Episode 3: Why Most Injuries Happen and How to Prevent Them (with Travis Pollen, PhD)

Side by side headshots of Marianne Kane and Travis Pollen to show the interview nature of the post
Hi everyone, 


We're back with another interview. This time, I chat with Travis Pollen, PhD about why (most) injuries happen. This is a topic close to my heart, and I hope it provides you with some reassuring information regarding "poor" exercise technique and injury risk.


Once again, I've made this available in 3 different formats:

- Video (captions ready)

- Audio Podcast

- And full transcript

Some timestamps are provided below.

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Marianne Kane 00:00

Hi, everyone. We have Travis Pollen with us today, and we're going to discuss why injuries

happen. The reason this has come about is that we've been kind of talking back and

forward about this for a while, and it's something I feel very strongly about that people

maybe are more anxious about getting injured than perhaps they need to be. And it might

be holding them back from getting the most from their fitness. I really want to help people

be able to move forward. And that's why I've got Travis here today, because he's just

earned his PhD. So tell us, actually, before we get started, let's hand over to you and tell us

a little bit about what you're doing now, sort of what you've been working on, and what

you're most passionate about at the minute.


Travis Pollen, PhD 00:52

Thank you so much for the warm introduction. I am Travis Pollen. I am a personal trainer,

and I've been personal training since 2013. I, in conjunction with my role as a personal

trainer, I'm also a scientist, I just finished my PhD in rehabilitation sciences from Drexel

University in Philadelphia. And for my PhD, I studied risk factors for injury in athletes,

which is relevant to the topic at hand for today's discussion. What usually, when I tell

people rehabilitation sciences, they kind of say, what's that. So it's basically the research

side of physical therapy, with an emphasis on biomechanics of human movement. So

those are the sorts of things that I looked at, for my research, mostly like the way people

moved and how previous injuries affected their risk for future injuries. And kind of my

guess you could say my mission in terms of being a duel personal trainer and researcher

scientist, is like bridging the gap between the research world and the applied or practice

world, and trying to get those two spheres to communicate better try to get research to

be more relevant to the people who are applying it, and trying to help the people who are

applying better understand what is going on in research. And then also, so that is one

piece of my mission. And then my other I would say is to better unite the rehabilitation

and performance worlds. So there is oftentimes maybe strife between personal trainers

and physical therapists or just lack of understanding about what the what the other

profession does. So trying to get us all to work more harmoniously together. Yeah, so that

that's me in a nutshell. And right now, I'm gearing up for the fall quarter at Drexel, where

they invited me back to teach I'm going to teach a introductory biostatistics class. So

yeah, along with working with people online, mostly right now, that's what I'm doing.


Marianne Kane 03:19

And I sort of fill everyone in, first of all, congratulations on your PhD. The sort of

background to this interview, came about was sort of been like a long time brewing, I

guess. And it's, it's something a little bit of a bee in my bonnet about certain things that I

say don't necessarily it's more, because I see your you've done a few means and like info

kind of things on Instagram, and they've always been hitting the nail on the head from,

you know, in terms of trying to be more kind of fair to exercises and things that maybe

people are, you know, would maybe have beliefs around. Maybe having this is a bad

exercise or this is a dangerous one. People being afraid I see a lot of people in groups

being afraid of certain exercises or just their body being somehow fragile and not going to

be also worried like it's gonna get injured easily. And it's inevitable, almost that if you do

something wrong, you're going to get injured. And that was part of why I thought you

coming on and we did like a part one. And then Jonathan (my husband), he is a physical

therapist, he works obviously with a lot of more, his more his be more on the crop, like the

pain side of things. But for us, I want to really just tackle how much we need to worry

about the things that maybe we're seeing the things that we've been taught to worry

about, like bending your back and should worry about the knees and the shoulders on are

these things Gonna be hurt easily. And so I reached out to my community and they there

were questions. It's just maybe some of them weren't so geared toward they were almost

would have been more on the I've already got a thing going on. And kind of like generally

speaking, how should I look at this and what should I do about it? But I think the question I

got was from Elizabeth and then my own questions, it's gonna give us a little bit of fuel. So

I'm gonna start with Elizabeth questions, which obviously, I've primed you with your I'm

just gonna let everyone else know what the question was. Elizabeth always has a really

good question. She had a great questions for Josh Hillis. So he was on the last interview.

So I will just fire them out you, Travis will go for it.


She had talked. How to recognize when

a gym instructor so she was talking about before in a kettlebell, I believe it was a class

went to gym classes in the past and "find myself being persuaded to do things but a

fitness instructor who did not have a good understanding of kettlebells. Unfortunately,

that seems to be a common problem. And I think most people off because it leads to

injuries. And and then she said, that's another idea of four question how to recognize

when a gym instructor is asking us to do something that we realize is not beneficial for us.

And how to politely update of doing something that we think could cause an injury

without being a nuisance, or what Mark Rippetoe calls a special snowflake. I think it might

be a particular issue with kettlebells, as people don't always know what's good, good

technique is even for the most common moves such as a swing. Could an improper swing

technique cause injury? And if so, should we comment when we see it? I'm never sure what

the correct etiquette is if we see somebody doing something that we know is an injury

risk." Well?


Travis Pollen, PhD 07:05

Well, there's a lot a lot. Yeah, I guess my my first quest... well. Okay, so the first thing that I

was wondering from her question was, she mentioned that if the instructor is showing

something that we know, is bad? Or we feel as bad should we, what should we do when

that happens? Right? So I guess my question, and we maybe we can interpret this both

ways, but if she's saying she thinks that that whatever the instructor showing will be bad

for her or bad for everybody. And I think that could happen. Either way, right? Like, Oh, I

know, I've had issues when I the instructors demonstrate something. And I know that I've

had issues within the past. So I know that this isn't good for me, or the instructor

demonstrates something. And I think that he's putting everybody at risk, what do you do?

So my initial thinking was, I probably wouldn't go to that instructors class again. But

maybe that's not really fair, because you enjoy the class and kettlebells are just one

aspect of it. And you, you don't want to prevent yourself from doing something that you

enjoy and you know, is good for you. Just because the instructor doesn't seem like they

really know what they're doing with kettlebells. Mm hmm. But to answer, it's sort of the

idea of Okay, I see the instructor, the instructor is asking us to do something I know

personally, that this is not going to go well for me. So how do I handle that? And I would

say, just don't do it or do something else. Don't even don't even worry about it. Don't even

give it like two thoughts. And I guess that's easier said than done. Because I will after you

know, after I think about that, I think back to myself, if I'm in let's say a yoga class, where

the instructor is asking us to do something, and I just know I have one leg so i can i do

certain things differently. And oftentimes, I am going to have to do something differently

from somebody else, either. I'm just going to do the same thing on my right side again,

even though we're repeating it on the left door, I have to walk over to a wall so I can hold

on. And I mean, I guess it's obvious when you look at me, it's like, okay, he has to do

something else. It's not like Why aren't you doing the thing that I told you to do that

everybody else is doing? But it's really like, not that big a deal. And I think we probably get

in our heads that everybody's gonna look and see that we're doing something different

and we're gonna stick out like a sore thumb or the instructor is going to be upset with us

for not doing what we're supposed to. And so if that is something that a person is

thinking, maybe the easiest thing to do. Do ahead of time. Let's say you've had back pain

in the past with kettlebell swings. So I would probably go up to the instructor ahead of

time and say, Hey, if we have swings in this workout, is it What? Can you recommend a

modification for me? Or would it be okay if I did kettlebell deadlifts or kettlebell goblet

squats instead? Because I've had issues with my swing before, and the instructor would

either suggest exercises for her probably be totally okay with that. If the instructor was

like, No, you have to do swings, if you probably just had bad form. And that's what hurt

your back. I mean, that could any of these things could be possible. But the point is that,

like, let's try to have open lines of communication. Yeah, either don't worry about it and

just do your thing, or have open lines of communication. And there should be mutual

respect from the instructor and you to allow for whatever is going to work best for you in

that setting.


