Sport General or Sport Specific:

Sport General or Sport Specific:

What are the research and practice telling us about working with Athletes?

With all of the information and “research” (albeit real or pseudo) it is difficult for parents, kids, and sometimes even professional and elite level athletes to know how to best approach training for Sports Performance. While the research is pretty solid and difficult to disagree with the fact that training (strength training, power training, core training, etc.) is beneficial and valuable for athletes, how to approach that training and what systems approach is most likely to create the best environment for long-term success is a bit elusive and confusing.

In a recent seminar at Optima (the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s National Conference), I addressed and explored this issue. I have attached the following slides of the presentation so you are able to get a feel for the topic, the field, the progress (and sometimes lack thereof) in discipline, and where we have landed at Prevail Conditioning with our systems approach to athletic and sports performance.

And just in case you don’t want to look through the entire presentation (although I think you should!), I’ll save you some time and sum it up with this quote from Mike Boyle:

“Sport-specific programming is one of the greatest misconceptions in athletics today. The notion that each sport needs its own individual program is fundamentally flawed. The majority of team sports and even many individual sports have similar general needs. All rely on speed and power, with strength as the underlying base. The development of speed, strength, and power does not and should not vary greatly from sport to sport.”

Link to Presentation:

OPTIMA 2017 Sport General or Specific

123chrisChris Ecklund, MA, PES, CSCS, USAW, TPI

Muscle KO: The Reason You’re Doing Scap Pushups

What you need to know12paq

  • The serratus anterior is dagger shaped muscles that protract the scapula.
  • They are critical stabilizers for all pushing movements.
  • Scapula pushups are a corrective movement that targets the serratus anterior.

For Part II of the Muscle KO series we’ll be looking at the serratus anterior, the “boxer’s muscle”, which is incredibly important for stabilization during pushing movements. In the figure, Manny Pacquiao’s serratus anteriors are the dagger-shaped muscles that run along his rib cage. The most important function of these muscles is to protract (shift forward) the scapula.

The reason scapular stabilizing muscles are so important is that the scapula does not have 12retrastrong bony attachments like other bones. Instead, the weight of the scapula and arm is supported by attachments to the clavicle which attaches to the sternum. This arrangement allows for increased scapular mobility but decreased stability. Muscles then take on stabilizing roles and, if weak, can lead to dysfunctional movement.

12scapIn cases where patients have a weak or dysfunctional serratus anterior, “winging” of the scapula is observed when they push against a wall (see figure). This is to say that loss of control of the serratus anterior leads to destabilization of the scapula and inability to brace when pushing.

At Prevail, the serratus anterior is most obviously worked in the scap pushup (see figure below). These pushups are done with locked elbows and build up the serratus anterior and improve scapular mobility. Corrective exercises like the scap pushup prepare your stabilizing muscle groups to assist in bigger lifts.


Work Cited

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Anatomy Course 2017

 Tyler Paras12tyler

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. While at Westmont he graduated summa cum laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with Hospice of Santa Barbara.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying RA. Tyler is interested in orthopedic surgery and is currently conducting a systematic review on the outcomes of reverse shoulder reconstructions. His research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

Chinese Herbal Medicine at Prevail Conditioning


In our efforts to expand services and provide more tools to help you succeed, we have adopted Chinese Herbal Medicine as another therapeutic tool to assist you in overcoming health obstacles. If you ever thought about herbal medicine, you might conjure up the image of a witch stirring a cast iron pot, a wood fire boiling up a strange concoction of twigs, leaves, and maybe a random bat wing floating about. To be honest, that is not too far from the real thing! Everything but the bat wing and cast iron is accurate. More on cast iron later…

The benefits of using Chinese Herbal Medicine are numerous:

1.     First and foremost, herbal medicine is one of the oldest form of medicine known to humankind. Traditional Chinese Medicine herbalists have been refining the art of herbal formulations and studying the human body for over two thousand years, using empirical human data to separate what works from what doesn’t.

2.     Chinese Herbal Medicine is very close to food itself, so your body understands how to fully utilize the constituents in it. Its effects are gradual and focused on long-term health, as opposed to quick fixes or aggressive health overhauls.

3.     Chinese Herbal Medicine can deal with almost any form of health imbalance. Whatever is going on in its full expression is unique to you and is treated with that same level of respect and consideration.

4.     Where Chinese Herbal Medicine truly shines is in strengthening your body to the point where it will need less medical intervention when it is faced with health challenges in the future. Instead of chemical dependency, it aims to establish sovereignty for your health.

