Dr. John Rusin: Programming, Self Myofascial Release and the Chinese Olympic Team

Feb 15, 2019

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Dr. John Rusin is a doctor in physical therapy, a strength and conditioning coach, and personal trainer. In this episode, Josh and Dr. Rusin discuss keeping you and your joints safe, moving well, and how to design programs that will be safe for you.

Meet Dr. John Rusin

Dr. Rusin lives in Madison, Wisconsin and works with clients on a concierge basis in rehab, strength and conditioning. He also runs an online platform, coaching remotely using programs for prehab and rehab for a diverse list of clientele, ranging from high level executives, to professional athletes, weekend athletes, and average Joe’s looking to get back in shape.

The Power of Programing and Posture

If you don’t have the basics, you won’t be able to do much with your goals. Basics come down to what humans are on the earth to do, from a physical movement and metabolic standpoint. Not every exercise and program can be cookie cutter so you need to position yourself for ultimate success, and simplify your motions in order to earn the right to make it more complicated later. Master foundations and fundamentals before adding complexity to movement, as everything is for the long term (not 6 weeks ahead of time.) Short-term over-enthusiasm leads to burnout and injury. Posture in westernized society is generally sedentary, and we fall into postural pitfalls. Everything becomes tightened down in the fitting posture. The best idea is to build on good posture before moving into more complex things. The back side of your body should be trained far more than the front. Josh refers to the monkey-esque posture that some people end up with that has the rounded upper back and shoulders as an indicator of a person who has trained by compromising good positions. Look at working the posterior chain on a 2:1 ratio to the anterior.

Self Myofascial Release (SMR)

SMR tries to release tone and tension in any soft tissues. The misconception is that myofascial release is only for the muscles, but it can actually be for any soft tissue, such as muscle, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Through the advancement of SMR, people are into trigger point therapies using things like tennis balls to hit certain points of soft tissues. The foam roller is a form of SMR that got popular a decade ago, and is now everywhere from CrossFit boxes to commercial gyms and studios. Hands-off SMR techniques, using your own hands to be your own physical therapist, and treating yourself with a more acute sensory experience has been advantageous for a lot of people, as you can get at tissues you can’t get access with a foam roller or tennis ball. You also have a duel loop feedback, which is sensory from your hands, as well as sensory from the body part you are working on. Check out Dr. Rusin’s YouTube channel for SMR videos.

Hands-on SMR

Hands-on SMR is usually utilized right after a training session because your neural system is really turned on and blood flow is engorged in the muscles you just worked. You are already honed in on the patterns you used that day. Do two to three protocols based on what you did that day.

Nutrition, Supplementation, and Gaining Extra Horsepower

Consistently is number one, followed by recording and tracking what you are doing so we have foundations to work with. A lot of people don’t know what they are taking in on a daily basis, or what they are expelling from an energy standpoint with their workouts. The first thing Dr. Rasin does when he gets a new client is spends a week doing a needs assessment. Macronutrient count, partitioning, and timing are important. Small tweaks from a nutritional standpoint make the biggest differences.

Corrective Exercises

Corrective exercises are considered bad words in the industry, but you can get a lot out of it as long as you don’t go overboard. Dr. Rusin is actually referring to more strategic placements of regeneration movements that will keep you functioning and lifting heavy and hard for a long time. Use corrective exercise as strategic, or in a compound set, format for the big lifts. The average person who goes to the gym has no idea how to stabilize for a squat, let alone get into the right movement capacity. When you get a barbell on your back, it is totally different to just using body weight. If you can’t get requisite depth in your squat with your own body weight, then the chances of you going 225 lbs is less than 2%. Own your movements before moving on to the new ones.

Training With the Chinese Olympic Committee

Dr. Rasin spent 34 days in Beijing with the China Olympic Committee, and worked on 16 Olympic medalists while he was there. He trained with the weightlifters, but focused more on the skills sports like fencing, shooting, trampoline, judo, and tae kwon do. The biggest difference Dr. Rasin noticed between the American and Chinese athletes was that the Chinese sports specific skill sets are astronomical. For example, the ping pong players trained on the table six to seven hours a day.

Training Options

If you have deficits other people don’t have, you can’t be doing the same programs. When you want to start training there are a few options:
  • Train on your own (Russian roulette option)
  • Get a personal trainer (learn techniques and skills)
  • Use an online coach for experienced people (systemize your knowledge base)
  • Spend extra time in study to design your own workouts

Top 5 Supplements and Tips for Hypertrophy

  • Protein (whey isolate)
  • Creatine
  • Pre, intra, post supplemental workout strategies
  • Only implement one or two supplements at a time
  • Always track your intake

Books and Resources

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