Jun 182010

I wanted to follow up the blog post about the prone hip extension assessment with some follow up posts to give some examples of what we do with athletes who may exhibit under active glutes.  In this first post, I want to explain what we would do first in correcting this.  It is important to note that this series has been successful for us.  This is based on athletes giving us constant feedback about how they feel.

The first thing that we will always do is look to the opposite side of the hip on the weak glute side.  For example, if one of our athletes/clients can’t fire their glute on one side, we will look to the front of that same side hip.  What we usually see is tightness of one or more muscles including Iliacus, Psoas, and/or T.F.L.  It totally makes sense as tightness of one or more of these muscles may cause the glute on the opposite side to lengthen and weaken (Reciprocal Inhibition).  This leads me to think of a common question- “Do tight hip flexors cause weak glutes? Or- Does weak glutes cause tight hip flexors?” I honestly don’t know.  I can tell you that in our athletes, we will do whatever we possibly can to prevent both from happening.

The first thing that we will do is foam roll.  The foam roll is a great way to attack ptrigger points, adhesions, and/or tightness in the hip flexors.  We will always foam roll in this area with all of our athletes and clients.  Ideally, we will enlist the help of a massage therapist, or maybe our Active Release Practitioner.  However, many athletes may have this dysfunction, so we will use the foam roller with bigger groups of athletes.

Here is what we will do for foam rolling:


We will actually spend some time specifically on the TFL as well as roll into the IT Band.  The TFL will become tight due to over working in the hip flexion pattern- especially in skating.


This one has really helped us with getting these muscles to relax.  What we have our athletes do is put the end of the foam roll under the rib cage, superior to the iliac crest, and lateral to the belly button.  Most of our guys will feel it right away.  However, if they can’t feel it right away, we will cue them to bend the knee of the same side leg, and try to contract the glute on the same side leg.  This cue has been great for athletes who don’t “feel it” right away.  We will have them take their time until the hip flexors relax and release.  Sometimes our athletes and clients may be able to feel their glutes activate better just from doing this alone.

Jun 112010

The 2nd day of the Perform Better Functional Training Summit started at 8am on Saturday.  Here is the lineup of all the speakers and some of the information that I got from the day:

Todd Wright- Todd is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Men’s Basketball at the University of Texas.  Todd is a guy who has an unbelievable passion for learning and helping his guys get better.  Todd is highly influenced by Physical Therapist Gary Gray and his organization’s methodology.  He is also an entertaining speaker who is pretty funny.  Here are some of the things that I took from his talk:

     –  Locomotion is the ability to get from A to B using a variety of specific movement patterns that will allow you to accomplish the task most efficiently

     –  Although the primary patterns of locomotion are walking, running, shuffling, skipping, and carioca, the possibilities of progressions and variations are endless

Chris Frankel- Chris is the Director of Programming for Fitness Anywhere, the makers of the TRX.  Although I have been using the TRX for a few years now, I’ve never been able to see Chris speak on the concept of suspension training.  Chris did a great job both in the lecture and the hands-on sessions.  Here are some of the keys that I got from both:

     – Chris describes work as “high intensity interval training built on strong focused movements.”

     – When doing a plank, or whenever you are holding yourself against gravity (such as with the TRX), you should focus on flexing your trunk, extending your trunk, side bending your trunk to the right, and side bending you trunk to the left, to create stability.

     – The TRX is basically performing moving planks

Greg Rose- Greg is with the Titleist Performance Institute where they primarily work with golfers.  This was a highlight for me because I have seen Greg speak before and was really impressed.  His ability to evaluate movement in the golf swing and prescribe exercise strategies to prevent pain is remarkable.  I truly think that all strength and conditioning coaches should try to do this the best that they can with their athletes.  Preventing injuries and/or rehabilitating injuries go a long way with clients.  Greg is a pioneer in training for golf and I was glad I sat in this lecture.  I am already looking forward to visiting with Greg at the institute in Oceanside, Ca this summer.  Here are some of the keys that I took away: 

     – The number 1 injury in non-contact rotary athletes is compensation

     – The key to controlling back pain from the golf swing is managing the hip and t-spine areas.  (Do we see a pattern here?)

     – There are 3 postures in the golf swing- The N posture, the S posture, and the C posture

     – The reverse spine angle in the golf swing is the leading cause of back pain

     – Never bring a mobility problem to a stability correction

     – The inability to disassociate the hip and t-spine leads to injury

Sue Falsone- Sue is a Physical Therapist who works at Athlete’s Performance and with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  She spoke on the Thoracic Spine, an area that she is passionate about and an area that I need to know more about.  Here are some key points I got from Sue’s talk:

     – When using the 2 tennis balls taped together for t-spine mobility, it is better to think about making anterior to posterior movements rather than simple rolling over the balls

     – The t-spine has to move in order for our arms to move

     – A great pec minor release that Sue showed was with a tennis ball against a wall where there is pressure applied between the wall and pec minor with an emphasis on scapula depression. 

     – Respiration is automatic, breathing is conscious

That was it for Saturday.  It was another outstanding day of learning.  Sunday, I stuck around for both a lecture and hands on by Thomas Meyers. 

Thomas Meyers- Last, but certainly not least was Thomas Meyers.  Thomas is the author of Anatomy Trains, a great book that describes the myofascial system.  I think most of the attendees at the Summit stuck around just to see Thomas speak.   Through his book and his lecture, Thomas gets you to look at things from a different perspective.  I learned tons of information from the lecture and hands on.  I am already thinking about how I am going to incorporate some of the line (frontal, posterior, lateral, and spiral) stretches into my training system.  Here are some of the key points from both the lecture and hands on:

     – Habit requires posture.  Habits can’t be changed easily.  Postures require structure- fascia

     – Fascia has a proprioceptive emphasis and is 10 times more sensitive than muscle.   There are 9 times more receptors in fascia than there are in muscle.