Marianne Kane 11:04

Right. I think that's fair. I think it is. It is hard, though, when you read? I'm assuming like,

that's one definitely one side of it is if you're worried if I did for you, then, you know, there

is that little barrier of having to like, be brave enough to do something else. Or, but say the

instructors doing something that you think is bad for everybody, right? I wonder how... I

don't know how I would feel if I was the instructor. And so he's gonna say to me, I think

you're doing something dangerous Marianne.


Travis Pollen, PhD 11:42

Yeah. And it's so tough and it you like, because you are really well trained in kettlebells.

Right, like you have a pretty good, you feel pretty confident that the things that you

would ask people to do in your classes are safe and effective. And I would think that most

other trainers would feel the same way. Whether it was justified or not, is another

question. But they would still probably feel the same way. So and so if you have a student

who you don't know, like, let's say you were the student, you might actually have more

experience than the the teacher, but the teacher would not wouldn't have any way of

knowing that. They probably think that they have more experience than everybody in the

class. So it is really tough. And probably the easiest opt out is just to say, Well, I'm not

going to take this teacher's class anymore, because they're I think that they don't know

what they're doing with kettlebells. And I think it's done safe. But if you take the other

approach that okay, I want to I want to try to help this teacher and help the students in

the class, I having this conversation and saying, hey, teacher, I am a little bit worried

about the way that you're demonstrating or the things that you're asking. I guess I would

the way that I would start that conversation wouldn't wouldn't I wouldn't wouldn't dive

right into it. I would say are you open to having a conversation? I have a lot of I have I

have a little experience with kettlebells? Would you be open to having a conversation

about your the way that you're instructing or whatever the issue is? And then maybe they

say no. And that's it, you're not gonna force them to have the conversation? Or maybe

they do. Maybe they're receptive, because maybe it's true that they only have some

limited experience with kettlebells. And their boss told them that this was a kettlebell

class, and they had to teach it, and they're trying to wing it from some YouTube videos.

And you could actually, it could really be a fruitful conversation and it could make

everything better, or it could all go to hell. Right.


Marianne Kane 13:49

How and, you know, on one hand, I, there is that conversation that could be had, and I

sort of think Well, how, if you so what I've noticed, and what I used to do, this is only

because I used to be in this camp, where if I did see imperfect form being taught, and

everyone doing it wrong, I felt this moral imperative to save them all from impending

doom. Like it was, it comes down to that it's inevitable everybody in this room is going to

get injured, so I have to do something about this. But now I might look at it a bit

differently. It To me it there's it sort of Did you ever see that video that was shared like

crazy, but it was Jillian Michaels doing a kettlebell swing? Like, like back in the day I was

like, horrified. It's a horrible swing, but like, it's like, What is she doing? But so if that was

being demonstrated in a class, I would might, I would maybe go at it in the efficiency

route... you will become more efficient that your swing if you do it this way, and maybe

frame it in that way, in that in those sort of terms rather than, oh, I think you're putting

everybody at risk.


Travis Pollen, PhD 15:10

You could make your swing so much easier if you did it this way. Or you could do it for

longer. Or you could do it heavier if you tried to keep your back flat or as opposed to

doing the Jillian Michaels. Yeah. Right. So that's a good way to frame it. And I totally

agree. Like I if you asked me five years ago, if a teacher were having people do the Jillian

Michaels swing, so the Jillian Michaels swing is like, you just let your back round you go

like shoot your, the kettlebell or she might have even been using a dumbbell I forget. But

just like way, way back behind you, it's totally bizarre. But right, so years ago, I saw that

and I was appalled. And I thought her spine is going to explode. Now I look at it and think

Well, that's a pretty lousy swing. But the weight that she's using is pretty heavy. She's

probably been doing it like that for a long time. Okay, you know if that, if that's how she

wants to do it. And that's how that maybe that's fine, right? Maybe Maybe there's not.

Maybe this isn't a guarantee that everybody who does hurt their swings, the way that

she's doing them is gonna get injured. I'm just I guess I'm more open to the possibility that

everybody will be fine, especially with a lightweight like that. But that is a judgment call.

And that's a difficult judgment call to make. So yeah, there's the I'm positive that if people

do this this way, it's going to hurt them versus that's not so good. But it's probably all right.


Marianne Kane 16:46

Yeah. It's too hard to like, put in perspective, because there's just so many unknown,

there's so many risks, there's which we'll get into, there's so many factors that come into

play that are so they're unseen. And so you don't know, which is playing into the situation

the most. And maybe that's a nice segue into the next section off our discussion, which

was more my questions. I think, unless we put any more from Elizabeth.


Travis Pollen, PhD 17:14

No, the only other thing that I had thought of maybe was, okay, she's in the class or

someone's in class, the teacher shows the exercise maybe the way that you think it should

look, but one of the students isn't quite getting it and the class is too large, the teacher is

not able to help them, should you try to offer that person help, either in the moment or

afterwards? And I would just approach that the same way. As I mentioned before, if you do

want to have that conversation with the student, just say, Hey, I have some experience

with kettlebells. I noticed you were doing something this way. And would you be open to

some feedback. And that person could be really appreciative that you're watching out for

them, or they could be really offended that you would want to offer them advice, because

what do you know, you're not the teacher? And they've been doing kettlebells for years

that way? I've been fine. Yeah.


Marianne Kane 18:11

So I had somebody approached me in the gym once, actually was not long ago, and

telling me that my I was doing hip thrusts wrong.


Travis Pollen, PhD 18:19

Really?


Marianne Kane 18:20

Yeah.


Travis Pollen, PhD 18:21

Tell me more.


Marianne Kane 18:23

She said it was dangerous for my back, because I was hinging I was leaning on the bench.

So I do like, I shorten the lever. So I don't really like having the bench up my shoulders and

like sort of having it like mid back. Okay. And that was literally the thing that was going to

bring my back.


Travis Pollen, PhD 18:43

That's actually a little bit easier.


Marianne Kane 18:45

Yes. So I, I'm like, Well, I appreciate it. Like, I didn't really know how to hide, like, inside. I

was just like, like, you didn't know, I was like, taught people how to do this. Like, he didn't

know, like, inside. I'm like, but of course she doesn't know, I'm just somebody in the gym.


Travis Pollen, PhD 19:02

And she's trying to be helpful.


Marianne Kane 19:04

I just asked her question back... I'm like, you know, how do you know that? Or where did

you hear that from or like, just to try to understand where that information or

misinformation was coming from. And then I was able to help her. Hopefully, we had a

conversation where she became friends after that, but it was kind of it all, like, intro. Me

inside. I was like, how dare you tell me something wrong. But then I was like, Alright, let me

hear her out. And try to understand where this was coming from.


