Top things to consider for leading a healthier, happier life

  • Position yourself during the day vs. trying to maintain good “posture”
    • “Posture” is an assumed position that is unsustainable the more rigid or fixed it is.
    • “Positioning” yourself different ways when sitting, standing, doing work is optimal.
    • Sitting and standing up “straight” is not optimal for our working system.
    • Relaxed positioning allows for things to move.
    • Sitting, standing and walking should be a lot less work—and use a lot less energy—than we have been making it out to be.
    • Standing all day at work is not that much better than sitting all day.
    • Aim for 40 minutes of sitting, 10 minutes of standing and 3-5 minutes of walking (these numbers are variable)
    • When sitting or standing, shift weight lightly from side-to-side whenever you can
    • We are a system made of pumps and we need to move side-to-side for these pumps to work optimally.
    • After performing the “Breathwork” activities below, you should be better able to sit and stand without feeling the need to “sit up straight”.
  • Conscious breathwork activity
    • We should, at various times during the day, be aware and consciously breath.  The focus should be on inhalation through our nose and an easy exhalation as if you are sighing.
    • Taking it a step further, with each exhalation in a cycle of 8-10 conscious breaths, try to exhale a little more each time.  Inhale slower than you want, a comfortable amount, without letting your chest go up and forward and feeling the air go into the back and sides of your ribcage.
    • Taking it two steps further, inhale with focus on expanding your ribcage out and back, then exhaling and pausing for anywhere from 3-15 seconds, gradually increasing the pause each cycle.
    • Taking it to each side, feel the air go into the right front lower ribs and left midback when inhaling and try to exhale a little more out of the left front lower ribs.
    • Periodically during the day while sitting, sit with your back to a chair (without “lumbar support”) and inhale into the chair, especially on the left
  • Sleeping habits for most should change a bit.
    • Strive to get 7-8 hours every night as consistently as possible
    • Use a contour pillow (something that provides a little support for the neck)
    • Stay off your stomach
    • When sleeping on sides, use a pillow between the knees
    • When sleeping on back, use a pillow under knees
    • Make the room as dark as you feel safe doing
    • Shut down electronics an hour before going to bed
    • Read instead of watching television in bed
    • Take 6-10 slow, full breaths before going to sleep (see “Breathwork”)
  • Eating habits for most should change a bit
    • Eat more vegetables than you’d think (or like to maybe?)
    • Chew food a few more times than usual—research suggests about 30 times depending on the type of food.
      • This aids in portion control, enjoyment of food, digestion and even elevates alertness resulting in improvements in cognitive function
    • Reduce exposure to packaged and processed foods
    • There’s almost always another, better option
    • Try to schedule regular family meals with as many family members as possible
      • Make it a priority!
  • Sunscreen
    • Wear it!
  • Squatty Potty
  • Lift and carry things
    • Whenever you can
    • Close to your body
  • Change your mindset
    • React less to the little things that don’t matter
    • Any movement during the day is good
    • Seek ways to make movement happen
    • Inconveniences often provide opportunity
      • Many times they are much less of an inconvenience than your brain makes them out to be
  • Try to reduce your exposure to:
    • Chemical-ly smells (cleaners, gas fumes)
    • Excessive loud noises repeatedly
    • Frightening images, especially those of real events (violence, beatings)
  • Mindfulness matters
    • Being aware of the present or the “now”.  Appreciate the moment, regardless of how tedious
    • Daily time to shut off “noise”
    • BSTS—Better Safe Than Sorry…. words to live by.  Listen to that inner voice telling you to do or not do something
    • Interaction with others–especially loved ones–should be respectful and representative of how you’d like to be spoken to
    • Perform even menial tasks which you do regularly a different way
      • i.e. put pants on leading with a different leg, stand to
    • Use your nondominant hand/arm for some things
    • Get up from sitting using a different leg than you might usually
      • The right leg and side often takes more load when getting up and down
    • Sit or stand with weight on your left leg with weight more towards that side
  • Rephrase your negative or stress-producing thoughts and words
    • Shape-shift your mind:
      • “I’m tired” becomes “I’m looking forward to catching up on sleep”
      • “I’m really busy” should be “I’ve got lots of great things going on”
      • “I’m stressed because of….” should prioritize how many of those things truly matter
      • “Because [such and such] is a problem” should be “I’m going to work on…”
    • Your brain is constantly playing tricks on you, so you should try to play tricks on it
  • Ask yourself if you’ve really laughed at the end of each day
  • Live life as exercise
    • Efficiency is not always the best choice
    • Make things a little more work than usual
    • Park farther away, whenever you can
    • No drive-throughs
    • Take the stairs
    • Make daily activities deliberate
    • Walk, outside, whenever able
    • Take more trips to and from the car, up and down stairs, get up whenever you use a remote
  • Getting on and off the ground in various ways throughout the day time
    • This would include half kneeling to put on socks and shoes and tying them
    • Playing with your children on the floor
    • Play with your animals on the floor
    • Perform at least some exercise on the floor

A healthier life most often results in a happier life, but it does require a little thought and daily considerations.

