Friday, January 29, 2016

Do You Like Glute Ham Raises?

Are you doing them right? Take a look at this video and tell me what you think.





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Thursday, January 28, 2016


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Paleo . . . plus: Rethinking Diet and Exercise

I often parallel nutrition and exercise: I believe that the evolution and development of modern exercise mirrors that of nutrition, except that exercise is always about 15 years behind.

I love to ingest, peruse and educate myself on the latest trends in nutrition, which are certain to ebb and flow. That said, I do think the most forward-thinking nutritional advisors in our culture operate by a certain set of principles—historically represented and simply practical. Think Michael Pollan.

As long as the new methodology sits comfortably with those principles, then I think we’re onto something. If we go into nutrition without regard for the fundamental principles of human metabolism and our interactions with our internal and external environments, then we’re just promoting a “one size fits all” or “magic bullet” strategy. Again. 

If we were to observe more natural or holistic eating—both in style and substance, we might be better off. It’s not just what we eat but also how and when we eat. As far as establishing balance in the system is concerned, intermittent fasting is probably almost as important as what you eat.


The things you put in your body are vital and extremely important but the way in which you put those in your body, I think is equally as important.

I like the current interest in the art of elimination, as often espoused by a Paleo diet or lifestyle. The interest in elimination has changed marketing. Products aren’t just telling us that they have Omega 3’s and fiber. They’re demonstrating that they are devoid of hormones, synthetic additives, dyes, gluten and trans fats.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, it seemed like the nutritional trend was supplementation. Everyone acknowledged that food sources weren’t adequate or preparation time of adequate food sources took so long that they justified supplementation. Bring on the shakes, vitamin packets and creatine.

The supplements seemed to have benefits and research took off (and hasn’t stopped.) We’ve learned that if you give a supplement to someone with an obvious oversight, deficiency or other impairment in their diet, then any supplementation, by default, will appear to be a benefit when really all it’s doing is meeting a deficiency. It’s removing a negative, but not adding a positive.

Why was the deficiency there in the first place?


The mindset of the past was, “Let’s take crap and add good things to it.” The current trend (hopefully) is to find authentic things and remove all those things that are unnecessary. Unfortunately, it goes down to greed and marketing. The minute they know what we’re looking for, they will engineer a cheap and less-than-wholesome way to feed our curiosity.

Michael Pollan does an excellent job of this in most of his books by simply saying (my paraphrase), Eat whole, real food from clean, local sources as much as possible and enjoy the level of variety that makes you feel best. One of the realities underlying a Paleo approach to eating is the elimination of so many foods that are not local, not whole or not authentic.

Is there a take-away lesson for the way we move in exercise?

I was already a fitness-and-rehabilitation professional when elliptical machines entered the scene. Many of my counterparts jumped on the fact that there was about 20% more gluteal activity and no impact on these devices. Even though these represented a great way to exercise for people who did not respond well to impact or who wanted to do their exercise in a stationary place while watching TV, the elliptical machine offered something different than the treadmill and stair stepper.

Did it make us better? Did we generate elite runners, fit hikers, great cross-country skiers and cyclists because ellipticals were invented? Or was it just another variety of a way that we could ambulate with training wheels? We got the temporary benefit of the metabolic load, but did we stand straighter, stride cleaner and walk with less biomechanical errors?

This is not the article to answer those questions. It’s a great article to ask them.

Whether you remember the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet or you’re a fan of Paleo, each one of these asks you to eliminate much more than you add. Many of us enjoy Paleo foods every day. It’s the other stuff that we wrap around them or put in front or behind them that complicate the issues. Synthetic foods, extra grains, poor quality dairy products, refined sugars and the dependence on energy supplements have all created complications.

We can’t clearly see if a Paleo approach is really helping us because of what it adds or what it eliminates but I think common sense would tell you that the elimination load is greatly more than the addition load. New foods aren’t being introduced. They’re just being made more of a staple with less synthetic enhancers. Right? The sandwich without the bread is called a meat salad. I think the current science in nutrition has instructed us that the elimination of non-authentic food and the elimination of habitual grazing are both going to help us.

