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Use a Scalpel Approach

When I was growing up and throughout my formal education I was lucky to have a great mentor.  He was my medical doctor. I can still hear him humming his favorite tune in my head.  As an intern in chiropractic school I would sit with him in his study while he drank scotch and smoked a Cuban and we would discuss the latest research in medicine and discuss patient care.  The one thing that he always instilled in me and what made him a great medical doctor was his diagnostic capabilities.  The key to a proper treatment is in the diagnosis.  Spend most of your time here and the rest will come quickly.

The statements are simple but lost in today’s training and rehab world.  It is one of my pet peeves (and I have many).  The human body is complex and we are all different.  Should you get the same prescription for high blood pressure as the person sitting next to you in the waiting room?  Should you wear the same size shirt as the person sitting across from you at Starbucks?  Then why are we so accepting of getting generic programs when training.  Now before everyone starts to spill their coffee let me preface this by saying that the articles I write are more geared toward the competitive athletic population.  Yes I agree that weight loss classes for groups can show results, and sit down CrossFit as I’m not picking on you yet.  I’m talking about young athletes and people who want to take a shot at being a professional who are given generic programs.  Our bodies don’t look the same, they don’t have the same composition of muscle tissue (fast versus slow twitch), our nervous systems function differently (some more twitchy and others more time dependent), but still trainers sell cookie cutter one size fits all online programming to everyone.  Yes there is a great legal disclaimer, but what service does this do?

Recently and the reason I am writing this article is I came across a generic baseball heavy ball program including exercises that was being offered online.  It makes complete sense.  Let’s not test the kids and see if they are strong enough to handle throwing a weighted baseball or get any sense of their physical capabilities.  Then let’s give all of them the same program.  When injuries occur the disclaimer is there and hey if the kids get hurt it’s their fault for not training properly.  Or was it the fact that a proper diagnosis wasn’t made so you have no concept of what was wrong with the athlete to start?  This also happens in local gyms and team gyms everywhere.  The possibility that the entire team is made of athletes with the same inefficiencies and same athletic profiles is slim.  The problem is when we train all the athletes the same, some will improve and others by sheer logic will make their inefficiencies greater.

At The Performance Lab everything related to our athletes is based on the diagnosis.  We have followed my mentor’s advice.  We run our own algorithms, put everyone through force plate testing and then 3D motion capture to see what is going on with the athlete and how to train them.  Now is this excessive and does a twelve year old need this to succeed?  I would argue yes even if it isn’t to this degree. Other cheaper ways of assessment are available to give some insight into the athlete before a program should be given.  Yes it takes more time and requires more learning but the results are faster.  I’ve worked with many great trainers and one common thread is their ability to individualize programs and diagnose what is inefficient in that athlete.  Screen athletes, use video from your iPad or simply talk to them and find out what is going on.  Giving athletes a program without any knowledge of their background, history, injuries, injury risks, or not attempting to figure out their inefficiencies, is basic.

– Carm

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