To your health….

By mjmatc

Deception: Hunger & Satiety

Words, whether spoken or thought, can be deceiving to our brain and the brain can then deceive us into action.

There are two words which I feel need some clarification and explanation: hungry & satiety.  Hungry I feel can be a deceiving word and satiety is the brain deceiving us.  Let me explain….

Hungry, by definition, means “feeling or displaying the need for food”, with synonyms such as “ravenous, empty, hollow”.

Satiety is from the root word “sate” which means “satisfy to the full”.

When someone says to themselves or out loud “I’m hungry”, it should be clarified internally whether the trigger sent a minor message of a DESIRE to eat vs. a NEED to eat.  Questions such as “Is it mealtime?” or “What did I last have to eat and when?” should be quickly processed before pulling into that drive-thru or grabbing/buying that sports bar.

“Satiety” is an unfortunate result of our brain telling us we should always have this feeling of fullness–that we should “feed” the impulse to eat whatever is easiest at the slightest trigger of “hunger”.  Deception at its finest.

Are we really “ravenous” when we say we’re hungry?  Do we have to be “satisfied to the full” all the time?

Talk to your clients–and yourself–about recognizing this difference.  Our bodies like to have some degree of regulation with regular meal times vs. the grazing throughout the day that many of us do.  Mindful eating is an integral part of what allows us to control our intake.  Being able to pause for a moment to allow us to think about the timing and the need for what we are considering eating at that time is critical for overall health.

It’s not just food itself that’s producing obesity and preventable diseases, it’s also our brains deceiving us….

By mjmatc

“Bad” Exercises Made Good?

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a classic idiom suggesting that a photograph can explain—or at least help explain–a complex concept.  In many ways the phrase has merit and often times can be beneficial in creating an image which can fill in the blanks or clarify a point.  In the rehabilitation or training world, it can also be used to help with creating a teaching moment by demonstrating a technique or activity which is meant to provide content for others to learn from.  One of the challenges, however, is that in many cases it is also situational and has little to no context to work with.   While explanations can be beneficial in helping fill in that context, there are still a multitude of variables which cannot possibly all be explained in a brief explanation or post.

In today’s world of social media, one can view a training/rehab picture online and do one of a number of different things:

  1. Use the basis of the picture to help give new ideas of things to implement or incorporate into one’s already existing programming
  2. Reinforce or build on concepts already being put into place
  3. View the picture as it stands and judge or critique certain aspects of it, both positively or negatively
  4. Admire the color schemes, background, care with which one took to create a positive image, etc.
  5. Recognize that it is something that maybe doesn’t make sense to them, don’t see too many situations where something like that would be applicable, or realize that some professionals just do things differently

What does happen far too often is things can get lost in translation–option #3 above.  Consideration on things such as cues being offered to the person who is performing the activity or being able to appreciate what it is being used for specifically instead becomes an opportunity to critique.  Judgement is potentially drawn on the person who posted the image or who the subject(s) are and some potentially good information becomes mired down in opinions and, in some cases, emotion.


That being said, I am not suggesting that activities that are truly bad for most people should not be called out.  We should not turn a blind eye to those in the industry that are out to promote themselves, a technique or a program which will give our respective fields a bad name.  However, I am suggesting that care be given to ask questions and engage in constructive dialogue instead of trying to dispel, discredit or act with disdain towards something like a still image unless adequate dialogue has happened which may prove helpful in explaining things further or clarify points not clear in the photograph.

