The following post was featured by my friend and Endurance coach/beast Jeff Ford of Conviction Training Facility on his site (I was stoked to talk ideas with their coaches and athletes a few weeks back).
Look, my purpose here has always been to blend and coordinate the languages of strength and conditioning, rehab, and performance as it truly is, and should be, a continuum. Rather than guarding information in different fields, perhaps we should promote the sharing of it with the ultimate goal of building more resilient, adaptable, and efficient humans in sport and function. The physio who’s also an S&C coach is often able to blend these principles for a powerful perspective on human movement and performance.  Physio-coaches like Charlie Weingroff, Kelly Starrett, Danny Matta, Dan Pope, (and myself) are doing some awesome stuff – and it’s just the start. Thanks to Jeff for this kick-ass primer.

This past weekend, CTF (Conviction Training Facility) had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Seth Oberst, DPT, CSCS and Movement Specialist extraordinaire. With no specific topic planned for the session, we quickly realized that Seth could drop knowledge bombs with anything we asked and even suggest techniques to try. In the United States (and anywhere for that matter) Physical Therapy is a competitive field. Only the best of the best get selected into schools and given how people are moving these days, professionals in this field couldn’t be more important. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics this field will grow by 30% from 2008 to 2018.

Coaching is one thing, but being a highly trained DPT is a whole other ball game. Physical therapists must receive a graduate degree from an accredited program before (if they can get in) and then sit for a national licensure exam. Physical therapists have the most specialized education to help people restore and improve human movement. That means their goal is to help clients avoid surgeries and the need for long-term prescriptions. It’s this idea of fixing the actual problem causing the issue.

As Coaches we set up the initial program and have the ability to evaluate how a person moves with our knowledge in functional movements and experience. The best coaches know how to scale movements and provide reasonable substitutes that hit the intended muscle group or promote a similar metabolic response in the event an athlete cannot execute a movement safely. Every great program should scale up or down. We’re even pretty solid at providing sound suggestions on mobility or self-myofascial release techniques to target where a person may be lacking range or motion or experiencing pain. With guys like Kelly Starrett and Seth Oberst, we have an increased number of experts to learn from and grow our coaching knowledge. Along these same lines, great coaches should have the knowledge to implement mobility techniques before and after workouts. At CTF, mobility happens before our warm ups and after our conditioning in order to prep our athlete’s for the days positions and promote proper recovery. Sounds like we got a pretty good handle on everything huh?

Let me ask you this though, what happens if even after you start moving more and implementing all these techniques you still can get a handle on your motor control or mobility issues? Maybe your strength plateaus or you’re simply just unable to perform certain exercises? I think you know where I’m headed. A coach’s scope of practice only runs so deep.

Here’s what you need to know about Physical Therapists (other than that they’re awesome):

1) Get to them before they get to you – If you’re experiencing pain or not functioning in a certain area anymore its already too late. What if we all started with a mobility screen before beginning exercise programs? Coaches know how to program and the best ones know the purpose behind their program with the ability to target it to the general population or an individual. The beauty of working closely with a DPT is that they can tell you the exact needs of the individual including the movements that can be executed safely as well as areas to target in between sessions. Whenever we get a nagging injury it has to go back to the movement pattern. We have to remember to fix the actual problem. DPTs come in to provide and correct movements that can get someone back to normal much quicker. Their knowledge runs quite a bit deeper than a coach and they have a greater tool box in this department. It takes years of schooling, experience and practice of mobility techniques to be a reputable DPT. Above all, these professionals attempt to get in front of the lagging indicators with their clients. I know this is Seth Oberst’s mission and a good one!

Lagging Indicators “It’s already too late”

  • Pain, Swelling, tingling, numbness
  • Pain pathway and movement pathway the same
  • There is a difference between success and winning – Get it?

Leading Indicators Movement

2) Not all are equal – DPTs know their stuff, but you have to find a good one with a reputable track record who fully understands human movement. This is an evidence-based, evolving field and the best DPTs stay up with the times and the research of various techniques. In any field, professionals can get complacent. Who wants a car from the 1980s? Great DPTs will adjust when an application isn’t working. They’ll do their best to try different techniques while going thru a mastered step process. What’s incredible is this can happen all in their heads. Recovery time can vary depending on the situation, but the top DPTs like Seth have quick recovery times with their clients. Improving movement and fixing the actual problem can take a ton of time, but the sooner one of these “great” guys or gals gets in front of you, it will surely pay off.

3) Find one working closely with a well known Strength and Conditioning Facility and your life will change forever. At CTF, we understand the importance of movement and technique focused coaching. We implement  mobility before and after sessions and by what visitors tell us more so than most CrossFit Facilities. Having a resource such as Seth Oberst to simply shoot a line to is quite incredible. Imagine the opportunity to see someone like that on a regular basis? After you learn what’s causing the issue and receive treatment from DPTs the work won’t ever stop there. Changing movement is just like changing a nasty nutrition habit or bitting your nails. You’ll have to remain conscious of your movement,  normalize a mobility pattern and strength the muscles surrounding the issue. This is where the strength and conditioning side of things comes into play. Check out Evolution Sports or San Francisco CrossFit these guys have squads of incredible professionals and have established themselves as one stop shop facilities, pretty cool. No matter your goals it will take a number of professionals and supportive people around you to get you there. No one can be truly great without the push from a collective team of people who care and understand human movement. It’s a pretty powerful thing.

Thanks to Jeff for this awesome post – look for more from the guys at CTF in the future!


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