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Mind Over Matter: The Psychology of Rehabilitation


This article originally appeared on by Daniel Gallan



Injury: the greatest fear for every athlete. Across any code, at any level, injury is a part of life for sportsmen and women. A torn hamstring, a broken arm, a severe concussion; all injuries require extensive physical therapy. But what about the mental battle that needs to be waged when injured? How does the psychological process measure up to the physiological one? Doctor Charlie Weingroff and Springbok captain Jean de Villiers reveal what an athlete goes through psychologically when undergoing physical rehabilitation.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers receives medical attention after sustaining a career threatening injury against Wales last year. Image supplied by Jean de Villiers. 



Springbok captain Jean de Villiers receives medical attention after sustaining a career threatening injury against Wales last year. Image supplied by Jean de Villiers. 

On the 29th November 2014, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the South African rugby community held its collective breath when captain and 106 Test veteran Jean de Villiers fell to the floor clutching his left knee during a Test against Wales. His cries of agony could be heard over the live television feed with replays showing his leg bending at a sickening angle. A post-match prognosis indicated a broken knee cap, a torn hamstring and anterior cruciate knee ligament damage. What we had seen may well have been the abrupt end of one of the most illustrious and successful careers in the history of the sport.

“When it happened my first thought was definitely negative,” de Villiers says in an exclusive interview with CONQA Sport.  “I thought “that’s the end”. Because of my age and the stage of my career that I’m at, I immediately went to a negative place. I knew it was bad straight away.”

De Villiers is a positive person and those negative thoughts were vanquished within the first few minutes. The Springbok captain was being carried off the field on a stretcher when assistant coach Johan van Graan told him that he was still going to go to the World Cup in September. The road to recovery, and indeed the World Cup, started right there on his back.

According to de Villiers, the rehabilitation process is a mental battle from the very first day. Having a solid support base in the form of close friends and family is crucial as they are the ones that build the mind while the physiotherapists, surgeons and coaches rebuild the body.

Doctor Charlie Weingroff is someone who knows how to rebuild both. Weingroff, a certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist holds a doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. His work with elite athletes going through rehabilitation has brought him international renown and his time with the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2005/06 season saw the East Coast franchise ranked first in the NBA for the least amount of players missing games through injury.

For Weingroff, the mental side of rehabilitation is just as important as the physical process but stresses that because everyone is different, there are no set rules when understanding the mental side of recovery. Unlike a ruptured hamstring or a broken arm, every mind is comprised of different experiences and emotions. Some players may need constant reassurance that their rehabilitation is on track; others may need as little social interaction as possible. According to Weingroff, some players are like “little mad scientists” and scrutinise over every scrap of data while others simply need to be told what to do. Some injured athletes blame coaches and trainers for their ailments and others push too hard in their pursuit of fitness. As a result of the variety of mental states, Weingroff instead chooses to solve the mental battle with a physical approach.

“The psychological side of rehabilitation is still scientifically observable,” explains Weingroff. “Spiked levels of dopamine and certain neurotransmissions can be monitored. Maintaining hormonal and neurotransmitter levels associated with positive mind-sets and positive rehabilitation is what we strive for.”

This is achieved in a number of ways. First, the mind needs to be tricked into thinking that the body is healthy. As de Villiers and Weingroff both point out, one of the major inhibitors for rehabilitation is the athlete’s frustration that high levels of performance are no longer possible while injured. Weingroff circumnavigates this negativity by focussing on another area of the body. If an athlete has injured his foot or knee, there is no reason why the upper body cannot be trained. If this happens, there is a reduced risk of central sensitisation, a condition of the nervous system that is associated with chronic pain. “The athlete does not dwell on the injured body part and the area does not occupy a larger space in the cognitive brain,” Weingroff says. “Pain is in the mind, not in the body.”


Continue reading this article by clicking HERE.


See Charlie Weingroff and other leaders in the field of sports medicine and performance training at the 2015 BMPG Summer Seminar.  Seats are still available - but hurry, they will be gone!


Register for the BSMPG 2015 Summer Seminar Today!   


Soft Tissue Skills that Pay the Bills


functional release

Register for Functional Range Release UPPER Module  today * May 22-24, 2015 * Seats are Limited


Spina Spina

Spina  Spina  spina


Visit for complete course details


What is Functional Range Release?

