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Jurassic Ballpark- Monitoring in the Modern NBA








“The Australia-based Catapult uses wearable technology to track athlete movement on the playing court, and it currently calls 13 NBA teams clients…Oklahoma City is not one of those 13 teams, but the Thunder aren't dinosaurs when it comes to injury prevention.”


By Tom Haberstroh ESPN Insider


Recently Kevin Durant sustained a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone, creating a ripple effect in the NBA and college basketball. Seeing the MVP in the league out of at least 6-8 weeks is frightening, and some programs are already asking hard questions with sports medicine. Teams wanting to appear as progressive are apparently monitoring everything imaginable to look like they are covering the bases. Some teams are analyzing brain waves, performing blood analysis, and now tapping into DNA of players. The question is not necessarily does monitoring work, but the real question is are teams really doing all of this at a high level or is just smoke and mirrors? In the earlier article Anti-Fragile Algorithms, the specific injury mentioned as a working model, fifth metatarsal injuries tin basketball was showcased as a dire warning to emerging problems in the NBA. The article was popular based on retweets on social media, but is anyone actually taking the advice? Unfortunately many of those sharing the article on twitter didn’t do the recommendations in the guest post, otherwise we would not see as many factures in sport.


Every time I get a request to talk about technology in sport with coaches I suggest reading the book Jurassic Park as a dire warning to reliance on computers. Without having solid education behind the keyboard, technology can backfire big time. Since the book is a classic and a movie, most readers appreciate the motif of the story foreshadowing a Frankenstein allusion to DNA and misdirected science without wisdom. Now that DNA analysis is widely available commercially, we would hope to believe that science, specifically sport science, is making a change in injuries and performance. Based on injury data, very little, if any in fact, improvements are shown in the medical logs with injury reduction.


The rise of the Athlete Management Systems (AMS) we see from the UK, and other software providers, are frankly not helping much at all. The reason?  Visualizing data without interpretation skills and the power to apply an intervention is just putting lipstick on a pig. I am in strong support of data display because it commits to addressing known problems, but if you don’t have the ability to do an intervention, it’s just job security paper trails. Most systems available are nothing more than overpriced dashboards without any analytic engine to create value besides seeing crude data with a team logo. Coaches and teams pressured to be data driven succumb to buying more technology and the results have been the same, but with cool wearable devices wirelessly displaying meaningless metrics on the nearby oversized flat screen. What we see is the same as what the Michael Crichton story depicted, the inmates are running the asylum and the only differences are the freaks of nature are smaller and from this era.


Are We Tracking the Tracks?


The most glairing issue I have with any foot injury is the lack of appreciation of foot strike and how to manage forces properly. SportVu and Catapult are measuring displacement of athletes, sort of like surveillance if you will. Player tracker doesn’t drill down to the actual ground contact needed to fully reduce the chances of a fifth metatarsal injury beyond crude accelerometer values. The use of pressure mapping is essential to actually evaluating how much strain we are placing specific parts of the foot, not just counting steps or player distance. While the minutes on Kevin Durant’s body were enormous, minutes are always going to be high when players are competing so many times a month, and crafty teams like San Antonio are strategically resting players with continued controversy from the league. So to increase the risk margin and reduce injuries, real screening is needed to the areas at risk. Basketball specific screening can be done with simple mat and in-shoe pressure systems available on the market.  Combined with a solid foot evaluation performed by a sports medicine professional using manual techniques, a proper risk profile can be created. No longer do we need to depend on minutes played only to find risk, but movement patterns and foot structure can move the needle to seeing potential problems. Injuries are obviously multifactorial, but specific risk factors are identified in the current literature and are open to medical professionals now.  Presently, the most precise targeting approach to risk of basketball injuries I know is with the Mercury XML, a foot testing system and algorithm that can zero into the exact problem and provide needed interventions and guidance. As of this time only, I don’t know too many teams doing more than just standard podiatric evaluation if at all.