Travis Pollen, PhD 19:37

yeah, well, and that that's probably the best the conversation could go right. Like, okay,

let me better understand why you're giving me this feedback. And then hopefully, you're

receptive to me explaining why I'm doing it this way. And we can have a conversation

versus just going up to somebody telling them that they're wrong and they're gonna get

hurt, and then walk Going away or Yeah, I mean, I. So I don't I don't work out in a

commercial setting that much anymore. I can remember maybe one or two times I can

remember one time in particular where I actually went over to somebody. So basically, it

looked like it was a boyfriend girlfriend situation where the boyfriend was teaching the

girlfriend, how to deadlift. And he was having her do it in a way that was very squatty. So

kind of squatting down to the bar and picking it up. And I think what happened was that

maybe when the boyfriend walked away, I like, kind of weaseled my way in and said, like,

Hey, you could also try to do it this way, more of a hip dominant way. And I think she said,

thanks. And that was probably as far as it went. And that wasn't even like, oh, you're

gonna get hurt doing it this way? It was just like, hey, more like the efficiency conversation,

right? And I knew that she was still learning because I could tell from the interaction with

the boyfriend that she was. That was her first time, you know, if it had been somebody who

was just doing it on their own, and thought that that was the way to do it, I probably

wouldn't have said anything. But I could tell that she was in the in the receptive to

instruction stage. So I thought, let me just let me give a competing viewpoint. And she can

take that for what it's worth. But now I really don't. I don't tell I don't say anything, for the

most part. Because what like, nobody knows who I nobody knows that I know anything. So

and what what?


Marianne Kane 21:39

Yeah, it's so hard to know, like, when you see something that you're just, I think it's easier

for me night or not to go because I think before I was so entrenched in like, they're

definitely dangerous, like, and I have to stop the harm. So now I'm like, you know, is it in a

big picture? They really what's the chances?


Travis Pollen, PhD 22:00

Right, right, right. And yes, I guess it does depend like, it does depend on buddy. Yeah, if

somebody's trying to do a one rep max deadlift, and you see them warming up with the

round back. And it's, it's clear that it's not in. Okay, so around back deadlift could be a

strategic strategy that an advanced power lifter would use to allow themselves to lift

more weight. But this person is just doing it because they don't know how to lift with a flat

back. Yeah, what what, what does your moral judgment say about Okay, I need to butt in

here versus I'm just going to let them potentially risk getting hurt.


Marianne Kane 22:40

Yeah, I think when you see somebody was like, doing like a barbell back squat, and it's like

a way, way, way too much load. Yep. And they're the bars going, that you're just like

waiting for them just to fold in two? Yeah, that's kind of or they can get out of the hole that

not that there's like a quarter squat hole, but still, you're kind of worried that, but yeah,

those types of things. So it, I would maybe consider it, but it's usually guys, and that's hard

to like, as I got as a woman to go up to a guy and say, do you want me to help? Yeah,


Travis Pollen, PhD 23:15

it's just, they're probably not gonna take that well. Or even me being somebody who's not

physically imposing. I don't I don't look like I back squat. 380 pounds, you know, so why

would anybody want my advice? Who does have 380 pounds on the bar? Even if they're

not doing it the way that it should be done? So I guess, I guess I'd usually just try to walk

away so I can say, pretend I didn't see it. And if anything happens, it wasn't my fault.

Because I wasn't there. Right.


Marianne Kane 23:49

Okay, you probably weren't going to listen anyway. But yeah, I get this hard. But like in it. I

think a lot of people like in the kettlebell world would get like worried about, say the swing

being taught online. I've have had some pushback, a little bit of time, so much about it

being a particularly dangerous exercise.


Travis Pollen, PhD 24:19

Yeah, well, right. So we saw an example of somebody saying, I've been sticking to two

hand swings, because I'm a little fearful of progressing to one hand or whatever would

come after that a clean or snatch, what are some things that would be safe for me to

learn online? And it is, it's a it's a worthwhile conversation to have, right? But do we need

to be as fearful about these things as and it's especially important now because so much

of the learning is done online? What What is a safe exercise to teach online and I guess I

can admit that I have never taught Olympic lifts. So barbell cleans or snatches online.

Because I do think that those are exercises that are better taught in person with, you

know, under a real time supervision as opposed to try to send somebody a video and then

trying to figure that out from the video without, without real time feedback, because what

I usually do with my online clients is I send them a video, they send me a video back, and

then I give them feedback in preparation for the next training session. So I feel

comfortable doing that with pretty much everything else. But they're clean and the

snatch. Partially because I just haven't had people who are interested or wanting to learn

those movements and partially because I, I do worry a little bit.


Marianne Kane 25:49

Yeah, I think the higher skill exercises for sure, like, overhead skill exercises, like the

kettlebell snatch, like I was always very reluctant to put those in, like work guides. One

because I, it was my nemesis exercise for so long. But then once I got more proficient at it,

and I realized, like, it's such a learning curve, and usually people do way too much volume

I find like,


Travis Pollen, PhD 26:19

well, that's that's like, firmly entrenched in the kettlebell community. Right? Hundred

snatches for time. Yeah, this way, non negotiable. Which is, which is another conversation.


Marianne Kane 26:33

So yeah, so I try I did, I do the zoom, the zoom classes with my members that we have a

monthly skill workshop. And we work on, we were working on the snatch and the Turkish

getup. And it's really good to see that live feedback and a much more comfortable doing

it that way. But I always had like the opportunity for people to send me a video for form

check, like any of my programs just to see like, because sometimes does it for the

efficiency, and that can make it better for them. But also, just to make sure that there's

nothing too, you know, what I would deem to be a little bit more risky, in that stability,

overhead type of thing. But I suppose I could, if I move to ask my questions.


Travis Pollen, PhD 27:22

Well, wait, Can I ask one more thing? So if you do now, are you more or less reluctant to

program snatches for people in an online capacity? Where you're not with them real time?

Or is that still,


Marianne Kane 27:37

I do. When I do this, when I put the snatch into a workout, I will always tell people, if you're

not proficient, like, if you're like, you're still working on this and you don't feel your

technique is good, then I would say use that opportunity to work on your push-press I find

that's a good alternative. Or just a hold overhead like just or a half snatch or snatch up

and then lower or something or clean, there's a bit more user friendly. So and if I do them,

not always, but a lot of the time, it would be like a complex, so it'll be like five reps.


Travis Pollen, PhD 28:19

Right? So keeping keeping the, the number of repetitions on very reasonable and that's,

that's the thing, right? Even if your snatches aren't perfect, but you're only doing five reps,

you're not gonna there's limited opportunity to really to do much damage. But I really I

really like putting it like you said, putting it on to the person. So saying, okay, the workout

is calling for snatches, but I'm, I'm giving you option, or alternative A, B and C, should you

deem yourself not proficient. And that's just a great way to have them decide for

themselves, okay, I do feel confident or I'm a little bit unsure. And I'm going to do this

instead, which is still going to be beneficial for those same skills, and just get me better

able to tolerate load so that when I do feel ready to do the snatches, I have all that

shoulder stability and strengthen. It's just a technique thing.


