A Simple Approach to Running Analysis for Clinicians

This week’s post is an amazing article by my friend Chris Johnson on what he looks for during a running analysis.  Chris is my go-to resource for running related injuries and rehabilitation.  He’s also recently developed an app on the iTunes app store to help runners, which I have reviewed and found to be really impressive.  Check it out at the end of this article!


A Simple Approach to Running Analysis For Clinicians

a simple approach to running analysis for cliniciansThe ultimate special test for runners is RUNNING.

For some odd reason, when runners seek medical consultation, clinicians routinely neglect watching them run during the rehab process. While it may not always be appropriate to take an injured runner through a formal running analysis at the time of presentation, at some point it’s imperative to take the time to watch them run. Only then will you gain a more complete understanding of perhaps what landed them in your hands in the first place.

A great deal of research has emerged over the past several years specifically looking at various characteristics of the running gait and their associated implications. A few prime examples include but are not limited to the following:

  •      Footstrike
  •      Step rate
  •      Hip adduction
  •      Loading rates
  •      Speed

By taking the time to understand the running gait along with ways to shift loads in the lower extremity, clinicians will ultimately be in a better position to help runners return to consistent training in a timely manner through manipulating physical loads on the ecosystem.

While this may seem daunting to those new at running analysis, it can actually be quite simple.  The purpose of this post is to provide clinicians with a simple framework to approach conducting a running analysis using what I call “The Four S’s of Running Analysis.”  These are:

  •      Sound
  •      Strike
  •      Step rate
  •      Speed

While it’s important to appreciate that overground and treadmill running are different animals, approaching every running assessment in a systematic manner is important. Clinicians are encouraged to use the resources at their disposal while understanding their relevance and limitations. By developing proficiency in performing a running gait analysis, clinicians will ultimately refine their clinical decision making and improve their outcomes in terms of restoring one’s float phase.



Before you even watch someone run, close your eyes and listen to the sound of their running gait. As clinicians, there is a great deal of information that can be ascertained by simply listening to one run.

  •      Does the runner land quiet, or is does it sound like they are going to put a hole through the ground or treadmill belt?
  •      Do their feet sound similar or is there a strike asymmetry?
  •      Does the sound of their footstrike change as a function of being shod versus unshod?
  •      Does the sound change as a function of different shoe types?

One of the simplest cues to consider in the event that someone is “overstriking” is to simply instruct the runner to “quiet your feet down.” This may be particularly relevant if the goal is to reduce the vertical ground reaction force (vGRF).

It’s important to appreciate that when one does go to quiet down their feet, that they tend to increase the ankle and knee joint excursions. On the other hand, if landing sound increases, so does the vGRF secondary to decreasing ankle joint excursion while increasing the hip joint excursion (Wernli et al. 2016).

It has been the author’s experience that under a shod condition that a rearfoot strike lends itself to reducing the sound of impact whereas when a runner is barefoot that a forefoot strike serves to quiet down the sound of impact through using the triceps surae to dampen the vertical rate of loading (VRL).



Let’s not complicate things! Does the runner land with a noticeable heel strike or forefoot strike, or do they exhibit a midfoot, or “flat-footed” contact? Is their strike symmetrical?

Also, the point in the race or training session we are discussing matters because one’s strike pattern tends to change over the course of the run, especially during competition (Larson et al 2011).

Over the past several years, there was a considerable buzz around forefoot striking as a means to address common running related injuries. This was due in large part to the book “Born to Run,” in conjunction with Daniel Lieberman’s classic manuscript that appeared in Nature (Lieberman et al 2010) coupled with a craze by the mass media.  It should be mentioned that coaches have long used barefoot training as means to incorporate variability into a runner’s program.

Training runners to incorporate a forefoot strike into their training may prove effective some, such as those with tibial stress syndromes, anterior compartment syndrome, and anterior knee pain.  Caution should be exercised in the context of a past medical history remarkable for injuries involving the calf muscle complex, plantar tissues of the foot, and/or metatarsals as it will bias the load to these regions.

