Awesomeness doesn't come easy or painless. So here's a video of my first attempt at a flat ground front flip 180. A lukewarm approach and half-assed jump left me at about a 90 instead of a 180. And with a wrenched ankle.


So there you have it. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "He's going to land it next time."

No? You were asking yourself, "Why?" or, "When will he learn?"

That's the problem. There must be is a screw loose somewhere.

The rap sheet (small font indicates that you're not expected to actually read this exercise of listing all my injuries):

At about the age of 16 I severely wrenched my right ankle over a curb after coming down from a leap at Jamie Costics basketball hoop. 

That same year during my second weight training session EVER, I dropped a 45 lb plate and broke my right big toe. 

A year later I simultaneously tore both of my hip adductors while aggressively stretching before a varsity basketball game.

In college I broke my wrist during a most glorious moment of punching a steel beam during an intramural basketball game. 

I remember weeks of sleeplessness after suffering a thoracic disc herniation while doing dumbbell rows. 

Then there was the time in grad school when I tore the ligament between my left second and third toes while, you guessed it, playing basketball. 

I also dislocated my left thumb playing flag football.

I strained or tore my right ulnar collateral (elbow) ligament while pitching in a Butler County League baseball game. 

As a working adult I've broken my left thumb and right pinky while playing basketball. 

I woke up one morning with half of my right leg numb and weak from a severe disc herniation that occurred the previous night when I was hit and fell onto my left hip while playing basketball. 

I strained my back doing the leg press and woke up the next day with pain and weakness down my left leg. 

Those back and leg pains pale in comparison to the two weeks of lumbar misery I experienced after not deadlifting for > 6 years and trying to dead lift 405 lbs on New Years day, 2010. 

My right ankle twisted severely when coming down on a basketball that someone inadvertently rolled onto the court. 

My left ankle twisted severely when coming down off a bike jump and landing on a stick. 

I separated my right AC (shoulder) joint while crashing after clipping the back tire of my bike on a guardrail. 

I slipped on my bike pedals when jumping off the huge rock wall in front of Grantham Church, splitting a 3 inch gash into my left shin. 

I bashed my right foot straight into the ground and then suffered ankle and knee pain for about 5 months after missing my first attempt at a wall flip. 

And now the right ankle sprain documented above. 

So what lessons may be learned by my 18+ orthopedic injuries? I think "QUIT PLAYING BASKETBALL" is a pretty fair conclusion. But I think the real message is that we're all a bit goofy in the head over something.

I don't drink much at all. Never smoked a thing in my entire life, really. Don't over or under spend or eat too terribly healthy or unhealthy. But yeah, I need me those adrenaline hits. Thankfully I've never had to have a surgery or even miss a day of work due to my habit, which makes me a functional junkie. I try not to do anything too stupid.

It helps to be a PT, for restoring functional awesomeness.

See that boys? The cost of following, or training with, or hanging out with an adrenaline junkie? Just so you know.

Then again, there's a cost to everything. And flat ground front flip 180's are simply. so. cool!

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de-bench pressing

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I skipped bench press today.

We usually "bench" as the first exercise in our Tuesday workouts. But not today. I was short on time. I really didn't feel like benching, so I didn't.

At this point you  may be wondering why in the world I'm usually benching on Tuesdays. Everyone who knows anything about weight training knows that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are practically a National Bench Press Holiday in gyms across America. Yet I recently reached 375 pounds by bench pressing only on Tuesdays. Searching "raw bench press" proves that to be a record in some states for the 198 pound division.

But much like you, I just don't care about bench press records.

Maybe I'd be more excited about benching if spotters weren't allowed. The penalty of missing a rep would definitely rekindle my interest in benching. Hmmm.

It's not that bench press is ineffective or worthless. It's overrated, for sure, but one of the best upper body exercises. Benching just doesn't have the feel of a massive dead lift, where hips and knees flex to pull 2 or 3 times your body weight off the ground, the torso is tensed in a rigid heap, heels are driven right through the floor, and arms damn near pulled right out of the shoulder socket.

So with limited time and energy, I did a bunch of heavy single leg split squats before proceeding to set a new p.r. in a 5-rep dead lift. I also skipped arms and abs, and still counted it as a workout.

No bench. As opposed to all the useless pressing I put myself through 10 or 15 years ago. Bench, incline bench, dumbbell bench, decline dumbbell bench, and then flys and pec deck, on and on, not wanting to miss anything for fear that the little strength and size I possessed would wither. Cutting back to bench pressing on Tuesday and overhead shoulder pressing on Saturday has only made me terribly stronger, with healthier shoulders, and with more time to have a life.

Guys who ask me about training often display a blank stare when I tell them to simply pick one heavy horizontal pressing exercise and one heavy vertical pressing exercise and do 3 to 5 work sets of each of them once per week. They walk away when I switch the subject and ask what they're doing to train their legs.

Sorry bench press. Maybe I'll see you again next week. But today I barely noticed you were gone.

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plyometric workout at home

Our PlyoFridays look something like this:

We start with either 6 to 10 sprints or bounding with jumping over things.

We move on to single leg hops forward and lateral, about 6 sets of 10 uphill hops on each leg. The graded surface is critical for these.

Then we move to some sort of circuit involving box jumps. The one we call Monster Plyo Circuit involves all this with no rest:

-3 lateral jumps left and 3 right
-1 box jump with single leg landing left and one right
-3 single leg lateral jumps left and right on each leg
-1 high vertical and take off into a ~50 yard sprint
-Rest well and repeat 6 to 10 times.
It's a good workout with a purpose.

