Preparing Tissues for Damage

rugbytackleChris’ post from last week is a tough act to follow. Although he feigns gingerism–it’s only his beard that’s red–he’s wondrous at taking concepts, applying them in his practice and the extrapolating the material so it’s useful to other people.

If you’ve not checked out his post–do it later today after you read my article. You can find it here.

Yea, it’s great; but Chris can wait. Let’s move on.

Let’s also agree that optimal situations are rare outside the weight-room. Shit, sometimes they’re even tough to create whilst we can institute our desired controls. Accidents are still going to happen; people are still going to do stupid things. (Including us. I have a torn labrum in my left shoulder and I still monkey around on the rings. I like skinning the cat; I don’t even give a care.) Expand to the athletic field and life–chaos reigns.

I can’t remember concerning myself with neutral spine while smashing myself into a running back; I never thought about only rotating in my thoracic spine whilst throwing a football. No one thinks about this shit.

Athletes land awkwardly after catching passes; they have to put their bodies in disadvantaged positions to make plays. Combine these less-than-optimal opportunities for greatness with an attempt to decelerate and redirect their mass powerfully and you’ve got an injury-apple ripe for picking.

Yet, we’re all so concerned with executing every movement with robot efficiency–it’s just not reality.

My RTS co-habitant, Scott Tribby, puts it well. Lifting is robotic and mechanical. Moving in every other sense isn’t.

We prepare athletes to move well above all else. In the beginning this requires, at some points, mechanical efficiency–it educates folks about their bodies and allows them to understand dissociation, keeping one joint stable while allowing others to move. This why the FMS, the 4 x 4 matrix and the associated corrective processes are effective and important. It’s also why understanding joint centration is imperative for any coach that puts folks under resistance. In the weight-room we load tissues evenly and build tension in appropriate positions. We become robots. These tools, and concepts, set the stage for mechanical loading–for building strength. Strength, in turn, builds base tissue capacity that develops other qualities; you know the drill–power, endurance, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

But we’re still confronted by the chaos problem. Human movement isn’t based on rigidity in most cases, it’s based on seamless, graceful transitions. People must learn to move freely; they must learn to control their bodies in awkward positions–decelerating and redirecting force. Tissues must be loaded in these positions so they adapt the specific capacity to be loaded without causing damage.

It’s funny–we’re all taught the SAID principle across multiple platforms during our education, be it formal or informal, but we constantly remove it from consciousness in this context.

What’s optimal are these lovely systems we’ve created at Beyond Strength Performance and Ranfone Training Systems.

  • FMS folks–use an objective measure to guide subjective decision making
  • Apply correctives based on the 4 x 4 matrix and Functional Range Conditioning (FRC isn’t corrective in the traditional sense but it fits in our model)
  • Make people strong in the positions they can handle while teaching them to control positions they currently can’t
  • Prepare tissues to handle bad situations by teaching people to move in and out of bad positions with control

The above bullets are applied based on the person, the training required to accomplish their goals and the considerations of their sport/daily demands.

As a closing thought, let’s examine knee valgus during landing, changing direction, kicking, etc. At some point it’s going to happen. We can either prepare the tissues to handle the knee going into a potentially injurious position, or we can pretend that everything is always going to be perfect. Sunshine and rainbows. White picket fences. Andreia Brazier feeding you grapes while you’re whimsically drifting through day dreams and fanned by Jamie Eason.


We can develop solid neurology using correctives/FRC techniques, build base tissue capacity with well-executed strength and power training and ask people to control their bodies, moving in, and out, of awkward positions.

Then, my friends, we’ll be on track to building Monsters–in the physical sense.



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Todd Bumgardner
M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger
Todd Bumgardner

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Todd Bumgardner
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M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger

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