On the other hand, if a runner is dealing with an Achilles tendinopathy or recovering from a calf muscle strain, a heel or rearfoot striking strategy would perhaps be indicated as research has shown that such a strategy reduces Achilles tendon force, strain, and strain rate relative to a FFS pattern (Lyght et al. 2016).

In my opinion, one strike pattern is not necessarily superior to others, but rather, that every strike pattern has unique characteristics and implications (Almeida et al 2015) and serves a purpose pending the context and intent.

By taking the time to understand the implications of each strike pattern, clinicians will be better able to understand the potential changes to consider making as a means to shift load to different regions of the lower extremity. As with any change, however, clinicians must be mindful that it should take place in a slow and gradual manner.

Finally, never take a runner’s word if they tell you that they utilize a certain strike pattern as research has shown that a runner’s subjective report of their strike is not necessarily accurate (Bade et al. 2016).


Step Rate

Running is largely about rhythm and timing.

It’s therefore no surprise that over the past several years, a considerable amount of research has focused on step rate or what’s more commonly known as cadence as a simple and practical means to address common running injuries.

The idea is that by increasing the number of steps while keeping running velocity constant, a runner can effectively reduce the magnitude of each individual loading cycle despite increasing the total number of loading cycles for a given training session. This ultimately occurs through a reduction in one’s stride length as when step rate and stride length are manipulated independently, the benefits only occur with a reduction in stride length.

runcadence appBecause I think this is so important, I actually developed a cadence app, RunCadence, which is specifically designed to help runners and clinicians apply cadence to rehab and training for runners through the use of accelerometry coupled with a metronome.

Research has shown that increasing one’s step rate by as a little as five percent above preferred while keeping velocity constant can reduce shock absorption at the level of the knee by upwards of 20 percent. Additionally, increasing step rate by 10 percent above preferred significantly reduces peak hip adduction angle as well as peak hip adduction and internal rotation moments (Heiderscheit et al. 2011).

More recently, a study showed that irrespective of whether one utilizes a rearfoot or forefoot strike pattern that increasing one’s cadence by five percent results in lower peak Achilles stress and strain.

Decreasing one’s stride length through step rate manipulation has also been shown to lead to a wider step width with an accompanying decrease in contralateral pelvic drop (CPD), peak hip adduction, peak ankle eversion, as well as peak ITB strain and strain rate (Boyer & Derrick 2015).

Lastly, clinicians should also bear in mind that increasing one’s step rate greater than 10% above preferred while keeping running velocity constant tends to occur at a greater metabolic cost so as they say, “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.” So at day’s end, remember that the sweet spot is between 5-10% when it comes to increasing cadence based on the current body of literature.



Anytime one discusses running, it’s important that we account for the amount of ground covered in a given time. This is referred to as running velocity, which is the quotient of distance and time.

The typical units that we go by in the United States are min/mile or miles/hour (mph), though most of the world relies on the metric system (m/s or km/hr). So make sure you have a converter bookmarked on your web browser.

Running is typically classified into one of five categories based on speed (Novachek 1998):

  1. Jogging = 2m/s or 4.5mph
  2. Slow running = 3.5m/s or 7.8mph
  3. Medium running = 5m/s or 11mph
  4. Fast running = 7m/s or 15mph
  5. Sprinting = 8m/s or 17.9mph

Additionally, to run faster, a runner must push on the ground more forcefully, more frequently, or a combination thereof (Schache et al 2014).

At speeds < 7m/s the ankle plantarflexors reign supreme as they contribute most significantly to vertical support surfaces and increases in stride length (Dorn et al 2012). At faster speeds, however, the energy sources tend to shift proximal as a means to increase stride frequency in order to increase speed.

The reality is that most runners seeking our services will fall under the category of joggers and slow runners unless one works with speed based running athletes and short course racers.

