Archive for the Low Back Pain Category

My Most Controversial Video Clip Ever

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Seminars, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training with tags , on February 8, 2016 by mboyle1959

In 2009 Pat Beith pulled this clip from the footage of Functional Strength Coach 3 to stimulate some interest in the product. Boy did it ever. Please watch the clip in it’s entirety before reacting.

The Joint by Joint Approach to Training

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Uncategorized with tags on February 2, 2016 by mboyle1959

I’m not sure when I wrote this but, I’m going to say 2007. It was originally a T-Nation piece. Others have “borrowed” from this thought process so often that many of you may have missed the original article. In the process of writing The New Functional Training for Sports I realized this would be a good “repost”.

“We get old too soon and smart too late.” Swedish Proverb My good friend, Physical Therapist Gray Cook, has a gift for simplifying complex topics. I envy his ability to succinctly take a complicated thought process and make the idea appear simple. In a recent conversation about the effect of training on the body, Cook produced one of the most lucid thought processes I have ever heard.

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More On Why We Don’t Squat

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags on January 23, 2016 by mboyle1959

A recent thread on our site made me realize I need to continue to write about why we don’t squat. I still don’t think people realize that my decision to stop doing back and front squats was not a knee jerk, attention grabbing ploy but rather the culmination of a twenty year long thought process. Our changes were based on years of lifting, coaching and observation. Our decision to switch to unilateral exercises was based on three thoughts:

1- Number of back issues we were seeing in our groups. Our number one mandate is “do no harm”. Although we did not have many serious back issues I would say at any given time in our collegiate strength program a minimum of 10-20 percent of our athletes would be dealing with back pain that limited the athlete and caused us to modify their training. I struggled to accept the idea that some peoples back were just going to hurt.

2- Number of athletes trained in a group environment. This is important. Any change in our programming has to be wholesale. You can’t run a collegiate strength and conditioning program or a private one without a philosophy. I felt we either going to use the back squat or front squat as a major lift or we weren’t. Any in between was going to cause problems. In our “monkey see, monkey do” world it is tough to explain to athletes why some will use one lift and others will not. What we do with one person effects everyone else in the facility. You can’t let someone squat and then someone else not. It just creates problems.

3- The “functional” thought process. Although some might view this as most important, the previous two occupied more of my thought process early on. However, it’s tough to avoid the idea that we primarily run and jump off one leg?

My decision to switch to a program of primarily unilateral exercises is really about psychology and group think. I think squatting might be fine if you only did personal training and no one ever saw anyone else train.

However I’m not sure how realistic that is.

Lets be honest, there is a real minority of people who are naturally good squatters. I’d liken it to a Bell Curve. 20% were made to do it and do it right the first time. 20% are awful and will probably never do it well. 60% are somewhere on the curve?

It’s 80-20 in reverse. ( This is the start of another article/ blog post I think). 80 percent of people you will deal with will have trouble squatting. The remaining 20% who squat well will then spend lots of time criticizing those of us who acknowledge the 80%.  Just remember, it’s rarely  a bad squatter with back pain who is advocating squatting.

7 Days to the MBSC Winter Seminar

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Seminars, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates with tags on January 9, 2016 by mboyle1959

The MBSC Winter Seminar is only 7 days away. Have you signed up yet? I can guarantee you that Ana Hartmann’s talk will be worth the time invested all by itself.

Do you know that  being barefoot may be the key to low back health?

Have you ever thought of shoes as “sensory deprivation chambers for the feet’?

Ana’s talk was our best in-service in years and we are bringing her back to MBSC next Saturday to share her info with you. In addition, you’ll get talks from me ( 25 Mistakes, 25 Years), Kevin Carr, and Marco Sanchez as well as a great hands -on afternoon.

Sign up here 

How Strong is Strong?

Posted in Hockey, Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training on January 5, 2016 by mboyle1959

This is one of my favorite articles…

It’s interesting, ask a strength coach what a good bench press is for a 200 lb male and chances are you’ll get a good answer. Maybe everyone won’t be in agreement but, everyone will have an opinion. Ask a good strength coach what constitutes good single leg strength or good vertical pulling strength and I don’t think you’ll get the same level of agreement or, if everyone will even have an answer. The answer might even be something like “what do you mean?” Last spring and summer I set out to answer both questions. How much single leg strength and upper back strength are actually possible? I think if you are going to train, you need a goal. If we are going to train for strength, we need to know what strong is. The four-minute mile is a great example. In 1957 Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. On that day he broke a twelve year old record. By the end of 1957 sixteen runners had also broken the four-minute mile. It’s amazing what someone will do once they have seen that it is possible. Twelve years to break the record and sixteen followers in one year. My goal is to raise the bar on both single leg strength and upper back strength by telling the strength and conditioning world how strong strong might be….