Marianne Kane 29:14

Yeah. And I would also say that if you are working on your snatch, and you're doing nice

ABC or BCD options instead or whatever, during the workout, that you when you're

practicing your kettlebell snatch to the beginning, like have a very short skill practice

session and then move on to your main workout. And right. That's sort of the way I would

handle it. Right. So it's mainly only just a snatch, I do that with Yeah, I feel so bad. The

only one in the kettlebell world that I would worry about.


Travis Pollen, PhD 29:44

Yeah, I see. You had mentioned the Turkish get up earlier. I don't worry really with that one.

And maybe primarily because the way I teach it is really staged. So if I have a long term

personal training client, we're doing like just the first part of the Get up in one Phase, and

then we're doing parts one and two. So like, the elbow pushed up to the hand, and just

those things, and we'll, we'll fine tune those things. And so once you have half of it, or

three quarters of it to add the end, it's it just, I feel really comfortable doing that. And then

you can also do just like the shoe on the hand. And that's a good feedback tool for

themselves of Okay, I'm not muscling through this. I'm actually because if you can do it

get up with the shoe on your hand, you kind of know that you you're doing it right. Or

reasonably correctly, right. Yeah.


Marianne Kane 30:35

Yeah, that's a really hard one. The shoe on it's really I'd rather have people do that,

because it's so hard to get the shoe on.


Travis Pollen, PhD 30:43

I know. Yeah. It's it's a it can be just as good or just as benefit, like, depending on what

you're after. To do that, as opposed to weight.


Marianne Kane 30:53

Yeah, I've confession, I hate the turkish get-up. Really, I hate it. It's so boring. I've had to do

it, I find it really boring to do. Because every rep takes so long.


Travis Pollen, PhD 31:05

I know, well, actually. So I just got to the Turkish getup stage with one client. And I'm like,

and I don't I don't do a ton of them myself. They're just kind of awkward and clunky,

clunky, and I can only do them fully on one side, but I was like, Okay, so how many reps do

I program for her? And I think I gave her the option to do two or three per side. And and

we did three sets. I think she mostly stuck to two reps. Which is definitely reasonable. But I

could easily see somebody who wasn't really thinking like, Alright, we'll do six per side

because all of our you know, our all of our unilateral exercises there six per side, suddenly

the person's doing get ups for like five minutes every set.


Marianne Kane 31:49

Yeah, it's such a long exercise. What do you know, it's actually really hard exercise today.

And it's it's not the kettlebell, it's the body weight get-up... you know, trying to do it

without like, using your hands.


Travis Pollen, PhD 32:02

Oh, without okay. Yeah. So either


Marianne Kane 32:05

like you hold her hands off here. Are you just like, I don't know, where you just don't touch

the ground? I yeah, I have seen that. It's a really hard exercise.


Travis Pollen, PhD 32:13

I felt like some weird scissoring with your legs to


Marianne Kane 32:16

Yeah, cross them over. And yeah, yeah, it's crazy. But it was remember watching not the

bodyweight get up with the double kettlebell, get up. I always remember watching Steve

Cotter do that like, where he just sat right up at the top and like his legs just did that. But

that Steve Carter's just like another, another machine, another level to everyone else, but

to be able to do those types of things. So my questions for you were? So how much can we

say that? Perhaps? So we've already touched on these a bit. But how much can we say

that poor technique alone should make us fear injury? Do you want me to read them all

out? Or just like one at a time?


Travis Pollen, PhD 33:10

I think that's a good place to start. So when I when I think of that question, I think of the

research that I'm familiar with in terms of movement quality, or movement competency,

which really goes back to the the most the most popular way of measuring that or the

most well researched is the functional movement screen. And if probably anybody like

Googles, my name or Jonathan's (Fass) name and functional Movement Screen that

they'll see if they're not familiar with it, they'll see what it all is about. But basically, the

research looks at the way that people perform movements like squats and lunges and

push ups and looks at some other sort of mobility and stability tasks, and then sees

whether the people go on to get injured. And the research on that basically shows that if

you perform poorly on this battery of tests, so if you have poor or limited movement,

quality or movement competency, then you're at slightly increased risk for injury. And that

the results are, I would say, are inconsistent and variable from athletic population to

athletic population, from sport level to sport level, but if you kind of considered on the

whole, I think it's safe to say that poor movement quality is a risk factor. So that's loosely

related to exercise technique.

Exercise technique is often more of the difference between exercise and movement is kind of a

 subtle thing. But the movement tests in the functional

movement screen are unloaded. So just bodyweight and they're all kind of slow moving

tasks. So when we think about exercise exercises, often using added load or it'll Often it

could be doing something more quickly, as opposed to like this slower and controlled

environment. But I think it's fair to say that, that the results would be the same, right. So if

your exercise technique is poor, it could increase your risk of injury. But that is only for one

thing that just having a risk factor doesn't guarantee injury.


So if you have if you have

poor technique, and I'm gonna put poor in air quotes, because first we have to define

what poor is, and poor is kind of, if you had asked me years ago, and maybe you would

say the same thing, it's like, there's good exercise technique. And there's bad exercise

technique. And those are two binary dichotomous things. And now, I would say there is

acceptable technique and unacceptable technique. And the acceptable output is more of

a range than I had originally thought. So it doesn't have to look one particular way. It

could look many, many ways, and those all would be acceptable and Okay. And then you

have these extremes, that you would say, Okay, I don't want to continue letting the the

person perform that exercise, you know, the round back deadlift if they don't, if they're not

intentionally around back deadlifting, because I think that could be a mechanism of an

injury. So with that in mind, once once we've agreed on our definition of poor, which is

nebulous, and challenging to agree on. So that's the first thing. But if we could agree on

that, then we could say that poor technique is a risk factor. But just because you have a

risk factor doesn't guarantee that you're going to get injured. And the simplest example of

that would be to say, Okay, I watch somebody squat, and I deem them to have poor squat

technique. But let's say that they never squat. Well, they're not going to get injured if they

never squat. So that's kind of an over oversimplification. But you can add some layers to

that to say, Well, if they only squat with a light load, then they're probably going to be

okay. It's only if they were squatting that way with a heavy load that they would really be

putting themselves at risk. Like if you're just doing ugly bodyweight squats. So be it you

know, and the but Okay, so it depends on the load. It depends on the number that you're

doing. If you're doing five ugly kettlebell snatches, that's probably okay. If you're doing

100, ugly kettlebell snatches, maybe you have more cause for concern. But just that

snapshot in time is also not enough. Because you don't know what the person has been

doing for the weeks, months years leading up to that maybe they've added one repetition

to their snatch protocol every time and they've built up this tolerance or resistance to the

type of way that they're executing the squat or the snatch. So that they do get to be able

to do 100 reps, but it's okay for them because they have consistently been putting in, or

they've been progressing gradually, and smartly. And their body has just adapted to

whatever technique it is that they're doing. So that's sort of where we get into the it's not

so much how it looks, but it's how they've been doing it, or like the progression of training

over time, that if they've started really low in terms of volume and intensity, or load, and

just built it up bit by bit, they might be able to get to the point where they are doing what

you would classically consider a high rep and high load movement. But their body is just

that they've done all the work that they need to do to be prepared to handle that. So

that's why you can't really just say, just from looking at somebody without knowing all of

the history of their training, you really can't say for sure whether they're at risk. Yeah. So

go ahead.