Functional Range Release is an advanced system of soft-tissue treatment based in the principles of myofascial release, but with multiple improvements.  The treatment system, in combination with the Functional Anatomic Palpation Systems® methods of palpation, focuses on the assessment, localization, and systematic treatment of soft-tissue lesions (adhesions) and areas of fibrosis (scar tissue) which develop as a result of injury, repetitive strain, and cumulative trauma.

Utilizing the trademarked PAIL's Progressive Angular Isometric Loading®) and Tissue Tension Technique®, Functional Range Release® soft-tissue management system expands on the basic tenets of myofascial-release treatments by simultaneously assessing, expanding, and strengthening the patient’s functional range of motion.  Through our seminars, the practitioner learns to not only treat tissue, but is also provided a means to assess the tissue in order to make sound clinical decisions.  


In addition to the 3-day hands on instruction, the seminar also includes a significant online lecture component covering a variety of topics...

- Cellular Anatomy/Histological basis of the FR® system
- Molecular Biophysics
- Progressive tissue adaptation
- Functional Anatomic Palpation Systems (FAP)™
- Tissue Tension Technique
- Progressive/Regressive Angular Isometric Loading
- Tissue Layering Technique
- Neurological Drive assessment
- Mobility Rehabilitation & Development    

Spaces are filling up fast.  Register now by following the link below and get certified in the most advanced musculoskeletal assessment, treatment, and rehabilitative system to date... 




Learn more about the Functional Range Release system by clicking HERE.  

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Boston Welcomes back Soft Tissue Ninja Andreo Spina

Andreo Spina


"If a practitioner cannot define what they are feeling for in any realistic, scientific manner, then what is the outcome measures guiding their treatment?  By this I don’t mean the outcome measure used to define success in the eyes of patients such as pain or range of motion.  I mean what is the tactile finding that, on a moment-by-moment basis, guidance the practitioners treatment?  How does one know when soft tissue ‘release’ procedures are appropriate vs. passive modalities?  How does one know the needed amplitude and direction of force to apply?  How does one know when the treatment is over?  These and many other questions require that the practitioner is able to palpably distinguish between normal and abnormal anatomic structure, and further that they have a working definition/understanding of what they are looking for."

- Andreo Spina



Interview by Patrick Ward,


1) Thanks for taking the time out of your busy clinical and teaching schedule to do this interview, Dr. Spina. Can you please give the readers a short overview of your background??

Sure thing…

I studied Kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  I later graduated with summa cum laude and clinic honors from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College as a Doctor of Chiropractic and subsequently completed the two-year post-graduate fellowship in sports sciences. During my time studying Chiropractic, I became the first pre-graduate student to tutor in the cadaver laboratory in the department of Human Anatomy, a position that continued throughout my post-graduate fellowship program.

Stemming from my passion of studying and teaching anatomy, in 2006 I created Functional Anatomic Palpation Systems (F.A.P.)™ which is a systematic approach to soft tissue assessment and palpation.  Following the success of F.A.P. seminars, I later created a follow up system of soft tissue release and rehabilitation called Functional Range Release (F.R.)® technique which is now being utilized by manual practitioners around the world including the medical staffs of various professional sports organizations.  I then combined the scientific knowledge gained during my studies with my 29 years of martial arts training in various disciplines to create the third installment of my curriculum, Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)™, which is a system of mobility conditioning and joint strengthening.

Aside from my work teaching seminars, I also own a sports centre in Toronto, Ontario where I practice and train clients.  I am a published researcher, and I have authored chapters in various sports medicine textbooks.

2) You approach to soft tissue therapy is extremely comprehensive and, after having attending one of your courses before, it is obvious that you have spent a lot of time reading research in order to develop your thought processes and theories about what may be taking place when we apply contact to another person’s body. The fascial system is a big part of your approach and the concept of the fascial system and how the body is connected has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Can you please explain your approach and this concept you refer to as “Bioflow Anatomy”?

