Over the course of the last 2-3 years, there has been an explosion in sports medicine research. It had truly been an exciting time to be an athlete, and certainly, from my perspective, an exciting time to be a sports therapeutics practitioner.
My perspective, and hence job description, has changed significantly from “Chiropractor who adjusts” to more of a “healthcare and training manager/performance consultant.” Recent research, along with discussion with colleagues and my own experience, has led me to formulate an approach that I now consistently use with athletes, amateurs, and even as a baseline template for the average person who simply wants to improve their general level of preparedness for life.
In order for basic function to occur, the body must move. Proper mobility of the entire musculoskeletal system is crucial to perform basic mundane tasks such as moving boxes and climbing stairs, to the elite needs of a champion CrossFit games competitor or Olympic athlete. It doesn’t matter how strong you are – eventually a lack of mobility will catch up with you in terms of energy lost, inefficiency, injury, or incapability.
Once Mobility is achieved, the person then has the potential to perform any given task. The next step is to train the nervous system to coordinate movement of joints and contraction of muscles to perform these tasks. Many times, I have heard “every rep counts,” and in this facet of performance, it is very true, but in a way most wouldn’t think.
Say, for example, you were to perform a squat, or any movement 100 times – and you were just taught how to move correctly. In this scenario, things are looking good, and you do the first 10 perfectly. However, imagine that you start getting tired, or sloppy, or simply just don’t realize that you are getting a little off, and the subsequent 90 are less than ideal to very poor. Therefore, you have just trained your nervous system to perform squats improperly 90% of the time! What do you think will happen to the movement pattern in this case? Do you think 10 good ones will “outweigh” the 90 bad ones? Didn’t think so. Therefore, when I have people perform movements, I’d rather have them perform fewer movements well. Believe me, the NET result will be that you get more out of your workout in the long term, than if you pushed through 90 bad ones every time. With the more conservative approach, those 10 good ones will turn into 30, 50, 70, then 100 good ones before you know it, and your performance will far surpass what you were doing before in no time flat.
Once the movement is achieved and then trained properly, I like to focus on the training itself, and the goals that the individual has. Are there events that one is preparing to peak at? Are there several? A schedule needs to be formulated to be able to peak at those times. I truly believe it is impossible to train at maximum intensity all year round for any length of time – whether it is one year or long term over 3-5 years. As such, cycles, peaks and valleys, and periods of rest and even completely different activities are important. Ultimately the individual stays sharper, progresses faster, and perhaps most importantly has far superior longevity.
I have found increasingly a circle of professionals, myself included, that feels stronger and stronger that there is no such thing as an injury of overuse, but only an injury of poor mechanics. Essentially all injuries, save traumatic collision-type injuries, can be prevented – a BIG factor in the spectrum of the question when to get intervention/treatment for minor, “problem” areas, and how much and how often you should concentrate on the “basics”. (Often.)
From this discussion, one can see just where my “skills” as a technician would be most useful – in attaining the mobility desired, to return someone from an injury, and to promote proper healing, so that re-training can occur. Also, skills in the observation of movement, and what the body is doing, would be useful to prevent injuries and improve performance. As such, much of what I do revolves around management – perhaps even more so than the technical aspects of “adjusting,” or “doing ART©”.
Please follow my blog, and check in regularly for updates – the next blog will refer in depth to recovery, and how to achieve longevity without injury and burn-out.