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Course Review: Body Tempering Certification BT-C

I just had the luxury of spending a Saturday at Kabuki Strength Labs in Portland, Oregon, where they hosted a Body Tempering course taught by CompoundPR and Donnie Thompson.  

I was excited to officially get in the trenches with these guys and see everything live.  I have been floating along with the evolution of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, or “IASTM” for more than 10 years.  If you are a clinician or had surgery in the early 2000’s you may remember the progression from Graston Technique  to the explosion of stainless steel “scraping tools” available everywhere and to the general public.  

The game has never been the same.  Donnie’s work however, is in a category of its own.  He took the industry progression of foam rolling to big PVC pipes, straight to 135# static compression on his stomach to prevent hernias while chasing huge numbers on the platform.  After a few more weeks of experimentation Body Tempering was born. By collaborating with others, he has influenced a whole new Instrument Assisted movement. The soft-tissue tools Kabuki fabricates are, in my humble opinion, the best on the market for clinicians.  They have multiple weights to choose from and precision knurling on the bars to add additional soft-tissue manipulation options. If that sounds like nonsense to you, come spend 30 min with me or a BT-C and you will “feel” what I am talking about.  Before today I had only seen the work by Donnie’s friend Rob Hesselton who has created custom logo tempering tools for what seems like every major D1 football program in the nation.  I was able to take them for a ride today at Kabuki labs today and the heavier tools are amazing.   

In between break-out sessions Donnie and his team were a wealth of knowledge and an open book.  There was an added bonus of the Kabuki staff spending some time demonstrating their advanced techniques that Chris Duffin leans on to consistently perform freakish feats of strength.    


Spoken like a true veteran that has seen it all, Donnie highlighted that the best way to come back from an injury is to never get hurt in the first place.  This is an obvious statement, but the deeper meaning and his explanation is what makes it lore. All the hours spent training tissues vs hours spent prepping tissues to train.  It will never be 1:1 or likely even 10:1. As he mentioned, think of the consequences of rehabbing a hernia or a torn pec at his level, it would mean a career ending injury. He would never have the time to heal and catch his competition who had been training pain free for the last 6+ months.  

Simple yet profound, and when it comes from one of the best to ever do it you understand why certain things get the term “fundamental”.   He found ways to tweak his training style, improve his soft-tissue and joint maintenance, and dial in his volume to become one of the greatest of all time.  He competed for 13 years before he hit 3000!  

This anecdote made me think of athletes I have worked with over the years that have been sent in a downward spiral because of surgery.  ACL injury in hockey comes to mind. I don’t know if the stats exist, but it would be interesting to do a follow up study on professional hockey players looking at in-season ACL repair and the incidence of groin and adductor issues in the hip, specifically the opposite side of surgery when they get cleared to play the following season.  It is the sad, all too common tale of to many surgeries or injuries stacked on top of one another.     

When it comes to sports, the force we put on our bodies is nothing short of violent.  Tactics like Body Tempering are ways to prepare tissues to safely distribute these forces both large and small.  5-7 minutes of some legitimate tissue compression can be enough to free up the joint system to get ready absorb, redirect, and amplify movement aka technique.  20-30 min of Body Tempering can restore tissue health after an intense training session.  Kind of a fight fire with fire scenario. When the technical and tactical approaches are working together there is generally little need for intervention from the healthcare team.  When there is no pain and the joint systems are moving the way they need to, the training and recovery plan can roll as designed which likely means the desired outcome will be achieved.

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