My good friend and strength coach at Wisconsin, Ray Eady, sent me this video yesterday and it got me thinking a lot about mobility and how training has changed over the years.  Do yourself a favor and watch the video first before continuing to read on.

That was pretty impressive stuff and goes to show you what the human body is capable of doing in terms of mobility and stability.  If you don’t know, mobility is the quality of moving freely…the key word is MOVING!  It is not static flexibility (length of a muscle), but rather relies on the CNS to control how much movement is available at each joint.  Stability is the ability to control movement…it does not mean, no movement, but rather controlling motion.

Breakdancing was extremely big in the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s and goes to show you what the human body can do….or could do at that time.  You don’t see breakdancing as much as you used to back then and could it be attributed to the sedentary nature of our lives these days???

I’ve been a strength and conditioning coach at the Division I level for about 12 years now and know for a fact that my programming has changed over that time.  Most of it has changed to structure in more mobility work and emphasize corrective exercise – not only because I’ve learned more about it over time, but because simply our athletes these days NEED it to handle the demands that are placed upon them by the requirements of their sport.  They need it to play but also to be healthy even when they’re playing days are done.

What exactly is corrective exercise?  

As some love it, and some frown upon it.  Corrective exercise simply is exercise that is designed to restore and improve in-efficient movement patterns.  It can be drill that you do in your warmup or between sets of your heavier movements.  It can be things you do on a recovery day or things that you prescribe as “extra work”, but the goal is the same; we should be looking to improve movement and the quality of it.

How do we know if a movement pattern is in-efficient?

We assess and watch our athletes and clients move.  We as fitness professionals should have an understanding of what ideal biomechanics are – not everybody is going to be the same, but we should have a fundamental understanding of what’s good vs. bad.  Pain is another sign of somebody possibly having a movement dysfunction.  Assessments such as the FMS, or drills from Assess & Correct, gives us a reference point to where somebody is initially before training them.  If we don’t know where we are, how can we know where we are going or how we are going to get there?  Assessing is part of the testing protocol along with performance based testing such as power, strength, and conditioning.

Mobility and adhering to the Joint By Joint approach has become a bigger part of my programs and every year I see new freshman come into our program, it re-affirms the changes that I have put into my programs.  We emphasize it in our pre-work before our warmups, in our warmups, in between sets of speed and power work and in between sets of our strength work.  There are a number of methods that we will use as well: soft tissue work using lacrosse balls, sticks, cobblestone mats and foam rollers, dynamic flexibility, band work, isolated mobility, integrated mobility, isometrics, PNF techniques, and full range of motion resistance training.

As our society has changed and the athletes we see may have different issues that impair their quality of movement, we as fitness professionals have to address these issues to help prepare them to be successful in sport and life.


One of my interns, John McGuinness, is very into minimalist shoes and I thought he would be able to give some great feedback on Art Horne’s new book, Barefoot in Boston.  This is an awesome read and will benefit many different professions.  After reading the review, check out the link to pick up this product!


How are those stylish, expensive, high heeled training sneakers treating you? Have you been experiencing pain in your low back, calves, ankles, hips, and/or knees? Well, the problem may be reduced by something less complicated than we think. By transitioning from these modern sneakers into something more minimalist, we may be able to alleviate these lingering pains one at a time. Yes, that means you will have to give up those Sketchers Shape Ups, because they are definitely not the answer to your problems, they are more than likely the cause!

Contrary to popular belief, today’s “advanced” sneakers can actually decrease your performance and increase your likelihood of injury.  I don’t know about you, but paying for overpriced sneakers that can have a negative impact doesn’t sound appealing to me!

Art Horne, a great guy, and one of the most knowledgeable minds in the athletic training/strength and conditioning world, recently released his book, Barefoot in Boston, that covers the above topics, and many others in great detail.

Art reviews some of the history of barefoot running/training, how we are supposed to heel strike when walking/running, how we should take a step-by-step approach to wearing minimalist footwear, and how making this change will take some time.  In addition, he looks at how our feet are optimally developed when barefoot, not in sneakers that can cause weakness and a loss of mobility. The potential benefits of abandoning the use of today’s high-heeled shoes are well worth the wait.  Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

If you are interested in making the switch, a detailed progression is included that will help you transition from wearing modern cross trainers to minimalist footwear, and eventually to being barefoot.

There aren’t many detailed studies on the topic of barefoot training, but Art does a great job of explaining the research that is out there and how it will all benefit us over time.

I have been reading Art’s blog (www.bsmpg.com) for quite some time now, and have attended two of the great seminars he has organized, and I always come away with a ton of useful information. Barefoot in Boston is more of the same, and if you want to perform better and decrease the likelihood of injury, I suggest you pick up a copy today!


John McGuinness

I was recently speaking to my good friend, Art Horne (athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach at Northeastern University) at a pre-season basketball scrimmage about warming up.  Most basketball teams typically warm-up and stretch on the court.  Art wondered where we did ours, because our guys came out at 45 on the clock already to go with their specific warm-up with their coaches.  I explained that we conducted our warm-up in the weight room and he thought it would be a great idea if I presented what we do in an article.  I didn’t think it was earth shattering but thought it would be a good idea to explain what we do to prepare ourselves for a game.

Here at Quinnipiac, we typically play doubleheader basketball games.  Our women play first and as soon as their game is over, there is 30 minutes on the clock before the men’s game.  We used to do a traditional warm-up and dynamic stretch on the court 60 minutes prior to the game.  The court isn’t available during a double header so we decided to take the warm-up to the weight room.  What started out as a necessity turned out to be our norm now for home games as our guys preferred going to the weight room over the court.

Our on court warm-up tended to be a distraction for some guys as they were looking around in the stands seeing if their friends and family were there yet;  What the other team was doing would also distract them.  By moving to the weight room, we could really focus on “us” and “what we do”.  We could crank up the music, get some good energy going and really get prepared to be successful for the following competition.  Our guys now prefer and look forward to “stretching” in the weight room.  They’ve made a playlist on their ipod and know that warming up in the weight room is part of their pre-game routine.

The order of warm-up is the following:

1. Warm-up
2. Loosen-up
3. Turn-On
4. Build-up

This is the general warm-up as it leads to the specific warm-up that the coaches will conduct after they are done with me.  In the specific warm-up the guards and bigs will split up and work on shooting, post moves, coming off screens, etc.

Here are the goals and examples of what we do for each category:
1. Warm-up – our goal is to increase the core temperature and break a sweat.  We start off with agility ladder work for about 3-4 minutes.

2. Loosen-up – our goal is to work on dynamic mobility of the entire body (ankles, hips, t-spine) in all 3 planes of motion.  We will start with various types of arm circles, progressing to isolated dynamic flexibility drills for the lower body (knee hugs, hamstring kicks, etc) and then progressing to lunge variations with arm drivers.  This takes about 6-8 minutes.

3. Turn-on – our goal is to activate the nervous system and get the glutes firing.  We incorporate glute bridges, single leg balance work, as well as low intensity reactive plyometrics (foot fire, line hops, etc.)  This takes about 1 minute.

4. Build-up – our goal is to incorporate movements that they will perform during their activity.  We incorporate sprinting, backpeddling and lateral shuffling as well as some change of direction work.  This takes about 2 minutes.

The total warm-up time is about 13-15 minutes and really gets our athletes ready for their specific warm-up.

I hope this article gets you thinking about how you get your athletes ready to compete and may give you some other ideas and options.