My suggestion for teams, not just basketball, is to commit to a comprehensive evaluation of foot function every year to track changes and make refined interventions. Every player should have all foot attire evaluated and properly scored. We buy smartphones and food with tech specs and labels, yet all we have is the size of the shoes, not a standardized breakdown of key functional indicators. Imagine going to buy medications by “trying them on” instead of using a proper channel? Our most valuable wearable is not a fitbit or the new trendy “smart fabric” but the shoes one selects for training and competition. Selecting footwear is highly individual and should be done with great care.  We need to prescribe footwear with the same respect as medications, and watch for side effects with Elastography and Myoton readings. In addition to shoes, make sure each athlete is pressure mapped barefoot as well as in-shoe, to see how orthotics and shoe design is mixing in the foot strike composite. I have done this for years with soccer athletes and it does take time, but the sleep I get is much better now and have the charts to even show it!


Are we Tracking the Inside?


The ESPN article by the same author Tom Haberstroh hinted that teams are doing blood testing to get more data on their players, but based on information from the players, it doesn’t seem to match the necessary frequency to create solid connections. Biomarker testing with blood is a rich source of information, but like any data the shelf life isn’t long and retesting is needed. My own experience using blood testing every month really shows what is going on during a long season, and not a moment in time.  Haberstroh writes:


When asked by ESPN to elaborate on blood analysis, Cuban declined further comment. But interviews with several Dallas players indicate that the team's expanded testing policy is neither obvious nor rosterwide. Guard Devin Harris recalls giving blood only in the preseason as part of the standard team physical; perhaps by design, other plasma-related details remain vague. "I don't know what they do with it once they have it, but they definitely take it," Harris says. "And I know they talked about taking blood throughout the season for certain stuff."


Sport Scientist Xavi Schelling, now with San Antonio researched the trends and patterns with hormones with professional basketball for years in his insightful study recently with the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. The summary in the paper clearly illustrated the differences beyond just minutes played. As someone who helped edit the manuscript, I read that study over a dozen times and saw an alarming problem, Europeans play less than the NBA and are struggling to recover, imagine playing multiple times a week including back to back games? Mark Cuban is going to need a think tank rather than a shark tank to help his team adjust if they are not testing everyone a few times a season. All players in professional basketball, regardless of minutes played should be tested multiple times to see trends. When doing a baseline test it is very important to factor in several additional metrics, such as muscle fiber estimation and performance testing.  Baselines without profiling and adjusting should be left for the court, not for the athletic lab. Again who really knows what is going on with teams since all of this is all speculation, and Mark is a bright guy and didn’t become a billionaire because he shared his secret sauce with his competition.


A simple solution to blood testing is use the data everyone is getting in the pre-season and make that the primary focus on team leaderboards to drive change. I love HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and using daily neuromuscular fatigue measurement, but every day most athletes have three meals to make an impact in what they are doing, and see a cause and effect with training and sleep with biomarkers outside vitamins and minerals. Not seeing the data is like expecting a police officer to use a radar gun and then seeing you after a crash, so sometimes a little discussion can go a long way.


Sleep Tracking with the NBA Schedule


A popular request with teams is finding the competitive edge with sleep quality and quantity. It’s not rocket science that sleep matters and no matter how many research studies athletes are shown in cartoony infographics they will be seduced by the other “theme parks” that sometimes will include adult themes and adult beverages.  Even the good father who loves playing dad will become a zombie after a few weeks of a baby crying all night or dealing with a spouse snoring.  No matter what magic calculation of time zone adjustment is made during travel planning, evening games with last minute heroics will pump enough adrenaline to render players disrupted biologically during sleep. Elite athletes are human and will be under stress, so all of the protocols for setting up sleep are nice on paper and certainly sound good, why are we still seeing CNS fatigue and poor autonomic status?


