Maybe she had a point


I used to know a doctor, a GP to be exact, who when presented with a patient saying "doctor, it hurts when I do x" would respond "well, don't do x then". Now, this was not the sum total of clinical practice but it it seemed to be a frustratingly large piece of her soft tissue/joint injury management.

Now, for years, whenever this bubbled to the surface of my mind I would dismiss it with still fresh frustration. As is my wont, I have re-evaluated in recent times, especially during and after the recent POSE running clinic with @PoseRunning (have a look at Naeem's Twitter feed or website at www.runningengineer.com).

My motivation for attending was down to the lack of enjoyment I derive from running, knowing that it can be a bit of a blindspot for me and a thought that there must be a better way of doing it. Couple that with a curiosity and a knowledge that seeing other coaches in action is never a waste of a coach's time and your have the picture.

The assumptions in POSE are that running should not hurt [no dissent so far]; that the cure to running related pain is not to guts through it believing that it is an inevitable part of the natural order [D'oh!]; nor is it to quit or to correct biomechanical and postural issues through ever more elaborately constructed shoes or orthotics throwing us into weirder movement patterns or at a bare minimum facilitating the odd patterns we already have (which are the ones that brought us to this point in the first place). Whoa, back up a bit! So you are saying that running is not a bad exercise, bad technique makes a bad exercise? That's crazy talk and you would never hear me saying that to someb... oh, hang on.

So to me, the POSE method represents a coaching method for instructing good technique. In common with many sporting methodologies it is associated with increased performance and reduced risk of injury. I am not going to evaluate those claims here but I will say that Naeem comes across as a very good coach with a depth of subject knowledge, diagnostic ability and a variety of communication styles/patterns to hit as many different students as possible. Apart from the coaching love in, where am I going with this?

Well, if you have worked with me or read much of my writing before you will know I take a dim view of anybody claiming that their way is the only way BUT that I am a big fan of building an array of techniques to help your performance. So, again, where am I going with this? 

One of the illuminating, and really useful features of the day was the self-diagnostic information. If you get a pain in x then you are doing a (or b or c) and should be working on d, e and f to correct it.

Problem  - cause - solution by addressing the cause. 

Answers via addressing the root, not by stacking adaptations on top of issues. And that, for me, is the genius. I admit, it confirms what I believe to be the prime function of a coach, trainer, engineer or medic (no value implied or intended by the order of that list, they are examples!).

So the doctor was not just being cantankerous, just missing an element. It hurts when I do x. Don't do x then, do y to get back to normal and z to increase the chances of it not happening again.

And remember - skills need practice and the, at least occasional, watchful eye of an objective third party so you can receive feedback and progress rather than just coping and thinking that you are doing alright. You may be but it is really hard to assess your own progress (if for no other reason than we all do what we think is right - if we did not think it was right we would probably be doing something about it).

Food for thought?

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