Intermittent fasting along with whole authentic food that requires preparation can enhance your life. Add in a few psychological bonuses like a cheat day and you may be well on your way to a nutritional life plan that feels less like a diet and more like a cool way to exist.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get exercise to that state?

diet to exercise

There’s a good general path in exercise just like the one I described in nutrition. But that nutritional path won’t help everybody because some of us have deficiencies. These deficiencies aren’t necessarily because the whole foods are lacking; we absorb nutrients and vitamins at different rates depending on our genetics, our environment, our stress level and our age.

Isn’t exercise the same way? Absorption rates may vary. One person loses weight with kettlebell swings and the other loses their back. What would the process to help you achieve a great diet look like? First, check and see if you have any deficiency. Most of us will probably have a deficiency somewhere. Then, follow as many of the general principles as possible.

After about eight-to-ten weeks, recheck those deficiencies and see if a good, general approach addressed the issues. For some, those issues will still not be addressed. On top of the good general nutritional principles you’ve adopted, you may have to supplement due to a previous disease or other factors that could interfere with natural absorption of vital nutrients.

That statement carries over to functional exercise. If you find out through the movement screen or some other assessment that you’re not functional, first follow some good general principles of functional exercise. I think we each have a pretty good idea of the exercises or activities that may cause us difficulty.

Some cause pain and some cause a significant amount of soreness or tightness (far beyond the normal muscle fatigue that we enjoy) after the workout. Maybe these are red flags—our body’s way of communicating that we may have overdosed the experience or compensated our way through what we thought looked a lot better than it did.

Unfortunately, we’re at the point in exercise evolution where we’re still in the 1980’s and 1990’s. We’re consistently looking to add a supplement before following general principles that would easily produce better function. If we follow those general principles and still don’t have a positive experience, there is corrective exercise—the supplementation in the exercise that’s equivalent to the protein shakes and multi-vitamins we often use to hedge our bet or improve our absorption.

Unfortunately, I see the Functional Movement Screen and other functional movement practices being labeled as ‘bad’ because they ask you to eliminate something from your workout.

There are two logical reasons for eliminating something.

First, if you eliminate it and all gets better, you just learned something. Second, if you eliminate it and nothing changes, you’ve also learned something.

Where’s the fear in learning? I think the number one fear in sports performance and strength-and-conditioning is that somehow you will lose a performance edge, but how? Are we testing performance on such a frequent a basis that we can see all of those environmental factors that would interfere with performance?

Most people who are serious about performance plan to peak at a certain place, which means that we can follow their performance on a graph very easily. If you took a more functional approach and noticed a huge dip in performance, you could take action on that dip so quickly as to keep it a mere blip on the graph.

I think the fear of giving up performance time to regain authentic movement and a good functional base comes from a lack of objectivity and a lack of frequent testing. If I’m not helping you meet your goals or all of your goals, I’ll be the first to know. I’m watching the gauges in a systematic and objective way. This should not be the exception—it should be the rule.

I will have the data to both justify an elimination of a particular exercise and also introduce a new functional move or correction that, for the same amount of time, gives significantly more tangible benefits either in general physical preparation or skillful performance in a specific endeavor.

Now, here’s where the title Paleo . . . Plus comes from. If you follow the rules of an elimination diet such as Paleo and you’ve gotten good results, then it’s okay to reintroduce things that give you pleasure, convenience or allow you to look forward to something. You can introduce that as a little every now and then or in the form of a cheat day.pluschips2

I try to eat local/whole/simple/Paleo whenever I can. If I want a bowl of ice cream, a slice of pizza or some really salty potato chips, I’m going to do that too. If I notice that I’m going overboard, I’ll cut back a little bit.

If I can achieve nearly the same results by cheating a little bit and adding a little plus right alongside an otherwise elimination diet, good for me.

Take that advice to your exercise program, your clients and your athletes. Take that advice to the patients headed back to their active lifestyle after you rehabilitate them (hopefully having learned the lesson that all injuries should provide.) ‘Could I have done anything to prevent this, or at least lessen the severity?’ In some cases, you will say ‘no’ but in some cases, you’ll say to yourself, ‘Well, I couldn’t avoid the injury but my rehab is taking longer because I have 15 other problems that were exposed when I went through the rehabilitation process.’

Remember, the purpose of elimination in your nutritional plan is to provide a competitive advantage in your current environment. You want to maintain muscle, be lean and have more energy. If eliminating something provides that, it is a competitive advantage and performance enhancement.