Once a runner has reached a point in their rehab where they are a candidate to undergo a running analysis, the question naturally becomes, “what speed should we select?” This question is best answered by primarily considering the runner’s pre-injury status along with the severity, region, type of injury, and agreed upon goals.

It’s also essential to clearly identify the runner’s typical training and race intensities to better understand the entry point to having them run as well as the various speeds worth taking them through as part of the analysis.

It should also be mentioned that a thorough running analysis may require a couple sessions to work them up to faster velocities to ensure tolerance to progressive loading. Unfortunately, a common pitfall in the clinic is reluctance, or failure to have runners work up to faster speeds. This invariably leads to a myopic view of one’s running while engendering the potential for hasty clinical reasoning as we transition runners back to training.

In retrospect, running is an activity that has relatively predictable performance demands. By taking the time to develop proficiency in conducting a simple running analysis while applying the research as it relates to shifting loads in the lower extremity, clinicians will be better positioned to help runners return to consistent and healthy training and beyond.


Download the RunCadence App

running_cadence_appRunCadence was developed by two physical therapists to help the running community apply step rate to running via real time step rate notification and metronome.
Start using RunCadence to get more in tune with your running. While no shortcuts or “hacks” to running exist, gait retraining using cadence is the next best thing.  Click below to download:



About the Author

Chris Johnson, PT, is the owner of Zeren PT and Performance in Seattle, WA.  In addition to being a highly skilled physical therapist and performance enhancement specialist for runners, Chris is also certified triathlon coach (ITCA), three-time All-American triathlete, two-time Kona Qualifier, and is currently ranked 16th (AG) in the country for long course racing.

Layering The Basics For Optimal Movement

This week’s post comes from my friend and colleague at Champion, Dave Tilley.  Dave is no doubt one of the most impressive up-and-coming PTs out there right now and we are thrilled to have him part of our team at Champion.  In this day and age, I’m seeing more and more students and young professionals skip the basics.  In this post, Dave talks about how he focuses on some of the basics to achieve optimal performance.


Layering The Basics For Optimal Movement

Within my first few weeks of working at Champion, I remember one day Mike Reinold said, “Over the years I think people have overcomplicated things a lot. I’m actually trying to get back to the basics, and just do them really well.”

This stuck with me as I reflected back on my first few years coming out of PT school.  After graduating, I dove into a lot of continuing education trying to catch up with all the new information available. I found myself swimming in a ton of really complicated material related to evaluation, treatment, and research concepts.

I think I let myself get into the complex material a little too much, and I found myself missing a lot of basics when working with clients. The more I learn and gain experience, I am finally able to find the balance. Overall, I have drifted back into making sure the basics are done really well before utilizing more complex approaches.

Coming from my gymnastics background, it’s a sport that is built around mastering the basics and revisiting them constantly. The gymnasts I coach do 45 minutes of basics daily in their workout.

The highest-level elite athletes I have worked with do the basics better than anyone else, and this it what makes the sport so hard.

These same high-level athletes tend to be the best compensators on the planet, having nervous systems that “get the job done” even if it means sacrificing tissue health.

When treating them, it often comes down to revisiting basics first. These “basics” include soft tissue or joint mobility, baseline strength, fundamental dynamic control, and more. It’s only once these factors have been addressed that we can start tweaking the complicated variables of program designed, complex movement patterns and high-level performance.

Here are a few “layers” of categories I consider for the maximizing movement, performance, and rehabilitation.

Layering The Basics For Optimal Movement

Performance / Competition Level Basics

  • Does the person have a well-structured program design, which utilizes appropriate work to rest ratios and a periodized model that fits their goals?
  • Does the person understand the basics of nutrition, hydration, sleep, and recovery methods to maximize the training effect from the point above?
  • Is there some form of athlete monitoring (ideally subjective and objective) for understanding what is happening physiologically and psychologically during the training?
  • Does the athlete have tools or strategies for competition planning, stress management, and mental preparedness?