The reason the NBA struggles to apply sleep monitoring is because without the iron and sweat of training properly, sleep tracking is futile.  Everyone knows that modern athletes underprepare and simply compete too much with entertainment-over-health schedules, but the key break is to remember to do the basics.  Tracking sleep and working on sleep hygiene is a great start, but the trend needs to but the meat and potatoes back to strength coaches. I am not surprised that teams are using wearable devices but some caveats exist with the limitations of accelerometer technologies with sleep tracking.


Three years ago I was using several sleep tools to get sleep data on my sprinters and a few athletes for a colleague. What I realized quickly that team sport athletes were the Velociraptors of the Jurassic Park and were very clever. Here is just the tip of the iceberg with sleep data. Here are three real world challenges coaches are facing now:


Context Errors - If a pro athlete appear like they are getting a solid 8.5 hours after a game but may be passed out from drinking all night. No algorithm can detect every sleep to detect large amounts of ethanol (booze) from “Club Jaguar”.


Data Integrity- Sometimes a pro athlete will have great sleep data, but is that his data or the groupie? Is it one of his friends in the entourage? Is the sensor on his Cat “Pepe”, who sleeps great during home games and has a key ring for the band? I don’t know too many coaches who tuck their athletes into bed, so after a short experiment athletes don’t like getting monitored by big brother.


Interpretation Errors- A high quantity of sleep may be a sign of actually overtraining. When an athlete is sleeping more they could have an illness such as mononucleosis or be fighting exhaustion.


So much of sleeping well is ensuring athletes are not tired from overtraining syndromes more than just teaching or educating about “Bed time”. Even compliant athletes will find sleeping difficult, especially in the NBA when beds are not exactly designed for the bigger “dinosaurs”. When athletes are not prepared fitness wise, have poor biomarkers, and are not strong in the lower body, sleep is poisoned by outside variables. The big picture is to make athletes focused on doing the training, not just the spa recovery needs. In the future the athletes will have to decide themselves what they are willing to do to get better, and that starts with the weight room, not just the bedroom.


I will not point fingers and do the blame game, that is for the experts and pundits, but I will point to other factors than what we see online or in print. I don’t know if Oklahoma City is doing blood analysis, advanced sleep tracking, and cutting edge foot diagnostics with pressure mapping, but even if they did a limit exists to the body and I am not sure if we passed that point of no return or not with the NBA. What I do know is that the reliance on technology is dangerous without a good plan and good people, and teams with a great staff and talented athletes will win at the end.


Article contribution by Carl Valle

BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Sam Coad


BSMPG is proud to announce SAM COAD as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015. Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance! This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!  

Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  



sam coad



University of Michigan Football

Former Strength and Conditioning Coach and Sport Scientist with the Brisbane Lions Australian Rules Football Club

Topic: Elite athlete monitoring systems - methods and techniques for assessing recovery in athletes.


Mr. Sam Coad BSpSc(Hons), CSCS,  recently moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan from Brisbane, Australia, where he previously served as strength and conditioning coach and sport scientist with the Brisbane Lions Australian Rules Football Club. Prior to working with the Brisbane AFL club, he completed strength and conditioning and sports science internships with two professional Australian rugby teams, the Gold Coast Titans Rugby League and Queensland Reds Rugby Union. 

Coad has previously worked teaching fellow in the sports and exercise science program at Bond University, having previously receiving his bachelor of sport sciences degree from the same university, graduating with honors in 2012 after earning Dean's Awards in 2011 and 2012. He is a PhD candidate at Bond, researching the neuroimmunological, physiological and biochemical responses of elite contact sports athletes to training and competition.

Currently, Coad works with the University of Michigan Football department were he is responsible for assessing and enhancing student-athlete readiness, performance and recovery as part of the comprehensive sports performance program. As a integrated strength and conditioning coach and sports scientists he trains athletes and interprets data obtained from football student-athletes during workouts, practices and games to provide training recommendations to strength and conditioning, and football coaches.


