As 2020 draws to a close and no holiday travel due to COVID, I found myself spending extra time scanning Twitter, IG and some various blogs related to training and rehab last week. I remember starting my blog many years ago prior to the birth of Twitter and IG (I am feeling old typing that lol). My purpose with this blog has always been to freely share information with clients, the general public and practitioners.

Now, more than ever, there is a plethora of opinions, videos, posts and methods on multiple platforms out there on the web. Many people seek clicks, followers, validation, attention, ad revenue or internet fame. It becomes easy to quickly go down a rabbit hole and become consumed with back and forth convos, online debates about the best exercise techniques/methodology, sales pitches for training programs, and in general what I deem to be excessive or over the top ‘look at me’ promotional posts by certain people. On one hand, the internet is a gift that gives us all a bigger platform and voice, including me. On the other hand, it can also muddy the water, create division among the ranks, and propagate consumer confusion as to what is best for him/her in rehab and training circles.

The spirit and purpose of this year-end blog post is one of a cautionary tale for consumers and young professionals. As someone more seasoned with 24 years of experience rehabbing and training clients, I feel it is important to step back and remember a few important things in this era of instant gratification and access to countless online videos, programs and opinions just a few clicks away.

My top 5 tips for gathering information and building the best program are:

  1. Maximize your access to information, but question everything. I use Twitter and IG to acquire cutting edge info, research, and the latest thoughts from trusted resources and professionals I follow. With that said, I always carefully process things, scrutinize what I read and ultimately decide how much, if any, content adds to my existing work, thoughts and philosophy. We must be cautious and avoid common pitfalls such as confirmation bias, rationalization and blind acceptance of things or people we like without relying on sound logic, science and practical experience to shape our final opinions.
  2. Do not underestimate the power of humility and collaboration. While I fully support constructive dialogue on social media, too many are quick to argue, criticize others and make an obvious effort to hold their own ideas/programming up to be the ‘best’ or ‘ONLY’ choice on the market while putting down differing opinions of others. Someone very wise once told me that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, and that opinions are like a$$holes because everyone has one. The moral of the story is be quick to listen, slow to speak and consciously seek input/collaboration (more than one voice or opinion may be valid and reliable) and healthy debate in order to truly advance the pursuit of optimal training and rehab. Lastly, shy away from negative personalities and toxic discussion threads as they consume too much time and energy that can be spent elsewhere on productive learning.
  3. Always keep an open mind, and do not be afraid to try new things. One of the primary tenets of motor learning is variable or dynamic systems. The brain learns best in these variable environments, as well as by making errors in motor planning and movement execution. Provided the movements or exercises are not overtly dangerous or contraindicated based on a pre-existing or current medical conditions, consider trying new things for yourself and/or your clients. This will promote neuroplasticity, and even small inputs within your own system can lead to very big and positive changes, while also allowing you to figure out what works best for your own body. This also supports the idea of failing forward in a positive way. Finally, remember that boredom can ultimately reduce motivation to exercise, so it is definitely okay to mix things up.
  4. Individualized programming always trumps a cookie cutter approach. I see this issue all the time in HS and collegiate athletes I work with. While they can see improvements with most general training programs, the biggest gains in performance and injury reduction/recovery come as a result of tailoring rehab, training and recovery programs to the specific needs of the individual. Mobility, stability, balance, strength, power, speed, nutrition, sleep, etc all factor in differently for each athlete. Learning your own body along with its specific strengths and weaknesses will allow for clarity when refining and tweaking the program to deliver the best results.
  5. Consistently test, measure and adjust. Your rehab and/or training is and should be an evolution. It will NOT be linear. Some things will work well and others will fail. Trust the process and begin with a proper assessment to help establish a base plan, while acknowledging that it will change along the way to meet the adapting and changing demands of the client. This is the FUN part of training. Tinkering, adding, deleting, modifying, progressing, regressing and even second guessing. Use each session as a learning experience and classroom of sorts. I am still doing this with my own training after 30 years. Exercise is a lot like cooking: you may have 1-2 favorite recipes, but there may be many different meals that are both satisfying and nourishing for the body. Always keep pushing and exploring to become your personal best.

In summary, enjoy the ability to google endless topics and access tons of potentially useful info on whatever topic most applies to your situation or interests. However, be sure to ask questions and look for confirming evidence and opinions of trusted thought leaders/researchers/clinicians/scientists as you have fun exploring and evolving your very own training plan. No two rehabs or training plans are alike for me as each person is truly unique. In the end, it takes a village to succeed, and I am always learning new things from my clients and those in the profession around me. Here’s to learning more together in 2021!