Sport / Skill Level Basics

  • Has the athlete grown up in a sporting environment that allowed a large range of sensory, motor, and movement based fundamentals to develop. With growing rates of early specialization and year-round training, this tends to become and issue in older athletes?
  • Does the athlete understand a large range of fundamental movements  (squat, hinge, run, push, pull, jump, etc) and are they equally represented in the program. As skill specific training increases this may drop off but it should never be completely lost?
  • Do they understand and show the basics of sport specific movements being trained. Examples include fundamental shaping for gymnastics skills, basic mechanics for pitching, or mastery of barbell only clean/snatch movements in Olympic Lifting?

Movement Level Basics

  • Within the skill specific patterns, does the athlete possess the basic movement components required to complete them. Examples for this may include having adequate overhead mobility or squat depth to hit the Olympic lifting positions, having basic lumbopelvic strength during the gymnastics drills, or adequate single leg stability to transfer dynamic force during a baseball pitch?

Joint Level Basics

  • If the basic movement patterns are not demonstrated, we have to work backwards even further to check the joint level basics within each movement pattern.
  • Within the overhead mobility example, does the person show adequate thoracic spine mobility, glenohumeral capsular and soft tissue mobility, underlying scapular or rotator cuff strength, and basic dynamic stability? For the stride mechanics, is there adequate hip, ankle, and great toe mobility present, along with glute strength and internal hip co-contraction to tolerate the high forces being generated?


Where to start for checking off the basics depends on the client. It depends on if they are rehabilitation or performance based, their history, and their evaluation.

It’s important to remember these categories are not mutually exclusive. They are very much interactive. If someone is week 1 postoperative from an ACL surgery, I’m not really worried about his or her power clean mechanics just yet. But, I still may be considering sleep, nutrition, hydration, maintaining metabolic capacity, and training the uninvolved areas of the body to optimize their rehabilitation.

A gymnast or athlete who is not injured but comes to me for performance goals, we may spend more time on the skill specific movements and overall training concepts. However, if they are missing some fundamental strength and joint mobility we may consider that within the treatment sessions.

With this said, I do think that reading and trying to understand complicated concepts is important. After all the human body is pretty complex. To make progress in the fields of human movement, I think we need to break down these larger usually more theoretically constructs.

With that said, we have to always remember that basics and foundational concepts will always need to be in place. As people say, a house built on sand is doomed from the beginning. When troubleshooting a client’s lack of progress in training, rather than spending 30 minutes trying to correct their 3 degree tibial internal rotation asymmetry maybe we should consider the fact they averaged 5 hours of sleep and worked 10 hour days last week.

It’s good to take a step back and make sure we have addressed the low hanging fruit before we scale the entire tree. Only once the basics are covered can we start tackling more complex concepts to help optimize their movement or performance. Just a few thoughts from my point of view, but I hope people found this helpful to think about.


About the Author

Tilley-Headshot-400-widthDave Tilley, DPT, is a physical therapist at Champion PT and Performance. Dave comes from an extensive gymnastics background, being a former competitive athlete for 18 years and having 12 years of coaching experience. His unique background as a former athlete and current optional level coach gives him a one of a kind approach to the performance and rehabilitation of gymnasts.  Along with his clinical work, Dave is has a website, http://shiftmovementscience.com, that helps teach coaches, athletes, and healthcare providers about optimal performance and injury reduction concepts.

How Neural Tension Influences Hamstring Flexibility

Many people think they have tight hamstrings.  This may be the case for some but there are often times that people feel “tight” but aren’t really tight.

I’ve been playing around with how neural tension influences hamstring flexibility and have been having great results.

Watch this video below, which is a clip from my product Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement, to learn more about what I mean.


How Neural Tension Influences Hamstring Flexibility


Learn Exactly How I Optimize Movement

Want to learn even more about how I optimize movement?  Eric Cressey and I have teamed up on Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement, to show you exactly how we both assess, coach, and build programs designed to optimize movement.

Click the button below for more information and to sign up now!



What Exactly is Optimal Movement Quality?