Now that I have piqued your interest here is how you can you can get started on your own regimen:

·       Step 1: Set up an appointment for an Herbal Consultation. This is a one hour comprehensive health evaluation using Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnostic tools. I will define the pattern of balance and imbalance in your health and then design a custom herbal formula for you to take over a period of time to move you in a direction to improve your health.

·       Step 2: Set up an appointment for an Herbal Consultation Follow Up. This is where I will address the changes that came about from the usage of the formula and decide whether modifications are needed to nudge your health in the direction it needs to go.

Bottom line is that with access to all of the information available today, there is no reason to accept living a life short of reaching your full potential. With Chinese Medicine, you can learn about your body and use what nature has provided for us to thrive day in and day out.

123diegaDiego Garcia – Performance Coach


Diego comes from a varied background of fitness and martial arts including resistance training, acrobatics, Capoeira, saber fencing, hand-balancing, and high-intensity interval conditioning. As a coach, Diego acknowledges the mental and spiritual transformation that goes hand-in-hand with athletic training and helps cement positive habits into real personality traits. Whatever your training goals may be, Diego can help you find the safest and most effective path to realizing your fitness dreams.

Muscle Knockout: Muscles you won’t miss until they’re gone

Introduction to the Muscle KO Series

The purpose of this series is to provide readers with an understanding of how stabilizing groups of muscles work. The more a client knows about how muscles work, the more they can learn from their trainers. This series aims to provide some of that fundamental knowledge.

During the final block of medical anatomy, my classmates and I learned the muscles of the arms and legs. It quickly became difficult to remember exactly what muscle did what and in the company of which other muscles. I found the most effective way to learn how muscles work is to learn about disorders that target specific muscle groups and see what symptoms present in patients.

This article focuses on the insanely interesting (to me) gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, which are knocked out in the Trendelenburg gait. Trendelenburg gait is an irregular walking pattern in which the hips sway excessively side to side due to lack of hip stability.

Key Terms:

Abduction: raising the leg to the side, away from the midline

Internal Rotation: twisting the thigh so the kneecap points towards the midline

Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus at Prevail

Many at Prevail Conditioning train their gluteus medius and gluteus minimus whether they know it or not. They are primary stabilizers for walking and all single leg exercises. Many warm-ups include banded movements, like clamshells, that target the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. Lateral band walks and single leg banded hip extension with external rotations also target the abduction and stabilizing roles of the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.



The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus lie deep to the gluteus maximus. Their function is to abduct and internally rotate the thigh. The gluteus medius is particularly important because it is the strongest abductor of the hip muscles. Both muscles begin at the outside 12hipof the hip and descend to the lateral, posterior side of the femur (see figure).

In life, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus contract together whenever a step is taken. When one leg lifts to take a step, both muscles contract to keep the body balanced on the planted foot. Similarly, when one balances on one foot, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus contract to keep the hip level.

Trendelenburg Gait

Trendelenburg gait occurs when the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are weakened, 123hipmeaning abduction at the hip will be weakened. Now when a step is taken, the weight of the raised leg causes that hip to drop. The body then loses stability and leans towards the raised leg. To keep from falling, the lumbar spine bends towards the planted leg (see figure and video).

In the video above, we can see that whenever the patient plants with her left foot, her left hip lurches outward, showing a weakness in the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. This is a common pattern in runners where it can lead to knee and lower back injuries as the hip tilts from side to side every step (Davis et al, 2016).


The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are essential to every step we take. They are the primary hip abductors and critical to athletes’ stability in all single leg exercises.


Washington University Musculoskeletal Atlas

Stanford Medicine 25

Davis IS, Futrell E. Gait Retraining: Altering the Fingerprint of Gait. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America. 2016;27(1):339-355. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2015.09.002.

Souza RB. An Evidence-Based Videotaped Running Biomechanics Analysis. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America. 2016;27(1):217-236. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2015.08.006.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Anatomy Course

Tyler Paras12tyler

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. While at Westmont he graduated summa cum laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with Hospice of Santa Barbara.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont on the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying the role of macrophages in RA. His research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

Do You Bruise Easily

Why do some people bruise more easily when they use the vibrating foam roller compared to others?

Even though it is difficult to know exactly what is going on with a particular athlete at a given time, there are some governing principles that can explain the phenomena of bruising that occurs without the inclusion of acute trauma.

