My Feature on Mike Robertson’s Physical Preparation Podcast

I was recently featured on my boi Mike Robertson’s Physical Preparation Podcast.

It was quite surreal to be interviewed by a guy who I have tremendous respect for, and who has been a huge influence on me.

MR was one of the people who I was initially exposed to when I got into this field. After reading all the cool things he wrote on t-nation, I bought most of his products, became a huge reader of his blog, and applied many of his teachings to my own training.

Zac = fanboy.

Can you imagine what it was like the first time I met him and Bill at IFAST? Like meeting rockstars, fam. Then he we are, having a conversation as peers.

Point being with this story, if there was no Mike Robertson, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.

The Life of A Mercenary PT

All types of mercenary shit

Here were some of the things we discussed in this podcast:

  • How I got started in the world of physical prep.
  • What life is really like in the NBA/D-League, and what it’s like to transition from therapy to performance at the highest level.
  • What skills I was comfortable with, and how he grew and evolved to take his coaching skills to the next level.
  • My biggest struggles in pro sports.
  • Movement Variability: What it is, and why you probably need more of it.
  • What it’s like to transition from the biggest stages in sport, to working in a smaller setting with a more general population.
  • How I get it all done – from working as a mercenary PT, to writing, to public speaking, etc.
  • The BIG Question.
  • A really fun lightning round where we discuss pops Daddy-o Bill Hartman, his favorite hip hop groups, why I started the Movement Debrief, and what’s up next for me.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

ZAC CUPPLES ON THE LIFE OF A MERCENARY PT

 

October Links and Review

Every week, my newsletter subscribers get links to some of the goodies that I’ve come across on the internets.

Here were the goodies that my peeps got their learn on from this past August.

If you want to get a copy of my weekend learning goodies every Friday, fill out the form below.  That way you can brag to all your friends about the cool things you’ve learned over the weekend.

Biggest Lesson of the Month

Life ought to focus on creating value, for the people you work with, for others, for the world, for yourself. When you create value, rewards will come.

Quote of the Month

“Common 99% thinking won’t get you uncommon 100% results” ~ MJ Demarco

MJ Demarco is becoming one of my favorite authors, and he inspired the biggest lesson above.

Hike of the Month

A great park in the land of China

I didn’t get much hiking in this past month, namely because I was prepping for my talks in the land of China. However, while in China, my hotel was right next to this really cool park that I walked through frequently. Amazing amalgamation of architecture, flora, and people.

Training

The Trick to a Perfect Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

My son, Trevor Rappa, gave us a great cue on nailing the rear foot elevated split squat. Perfect for those people who sag into the back leg.

Weight Position During the Squat

Want to more effectively load the legs when you are squatting? Here is one of the most impactful changes I’ve made when coaching squats.

Rehab

Blog: Should We Delay Range of Motion After a Total Shoulder Replacement?

Mike Reinold is a guy who I look to on a lot to influence my post-operative care. In this post, he makes a salient point regarding the early range of motion controversy. The devil is in the details.

Blog: All Gain, No Pain Knee Pain Solution for Lunges and Split Squats

Daddy-O Pops Bill Hartman just killing it with the content, fam. This time around, he discusses how he approaches individuals who get knee pain during split stance activities; a common problem I’ve struggled with in the past. Thank you for helping a son out, pops.

Infographic: Early versus Delayed Rehabilitation After Acute Muscle Injury: No Time to Waste

Yann again killing it with these graphics. Here this time he brings us a study which shows how drastic an impact recovery from an injury can be the sooner you start moving.

Health & Wellness

App: Insight Timer

Want to get into mediation but don’t want to spend the buck on Headspace or Calm? Then Insight Timer is your answer. There are several different styles of meditation available in this completely free app.

I will admit, you have to sift through a lot of crap to find the particular meditations that work for you, but once you find one’s that work, you are golden.

My favorites so far are “The Warrior” by Michelle DuVal and Franko Heke 5 Min Guided Meditation

Let me meditate, set it straight

Blog: New Neuroscience Reveals 2 Rituals That Will Make You More Mindful

Eric Barker’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” blog is hands down one of my favorite blogs on the internet. He spends a great deal of time researching multitudes of topics, getting quotes from others, and writing about damn interesting material. This time, he discusses meditation, multiple “yous,” and so much more.