Registration Opens Jan 1, 2015

Additional speakers to be announced shortly - Trust us when we tell you that this year will blow your socks off!


BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Mike Davis

BSMPG is proud to announce MIKE DAVIS as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015. Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance! This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!  


"There are very few people that can take you out of pain and also train you to be a beast at the same time - Mike Davis is one of these special people."

- Art Horne, Director of Sports Performance, Northeastern University


Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  


davis, mikemike davismike davis







Inside Tracker


Dr. Mike Davis DPT, best known as "Dr. Mike" is an acclaimed professional in the worlds of physical therapy, sports training, and wellness.  With a deep and genuine commitment to see his clients reach optimum physical competence,  Dr. Mike is best known for his wealth of knowledge, attention to detail, and caring approach.

Dr. Mike received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Temple University in 2003.  Since his time at Temple, Dr. Mike has continued his education and has achieved the following:

*Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) Certified Practitioner

*Certified Active Release Technique (ART) Full Body and Long Tract Practitioner

*Certified Intramuscular Therapy/Transdermal Needling/Dry Needling Practitioner

*Certified Selective Functional Movement Assessment  (SFMA) Practitioner

A former NCAA and avid strength athlete, Dr. Mike has extensive experience ranging from sub acute neurology to elite sports performance. Some of his clientele include the Baltimore Ravens (2013 Super Bowl Champions),  Washington Redskins, US Women's Soccer (National Team),  International Professional Women's Basketball Players, professional combat athletes and elite military personnel (Special Ops).  In addition, Dr. Mike served as a medical consultant to the Chinese Olympic Committee for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia (short-track speed skating).



Registration Opens Jan 1, 2015

Additional speakers to be announced shortly - Trust us when we tell you that this year will blow your socks off!

BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Allen Gruver

BSMPG is proud to announce ALLEN GRUVER as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance! This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!  

Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  






Allen received his Athletic Trainer’s certification and Strength and Conditioning Certification from the University of Upper Iowa in 2000. He then received his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the Elon University in North Carolina. While at Elon University he was honored with the “Excellence in Clinical Research Award” for his work on pelvic and hip dysfunction. In 2006, Allen earned the designation of the Postural Restoration Certified (PRC) as a result of advanced training, extraordinary interest and devotion to the science of postural adaptation, asymmetrical patterns, and the influence of polyarticular chains of muscle on the human body as defined by the Postural Restoration Institute. He is currently faculty with the Postural Restoration Institute and has an affiliate course for the integration of PRI and baseball. Allen has extensive experience lecturing to hundreds of physicians and other care professionals across the country on in-depth biomechanics assessment and advanced treatments utilizing and integrated functional manual and non-manual approach. Allen is the owner of Foothills Sports Medicine in Gilbert, AZ where he works and specializes with the rehab of professional and amateur athletes of all sports. Allen has worked and consulted for The University of Arizona, Arizona Diamondbacks, Stanford University, Denver Broncos, several NCAA athletes, Olympic Swimmers/Track and Field, MLB professionals and teams, PGA, European PGA, LPGA and tour professionals.


Registration Opens Jan 1, 2015

Additional speakers to be announced shortly - Trust us when we tell you that this year will blow your socks off!

BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Back Eric Oetter

BSMPG is proud to announce ERIC OETTER as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance! This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!  If you were in Eric's session last year you know he absolutely killed it and our boy from Georgia is back to drop the #boom again this year!

Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  



Eric Oetter







Eric is an author, speaker, coach, and student, currently pursuing his DPT from the Emory University School of Medicine.

Following an injury-shortened athletic career at Georgia Tech, Eric has coached a diverse clientele at two of the top gyms in the country, Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training and Cressey Performance. He has since consulted with coaches in the Big Ten and was recently named one of the Top 25 Fitness Industry Rising Stars by

Eric champions the principles of the Postural Restoration Institute and has been formally trained in the methodologies of DNS, FMS/SFMA, and PRRT, among others.

