BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 88: Dr. Alex Earl (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization)
Lindsey: Hello, BIRTHFIT. This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder. Today, I have an awesome guest on the show. His name is Dr. Alex Earl. He is a chiropractor and a father. He also has numerous, numerous accolades under his belt. And just to give you a few, he’s a diplomat of the American Chiropractic Rehab Board. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, totally skilled in the Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization Level C. And I think we’ll mention in the podcast, D certified. So he’s gone through, in my terminology, a shit-ton of DNS courses. So if you’ve been to any of our BIRTHFIT coach seminars or BIRTHFIT professional seminars, you know that one of the philosophies that we bring in is the DNS philosophy.
And it’s just really awesome to see that movement and the philosophy applied no matter what profession you are. So that’s pretty rad. And he’s very skilled in that. He’s also the founder or maybe co-founder, but part of the team that founded the Midwest Rehabilitation Institute. So if you are interested in checking out or attending any DNS courses, especially if you’re in the Midwest area, go to rehabmri.com and you can find courses there.
And I would encourage you if you’re thinking about applying to be a BIRTHFIT regional director to get your little booty on that site and sign up for a DNS Exercise One course because come 2019, so if you’re applying to be an RD for the 2019 year, DNS Exercise One plus a BIRTHFIT seminar will be required.
They’re not required right now. They are highly recommended, but they will be required come next application route. So go check it out. I hope you will enjoy this episode. And yeah, shoot us any questions or shoot Dr. Alex any questions if you have any.
Awesome. We made it.
Alex: Yeah, we did. I’m terrible sorry. I didn’t even realize that we’re a little behind schedule here. I just wrapped up a nice homemade meal with my wife and our three kids. And so things were a little bit hectic and then you just blink and holy cow, I’m 15 minutes behind. So I’m terribly sorry for the delay.
Lindsey: That’s okay. We’ll get it in.
Alex: Awesome. Awesome.
Lindsey: So welcome to the BIRTHFIT podcast officially.
Alex: Oh, well, thanks for having me. I’m honored to be here, honored to be a part of this wonderful community that you really established. So thank you so much for the invitation to be here.
Lindsey: Well, thank you. Yes. So we want to find out all about you and who you are in this world. So let’s start with what do you tell people you do? Let’s say if you meet them on the elevator, in an airplane, some place like that. Your little two-minute elevator speech.
Alex: Okay. So my two minute speech, I say well, I’m a chiropractor by trade and I’m also a coach and I’m also a husband and a father. Not in any priority of that order. But I’m also an educator as well. So I go around and I put on my own seminars or I contract other speakers and I try to bridge the gap between professionals and also I try to really try to make the profession, the chiropractic profession, the physical therapy professional, athletic training, strength and conditioning, you name it.
Anything that involves movement or neuromusculoskeletal care. I’m trying in my lifetime to just make these professions 1% better. I’m not trying to make everybody become the guru or the expert. I’m trying to just slowly improve upon each and every outcome that we deal with with patients and clients. And so I run a private practice as well.
And so I juggle a lot, but I have a good support team that allows me to go off and venture into different avenues of life. And I’ve been very, very honored to work with some people across the world and especially here in the US that have been very kind in mentoring me in business, but also in clinical situations as well. So I mean that’s probably like a minute 45 of the two minutes all right there. But that’s kind of a brief, brief background of me and some of the things I’m involved in.
Lindsey: Well, that sounds pretty rad. I would love for everybody I guess to be introduced to you or exposed to you so that they could continue to bridge the gap with the professions that you talked about like PT, chiro, personal training, coaching, stuff like that. Because, yeah, there’s a lot to be done there.
Alex: I agree.
Lindsey: When did you first know you wanted to be a chiro?
Alex: That kind of goes back to when I was in high school. So currently, I’m 29. I just turned 29 back in September.
Lindsey: You’re 29? Jesus.
Alex: Twenty-nine, yeah. I know, 29.
Lindsey: You got a lot of life left.
Alex: We can talk about that in a little bit, that’s for sure. But I’m 29. And when I was in high school — well, let me back up a little bit. My two-year checkups for — you got to get your height, weight, measurements, all at the pediatrician’s office. And I had scoliosis at my two-year check-up. And so they just said, “Come back when you’re three and we’ll monitor.”