Podcast: Dr. Brandon Alleman on Direct Primary Healthcare (The Paleo Solution)

I’ve been binge listening to Robb Wolf’s podcast as of late (a great thing about vacations), and I found this one to be particularly fascinating. Here Dr. Alleman discusses how he is saving healthcare by using a subscription-based system for his patients. It’s quite fascinating how this system is saving his clients, including small businesses, money. I’d definitely check this one out.

Blog: Decrease Rumination and Stress with Movement

I’m a big time ruminator on things. Something I’ve been trying to work on. Here, my boi Seth Oberst discusses how movement can help reduce the urge to ruminate, and how it’s a much better alternative than being on your phone.

Personal Development

Blog: Imposter Syndrome and the Fitness Industry

Man this hit home for me on many levels. My man Dean Somerset wrote an awesome post on what it feels like to experience imposter syndrome, and how all of us have to start from the bottom. It’s about the process, and continuing to grow the process.

Blog: Decision Making, After the Fact

Read this when you think about being critical of someone, your favorite athlete, you spouse, your friend, making a poor decision.

Productivity Tip

I made one simple change to the way I schedule things that has led to drastic improvements in my productivity. What is that change? Check out the quick hit to find out, fam.

Blog: Definining Authenticity

Seth Godin keeps his blogs simple, concise, yet effective. Here he gives us what authenticity is not, and his example for what it is really hit home for me.

Blog: How Answering One Simple Question Can Keep You on Track for Success

Daddy-O Pops Bill Hartman provides us with a great technique at helping you stay on task with your goals. I definitely plan on using this one.

Routines and Measuring 

Routines are a great way to reduce stress, as less decisions have to be made. In order to be successful at reaching a goal, it helps to track progress. Here is how I combine the two.

Book: The Millionaire Fastlane

This book has really hit me hard and made me think about the way I am approaching finances, making money, and many other things. This book will challenge all your preconceived notions about what to do with your money.

Miscellaneous

Book: Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

Eric Barker is one of my favorite bloggers and I am enjoying his book quite a bit. Do you want to find out if nice guys finish last? Or maybe you want to learn from prison inmates how important trust is. He has so many great nuggets in this book that I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Music

Every Noise at Once

This is probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Want to hear every music genre that has ever existed, then get a Spotify playlist having music within that genre? Because That is exactly what this site does. Un…be…lievable.

 Royce Da 5’9″ – “The Bar Exam 4” 

[WARNING, EXPLICIT CONTENT] Good…Lord…Listen to this. Royce is by far one of my favorite rappers. Like, in my top 10, pushing to get into my top 5. Here is a dope mixtape he put together where he just expresses his lyricism; many on some of your favorite beats.

So…freakin’…underrated

Some of my favorite include “C Dolores,” “Still Waiting,” “Gov Ball,” and “Chopping Block”

Side note: got to meet Royce at a concert with like 10 people. He really is 5’9″. And he’s a cool cat.

Freddie Gibbs – You Only Live 2wice

[WARNING, EXPLICIT CONTENT] Some call him the modern day 2pac, Gangsta Gibbs himself takes street rap to a whole new level. This joint gets him talking about his time he was in jail overseas. It’s a great mix of some serious stuff with his typical gangsta fare. Freddie is currently one of my favorite modern rappers, so please give him a listen. Crushed Glass and Homesick are my favorite two.

Which goodies did you find useful? Comment below and let me know what you think.

Photo Credits

Aashishji

Dominik Lippe (Lipstar) und Yannic Lippe

September in Review

Every week, my newsletter subscribers get links to some of the goodies that I’ve come across on the internets.

Here were the goodies that my peeps got their learn on from this past August.

If you want to get a copy of my weekend learning goodies every Friday, fill out the form below.  That way you can brag to all your friends about the cool things you’ve learned over the weekend.

Biggest Lesson of the Month

Much of our successes and failures can be linked back to the habits we have. I noticed many times this past month that ineffective habits I had picked up were hampering my progress and productivity. One simple change (eliminating a to-do list, blocking out time to do things) was a complete game changer for me.

If you are doing something you don’t like, how do your habits keep you falling into that trap?

