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I began my career as trainer of the US Army Boxing Team at Ft Bragg, North Carolina in 1984. There, it was my job to develop exercise and nutrition programs for 30 of the best boxers in the world, a job offered to me by the team coaches when I was an active member of the team. My job also included caring for sports injuries for Army athletes that trained at Callahan Sports Arena. While I was not well versed in this area when I began as trainer, I applied my self to the never-ending task of studying all necessary information, while at the same time being tutored by our team boxing doctor, Charles Pitluck, who is a doctor of osteopathic medicine.
Upon leaving the Army, I studied sports massage at the Sports Massage Training Institute in Encinitas, California, while at the same time working with a chiropractor that specialized in sports injuries here in San Diego. I was then asked to work at the largest physical therapy clinic in San Diego - Sports and Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. This was a unique opportunity to learn, as there were 13 orthopaedic surgeons and 22 physical therapists and athletic trainers working together in that center. My rapidly expanding practice allowed me to work closely with orthopaedic surgeons and to attend many surgical procedures.
In 1989 I completed my training in the St. John method of Neuromuscular Therapy and was asked by the physicians of the center to complete my training to give medical injection as a physician's assistant. I did this because the physicians had a hard time accurately injecting trigger points due to lack of fine palpatory skills, which often take years to develop. After giving hundreds of injections, I found that dry needling, or needling trigger points with a 30-gauge acupuncture needle worked just as well and was less traumatic to the patients. The physicians were happy to allow me to further develop my skills in this area.
All the while I was being referred many very challenging patients, patients that had often failed with traditional approaches, I was finding that a key reason for the results I was able to obtain stemmed from applying strength training exercises as a mandatory part of my therapeutic regimen, something I had learned the value of as an athlete and as trainer of the Army Boxing Team.
While the doctors and physical therapists I worked closely with could not dispute the results I was able to achieve with their patients (and many of them), my approach went completely against the grain of their training. For example, on more occasions than I can count, I found myself in a heated debate with a doctor or a physical therapist over the fact that I was teaching people with injuries (particularly back injuries) to perform squats, deadlifts and many other functional free-weight techniques. The doctors and physical therapists expressed great fear that I would hurt someone, yet these interrogations as to my methods almost always took place immediately after we had just visited the doctor for the regularly scheduled patient check-up, at which time the physician, physical therapist and myself would all meet with the patient to discuss progress.
While the patients were most often elated at the progress they were making with my combinations of stretching, massage, joint mobilizations and exercises, the treating doctors and referring physical therapists seemed to loose all sense of logic in the presence of the fears that emanated from their medical training. It was their training that if you hurt your back squatting or bending, for example, that you must NOT do that movement any more to avoid injury!
Most of these interrogations of my approach, which began by my being told I could not use such methods anymore - ended with my pointing out that the patient was referred to me as a last chance approach before their insurance ran out or before the doctor was to attempt another surgery, and that in as little as four weeks on my program, most had made more progress than they had in all previous attempts at rehabilitation!
As medical professionals trained in an academic environment that touted scientific principles, they routinely challenged me to prove beyond the subjective comments of my patients that my methods worked. It was under these pressures, and my own interest to validate the selective prescription of exercises as therapeutic modalities that I began an intensive search for and application of goniometric (calibrated) measurement technologies.
Under pressure to "prove" that my approach worked, I invented calibrated tools for measuring such things as forward head posture, the angle of the first rib (informs about shoulder position and breathing mechanics) pelvic tilt, and applied standard physical therapy goniometry to assess the range of motion of the musculoskeletal system.
After collecting data for two years, I began to see a trend developing - the more crunches and sit-ups athletes did, particularly in absence of exercises for the extensor muscles (pulling exercises) the more out of alignment their bodies became. Using my measurements, I could both better select exercises and could prove that my approach worked. This really attracted the attention of the doctors and physical therapists, who eventually suggested I start teaching these methods to physical therapists. Word of my approach spread and resulted in an invitation to contribute a chapter on "Posture and Craniofacial Pain" to a book directed toward non-surgical approaches to chronic head pain titled "Chiropractic Approach To Head Pain" by Williams and Wilkins, which was published in 1994.
My practice grew to be very large, so large in fact that I was producing 36 per cent of all the business in the largest physical therapy clinic in San Diego, which led me to leave and open my own clinic with a partner, Steve Clarke, MHS, PT, OCS, SCS. Steve was an expert at shoulder and knee injuries, while I had developed a reputation as the guy to see when your spine was not responding to conventional approaches. We ran our clinic successfully for three and a half years in La Jolla, California, before selling it because the insurance game was killing our practice ethics. During the nine years that had elapsed since leaving the Army, I had travelled worldwide, spending about half my annual income taking courses from the best doctors and therapists I could find. My style was to find the best, learn from them and immediately apply what I had learned upon returning to the clinic. My extensive assessment and record keeping allowed me to document what worked and what didn't.
After selling my physical therapy clinic and having a challenging time selling my concepts to the American machine-based exercise and rehabilitation world, I decided to travel internationally and share my methods. My first stop was Australia, followed by New Zealand. My seminars were well received and well attended, which was exciting for me. The world spread quickly, leading to many successive seminar tours in the South Pacific. It was in 1995 that I had decided to develop an internship program to teach my methods to those that wanted advanced training. I developed a four level training program that was designed to be completed in two to four years.
My program was very expensive and challenging, specifically designed to produce elite exercise and rehabilitation professionals and was modeled after my training as a paratrooper in the military.
Today, I have expanded these advanced training programs to cover many different areas and topics, and there are over 5000 trained through one or more of my programs spanning the South Pacific, USA, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Europe, South Africa and many other countries. I spend most of my time split between writing, teaching and one-on-one coaching.