As with most training/rehab activities, there is a risk to reward ratio:

  • Will a particular activity potentially increase the risk of someone getting injured or creating another problem, regardless of intent.
    • If so, is it worth it and why?
  • What is the client’s particular goals by performing it and does it align with the professionals comfort level with letting or encouraging them to perform it.
    • Professionals should be clear about what they feel is best for their clients, even if it means potentially losing someone who wants to do things one is not comfortable with.
    • When working with athletes at the higher/highest level, many of them recognize that they only have a period of time to be able to do what they are doing and as a result are willing to make more sacrifices to be able to continue doing what they are doing.
  • What is the professional’s goals for performing a potentially questionable activity?
    • We have to move on from the “coolness” factor of prescribing activities and be realistic if they make sense.
  • In group setting in particular, one size does not fit all.
    • There are many things being done in “boot camps” and other higher level group classes where some of the participants should not be performing them.  If it were a one-on-one session, the professional would likely not prescribe those things for that particular person.

Let’s use this picture as an example.  This picture is of Lebron James performing back extensions over a physioball while someone is (apparently) holding his heels.


 This is a great example of a picture being taken out of context.  Taken on the surface, it is not something I would typically use for my patients or clients.  It is easy to look at it and think that he is using all back extensor muscles and increasing spinal extension in this activity and in particular with someone who has a history of back problems, it doesn’t make sense to me to be prescribing it.

But let’s look at things a bit differently.  Lebron’s requirements for his sport and his level of play and athletic ability are different than most of the clients we manage.  Looking at the following pictures, I think it’s fair to say that this man definitely needs some back extensor strength….and control.

curry_stephen_guarding_james_lebron      lebron-james-dunks-lakers

And what about cueing and the appropriate targeted areas of activity while performing it?  If I were prescribing that exercise and instructing him, I would make sure of a few things:

  • proper inhalation/exhalation sequencing through exhalation on lifting and lowering (for pelvic and respiratory diaphragms integration with the abdominal wall) and inhaling when in the lowered position, focusing on good back expansion
  • control of his thoraco-abdominal wall for co-contractive ability to reduce the degree of back extensor activity and aid in eccentrically allowing safe back extension
  • holding the heels in a more flexed knee position with pre-tensioning of hams and positioning the ball in a way to facilitate proximal hamstrings to decrease anterior pelvic tilt
  • encouraging thoracic and cranial retraction

With all that in place, and looking at his individual needs based on the demands of his sport, this might very well be something that is indicated.  In the hands of the right person, and with the proper cues and muscle activity in place, this might actually be something he really would benefit from.

With a firm foundation of the requisite mechanics in place of respiratory balance, positional control and understanding of tri-planar movement, there are very few bad exercises out there…. just some that are better than others for the individual’s needs.

By mjmatc

How our diaphragm can run our lives

I recently read this excellent research review titled Anatomic Connections of the Diaphragm: Influence of Respiration on the Body System by Bruno Bordoni and Emiliano Zanier in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare (2013).  While I have had the long-held belief that the diaphragm has a significant influence on many aspects of our bodily functions, this article does a very nice job of highlighting and correlating a number of these observations clinically.  I thought I would highlight some of the more interesting pieces.

  • “The lumbar section derives from the medial, intermedial, and lateral diaphragmatic pillars, and it is important to emphasize the fact that the main pillars, ie, the medial and lateral pillars, make contact with the retropericardial and the perinephric tract, and their related fat. This is important for two reasons: first, it is a further demonstration of the continuous connection existing between the various body structures, and second, the visceral fat is a source of proprioceptive information from the diaphragm itself, and establishes once more the role played by this organ in affecting structures that are distant from each other.”
    • More information demonstrating the number of different areas our brains receive afferent information from within our body, proprioceptively, interoceptively, etc. and how the diaphragm may actually become a bigger source of providing this feedback than previously thought.

diaphragm cadaver

  • “The right medial pillar, which is thicker and longer than its lateral counterpart, becomes a flat tendon that ends on the anterior side of L2–L3, and at times, L4.  The left medial pillar terminates as a flat tendon between L2 and L3.”
    • Remember the variability of anatomic connections from person to person.  While many have strong asymmetrical crural attachments to the lumber spine influencing pull, others it may not be as significant of a factor.


