Share   Subscribe to RSS feed

Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Tag: training

Over the years, I have tested many different fitness products through my work with Personal Fitness Professional Magazine. I am not paid to promote any products on my site, and this latest review comes after spending the past few weeks using this particular product in the clinic with my patients. I am pleased to bring attention to it because I think it can help with recovery and training.

Recently, the inventor of the HECOstix, Josh Broeker, reached out to me to see if I have had a chance to use his product. Much to my surprise, I was not familiar with it. As a performance physical therapist working with many athletes from various sports and ranging from youth to professionals, I was naturally excited to see the product in action. I am always looking for ways to enhance neurocognitive training and my rehab. Josh was gracious enough to send me a few HECOstix to try out.

For those unfamiliar with the product, see the image of the Red, White and Blue version below:

As I rehab and progress athletes back to sport after injury, implementing tools to improve hand eye coordination, reaction time, cognitive skills and decision making is important prior to sending them back to practice and sport. A few of the really cool features I like about this product include:

  • Lightweight and durable EVA make-up
  • Different versions and multiple colors allow for auditory cues and quick reaction
  • It can be used safely by all ages and abilities
  • Travels easily with you anywhere

The HECOstix can be used for virtually any sport and done indoors or outdoors. Perhaps the greatest thing about the product is that it injects FUN into training while allowing users to compete against others or their own results in an effort to improve performance. This tool also allows for progressive challenges moving from underhand to sideways to overhead throws depending on the functional demands and skill level of the participants.

In the clinic, I have been using it with some of my patients rehabbing after ACL reconstruction. Adding neurocognitive training is essential for full recovery and secondary prevention. below is an article from Sports health discussing neurocognitive and neurophysiological functions related to ACL injury:

Specifically, I have integrated it with dynamic balance and movement drills calling out a color while throwing the HECOstix toward the client. I have also had a pair of patients throwing and calling out the color as part of a rehab game. I will be continuing to use it with this population and other athletes working on hand eye coordination and cognitive training for their sport.

If you are looking to add a new wrinkle to your training or rehab, I highly recommend giving this product a try. For more information on the product, be sure to visit

All effective prehab and rehab programs for recreational and competitive athletes should include single leg stability exercises.  I like to use sliding exercises as one way to improve neuromuscular control of the core, hip and knee.  Frontal plane collapse is a common issue with respect to knee dysfunction.  Using sliders/gliding discs as well as theraband is an excellent way to improve strength and kinetic chain control.  Below is an exercise i recently featured for Personal Fitness Professional:

This exercise is effective in injury prevention and rehab programs for those with ankle instability, anterior knee pain, hip weakness, poor landing mechanics and higher ACL risk if playing pivoting and cutting sports.  It will improve core stability, hip and knee strength/stability, dynamic balance, groin flexibility and trunk control.

The band serves to enhance activation of the hip external rotators and further challenge stability of the hip and knee.  The band should not pull too forcefully, but just enough to cue the desired muscle activation pattern.  A slower cadence on the eccentric portion of the exercise is preferable to maximize stability and strength gains.  Do not force through any painful ranges of motion, and remember that form and alignment are paramount so limit the reaching based on the client’s ability to maintain adequate control.

The company I am privileged to work for has officially entered into a partnership with Athletes’ Performance. We are joining forces with them to take our performance training to an even higher level.  So, the Athletic Performance Center is now:


I am pumped as we will be able to offer the same elite level training and nutrition services that are offered at other locations in AZ, FL, TX, CA and MA.  I will continue in my role as supervisor and sports physical therapist and look forward to all the great things to come.  If you are not familiar with AP, check them out at

Click here for a detailed press release from Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic.  I am confident this new venture will help me sharpen my saw and become an even better clinician and performance training expert.

So, if you know me well at all, you know my first “law of exercise” is to ALWAYS know why you do what you do.  I read a newsletter by Mike Boyle yesterday.  He talked about being a cook or chef when it comes to exercise.  He advises those with less than 5 years of expereicne not to mess with the recipe much so to speak.  Since I have been doing this for 12 years, I consider myself to be much more of a chef.

I am constantly creating and tweaking my programming to deliver the best results.  So, when I decide to use a training aid or piece of equipment, I have to believe in it 100%.  My athletes and adult clinets alike love bands, vests, balls and training toys if you will.

But, I have to remind them (and myself at times) that the training aid exists only to further advance the original exercise or its desired outcome.  Using these things just for variety is not really a sound plan.  Today, I have a short video for you that reveals four progressive ways to use the Thera-band stability trainer.

I have used this in the rehab setting and in my fitness programs with great success.  Please note – all of the exercises I show you should be mastered on flat ground first.  After that, the stability trainer adds a great new dimension to the exercises and provides a very natural disturbance to balance and stability throuhg the kinetic chain that exists in sport and life.

Now, these are a just a small sampling of some of my favorite Thera-band trainer drills.  The cool thing about this item is that it comes in three different levels of difficulty moving from green (easiest) to black (hardest).  I tend to prefer the blue as it is middle of the road, making it easy enough for those without the skill of an Olympian and yet challenging enough for even the more advanced athletes.  However, starting with the green may be necessary for those with ankle/knee instability or limited experience with stability training.

You can grab your very own blue Thera-Band trainer in my OpenSky Shop.  Click the image below to head on over and get free shipping for a limited time as well.