Archive for fitness-related injuries, strength training, workout tips

Training Runners: Strength vs. Endurance

by Meaghan posted February 16, 2016

I ran a version of this post before, but our Advanced Concepts students just finished learning about common lower body injuries so I thought I’d run it again. Among other issues, the topic of strength as pertains to running in order to prevent knee problems came up in their activity. The class did a great job not only planning and coaching a progressive program for a runner, but also articulating the plan so that it made sense to the client (AND her headstrong running coach!).

Here are some of the things we discussed:

First, realize and remember that running is a plyometric activity. Therefore, your joints have the potential to take a beating. As you may or may not know, plyometrics place a lot of load on your connective tissue (cartilage, bone, fascia, tendons, ligaments and the joint capsule), especially if your leg muscles don’t effectively absorb the force of impact. So, the risk of injury is quite high when sufficient levels of strength are not first established, and/or when hip/knee/ankle alignment is off. As the old adage goes, “You can’t run to get in shape; you have to get in shape to run.”

There seems to be a bit of controversy regarding the best way to do this, however. A lot of people think that since you’re doing endurance work when you run, training for muscular endurance (i.e., 2-3 sets of >12 reps with little rest) is the way to go. And for a new trainee, someone with a pre-existing injury, or as part of a periodized program for an endurance athlete, this may be good advice. But your body adapts pretty quickly to low-load training; and if you’re running regularly, chances are you’re probably getting plenty of that already. So why continue to overuse your muscles and joints?

Enhancing muscular endurance really shouldn’t be the main focus of a runner’s program after the first few weeks of training. For most runners, the bigger concern is getting strong enough to avoid injury. You see, your connective tissue adheres to what’s called Wolffe’s Law. Much like a muscle, if you systematically overload connective tissue, it will adapt and grow stronger. But it also has a “physiologic limit.” When you exceed this limit, the structure ruptures.

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It’s Mobility Week at Focus

by Meaghan posted September 30, 2015

It’s Mobility week in FPTI‘s Advanced Concepts class! This week, our AC students are learning various mobility assessments and drills to improve range of motion and overall function in their clients and prevent injury, as well as how to incorporate mobility into both first sessions (as assessments) and overall programs to enhance progress toward other goals. They’ll even learn how to communicate the importance of mobility to prospective clients to get buy-in.

Among other great resources, one that we like to share with them is MobilityWOD.


Mobility Workout of the Day, that is. MobilityWOD is a website put out by Kelly Starrett, DPT in attempt to provide athletes with drills to increase mobility and improve their training and performance. His goal was originally to get a video-based mobility blog post up every day for a whole year. What happened, though, was that he became a go-to source for the industry’s mobility needs.

We like him for another reason as well: Even though Kelly is a physical therapist, he really “gets” the strength world and takes an intelligent approach to training. What’s great about MobilityWOD is that he doesn’t just put up a video of himself doing an exercise. Rather, he includes explanations (in both text and video) of how and why the mobility problems usually occur, along with how his drills work to improve them, as well as other strategies to prevent recurring problems. He also includes ways to test and retest mobility to evaluate and monitor progress, as well as questions and even assignments designed to get you thinking about how and why things work the way they do.

So whether you train just yourself or other people, I guarantee you’ll learn a thing or two from MobilityWOD that will enhance your results – so check it out!

Understanding Your Shoulder Pain

by Meaghan posted August 13, 2015

Our students currently taking Advanced Concepts learned all about the influence of scapulo-humeral rhythm on impingement this week. Here is a bit more of what we talked about:

The shoulder is probably the most misunderstood joint in the body, especially among those who don’t have a good foundation in human movement – which, unfortunately, includes the majority of people who work out. This, coupled with its inherently mobile/unstable nature, also makes the shoulder the most commonly injured joint in the body – which is why you see so many people in the gym doing stuff like this:

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Effective Exercises: The Deadlift

by Meaghan posted March 11, 2014

The other day, one of my students asked me what my favorite exercise was. My response? The deadlift, hands down. (Not to be confused with the Romanian deadlift – or “RDL” – where the bar starts from a hang position and never touches the floor, and is predominantly a single-joint hip extension exercise rather than a multi-joint lift like the conventional deadlift).



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This is Our 400th Post!

by Meaghan posted August 6, 2013

And I think that’s worthy of a wee bit o’ celebration.

So, I thought I’d bring you all a wee bit o’ entertainment.

But before I do, I should preface the discussion by noting that, shortly after I wrote THIS post on one of my less than favorite exercises (the lunge with trunk rotation), some of us here at FocusNYC were asked by a magazine to contribute to a list of “exercises you should never do” and explain why. The list included but wasn’t limited to:

1. Upright rows due to impingement;

2. Sit-ups and hyperextensions due to the compressive loads on intervertebral discs;

3. Kipping pull-ups due to the risk of labral tears; and

4. Behind-the-neck lat pulldowns due to the stress on the anterior shoulder.


Mike Boyle recently posted a few more HERE.

And a BIG thanks to FPTI Admissions Counselor, Jason Patterson, for sending THIS link with things you should NEVER do at the gym. (Jason is the man; just ask this semester’s class). Unless, of course, you’re trying to screw with people.