  • “With reference to neurology, the phrenic nerve along its pathway anastomoses with the vagus, while the vagus runs through the crural region of the diaphragm, innervating this area.  It is generally believed that the esophageal afferents of the vagus exert an inhibitory influence on the medullary and phrenic motor neurons.  If there is a problem in the diaphragm or phrenic nerve, the whole system that controls the crural region is negatively affected, causing esophageal reflux and/or swallowing problems.”

phrenic vagal nerves cadaver

  • “This brief description demonstrates how the diaphragm is both an important exchange point of information, originating in different areas of the body, and a source of information in itself.”
    • Important to remember that the diaphragm can influence, and is influenced by, dysfunction to and from many different areas.  It is a messenger, and while it may be a large part of any dysfunction, it should be perceived as merely following orders so….

dont shoot the messenger

  • “Therefore, if there is a phrenic disorder, it is possible to contract the subclavius muscle, raising the first rib and reproducing a thoracic outlet syndrome, with the relevant symptomatology….There is a close link between the diaphragm and the thoracic outlet.”
    • Brings whole new meaning to the “elevated first rib” I learned about in school.  Most often it will not be isolated to just the first rib.  And why is the subclavius seldom mentioned when it comes to TOS?
    • Great article by Jasdon Robey and Kyndy Boyle on this titled: Bilateral Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in a Collegiate Football Player


  • “Another matter to consider is the connection between the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms. During normal respiration, or in the event of coughing or any other physiologic diaphragmatic alteration, a symmetric change in the pelvic floor can be observed.  For instance, IF (my emphasis) during inspiration the main inspiratory muscle descends, there will be a corresponding lowering of the pelvic floor.  This means that respiration needs to be supported by the pelvic floor in order to control the pressure of intra-abdominal fluid properly. It is probable that these same areas, which are connected to the motor neurons of the floor of the mouth, send the premotor impulse to the pelvic zone.”
    • All the domes of our pelvis, thorax and cranium are physiologically and mechanistically connected.


Look at all them domes….

  • “Various studies have established that, before inhalation, electrical activity can be observed in the muscles of the pelvic floor, and the same electrical activity is traceable for the transverse and obliquus internus abdominis muscles…..In regular respiration, the genioglossus and other muscles of the floor of the mouth, such as the hypoglossus, are electrically involved in coordination with the diaphragm, immediately before contraction of the diaphragm itself.”
    • Lots going on above in the cranium and below in the pelvis just prior to inhalation.  If the timing is off…..
    • Another reason mouth breathing is a problem.
      • “Houston, we’ve lost contact of our contacts….”


  • “If there is a problem in the diaphragm or phrenic nerve, the whole system that controls the crural region is negatively affected, causing esophageal reflux and/or swallowing problems.”
    • Suggesting a strong link between diaphragmatic dysfunction, even minimally, and esophogeal dysfunction, swallowing issues, GERD, reflux, IBS, vocal cord dysfunction, etc.)


  • ” This means that diaphragmatic dysfunction produces symptoms that are observable in the region of the cervical base, in the floor of the mouth, and in the dura, as well as in the eyes.  Another possible symptom of diaphragmatic dysfunction is pain in the cranium, which can affect the ocular globe.”
    • Possible (likely) relationship between chronic headaches, migraines, cervical issues, post-concussive issues, visual issues, lightheadedness, etc. and diaphragm issues, at times idiopathically.

Marty Feldman

What do you think, diaphragm issue creating ocular globe issues?

  • “With regard to symptoms, we can hypothesize that the phrenic nerve can affect the spinal trigeminal ganglia, which will stimulate the last two branches of the trigeminal nerve, reaching the periodontal ligaments through the alveolar nerves, and that the result will be dental pain. The same pathway may lead to pain in the temporomandibular joint and the ear through the ganglion of Gasser. ”
    • ‘Nuff said on that….

mouth pain

  • “Lymphatic flow, helped by diaphragmatic contractile activity, leads from the peripheral diaphragm to the central tendon, with respect to the peritoneal surface.Lymphatic absorption firstly depends on the rhythmicity and stretching of the diaphragm, then on intraperitoneal pressure and the posture of the individual.These concepts are important because they exemplify how incorrect functionality of the diaphragm, for any reason, can negatively affect the lymphatic system.”
    • Proper mechanics of the most central pump in our body directly influences the other pumps as well.


  • “The diaphragm muscle not only plays a role in respiration but also has many roles affecting the health of the body. It is important for posture, for proper organ function, and for the pelvis and floor of the mouth. It is important for the cervical spine and trigeminal system, as well as for the thoracic outlet. It is also of vital importance in the vascular and lymphatic systems. The diaphragm muscle should not be seen as a segment but as part of a body system. To arrive at correct therapeutic strategies, we must see the whole and all the links highlighted in this paper….”
    • Brilliant summation.

In closing, please make managing diaphragmatic control and breathing pattern disorders part of your regular intervention strategies, both in response and as training to reduce the propensity to issues in the future.