Quote of the Month

“Quality is not an act. It is a habit.” ~ Aristotle

Very much linked to the above lesson. We need quality to become automatic, and who better to illustrate this than an O.G. like Aristotle.

Hike of the Month

Pictures never do these things justice.

This was a tough decision to make on multiple fronts. This month I hiked four National Parks, saw a National Monument, and did all types of ill stuff.

Though Sequoia National Park will forever hold a dear place in my heart, Yosemite was hands down one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. The variety of terrain, the challenge of the 18+ miles I hiked, and the #views are hard to beat. I go back and forth on if I liked Yosemite or Zion better. But regardless, you should probably check it out.

Training

Quick Hit: Sprinting Tip

Here I discuss my favorite sprinting cue that I learned from my boy Derek Hansen. If there is one cue you could give to make your peeps faster, this is it.

Podcast: 20 Tips for Young Coaches

I wish I had this podcast when I was first starting out. My boi Mike Robertson lists several high quality tips that young coaches should apply to get the most out of many things–internships, networking, life. These tips are really good for anyone to apply in any situation.

Quick Hit: How to Lateral Shuffle

The lateral shuffle is a fundamental move that most any athlete ought to perform effectively. Here I provide my how-to’s and favorite cues…all in under 60 seconds #niccagestyle

Not to be confused with the equally impressive truffle shuffle

Article: ‘Science’ and the Barbell Hip Thrust

Doug Kechijian just continues to destroy the internet. In this article, he uses recent research on the hip thrust to critique a larger problem in science and performance–transfer-ability. Many times we argue about minutiae, when we really need to validate broader scope problems more effectively. Who better to discuss this issue than my buddy Douglas.

Quick Hit: Landing Mechanics 101

This past week’s quick hit goes into detail on how I coach landing mechanics, perhaps the most important piece to jumping safely and effectively. There are three keys to effective landing. What are those? Well, check out the vid.

Podcast: Bill Hartman on Building a Powerful and Pain-free Body After 40 

There is a reason why Daddy-o pops is such a huge part of my life. Besides being an incredible human being, every time I listen to him I pick up something new. In this podcast Bill goes into detail on the importance of routines, and he gives a sneak preview of his new book (out September 15th), going into detail on the principles he employs to building fitness post-injury. Also, if you want his book, click here.

 Quick Hit: Modifying Exercise Tip

If you hurt, the thing to do is to stop all movement right?!? WRONG.  A more prudent method is to find a different variation of a movement that gets the goal you want but doesn’t hurt. Here is an example

Rehab

Research: On the (f)Utility of Pain

After I finished this article I was like “damn.” I think so many times as clinicians we chase pain relief for pain relief’s sake, without considering if the patient is truly suffering. I think about how many times I’ve been a part of the problem, even when trying to provide the solution. This one will definitely make you think.

Blog: How to Read and Understand Scientific Research

Chris Kresser again with another gem (long road trips tend to have me consume a lot of info from one source). Here CK goes over many practical tips towards being an effective consumer and appraiser of the research. If you think research is tough to understand in rehab and performance, don’t even think about looking at nutrition. Yuck.

Podcast: Trever Rappa and Greg Spatz on Streamlining Rehab and Performance 

My two baby boys have grown up so fast! It is so refreshing to hear two well-respected physical therapists discuss expanding the PT scope into aggressive fitness. I love how both of these guys espouse not making injured people seem fragile, but always pushing intensity. The more you can expose someone to intensity, the easier return to performance becomes. We can’t just stop at success on the table.

You can see the family resemblance

Research: Nociception Affects Motor Output – A Review on Sensory Motor Interaction with Focus on Clinical Implications

This article was just absolutely awesome. In it the authors explain how nociception, both acute and chronic, impacts motor control both short and long term. They also sprinkle in some really cool things with the sympathetic nervous system and movement variability. These are all reasons why we cannot ignore nociceptive drive in chronic pain states.

Blog: Travel PT 101 – What is Travel Therapy

If you are a PT, unattached, have a crap ton of student loans, and like adventures, you should strongly consider travel PT. Traveling makes it feel like you are on vacation the entire time you are on assignment, and it feels good to actually make a dent on student loans. Here are all your questions, answered.