What exactly does optimal movement quality mean?

Have you ever thought of that?  How do you define “optimal” movement?”  I would argue optimal movement is slightly different for everyone as we are all unique.

However, I usually think of optimal movement as simply two things:

  1. Do the right joints move (and the wrong ones don’t)?
  2. Do the right muscles work (and the wrong ones don’t)?


Watch this video below, which is a clip from my product Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement, to learn more about what I mean.


What is Optimal Movement Quality?


Learn Exactly How I Optimize Movement

Want to learn even more about how I optimize movement?  Eric Cressey and I have teamed up on Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement, to show you exactly how we both assess, coach, and build programs designed to optimize movement.

Click the button below for more information and to sign up now!


Is GIRD Really the Reason Why Baseball Pitchers Get Hurt?

Today’s guest post comes from Lenny Macrina, my good friend and co-owner of Champion PT and Performance.  We work with a lot of baseball players at Champion, which makes us really understand one thing – baseball pitchers are unique!  Many of our athletes come to us after going elsewhere for care but not making the progress they want.  I don’t think we are special, we just see a lot of baseball injuries, so we know what to look for in these athletes.  

Lenny does a great job here discussing a very common misconception about pitching injuries and GIRD.  Honestly, GIRD is kind of outdated.  

Lenny has conducted a ton of research on this topic and wanted to share his results.  You MUST understand the science and not get caught up in all the hype on the internet!  Read below and learn more!


Baseball pitchers tend to have unique amounts of mobility of their shoulders. Because of this, throwing generates tremendous forces on the shoulder.  This is important to consider when evaluating and treating baseball injuries.

All of this fancy talk basically says that throwing a baseball is technically bad for your body, and many times we see baseball pitchers with hurt shoulders and elbows.

But why?

We believe there are many reasons, but as physical therapists who have to assess and treat these baseball players, we must be aware of their unique presentation and act accordingly.

It has been well established in the literature that pitchers exhibit adaptations to their shoulder mobility from the act of throwing.   Generally, the thrower’s shoulder exhibits less internal rotation but greater external rotation compared to non-throwing side. There are many proposed reasons for these shoulder mobility changes, including bony adaptations, muscular tightness, shoulder blade position, and capsular restrictions.

This loss of internal rotation has received a lot of attention and has even been referred to as glenohumeral joint internal rotation deficit (GIRD).


Is GIRD really the reason why baseball pitchers get hurt?

Several authors have stated that GIRD may increase the risk of shoulder injuries in baseball pitchers. This has caused everyone to assume this and treat accordingly.

Our initial research, that we published in 2011, showed pitchers with GIRD had a 1.8 times increased risk of shoulder injury. But it was NOT statistically significant. Since then, we have published more data that shows similar trends, specifically in our paper looking at 8 consecutive seasons of injury data.

While pitchers with measured GIRD had a slightly higher rate of shoulder injury during that season, the relationship was not statistically significant and GIRD did not correlate with shoulder injuries.

Essentially, we have not shown that GIRD correlates to pitching injuries.


Total Motion May Be More of the Issue

Perhaps the issue really isn’t GIRD?  A more important measurement to consider in the overhead thrower is total rotational range of motion. Total rotation is defined as the sum of external rotation and internal rotation.


Total Rotational Range of Motion

Rather than look at internal rotation by itself, it may be more valuable to look at the combined total rotational motion of both external and internal rotation together.

In fact, we showed that pitchers with greater than a 5 degree deficit in total rotational range of motion displayed a greater risk of injury. In one study, this was a statistically significant 2.6 times increased risk of shoulder injury.


What About External Rotation and Shoulder Injuries?

Does GIRD Cause Baseball Pitching InjuriesCuriously enough, we also have shown a relationship between loss of external rotation mobility and shoulder injuries.  Pitchers with external rotation insufficiency were more likely to undergo surgery, 2.2 times more likely be placed on the DL for a shoulder injury, and 4.0 times more likely to undergo shoulder surgery.