To say that the Functional Range Release system has a sole focus on fascia is not entirely accurate actually, although it might have been in the not so distant past.  Further examination of literature has led/forced me to be more inclusive of other tissues, which together constitute the most abundant type of tissue in the human body, namely Connective Tissue (CT).  Examples of other tissues inclusive in CT other than fascia include bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, lymphatic tissues…and even 80% of nerve structure.  When contemplating the effects of manual therapy ‘inputs,’ or even training inputs for that matter, we must be inclusive of all of these tissue types as each of them will equally adapt to applied inputs.  To say that with a particular soft tissue technique application I am affecting one tissue vs. another is as inaccurate as claiming that any particular exercise targets a single tissue, which is in fact impossible.  This line of thought stems from literature examining the effects of load inputs on cellular/subcellular processes…a topic that we dive into deeply in the FR Release curriculum.


Continue to read the rest of this article by clicking HERE  


Thanks to Patrick Ward for this interview!


Register for Andreo Spina's FAP/FR SPINE course in Boston, May 22-24, 2015 HERE.  






Only 6 weeks left - BSMPG Summer Seminar - Featuring Dr. Stress

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.




Register for the BSMPG 2015 Summer Seminar Today!

Register TODAY for the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar before seats fill up.

BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Dr. Marc Bubbs

BSMPG is proud to announce DR. MARC BUBBS 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!!!  


Marc Bubbsbook.bubbs


Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND

Sports Nutrition Lead for the Canadian Men's National Basketball Team

Sponsored by:


Inside Tracker


Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Strength Coach, Author, Speaker, and Blogger for Paleo Magazine and Loren Cordain's prestigious He believes that diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors have the most profound impact on your overall health and performance. Marc is the author of The Paleo Project – A 21st Guide to Looking Leaner, Getting Stronger, & Living Longer and currently serves as the Sports Nutrition Lead for the Canadian Men’s National Basketball Team.

@DrBubbs     twitter link - website link -



Register for the BSMPG 2015 Summer Seminar Today!

Developing GRIT at the 2015 CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting

BSMPG is proud to announce Lauren Eskreis-Winkler as a speaker at the 2015 CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting - Sunday May 17th, 2015 - Fenway Park.

Join the leaders in Sports Medicine and Performance Training for this one day event following the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Inquire at - serious thought leaders only!


Mission of the CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting: To provide the leaders in performance training and medical oversight an opportunity to engage with leaders of similar attitude, vision, and entrepreneurial spirit, while pursuing innovative strategies in performance methodology. 

This is a limited capacity event and will be held to 50 of the top thought and change leaders from across the globe.




Lauren Eskreis-Winkler

Topic: Building Grit

Lauren Eskreis-Winkler is a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.  In collaboration with Dr. Angela Duckworth, her research advisor, she has spent the past four years developing and testing grit interventions.  These interventions aim to build grit in individuals who need it most --  struggling athletes,  students in grade school, sales representatives at risk of dropping out, and community college students on probation.  In her presentation, she will discuss a variety of grit-building techniques and their relevance to athletes in particular.  


Learn to Develop GRIT with BSMPG at the CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting

May 17, 2015 - Fenway Park

Performance Directors Meeting



BSMPG 2015 - Welcomes Matt Jordan

BSMPG is proud to announce MATT JORDAN 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!!!  





Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary and the Director of Sport Science and Sport Medicine for Alpine Canada

Sponsored by:




Lecture: ACL injury / Re-injury prevention in Elite Alpine Ski Racers - It’s Not All Downhill


Matt Jordan is now a strength coach, the Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary and the Director of Sport Science and Sport Medicine for Alpine Canada. He also provides private strength coaching and sport science consultation to elite athletes through his business. A special interest of Matt’s is injury prevention. He is currently completing his Doctorate in Medical Science at the University of Calgary focusing on ACL Injury/Re-Injury Prevention in Elite Alpine Ski Racers. He has published his results in peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences. As an educator, Matt provides internship opportunities for developing strength coaches and has lectured for the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. Matt continues to write for lay journals and regularly travels across North America and Europe to lecture on strength and power training for elite athletes.

Learn more about Matt by clicking HERE.  


Register for the BSMPG 2015 Summer Seminar Today!

Register TODAY for the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar before seats fill up.



Developing Your Growth Mindset at BSMPG


Article originally published on:


Carol Dweck studies human motivation. She spends her days diving into why people succeed (or don’t) and what’s within our control to foster success.

As she describes it: “My work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior. My research looks at the origins of these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes.”

