1 Week Out from UPA Summer Showdown in Cleveland, OH - Competing Raw @ 220lbs
This past weekend I attended the 'Activation Sport' Course that was being taught by Cal Dietz and Chris Korfist, and hosted at JL Holdsworth's facility, The Spot Athletics. The Activation Sport course (note: it is not MAT or ART) is based on the principles of Douglas Heel, a physiotherapist from South Africa who started creating a new framework for movement in the body, performance, and injury prevention that now has started to be used by various pro and college sports teams, various individual athletes, and patients in different care settings.
I first heard about Douglas Heel and the system from Dave Tate when I heard JL was helping him with some new things he had just learned and it was making a HUGE difference in Dave's health and training (read more about that here). Then I reached out to JL and asked if I could swing by and he could show me some of what he learned. I visited The Spot Athletics and JL worked on me for about an hour, doing muscle testing and then hitting different activation points. It was crazy how quickly my body responded in terms of muscle activation, and then the days after I was blown away at how well I slept, how my hip felt, and even my HRV readings were dramatically better in the days following. Training felt great too, and the self-activations I did on myself before training allowed me to feel more warmed up and pain-free than I had in a long time with different mobility drills and warmups.
A few weeks later (this past weekend), JL hosted the Activation Sport Course at his facility, and I was able to spend 2 days learning all the principles behind the system, the tests, and the methods of working with people using the system. The system is based on a proper pattern of movement, that when the body's sympathetic nervous system is cranked too high, can begin to shut off the areas that should be initiating movement and instead allows compensations that can lead to injury and reduced performance. Through improved breathing mechanics, activation of the de-activated muscles, and re-patterning of movement, a huge change in body function can be seen.
It was probably one of the most valuable continuing education experiences I've ever had, and the way the system tied into movement as a whole, stress response, and injury prevention was incredible. I'm naturally a pretty pessimistic person when people are going crazy about how great something is, but to me this system made sense because it operates within the principles of how all the body systems work together as one comprehensive unit regulated by the autonomic nervous system (which I wrote about in an upcoming article). While some of the methods at first glance seem crazy, when you think about the role the nervous system plays with regulating the rest of the body systems, it makes total sense. The implications on stress response and mental well-being were especially interesting to me and I plan on implementing this in a lot of the projects I work on in the future.
A few stats on injury reduction that I thought were also incredibly impressive from coaches using the system with their athletes:
- Dr. Tom Nelson uses the system with the Nazereth Academy Football team, and since beginning to use the system 4 years ago, the team has had a 30% reduction in concussions, 73% reduction in fractures and surgeries, and 52% overall injury reduction.
- In over 4,000 practices since beginning to implement Sport Activation, Strength Coach Cal Dietz mentioned at the course that he has only had 3 soft tissue injuries, a dramatic decrease from previous years.
There's a lot more to the course, but I wanted to give a quick run down of what I took from it. Is it the end-all-be-all answer to every injury? No. But I feel strongly it explains the majority of injury causes I've come in contact with, and the results from the activation work are undeniable.
In terms of how I plan on applying what I've learned - I will be teaching my staff how to test and show clients and athletes how to activate themselves; and will be creating some packets of drills for my online clients to do both as warm-ups and individual self-care for dysfunctions. I'll also evaluate and work on select people that can meet with me in person, so if you are interested feel free to reach out to me by email.
I highly recommend the course if you're able to take it, and I think it's going to be one of the most valuable things I've learned both for my own training and as a coach and administrator.
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