Archive for June, 2012

Hi all…

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend and is now recharged and ready to go! If not, here are some random thoughts that will certainly get you going.

1) This past weekend I attended an MPI seminar (Motion Palpation Institute) focused on full body functional assessment.

I won’t bore you with the details or be one of those who tells you I learned more in a weekend than I have in the last 26 years of my life.

Really, the only reason I am mentioning it is simply to get the name of this group out in the public (you know, since my blog is really well know and all). Most of the stuff on the internet that is shared are ideas and techniques that span the professions (ART, FMS, McKenzie, you get the idea) but MPI is one specifically catered to chiropractic and generally even more specifically for chiropractic students.

MPI sometimes gets a bad wrap because the feeling is that all they talk about is the adjusting or manipulation. To be honest, someone who feels that way either 1)has not gone to a seminar with them in a while or 2)must be talking about a different organization.

Luckily, MPI has evolved with the times and is the only seminar series I have been to that truly puts it all together for chiropractic students, specifically.

I have been fortunate to travel the country with MPI and have met some fantastically bright students from other schools all over America.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents.

2) Just so everyone knows I’m in love….with a new exercise. It’s called the waiter’s walk. I may do a longer post on this in the near future but until then let me just leave you with a video.

Ok, ok  oneeeee quick point. This exercise has really made me rethink shoulder and rotator cuff rehab protocols.

3) Finally, I  had a conversation with a patient last week who also happens to be a marketing guru and entrepreneur. We were talking about business and he told me to remember one key point:

The difference between a millionaire and a billionaire is simply the ability to delegate

While I believe this to be true, it comes with one major pre requisite. The people who you delegate to generally can’t suck.

Just something to think about.

That’s all for today.

Have a great week!


Why are They Better Than Us?

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past Sunday (Father’s Day) was an interesting one as it was filled with a ton of thoughts on one specific topic/question,

“Is talent made or born?”

This seems like your typical Saturday night bar conversation with the boys (or girls), but you may be surprised to know there is actually a good amount of research and literature out there written on this very topic.

So, what led me to these thoughts?

Well first, I began reading “The Last Natural” chronicling Bryce Harper’s story during 2010. For those of  you unaware of Harper, let me give you the cliff notes version:

Harper was a high school phenom from Las Vegas who got his GED after his 10th grade year in order to graduate high school early. Essentially, he was too good to play with the kids his age. It seriously got to a point where they were scared he may hurt other people by using an aluminum bat. At 16, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated being called the Next LeBron James.

Once he got his GED, Harper enrolled at his local junior college (which happened to be one of the few college conferences in the country to use wood bats, and also happened to have one of the best teams in the country, regardless of level) with the idea of playing for one year, and then making himself eligible for the pro baseball draft. Essentially, he wanted to be drafted after his junior year.

This would be normal. Except for the fact that NCAA baseball players are only eligible to be drafted after their junior year of college, not high school.

Essentially, this had never been done before. (Actually someone did try it once, but under different circumstances.And no, it did not work.)

To make a long story short, he did all of this, and completely dominated. He got drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals and is now playing in the big leagues as a 19-year-old. Sunday, I was actually reading this book while watching Harper play against the Yankee on tv.

For those of you unfamiliar with baseball (since this is much more common in basketball), for Harper to be an everyday major league player as a 19-year-old is remarkable. Additionally, he is actually playing well while playing a new position, right field.

Fast forward a few hours…

After the Yankee game,  I began to watch the U.S. Open golf match. Leading into Sunday, a 17 year-old high school amateur named Beau Hossler was in contention for the lead. And while he didn’t have a great day and finished a few shots back, to be in contention on the final day of the U.S. Open as a high school golfer is nothing short of remarkable. It makes you wonder how people at such a young age can have such superior talent.

Typically, we all write it off as saying,

It’s god-given talent. They were just born that way.

But is that truly the case?

We could all argue both sides.

Or can we???

I’ll let you decide.

What I want to do is introduce you to two books that you may find interesting on this very topic.

