14 Apr Clarifying Corrective Exercise
I’m a big fan of staying in my lane.
I’m not a website coder, so I outsource to my developer.
I’m not a youth training guru (yet), so I reach out to coaches with decades of experience.
I’m not a photographer, so I have my freelance guy do my photography.
I’m not a chef, so I order Amazon meal service.
I’m terrible at driving in the city, so I call an Uber.
To say I stay in my lane is an understatement.
Now at age 29, I am clear on what I’m talented at: 1) coaching kids 2) writing words 3) giving life advice and 4) introverting with my cat.
Everything else, I’m either outsourcing or referring out to another professional.
Not to sound insidious, but more strength coaches need to do so.
If you’re a new strength and conditioning coach, chances are, you want to dabble in everything – strength training, youth training, senior citizen training, TRX training, or I don’t know, sandbag interval training.
But over the years, the one thing I see strength coaches crossing boundaries with is corrective exercise.
What’s worse is, the ones who claim they’re “corrective exercise specialists” think they can fix an asymmetrical hip in an athlete with the bat of an eyelash. Or they’re above other coaches and are the panacea to all client imbalances and weaknesses.
Here’s my take on all of this: improving mobility, addressing asymmetries, and fixing imbalances should be a guaranteed part of your training anyway.
And if the weight room cannot fix people, then it is time to refer to a medical professional or manual licensed therapist.
But let’s start simple first, a good dynamic warm-up can be corrective exercise:
And oftentimes, at the end of the dynamic warm-up, there should be a ton “movement prep” (depending on what is being trained that day) with movements like Inchworms, Hip Rocks, Thoracic Rotations, and Lunge and Twists – all movements that can be categorized under the corrective exercise umbrella.
I’d be remiss not to mention, as strength coaches, we should always be correcting our athletes.
If we see an athlete with a whacky gait pattern, we’re adding movements to their program to address that:
If we see an athlete with cranky hips, we’re sprinkling in more hip grooving between sets:
If we see an athlete not able to get enough depth in their squat, we’re adding this to their individualized warm-up:
Or we’re changing the exercise variation from Back Squats to Zerchers because the front loading allows them to hone more depth in their hips:
It’s worth mentioning that loading has its way of providing athletes and clients with more mobility. I’ll just drop a peer-reviewed article on this HERE.
Too, there have been numerous occasions when I’ve taught a bodyweight Reverse Lunge to an athlete and they weren’t able to get enough mobility in their hips until I added a barbell into the mix:
These are just a few examples of what “correctives” I’m already doing. And I will never claim to be a specialist here. I’m just a strength coach with a passion for loading the body in a meticulous and progressive manner.
So. What’s the lesson learned here?
As a strength and conditioning professional, yes, you should have already read and memorized Becoming A Supple Leopard verbatim.
We all have.
In order to become truly special, how are you choosing the proper modalities, exercise variations, and extra movements to get the best out of your athletes?
Oh, and we cannot ignore leverage when it comes to helping with core stability:
And slowing the eff down during bear crawls to hone lumbo-pelvic hip stability:
And if you’re wondering how you’re going to solve an athlete who is more imbalanced than American politics, you might not.
This is when it’s time to play Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and phone a friend. A physical therapy or licensed massage therapist friend, to be exact.
Alas, don’t worry: the world won’t erupt if you tell your athletes you can’t solve their asymmetries. In fact, they’ll respect you even more if you refer out. And you will get them in the hands of a true specialist. It’s a win-win, isn’t it?
Always do your best as a coach to help, especially by programming the best exercises for them when they are with you – from strength, to mobility, to stability, gait pattern movements. But don’t be afraid to refer out when needed.
Corrective exercise is a slippery slope for strength and conditioning coaches. We shouldn’t pretend to be physical therapists or licensed massage therapists. Rather, we should refer out.
Or realize that sometimes, corrective exercise is just good strength training and programming.