     – Foam rolling and dynamic warm ups are good for turning on receptors

     – “The body is 1 muscle surrounded by 600 fascial pockets”

     – Fascia connects muscle to muscle.  Isolation exercises are a mistake. 

     – Fascia is organized according to the forces that you apply to the body. 

Again, the Summit was awesome.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see everyone speak.  There are so many great speakers and topics that you simply don’t get to see them all.  I am planning on going to the Long Beach Summit for a day so that I can see some of the speakers who I didn’t get to see in Providence. 

Another aspect that I want to point out is that there were over 700 people at the Summit.  What truly amazes me is that I recognize a large number of people at these every year.  These are people who are passionate about learning and helping their athletes or clients get better.  On the other hand, there are so many people that I know that I never see at these events.  I think as coaches or trainers, we get caught up in not having enough time to attend these.  Or we may look at continuing education opportunities to just get the CEU’s for a certification.  My opinion is that you can’t afford not to go to a conference like this.  I always think of Pat Riley’s quote- “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”  Thanks for reading.

Jun 092010

This past weekend, I attended the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Providence Rhode Island.  I believe this one was my 5th or 6th Summit that I have attended.  I really think that year to year, Chris Poirier and his staff do a great job putting together great educational opportunities.  In my opinion, the 2010 Rhode Island Summit may have been one of the best.

I think the best way to judge if a seminar was really good or not is by reflecting on how much knowledge you learned and more importantly, where you can make some adjustments in your programs.  I don’t think that it’s a good idea to just learn a new exercise and throw it in somewhere without any reason to do so.  However, if I can learn a new progression, or sometimes a regression that makes sense and can help my athletes get better, I am all for it.  Here are some highlights of who I saw speak and what I took away from the presentations during Day 1:

Steve Cotter- Steve is a Kettle bell guy who walks the walk and talks the talk.  Steve came up to Anaheim for a 3 hour practical where I learned how to teach the kettle bell lifts such as the Swing (double and single arm), Snatch, Clean, and Clean and Jerk.  Steve pretty much went over those lifts to a crowd of over 100 people.  Some good information that I was reminded of and took away includes:

–       Starting the swing or snatch with your hand in a neutral position (as opposed to overhand) and also some techniques to avoid ripping your hands apart when doing multiple reps.

–       Steve advocates competition style kettle bell lifting where he does reps up into the 100’s.

Mike Boyle- Mike gave his presentation on the joint by joint approach to warm up. Although I think I may have seen this before, I really enjoy seeing Mike present live.  He is really funny and isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind.  Some of the things that I picked up include:

–       I need to do more hip internal rotation with my athletes

–       Hip and Thoracic spine mobility are key.  (Sue Falsone gave a talk on T-spine mobility which I will review later)

–       Mike does a good job of incorporating some of the tri-planar movements into his warm up.  I like the progression and it is something that I have done with my athletes but have gotten away from.  We need to do more of that.

Fraser Quelch- This was the first time that I have seen Fraser speak.  He did a great job.  Some of the things I took away from it include:

–       “Balance is the ability to control the position that we are in”.  That quote kind of stuck to me.

–       The plank is a reactive exercise to gravity.

Al Vermeil- Al is the best, period.  I love seeing him speak as his passion for training is really noticeable during his talks.  Some great information that I got from Al:

–       Ankle, Knee, and Hip (triple) extension is the most important thing in sport

–       Coaches must keep training.  You must be able to do what you are asking your athletes to do.

–       Look at training programs like you would at investing money

–       Never get too far away from speed work

–       Ask yourself- “Am I doing a good job, or is there something I can do better?”

John Berardi- John gave a great talk on nutrition for injury recovery.  This was a good talk for me to see I it really opened up my eyes to the importance of nutrition during the recovery process.

–       For fat loss, John recommends 1 gram per percent of body fat on a daily basis for the first 2 weeks

–       Most everyone is deficient in Vitamin D

–       Fish Oil and Flax Seed are not the same.  John recommends taking both.

–       Eating fish on a regular basis isn’t the same as taking fish oil supplements.

Thomas Plummer- Thomas Plummer is a great presenter.  He really gives a kick in the butt to all of the attendees.  This year, Thomas profiled some of the people who were speaking at the Summit including Boyle, Cook, Alwyn Cosgrove, Rachel Cosgrove, Todd Durkin, and Chris Poirier.  He outlined what makes these people successful and why they are considered to be at the top of our profession.  It was really inspiring for me as I have lots of respect for all of them as professionals.  Here are some other tidbits I took from Thom’s talk:

–       Thom believes that every 4 months, you should project your life 3 years.  What does my work/life mean?  How much money am I making?  Where do I live?

–       One on one training is in-effective in making money and running your business successfully

–       Some of the quotes that I liked in the talk from some of the professional who were profiled include:  “It’s not what you know; it’s what you can get someone else to do.”- Boyle.  “Listen, practice, study, and apply- again and again- then talk.”- Cook.  “Dedication and hard work will get you some sort of success; however caring will get you happiness.”- Poirier

The first day was great.  I really picked up a lot of information that I can use with my athletes now.  Day 2 and 3 of the Summit were just as good.  I will review the rest of the Summit in a few days.  Thanks for reading.