Marianne Kane 39:00

No, I was gonna ask you like, so if you have somebody who's been doing a crap, say, a

crappy squat, and they have built it up. They've just gotten better at that technique. And

they're up this high load, and then somebody comes in, to work with them to make them

their squat look prettier, and more proper, then could that change in technique, even

though it's technically getting better cause are increased the risk of an injury, if they lift up

to that same load?


Travis Pollen, PhD 39:38

You know, I've never thought of that quite in that sense. And that's a brilliant question. The

one like the most analogous thing that I think I have thought of would be running

technique. So let's say that you're a heel striker, and you're running guru, you go in for

running another At a PT clinic or a research lab and they say, Oh my god, you're a heel

striker. Didn't you know heel striking is dangerous, we need to get you transition you to

more of a forefoot striker. So instead of landing on your heel, you're gonna land closer to

the middle of your foot or to your toes. And basically what what we know of that is that if

you just say, okay, I've been a heel striker for the last five years or 10 years or my whole

running career, and I'm now from this day forward gonna be become a forefoot striker,

and you don't do or maybe the better example even would be a barefoot runner. I'm

gonna I think barefoot running is better, because somebody told me that I'm going to take

my shoes off. And I because I think barefoot running is safer, right? I'm going to take my

shoes off and suddenly just do exactly what I was doing before mileage wise, I'm going to

keep doing my 30 miles a week, but I'm going to do it barefoot, because barefoot is better

and safer. Well, we know that that is not the right way to do it. You if you do want to

transition to barefoot running, for whatever reason, and that's a conversation or

argument that you can get into. But if you do decide to transition to barefoot running,

then you should just do a little bit at a time. So you shouldn't just go whole hog,

maintaining your mileage, and switch from shod or wearing shoes to barefoot, you should

do it incrementally. So you're just doing a little bit of barefoot running at first, and then

you're adding a little bit more a little bit more a little bit more. So I think maybe if I to go

back to your example, if you've been squatting a particular way, and then a trainer comes

in says well, you should actually squat this way. Because this is classically more more

textbook or more right? Would you just keep the same weight on the bar? And do that?

Would you be prepared to do that? Or would you have to work it back a little bit? And I

would probably say that you would have to work it back a little bit. Because what's what

we're deeming is safer or better, your body is not as prepared or ready or doesn't have as

much time under the bar. Doing it this this different way. So So really, it's hard to say

what's better? Or, yeah, I mean better for performance, oh, I think you're gonna be able to

lift more weight. If you do it this way, I think you're at less risk of injury. But we can

definitely say it's different. And anytime it's different, it's probably not going to be a one to

one in terms of the volume and intensity that you're doing if you do decide to transition

into that other way.


Marianne Kane 42:42

Yeah, that makes sense. It just got curious. But because I was I was just thinking about

whenever I started to tweak my own deadlift technique, and how it just became, I felt so

much harder, because I had gotten used to a way of doing it. And then I was trying to, you

know, use the hips more to underneath at the same time. And it just was like a whole new

me starting from scratch, a new pattern. And then I was thinking about, like a pianist and

say their technique was some way on the piano and somebody came in try to tell them

how to use like, they would make more errors. Again, like when they were using a different

playing technique didn't get injured, necessarily, but they would definitely fit in different

places and


Travis Pollen, PhD 43:33

they could get injured. Yeah. I'm like I have a friend of mine is a like a performance

violinist. And he's had all sorts of issues with his pinky on his hand slides. And I can I can

just imagine when you're playing eight hours a day, and suddenly you're asked to do

something that you are is new and different that you have no preparation for. Right,

you're gonna make more errors at first. And it could be risky, even if we're talking about

something as at you know, you think would be as safe as playing the piano. Yeah. And so

now talking about squatting, it's like, well, now we're doing it with a bar on our back.

Hmm.


Marianne Kane 44:16

Interesting. It's just fascinating because it's like, it's never as simple as it's just not quite as

clear cut it's, this is the right way to do it. And always better. Right? always better right

away.


Travis Pollen, PhD 44:31

Yeah, yeah. And I, I can think back to my own. I was a competitive swimmer. And I can

think of that too, right? Like, somebody tells me, oh, your stroke is gonna beat you're

gonna be faster, or it's gonna be better for your shoulder if you do it this way. It's like, well,

that that feels harder at first, and it hurts more. Is this really the right thing for me and

maybe over time, it is but it's not necessarily the case that you should transition to new or

different thing? And do 100% of what you were doing before in that new way? Right?


Marianne Kane 45:08

I do see why you'd be interested in all this. I think is I'm fascinated by it. Um, so yeah. So

this leads into will what other risk factors are there? Yeah, self injury.


Travis Pollen, PhD 45:24

So So basically, so far, we've only talked about one thing, which was your exercise

technique and all the associated parameters of how much you're doing, how heavy it is,

we could also say how frequently you're doing it, because that is going to impact your

recovery. But basically, that the big picture of injury is that injury is rarely caused by one

thing. And so the scientific way of saying that is that injury is multifactorial. And

oftentimes what we see or think of as the mechanism of injury, so the squat where your

knee buckled, or the deadlift where your back rounded, that is the, we call that the inciting

event. But that is, that doesn't take into account all of the things that happened leading

up to that, that predisposes you to injury and made you more susceptible to injury that

are all part of this puzzle. So like somebody else without those predisposing factors, could

do the exact same thing that you did and not get hurt. So what I mean by predisposing

factors would be things like if you've had a previous injury, so a previous injury is pretty

much the number one supported risk factor for injury across all different sports. And that

could be that could be to say that if you've had a previous shoulder injury, then you're

going to be more at risk for another shoulder injury. But it also would be to say that if

you've had a previous shoulder injury, you're just more generally at risk for all injuries.

Because you have like, maybe you're hyper mobile, and that you have a increased

susceptibility or, or just because you've gotten hurt there, and now you're compensating in

a certain way that the other shoulder is gonna get hurt, or the hip is gonna get hurt or

whatever. So previous injury is the big big one. Age can be a predisposing factor sex can

be a predisposing factor. So some type for some injuries, women are more susceptible

than men, and vice versa, some injuries, I think that men might be more susceptible to

injuries than the women. Also your physical fitness. So how strong are you? What's your

endurance, like, if you're stronger, any sort of sub maximal load is going to be less for you,

relative to what your max is. So if you can squat 500 pounds than a 200 pound squat,

there's only 40% of your max. And you could kind of do it more sloppy and get away with

it, versus somebody whose Max was 200 pounds, and they were doing 200 pounds, that's

just gonna represent closer to what their capacity is. And so they might have less wiggle

room there. Also you're, your anatomical your, like your limb length ratios. So how long

your femur is compared to your torso, or how wide your hips are, these can play a role,

how much you can move your shoulder. So if you want to do overhead press, can you get

your arm up overhead in the way that you'll need to when you actually hold the weight

and do the overhead press? And then so those are all I would say like biomechanical or

physiological factors, but your psychology can also play a role. So how confident are you

in the movement that you're going to be doing? How psychologically like let's say you're

doing a one rep max? How psychologically like in the moment, are you? Or how kind of

pulled in a million different directions? Are you? Or are you are you to kind of excited or

aroused that you're going to not be able to take the time to do to set yourself up in the

way that you need to? So that that would kind of be like in the moment, but then even

outside of the moment? There's like, how well do you perceive or how well do you

understand what the risk is for the activity that you're involved in? And so this was actually

something that I looked at, in my own research with swimmers. And it's, it's really

interesting, because you would think that if somebody perceives themselves to be at risk,

maybe they they would end up actually being more at risk, like, oh, maybe maybe people

have a good understanding of themselves, right. And they know that they're because they

have these risk factors that are at risk. And so maybe that would mean that they're less

likely to get injured. But what what I found and what some other researchers found is that

if you perceive your risks to be low, so if you're kind of cavalier about your risk, you know,

oh, I'm not gonna get injured, you're actually more at risk for injury. And the reason for

that may be because you're not taking the necessary precautions or preventative actions.