Health & Wellness

Podcast: RHR: All About Coffee

For those of us who are coffee lovers; you are welcome. In this podcast my man Chris Kresser discusses all the amazing health benefits of drinking copious amounts of coffee. Wait until you here him compare the antioxidant values to some of those highly touted antioxidant fruits. #mindblown.

Quick Hit: Travel Tips

While we can often talk about how to time sleep, supplementation, and such with travel, one thing often not discussed is what equipment you should bring when you travel. Having the right stuff can make travel much less stressful. What stuff? Check out the vid to find out.

E-Book: Genetics – The Universe Within

I’m excited for this read, as I recently got some genetic testing done. Going through this one to get some clarification as to what the results mean, but the folks at PN always do some good work.

Personal Development

Blog: 5 Time-Saving Productivity Hacks, Reviewed

This is a blog I’ve just been getting into, but they came through with a clutch post on ways to be more productive. Amazing how effective meditation was; something I may have to revisit.

Pointy hat a must

Podcast: Setting Goals, Making Money, and Overcoming Tough Times – Phil Hellmuth

This podcast took me back to the days I was obsessed with poker. In this wonderful Tim Ferriss podcast, world class poker player Phil Hellmuth discusses many of the trial, tribulations, successes, and failures he has come across in his life. Many words of wisdom were had. Making my goal sheet now!

Blog: Don’t Forget the Second Step

Seth Godin writes daily little blurbs that are often quite profound and helpful in terms of all things marketing, business, and life.

This post is no different. Here Seth talks about step one, which is learning how to do something. Most people get only that far, and never hit step two. What’s step two? Read to find out.

Blog: The Success is in the Struggle

This blog really hit home for me. After getting let go from my NBA gig, I spent a great deal of time evaluating things I needed to change about myself. This is a hard conversation to have with yourself, but can often by life changing. Here Eric Cressey talks about his life changing conversation that made him the great coach that he is.

Book: I Will Teach You to be Rich

Ramit Sethi does an excellent job providing simple, yet effective financial device. I’ve been reading this book a bit slow, but applying every single lesson he’s recommended in each chapter with outstanding results. I was able to convince my credit card company to up my limit, give me 0% APR for a year, and doubled my interest rate on my savings account just by following these steps. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Blog: The Top 5 Reasons to Be a Jack of All Trades

Tim Ferriss has really impressed upon me the importance of having a broad skillset. Mastery, or even competency, doesn’t take that long to achieve. A bit of focused study, and you will have most of what you need to be successful at your craft. This is why I am expanding my learning into areas such as sleep, nutrition, and more.

Blog: These 55 Productivity Tips Will Save You 1,000 Hours

Insidehook is a site I’ve been checking out for a good while, as it contains a lot of good things ranging from style to productivity. Many good gems in this post, especially the email stuff.

Music

Music: Incubus “8”

Incubus is one of my favorite rock bands, as I just love how diverse their sound is. And it seems like they rarely fail with their experiments.

This album goes a little back to some rock roots, and man does it have some heft to it. I trained to this when I first heard it, and I’m pretty sure my arm circumference increased by 3 inches…even though I was training legs!

Give “No Fun” and “Nimble Bastard” a listen

Which goodies did you find useful? Comment below and let me know what you think.

 

Photo Credits

Matt Brown

Sciencefreak

All Gain, No Pain Foreword

All Gain, No Pain  releases today.

If you haven’t grabbed your copy of it yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

ALL GAIN, NO PAIN

 

I had the honor and pleasure to write the foreword for this excellent book, which Bill has so graciously let me reprint.

You can read it below, and if it doesn’t inspire you to grab Bill’s new book, what will?

Foreword

“Good morning!”

He had that shit-eating grin on his face. The type of smile you see when your parents found out something you didn’t want them to know. That smile you saw right before your untimely demise.

I knew damn well what that smile meant.

Back then I was Bill’s student. A quiet, shy, and uncertain kid. After doing a deal with the Mafia to find his email, offering up my future first born to learn from him, and signing a blood oath, I somehow convinced Bill to accept me as his physical therapy intern.

This was like meeting a rock star! Bill was all over Men’s Health magazine, T-Nation—the type of stuff young bucks like me were reading to get ahead of the curve. The last thing I wanted to do was let the guy down.

Then I overslept.