His articles can be found on,, and in Fighting Fit magazine.


Registration Opens Jan 1, 2015

Additional speakers to be announced shortly - Trust us when we tell you that this year will blow your socks off!

BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes James Anderson

BSMPG is proud to announce JAMES ANDERSON as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance! This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!  

Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  










James received his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha in 1998. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he majored in kinesiology. He has used PRI throughout his career in a wide variety of settings, including spine rehab, sports performance, chronic pain and most recently with geriatric patients in the home setting. He currently works for Horizon Home Health in Burley and Twin Falls, ID and is currently assisting in the development of a course for the home health setting, PRI Home Integration. Over the years James has provided course instruction and consultation to hundreds of physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and strength and conditioning professionals nationwide. His expertise with biomechanics has led to invitations to serve as sports performance consultant for a wide variety of collegiate and professional athletic organizations.  James was a member of the first class to earn the designation of Postural Restoration Certified (PRC) as a result of advanced training, extraordinary interest and devotion to the science of postural adaptations, asymmetrical patterns, and the influence of polyarticular chains of muscles on the human body as defined by the Postural Restoration Institute®.


Registration Opens Jan 1, 2015

Additional speakers to be announced shortly - Trust us when we tell you that this year will blow your socks off!


Biochemical Adaptations in Sport: Dr. Mehis Viru Interview


Dr Mehus Viru


originally published on

Mehis Viru is an associate professor at the Institute of Sport Pedagogy and Coaching Science at University of Tartu and personal coach for top Estonian hurdles and jumpers. Mehis is also well known as a coauthor to the state of the art textbook “Biochemical Monitoring of Sport Training” that he wrote with his father professor Atko Viru, famous for his pioneer work on endocrine functions in muscular activity and adaptation mechanisms in training. (Credit Windsprint and KM pharma)

Note: Adaptation is the purpose of training, making a real change to the body, not benefiting from talent or better equipment. Dr. Viru is both a sport scientist and coach who can help bridge the gap from training theory and science to applied coaching. Enjoy.

Creating a Comprehensive Biochemical Testing Approach

Freelap USA - Your presentations in Stockholm and Sundsvall focused on the goals of training athlete adaptation changes. Monitoring usually tries to focus on fatigue, and you showed that changes in biochemical status over time may guide coaches better. In the United States, biochemical testing is now cheaper, faster, and more accessible. What would you say is a good frequency of testing for teams and a list of biomarkers to check? Testing every week may leave the team with unhappy athletes, but once a year during a physical will not be enough. What is a good rhythm you see in your experience?

Creatine Kinase Panel

Figure 1: Using Creatine Kinase in a panel has value because the time course slope of athletes and load can be calculated based on both physical and emotive variables. Those athletes with chronically high cortisol and low free testosterone but very low CK are likely to be dealing with recovery and stress issues outside of training. CK is not to see how on recovers from the training bout as CK clearance is not useful because clearance rates are not repair rates with muscle and tendon.


Dr. Viru - Sports training influences an athlete in a wide way starting with changes at molecular level and ending up with changes in functioning of different organs. Therefore, one should not concentrate only to one-two biochemical tests and make deep conclusions according to the results of these tests. Instead, a coach or a sports scientist should try to get an overview of the whole situation by using also physiological, psychological, event specific performance tests. Coach should also follow everyday training session numbers (series and reps, kilograms, meters and centimeters) and athlete’s behavior during training sessions. Especially during a warm-up of a training session to better understand the condition of athlete’s muscles and tendons and according to the situation more precisely choose the exercises and training load for the concrete training session.

An athlete is a human being that means there are several non-sport factors (financial, study, relationship, and other problems) that may greatly influence athlete’s performance. Without having a good trust and communication with your athlete coach, may not know these problems and think that decline in performance is solely due to his inadequate training plans. Some athletes may be too shy to complain his personal problems. In that case training diary where he writes his problems may help.

