Common Misconceptions of Performance Therapy
with Dan Pfaff
In this exclusive video, Dan Pfaff touches upon some of the most common misconceptions of Performance Therapy.
This excerpt below is from Book 1, Section 2.2 of the Performance Therapy Course and precedes the video with Dan.
WHAT IS PERFORMANCE THERAPY?
ALTIS Performance Therapy is a methodology that compounds our knowledge of movement sciences and sports medicine in an effort to better understand and enhance health and performance."
– (Ramogida, Pfaff, & McMillan, 2019)
HOW CAN PERFORMANCE THERAPY IMPACT ATHLETE HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE?
There are five primary reasons why the ALTIS Performance Therapy methodology can improve the health and performance of all athletes:
1. Within the sport performance and sport medicine industries, we have seen significant advancement in our understanding of many specific mechanisms of health and performance; but it can be argued that perhaps this enhanced understanding of the constituent parts has not manifested into a significant improvement of the whole – i.e improved health and performance. We opine that we still do not know enough about how to, for example predict injury; decrease injury incidence; or improve sporting performance.
2. Unlike many traditional medical models, Performance Therapy respects the complexity of the athlete, the training, the environment, and most-importantly the interactions between them. While the effect of load on health and performance has been well-studied, and is for the most-part fairly well-understood, the link between health and technique, for example, has not been well-explored. We believe that this relationship between kinematics and incidence of injury is one that has not only been under-studied, but is of greater relevance than any area of study thus far examined as it relates to health and performance.
3. By integrating treatment interventions within the training environment, we can positively affect motor control, and thus lend increased permanence to the intervention that would not exist if these were treated separately. Additionally, the acute nature of the feedback from the treatment can potentially lead to greater kinesthetic awareness for the athlete, who may therefore become a more active part of the training process. When the treatment is performed in the clinic separate from the training environment, the athlete often has trouble ‘connecting the dots’ and ‘true’ real-world feedback (both for the therapist and the athlete) is delayed until the next training session. With a Performance Therapy methodology, feedback is instant
4. It is a necessary part of the optimization of the training session. The training of an elite athlete has often been compared to that of a Formula 1 car: continuous ‘treatment’ is a big part of the preparation of the ultimate performance, and the car is ‘tweaked’ through multiple trips back and forth between the garage and the race track. Most athletes receive some type of therapeutic intervention before competition; why would they then not receive similar intervention before a critical training session? In most cases, the goal of training – at least as it relates to the quality of the movement – should be very similar to the goal of competition- i.e improve performance. To perform a therapy intervention before a competition, and not prior to an important training session is not logical.
5. It provides additional information on the ‘state of the athlete’ that can be used by the coach-therapist to better determine the details of the training. The more information, and the more lenses through which the coach-therapist can look through, the greater the confidence in the ultimate decisions. For example, the athlete may have poor ‘feel’ and report being “ready to go”. The athlete may move well, without any perceived movement ‘dysfunction’. In effect, everything suggests that the athlete has recovered well from previous session load, and is ready to be loaded again. However, in many cases – especially at the elite level (where the better the athlete, the better they can ‘hide’ such things through multiple layers of compensation) – the therapist-coach can potentially identify muscle tonus discrepancies-abnormalities, nervous sensitivities, etc., that paint an entirely different picture. It is with this additional insight that the coach can make a more informed decision regarding the training.
Performance Therapy provides additional information on the 'state of the athlete' that can be used by the coach-therapist to better determine the details of the training.
WHAT PERFORMANCE THERAPY IS NOT
It is also essential to communicate what ALTIS Performance Therapy is not, as there occasionally seems to be some confusion as to its application – especially in elite sporting environments.
Performance Therapy is not a system, and it is not a technique. Therefore, this Course will focus on the methodological underpinnings of the concept in such a way that practitioners can implement it within their own system.
Performance Therapy is not created to make the athlete ‘dependent’ on the treatment. From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem like the athlete is spending a considerable amount of time on the treatment table. But this perspective does not tell the entire picture, and is a little misleading. The frequent, iterative nature of the treatment is an important part of the ALTIS Performance Therapy is (explored in detail later in the Course). Among other reasons, the frequency of the treatment intervention can give the therapist updated information on the state of the athlete’s system, which can better inform other parts of the athlete’s training and treatment – including any ‘homework’ (such as flexibility-mobility, foam and ball rolling, hydrotherapy, etc.). Through this process, the athlete can begin to take more responsibility in their preparedness. The goal of Performance Therapy is to reduce the overall amount of time needed on the treatment table – not increase it.
Performance Therapy is not a replacement for other forms of therapy, and it is not simply moving the treatment table to the side of the track or field (‘track-side,’ as has been communicated by many).