Well played alarm clock, well played indeed

Stressed, frantic, and brushing only my front teeth, I made it to the clinic 30 minutes late. Only to be absolutely destroyed by that smile—a look that will forever be burned into my brain.

I apologized, he mildly scolded me, and we moved on.

Working with Bill was an amazing opportunity for me. Day-in and day-out I’d see him help individuals who were in pain—we are talking years of pain—become pain-free in a matter of moments. He was changing lives and helping people both return to both work and high level performance.

Whenever we had a lull, Bill would either grab his Lacrosse ball or do some type of mobility exercise. The guy was in pain, and was doing whatever he could to provide some relief.

After barely passing his clinical, I would periodically come back to visit Bill and see what he was up to. Each time I returned he had re-invented himself. Fine-tuned his process. Mastered his craft. Found better ways to reduce his client’s pain so they could get their lives back on track.

Yet he still hurt.

I’ll never forget that day I met Bill up at a continuing education course. It had been a little while since I last saw Bill, and I barely recognized the guy. He was lean. Like, really lean. I’m talking 6-pack abs, veins on veins, absolutely shredded lean. At 50-years old no doubt.

What was really weird was he walked around shirtless all the time, but who am I to judge?

The coolest thing? He was in a lot less pain.

He rebuilt his body, reclaimed his health, and most importantly, restored control. Control for a time I’m sure he felt lost.

As incredible as Bill’s transformation was, I’ve continued to see him do this over and over and over again with clients who have been in pain.

Bill is simply one of the smartest and hardest-working individuals I know, and to see this continual evolution and drive to help people is inspiring. It is this drive that instilled greater confidence in my life, pushed me to write, fueled my discipline at continual self-improvement, and landed me an opportunity to work with the high performers in the NBA.

The fact that the man who I look up to more than anyone, the man who adopted me as his son, is asking me of all people to write a foreword for his book, is surreal. It feels like that moment in Star Wars where Obi Wan gave Luke his first lightsaber. Ready to carry the torch of the Jedi for the future.

Though let’s be real, I’d totally be turning to the Dark Side. Black is a much more slimming color.

Way cooler capes too

Unlike Obi Wan, this Jedi master still has a lot of life left in him, and I am beyond excited for you to be learning how he helps people in pain stop surviving, and start thriving.

And there is no better time.

Chronic pain is a widespread epidemic. In the United States alone, 25.3 million adults suffer from daily pain, with 23.4 million reporting that pain as severe¹. This is a problem that costs the United States economy $635 billion dollars per year².

The things people do to become pain-free are numerous. Many times, these treatments are passive—massage, injections, icy hot, ultrasound, magnets—intending to provide some semblance of relief.

Too bad this stuff doesn’t work.

When comparing passive treatments to active approaches, such as exercise, there is no contest. Exercise wins, time after time³. Both aerobic exercise and weight training have been shown to help increase pain tolerance and brain function4,5. In fact, a lack of exercise may be the primary cause of most chronic diseases, as well as the cure6.

But how can I start exercising when I’m in agony just sitting here? How can I reap the benefits when my back hurts just looking at weights? You want me to walk for how long?!?

There exists no one better to answer these questions other than Bill Hartman.

If movement is the solution, then All Gain, No Pain is the guide.

In this book, you will find strategies to restructure your life in such a manner that reduces pain, improves fitness and health, and builds you to better withstand life’s stressors. Simply stated, you’ll be able to live the life you thought was once gone.

Bill has spent countless hours researching and experimenting with various methods; figuring out what methods work, and which one’s do not. He’s eliminated the unnecessary and ineffective strategies that many people try and fail with, while providing you strictly the essentials. The stuff that works.

His No Pain Principles will aid your quest in pain freedom, and his All Gain Principles will build the fitness necessary to keep persistent pain at bay. As for those movements that bother you in the gym? Bill has designed wonderful workarounds that can still drastically improve your fitness.

What makes this book different than the rest is that it comes from an author who has dealt with chronic pain himself. Bill understands the trials and tribulations you have and will go through. There simply is no better guide out there for your journey to rediscovering you.

