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Insight with Sean Gallagher

In this series we chat with Sean Gallagher of Gallagher Performance. Sean has an outstanding resume and experience to match, as he is the only chiropractor in the state of Pennsylvania, and one of a select few in the country, to have completed a postgraduate residency in sports injury & rehabilitation. Follow the series to learn his expert advice on strategies loading his patients in a rehab setting.

Take me through the way you address goals — do you ever feel there’s a need to get into higher rep ranges?

Sean: I personally like to work with a concept of proficiency and I want to see how efficient an athlete is within a given movement and then I want to see the consistency. The consistency would be essentially the volume of rep ranges. I like to think of it I in respect to concepts of either myelination or motor learning.

I want the athlete to start to get to the point where they’re transitioning through that very conscious to semi-conscious to automatic in terms of what I’m seeing in them and how the quality is being expressed. 

High-quality execution during exercise, even if it’s a basic exercise, is far more efficient than some sort of elaborate exercise done with poor execution quality. I believe that feeds into mastery and they get to earn the right to use against higher resistances or move at increasing tempos of speed.

What are some indicators you use to test rehab and performance quality?

You can use different indicators — what sets and reps are you using, what is your rest period breakdown, are they able to duplicate the quality of work through the sets and reps that you are hoping to see? And also how you are trying to use this behind the scenes?

Whether a sprint athlete or a hockey player, we look at how they load the hip. Whether it’s upright, lunge, or squat — we look at the plains of movement. We want to try to build this with their competitive sport demand.

In a rehab setting, there are people who use the model of test, treat, retest. In training, we test, train, retest. But what are we using as an indicator? — How does the athlete know they are better from your training program.

A great indicator for me is seeing how they perform with the quality we are pushing for. We want to build a decent volume base. For every 3rd or 4th week we test the waters with higher repetition to see improvement.

How are you monitoring overtraining and making those distinctions?

Sean: I am pretty low tech, I don’t have technology that I am using to monitor. The most invaluable thing is using a coach’s eye.

I also make sure I use readiness questionnaires — with this I get a feel on the person and asked them questions such as their sleep quality, mood, appetite. Also, when you are with someone long enough, you are able to read them. 

My goal is to have the person come in fresh and respecting RPE ranges. I want to make sure they have a reserve and leave feeling like they can do more. Their body is going to adapt and compensate with the training.

A program is designed to do what programs are designed do, so when we don’t see the program leading someone down the road to recovery; we bring in some other questions, like how are things outside of the rehab setting?

  • Sleep quality
  • Nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Stress management

If any of the above is the case, we may refer them for professional help. It becomes very apparent when someone overtrains; sometimes with RPE scale, it can be tough because they may feel like they are not being pushed hard enough. 

Again, that’s what makes a coach’s eye so invaluable. 

I’d like to thank Sean Gallagher for his time and discussion on rehab and loading. Stay tuned, we have more with Sean coming soon — with specific examples and more of his amazing insight.

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