It's fun.

And it sounds so much better than PlyoThursday.

**Plyos are awesome and inherently dangerous in regards to strain on the back and knees and feet. You need to have a certain level of base line fitness and be systematic in progressing the degree and repetition of impacts your body is accustomed to.


mind over movement

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Physical therapists are body mechanics who deal in the nuts and bolts of human movement.

After taking a medical history, we hunt specific impairments in strength, flexibility,  balance, etc. We replicate the pain or problem using combinations of motions, posture, and loads. We may also give attention to environmental conditions such as work demands, equipment and tools, footwear, and body mechanics.

And so it begins. Unload inflamed tissues. Stretch, mobilize, or manipulate what needs to be stretched. Strengthen what needs to be strengthened. Correct faulty movement patterns. Attend to equipment needs. Prescribe a realistic home exercise program that bears in mind the original problem.

A few weeks later, we send clients out the door throwing braces to the wind, tossing medications in the trash, and clicking heels together as they go tell all nations the good news of physical therapy. We thump a fist to our chest and shout, "This. Is. P. T."

Except when we don't.

It doesn't always end well. Some people don't improve much or for long. They need medicine or surgery or something else. Many of those people go on to fail at other treatments. Trust no health care provider, PT or otherwise, who fails to acknowledge that they are one part of team and the fact that they can't help everyone.

The complexity of human movement seems like simple modernism next to the entire realm of psychological and social factors. It seems that ethereal fluff like attitudes, beliefs, and expectations trump the logic bound stuff of biomechanics.

"Okay Mr. Smith, today we're going to work on mobilizing that attitude."

Stress, social support, job satisfaction, expectation of recovery, and fear of re-injury have all been identified as important variables in the recovery of physical function. It's no light or indirect association. Numerous examples abound.
  • Recovery from an episode of low back pain has more to do with mental health, whether or not you're suffering anxiety or depression, than it does with any specific measure of back flexibility or core muscle strength. 
  • The correlation between physical function and degenerative findings in diagnostic imaging (X-ray, MRI) is low at best.
  • A persons perception of the physical demands of work is a better predictor of disability than are actual measurements of forces, weights, and other physical demands of job tasks. 
  • Several studies have shown that a patients perception of the severity of their musculoskeletal problem is depends on, above many physical factors, whether their doctor advised them to rest or not go to work. 
  • Don't imagine that health care providers are exempt. Research shows that many health care providers choose treatment interventions based less upon actual clinical presentation of their patients and more so on their own attitudes and beliefs regarding pain behavior.
Neither health care providers nor patients can afford to underestimate the psychosocial factors in the development and treatment of musculoskeletal problems. Move, work, move, carry on, move, and hustle, truly to the best of your ability. Try to see the bright side, and try to be treated by people who do likewise (I know this sounds ridiculous for those suffering clinical depression, but it needs to be stated).

Mutual trust and respect helps providers truly advocate for patients, and helps patients trust, learn, and self-manage to the best of their ability. This is real help, not just fluff. And it's not going to happen with a 7-minute office visit. In physical therapy, it doesn't happen when physical therapy techs herd patients through exercise protocols.

Have you received treatment  of a physical problem with or without a side order of mind fluff?

*References/further reading available. Didn't feel like typing it out but yeah, let me know.
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sneaking athleticism

training in the name of having fun,
hanging out with dad,
using an old couch for all its worth.


just quit wearing shoes?

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There's a young man from Baltimore, a friend of a friend, who rarely wears shoes. He apparently wears them only in the workplace, but removes them once he steps outside. I haven't met him, but I've asked the standard questions.

No shoes. What an odd, counter cultural, romantic, (dare I say healthy) idea. Ah, to tread so lightly. To gain new perception and heightened awareness of our environment.

And he will be more mindful of his environment and his part in it. As he ages, I'm certain he'll gain less weight and lose less of his sense of balance than the average American. I'm sure he'll naturally retain appropriate function of the muscles and joints of the foot and lower leg. He'll be unlikely to suffer fasciitis, tendinitis, and structural abnormalities. And he will absolutely step in something gross and say, "Ewww." 

All this, if... If he can pull it off, keep bucking the shoe conspiracy, not buying into the system.

And it IS a conspiracy. There certainly is a price for the many years that most of us have protected coddled our feet. Senseless fashion mangles anatomy. Technology creates frailty, enables sloppiness in our everyday movements. Women, modern, intelligent women, cram their feet into little girl structures as if there's some character judgment associated with having normal sized feet.

But our feet and our minds have been trained to want need shoes. Shoes can be a life-saver for people with abnormal foot structure or diabetes or unwillingness, from a fairly early age, to let go of the idea of footwear.

Plus, you have to admit that shoes are plain cool.

So what are you going to do, just quit wearing shoes?

It can't be easy. Casual acquaintances calling you The No Shoes Guy. Constantly fielding questions as The No Shoes Guy. Sidewalks in the November rain where strangers do double-takes at your feet. I'm just not buying that feet get accustomed to cold slushy sidewalks. Or double-takes.

What, you're serious?

Cool. You're young, with good foot structure, confident, and a little crazy. Very cool. Not that you needed my permission, but I say go for it, No Shoes Guy!

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