And I must say, the strategies outlined in All Gain, No Pain flat-out work. As I was reading and editing this book, I adapted many of the principles myself. Over the course of three months, I dropped 25 pounds and was below 10% body fat for the first time in my life. Moreover, I’ve established rituals and habits that have increased my work output, energy levels, and overall satisfaction with life. You may have come to this book because you are in pain, but I promise you will leave with so much more.

If you stick with the principles, you’ll get results. You’ll look better, feel better, and move better. Most importantly, you’ll be you again. Not the old you. Not the you in pain.

But the best version of you.

Sum Up

Again, this book is an excellent read, regardless if you are in pain, wanting to perform at the highest level, or wish to understand stress.

Get your copy by clicking here.

References

Pixabay

BagoGames

All Gain, No Pain Book Review

For those of you who don’t know, my colleague, mentor, friend, and Daddy-O Pops Bill Hartman is about to release his upcoming book All Gain, No Pain.

Though the book is targeted to those over 40 who are getting back into fitness either post-rehab or in pain, it includes an incredible amount of valuable content for just about anyone.

If you want a lesson in physiology, breathing, variability, and stress, this book has it.

If you want an excellent plan to get jacked, a plan that got me (not over 40 and not in pain) under 10% body fat for the first time in my life, this book has it.

If you want tips, strategies, and rituals that’ll help you live a better life, this book has it. In spades in fact.

Though I’m biased (I wrote the foreword and edited the book), it is one of the most comprehensive self-betterment books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

I want to extend that pleasure to you.

The book releases this Monday, 9/25/17, on Amazon.com.

But what if I told you if you act now you could snag a free copy?

Yes, I said free!!!

F….R….E…E

#free

It might be the best free thing you ever get.

If you want a free copy of this absolutely outstanding book, click the link below to be directed to Bill’s website. Sign up, and you’ll get your free copy when this great read releases.

 

ALL GAIN, NO PAIN

 

If my stamp of approval doesn’t sell you on getting this book, then perhaps a classic book notes will.

Read on below to catch a glimpse of some of my favorite highlights.

Continue reading “All Gain, No Pain Book Review”

How to Fix Neck Pain After Lifting – A Live Treatment

While in the Hamptons, my main man Cody Benz started developing some neck trouble.

We thought it might be helpful for y’all to see what I would do to help a cat like him.

Here you will see me go through an entire treatment session with Cody, while I do my best to explain every decision I make. A major kudos to Daddy-o Pops Bill Hartman for asking some great questions throughout the treatment.

Instead of the typical transcript I provide for these longer videos, I decided to write this up similarly to my neck pain with sitting case study format. I reflected on this case while editing the video, so you’ll see some added thoughts I had while you read through. I would recommend watching the video and reading the case study to get the most out of the material.

Enjoy watching the session.

Continue reading “How to Fix Neck Pain After Lifting – A Live Treatment”

Trial and Error, Triplanar Movement, Networking, and Mentors – Movement Debrief Episode 11

Did you miss yesterday’s Movement Debrief? We had a lot of fun. The first time I went on facebook, twitter, and Instagram simultaneously.

This debrief was a bit different, as it didn’t involve as much reflection on my patient care, but more on the wonderful continuing education weekend I had.

I got to spend time with all my friends learning about a lot of different things. And it led to some great reflections.

Here’s what I talked about:

  1. Why trial and error is important
  2. Being outcome-focused
  3. How triplanar movement impacts single plane movements
  4. Why having a good network is important
  5. Keys the networking
  6. The importance of mentors

If you want to watch these live, add me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They air every Wednesday at 8:30pm CST.

Enjoy.

 

 

DNS B Course Notes

Whew, I recently finished (and still trying to process) the B level DNS course from the folks at The Prague School. Instructors were Martina Jeszkova and Dr. David Jeurhing. There were a lot of things covered during this 4 day course and I definitely learned a few things. Here are the highlights.

DNS

Developmental Principles

The focal point of DNS is the concept of joint centration, a static and dynamic maximal joint surface approximation.  When joint surfaces achieve optimal bony congruency, the muscles surrounding the joint achieve optimal activation and highest mechanical advantage.  The reverse is also true. If muscles coactivate properly, then joint centration occurs.

Conversely, if optimal joint centration is not achieved then muscle imbalances occur. The reverse is also true. This change becomes very problematic, as decentration at one joint effects centration at all the other joints. This may lead to decreased performance at best and at worst increased wear on joint surfaces.