The first, “The Talent Code” was written by Daniel Coyle. Admittedly, I have yet to read this one. It’s certainly on my list…

For a quick synopsis of what you can expect from the book, this is straight from

He found that there’s a pattern common to all of them — certain methods of training, motivation, and coaching. This pattern, which has to do with the fundamental mechanisms through which the brain acquires skill, gives us a new way to think about talent — as well as new tools with which we can unlock our own talents and those of our kids.

From this little quote, I think you can probably tell that Coyle’s work looks to debunk the “born with it” idea behind talent.

Here is another book on the topic. This one I have read. It’s called, “Talent is Overrated”

Being that I did read this book, I want to give you what I extracted as the ‘take home’.

Note: I read this book over a year ago and do not have the book in hand currently, so I believe that what I still remember  really had a profound effect on my thinking.

My take: As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” This type of statement makes us believe that if we simply put in the time for whatever skill we choose, we will become proficient at it. There actually may be some truth to this. But what does it take to be great? I can tell you, based on what I learned, that simple practice (or time spent) will not make perfect.

The next saying, “perfect practice makes perfect.” Again, great statement but wrong message. The problem here lies within the idea of perfect practice. In my opinion, the only way your practice will be perfect is if you are not challenged at the skill. For example, let’s take a baseball player. This player is fantastic at hitting the ball thrown right down the middle. Now, he could practice hitting the ball pitched down the middle all day, be “perfect” and really not get any better.


He has not struggled to improve a skill of which will actually make him better, whether it’s hitting a different type or location of the pitch.

Finally, we have the idea of ‘purposeful practice’. Quite frankly, this type of practice sucks. It’s a struggle. It’s not even fun. If I remember one lesson from “Talent is Overrated” it is just this. The idea that the great ones out there actually hate practice. It’s mentally and physically draining and exhausting.

But why are they great?

They are great because they continue to practice, purposefully.

Even when it’s not fun or enjoyable, they continue to log the hours. (I believe the number is roughly 10,000 hours needed in order to master something)

the next part of this article may be a bit of tangent, be warned

Another way in which I have begun to think of such practice: challenging the neurology.

No longer think of it as practicing a physical skill. Think of it as training the brain to send a better, more accurate signal for your body to execute something.

I think the way in which we look at top-level athletes or performers is incorrect. We marvel at their physical attributes. How strong they are. How fast they can run… you get the idea.

But really, these top-level performers are nothing more than neurological wizards. The simplest way I can describe it: They are better than you and I at telling their brain to do something and actually having their bodies listen.(I realize the idea of telling your brain to do something is not really accurate but work with me here people!!)

So now, I think we have come full circle. Again, it’s the chicken or the egg. If you believe in the research and in purposeful practice, then talent certainly is not born. But, if you believe that the greats are neurological wizards, then maybe they simply have an easier time doing difficult tasks. They practice them more, and get better quicker than the rest of us.

Again, sorry for the tangent. Somehow in my head, it all makes sense.

I am curious if any of you have thoughts on this topic.

Don’t be afraid to weigh in!

3.5 Years and 3 Truths

Posted: June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

As a student, something I have prided myself on is taking every opportunity to learn from others. No matter what the profession, I am a true believer that their is always some piece of knowledge I could gain from picking someone else’s brain or even simple observation.

And yes, as the cliché goes,

Sometimes it’s just as important to learn what NOT to do…

But that’s not what this post is about.

After about 3.5 years of face to face contact, reading, watching DVD’s, and my own thoughts, I think I have finally found a few truths.

No matter the technique, the profession, the patient, or the person, I truly feel as if what I am about to tell you holds true for everyone.

As a therapist, you should believe in this.

As a patient, your therapist should believe in this.

Most of the following ideas go hand in hand, as you soon will see.

1) Don’t chase the pain

This  has become the en vogue phrase in recent times (or maybe not so recent, I’m just relatively new to the game). The great Dr. Perry Nickelston has even named his business Stop Chasing Pain. When someone names their business after an idea or thought process, it must be legit.

Another quote is by the famous Dr. Karel Lewit

He who treats the site of pain is lost

I’ve spoken about it before, but let me say it again. As a rehabilitation specialist, we certainly want to address the area that hurts. However, it’s even more important to address the cause of that hurt.