By mjmatc

College Athletic Recruiting Considerations

Playing a sport for a team, at any level, is an incredible experience and one that should be viewed as an opportunity and something which is earned versus something which should be an expectation.  Playing after high school for a collegiate team is very different today than it was in years past and is a tremendous accomplishment for today’s athlete.  It is almost essential to be recognized by coaches prior to setting foot on campus as the available spots for “walk-ons” is significantly reduced for most colleges, if not completely eliminated by others.  This is true from the top Division I programs right down to many of the Division III colleges.

Developing a plan to have the student athlete be recognized and “seen” by coaches requires a few different steps—some of which are more essential than others.  Listed below are some of the things which should be considered when starting this process, as well as some helpful links to refer to as they embark on this journey.  This is written from my perspective as a former high school coach, father of a child who has gone through this process and currently plays lacrosse in college, and as a sports medicine professional who treats, trains and consults with athletes at all levels.

  • It is a process and as a process should be considered a mutual endeavor by both the student athlete and the parent(s).
    • It should be considered something almost enjoyable by both the student athlete and parent(s) and an opportunity for each of them to gain an improved understanding of what choices there are out there, as well as a way to narrow down college choices.
    • The student has to be the one that is truly committed to the process, demonstrates effort and effective follow-through, and is willing to have conversations with the parents to answer some of the tough questions.
    • They will learn much more about the importance of effective follow-through, reaching out and putting themselves “on display”, how to interact effectively with coaches and other adults, and how to be an advocate for themselves.
  • US Lacrosse has a nice piece on the recruiting process:
  • Be realistic
    • What level do they honestly see themselves playing at (Div I, II, III)?
      • This is an incredibly important early part of the decision making process as the requirements are significantly different depending on what level they feel they want to and can realistically play at.
      • Size, skillset, motivation and drive, etc. are all important factors in making this decision.
    • What part of the country do they want to go to school at?
      • How far from home.
        • Creating a geographical radius is helpful.
      • What is the weather like in the area the college choices are located.
      • Regional activities and opportunities outside of playing lacrosse.
    • What kind of student is the athlete and can they get into the school(s) they are interested in?
      • Here are a couple of websites which are great for comparing colleges, getting info on costs, educational requirements, GPA’s and SAT scores, etc.
      • Is there a particular major or area of study that interests them?
        • It is important that they realize if there is something that interests them at that time, even if it might change in the future, that the school has this program. They should not sacrifice a potential career choice based on a sport they want to play in college.
      • Be prepared
        • Mentally
          • For the time it will take to make it happen.
          • For people getting back to you….or not.
        • Financially
          • There are some financial considerations in terms of showcases, camps and recruiting events which will require travel and money.
          • There may be some added expenses if video services are purchased and/or if a specific recruiting organization is involved.
        • Timelines
          • Timelines are important in terms of when the best time is to get in front of the coaches.
            • The end of the collegiate season, summertime and the fall are best
          • Potential scholarship athletes, of which there are very few, have a very different timeline for when coaches will be watching them than other levels.
          • Getting back to the coaches in a timely manner is essential, especially if they reached out to them or are responding to a message the athlete sent.
        • Time requirements
          • It takes time. The commitment is based on how much and how far the parent and the athlete want to reach out and how much follow-up can realistically done



  • Create a separate e-mail address that both the parent and the athlete can access
    • This will be for coaches to respond to.
    • Use it as well for registrations for camps, showcases, etc. as this will be where other events and coaches will send messages to once those mailing lists are sent out from other sources.
    • Other programs such as “Captain U” and “BeRecruited” can be helpful with being seen and can be referred to this e-mail address.
    • Put together an “athlete resume”
      • Include pertinent personal information such as: name and contact information, NCAA Eligibility # (if one has been acquired), height and weight, GPA, parents info
        • Athletics info
        • Link to highlight video
        • High school info and coaches contact info
        • Travel team info and coaches contact info
        • Awards, recognitions, All-Star teams, etc.
        • Camps, tournaments, and showcases attended
      • Identify which program(s) the athlete will attend over the summer
        • Setting a number or dollar limit can be helpful in creating realistic expectations.
        • Find ones which have the most bang for their buck:
          • Having a long list of coaches in attendance
            • More colleges are recognizing the fundraising opportunities these kinds of camps can provide and are creating their own
            • Some of these are really just for them or a select few schools as well as mostly for the few players they are really interested in seeing
          • How long has the camp been in existence
          • Some will be part instructional and part games, other mostly just games
        • Take and/or acquire good video during the spring season
          • Parents should take some video themselves zooming in on the athlete, as well as general play near them. Don’t always just focus on the athlete as showing off-ball play, set-up and recovery are critical things a coach wants to see.
          • Contact the high school boosters organization or head coach about acquiring game video which is taken of each game.
          • Contact news stations for any clips which the student athlete may have been in.
            • Reach out to the sports news anchor who will often provide the content if they are given a blank DVD.
          • Make a highlight video and post it on YouTube
            • iMovie is a great way to do this
              • Here is a link to the video my son and I put together with our own editing:
              • (I had not expected my son to pick a Rolling Stones song!)
            • It should include name, graduating year, stats, height, weight and GPA.
            • It should be about 3 minutes in length max. Background music is good to add, but consideration should be given to what kind.
            • The beginning should really be some of the best footage and key pieces to really pull in whomever is watching it.
            • It doesn’t have to have all scoring or all big take-aways. Include assists, good ground balls, good defensive play for middies and close-D players, good rides for attack, etc.
          • If the athlete is seriously considering playing at the Div. I level, then they must register through the NCAA Eligibility Center for an eligibility number:



  • Identify which schools will be at the events the athlete will be at over the summer.
    • This can include specific day or overnight camps as well as tournaments they may be playing at for a travel team.
    • If there are specific schools of interest, then attending any programs they offer would be very worthwhile.
  • Draw up a generic e-mail to send to the coaches on the list.
    • Most coach’s e-mails can be found on the school team’s website.
    • The e-mail should state where it was noticed the coach is scheduled to be, even if they were listed only from the previous year, as well as other events your son will be attending with dates.
      • The athletic resume and any highlight video should be listed as well.
    • Go to the college team’s website and fill out the Player Recruit Profile.
      • This can also provide them with another list of camps and showcases that can be considered for the summer and fall.
    • Follow-up within a week before the tournament/camp/showcase with the specific schedule of days, times of games, which team they are on and their jersey number (if it is known).
    • If a parent can be there for some of the event to take more video, this would be beneficial.
      • Many of these events have companies who will be providing video services and video filming packages can be purchased as well.
    • Start creating a schedule for visiting the top schools. Reach out to the coaches before going to let them know that they will be going for a tour of their school and would they be available to meet with them.
    • Some programs might offer to have the student athlete come back for a visit with the team or even do an overnight. This provides a great opportunity for the athlete to really get a feel of the school and the players on the team.

Ultimately, the decision to play in college is up to the student athlete and as such, they should be doing much of the work.  However, some of the things that most parents of teenagers manage on a daily basis is not any different than making sure they are taking of the tasks for going through the college recruiting process.   The student athlete will require reminders about follow-up e-mails and calls, they should be responsible for writing and responding to messages in their own words, they have to be the ones researching the schools for things that interest them and so forth.

It is also a fine line between parents being involved in a way that is helpful versus being too involved and overbearing.  Some coaches actually base some of their decision on how involved the family is in the process as they want to be sure they are not getting themselves into something that might be more than they want to have to deal with.  Over-involved parents or interaction which is perceived as coming only from the parents can often be a turn-off for a coach who is looking at a player who will be on their own soon.

This is an incredibly exciting time for a parent and their student athlete and should be looked at as an opportunity to work together to help develop a plan for his future.  Being part of a collegiate team has a tremendous amount of benefit for an incoming freshman.  Hopefully this information will help with making the process a little less confusing and overwhelming.

By mjmatc

Lecture Schedule 2016–Michael J. Mullin

Some amazing opportunities coming up this year to share some great things I’ve learned over the years.  Looking forward to time with colleagues and friends at these events:

Friday, February 12:  University of New England, Biddeford, ME, Foundations of Dance course
Lecture and Lab: “Developing Optimal Muscle Control to Help Establish Symmetry in the Dancer”

Saturday, March 6:  Maine State Chapter Meeting—NSCA Conference, University of New England, Biddeford, ME
Lecture: “Breaking the Circuit Barrier”

Saturday, March 26:  One-day program at Perform Better Functional Training Institute, West Warwick, RI
Lecture and Lab: “Sequencing and Exercise Progression of Postural Restoration Activities”

March 29 and March 30:  University of New England, Biddeford, ME, Rehabilitation of Orthopaedic & Athletic Injuries, Athletic Training Department
Lecture and Lab: “Postural Restoration: A Primer for the AT Student”

Friday, April 1: UMASS Amherst Doctor of Physical Therapy program
Lecture and Lab: “Postural Restoration: A Primer for the DPT Student”

Saturday, April 2: 4th Annual New England Sports & Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Summit 2016, Brown University, Providence, RI
Lecture: “Respiratory Considerations & Lumbo-Pelvic Influence on Upper Extremity Mechanics and Rehabilitation”
Lab: “Integrating Respiratory Activity to Optimize Upper Extremity Rehab”

Saturday, April 9: One-day program at OA Performance Center, Saco ME
Lecture and Lab: “Sequencing and Exercise Progression of Postural Restoration Activities”

Wednesday, May 11: “Postural Restoration for the Baseball/Softball Player”, Bates College players and coaching staff, Lewiston, ME.