Take lower crossed syndrome (or open scissors if you are a DNS fan) for example. Let’s say we had a problem with our lower back. In order to cope with this trouble, we increase lumbar lordosis and decentrate the lumbar spine. See how it affects the surrounding structures. The pelvis anteriorly tilts, which affects length tension relationships to glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors. Thoracic kyphosis increases as well, affecting the shoulder girdle and cervical muscles. Basically, play with one body region or joint position and see how it affects the others, and you can develop a decent understanding of joint centration’s implications.

We can argue all day if posture is relevant, but can we at least agree this it’s not a good look?

Developmental Milestones

The Newborn

  • No optical contact due to holokinetic movements, which basically means movement due to lack of stability.
  • Mass extensor pattern in supine.
  • Mass flexor pattern in prone.
  • Able to turn head, but cannot lift head off of table.

6-8 weeks

  • Optic fixation is constant.

3 months

  • Begins sagittal plane stabilization.
  • Can begin feeling with arms.
  • Able to lift the head.

4.5 months

  • Able to stabilize in sagittal plane.
  • Functional joint centration of all joints.
  • Rotates head 30 degrees each direction independent of other spinal movement.
  • Grasp as far as midline.
  • Ulnar grasp.

5 months

  • Active grasp across the midline occurs, which leads to turning from supine to sidelying.
  • Radial grasp.

6 months

  • Radial grasp
  • Chest breathing combined with abdominal/diaphragmatic activation.
  • Turn from supine to prone.

7 months

  • Can oblique sit onto forearm.
  • Pincer grasp.

9 month

  • High oblique sit.
  • Crawling.
  • Unsupported sitting.

10 month

  • Side walking.
  • Independent steps between surfaces.

14-16 months

  • True gait

Here are a couple vids of the developmental process.

The Integrating Stabilizing System of the Spine

Much of where joint centration begins at the spinal level, and involves the following functional muscle unit activating in a feed-forward subconscious fashion:

  • Short intersegmental spinal muscles.
  • Deep neck flexors
  • Serratus anterior
  • Diaphragm
  • Abdominal wall
  • Pelvic floor.

Developing proper function of this group is what allows for movement.  However, if one of these muscles becomes dysfunctional, the entire complex becomes dysfunctional. Stability is then achieved by substituting with other muscles groups and/or passive structures.

Stabilizing system function is very important as we develop, as lack of this mechanism may lead to abnormal bone structuring. Examples of this would be anterior pelvic tilt, femoral anteversion, spinal kyphosis, etc. These would be deemed utilizing passive structures to increase stability for function.

There are 3 reasons for which stability becomes disturbed.

  1. Culture, sport, habit.
  2. Abnormal early development.
  3. Protective pattern due to pain or pathology.

DNS tests

There are general compensatory patterns that are evident in almost all the DNS tests, so watch for the following:

  • Excessive scapular winging, retraction, elevation.
  • Poor diaphragmatic breathing & lateral expansion.
  • Excessive lordosis or extensor tone.
  • Rib flares.
  • Diastasis or rectus abdominis hyperactivity.

These patterns are results of poor punctum fixums, which are fixed points to which muscles pull. For example, with supine cervical flexion the fixed point would be T4. If mobile, you may see excessive movement there, hence poor centration. The tests themselves unfortunately require a lot of subjective interpretation in terms of what you see, so I will not give you a demonstration. Here is a brief description of each.

  • Diaphragm test – seated breathing.
  • IAP pressure test – Supine breathing.
  • Trunk & head flexion test – max flexion of cervical spine in supine.
  • Arm elevation test – Shoulder elevation in supine.
  • Extension test – Prone head lift.
  • Oblique trunk flexion – Somewhat cross between an armbar and get-up.
  • Quadruped rock forward – Watching for winging.
  • Squat – Duh.
  • Low kneeling – See below exercise.
  • Bear position – See below exercise.

Three Level of Motor control

The three levels of motor control are as follows:

1)      Spinal/brain stem – neonatal. Think primitive reflexes that we see in babies such as rooting, moro, etc.

2)      Subcortical – The first year of life.

3)      Cortical – 2-4 years of age.

