|Q: I am a first year physical therapy student in college, and I have a real passion for strength and conditioning. I have been reading some of your articles and they are great. The reason I am contacting you is to ask a question about having athletes warm up barefoot, as you recommended in your last article. I understand your reason for doing this, but if we are so focused on doing things “functionally,” why barefoot? Most athletes compete in some form of shoe, so shouldn't we have them perform exercises in shoes? I am really into orthopedics, so the foot and ankle joints are really of interest to me. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.
A: Thanks for your email and the kind words. I think the response is that the functional movement craze goes a bit too far in some instances. In this case, the addition of inappropriate footwear has actually created a weakness in the smaller muscles of the foot and lower leg. And, barefoot is as functional as you get, if you consider the way we "should" have evolved. I don't like the idea of altogether ignoring a glaring weakness; we lose a ton of dexterity in our feet as we age.
As an aside, most Americans sit on their fat a**es all day, yet we advocate doing as much training as possible standing up because it's more "functional." Acting counterintuitively isn’t always a bad thing. Food for thought!
It's all about efficiency.|
What is your opinion of online or distance education masters degrees in human kinetics/kinesiology? Do you know of any good distance education programs? I want to further my education, but I already have a good full time training job and client base that I don't want to leave to do a master’s degree at one of the local universities.
To be honest, I'm not too fond of the online master's degrees in THIS field. Exercise Science really is a hands-on discipline; a large portion of the master's degree should be about experiencing things. When I look back at my time at the University of Connecticut, I'd say that about 90% of what I took away (which was a lot) was experience-based between strength and conditioning and the human performance laboratory – not to mention just interacting with labmates, fellow coaches, and the faculty – while only about 10% was classroom-based.
Are you close enough to any universities to go part-time over an extended period of time? You have to look at this as an INVESTMENT, not an expense.
With all that said, there are a lot of great coaches out there who don’t have Master’s degrees – but they’ve picked up the slack with tons of reading, building huge networks, and interning under other coaches who have gone before them. So, at the very least, put yourself on academic quarantine as often as possible to get some reading done, and seek out those who are doing what you’d like to do – and doing it well.
Why the general off-season is the "meat and potatoes" of the training year, and how to make the most of it.