So maybe you're not doing your prehab, like in a swimming context, you would do like

band exercises before the workout, maybe you're not doing your injury prevention

exercises, because you're not worried about getting injured. And so that that's like the, the

thing that, okay, you're not, you're not taking the precautionary measures. And that's

putting you more at risk. There, we need a lot more research to better understand exactly

what, what the how the, the flow of things is happening to get you to increase risk if your

perceived risk is low. But those are, those are things that have been studied all those

things, and those are kind of the things that are internal to you. But then there are factors

outside of you that you have less control over. So let's say you're doing I'll use CrossFit as

an example. because that tends to get a bad reputation for this reason, but and it could

be true in any sort of group class, but pressure from your peers. So the WOD (workout of

the day) is on the board, you have this much time to complete this many reps, or you have

to, you know, you're racing the clock, you're, everybody's going hard around you

everybody's yelling at you to finish, you might push yourself a little bit more than you

should have, or you would have in a different environment. Or maybe the in a sport

setting, the environment itself is unsafe, maybe you're playing on a slippery field, and that

that's going to be outside of your control. And that's going to increase your risk. Or maybe

you don't know how to use the equipment that you're using. And that's a further way that

another way that external, these external factors could increase your risk. So poor

technique, and then all the other stuff that I said. So just having poor technique alone, if

you have no other risk factors, maybe you're okay. But if you start to layer these other

additional risk factors on, you've had a previous injury, you're older, you're coming back,

you haven't been very active lately. So you're not very strong, or you're not the strongest

that you've been, your stamina is poor. So as you fatigue more, you're gonna, you're more

at risk for, like weird things to happen, you lack the range of motion that you need to be

able to do the exercise that you're doing, and you have no awareness of what the actual

risk is involved. Now that poor technique is going to be potentially more catastrophic,

then it would have been if you were aware of all of those factors. And you were taking

those things into account as you were going to do the exercise. And that can work too

much, right. So you can be too You can become hyper vigilant, and overly fearful and

overly worried. And overcautious and having negative beliefs about your body and how

fragile it is. So basically, you want to be right in the middle, like what this optimal zone of I

know the risks, and I'm aware of them, and I'm taking them into account versus making

them more bit like bigger or worse in your head than they have to be to the point where

you're, you're avoidant.


Marianne Kane 53:32

Yeah, I've been there. I've been on that side of it more, and that's something that has

always fascinated me would be like that. And I've, I find more women to be like that, like,

they will be more on it. And some of it feels like perfectionist, but I think it's done on the

not being not trusting your body. I think a lot of women struggle to actually, like think of

why a lot of women start to get and all of us get into fitness on some level because we

think we're broken some level we need to be fixed by fitness. There's all these perceived

dysfunctions that we're trying to fix. All of we're trying to lose weight because we're not

something enough, we're not or whatever we come in sort of Who am I okay, and like I've

been like, try to be perfect now, and that adds a whole other layer of pressure. But that

that sort of all of those other factors and I guess as well like their sleep and and that sort

of stress and our mind and others foggy or or focused and how just in your immune

system and all of the things that can play into whether and this is leading me to another

question, what is the moment like how do you define an injury Like, what is the most like, if

I feel a twinge? Is that an injury? Or is it an injury when I can't walk?


Travis Pollen, PhD 55:10

Yeah. Well, so in this is this is a very fundamental question. And in the research, it's not

even agreed on, on how injury is defined. And that leads to a lot of problems when you're

trying to compare between studies or synthesize studies together, it's, well, the two studies

have totally different injury definitions. One study might have said, any complaint,

anytime an athlete goes to the athletic trainer complaining of like you said, a twinge,

that's an injury. Or you could take it to a different Well, let's Okay, so one could be they

went to the athletic trainer injury, another would be that they had to see the sports

medicine doctor. And that could be like another level. Yet another level could be that they

actually missed time, from practice, they had to sit out of practice or competition,

because the injury was preventing them from functioning to the level that they needed to

in order to participate. And then you could also take that to the most severe case would

be it limited you for an extended period of time. So we call those severe injuries. And that

could be you might say, the threshold for that is 10 days, or you might say the threshold

for that is 21 days or whatever it is. So that that's that's kind of in research, you have to

have a very concrete operational definition. In the real world. It is even vaguer maybe.

And there's actually a term in Australia for this, which I don't think is as common in like

American English, which is a niggle, so a niggle would be any sort of complaint. And there

was a study, Waylon 2020 and it might have been in rugby, but it was this idea that

athletes who have niggles are more likely to develop those niggles are more likely to

develop into full blown injuries. And I forget what their definition was, but it was one of

those things.


Marianne Kane 57:22

The next question,


Travis Pollen, PhD 57:23

yeah, we do have to take those things into consideration. If we start to feel something, we

want to be mindful of that. But we also need to catastrophize that, right. Like, if

something starts to hurt, you can back off like you can, let's say you're squatting and you

feel a twinge in your hamstring, you would stop the set, you would walk around and see

how it feels, you might try to do a bodyweight squat, okay, it feels Okay, that was just

something weird that happened in the moment, and you just squatting and see if it

happens again. I mean, you could you could be you've had a history of hamstring things,

then maybe you call it for the day. But it doesn't necessarily, just because you feel

something doesn't mean that you're injured, it could just mean that you needed to do a

little bit more warming up, and you're fine. Or could be a sign that you you should stop

because the next time you go and do that set, it's going to be worse. And there's no

answer for that on a like a universal basis. It's always case by case, you have to listen to

your body. But it is hard. Because some people's systems are more attuned to that. And

some people's systems will just shut that out. And they'll keep going within that set. Like if

they can and it's not nothing's broken, then they'll keep going. So yeah, I it's hard to

answer that except to say that it's a case by case and you have to know your body. But

also realize that your body may be giving you more the alarm system might be more

sensitive than it has to be. And so there there could be reason to continue. Or your alarm

system might not be tuned enough. And if you do have to listen to your body a little bit

better.