The details of training monitoring depend on the goals of the concrete training monitoring process. So there cannot be a one single correct answer to the questions how, when, etc.

As monitoring is a purposeful process performed with the aim to increase the effectiveness of training guidance and is based on recording of changes on an athlete during various stages of training or under the influence of main elements of sport activities (training sessions, competition, microcycle or mezocycle of training) the aim of the monitoring determines the frequency and the choice of markers. Training monitoring is a specific process depending on sport event, performance level of an athlete and age/gender peculiarities, health/injury status. Therefore, the methods for training monitoring should be chosen depending on the specificity of a sport event and athlete’s characteristics.

Some biochemical markers like lactate are meant for using during training sessions, and some like CK and urea can show the influence of training load during a bit longer period. But the most important is to know what metabolic processes the chosen marker represents, what the limitations of the marker are and how to interpret the results. I have seen athletes (even Olympic champions!) whose fingers were holy like a watering can, as their coaches had become fond of lactate testing and had taken 15-20 samples per day without knowing what they are doing.

Several companies are producing portative systems to measure biochemical markers, but the list is limited. For example urea (an end-product of protein degradation) can be measured by a portative system but if you wish to be more accurate and follow the changes in the turnover rate of contractile proteins (like actin and myosin) you should measure the levels of 3-methylhistidine. But it means you must have access to a biochemical lab. So the choice of markers may depend on the access to different measuring systems and labs.

One can use several biochemical markers for training monitoring, but the main aim of sport training is to increase performance level. It means that event-specific performance tests must have a constant place in training monitoring programs. Again – keep your eye at the big picture and do not stick in 1-2 markers.


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BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Vincent Walsh


BSMPG is proud to announce VINCENT WALSH as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance! This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!  

Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  


vincent walsh





perform better 

Keynote Address: Sport: The brain's greatest challenge?


As Professor of Human Brain Research at UCL, Vincent specialises in human brain stimulation and plasticity, supervising over 30 PhD students across a variety of diverse fields such as memory, dyslexia, time perception and decision making and stress in sport.

With over 20 years experience in Human Brain Research Vincent has, and continues to, serve on committees including the European Commission, The Royal Society, The Medical Research Council and the Bioscience for Society Strategy Panel (BBSRC). He currently holds a Royal Society Industry Fellowship allowing him to spend 50% of his time supporting ‘real world’ research.

Published in scientific literature over 300 times, Vincent brings to the GSK Human Performance Lab significant academic expertise in human brain stimulation, learning, sporting performance, perception and sleep.

Vincent holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Sheffield and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Manchester.



Registration Opens Jan 1, 2015

Additional speakers to be announced shortly - Trust us when we tell you that this year will blow your socks off!


BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Dr. Robert Sapolsky


BSMPG is proud to announce DR. ROBERT SAPOLSKY as a speaker at the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Last year was a sell out and the only difference this year will be us announcing a sell out well in advance!  This will be one of the greatest performance and therapy seminars of all time!

Be sure to save the date and reserve your hotel room well in advance.

See you in Boston in May!!!  



SAPOLSKY  why zebras dont get ulcers big



Professor of Biological Sciences, Neurology, Neurological Sciences, and Neurosurgery, Stanford University 






Keynote Address: Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: Stress, Disease and Coping

A lecture on stress and where stress-related diseases come from.  It is based on Dr. Sapolsky's book by the same title.  