Sometimes, this appears to be magic. Seriously, when a person has low back pain and the only thing that makes that pain go away is a shoulder treatment, it’s a life changing experience.

2) Assess-Treat-Reassess

In gross generalizations, it has been my experience that most therapists miss the last part of this process on a pretty consistent basis. They ask how the patient is doing, treat the patient, and then allow them to go on their merry way.

With that, I believe an opportunity is missed to see if what we did was actually effective.

A quick example: A patient reports shoulder pain when they try to comb their hair. You treat the patient (treatment method in this case is not important) and then the patient leaves.

What should have been done? After treatment, ask the patient to pretend to comb their hair. Hell, actually have them comb their hair. Lord knows they probably need it! Ask them how that feels after treatment. Or my favorite question, “If it was a 10/10 when you came in, what is the pain now? This will give you a clear-cut, quantifiable way of measuring your treatment.

Your patient should feel at least a little better following treatment, leading me to #3…

3) You should observe some positive change during the treatment session

This point is super important. I think in school, we often learn to put together treatment plans that span minimally a few weeks. For some reason, we also believe this means we shouldn’t start seeing results from our treatment until that span of weeks has passed. So, if the treatment plan called for 2 visits at 2x/week, we wouldn’t re-test that patient until those two weeks are up.

Quite frankly, this is a huge mistake.

As I’ve learned from Dr. Liebenson and Dr. Doerr, we as the therapist, know we are on the right track when an immediate change is made. Realize, this change may not stick. In fact, if the case is complex, the patient may come back for the next visit with exactly the same pain.

If our treatment does not make an immediate change, start to wonder:

  1. Is my diagnosis correct? (maybe the problem is something not muscle, joint, or movement related)
  2. Is my treatment correct? (maybe I am manipulating a joint that already has too much movement)
  3. Is my patient doing something outside the office that is causing this to come back? (posture, activity, exercise selection)


As I stated earlier, through my education and experience so far, I have come to these few conclusions. Again, technique and treatment methods are not important. In fact, that is exactly the point. The reason why I believe in these 3 truths is because they should apply to every single treatment ideology and method.

Thanks for reading!

Some Monday Randomness…

Posted: June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

1) Hey guys and gals, sorry for the lack of blog action over the past few weeks. I’d have to attribute a lot of it to a severe case of writer’s block.

Writing (or at least attempting to write) a weekly blog with fresh content is something I certainly never realized would be so difficult (or rewarding) until I actually started doing it. At this point, I think I fully attribute my ability to come up with new content to the amount of reading I am doing. This reading includes basically anything and everything (ok, maybe not PEOPLE Magazine). Over the past week, I have picked up my reading game and am currently reading about three books. Like magic, the wheels have begun to turn once again!

2) Piggy-backing on the theme from above, one of the books I have started to read is “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress-Related Disease, and Coping”

This book has been on my radar for quite some time now, so I am finally taking the plunge. Seeing as I have a background as a Psychology major, I am naturally drawn to this type of book. Also, one of the most revealing things that I have taken away from my clinical internship year has been the level of perceived stress that my patients are under. Whether I am treating a college student or an 85-year-old Grandma, it seems that when asked to identify their level of stress on our intake form, almost everyone checks, “Very High.”

Now this often becomes a question of the chicken or the egg. We know that muscle and joint pain can be caused by stress, but is the fact that they present to the clinic in pain causing their stress? Or, is their stress causing muscle and joint pain? I am sure there is truth to both.

Look our for some new thoughts on the issue after I read this book!

3) Check out the day my buddy Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds had a few weeks back.

For those of you too lazy to click the link: Todd was eating lunch at a Pittsburgh restaurant when a man at another table started choking on his steak. Todd ran over and gave the guy the Heimlich Maneuver, dislodging the steak from this gentleman’s airway, saving his life.

After that, there was still a game to be played. Todd went on to have 2 hits and 2 RBI’s against the Pirates that night!

Not a bad day!

Thanks for reading!