Strength Training / Physical Therapy… Making Our Athletes and Each Other Better

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I heard P.T. Mike Reinhold once say that he was a “much better physical therapist because of his knowledge in the strength and conditioning field”.  I feel the same way in regards to the education I’ve received from the physical therapy / rehab community.  I can’t overstate how much better of a strength and conditioning coach it has made me. The bottom line is together we make each other better.

Working on mobility and dynamic stability to help acquire better movement strategies may be common place in the rehab / PT world, but they should also be a big part of any great strength training program in the gym as well. We first need to improve movement before we can even think about increasing performance as a whole.

Here at RPP we integrate many methods I’ve learned and borrowed from various physical and manual therapists, many of whom are friends of mine.  I’ll be the first to admit that our training is 10x’s better for it. Some of these concepts include:

1. An Assessment

I mean even the simple (or at least it should be) concept of conducting a thorough assessment prior to beginning a strength and conditioning program to get a baseline seems to be rare in most sports training facilities.  And if we don’t re-assess after a few weeks or months that’s just as bad. Why get a baseline in the first place if we’re not going to check at a later date to see if what we’re doing is actually helping to create a positive change…  Anything less is “faking it”.

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2. Alignment / Breathing

Teaching clients proper breathing methods to help align the body should be done prior to any soft tissue or mobility work. An out of aligned body creates unnecessary tension in the wrong places before we can even begin to figure out what we need to address.

(90-90 Hip Lift / Breathing)

3. Soft Tissue Work / Manual Therapy

Let me start by saying that when it comes to manual therapy there is no replacement for a licensed manual therapist. Here’s where your P.T. or A.T. would be your best bet. I will say that here at RPP we do use less aggressive methods that do not require a license and have had great success with them, sometimes gaining much needed IR in a shoulder or hip in a matter of minutes. For this, I need to thank my friends in the P.T. world.

4. Mobility / Stability

Mobility and stability issues if not diagnosed through a proper assessment can go unattended.  The reality is that asking an athlete to try to add weight while strength training to a dysfunctional movement pattern can be a recipe for disaster. I’ll say it once again,

“We need to optimize movement before we can optimize performance”

Here at RPP we prescribe corrective exercises and include them in our athlete’s individual programs. We find mobility work to be so important that starting this fall, we will be emailing personal correctives and guidelines home to all athletes that train with us. This way, we can be sure there hitting their personalized mobility work on the days that they’re not here at the gym as well.

(Bowler Squats)

5. Strength Training

Once we have created a roadmap, increased tissue quality and prescribed corrective exercises to help create mobility and stability where needed, it’s time to cement the new movement patterns by getting strong. This is actually where I have had PTs call me asking what strength training protocol I have been employing to help alleviate the back pain in their clients. This takes a really evolved and secure therapist who understands that not all strength coaches are “meatheads” and is willing to seek some advice outside of their realm to help better their results and/or practice.

(Barbell Hip Bridge)

In closing, I like to think that we have a great dialogue and share a mutual respect with many of the rehab/physical therapists in our area. They trust us enough to send us their clientele once they are cleared to train and if we encounter someone who is experiencing pain, we do not hesitate to refer them out to one of the PTs in our network. Like I said before, together we make each other better.

See ya’ in the gym.