I will not go into details regarding all the different reflexes; much of these are what you learned in school. This section was one I had some qualms with after recent discussion (i.e. me listening in awe) with Bill Hartman.  I do not know that science agrees with maturation in the first year of life being subcortical and reflexive. In order for movement to occur, motor learning and motivation are required. These two are both cortical phenomena. If there were reflexive changes, then should not all babies develop optimally?

Reflex Locomotion

Then we went over the “voodoo” aspect of DNS—reflex locomotion (RL). What occurs with this technique is evoking partial motor patterns via afferent stimulations (i.e. pressure) at specific points. These specific points correlate to the support zones that occur throughout the developmental cycle. By pressing on these points, joint centration can be established allowing for motion.

Typically these movements occur more readily with younger children and babies, and sensitivity differs amongst adults. Here are some of the changes typically looked for in RL.

  • Breathing patterns
  • Muscle fasciculation
  • Partial/whole movement patterns
  • Autonomic responses

Realize that RL is not a learning/training process and does not teach normal movement. RL achieves muscle activation, stereognosis, and body awareness—prerequisites for movement.

Here are some videos of the positions that I learned in the course from someone who is obviously way better at this modality than I am.

Reflex Turning 1

Reflex Creeping

Reflex Turning 2

1st position

The group at my course was generally very reactive and elicited some movements. Even I had a reaction elicited in reflex turning 2. However, it is important to understand that everyone in the course knew what was to be expected; hence I wonder if there is some “Ouija boarding” occurring when we perform these activities.

My guess is you will spell D-N-S.

We did have a couple kiddos come in for treatment as well who had neurological problems. Some “responses” got elicited, though these were very minor and I could not tell very well if these were responses or if the kids were just fidgety. Now, seeing pre and post gait everyone thought there were improvements. Of course, I try to battle confirmation bias somewhat (but it is so damn hard), I had some of my PT colleagues check out the videos. They could neither see a difference nor could they tell which were the pre and post videos. Moreover, it does not help when much of the testing had subjective interpretation. We have to be mindful seeing changes that may not be there, or else you starting looking like the video below.

Now, is there some efficacy in RL? I don’t know. I haven’t seen enough of it to say either way, nor am I good enough at it to elicit regular responses. There is also the time factor that is required to elicit changes, which I have many other techniques that may be just as effective at faster rates. I think the selling point for me will be if I can see nice changes in people with marked neurological deficits. So if anyone has stories, please comment below.

Active Exercise

To the instructor’s credit, they state that you will use the active exercise way more than RL. This is good because this is where I think the DNS bread and butter lies. The exercises have been an excellent adjunct in my practice. Here are the big principles regarding exercise that DNS advocates.

  • Develop sufficient body awareness by feeling correct and incorrect movement.
  • Quality over quantity
  • Perform movements slow and pay attention to how one is moving.
  • Keep centration throughout.

The exercises utilize correspond with the various developmental positions, so here are some examples that I have been utilizing and playing with.

4.5 month breathing with band pulldown courtesy of my man Bill Hartman with the wonderful Eric Oetter.

3 month prone with head turns

4.5 month reach

6 month supine breathing

7 month low oblique sit with press

Roll to 8 month oblique sit.

Low kneeling plank

Tripod to bear to squat

Bear crawls

TRX sit to ½ kneel

Squat Cues

We also learned a great way to cue squats to increase pelvic floor activation, which I describe in the video below.

Quadruped Foot

We also had some off-topic discussion with quadruped foot versus tripod/short foot, which I outline in the below video.

Final Verdict

Now I realize that there were some DNS concepts that I knocked, however I will say that the exercise portion of things is very good. Our nervous system is looking for novel input, and I feel the exercises are a great way to provide this. We all developed too, so neurologically these positions are somewhat familiar albeit challenging at time. What is more, DNS exercise does an excellent job of integrating all the body segments into moving as one unit as opposed to training/rehabbing specific body segments. I can appreciate that the folks at the Prague School have taken many different concepts and tied them together into one unit.

So should you take their courses? I say yes. I still learned a great deal in both A and B despite my gripes, and I plan on taking C this fall. So check out the Prague school and learn some good skills.

I also would like to shout out my good friend/fellow mentor PT/cameraman/all around good guy Scott Passman for taking some of these videos, as he put in great effort to make them look good.