Robert Sapolsky is one of the world's leading neuroscientists, and has been called "one of the finest natural history writers around" by The New York Times. In studying wild baboon populations, Sapolsky examined how prolonged stress can cause physical and mental afflictions. His lab was among the first to document that stress can damage the neurons of the hippocampus. Sapolsky has shown, in both human and baboon societies, that low social status is a major contributor to stress and stress-related illness. He boils down the contemporary human's relationship with stress as follows: "We are not getting our ulcers being chased by Saber-tooth tigers, we're inventing our social stressors—and if some baboons are good at dealing with this, we should be able to as well. Insofar as we're smart enough to have invented this stuff and stupid enough to fall for it, we have the potential to be wise enough to keep [these stressors] inperspective." Sapolsky's study of stress in non-human primates has offered fascinating insight into how human beings relate to this universal pressure.


West Coast meets East Coast - Flowing





This summer I had the pleasure spending time with USC strength coach, Chris Chase while he was in Boston.  Chris was kind enough to observe our men’s basketball performance training session and take myself and coach Dan Sanzo through his legendary flow. 

Below is a transcription from our post-flow conversation.


Art: Chris, I’ve seen your flow on the internet and now that I’ve been able to experience it firsthand, I truly appreciate its brilliance.  For those not familiar with your flow can you provide a brief description?

Chris: Movement flow integrates various patterns and modalities to be performed unbroken with an emphasis on one’s ability to effectively transition. The inclusion of the word flow suggests continuity, which is the goal when combining appropriate movements into a flow. The method incorporates primal movements, yoga patterns, Postural Restoration Institute concepts, Functional Range Conditioning, and developmental sequencing. I try to sift through and tweeze out patterns from various realms and fuse them together with transitions.

Art: How and why did movement flow come about?

Chris: It initially stemmed from surveying my warm-ups and believing there was something missing in the structure, function, and effectiveness. I have always taken huge stock in the importance of this initial part of training, even avoiding the term warm-up with my athletes. The entire session is meant to make improvements, and I knew something could be implemented that would facilitate that to a greater degree, instead of simply preparing for subsequent movements. I wasn’t seeing what I believed I wanted to achieve with the use of standard mobility, activation, or corrective structured warm-ups. There seems to be a lack of carry over, attention, buy-in, and minimal improvement. Something more challenging could be implemented that would actually teach the athletes something and facilitate quality improvements.

Having practiced yoga and experimented with many of the challenges from Ido Portal, Dewey Nielsen, and various primal movement practitioners, I know how humbling these body weight movements can be. It would almost be absurd to externally load certain patterns with an athlete that could not demonstrate the qualities and necessary skill in what I believe to be low-medium threshold patterns. Also, being exposed to modalities from the Postural Restoration Institute, Functional Range Conditioning, and concepts from Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, I began to have a greater understanding of what is worth doing.

With help from a fellow Springfield alum and current UCLA Performance Coach Eric Schmitt, we began blending practices together one movement at a time. The routines started as very random, but began to be organized loosely based on developmental sequencing. In other words, whatever is going down in supine is done first, then side lying, prone, kneeling, squatting, and finally standing, with transitions between each.

Art: What do you believe is the value in making something that is continuous?

Chris: Transitions. Owning each position or movement is important, but what is most important is the control you exhibit as you move from one challenge to the next. Yoga places great emphasis on this when assessing one’s practice. Someone’s practice is considered in high regard, not because they can hold poses for a long time or are more flexible than everyone else, but because the transitions are controlled and fluid.

Almost as important of an effect is the huge increase in attentiveness during movement flow. Let’s be honest. We are all guilty of throwing in exercises that, in theory, are the correct ones. But if you take a step back, you realize these kids can do some of that stuff in their sleep. The desire to do them is low, and they can probably chat with their buddies while doing them. Hip mobs, bridges, lunge series, quad pulls, elephant walks, etc. are all still great, but these kids need a break from structure. We set and rep them to death, and you know they get sick of it. The response from mine, as well as other coaches’ athletes is that they not only enjoy it more, but they have no choice but to focus because there is minimal break and higher complexity.

Art: What have you seen to be the carry over to other modes of training, namely the resisted movements used?