In the Western Medical model, bruising is the result of blood moving outside of the vessels in a given area of the body. Normally, this occurs as a result of acute trauma that physically damages the smaller vessels and causes a breach in the vessel wall that allows for blood to seep out and pool in the interstitial spaces around tissues. This blood is darker in color since it does not circulate very well, which creates the typical appearance of a bruise. Normally the body repairs the breach in the vessel wall by depositing clotting factors that rebuild the broken tissue and then reabsorbs the excess blood over time.

If you bruise easily without first experiencing acute trauma (like using a vibrating foam roller) that could indicate that your body is not able to tolerate the combination of pressure and vibration which could push blood out of vessels if they are too deficient to maintain their integrity. This could be caused by a nutritional deficiency, like for example Vitamin K, which is used in the synthesis of platelets in the blood, or perhaps a genetic condition, which leaves the vessels prone to hemorrhaging. Another angle to consider is the presence of a blood thinning medication in that individual, which could make them more prone to bleeding episodes.

In the perspective of Traditional East Asian Medicine, people who bleed easily have a deficiency of digestive Qi, called “Spleen Qi.” Spleen Qi, among other functions, is responsible for helping the vessels hold blood in its proper place. Spleen Qi is responsible for many “holding” functions in the body, including keeping organs in place, maintaining posture, and preventing prolapses. People who are Spleen Qi deficient will experience a varying degree of symptoms which could include: fatigue, lack of appetite, low quantity/quality of blood, excessive bruising, muscle weakness, and digestive difficulties to name a few. What is particularly interesting is that Spleen Qi is responsible for nourishing the muscle of the body, especially in the extremities. Aggressive foam rolling after a tough workout could promote bruising in some people because some of the Spleen Qi is already exhausted from exercise and the remaining amount cannot do enough to keep the blood in the vessels.

The answer in both cases is to ensure that an adequate nutrition plan is in place to both feed the body and boost the strength of Spleen Qi. This will serve to enhance digestive strength, improve muscular performance, and reduce the likelihood of any excessive bleeding episodes in the future. Beyond an ideal nutrition plan, acupuncture and herbal medicine can further strengthen the Qi of the Spleen and help it perform the functions it needs to, while also improving the levels of energy, quality of blood, regulate appetite, and improve strength.

Traditional East Asian medicine is a huge world of information, but I hope this was helpful in shedding light on some questions that you may have had or observations you have made.

To your health!

Diego Garcia


12345diegoDiego Garcia – Performance Coach


Diego comes from a varied background of fitness and martial arts including resistance training, acrobatics, Capoeira, saber fencing, hand-balancing, and high-intensity interval conditioning. As a coach, Diego acknowledges the mental and spiritual transformation that goes hand-in-hand with athletic training and helps cement positive habits into real personality traits. Whatever your training goals may be, Diego can help you find the safest and most effective path to realizing your fitness dreams.

Meet Our New Trainer Diego Garcia

Diego Garcia

Performance Coach

Diego comes from a varied background of fitness and martial arts including resistance 1235prevailtraining, acrobatics, Capoeira, saber fencing, hand-balancing, and high-intensity interval conditioning.

Diego leads his clients through his own experience and commitment to optimal health and fitness. This is seen through the path of education that Diego has taken in his life. His experience with training and knowledge of Chinese Medicine provide him with a unique point of view and a broader set of tools to further a holistic approach to long-lasting health and fitness.

Training sessions with Diego are built around the needs of the individual. The program evolves as the goals and athleticism the client progress; emphasizing that fitness is not a means to an end, but a lifelong process.

Form and tempo are prioritized over a focus on numbers and quality of movement while reinforcing the mind-muscle connection build the backbone of Diego’s training philosophy. More than anything else, however, is the guidance and acknowledgment of the mental transformation that goes hand-in-hand with athletic training. Whether you are training for strength, health, or a specific athletic endeavor; Diego can facilitate your path to realizing your fitness goals.


Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAcOM) – Oregon College of Oriental Medicine

Bachelor of Science, Food Science and Human Nutrition (BS) – University of Florida

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) – National Strength and Conditioning Association

Meet Our New Trainer Aysia Shellmire

Aysia Shellmire

Performance Coach

Aysia was able to see how her workouts contributed to her progress on the court. 12prevailWestmont’s Kinesiology Department helped foster her passion for coaching and sports performance with the guidance of some amazing teachers including Prevail CEO Chris Ecklund and Trainer Alexis Anderson. She began as an intern at Prevail in June of 2017 and debuted as a trainer in September of 2017.