Her inquiry into our beliefs is synthesized in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The book takes us on a journey into how our conscious and unconscious thoughts affect us and how something as simple as wording can have a powerful impact on our ability to improve.

Dweck’s work shows the power of our most basic beliefs. Whether conscious or subconscious, they strongly “affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.” Much of what we think we understand of our personality comes from our “mindset.” This both propels us and prevents us from fulfilling our potential.

In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck writes:

What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?

The Two Mindsets

Carol Dweck Two Mindsets

Your view of yourself can determine everything. If you believe that your qualities are unchangeable — the fixed mindset — you will want to prove yourself over and over.

In Mindset, Dweck writes:

If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character— well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.


Continue to read this article by clicking HERE.  



Register for the BSMPG 2015 Summer Seminar Today!




Learning To Lead

Salman Khan

This article origianlly appeared on


Salman Khan became famous for teaching. Now he’s in a different role: Learner.

His Khan Academy is a free online education platform founded in 2006. Its 15 million registered users complete four million math problems per day.

But lately he’s facing a challenge unrelated to long division or polynomials. Khan Academy now counts 80 employees, and its boss has to figure out how to lead a growing organization.

“I’m not an expert manager,” admits the 38-year-old visionary, whose mission is to educate the world for free.

Although he’s achieved great individual success in his short career, Khan knows his organization won’t succeed on vision alone. So recently he’s begun meeting with his top people to develop a leadership and management strategy. “We’re this organization that’s all about learning,” he says. “But I find myself at a spot where it’s like, wow, there’s this whole thing called management. There’s a whole art to it. We’re asking ‘What does management training at Khan Academy mean?’ ”

Rest assured it won’t mean creating a traditional corporate learning culture. The Khan Academy is about blowing up traditional models. His learning platform gives teachers a completely new way to teach children math, science and other subjects. His challenge now is to figure out a better way to teach his adult leadership team how to motivate, delegate, set goals, monitor performance, hold people accountable, and so on.

The one thing he knows is that the manager is “the most powerful teaching role in an organization” and that managers will be at the center of his learning culture. “It’s an 18th or 19th century phenomenon to say the role of a manager is to get someone to do work,” he explains. “That’s wrong. The role of a modern manager is, ‘How do I develop my people?’ ”

Interesting story: When Khan worked as a senior analyst at a hedge fund before founding Khan Academy, the firm hired some junior analysts. “They were from top Ivy League schools with 4.0 GPAs in economics,” he recalls. “But they didn’t understand the basics of reading a financial statement.”

So Khan, being Khan, created a series of micro lectures on video. One day his boss noticed and Khan’s first reaction was to apologize. That time spent teaching, after all, was time not spent getting stuff done. “But my boss said, ‘No, this is great. I haven’t seen this happening at a hedge fund before.’ “

Khan’s evangelism about putting the manager at the center of organizational learning is anchored in a driving principle that spawned the Khan Academy and sustains it today: People don’t all learn at the same pace.

Which means what Khan calls “the Prussian model” for teaching kids never really worked, and neither does the classroom-style “sage-on-the-stage” model that currently dominates corporate training.

It never made sense to Khan that the kid who’d already figured out long division had to listen to the same math lecture as the kid who was totally lost. The key to successful education is to coach that lost kid, fill in his “gaps,” and get him to achieve mastery of long division before letting him move on to the next thing.

Khan proved this model back in 2004 when he created his first video tutorials for his niece, a seventh-grader who’d been excluded from the advanced math track. She was a thousand miles away, so Khan filled her gaps with short video tutorials. She got into advanced math. And the model for the Khan Academy was born.

Today Khan Academy has half a million registered teachers. Many of them are “filling gaps” in schools using his bite-size learning method. There’s no question he’s changing the way education works.

But Khan laments that today most companies “have formal training programs that mirror traditional academic models,” and they’re making the same mistakes schools did. “There are two things that are even more true about the workplace than the classroom,” he says. “The first is that the differences between people’s gaps in understanding are more diverse. The second is that there is even more need for people to learn asynchronously.”

It’s true that a given workplace team will have wildly varied backgrounds and lack a shared knowledge base to build on. The “gaps” will be huge. While it’s efficient to gather the team for a “synchronous” classroom-style training event where they all learn together, Khan is saying that in the workplace it’s likely to be ineffective. Even more ineffective than it is in schools.

