The 2016 Rio Olympic Games displayed amazing feats of athleticism and competition. Leaving viewers with questions as to what these world class athletes do to boost sport execution. Conversely, athletes are constantly striving to find the elusive edge to boost performance.
Having been in the fitness and rehabilitation industry for over thirteen years, I have seen and experienced many trends come and go. A particular technique created a frenzy, reasoning that if it works for them, it must work for me.
The modality had claims to give athlete’s the cure that suffered from chronic pain. I recall in the early 2005 when “Self Myofacial Release” was introduced as the tool to eliminate pain, tightness, and weakness that plagued many people. Described as, applying self weighted pressure throughout an area of soft tissue where tightness and plain is located. Sometimes it could increase range of motion or sometimes it would worsen. Inconsistencies abounded and overtime it became scrutinized and disregarded as a true restorative protocol.
Not long thereafter a movement screening test was introduced as a ground breaking protocol to identify and correct faulty movement patterns. Using a series of movement deviation tests to objectively grade movement quality. An overall score would then determine that person’s risk for injury. Furthermore, generalized corrective exercises would be prescribed for certain scores. Many trainers and participants found themselves performing the same so called corrective exercises daily for months and even years without consistent results. If a tool is professed to be truly corrective, should it not correct the issue at hand and not require habitual exercises? The approach became harshly criticized and dismissed by many industry leaders.
More and more systems and protocols spawned with mixed or inconsistent results that are not in harmony with Bio-mechanics, despite the best of intentions results prove to be scanty. Industry professionals have an obsession with addressing only the outcomes of the Human Movement System. Attempts to improve motor control by prescribing motor learning programs is subjective and inconsistent. If poor mobility is an issue, then prescribing mobility exercises or soft tissue releasing techniques is chosen. Strength deficits? Implement strength building exercises. These examples may seem like the correct approach however, rather than looking superficially at outcomes a more profound strategy is required.
Perturbation or irritation of homeostasis is stress. Insults to homeostasis can come in multiple forms such as physical, environmental, emotional, mental, and thermal forms. As a result, this can cause the body to form Joint Dysfunctions (JDS). Joint Dysfunctions are planer specific joint motions that cannot tolerate load. This is also defined as motor control deficits. The body then detours around these deficits, the body does this likely as a mechanism for survival. Furthermore, this aversion leads to compensatory movement(s), which results in faulty movement patterns, the two goes hand in hand. The bi-product to Joint Dysfunction leads to symptoms such as tightness, adhesion’s, loss of strength, mobility, power, coordination, balance, the list goes on.
Compensatory movement is the process by which the body operates with lost resources. All movement under these conditions are sub-par. If these lost resources are not made available to the central nervous system, movement patterns will continue to deteriorate. Tissues take up a larger role and suffer over time. Attempting to intervene by means of strength programs, motor skill development, mobility techniques, or massage approaches will only bolster compensatory movement if at first restoring lost joint motions are not properly addressed. These things in themselves are not wrong however, the manner in which they are implemented is. One can not place fitness on dysfunction. To illustrate; if you have a weak spinal stabilizers, attempting to develop six pack abs with abdominal exercises will not correct the underlining issues of weak stabilizers.
The phenomenon of Protective Muscle Guarding is always apart of the complicated riddle of dysfunction. This is the central nervous system’s natural ability to guard from further injury by tightening tissues surrounding a joint. This in retrospect is a good thing because it prevents movement to a degree where instability and dysfunction are present. The common approach for this mechanism is releasing the tension by stretching or tissue release techniques. Why change what the nervous system deems necessary for survival without insuring it is in a better state of function after intervention?
To illustrate, after sustaining a cut on the superficial layer of skin, the body immediately goes into action to stop the bleeding, prevent infection, and restore homeostasis. As a result, a scab begins to form. Similarly, attempts to change the tissue tone from protective muscle guarding tends to exacerbate the issue rather than aiding the healing process. The majority of interventions lack a system of checks and balances to tangibly view progress and identify glitches between the joint’s and central nervous system.
The strategy to address the profound deficit’s is RESET. “Rehabilitation, fitness, and performance professionals typically assess movement outcomes and go no deeper than addressing a motor learning program to address the flawed outcomes. RESET goes much deeper by addressing Motor Control deficits to directly improve motor patterns and indirectly improve motor learning and all movement outcomes..” as stated by the developer of RESET. These results are mediocre at best and if there are any results they tend to be short lived. This approach is not entirely incorrect, the argument I and many of my colleagues are making is that it does not address the cardinal deficits.
Bruce Lee stated that he does not know styles or genres. He uses techniques that are most effective in order to accomplish his goal. This is the origin and philosophy of his martial art Jeet Kun Do. The goal? Disarm, damage, or win against your opponent in the most efficient and effective way possible. Bruce Lee did not reinvent the wheel he simply utilized all tools available, combined with his own knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. That is what RESET provides along with REFORM. A combination of physical training, nutrition counseling, psychological life training, and true restorative therapy.
In conclusion, before implementing an exercise or rehabilitation modality with the idea that it will work for me because it worked for them may leave you with more questions than answers. Professional athletes are in their positions because of their unique gifts and their performance may not always reflect an exercise or rehabilitation program that works for everyone.