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Episode 173: Rehab versus Performance

Video Highlights

- The need for a process.
- Utilizing the result.
- The goal is constant improvement.

Today we’re going to talk about the basics of the Z-Health Assess-Reassess Process.

If you’ve been watching this blog for any period of time, you know that we talk a lot about reassessment in Z-Health. Today what I’m going to do is talk a little bit about the neurology and the concept behind why we reassess as much as we do, and what it means for you in terms of how to apply it. What I want you to look at quickly is this little loop over here.

The last few weeks I’ve been doing blogs about the neurology behind Z-Health.

One of the things we talk a lot about is this idea, what we call Neurology 101, which is how your body works. Basically, as you’re going through life, your eyes, your ears, your skin, your movement, that’s all sending input into your brain. Once it hits your brain, your brain has to integrate, interpret that information, decide what to do with it, and then create an output.

Whenever you’re in the gym, whenever you are training at home, whenever you are out for a run, whatever it is that you do, most of us spend a lot of our time focused on outputs. How’s my lifts? How’s my technique? How’s my form?

One of the things I want you to understand about Z-Health is that we are very input focused. Whenever we are working with someone, we test a lot of different things to see if I change the input, does that eventually change the output in a positive way?

On top of that, one of the things that you also need to understand, and I’ve talked about this in previous blogs, is that exercise is a drug. It’s very, very important that you recognize that not every exercise in appropriate for everyone at once. If you have a headache, you don’t want to take a necessarily diabetic medication for a headache because it’s the wrong drug.

At the same time, if you have a headache and you’re taking ibuprofen, you don’t want to take 20,000 mg. because it will kill you. You have to take it in the right dose. Exercise is the same. You need the right exercise in the right dose to create the impact in the body that you’re trying to achieve.

With that in mind, whenever we work with anyone, the idea in Z-Health is that we want you to leave every session better than when you came in. We understand that when you train people, you have to test them. You have to tax the body so that it will adapt.

Our goal is to always create a level of difficulty or intensity that’s in the right dosage with the right exercise. That means, that every time you’re training with a Z-Health trainer or training yourself, you want to reassess regularly. There are some simple ways that you can look at the human body to go, “Hey, brain, did you like this input, or did you dislike this input? Was it too little, too much or the wrong type?”

The way that we teach that is very different between our professional certifications and what I teach on the blog or in the general public things. In our professional certifications, we really spend a lot of time working with our trainers to go, “How can we objectively measure improvement in people?” We do a lot of work with gate assessment, balance testing, vision testing, other classic neurologic tests, etc.

When it comes to this blog and, like I said, if we’re teaching a general public class, we try to go with things that work, that are expedient, and are useful.

Usually what we’ll talk about is testing range of motion. Let’s say, I have an internal rotation that looks like this. Then I do some kind of drill. I can retest that internal rotation to see if it improved. Neurologically, what we’re telling you is that I don’t care about the range of motion, but I do care about “Did my brain like the input that I just gave it?”

I can get into a lot of weird neurology about how range of motion is controlled at the brain stem level. That’s one of the reasons whenever we give the brain good input, the balance between what are called the flexors and extensors and synergy with which they work improves. Oftentimes, we’ll see an improvement in range of motion. We also say, “Hey, you can test strength and how difficult a typical strength move is.” It’s called RPE. Or you can test balance. Or you can test a functional activity.

How’s my golf swing feel now? Am I swinging faster? Is it a better contact?

You want to make sure that in your own training, you’re always doing some kind of reassessment of the inputs that you’re providing. Here’s basically what this means and how to use it.

Let’s say I go into training tomorrow and I decide, “Okay, I think I want to do a kettle bell overhead press.” I can test the range of motion or I can see how hard it is. I can do the overhead press and then I can do a drill. Maybe that’s a foot drill from Z-Health, thoracic glide, maybe it’s some kind of other rehab tool or exercise you’ve learned from somewhere else.

As soon as you do that, you want to then reassess that basic range of motion or that strength of that lift and see if it was better. If it got better, we call that a high performance drill for you. Meaning if that foot drill improved your range of motion, which improved your lift, great. Classify it as high performance. If, instead you did that drill and then you went back and did that lift or you tested that range of motion and you were worse, we’re going to call that a rehab drill.

Then finally, if you did the drill, retested and nothing changed, that’s just neutral.

Here’s what this means practically speaking. In your training session as part of your warm up, as part of your cool down, you want to do high performance drills only or mostly. We can go 90-10 if you want or 80-20, but for the most part when you’re going to be stressing your body, stressing your brain, you want to do high performance drills.

An example, someone comes in, we know that these foot drills work well for them because we’ve tested them in the past, a part of their warm up will be doing foot mobility. Let’s say you are a high level executive and you have a stressful business meeting coming up and you know that there is a breathing exercise that you always respond well to. That’s a high performance drill for you.

Take two minutes before your meeting starts and do that drill. High performance is exactly what it sounds like. You do that drill anytime you need your body or brain to perform at a higher level.

The rehabilitation drills, or the rehab drills, do we avoid those always? The answer is absolutely not.

Because basically what we tell people is if you respond badly to an eye exercise or a vestibular exercise, or a movement exercise, especially if it’s a simple basic one, that’s a problem. It tells us that you need to rehabilitate that movement or that skill. The way that we talk about the rehab drills is we want you to do them, but we want you to do them away from any time when you’re going to have to perform at a high level.

You’re home, going to lay down on the couch. Before you lay down on the couch, you can do one of your rehab drills and then you can relax. Because the idea is over time to turn that rehab at least into a neutral exercise or eventually, maybe into a high performance drill.

Finally then, we come to the neutral. Let’s say you do an exercise, you retest it and nothing changes for you. What do we do with that? Here’s what I tell people. In general, that means it’s neither good nor bad. The input that you’re providing is neutral. It’s very normal for your brain. If you’re in a hurry, you can leave that exercise out of your warm up. If you are in a hurry, you can leave that exercise out of your cool down.

If that exercise feels good to you, go ahead and do it. If you don’t enjoy doing it or you’re trying to save time, then you skip it. It’s a really, really simple concept. The only thing I tell people about neutral drills, is you need to revisit them every month or two months. Because as your body changes, as you adapt and grow and progress, what was neutral may become high performance or it may become a rehab drill based on what’s happening and how your training’s going.

At the most basic level, that is how we approach the assess reassess process.

Please remember like I said, that we understand that when we teach range of motion or strength testing or whatever to the general public, we understand that it is a more subjective reassessment, but it’s still useful. It is a window into how your brain is responding to the immediate inputs that you’re providing in the training session. It can be a valuable guide in getting the most out of what you do and also staying as injury free as possible.

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas around how to use reassessment a little bit better. How to categorize it.

If you have any questions about this, please let us know. Otherwise, good luck in your training.

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