Wow!  At first you would think, let’s stretch these guys out and gain external rotation. But hold on one second and let’s get a grip!

If you remember our study from 2011, we showed a high preponderance for shoulder injuries especially in the pitchers whose total motion was greater than 187 degrees.  You don’t want too little or too much motion!

So, as I always tell my students, athletes and fellow clinicians: We’re always walking a fine line between too much and not enough mobility.


What About Shoulder Flexion?

While internal and external rotation get all the exposure, shoulder flexion may actually be an area we see tight the most.

I think one interesting finding of our recent research has been the relationship between the shoulder flexion deficit and injury.  Pitchers with a deficit of greater than or equal to 5° in shoulder flexion of the throwing shoulder had a 2.8 times greater risk for elbow injury.

The correlation between shoulder flexion deficit and elbow injury may represent a lack of tissue mobility and overall flexibility (possibly to the latissimus dorsi) in injury-prone subjects.

The baseball pitcher has a unique mobility of the arm.  We need to be careful assuming that these abnormalities and asymmetries correlate to injury.  They often do not.

The challenge is figuring this out and keeping up with the research…as it is always evolving!  The more you work with baseball pitchers the more you appreciate these subtleties.  These are the subtleties that make them unique, and effective as athletes.


So, what does all of this mean?

  • Assess motion
  • GIRD not necessarily bad (actually pretty normal)
  • Lacking ER may increase risk of injury
  • Total range of motion deficits increase risk of injury
  • Shoulder flexion deficits increased elbow injury risks
  • Assess and never assume!

GIRD is not as evil as everyone makes it out to be.  Treating them unnecessarily and trying to gain internal rotation may actually make them worse.  Don’t treat without thoroughly assessing, and don’t assume GIRD is the reason why baseball pitchers get injured.



Does Strength Prevent Injuries?

Evan OsarToday’s guest post comes from Evan Osar.  Evan is doing a great job sharing his views and systems for corrective exercise.  He has a new program teaching you his complete assessment and corrective exercise system that he has produced with our friends from Fitness Revolution.  They have been gracious enough to offer a special $100 off discount for my readers this week.  More info after the article, but you can learn more here: The Integrated Corrective Exercise Approach.


Does Strength Prevent Injuries?

The goal of corrective exercise is to help our clients develop a more ideal postural and movement strategy. We strive to teach the nervous system to hold a more optimal alignment, to breathe better, and to control the body better so our clients can hold proper posture and move with greater efficiency and without so much compensation, which is a key factor in many of our clients’ problems and loss of performance.

As strength conditioning specialists, we like to believe that strength prevents injuries because we think the stronger somebody is, the better they are, and the fewer injuries they’ll have.

I’ve been working with clients and patients for the last 17 years, and some of the most dysfunctional individuals whom I assess and work on are the strongest individuals.


Strength by Itself Does Not Prevent Injuries

How, then, do we prevent injuries?

What really prevents injuries is helping your client develop an improved strategy for posture and movement. What, then, are the key components to developing an improved strategy for posture and movement?

To improve your clients’ posture and movement, you must get them to understand and incorporate the fundamental ABC’s—the fundamental principles of the Integrated Movement System™.


A = Alignment

Evan Osar Corrective ExerciseYou have to teach your clients how to develop the optimal alignment, so when they load the joint, the joint is loaded in the right direction and position.

One way to visualize this principle is to point your finger straight up. If you place the palm of your other hand on the tip of that finger (similar to a “timeout” gesture) and apply force down through the finger, you could hold your finger like this for a long time and not have any issues because you’re loading the joint in the most optimal position.

Now, bend your finger back so it is no longer straight up but is pointing as far away from its palm as it can go. If you try to make the same “timeout” gesture with your other hand and apply force down through the finger, you can’t do that for very long before your finger would be very uncomfortable because it is being bent even further back.