Additionally, Aysia works as an assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cate School in Carpentaria and is in pursuit of her CSCS. She is also still considering the possibility of continuing to play semi-pro basketball overseas.


B.S. Kinesiology (Westmont College)


Swiss Ball Versatility

By Mackie Greason BS, CSCS

Written for the La Cumbre Country Club location of Prevail Conditioning

In the La Cumbre Country Club Fitness Center, we have access to a plethora of different pieces of equipment, accessories, and gadgets that can enhance our workouts and rehabilitation. Each piece in the Fitness Center plays a key role, but the Swiss Ball is a multi faceted piece of equipment that can be used in many ways to introduce new challenges to your workouts. Due to the dynamic and unsteady nature of the Swiss ball, it can add a level of difficulty to your planks, push-ups, rows, etc. to stimulate your muscles in a new way.

Here in the LCCC Fitness Center, we have 3 different sizes of the Swiss Ball and each can be utilized in various ways to achieve different results. In general, the smaller Swiss Ball will be harder to balance on because of the decreased surface area in contact with your body (feet, shins, back, forearms, hands). Due to its size, the smaller Swiss Ball can hold less air, thus it depresses against the weight of your body more making it tougher to stay stable through your exercises. The introduction of a new unstable surface will engage smaller, synergistic muscles to coordinate with the larger more powerful ones to create a chain of stability.

Swiss Ball Push-ups, Planks and Hamstring Curls are three key exercises that can be added to any workout to increase whole body stabilization and activation. As is with any exercise, adding tempo/pauses to your Swiss Ball movements will increase the difficulty and will require your body to hold muscle tension longer and will develop strength and stability. If the addition of tempo isn’t enough of a challenge, trying your Swiss Ball exercises with one leg or arm can increase the challenge of any exercise.

In conclusion, using the variety of Swiss Balls you can add new stimulus to your workout without completely changing exercises. The introduction of an unstable surface can encourage your body to recruitment smaller muscles to work with the large ones to create a whole body stability and strength.

Self Care of Lower Back Pain: Part 4

Part 4: Self Care of Lower Back Pain

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the self-care practices that can prevent or address lower back pain. Lower back pain is not a general condition but has many specific potential sources that cannot all be addressed in this article. This article will discuss self-myofascial release

(foam rolling) for maintaining tissue health and Stuart McGill’s Big 3 exercises for building a strong, well-rounded core.

Self-myofascial release (SMR):

SMR is essentially the poor man’s massage. Massages are great for releasing knots and reducing creep. Creep is the low stretching of muscle beyond their normal length that can come from slouching. Mike Boyle explains creep as slowly pressing your fist through a plastic bag. If you don’t apply too much pressure, the bag will stretch and retain that stretched length. Slouching does the same thing for the lower back. The muscles and connective tissue of the lumbar spine are slowly stretched a lengthen and become denser. It was found that slouching as little as 20 minutes a day causes the ligaments of the lower back to lengthen (Boyle). The end result is lower quality muscles. SMR is especially important for the back side of your body because it reduces creep.

Importantly, SMR is perhaps the only area of strength and conditioning where “no pain, no gain” is actually true. For any SMR movement, roll out at a rate of about 1 inch per second and when you find a sensitive area hold that position while taking 3-5 deep breaths. The targeted muscle should be relaxed while rolling. If the muscle is flexed, transition to a softer tool.

Foam Roller Piriformis

The piriformis is an area I roll out daily. Put a foam roller, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball on the ground and sit down on it so pressure is applied against the butt cheek. You are looking for sensitive areas where the back pocket of your pants would be located. Check out the video below!

Other areas I like to focus on during SMR are my thoracic spine, levators, traps, quadriceps, and IT band. Below is a link to Prevail’s Self Myofascial Release YouTube playlist.

Self Myofascial Release Playlist

Stuart McGill’s Big 3

Stuart McGill is one of the leading lower back pain researchers. If you would like more information on lower back pain, his articles are very highly regarded in the strength and conditioning community (Here is a great summary article on his system). McGill’s Big 3 movements are core exercises that increase core stability without risking your spinal health. They aren’t the movements you’ll see in the latest YouTube video on getting 6 six-pack abs or a slimmer waist, but they have the potential to build a healthier, more resilient torso.

