I was going to use Death to Corrective Exericise but that was used before, so I will raise the stakes. While I do believe in corrective exercise so I will again not speak in absolutes. One important factor to look at before we start adding additional stuff is to look at the reason why something is not working in the first place. Sometimes a body by birth or surgery needs a little extra something, but after watching the countless youtube videos it’s clear that people can’t coach the basics and want to focus on the more cool and advanced stuff. Poliquin’s article posted yesterday got me a couple of emails from coaches saying the same thing. Basics are vital, and basics are not popular. Instead of writing a short twitter blog I am going to add more to the post as this is a very important milestone for a lot of coaches. How much corrective exercise is necessary? Here are some thoughts after visiting a few countries with some amazing physiotherapists.
Trust with Sports Medicine- Sometimes training demands become a problem and injuries or overuse syndromes will occur. With good record keeping you can see what trends one has. I had a problem with an overuse syndrome and the it was not a volume or intensity factor, it was a sequence decision. As I got more feedback from sports medicine I was able to change an order and progression of the training and the problem was resolved. It wasn’t that the workouts were wrong, they were just needed to be in a different order to keep people healthy.
Be Humble- As a track coach you need to know a lot about a lot, creating a need to have access to a great network of people. One problem I had early in my career was integrating plyometrics and olympic lifting because I didn’t compete in the jumps or was exposed to OLW in high school. After working with an olympic weightlifting team, I was going from safe to very effective. Over a 4 year period I received over a 1000 hours of helpful feedback. With the ploys it required visits to jump coaches that tough the exercises properly and had a good history medically with athletes, and my inventory expanded with rationales and important coaching points.
Don’t fall in Love With or Give up On Exercises- Many coaches do way too much work around adjustments to exercises when the problem was 4 weeks ago with exercise progressions. I don’t back squat with athletes until they have the mobility to go deep. Mike Nelson in the Recovery and Regeneration group on linkedin talked about range of motion loss being a sign of overloading. I agree but also think that warm-ups being short cause a lot of the problems we see with restrictions. People want to rush through warm-ups because of time demands or profits. You can do more training in early in the session and attack the range of motion exercises like the full olympic lifts and full squats. On the other hand, sometimes you just need to leave something alone to keep the training stimulus going.
Corrective Exercise is Isolation- Sometimes you have to isolate artificially. I am not a purist so I will use whatever I need to get the job done. When you are isolating stop and think is this a need for exercise or mobility, or a problem with the sequence with my training? Most of the time when I see corrective exercise I see people doing it year after year with athletes, and by the time they are seniors or in year 3 or 4, they are still struggling with the basics. Choosing to do something sometimes is a choice not to do something else. Also unique adaptations to the nervous system and joint system occurs with full movements, making corrective exercises over time a problem to development.
Corrective Process- Instead of exercises and mobility drills, think about changing through programming. Most programs are the cause of the incorrect function of the body. For example look at the more complicated or intense exercises and see how they could be causing problems. On example is the use of Trap Bar deadlifts. While they may be similar in EMG, their motor skills are much different than squatting and doing ploys. The eccentric action comes after the concentric initiation, and several professional athletes are suffering with the inability to reduce forces. Even their youtube videos show clear absorption problems.
Athlete Buying it- It takes a special relationship to do something over and over without being tempted to do entertrainment workouts that mix it up like a crossfit WOD. Crossfit can’t be blamed for athletes wanting to do different things besides bread and butter exercises but I believe their are no boring programs just boring environments. Focus on making training fun and enjoyable as a coach, but do what works. Just enough variety is needed to keep the growth going, but the adage of don’t fire unless you see the whites of their eyes, is a good thought process about holding up change until you need it.
In summary, rethink corrective exercise as a last resort, not a s new and exciting option as change in the profession is not progress unless it helps with more results.