Saturday/Sunday, May 14-15: “Myokinematic Restoration”, lab assist, University Orthopaedics, Providence, RI.

Sunday, May 22:  “A Postural Restoration Primer & Incorporating Breathwork Into Training”, a half-day program at RPM Athlete Performance, Natick, MA.

Friday/Saturday, June 3-4:  Northeastern Sports Performance Summit, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.  Lecture and lab:  “PRI in the Athletic Setting”

Saturday/Sunday, June 11-12: “Postural Respiration”, lab assist, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

Monday, June 13: America East Sports Medicine Summit, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Lecture: “Postural Restoration and Respiratory Education”

June 16-21: Synergy Center, Tokyo, Japan.  Teaching 2 different programs:  Lecture/lab on Postural Restoration in the Training Environment and a different hands-on session of case studies utilizing my approach to assessing and Fitness Rehab

Sunday, June 26: Perform Better Summit, Chicago, IL
Lecture and Hands-On: “Optimizing Training Through a More Balanced System”

Saturday, July 9: Performing Arts Medicine Association International Conference, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York Presbyterian, New York City, NY
Workshop: “Respiratory Training for Positional Control, Performance & Recovery”


By mjmatc

Pre-Skiing Performance Training–Part I

With winter fast approaching, many people’s thoughts begin to turn towards snow sports. Activities such as snowshoeing, ice skating, snowboarding, and nordic and downhill skiing are all popular here in Maine. While snowshoeing, nordic skiing and ice skating are activities that also have a fitness benefit, some of the faster sports such as snowboarding, alpine and telemark skiing demand more dynamic strength, balance and trunk control in order for an individual to participate in the most enjoyable and safest way. In order to prepare for these types of sports, it is best to do some preparation to get yourself in top condition. Alpine and telemark skiing, in particular, require a strong base which means incorporating more than just a regular exercise program. Specific exercises, designed in a sequence, should be instituted where progression is gradual and should address the main components of the sport: flexibility and mobility, cardiovascular and core conditioning, strength and balance training, and power and endurance development.


While there are a number of excellent activities that can be incorporated into a program which address each of these components, the following videos are examples of some of the ones which are very ski-specific and are great for adding into the strength and power development phases of training. They can be done independently or are also very effective for group training programs when incorporated into different stations for circuit work.  Success with these activities is also dependent on having established the requisite mobility, loading mechanics and a good base of strength beforehand.

This squat sequence, or the Triple Squat Med Ball Touches, is a great ski exercise as it not only works loading into a squat position, but it also simulates getting onto one side with the appropriate pelvis shift as the ball is touched in front of each foot.

Lateral/frontal plane work is essential in allowing for proper transition into higher level activity and in particular to nail down strength in this plane prior to incorporating too much rotation or transverse plane work.  This video demonstrates a lateral lunge with a med ball press.  Cues are to drive off the back leg onto the front leg with the front leg eccentrically (bending under load) accepting the weight shift.

This one utilizes a physioball and describes and demonstrates the mechanics of the downhill ski turn and how to utilize inclination and angulation as part of the training process.

Here is another physioball exercise activity which also simulates the mechanics of a ski turn with also the ability to focus on edging and trunk position over the “turning” leg.  The second activity in this video really works the quads, hamstrings and balance all at the same time.

This video provides an example of a group class activity which incorporates a number of different components:  Ski position holds, single leg loading, response to stimulus, plyometrics, etc.  Can also be done individually or with a partner.

Part II of this series on Pre-Skiing Performance Training will review more higher level plyometric activities which will incorporate jumping, bounding, and ski-specific loading.

By mjmatc

What does (over)extension produce….