Chris:  First and foremost is education. No other method has provoked such feedback as far as understanding and empowerment of that athlete’s own body movements. The cues and language we can now speak provides so much more ammo when bridging the gap between the low and higher threshold movements.

A lot of those cues revolve around establishing neutral and creating tension to maintain that position. The use of PRI and Yoga practices during movement flow really allows for an understanding and skill acquisition in order to get out of extension and find neutral. Dominating neutral is another story, so as many tension generators as possible are included. Because it is ground based, there are so many opportunities to get sensory feedback and understand how to push, claw, activate, or breath to cover your neutral with a titanium sheath. For example, the tension methods initiated during flow with things like dynamic happy baby, oblique sitting, all fours breathing, crawling variations, and chair or eagle pose can provide for a great transition into deadlift. 

The kids just get out of it what you are looking to achieve. We really see success in finding and utilizing core, exploring one’s own mobility instead of pretending we are forcing mobilization, and activating on a level that is providing actual benefit.


chris chase


Art: How do you deal with athletes that are not skilled in these movements, do not have the necessary qualities, or are injured?

Chris: I think this is where the beauty of movement flow really becomes apparent. Yoga encourages taking ownership over your practice. A teacher will always remind a group to perform only what you believe to be a part of your practice on that day. The same goes for my athletes. A less skilled athlete is made aware of what is or is not included in his or her menu. For example, an athlete may still be working on a bear crawl while others have advanced to a reptile crawl. One of my 6’5” lanky baseball pitchers may not yet be able to dive into a cossack squat, but he can explore his range in lateral squat or support himself as he slowly get further into the range. Without added external resistance, exploration can happen with little to no risk.

An injured athlete knows what joint movements are included in each exercise and will be prompted not to include certain things in his or her practice. More commonly, with those who are injured, I will provide bail out poses that they can move into once the flow moves into something they cannot do. For example, someone with a knee issue may not be a part of the deep squat series. I may tell that athlete to flow back into his or her crawling work or some lower threshold supine work like deadbugs or happy baby.

As with many others, I have certainly been guilty of complaining that this generation lacks the initiative and wherewithal to do things for themselves and simply figure it out! This is why empowerment and taking ownership is so much a part of this modality. Another method we use that showcases this is during times when I simply provide a menu for the athletes. If I know we will have some kids feeling sore and lethargic, I will have 3-4 options to cater to that. Same goes if some of the other kids are rested and feel like they need to put in some work to advance. They also are given 3-4 options. They will then have approximately 3 minutes to flow through what is a part of their individual practice. I do not instruct on the amount of reps or time that must be spent in each challenge or position, they simply work on what they need to work on, transitioning between each movement when ready. 

Art: What other benefits do you see coming from movement flow?

Chris: I think a big one is the use of routines to promote parasympathetic tone. After a highly neurologically demanding day or a session where sympathetic tone was through the roof from start to finish, I have used a flow to simply tone down. Toning down includes several breathing practices, movements that take the athletes out of extension, and poses that promote a rested state like child’s pose or savasana. Blending those things together into a flow increases the attention paid and makes for a more fluid reduction of tone. 

Art: How have you used movement flow at USC?

Chris: The most frequent use is during the initial low to medium threshold portions of a training session. We also use it during a cool down or for a full recovery session. I have seen huge value in using this for recovery sessions vs. traditional methods. The classic foam rolling, green strap, lacrosse ball, and hurdle mobility sessions are great, but I didn’t think we were getting much out of those. I still include some soft tissue work during these sessions, but then move into a lower threshold recovery flow.

Art: Chris, I really appreciate you spending time with us today here at Northeastern.  The athletes at USC are lucky to have such a progressive and thoughtful coach overseeing their development. I’m looking forward to integrating some flow into our movement systems here.


Chris: Thanks for having me Art. Coming from one of the leaders in our field that really means a lot.


Learn more about Chris and his flow at: and his flow HERE







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