Cleaning up a dysfunctional movement pattern can have that far-reaching effect and change many of the performance metrics that may have plateaued for you. You won’t know unless you look and you can’t retest unless you test something the first time.

Set your movement and performance baselines:

Eliminate exercises that look supplementary or body part-oriented.

Embrace whole movement patterns first: run, jump, carry, climb

If you’re stiff, breathe and get healthy. Then get mobile.

If you’re not strong, carry stuff and lift stuff.

Own your movement patterns. Simple and basic first. Without load and then with load. Always with integrity.

Watch your body and movement patterns change.

Eliminate the things that don’t make a lot of good sense or seem to be supplementary. See how good you get against your baseline test.

Watch your performance so that you’ll have no excuse for making an unqualified statement about what you think performance is and what it’s not. The first requirement of performance is participation and if you’re jacked up, you’re not a participant today.

Enjoy your simple, basic and whole exercise program. Once you own it, add the plus for fun . . . you earned it!


Click here to learn more about Three Principles you Can Apply to Any Movement

Gray Cook & Greg Rose Three Principles Video

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ACL Injury Prevention is Just Good Training

I wrote this a few years ago for

Is ACL injury prevention just good training? I think so. The program we use for ACL injury prevention is actually the same program we use with everyone! The truth is ACL injury prevention programs often consist more of packaging than new concepts. Calling a program an ACL prevention program may be nothing more than a way into the head of the athletic trainer, physical therapist or coach. But, if that’s what it takes, I’m all for it. However, as coaches we have to realize that we should be practicing great injury prevention concepts with all our athletes and our weekend warriors.

Because female athletes are much more likely to be injured, those who coach female athletes tend to be more interested in the concept of ACL injury prevention. However, obviously both genders can be injured. In fact, estimates run to over 100,000 ACL tears per year, with 30,000 of them high school age females. In any case, coaches should still practice these injury reduction concepts with both male and female athletes. Then again, ACL injury prevention may be the thought that gets your women’s basketball coach to buy into the program.

to read the entire article, click here

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To Prevent Back Pain, Orthotics Are Out, Exercise Is In


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Another Great Read on Early Sport Specialization

The folks at CONQA Sport posted a great blog about the dangers of early specialization. Really well written.

The Biggest Gamble in Elite Sport

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Sunday, January 24, 2016


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Saturday, January 23, 2016

More On Why We Don’t Squat

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.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lawsuit Claims Kamehameha Schools' Psychiatrist Molested 26



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Saturday, January 16, 2016


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Friday, January 15, 2016

Ultimate Guide to Strength Training for Marathon Runners

Free Download: Marathon Strength Training Workouts [PDF]

Integrating Strength Training with Marathon Training

It’s marathon training season, and for many of us the run training programme is in full swing. It’s a super-exciting time, with many of us chasing personal best times, perhaps you’re running for charity. For some of us it’s the first time running 26.2 miles, for others it’s another marathon to add to the list of many preceding.

Whatever your marathon motivation, the next few weeks and months are going to fly past!

This week, I’ve received a number of emails from runners asking how best to integrate strength training and core conditioning work into their marathon training schedules.

Well, the fact you’re even asking the question gets the first big thumbs-up from me.

If you’re one of those who emailed me – thank you – it has made me sit down and write this article at last. I’ve been meaning to do so for a long time!

London Marathon

Image via Julian Mason

Getting to The Start Line

Despite the compelling evidence supporting the inclusion of strength training in a runner’s programme, there are still plenty of runners who just run… doing nothing additional to help themselves develop as all-round balanced athletes.

Believe me, I get it… above all else, us runners just want to run!

However, as a coach with my injury rehab background, I’m acutely aware of the one factor that limits many runners from being able to enjoy their running and achieve success – injury.

It’s a frustrating reality that injury rates are incredibly high amongst runners; some sources suggest that over 75% of runners get injured each year. No wonder that when speaking to any given runner, the conversation often turns to injury.

Most of the common running injuries I see fall into the ‘overuse’ category, where some sort of movement dysfunction or soft tissue imbalance has been exacerbated by the highly repetitive and hight impact activity of running mile after mile. It’s not the marathon itself that breaks most runners, it’s the necessary mile after mile in training, before you even make the start line.