Marianne Kane 59:21

That's a great point. My alarm system tends to be very sensitive. And so I take I need to

tell myself not to take so much note of the things because I've had like in the past

catastrophizing over every little thing. Well, having chronic pain, you've kind of become a

bit like that, but I remember like in my whole time exercising like doing workouts, I have

never gotten injured during workouts. I've injured sitting down on the sofa, and like I

twisted my knee and then I couldn't like do stuff in the day. Occasionally, I'll feel like a

niggle in my knee. And all I'll do is like change the position of my foot or like something

and linger into my big toe or something.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:00:09

It can be that simple. Yeah. And just like, Oh, I felt something felt weird. And yeah, that

happens to me for sure something feels weird when I do it the way I usually do it. So I'm

gonna flare this toe out or stagger my stance a little bit, and, and fine. But I going back to

what you said earlier a little bit in passing, you have to take into consideration like where

you are that day. So and so there's other factors, like you said, of sleep, stress, nutrition,

hydration, recovery from previous workouts. So if you've checked all those boxes, you

know, you got your sleep, you you're managing your stress, effectively, you're hydrated,

your nutrition for that day, or leading up to that day is on point and your recovery, you

feel recovered. That would be a case where maybe you can push things a little bit more,

but if the opposite case is true, where you didn't sleep enough, you broke up with your

girlfriend or boyfriend last week, and you're you're just stressed to the gills. Maybe that

would be an instance where Okay, I need to listen to my body a little bit more. I'm not my

preparation for today's session isn't where I want it to be. And so that that's where we get

into like, Okay, well, I had this program that Coach Marianne wrote for me, and I, I can't

do it the way that it's written today. And that's okay. Yeah, because of all these factors, or

I'm really well prepared, I can do the workout exactly as intended. Or I can even go a little

bit harder, I can add an extra set, because I'm feeling really good today. And so just not

being married to what the paper says and allow yourself to auto regulate. Because that's

real life.


Marianne Kane 1:01:56

Exactly. I think that's a great like that sort of the flexibility to meet yourself where you're at

that day. And that's exactly why like, I have a plan B in the membership, like because I

want people to know that that option. They have options. And they do. I think sometimes

I've gotten into conversations with people, whenever they say, Oh, I only did one workout

this week. So I'll make up for next week. And I'll do three instead of two your for instead of

whatever they were going to do. And or if they can't like they'll feel like oh, but I only did. I

didn't do enough. But I think that when you put that kind of pressure on yourself thinking I

need to make up for this next week, and then you do a more and then you're in a position

where you're not really used to doing that much. And you actually do better with more

recovery. There's a lot of there's just in the big picture that one workout you miss isn't

gonna matter. Right? Whether or not you did one or Okay, maybe between one and three

sets, maybe but like between two and three sets, and those not going to really matter

that much. Like in the big pictures, none of it really matters. But


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:03:12

you've been if you've been relatively consistent with one or two workouts a week for a

long time, or let's say, let's say two workouts a week for a long time, and then suddenly

you miss one workout. It's just a drop in the ocean. And I think people I know, when I was

swimming, I was really worried about that. And I would try to do extra to make up for it.

And looking back, it's like, I wish I had been a little bit more relaxed about it or just

understood that it was the big picture that mattered not this particular day. Because I

think I probably would have been less stressed about it. And maybe even I would have

performed better because I was less stressed about it. Yeah. So it's hard to you know, for

type-A people, it's hard to get out of that thought pattern. And another thing that this

makes me think of, a lot of times I think when trainers get into arguments about these

these sorts of things, like let's say like the trainer says that upright rows are bad, or any

any of those conversations of good versus bad or safe versus unsafe. The person that they

have in mind for their audience is different from the person that maybe you were I have in

mind when we are trying to make exercise more accessible to people. And so that I just

came to that revelation fairly recently, where I like we're not we're not thinking that the

audience is the same person. So these these arguments are these. These viewpoints are

complimentary when they're targeted at the right person, but any so anytime you make

this one statement on the one end or the other and try it out Apply it to everybody, it's

not going to work. And so that's the issue that I have with people is not not tempering

those statements to say, upright rows are bad if this because this for this person, or any,

any of those conversations just making it black and white, and I get that whole social

media thing black and white sex sells, if you temper your list of things with a bunch of, but

If This Then That it depends, it's not gonna catch as many eyes. But it's it's more honest.


Marianne Kane 1:05:36

Yeah, it's Yeah, absolutely. Because I really, I really get like, well, in the past, I would have

got so enraged by imperfect form. Now I get enraged by these black or white statements.

And when you read the threads underneath these ads, and I'll not mention any names but

there's, this is all you need to do two or three things to prevent injury stretching, rolling,

and like three miniscule really things to do with preparation again, preparation for but it

gives people hope people who clearly have chronic pain, like they think this is the magic

bullet. Yeah, they're gonna go dialed in on another detail because that's what you do

when your chronic pain you look for that one thing that's going to help you the most, and

then I just feel for them because I know that that's just that, that spiral. Yeah, unhealthy


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:06:33

You're always looking for the the magic pill. Like the new one, I guess would be like these

progressive percussive guns that do massage therapy, right? Like, oh, this is gonna cure

my pain. It's like, No, actually, I, okay, that might feel good, and that's fine. But like getting

sleep, making sure your injuries are fully rehabilitated mood, like consistent movement,

gaining strength, gaining more stamina, increasing your range of motion for the things

that you want to be able to do have the appropriate amount of confidence in your

abilities, not being overconfident or under confident avoiding doing too much too soon,

like, these are all the things that and chronic pain is a separate conversation. But like,

these are all the things that you can do to ward off or reduce your risk. Not Okay, I'm just

going to stretch and that's going to decrease my risk, or I'm just going to foam roll. That's

our risk. Because like I said, injury is multifactorial, so you have to take this kind of kitchen

sink. whole hog approach.


Marianne Kane 1:07:36

Yeah. And I think that's very hard. Because you, it's so hard to think about all the things,

and we just want one thing to focus on, we can so hard to focus on, or I think we get so

sucked into things, because there's just so tangible to do these things. But the other things

don't, we're not really aware of those other things. You know,


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:07:58

I don't think people think about how much their sleep impacts them, or their stress impacts

them more, or they feel like they have so little control over those things. And maybe that's

true. I mean, I can't imagine what it's like to have kids and not be able to sleep on your

own schedule. But I think that you would be the first person to say like, I had to dial it

back when I had a baby because I wasn't sleeping, I couldn't just take the same work. Well,

one, you were just, you know, gave birth, right? So everything's all out of whack. But I'm

like taking that life stress in and the lack of sleep to account to say, Okay, I'm not going to

be able to do the routine, or the the weight or the frequency that I was used to before and

that's okay. And maybe I'll get back to that in the future. Or maybe I never will. And that's

okay to know.


Marianne Kane 1:08:50

Yeah, it's, yeah, that you're kind of forced into a bit of a break. But then there's that

pressure to get, you know, to snap back, you know, and then it's the you're forcing yourself

to do things like I wasn't, I just I couldn't there's no way. But that's why I set that goal for

one workout a week. And that was that just had to be enough. And yeah, just did. And it

was, it was


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:09:18

totally, totally can be I think, I usually tell people, like if you got one workout, and I think

that you can maintain your fitness to an extent. If you have no background, and you're

only doing one workout a week, I think it might be hard to make the progress that you

want to make. So for in that context, I'd say okay, I think you probably need to workouts,

but I also think people think that you need eight workouts a week to make any sort of

progress and that's not true at all. Yeah, if you want to be an elite athlete, sure. But if you

just want to get a little bit stronger, and get more fit and be able to get up and down off

the ground, like two workouts a week. It's good place to start. You


Marianne Kane 1:09:59

I definitely think that the one can give you that foundation. If you get if you end up as or I

started, I was doing one class a week, and I was sore for a week after those classes. Yeah.

