Regression for Progression

Today's blog is going to focus on the need to take some athletes back to the basics in order to fully alleviate an injury, or to fully realize their optimum performance.

There are two different scenarios that I deal with on a daily basis in my clinic. The athlete or patient that comes in with an acute or chronic injury that is not allowing them to perform to the best of their ability or sometimes at all. Or, the patient/athlete is seeking an assessment, correctives, therapy or combination of all or any of these in order to push them to the next level. Should I treat these two scenarios the same, in terms of rehabilitation, training and athletic development?

I think that the answer is an unequivocal, YES. 

I believe this is true for a multitude of reasons.  Just because someone is not truly injured, does not mean that they do not have a mechanical inefficiency.  If I have someone come to me to expound upon their current athletic prowess, and I just take it as a given that I can start building on the current foundation...well, I have already failed.

Assessing and reassessing is what allows us as practitioners, trainers, etc... to be truly great at what we do. A keen eye, solid knowledge base and critical thinking will never fall out of favor for the great practitioner.  

So now I can finally get to the point, why do we regress an athlete before we progress them. The simple answer is because we all think we are stronger, faster and bigger than we really are, well, at least in the athletic realm we do. This is why a fine tuned assessment is so important, in that it allows a practitioner to hone in on the true problem or problems and dial everything back.  

Let's use an athlete with moderate patellar tendonitis as an example. The athlete is a football player and has had the complaint for back-to-back seasons. Now most adept practitioners can alleviate the symptoms of patellar tendonitis in about two weeks time, no problem.  But without a great assessment, we may miss things like improper core sequencing, hip and foot pathomechanics, increased resting tone in prime movers or stabilizers, poor breathing patterns,  or a whole plethora of other very important contributing factors. If we treated the local symptoms, and started this athlete on an eccentric single-leg squat routine, we may be setting him/her up for a long term repetitive injury pattern.

Athletes do not always appreciate being brought back to the basics, but to truly realize athletic potential the foundational blocks of performance must be laid.  These foundational premise are based upon mobility, stability and probably the most important of all, neuromuscular control.  Of course there are other factors, such as freakish genetics that never hurt to throw into the equation.  

So what does regression for progression mean.  It means that an athlete has to earn the right to such things as training upright, at full speed and with heavy weights.  Emphasis must be placed upon proper mobility and stability at every joint, proper breathing techniques and any energy leaks

 must be remedied.  Without shoring up inefficiencies in these areas, an athlete can compensate to the best of their abilities, but true potential will be stymied by injury or sub-obpitmal output.

I know this is a somewhat vague blog, and does not go into details, but it is so important that health and fitness professionals dial an athlete back.  As with everything else in life, timing is everything, so be cognoscente of an athlete's focus on and off season.

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him."

- David Brinkley


Dr. Beau Beard, DC, MS - Stay light, stay fast.