This same concept applies to all the joints in your body: There are maximally optimal positions for loading, and there are suboptimal positions for loading. Our goal is to help our clients align better so that they can put less wear and tear on their joint structures.


B = Breathing

We must breathe three dimensionally, or have access to our entire thoracopelvic canister, from top to bottom and from the top of our lung field to our pelvic floor.

We must be able to breathe laterally, or side to side. We must be able to breathe front to back so that we can access the entire diaphragm; all the intercostal muscles between the ribs; the deep myofascial system; and muscles like the psoas, transverse abdominis, and multifidi.

All these muscles coordinate with one another in the process of breathing, which also enables us to stabilize. The primary stabilization of our core should come from internal regulation of pressure—intrathoracic and intra-abdominal pressure. That’s what core stability is really all about.

It’s not about bracing or squeezing muscles—that’s a part of core stabilization, but it’s not the primary component of core stabilization. Therefore, it’s not strength that prevents injuries; it’s the ability to align and breathe.


C = Control

Once we align the body in the right position, and once we have proper three-dimensional breathing, we must be able to control our body positions. So whether we’re in a static position, performing a dynamic movement, or moving through the fundamental movement patterns (squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending, rotating in gait), we must be able to use the right muscles at the right time in the right manner to control the joint for the activity that you are trying to do.

The “right muscles” and “right manner” will both change depending upon the different activities we need to do. For example, your clients’ resting postural strategy should be different than what they would do if they were squatting 300 pounds. Certainly, we should have alignment of the thoracopelvic canister both in quiet standing and during a deadlift or squat pattern. What changes however, is the level of activation.

When we’re quietly standing in posture, we should have very little activity of the core muscles; they shouldn’t be off, but there should be very little activity: Our glutes, abdominals, and erectors should be soft. This is similar to how you wouldn’t walk around with your biceps contracted all day long, your abs gripped up all day long, your low back tightened all day long, or your glutes gripped up all day long.

As an exercise, stand up if you are sitting right now. Feel your glutes. They should be soft. Feel around your abdomen, and feel around your lower back. They should all be soft while at rest. This doesn’t mean they’re not toned—in fact, they should be soft, just like how your biceps should be soft at rest.

When we need them to activate to lift a heavy weight, lift a child, lift a bag of groceries, do a sled push, etc., we need a higher level of activity. The key is to use the right strategy at the right time so that we have the control we need for, in this example, thoracopelvic canister.

So when I’m squatting 300 pounds, I have a nice controlled thoracopelvic canister where I’m braced up and able to use intra-abdominal and intrathoracic pressure, and I’m able to layer my abdominal muscles, my low back muscles, and my hip muscles. But when I’m done with that squat pattern, I leave the gym, and I’m living my life, those muscles should release and become soft. What we see with our general population clients specifically is they are not stopping their gripping/bracing strategy when they leave their exercise session, and that’s what starts to put wear and tear upon the joints, overuses the muscles, and creates a lot of compensation.


So what prevents injuries? It’s not about strength.

All things being equal, strength will help you prevent injuries, but all things are not equal with our clients. Most of our clients do not have an ideal or optimal postural and movement strategy.

They don’t have great alignment, they don’t have great breathing, and they don’t have great control. They default to gripping, bracing, and doing very accessory dominant breathing as their strategy, and that leads to compensation.

So what helps prevent injuries?

The fundamental ABC’s: alignment, breathing, and control, which should be 3 primary areas of focus in corrective exercise.


Learn Evan Osar’s Corrective Exercise System

Corrective exercise systemI am really excited to share that Evan and our friends at Fitness Revolution have offered my readers a special $100 off Evan’s new program, The Integrative Corrective Exercise Approach.  In this great program, Evan shares his proven system to help you assess postural and movement problems and develop a corrective exercise strategy.

The program is $100 off for my readers this week only!  The offer ends Friday March 18th at midnight!