So I was So it was like, glad to only be doing one. But then like, you say, like, the two, the

two is a great amount. And if you have a minimum goal of one, then you can kind of

always have that sort of, that catch-all maintenance.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:10:31

That's like a mindset thing, too, right. So instead of making the goal two and then missing

it all the time, let's make the goal one, which we feel pretty confident that we can

manage. And then if we got two, that's icing on the cake.


Marianne Kane 1:10:43

Hmm. So much, is a much better way to feel. And what else was going to say that. Yeah,

that sort of idea that, oh, if I do if I'm doing two, and then I do four, then we'll be double

the results. That,


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:11:03

No, you're only as good as the workout you can recover from. Yeah, which often is not

double.


Marianne Kane 1:11:10

And that was the one that I remember, despite I've been training, maybe a cut a few

years, and I was still stuck in an unhealthy more is better mindset. And I don't know who it

was heard this from, but it just changed, that the changes you want to happen, aren't

happening during the gym time they're happening, or the rest of time, that's when those

changes are happening. And that changed everything about how I saw the days I didn't

go to the gym.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:11:38

Right? Didn't so yeah, so if you, you're still sore from the workout yesterday, and now you

go and do another one, you're really not, you're not reaping all the benefits that you could

you want to actually give your body time to repair and, and then even like, just within

within that next workout, if you spaced it out by a day or two, you're going to be able to

do more and have a more successful workout. So just taking advantage of the time that

you are actually working out.


Marianne Kane 1:12:07

Mm hmm. Definitely. Um, I think we've covered enough. What do you think?


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:12:16

Yeah, I mean, there's always,


Marianne Kane 1:12:19

but there's so much more. Yeah. But I really appreciate you coming on. Because I do, I

think that's a lot of valuable information on just reassure, I think more, it's reassurance to

realize it's not the be all and end all. And I think on some level people know that like,

listening to their body, but also sleep and those types of things are becoming more of a

thing in the big in the picture of wellness and fitness. But I definitely do still see a lot of

those little fears.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:12:53

Yeah, and it's, it's, it's tough, you have to be really self aware. Because you have to ask

yourself, honestly, am I somebody who needs to be a little bit more cautious? Because I'm

a 18 year old guy who's putting eight plates on the ball doing quarter squats? Or am I

somebody who's, you know, I have no reason to be overly cautious. But I'm just because I,

a lot of my friends have knee pain. And so I don't want to have knee pain. And it's like,

well, actually, squats can be and running can be good for your knees, you know,

movements, good strength is good. We don't have to think of our bodies as being this

thing that's going to break down. If we do too much we can think of our bodies as being

this thing that's going to adapt to the stresses that are imposed to it and get stronger and

more resilient as a result of doing the exercise in a graded and smart fashion.


Marianne Kane 1:13:52

Great Parting wisdom. I think that's a good point. Like, I think you said that in our email,

but we're not a car. We're not wearing our parts type of thing. So we're adaptive.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:14:07

Yeah. And it's it is tough, because there, there's some messaging out there. doctors who

do do sometimes steer you in that direction. Like especially with the, the the way that they

read imaging, bone on bone, this and that. And it makes people because people trust

doctors and doctors aren't you know, they have good, there's reason to trust doctors. But

sometimes, the messaging can actually work against people in terms of implanting fragile

thoughts that then cause them to do less exercise which can then make their

osteoarthritis worse. And so just staying active is probably the best thing that You can do.


Marianne Kane 1:15:01

Yeah. Even just the word wear and tear makes you think, well, it's the movements that's

causing this. So I must stop moving this joint or just in case I make it worse.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:15:13

Yeah, so the I'm trying to push for the wear and repair isn't rhymes as opposed to wear

and tear. That's, that's gonna be my new hashtag, I think.


Marianne Kane 1:15:24

Yeah. That's good. Movement is medicine. Yeah. Well, Travis, thank you very much for your

time and your knowledge. And I hope that we can do this again some point. And I hope

that we can go to sushi sometime soon.


Travis Pollen, PhD 1:15:43

I'll be hungry, just thinking about No,


Marianne Kane 1:15:46

Miss sushi. But we'll get back there soon. All being well. So hopefully everyone enjoyed this.

And let me know if you've any follow up questions. And I'll certainly get Travis back for

another part if there's enough questions, and because there's plenty more to talk about.

But all the best for now, bye.


Here are some helpful timestamps:


  • Why this topic came about: 03:19
  • Incorrection technique and correct etiquette in a class: 05:28
  • Let's say you had back pain in the past with Kettlebell Swings: 10:02
  • When you think your instructor is teaching dangerous form: 11:04
  • The moral imperative to correct Jillian Michael's level Swing form: 13:49
  • When a classmate is doing something wrong: 17:14
  • When someone told me I was doing the hip thrust wrong: 18:11
  • When should we correct someone's form? 23:39
  • Should some exercises NOT be coached online? 23:49
  • Am I still reluctant to program the Kettlebell Snatch online? 27:22
  • What about the Turkish Get-Up? 29:44
  • Is poor technique alone enough to make us fear injury? 32:53
  • Having a risk factor and what it means: 35:13
  • Could CORRECTING crappy form actually cause an injury? 39:00
  • Can musicians get injured? 43:11
  • What other risk factors are there to injury? 45:08
  • When perfectionism might create the problem you wish to avoid: 53:32
  • So, how do we actually define an injury? 54:53
  • What's in a "niggle"? 56:31
  • What to do when something feels "weird": 57:23
  • An overly sensitive alarm system: 59:23
  • Meet yourself where you're at that day: 01:00:26
  • You don't need to "make up for" missed workouts: 01:01:56
  • When trainers argue about safe vs unsafe exercises (e.g. upright rows), remember this: 01:04:01
  • The trap for people in chronic pain: 01:05:36
  • How to prevent injury (or reduce your risk): 01:06:51
  • We just don't think about sleep: 01:07:58
  • Does it matter how many workouts you do per week? 01:09:18
  • One shift that helped me do less and get better results: 01:11:10
  • Parting wisdom: How to think about your body: 01:12:53

I hope you enjoyed our discussion. Please share your thoughts (and share this post) before you leave 🙂

About Travis:

Travis Pollen is a personal trainer, author, and PhD in Health & Rehabilitation Sciences. Over his seven-year personal training career, he’s trained professional athletes, senior citizens, and everyone in between. He’s on a mission to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and performance. In addition to his doctorate, Travis has a master’s degree in Biomechanics and Movement Science as well as an American record in Paralympic swimming. When he’s not earning advanced degrees or breaking records, he can be found listening to indie folk music and eating sushi, preferably at the same time. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his girlfriend and their furry friends.


As a blogger at FitnessPollenator.com Travis fancies himself a "bridge-gapper:" His goals are to bridge the gaps between (1) science and practice and (2) rehabilitation and performance. There, and on his social platforms, he does a great job boiling complex topics down into understandable bits.



Website: https://travispollen.com/


His first book: Speed Training for Hockey 


Second book underway (Strength Training for Yoga)


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