What does (over)extension produce?
• Extension creates a sense of stability
• Extension allows more freedom of movement
• Extension encourages increased muscle tone
• Extension develops a sense of confidence

While each of these things in and of themselves sound like positives, and to some degree they can be, too much of any of them is not. Overextension refers to not just a position of one or more joints, but also a state of mind. In reference to the items above, the sense of stability is gained through joint compression, freedom of movement is coupled with torque, increased tone refers to overfacilitated musculature, and building confidence is at the expense of the other factors.
Healthy extension requires a balance of all planes of movement, coupled with mid-range control, to be able to eccentrically decelerate movements which will bring the body to end-ranges with appropriate check reins. With respect to the neuromuscular system, there are significant variabilities which can influence how the system responds to internal and external inputs. Many external inputs can be retrained through good muscle sequencing. Internal inputs however are mostly automatic and happen as a result of neurological, chemical balances, metabolic influence, and even cortical response with respect to prior experiences and our subconscious response.
So what ties this all together? Step one is to create good integrated control between the thorax and the pelvis. This is done by first normalizing breathing activity to decrease the hyperinflation and subsequent poor rib positions that occur as a result. Next is to turn on some posterior hip, inner thigh, pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, in good sequencing, to bring better closure of the anterior rib wall to the pelvis. This essentially aids in decreasing the propensity of the back to arch from the pelvis tipping forward on one or both sides and the front ribs rotating up and back. It is critical that this next step incorporates the breathwork as this is what will keep the proper muscles working for movement and control and not recruit the respiratory muscles to do the work. The final stage is to integrate it with higher level activities. Teaching and instructing on key ways to learn deceleration control in all three planes of movement, as well as making some day-to-day changes to further reinforce proper positioning is critical.
Breathwork, facilitation, education and integration….

By mjmatc

The Tortoise & The Hare: I’ll Take The HARE

There are varying accounts of the story about the Tortoise and the Hare with some suggesting that it represents “the more haste, the worse speed” or “the race is not to the swift”. Some accounts even suggest ingenuity and trickery can triumph over a stronger opponent.

So in what context am I using it here? And why would I choose The HARE (an obvious acronym here)?


Slow & Steady The Tortoise represents cardiovascular exercise of the same name. The HARE represents Highly Active ‘Robic Exercise (or HIIT—High Intensity Interval Training). I thought of this today as I was out for a “run” around the Back Bay of Portland. I run because it’s easy, convenient and can be done anywhere and I like how I feel afterwards. However, I rarely go for a run in the context that many do, due to a number of reasons, not least of which is attention span. The Back Bay is a great route with a beautiful view and for “runs” like those, I like to do bouts of higher speed running and then mix in times of walking briskly and even other exercises (i.e. push-ups, lunge walking, squats) with a higher intensity.

There was a man running whom I used as a great guide for my timing. He would run slow and steady and I would let him get about 1/4 to a 1/3 of a mile ahead of me and then I would run with a nice high kick until I was near him and then slow down to a brisk walk. I did this for the entire route and we “finished” at the same time. While he got a lot out of his run and it is great to see people out doing anything, research has clearly shown that to burn more calories, fat and jack up your metabolism, HARE is better on almost all counts.

Discredit The Tortoise completely? No way. There is a place for a winner like that. However, I got a chuckle reading a review of Lord Dunsany’s view of Aesop’s story in his “The True History of the Tortoise and the Hare” (1915). There the hare realizes the stupidity of the challenge and refuses to proceed any further. The obstinate tortoise continues to the finishing line and is proclaimed the swiftest by his backers. But the reason that this version of the race is not widely known is that very few of those that witnessed it survived the great forest-fire that happened shortly after. It came up over the weald by night with a great wind. The Hare and the Tortoise and a very few of the beasts saw it far off and they hurriedly called a meeting to decide what messenger they should send to warn the beasts in the forest.

They sent the Tortoise…..

By mjmatc

Left Sidelying Resisted Right GMax w/Left Assisted Adduction/IR & Resisted GMax

This is a great activity to work on transitioning into transverse plane work in a corrected position to work on muscles to counter the dominant pattern of the lower and upper body.  Once neutrality has been achieved and a good frontal plane has been established, this is a nice progression.  Good for people to hold the position of Left Sidelying Knee Toward Knee and then Left Sidelying Right Glute Max for about 4 breaths each, then tie them together more dynamically with this exercise.  Note midway through where I cue him to press through the right fist for serratus and triceps activity….it’ll help with those left abdominals as well.

Left Sidelying Resisted Right GMax w/Left Assisted Adduction/IR & Resisted GMax

Disclosure:  This is not an activity specific to The Postural Restoration Institute but is based strongly on their principles.

By mjmatc