Assessing for Lat and Teres Tightness with Overhead Shoulder Mobility

Limitations in overhead shoulder mobility are common and often a frequent source of nagging shoulder pain and decreased performance.  Any loss of shoulder elevation mobility can be an issue with both fitness enthusiasts and athletes.  Just look at all the exercises that require a good amount of shoulder mobility in the fitness, Crossfit, and sports performance worlds.  Overhead press, thrusters, overhead squats, and snatches are some of the most obvious, put even exercises like pullups, handstands, wall balls, and hanging knee and toe ups can be problematic, especially when combined with speed and force such as during a kipping pull up.

Assessing for Lat and Teres Tightness with Overhead Shoulder MobilityWhen assessing for limitations in overhead shoulder elevation, there are several things you need to evaluate.  I’ve discussed many of these in several past blog posts and Inner Circle webinars on How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility.

I am worried about what I am seeing on the internet right now.

I feel like the mobility trends I am seeing are focused on torquing the shoulder joint to try to improve overhead mobility.  Remember, the shoulder is a VERY mobile joint that tends to run into trouble from a lack of stability.  Trying to stretch out the joint or shoulder capsule should never be the first thing you attempt with self mobilization techniques.  In fact, I have found it causes way more problems than it solves.

Think about it for a second…

If your shoulder can’t fully elevate, jamming it into more elevation is only going to cause more issues. Find the cause. [Click to Tweet]

In my experience, the focus should be on the soft tissue around the joint, not the shoulder joint itself.  The muscles tend to be more of the mobility issue from my experience than the joint.  Just think about all the chronic adaptations that occur from out postures and habits throughout the date.

Two of the most muscles that I see causing limitations in overhead shoulder mobility at the latissimus dorsi and the teres major.

Here’s a quick and easy way to assess the lat and teres during arm elevation.


Assessing and Improving Overhead Shoulder Mobility

For those interested in learning more, I have a few Inner Circle webinars on how to assess and improve overhead shoulder mobility:



How to Assess for a Tight Posterior Capsule of the Shoulder

Over the years, the idea of posterior capsular tightness and glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD) in baseball pitchers has grown in popularity despite not much evidence.

I routinely see baseball players ranging from kids to MLB pitchers that have been told they have GIRD and need to aggressively stretch their posterior capsule and into shoulder internal rotation.  One of the first recommendations I make is essentially addition by subtraction – stop focusing on these areas!  I’ve discussed at length my feelings on why I don’t use the sleeper stretch, which is something I haven’t used in over a decade and none of my athletes have a loss of internal rotation.

Many people assume that GIRD is caused my posterior capsular tightness, without assessing the posterior capsule itself.  Blindly applying treatments without completely assessing the person is always a bad idea, especially considering GIRD may be normal and not even an issue.

Assessing the posterior capsule can be tricky and most text books continue to demonstrate the technique poorly.  I wanted to share a quick video showing how to assess the posterior capsule of the shoulder.



Perform your assessment of the posterior capsule this way and you’ll realize most people can actually sublux posteriorly and that mobilizing the posterior capsule isn’t what they need for GIRD!  Keep in mind this is applicable for athletes, you can certainly get a tight posterior capsule for many reasons, I just don’t think this is the primary cause of GIRD so shouldn’t be the primary treatment.


Learn Exactly How I Evaluate and Treat the Shoulder

If you are interested in mastering your understanding of the shoulder, I have my acclaiming online program teaching you exactly how I evaluate and treat the shoulder!

ShoulderSeminar.comThe online program at takes you through an 8-week program with new content added every week.  You can learn at your own pace in the comfort of your own home.  You’ll learn exactly how I approach:

  • The evaluation of the shoulder
  • Selecting exercises for the shoulder
  • Manual resistance and dynamic stabilization drills for the shoulder
  • Nonoperative and postoperative rehabilitation
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Shoulder instability
  • SLAP lesions
  • The stiff shoulder
  • Manual therapy for the shoulder

The program offers 21 CEU hours for the NATA and APTA of MA and 20 CEU hours through the NSCA.

Click below to learn more:





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