Curl to Neutral (curl up)

The curl to neutral is similar to a sit up except the lower back stays on the ground. The purpose of the movement is to train the abs without straining the lower back like sit ups.

Side Bridge

The core is never really a massive generator of force. For most functional movements, it just transfers force generated by the lower body to the upper body. Thus, the core should be trained to remain rigid against extension and rotation. The side plank trains the core to remain rigid when a lateral force is applied. During the movement, everything should be flexed especially the hips, core, and lat of the bottom arm. For this movement, it is important that the entire body remains straight (including the neck) and that the top shoulder stays back.

Quadruped Position (Bird Dog)

The quadruped position is an anti-extension and anti-rotation movement. The user has to keep themselves from letting their back arch and stay balanced as their leg moves.

There are many progressions for each of McGill’s Big 3 movements depending on factors including goals, training history, injuries, and mobility limitations. Check out Prevail’s Torso Training playlist for a run through the different variations!

Torso Training Playlist

Alright! That sums up this series on lower back pain. If you read all 4 parts I am very thankful you stuck with it. I hope this information has been informative and useful. I’ve got your back! Get it?


Stuart McGill’s Big 3

Causes and Prevention of LBP From Poor Posture Part III:

Part III: Causes and prevention of LBP from poor posture

Screenshot 2017-08-22 11.48.53The purpose of this article is to discuss the causes and prevention of lower back pain that comes from poor sitting and standing posture. There are many ways LBP can develop from slouching and this article will focus on one source and attempt to provide an understanding of common motifs on how the body works. In Part II of this series, I talked a lot about the role of hip mobility restrictions in LBP and in this article I will focus on the role of the thoracic spine. Figure source

It would be helpful to read the previous parts of this series (especially Part I):

Part I: Introduction to the Anatomy and Physiology of Lower Back Pain

Part II: Causes and Prevention of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

The thoracic spine

The thoracic spine are the middle 12 vertebrae that mostly run along the rib cage. When Screenshot 2017-08-22 11.49.02we slouch, the thoracic spine bends forward, putting more stress on the lower back and pushing the neck and head forward. This can lead to LBP and headaches (Alexander). Figure source

Only so many bends before it breaks

The spine is a collection of versatile joints that can generate mobility and stiffness while withstanding high compression forces. Unfortunately, the stress placed on the spine means that it is vulnerable to fatigue, and later, pain. A large portion of the prevention of LBP is respecting the fatigue lifespan of the spine by reducing the number of flexions that put the spine in a vulnerable position (McGill). Patients who repeat the flexion events that aggravate their pain, such as sitting, set themselves up for worsening pain. Degeneration of the spine is completely normal, but good posture can be the difference between getting LBP now or later.

Joint by joint perspective revisited

The thoracic spine is especially relevant to the lower back because it is the joint directly above the lumbar spine. In Part II, we discussed the joint by joint perspective of training where the lower back primarily needs to provide stability while the hips and thoracic spine should provide mobility (Rusin). The hunched over position during sitting tightens the thoracic spine, which compromises our ability to maintain a good posture (Alexander).

Improving thoracic spine mobility

The press up is a valuable corrective movement that moves the user in back extension. The press up keeps the user away from flexion and counteracts the poor posture most of us assume when sitting. The bend in the spine should be distributed throughout the spine (the lower back does not articulate that much in this plane). The glutes should be relaxed. If practical, doing work while in the press up position (supported by elbows) can be helpful!


Furthermore, stretching the thoracic spine through multiple planes of motion is also beneficial. A lying spinal rotation stretch can help the thoracic spine improve its mobility. For the spinal rotation it is important to remember the emphasis is on the thoracic spine. The lumbar spine only has a rotational range of motion of 13 degrees and most people have decent lumbar mobility. The shoulder should be placed on the ground before the hips are rotated and the emphasis is on the twisting in the chest.


Misconception Correction: Some stretches are bad for LBP

A pillar of the prevention of future LBP is removing the movement that causes pain. For most people this movement is flexion. Oddly, some LBP patients stretch their spine by curling up and pulling their knees into their chest. This reduces their pain because it activates stretch receptors in the lower back muscles, but sets the patient up for worse future pain. The stretch is a flexion event that will trigger the pain mechanism they suffer from. Beware of stretches that are quick fixes to pain.

Tune in next time for a discussion on the self-care of LBP! It will be a more practical article with a healthy array of foam rolling and corrective exercises.

Prevail Conditioning