joints in such as the ankles, hips, pelvis, and spine because they lack adequate strength in surrounding musculature. Maybe that should be addressed while their current running program is restructured according to their tolerances.

There are solutions and often those solutions involve strength development.

As a therapist, odds are in your favor that you are going to find a strength deficit that is playing into that runner's knee pain. Odds are in your favor that you are going to find that lack of strength is correlated with any number of common conditions.

Lack of strength is never solved by inactivity and prescribing rest. Strength requires the opposite. Strength requires focus, guided effort. Strength is a difficult pursuit and it requires that one knows what they are doing if you are going to coach the process.

On my end as a therapist, what becomes even more difficult to navigate is managing a patient who has his or her own personal trainer or strength coach. I always ask them what they are doing for "training," and most times my response is inwardly shaking my head. I don’t say anything, unless I’m asked. If I’m asked, then it is time to be brutally honest.

It is important to note that you shouldn’t just take exercises away, but substitute better ones. My job is to find the best exercise for the job. This is why developing a large exercise pool to draw from is invaluable as a strength coach and as a rehab specialist. Having a huge exercise pool will allow you to make progressions, regressions, and substitutions based on movement patterns, training goals, mechanical sensitivities, or movement limitations.

At GP, we have taken time to develop our exercise pools for lower body pushes/pulls, upper body pushes/pulls, hybrids, developmental stabilization, etc. This allows seamless transition between phases of rehabilitative care for my patients and continual development from a strength and performance perspective for my athletes because we have developed our plan for progressive development. This understanding of strength also allows me to provide the most appropriate advice when it comes to exercise selection.

As William Penn said, “Right is right even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.” People are there for your expertise and knowledge as much as your skills. Remember to provide the care and treatment you would want to receive and provide them with the advice and direction you would want to understand.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/interview-with-mike-odonnell-dc-ccsp-cscs/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-best-exercise/

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

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/

Does Practice Make Permanent? How Practice Rewires Your Nervous System

In our younger years, many of us likely heard the expression “Practice Makes Perfect.” This usually came from a parent, coach, or teacher. Some took the saying a step further, adding “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.” Some even say, "Practice Makes Permanent". Regardless, still the message was clear – if you want to improve, you need to put in some time and focused effort. You need to practice.

But is all about simply practicing or do we need to have a different focus?

Research has provided a better understanding of how practice influences skill development, helping us understand how the nervous system is rewired during the process. While there are many components to consider during the process of motor learning and skill acquisition, in this article we will be discussing how a unique tissue to the nervous system called myelin plays a critical role in the acquisition and mastery of skills.

Practice Rewires the Nervous System
When we are exposed to a movement or sport skill that is new or unfamiliar, the result is typically feeling awkward and uncoordinated. To some degree, we may be apprehensive. This is normal and to be expected. But, as we practice, something happens. Things get smoother, we feel more comfortable, and the movement/skill becomes more natural.

What is happening?

What practice is actually doing is rewiring your nervous system to become more efficient during complex movement tasks through a process called myelination.

The Role of Myelin
Understanding all the intricacies of the nervous system is not the point of this article, but a little background will be helpful. Myelin is a tissue that covers our neurons, the cells that make up the nervous system. Myelin is mostly a fatty substance, with cholesterol being an essential component. It serves to insulate nerve cells and has a characteristic “white” appearance. This is why most people refer to myelin as “white matter” when discussing the nervous system. What science has helped us understand is that myelin improves the speed and strength of nerve signals, meaning that myelinated nerves transmit signals faster than non-myelinated nerves. Myelin helps our nervous system function at a higher level.

Ok, so how do we get myelin onto our nerves?

To begin with, the majority of myelination occurs during the early stages of development. These stages of development occur during the 2-3 years after birth and into early childhood. Children are myelin-generating machines. This can be seen not only in respect to movement, but also with language and comprehension skills as well. Where there is development, you will find myelin. This is why there are critical developmental stages that exist in long-term athletic developmental (LTAD) models. LTAD models help us understand that we cannot make up for lost time. Sure, as we get older we can continue to generate myelin, but it happens at a slower rate and requires more effort. This is why most young athletes who miss critical developmental stages tend to get passed up later in their athletic careers.

So what’s the big deal about critical developmental stages?

It provides children with graded exposure to skills through practice and repetition. The process of practice and repeated effort triggers a pattern of signals through our nervous system. With time and repetition, myelin is produced to increase the speed, strength, and coordination of these nerve signals. It’s a streamlining effect that your nervous system undergoes due to exposure to a repeated sensory stimulus and motor (movement) output.

Practice Makes Myelin, So Practice With Purpose
Understanding the role of myelination in skill acquisition has tremendous implications. Yes, volume and frequency of practice matters, but myelination makes a case for understanding why quality of practice matters. Practicing with an extreme focus on quality is equally, if not more important, than simply practicing a lot. Don’t just practice to practice. Corrections should be made as they are needed. You don’t want to spent the majority of your time practicing bad habits, as bad habits are hard to correct. Bad habits arguably are not permanent. However, the longer they exist, the harder they are to unlearn. Myelin is a big reason why.

In the context of training and sport skill development, if you lift/sprint/jump/practice with poor technique and no one corrects your mistakes, you will be myelinating those nerve pathways – which does you no good and only serves to lowering your athletic potential. Sure you may improve, but you will never reach your true potential. And the longer your bad habits remain, the harder it is to correct them.

The takeaway: practice of movement skills over time causes specific neural pathways to work better via myelination. To improve your performance, you not only need to practice FREQUENTLY, you also must practice CORRECTLY and receive plenty of feedback from a qualified coach so you are able to properly develop your movement and sport skills.
More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/unlock_your_potential_with_this_powerful_tip/

https://gallagherperformance.com/movement-improves-brain-function/

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/
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