Lesson 23, Topic 1
In Progress

Why Coaches Need DWMA

Michael Bewley March 20, 2019

The sole purpose of a health screen is to recognize a disease (i.e., high blood pressure) before you have symptoms. In this manner, serious health complications get avoided (i.e., heart attack) via the mediation of diet and exercise. In the same way, the DWMA is designed to look at movement ability and identify movement problems before the athlete has symptoms (i.e., pain). If you can treat these movement problems before developing pain with movement, a coach will have a much better chance of reducing the rate of injury while laying a solid foundation for enhanced performance for the athlete.

The underlying premise of a screen and assessment is something that often gets ignored, especially in the world of health and fitness professionals, as well as strength and conditioning coaches. That premise is that not every athlete who comes to us is ready to jump right into our high-level training program. Instead, many athlete’s anatomical limitations in the kinetic chain negatively impact body awareness and control, even in an unloaded environment (i.e., without resistance).

So often, coaches think the obstacle for incoming athletes is a lack of strength and endurance; therefore, making the athlete lift and run more will make them better and reduce their rate of injury. DWMA refers to this as movement deficiency, which means the athlete is in poor shape, so a good strength and conditioning plan will go a long way with improving fitness and performance.

Unfortunately, this assumption overlooks the fact that most athletes show up with movement dysfunction, which means the athlete, for some reason or another, cannot move through fundamental movement patterns without compensation. Fundamental movement patterns are patterns that allow the body to coordinate those simple, basic movement patterns of pushing, pulling, rotating, hip hinging, squatting, carrying and gaiting (i.e., walk, jog, run or sprint).

The loss of fundamental movement patterns is not limited to any one particular cause, but insulated to five possible reasons:

  • A pre-existing injury NOT correctly rehabilitated.
  • A structural problem (i.e., bow-legged, flat feet, etc.) that will require movement modification.
  • Poor body awareness (i.e., motor control) impacted directly by mobility (i.e., flexibility) and segmental stability.
  • A lack of fitness and endurance.
  • Poor body composition which alone can deteriorate normal function.

These contributors to movement compensation can be a big problem, but a significant opportunity for coaches.

It’s a big problem because the coach who thinks they can fix all their athlete’s movement problems by merely getting them stronger and more durable, often get their athlete’s injured or perpetuate suboptimal results because they haven’t addressed the underlying movement problem. Simply adding volume-load (i,e., strength training and high-intensity conditioning) to a dysfunctional movement pattern won’t fix the predicament, it will lead to more significant compensation, reduce performance and a higher incidence of injury.

The problem with “cookie-cutter” fitness and training programs are they assume people all have the same health and fitness problems, and they merely need to adopt a regular exercise program to get in better shape, be healthy and boost performance.

However, DWMA screening unveils no two individuals are alike — not the same injury history, training experience, or movement capacity. Regardless of your experience, a coach can’t subscribe to one program that addresses the movement needs of an entire team of athletes.

Unfortunately, many people get deceived by slick marketing campaigns and promises of quick fixes. As a result, athletes and the general public alike jump headlong into training programs that prescribe movements they are not ready for and thus, ingrain poor movement patterns that lead to future injuries.

Group fitness classes or private sport training programs are not all bad; however, by and large, the primary focus of these programs is to make money, not provide an optimal training experience. DWMA, on the other hand, seeks to screen movement and address movement problems before throwing athletes into their training program.

Imagine, if coaches can identify and address an athlete’s movement issues up front, they will set their athletes up for long-term success with a much lower risk of injury. Adopting this practice will enhance performance and effectively support the athlete’s sports ambitions.

DWMA helps the coach objectively screen and assess an entire team for movement dysfunctions both individually and globally upon arrival. Furthermore, DWMA gives coaches criteria for determining discernible imbalances and weaknesses in the body’s kinetic chain. Once identified, DWMA dictates what the athlete can and can’t do in a training program; and it directs what needs to be fixed before they can jump into higher intensity exercises in their quest to enhance performance and reduce the rate of injury.

The DWMA also serves as a cornerstone for re-screening to determine if the movement corrections prescribed are working. Identifying a link between monitoring findings and incidence of injury to prevent them before they happen is perhaps the ‘holy grail’ in coaching. In this manner, the DWMA allows a coach to enact a movement screen with a high rate of frequency to monitor progress and make appropriate training adjustments without sacrificing the athlete’s time training.

There’s nothing worse than being unable to determine if you’re making any progress with a training program you’ve given to an athlete. DWMA allows the coach to feedback the data to athletes and coaches better, which helps immensely with “buy-in” and also provides an opportunity to have discussions on live data, rather than just what happened last month.

So, what’s the bottom line?

If you’re a coach or someone who prescribes exercise for individuals, you must have the means to distinguish between movement dysfunction and movement deficiency when athletes come to you. If you don’t do this, there’s a good chance you are trying to treat each athlete the same by giving them a standard training program without first addressing their movement problems.

Without this crucial piece up front, ANY training program will at best be suboptimal, and at worst get athletes injured.

Movement ability is critical, so be sure that you’re screening and assessing with DWMA first!

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