  • ITB Syndrome
  • Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
  • Patellofemoral Pain (Runner’s Knee)
  • Patella Tendinopathy
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendinopathy

…the list goes on. These are all injuries I’m guaranteed to see lots of during marathon training season. All of them overuse related. All of them avoidable.

Strength training for injury prevention in runners is an area of relative dearth in terms of scientific research, as Running Physio Tom Goom discusses here. However a relatively recent meta analysis from Danish researchers Lauersen suggests that strength training has a positive effect on reducing overuse injuries in athletes (not runners specifically though).

That said, years of experience has shown me that getting a runner onto an appropriate strength training programme has a powerfully positive effect on their ability to remain injury free.

Injury Free Marathon Training

I could easily write the rest of this article with a heavy slant towards the performance benefits of strength training for runners. Studies (here and here for example) have provided sound evidence for the performance benefits for strength training for distance runners.

But in my experience it’s not the marginal performance gains that most runners are concerned about when it comes to marathon training…

Having asked literally hundreds of runners what they’re most concerned about when looking at their marathon training plan, the vast majority answer something along the lines of:

“I just want to get though the programme injury free…”

It’s a justified concern. You may well be reading this nodding your head?

If so, what follows will hopefully provide a helpful resource to help you combine your running schedule with effective strength and core training in the coming weeks and months…

Ten Tips for Strength Training During Marathon Season

Here are a list of tips which will help you more effectively implement strength training into your marathon programme:

#1: The Little & Often Approach Works

Let’s get this straight; I’m not expecting you to find time to add 2-3 ninety minute gym sessions to add to your existing run training regime. In fact, if you’re running four to six days per week during your marathon training block, the chances of this happening are remote at best in my experience.

The work-life-training balance is a delicate thing!

However, if you can just dedicate 2-4 blocks of twenty five minutes per week to completing a handful of targeted exercises in your lounge, office, bedroom, home gym after a run session your body will feel the benefits.


#2: Don’t Compromise Your Recovery

Given how different various marathon training schedules are, the advice of where best to place your strength and core sessions around your run sessions will be different from person to person.

In many cases I get runners to complete their exercises on the same day as a run session, post-run. Leaving non-running days clear for some light active recovery, and rest. In other cases, I get the runner to do their strength and core workout on these non-running days… it really depends on the individual.

However, what I really want to convey is that you should make sure that you give your body an opportunity to recover as effectively as possible when a rest day is scheduled. One great way to do this is to do your strength workouts on your moderate-to-low run training load days. By that I mean not high intensity days, and not high volume days.

Here’s an example of how I might structure such a week…

Marathon Strength Example

On this same topic, it’s worth me talking about the type of strength training you should be doing during this period…

There’s definitely benefit in getting runners to work on pure strength. Lifting heavy for relatively low number of reps (5 x 5 type training) of your typical compound movements: squats, deadlifts, etc… However marathon training is not the time for this kind of highly demanding work. This is the kind of work you could dedicate some months to at another time of the year while there are fewer imminent running goals in sight.

During your marathon specific training block, we should be looking to develop and maintain muscle balance, stability and work to maintain mobility around key joints like the hips, as the miles take their toll on the body. Often bodyweight exercises are adequate in achieving this.

#3: Train Your Upper Body

Obviously our legs carry us as we run, so we need strong quads, calf muscles, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, etc… but don’t forget your upper body!

When it comes to posture in particular, we need to view the body as a whole. I’m certainly not trying to convince you that you need to develop bulging biceps and boulder-like shoulders – but you can get strong and remain lean.

I’m not saying you need to hit the bench press hard, in fact it’s the back muscles I’m more interested in developing as these are largely the muscles that hold us tall, and maintain posture as we run.

Exercises such as pull-ups and reverse flyes are so simple, but often ignored in place of working from the hips downwards.

Light is fast. But light and strong is faster!

#4: Stretch as well as Strengthen

A fair while ago I published an article with the title “Stretching Doesn’t Work…?“. If you’re one of the many who have bought into the hype surrounding all the research that supposedly tells us that runners shouldn’t stretch, I’d suggest giving the article a read… with an open mind!

I do like to be as evidence based / evidence informed as possible, but that doesn’t mean that experience is worthless. There’s a definite risk of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ when advising runners not to stretch.

Many of the overuse injuries I see in distance runners are multi-factoral in their causes, with muscular imbalance and lack of mobility in certain areas being big parts of the puzzle.

