As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 kicks into gear, I like to reflect back and think about what big changes I have made in the past year, what have I learned that has improved the quality of my service, and what things I can still do better on. Below is a list of the biggest things that impacted me in 2014.
- I love foam rolling, but is it good in every situation?
Foam rolling from an evidence-based standpoint has significant benefits and yields improvements in performance, quality of soft-tissue, and allows for greater range of motion. With that be said, does all soft-tissue benefit from foam rolling? The body varies greatly from area to area with some muscles resting directly over bones, while others are sandwiched between several muscles. Many of the problems people are facing when they have pain or lack range of motion is not just in one specific muscle, but because the muscles that are in contact with others are gliding properly on top of one another. Will crushing them together while foam rolling improve this problem? Doubtful.
2. Muscle stiffness vs. muscle tightness
This has been something I have always known to be true, but have often fell victim to stretching when a client feels “tight.” Tightness is an adjective used to describe achey, restricted, stiff and, immobile muscles and joints. But before stretching a joint you need to realize whether there is a lack of motion at that specific muscle, or is it just stiff from increased tone. The solution to these two issues are quite different. The stiff muscle will benefit more greatly from foam rolling and a deeper look at surrounding muscles to determine if they are firing properly. Tight muscles are the ones you want to address with foam rolling, static stretching, and mobility drills. To continue to stretch a stiff muscle is often exacerbating the problem.
3. Active Release Techniques (ART) is a great supplement to traditional rehabilitation and exercise therapy.
The addition of ART has improved my outcomes significantly. Athletic Trainers are generally pretty good with exercise prescription, evaluating injuries, and returning athletes and people back to sport and activity. But, addressing soft-tissue dysfunction was always a missing link. It is amazing at how many issues in soft-tissue can be directly palpated and improved in as little as seconds. Over the past year, I’ve had people who were on the brink of surgery, and others who had the worst numbness and tingling into their leg recover and walk out being symptom-free. People often need some type of hands-on component. Do I think ART alone is the best treatment for soft-tissue injury? No. I’ve seen some injuries improve better with graston and IASTM, while ART has been better for others. But, addressing the soft-tissue is a must and when left out often decreases the effectiveness of the treatment.
4. If you don’t say something, no one knows.
I’ve been a low key, “keep stuff to myself” person my entire life. When there’s a problem and you don’t talk about it, it’s no ones fault but your own. Speak up!
5. Social media and technology are great, but sometimes it’s the in-person relationship that provides the most value.
As I work on growing my business, aside from the actual sessions themselves, I realize that it’s mainly technology driven. Website design, blogging, facebook, twitter, and email, all are ways I build my brand and try to grow business. The last few months I have switched it up and did things the old fashioned way. I just walked into sporting goods stores, music stores, and met with several doctors and healthcare professionals. The value of face-to-face communication can’t be overstated. Sometimes it takes the in person connection to really develop true relationships.
6. Everyone should work on jumping and landing.
There are several exercises that people label as, “athletes only.” In my opinion, good function and training is just that, good training. Jumping and landing are foundations of human movement and need to be developed properly. I don’t think athletes alone need these things, because they promote proper mechanics and also help prevent injury when form is correct.
7. To increase range of motion, static stretching should be done when cold for best results.
This may be a surprise to many people who have always been told to stretch only when you are warmed up. But, those that always stretch after they are warm are probably the people still stretching day in and day out. Properties of muscle viscoelasticity depend on temperature. The warmer a muscle is, the more elastic it becomes. The colder or closer to normal resting temperature will yield more plastic changes when deformed. This means the muscle-tendon unit elongates and stays in that position as opposed to resorting back to its shortened length. Yes, your chance of injury is greater, but when done properly this method will produce safe and effective results.
8. Be the change you want to see.
Sometimes things suck and it makes you miserable. It takes a lot to realize that instead of figuring out and fixing the problem, you yourself are compounding it. If something needs to be changed, change it.
9. Kids need to move more.
This is something that is known everywhere. But, everyday as I drive around the neighborhood I don’t see nearly as many kids outside playing anymore. Sports are great, but it’s that unstructured play that helps develop the necessary motor skills early in life. The skills we used to gain by jumping fences, climbing trees, throwing rocks, and just being kids. I work with a lot of kids in our sports performance program that are pretty good young athletes, but they lack the basic foundations which would allow them to be great. Most of these kids are single sport athletes as well. All you parents, I recommend you make your kids go outside and play, and get them involved in several different sports growing up to develop an all around athlete.
10. Good is not good, it’s actually bad.
I had a very motivating talk with a client of mine who shared some great insight and lit a fire under me. In reality, a lot of people in life and in their profession are good. It’s those that are outstanding that make an impact and are noticed. Everyday since then I have thought about this quote, “Good is not good when better is expected.” – Vin Scully
Curious about how my thoughts changed from last year? Here’s my What I Learned in 2013 article. Thanks for reading! Feel free to send some things that have impacted YOU in 2014. It’s important for us to reflect on what we learned, what caused us to change, when we were wrong, how we could’ve handled situations better, and any other way that truly allows growth to occur. Goodluck in 2015!
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART