Cyber Monday Deals

It is so hard to hear that the people you respect most do not, after all,  know it so well, that the content of their course is not right, and the techniques you hung your hat on are flawed. I am lucky, having friends who point this out to me a lot. For those of you who have tracked FASTER through the years, the techniques have not changed much, but the reasoning and even the measures have changed a LOT! To take the words from Andy Nicholettos, one of the people I admire in the industry and who likes to keep my feet firmly on the floor, even though I still use the techniques, the story behind them needs to change.

Before I share these, I want you to know that I am writing this, not to push you away from what you are doing, but to get you thinking. I have to thank my mate Mark Hines for opening my eyes to a lot of this.

1. Gurus (the ones I met in my career) and mentors in my industry lie through presumption and possibly ego, never through intent though

Without exception, and including myself if anyone considers me a mentor (doubtfully a guru), all the people I have met who hold the attention of others and teach other, bias their approach. They become blind to technical problems with their thought process and so convinced with their own thought process, techniques and results they lose the ability to see what is happening around them.

These lessons are dealt to me regularly, and so I try to keep focused on not being a guru, and working really hard on being a mentor in learning. I have changed my position on training, the reasons behind what I do, what I do and how I do it, every week at most, every six months I change enough to re-write my courses. I am learning that results and the story behind results are different and when a guru moves from what they are good at, to something they have no experience in, they often struggle with both the outcome and the story.

The closer I got to my mentors the better I learned about their intent, and in the most part it is the absolute intent to share what they believe is correct. This makes it even harder to take, as then you end up loving the person, but having the dilemma that you do not believe in either what they do, or why they are doing it.

2. Stretching, Massage, Fascial Techniques do not do anything for my clients’ muscle length

So as someone trained in tool assisted massage, fascial manipulation and a whole host of other techniques all the way back to assisted stretch, where I thought I was changing muscle length or fascia length or something similar, it turns out that I never asked the right questions. The first question should have been what is a tight muscle, and then what makes it tight, and then what is proven to un-tighten it (although get ready for number 3).

As it turns out, joints display a lack of range because of muscle stiffness and they rely on the passive system to do this, and then they use a neuromuscular contraction to make up the difference when required. This means that range of motion is a combination of both passive stiffness and also the reactive nature of the muscle. It turns out that we have no idea how to change muscle stiffness and all we can really seem to do is increase the muscles tolerance to stretch, which will show an apparent increase in range(1). This is related to the specific way the joint was stretched and the downside to this maybe that the stretch causes the muscle to be less reactive!(2)

It is not possible to directly change fascia with a hands-on technique. Although the changes that are felt, feel real, the effect is not from a change in the fascia, but instead it comes from a neuromuscular reaction. This is something that makes me wonder about my 5 years on the foam roll!(3)

3. Strengthening, if not precise, is possibly detrimental, especially if you are working with elite clients

From discussions with Mark, and some pre-reading of material, combined with some of the research I have been seeing, strength conditioning can be detrimental to performance. Mark gave me a great example of how muscle fibre types change under training, and the types that can perform more like a strength fibre or more like an endurance fibre may adapt the wrong way if you get the training wrong. This would mean an ultramarathon runner using strength training to help them carry items during their run, may be changing a muscle fibre type in a direction that is not directed towards endurance. Mark argues the case for more endurance training with a progression of increased weight to deal with this, not strength training. Additionally he makes the very important point that your body adapts to its required function. So the correct passive and dynamic tissue response will be developed around the motions that the body has to handle most. To try and second guess the body with movements that are not similar to the function the client requires to participate in could cause the body to be less efficient.
When building exercises to improve structure and performance for athletes, and clients in general, you will get a better transfer of training the closer you get to replicating the motion or motions that they need to perform. (4)

4. Postural Assessments are completely irrelevant

For years I would have told you that symmetry in motion is the key to injury prevention and also reduction in pain. The research for symmetry predicting injury or preventing injury is not around (5,6) and even more so, we do not really have a model for normal, so to produce a set of training protocols to get someone back to normal would be impossible. In fact if you look at the other points on here, then even if you could work out how to find normal, then you would not be in a great position to correct this.

5. The stuff I do now is at best crude and we may have to wait another 10 years before we know even a little bit

My big conclusion is that I can affect the neuromuscular system, through decreasing reaction time and developing specific skills. Using movements close to the movement that my client requires, will allow me to help the client develop the correct passive system over time. By trying to get my client to feel the way they feel when they move naturally, prior to injury or performance.


Well I did not even mention motor learning and inherent skills! My conclusion, or final word if I were Jerry Springer, would be get ready to buy Mark Hines’ book on running when it comes out, and before then buy all his other books, just to get prodded on your fitness beliefs. The second conclusion is that I am most useful for my clients when I am predicting motion and trying to build them new and relevant strengths and skills. By training them as close to how they need to move as I can, I will get the responses I want. By training the client in new skills that keep the movements close to the movements they need, then I will give them a better chance of having the co-ordination and skill to avoid injury. It will be important to keep my feet on the floor and remember the effects I think I am having may not be for the reasons I think they are happening, if they are happening at all.

My advice to anyone coming into the industry, is to learn movement quickly. If you hear people tell you how they fix people, then you know it is probably a lie, told in pure confidence! In my next blog I will show you the HMAC, how to use it to predict motion and give you a chance to develop your ability to deliver crude but effective training, until we progress more in the science world and get more precise with our assessments and applications.

How the HMAC Looks in Motion

The HMAC – My best friend in performance describing the above motion


If you cannot wait for this, then click this link, as the following courses will take you through this new thought process and also allow you to learn the HMAC and its application in depth!

Here are some references, forgive the format and know that there are many more, some better than this!!
1.Law RY, Harvey LA, Nicholas MK, Tonkin L, De Sousa M, Finniss DG.
Stretch exercises increase tolerance to stretch in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain: a randomized controlled trial.
Phys Ther. 2009 Oct;89(10):1016-26. Epub 2009 Aug 20.
3.Hans Chaudhry, PhD; Robert Schleip, MA; Zhiming Ji, PhD; Bruce Bukiet, PhD; Miriam Maney, MS; Thomas Findley, MD, PhD
Three-Dimensional Mathematical Model for Deformation of Human Fasciae in Manual Therapy
J Am Osteopath Assoc August 1, 2008 vol. 108 no. 8 379-390
4.Warren B. Young “Transfer of Strength and Power Training to Sports Performance” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2006;1:74-83
© 2006 Human Kinetics, Inc.
5. Hrysomallis C. Effectiveness of strengthening and stretching exercises for the postural correction of abducted scapulae: a review. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):567-74. Review. PubMed PMID: 20072041.
6. Hrysomallis C, Goodman C. A review of resistance exercise and posture realignment. J Strength Cond Res. 2001 Aug;15(3):385-90. Review. PubMed PMID: 11710670.