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Progressing to Bodyweight Plyometrics

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training with tags on December 30, 2015 by mboyle1959

If you are a strength and conditioning coach, you know that power matters. Plyometrics, Olympic lifting and medicine ball throws probably are used in some form in your athletes’ programs.

But, what about your adult clients? Did you know that adults need power training as much or more than athletes? Adults are losing strength and power as they age, however power is lost at a much faster rate. In fact, it’s almost twice as fast. (1.7 to be exact). What does that mean in numbers? It means that if you are losing 10% of your strength you would lose 17% of your power? When you double that loss (20 and 34%) you can see how the loss of power is quickly magnified.

So, does that mean we want to get our adult clients doing box jumps and Olympic lifting? Probably not. There is a little concept we call risk-reward or, risk-benefit. The risk of adults starting a plyometric program or trying to learn to Olympic lift may outweigh the reward? Obviously, you are going to have some adult clients that are fit and healthy and simple plyometric exercises may be fine for them.

But what about older clients, or overweight clients? How do we help these folks stop the loss of power and in fact begin to regain it?

To do this we need to defeat our big enemy, gravity. The combination of body mass and gravity can create some real problems when training older clients, overweight clients or clients that combine the two (older and overweight). We need to find a way to get these folks to move with speed but, safely. We need to find a way to reduce both weight and gravity.


Sounds a little bit like a high school science experiment, doesn’t it? We can obviously reduce weight with diet but, that takes time. We can fight gravity by gaining strength, particularly in the lower body, but that also takes time.

Thankfully, there are two tools on the market that do in fact allow us to move with speed using loads less than bodyweight. One is the Total Gym Jump Trainer, the other is the MVP Shuttle. Having at least one of these pieces in your facility is essential if you are going to be training adult clients or, doing any type of rehab work.

The two pieces are somewhat similar. Both appear at first glance to be some version of a leg press machine but, they are far more than that. Both pieces actually allow horizontal jumping in an environment that reduces the effect of gravity.  Both also incorporate elastic bands to create resistance. For years, the MVP Shuttle was the only commercial grade piece that allowed jumping in a gravity reduced environment. Total Gym has recently entered the field with a commercial piece that has a few features not present in the MVP Shuttle.  The Total Gym Jump Trainer allows the user to move from a horizontal position toward a more vertical position.   Load can be strictly bodyweight and increased by changing the incline of the machine or, elastic bands can be added in each position. The Total Gym adjusts toward the vertical to increase the percentage of bodyweight being used.

The Total Gym Jump Trainer (as assembled for fitness) begins at 46 % at the lowest angle of 20 degrees and then adjusts up in 7 increments topping out at 78% of bodyweight at an angle of 36 degrees.  Assembled for rehab it begins at 27 % at the lowest angle of 12 degrees and then adjusts up in 7 increments topping out at 66% of bodyweight at an angle of 30 degrees. Up to 70 lbs of bungee can be added to any of these levels.

The Shuttle instead remains basically horizontal and increases resistance via the elastic bands.

The result in both cases is that a rehab client, an older adult or an overweight client can begin to jump with loads far less than bodyweight.

Both the MVP Shuttle and the Total Gym Jump Trainer can also be used in a rehab setting to introduce single leg plyometrics to injured clients and athletes. In fact the application of both pieces is probably more limited by the imagination of the coach or trainer than by the machine itself.  An athlete returning from an ACL injury can begin jumps or hops far sooner when one of these pieces are used than would be possibly with bodyweight as the load.

Although I would not consider myself a machine person, I would go so far as to tell you that one of these two tools is an essential machine for every facility.  If you have adult clients, young clients or rehab clients I would encourage you to “test drive” one of these two pieces.

Seeing Is Believing

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training on November 30, 2015 by mboyle1959

Here’s another article I wrote back in October for my site

Seeing Is Believing

People lie, even those with the best intentions. This includes most of our clients.

What does this mean? It means that our clients want to work out. When we say Does It Hurt ( my favorite article I have ever written), they lie. However, look at the quote below.

“what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say” ( maybe an Emerson quote?)

I teach our coaches and trainers to watch clients as well as listen to them. Often times we say ‘did that hurt” and the client responds with a no. The client then walks away rubbing a shoulder, or their back. What they do speaks so loudly that I have to question what they said.


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