The All-Knowing DOC

Orthopedic surgeons know what they’re talking about when it comes to the body. . . . . .sometimes!?!?  While I value a Doctor’s opinion when it comes to assessing and diagnosing joint, and tissue injuries I don’t often value their opinion on sports performance. 

Un-explosive movement???

I’ve spoken with a doctor who have said they aren’t taught anything about the physiological effects of training on the body.  In truth, he said he didn’t know much at all about it.   But how many Doctors throw out exercise prescriptions for athletes though. 

Not my area of expertise

I know the ins and outs of the human body fairly well, but I would never take a shot at repairing an ACL tear, or scoping a shoulder.  I may know the anatomy of the joint well but that doesn’t mean I would know what I’m doing on the inside.  It’s not my field and I haven’t studied for years, just as sports performance isn’t their field and they haven’t studied it for years. 

Not our new baseball training

Upon visiting with a respected shoulder specialist about pitchers I was informed that I quite didn’t know what I was doing when it came to their training.  He recommended nothing under 20-25 reps with extremely light weight.  Generally, the goal should be to build endurance.  They also should be working mostly the lower body, with very little  if any upper body included.   He noted to make sure the reps were slow and controlled and nothing explosive.  After all, we do know that the act of pitching is a very slow and controlled movement without any form of elasticity, recoil, or explosive effort.  Who would ever think of actually strengthening a muscle or teaching it to recoil, and fire explosively. 

In a separate example I visited with a spine specialist as I was having some lower back problems at the time.  I brought up Stuart McGill and discussed his beliefs all the while expecting that he knew who Dr. McGill, or at least may have heard his name.  He had never heard of such a fellow, and in the process told me that I should never squat, power clean, or do any type of olympic lift ever again.  The better option would be sticking to the leg press from now on.  So no squatting?!?!?! 

Fundamental movement pattern!!! This is a good squat!

I find it interesting when doctors prescribe no squatting ever again, yet the leg press is a safe alternative.  The squat is a fundamental movement pattern in life.  So how do I use the bathroom, or sit in a chair ever again if I’m not allowed to squat?  I am always amazed at that statement from Doctors, and it happens quite frequently.  

The second thing I didn’t understand is how this certain doctor had never heard of someone so well-respected in the field of spine biomechanics.  Dr. McGIll is considered one the foremost knowledgeable sources on the human spine, and was recently invited to a weekend conference overseas.  The conference was extended to the top 20 authorities in THE WORLD on the spine. 

Don’t get caught up in the myth of the all-knowing doctor.  Of course they obviously are all-knowing in their respective field, but not so much when it comes to the adaptation of the human body to sports performance training.


  1. I had a knee injury a year and a half ago I felt sure was a cartlidge tear, went to a “sports medicine” surgeon…he took 3 minutes with me..said I had arthritis in the knee. Asked what I was doing. I mentioned that I participated any many sporting activities, and strength trained. He said right off the bat…”no squats with free weights, we don’t recomend those to anyone out of high school.”

    he lost instant credibility. I can offer reams of empirical evidence, specialist, everything I have ever been taught goes against this. I gave him a look of disbelief..and there was an instant life force drain.

    We both knew the time was over, a few mumbled thanks on both parts and I left. Glad I didn’t have to pay for that.

    Now I see his face on Billboards and think, worthless.

  2. Zach, hi. I am just now finding your blog, and thoroughly enjoy the thoughts and views. Especially this one! I can’t say how many times a doc has told my client to only lift a certain way, or no powerful exertion…only to say to their patient, my client, to ‘go ahead and run if you want to and golfing should be fine.’

    Hmm, running (especially incorrectly) or golfing does NOTHING to the lower back among other joints, huh doc?

    Thanks for the posts!

    Oh, and I have many pictures of my son squatting and deadlifting before the age of 2…and I didn’t teach him a thing!

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