Effective Exercise Alternatives for the Core

by Meaghan posted July 28, 2013

I’ve written before (HERE) about how and why I’m not a fan of a commonly used exercise by personal trainers: The lunge with rotation (usually accompanied by a medicine ball or ViPR). Simply put, most people don’t have the correct amounts of mobility and stability in the correct areas to really do it correctly, and wind up rotating from the wrong areas – namely, the knees and the lumbar spine. Watch here:

Did you notice what happened when she added the trunk rotation versus when just the arms moved? Watch again and look at the woman’s knee…

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Functional Stability Training

by Meaghan posted July 1, 2013

What do trainers, athletes, fitness enthusiasts and average Joes in the gym all have in common? Among other things, they all have ankles, knees, hips and a lumbar spine that need a certain amount of stability for optimal performance. After all, you can only get so strong, so powerful or so ripped before getting injured if you don’t have good functional stability – and Eric Cressey’s new DVD entitled Functional Stability Training for the Lower Body shows you how to get it.

As most of you know by now, I’m a pretty big fan of Eric Cressey’s work. This product is packed with both informative lectures that are easy to understand, as well as practical application via exercise demonstrations. Along with Mike Reinold, Eric takes you through a series of modules that address all of the following and more:

  • Influence of the lumbopelvic region on the lower body kinetic chain
  • Why you still need to be focused on strength AND functional training
  • How to disassociate the hip and lumbar spine
  • Quick tips for assessing posture and alignment in 3D
  • How alignment influences movement patterns
  • How to enhance the reliability and validity of your assessments
  • Appreciate muscles’ roles in the etiology of acute and chronic injuries
  • Learn training techniques to improve tissue length, quality and strength in functional contexts
  • Understand why hip internal rotation is important
  • The influence of the foot and ankle on the lower extremity
  • Impact of mobility issues on lower extremity kinematics and performance
  • Why, how and when to integrate neuromuscular control drills into your rehab and training programs
  • Learn the phases of proper neuromuscular control development
  • Understand several progressions designed to maximize neuromuscular control
  • Learn dozens of exercises and where they fit on the progression-regression continuum

As most of you also know, I’m also a big fan of deadlifts. Coincidentally, so is Eric. Here’s a brief clip from the DVD discussing the bilateral deficit in the deadlift:



If you like what you see, you can pick up your copy of Functional Stability Training for the Lower Body HERE.

Becoming A Supple Leopard

by Meaghan posted April 21, 2013

A while back, we featured Kelly Starrett’s awesome site (You can check out that post here.)

Kelly’s use of insightful educational videos and unique combination of strategies from both the worlds of strength and conditioning and physical therapy make him a valuable resource in the fitness field. And lucky for us, that valuable resource has compiled his years of work into a book that becomes available THIS TUESDAY, April 23rd:



Kelly’s motto is ‘All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.’  Well, in Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury and Optimizing Athletic Performance, he teaches you exactly how to do that so you can reach your maximum performance potential and stay injury-free. Here are just some of the things you’ll learn how to do:


  • Prevent and rehabilitate common athletic injuries
  • Overhaul your movement habits and efficiently channel the most powerful muscles in the body
  • Quickly identify and fix inefficient movement patterns in yourseld and others
  • Problem solve for pain and dysfunction with little equipment
  • Unlock reservoirs of athletic capacity you didn’t know you had
  • Develop strategies that restore function to your joints and tissues
  • Accelerate recovery after training sessions and competition
  • Create personalized mobility prescriptions to improve movement efficiency
  • Improve your quality of life through regained work capacity


If any of this sounds good to you, pick up a copy of Becoming a Supple Leopard at a local retailer or order it HERE.

Complete Spinal Health and Core Training

by Meaghan posted March 13, 2013

I think anyone in this industry who knows me also knows I’m a little opinionated when it comes to core training… Research aside (and there’s a lot of it), a simple consideration of kinesiology tells us that certain joints were meant to move – the hips and thoracic spine, for example – while others were meant to NOT move – like the lumbar spine. This simple joint-by-joint analysis should, for the most part, dictate how we train.

Of course, there are always structural abnormalities, postural deviations, conditions, etc. that may warrant a different approach, and this is precisely why assessments are so important. I’ve always admired Tony Gentilcore for constantly acknowledging these things, and I admire him even more now for making his recent core training seminar available:

Together with Dean Somerset, Jeff Cubos and Rick Kaselj, Tony discusses how he assesses his athletes to determine things like whether or not back pain (or the potential for back pain) is flexion- or extension-based, the role of posture and breathing, the importance of hip mobility and glute strength in the prevention and treatment of low back pain, and where foam rolling/massage and core stability fit in. BUT, he does so without losing focus of the goal: PERFORMANCE.

As trainers, we don’t treat pain, and most of our clients don’t want to spend money doing just “corrective exercise.” They want to train. We just have to understand what movements and loading patterns are likely to cause pain and what interventions are likely to help prevent or improve symptoms.

I don’t want to give away too much, so check out this video for a little more about Tony Gentilcore and Spinal Health and Core Training:


If you like what you see so far, the full seminar is available HERE.

NYC is Still Running

by Meaghan posted October 31, 2012

Well, here we are in the calm after the storm. It’s still pretty dark and wet downtown…but New York survived Hurricane Sandy – barely.

And that’s the subway UPTOWN…yikes.

Traffic on the street is a bit rough today, but subways north of 42nd Street will apparently be up and running tomorrow and power restored within four days. Fortunately, I didn’t lose power and neither did Focus. And unlike in Hurricane Irene, at least I didn’t lock myself out of my apartment this time…

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