Falling into the Biomechanical Cure Hole
Before biomechanics, our industry was about FITT and the science of illness in the scientific setting and about bro’s and muscles in the bodybuilding world. Functional Training was about stroke rehabilitation and getting back to performing everyday tasks.
The Fascia was part of the connective tissue you had to learn to pass an exam, posture was influential in the arts and rehab, and most programmes written in gyms were on individual cards (biceps and calves for men on the blue card, abductors and adductors for women on the pink card).
1997 was the wrong time to enter the industry full time if you wanted to train people and have some fun with it. I got bored and pushed for management, which as a consequence lead me into the path of the Biomechanical Cure Hole (BCH).
In 2001 I was promoted to the position of Fitness Manager, and this was great because it got me away from the dullness of training. I replaced the interaction with Football coaching, and I was on the way to General Manager.
Then from nowhere, I was hit with four gurus (all doing things for the right reason, mainly because they got stuck in the BCH, which does strange things to you), and a training company.
If you enter the BCH, then you enter a world that promises glory and riches, it makes common sense arguments despite the evidence, often challenging the notion of using evidence from science completely. The BCH seems lovely; some of its victims share a voice of loving and caring, showing how much they get from fixing clients. The environment of the BCH changes you as a trainer, it makes you want to want everyone to live in the BCH, and it makes you feel like you have to teach everyone about the BCH.
BCH a beautiful place this was for me to inhabit. I got enticed in by the tales of riches and making my clients feel better with tempory pain relief. For my business teaching, this helped my trainers earn more. I got catapulted to the world stage as a presenter. Other Global Presenters from the BCH also loved me, supported me and encouraged me; others held me in high esteem and awe.
As the BCH grew, the ways of changing tissue and chasing the elixir of length-tension symmetry and range of motion perfection grew. An extreme wing of anatomists started talking about Fascia, and its fantastic ability to do everything despite the evil science saying otherwise. I loved it, they gave me a list of pressure points for removing pain like Dr Spock, I got offered a wand to scrape away peoples pain, like Harry Potter, and I got taught the ancient ways of altering the body with foot posts, tape and cups, in a way that I expect Yoda would teach. Like James Bond, I was given toys to make me more powerful as a healer, and better than this my clients (the ones who it “worked” on) loved me, paid me more, and kept seeing me because I would give them answers others wouldn’t.
When on occasion I did start to ask tough questions about the science, I would have statements like the following thrown at me,
“You felt it work” (I didn’t always, but I did always agree to keep on the right side of my mentors and maintain my position as a BCH guru)
“You cannot argue with the results in your clients” (Not all my clients got results, which is why I had to be Spock, Potter, Bond and Skywalker)
“But what would you do instead” (An answer must exist, and no one else is giving it so ours must be right by default argument)
“Science has not caught us up” (The ironic statement that says science does validate, and one day will help us, but until then believe us because science has too big a validation process to stay as current as we do)
Luckily for me, I had friends who had hands reaching into the BCH and trying to drag me out. It was friends who wanted me to see the research, and understand the dangers of pushing this narrative and making people do things that created dependency and more pain. I didn’t want to be dragged out, I would lose friends, I would lose my status, it would not help me at all, yet it is the right thing to do, and so ultimately I was lead out of the BCH.
Being lead out of the BCH meant people who were ‘friends’ and who ‘supported me’ when I had the position of BCH golden boy, suddenly clambered to fill the gap. They set up education companies, tried to grab our students, ridiculed my business and worse.
I lost status, I lost business, but I met new students, and some of my students stayed with me. Then we started to fight, and we pushed the use of evidence to support techniques. We took this to greater depths, we drove the use of a consistent standard of considerable evidence to back our decisions, even if it hurt to say we couldn’t help to some clients.
Evidence alone though was and is not enough though. A great question and understanding of the human are also required, or the evidence does not answer the right questions.
The BCH is now mainstream and is gaining popularity, the competition to be the next name in that industry is so fierce people name courses and businesses after biomechanics! It is a place that got so full of trainers and educators that crave the instant respect and following that BCH brags about giving you, that some have had to leave and look for an alternative.
In our world, the new alternative is the PSCH (Pain Science Cure Hole), they hate the BCH, but have a love for the Strength and Conditioning world. PSCH is a new breed because they claim to be with science, but they also ask skewed questions, and often won’t ask for the evidence behind specific techniques, if the author is big enough in their world.
Under my guidance and the team of students and trainers who exist in the FASTER universe, we now keep each other grounded and on track. Dropping techniques and theories immediately we realise we were wrong, always challenging each other with more significant questions, better research and better ways of communicating.
The skill of seeing movement, understanding psychology, social psychology, the route of emotion, feelings, the control of homeostasis, and everything else that makes a human unique is all built into our courses, and I hope by reading this you feel like you might need to look at what we do too.
Thank you for reading,
John former BCH Presenter and big shot, almost PSCH victim!