The only alternative to that model is the manager/teacher role. Managers need to assess the gaps of the people they oversee, then coach them at their own pace and help them achieve mastery of skills.

That takes time and effort. And most managers, even those who really want to develop people, will struggle to get it done. So I asked Khan, given the time constraints , and the mindset of most managers, what leaders can do to create a learning culture with the manager/teacher at its center. He suggested three strategies:

Strategy #1: Motivate managers by linking talent development to their compensation. Khan believes most managers aren’t motivated to develop people. And that senior executives, who “have all the levers at their disposal” to incentivize managers, are missing a huge opportunity.

“The main lever is how people are compensated,” Khan says. “Management can make the rubric for how managers are rewarded and promoted. And part of that rubric is, you go to our corporate intranet and you achieve mastery of certain skills, and if you do that you get rewarded.”

The idea of measuring training behavior rather than training results doesn’t sit well with traditional learning professionals. But as I pointed out in a previous article, demonstrating a “training ROI” is often impossible because there are so many variables. More and more companies, including GE, have recognized the futility of correlating soft-skills training to business results. Instead, they’re measuring the behaviors that should logically lead to better results. Engaging in training activity is one such behavior, and it’s relatively easy to measure.

Continue to read this article by clicking HERE.  


Learn to Lead with BSMPG at the CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting

May 17, 2015 - Fenway Park

Performance Directors Meeting



Electrostimulation Recovery-Related Strategies





- Written by Nicola A. Maffiuletti, Switzerland and Grégory Dupont, France

Originally published on



Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (ES) consists of delivering small electrical pulses via electrodes that are positioned on the skin, usually around skeletal muscle motor points or painful body areas. Depending on electrical current (frequency and intensity) and electrode characteristics (size, position), two major ES categories can be distinguished:

  1. Sensory’ ES (no muscular contractions are evoked). Conventionally called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This is mainly delivered using relatively low current intensities (at or below the sensory threshold) in an attempt to relieve pain via spinal circuitry transmitting pain (gate theory) and endorphin release.
  2. ‘Motor’ ES. Conventionally called neuromuscular electrical stimulation. This elicits visible muscular contractions (stimulations are delivered at or above the motor threshold), using either tetanic or sub-tetanic stimulations, whose clinical/physiological consequences are improved neuromuscular function and enhanced peripheral blood flow.

In reality, this distinction is not always respected and considerable confusion continues to surround the main physiological effects, methodological aspects and clinical/sports applications of transcutaneous ES.


Some individual and team sport athletes use motor ES modalities as a complement to their training/rehabilitation programmes for:

  1. improving muscle strength during the pre-season,
  2. maintaining/improving muscle function while injured/after an injury and
  3. restoring physical performance after intense exercise (i.e. for accelerating recovery).


There is some evidence to suggest that motor (tetanic) ES is effective to increase muscle strength in athletes (for a review see Seyri and Maffiuletti1), and to preserve muscle mass during prolonged periods of inactivity2. Surprisingly, however, the growing interest in applied research on tetanic ES observed in the last few years has corresponded to a reduced use by athletes and reduced development by manufacturers. At the same time, but with premature physiological background, subtetanic ES has gained popularity in sportspeople as a potentially effective strategy to accelerate post-exercise recovery.


This review article aims to assess the effectiveness of motor subtetanic and sensory ES as a recovery modality for athletes by following a simplified and non-systematic approach. Because the post-exercise decline in physical/sports performance is due to an impairment in neuromuscular and/or psychomotivational function, and because recovery modalities are designed to restore neuromuscular function and/or psychomotivational function to the pre-exercise level as quickly as possible, we preferred to provide separate definitions, analyses and interpretations for ‘physiological’ and ‘perceptual’ recovery throughout the article. We therefore considered original research studies:

  1. published in peer-reviewed journals,
  2. comparing the effectiveness of ES-related recovery strategies to passive recovery or other recovery modalities (at least two conditions),
  3. focusing on athletes or healthy subjects,
  4. having quantified at least one physiological and/or perceptual variable of recovery.


Register for the BSMPG 2015 Summer Seminar Today!


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