The important thing to appreciate is that there is often a reason why a muscle gets tight; sometimes it’s protecting a poorly stabilised joint, or because it’s being over worked due to weakness elsewhere.

The point is, to make sure that you don’t view strengthening and stretching as being mutually exclusive. A good cross-training programme for marathon runners will incorporate elements of both.

#5: Work Multiple Planes of Motion

Running is very much a linear movement, at least on the surface in comparison to the twisting and turning we see from athletes in sports such as football.

Dissect the vast number of movements involved in running gait, and you’ll soon realise that while the output is linear, the constituent movements of all the different joints of the body happen in all three planes of motion. There’s back and forth motion (sagittal plane), lateral movement (frontal plane) and rotational movement (transverse plane) occurring at every major joint.

As you can see in the video below, many of the weak links we see in runners occur in the frontal (side to side) and transverse (rotational) planes of motion. This ‘hip drop’ or Trendelenburg gait is a typical example of poor glute medius function on the standing leg.

As I’ve written about previously (Multiplanar Strength Exercises for Runners), our choices of strength exercises need to mirror this multiplanar movement. A good example is the crab walk exercise demonstrated in the video below:

Free Download: Marathon Strength Training Workouts [PDF]

#6: Learn & Maintain Great Technique

Regular visitors to this site with know that I’m quite a stickler for technique when it comes to running. The same has to be said for the exercises intended to support your running too!

Getting the exercises done is one a big part of the battle, but take the time to learn and execute great technique throughout each exercises. Take a single leg squat for example; as I describe in this article, there are subtle tweaks that can make the exercise more quad biased, and other tweaks that make it more gulte biased.

Whatever the exercise, it’s important to understand what you’re trying to achieve – what that should feel like – and which cues to focus on to do so. You’re time and effort is precious, lets get the most out of each exercise!

#7: Train Your Body Asymmetrically

Consider your running form for a moment. Whenever one leg is going backwards, the other is coming forwards, the same can be said for the arms. When your torso is rotated one way, your pelvis rotates the other… This asymmetrical and reciprocal repeats cyclically all over the body as we move from stride to stride.

In a similar but slightly different way, when we run we’re only ever supported on one leg, or no legs – unlike walking gait when we have the luxury of double limb support at times.

With these factors in mind, we can be specific with which types of exercise we choose when looking to develop more resilient running bodies.

Rather than standard squats and deadlifts with our legs working together in relative parallel, I always encourage runners to work on split squats and lunge variations where we work the hips in particular in different directions with each rep.

Take a split squat for example (or static lunge as some call it) – one of my favourite exercises – not only are we loading quads, glutes, hamstrings and adductors, we’re also developing stride length as we work the legs in opposite directions.

#8: Don’t Worry About Bulking-Up

I just quickly want to address one of the major objections I hear regularly when it comes to getting runners to begin strength training. It’s understandable to many runners associate strength training in general with becoming muscle bound and increasing bodyweight in such a way that will detrimentally affect their running.

It’s true that we all have different metabolisms, and that bodyweight is more of an ongoing battle for some that for others, but take it from me – an ex rugby player who spent the best part of 10 years desperately trying to bulk-up: resistance training alone won’t suddenly make you gain significant muscle mass – you need to be eat big to get big!

Keep your diet in check, and your strength training will keep you strong and lean; a combination that equates to resilient and fast.

#9: Don’t Push Through Pain

This point is simple and leads into the next nicely. If an exercise hurts, stop. The best rule of thumb when it comes to running injuries it not to push through the pain. The vast majority of running injuries will get worse over time if you try to run through the pain, rather than better.

If you’re suffering with a pain or niggle as you run, get yourself to a physio and get it looked it properly assessed.

#10: Get a Physio Assessment

The most forward thinking of runners won’t wait for injury to strike before getting assessed. Top athletes will have regular screenings from a physio to help make better informed choices about how their strength / injury prevention program should look.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same!

If you’re currently training for a marathon and looking for a program of strength / mobility / injury prevention workouts to fit well alongside your running, feel free to download this free program:

Free Download: Marathon Strength Training Workouts [PDF]

The post Ultimate Guide to Strength Training for Marathon Runners appeared first on Run Coaching, Ironman and Triathlon Specialists - Kinetic Revolution.

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