A distance coaching client of mine was updating me about her program. I’ve been trying to educate her on proper muscle balance, because she has an excessively shortened and hyper-activated group of hamstring muscles with outrageously lax and weak gluteal muscles (typical in the Western world).
At our last checkin a couple months ago before she started world trekking, she was making solid progress. Since returning to the states, she decided to enlist the help of several health professionals nearby where she lives. They all echoed my directives. Unfortunately, three of them began prescribing a new set of glute activating techniques which triggered sciatica in her. As is usual, when people’s health care professionals fail them, they reach back out to me to fix the problem.
Rightly, they had agreed with my assessment. Wrongly, they didn’t take into account that the semitendinosus sits directly against the sciatic nerve bundle. She already was at risk for sciatica. If you are a movement specialist, you would know not to have her get into a variety of positions, namely all of the lengthened and loaded hamstring poses and angles. None of them knew this, despite some impressive suffixes.
Also, I’d add that direct compression of the nerve via foam rolling and other myofascial release techniques is dicey. I know it’s appealing to people who are very inexperienced with less than ten years of full-time career knowledge in the human performance arena. But direct tissue pressure is likely only sensible for very advanced professionals (physio and massage therapists) to do to you under their in-person supervision.
I know how to fix orthopedic pain because of tens of thousands of hours of experience with it, because of replete anatomical knowledge, because of non-stop studying, because of my own muscle imbalances which I had to troubleshoot for a decade.
Many, many, many times I run into something I’m not sure about; and I say, “I’m unsure,” or “I don’t feel I can confidently advise,” without more reflection or research. It’s ok to say you don’t know. It’s ok to just not opine.
I get it: troubleshooting bad movement patterns in people is complex. Pain management is non-linear. But despite logging over 45,000 hours of professional experience in the health and fitness world, I know to regularly keep my mouth shut. There are a lot of “pros” who haven’t logged 5,000, yet can’t keep from pontificating from their place of inexperience and ignorance.
If you don’t know, maybe just don’t opine.