And so my parents took us back three, four, every year, but no one did anything. And I wasn’t in any pain. And I think that’s what kind of prevented anyone from doing an intervention is because I wasn’t in any pain. If you saw my x-rays at the age of eight, you would think, “My goodness! This child is destined for some type of injury or some type…”
And I played three sports. I was never hurt. I was the very flexible, very lax gumby so to speak playing soccer. My primary sport is soccer, but I also played basketball and baseball. Never got hurt.
But then when I got into high school, there’s a little bit of growing pain and some of the changes that come with that phase of life. And so I ended up in some really, really bad chiropractors’ offices. And then I was then at a couple of really good chiropractors’ offices. And I was in some orthopedic surgeon’s office. I went to physical therapy. I went to a lot of these neuromechanical offices.
And the one that really stuck out to me was the few really good experiences that I had with a couple of the sports and chiros in the Chicago land area that really — then once I expressed an interest then they kind of mentored me. One of them was actually a chiropractor radiologist and his son is actually my best friend.
So he mentored me, but in a very different way. Because he always was talking about amazing cases that he was involved in and just things that he would never realize like the doors that would open for him as a chiropractor, but also as a DACBR or a diplomate in radiology. So there was that side of things, but I was really interested in the sports chiropractic that some of the offices I was constantly in as a patient.
And so actually I came to the profession because I was a patient. And then now I just want to impact the profession everyday with my own patients, but also via the education platform that I also have.
Lindsey: Yeah. That sounds awesome. So did you go to undergrad and then go to chiro school after high school?
Alex: Yes. So undergrad, I actually was out in your neck of the woods. So I went to Azusa Pacific University and played soccer there for four years just outside of Pasadena. So I went there for four years and then came back home. Actually got married in college and then my wife and I moved back to the Wheaton, the west Chicago area here. And there’s National University of Health Sciences which is where I went to chiro school. That’s ten minutes from where we live in Wheaton.
So that was an easy selection of which school to go. Well, the incentive of parents are in the area —
Lindsey: Wait. So your wife’s from Chicago too?
Alex: My wife grew up in west Chicago. I grew up in Wheaton. We went to the same high school. We met at the age of 14 and we’ve been dating ever since.
Lindsey: Oh my gosh.
Alex: I know. So then we had all of our family back here. So we weren’t ever going to say in California. We were always coming home. And then when I was probably in my sophomore, junior year of college, I knew I wanted to apply to some chiropractic schools. And I think I only applied to National because I wanted to go just based of location.
And then like I wanted to go to a more science approach. I wanted to be well-equipped for the patients I thought I was going to see. And I feel like that education is exactly what I got.
Lindsey: Yeah. It’s amazing that you’ve got all that in your life so far. So when did you have a kiddo?
Alex: Okay. So we had our first daughter — so we have three kids. We had our first daughter within the first year. We had our first daughter. So she’s six right now. And then we have a three — almost four-year old son. And then we have a one-year old daughter. So we’re —
Lindsey: Well, you’re efficient.
Alex: Yeah, efficient, there you go. Yeah. As you know, there are ups and down, but we really try to ride the joys in life that these kids bring. And each day presents with their own challenges. But like I said earlier, thankfully I married up and my wife is my number support. But also she is fully responsible and loves everything about that, the home life and just showing our kids what it’s like to be active and healthy and eating right and all the stuff. So she gets all the credit there.
Lindsey: Oh, I love that. So how was your journey through chiropractic school? And I would call it the other education like outside of school. What kind of stuck out to you?
Alex: Yeah. There’s a definitely theme when I was going through school that was maybe towards the middle end here of the whole movement based concept kind of coming out from the guys like Craig Levinson that really started chiropractic beautification and he was a mentor to a lot of other people that are now teaching rehab classes in chiropractic schools across the country.
So he’s really a pioneer in that sense. And then just some of the other works like my mentor was a mentee or Levenson. So my mentor is a guy named Tom Solecki. He’s a team chiropractor at Northwestern University.
So he would teach at National in the mornings and then in the afternoons he would tick off and then go treat at some of the local universities. And I liked that model, kept him active and engaged. So being connected with him, it really motivated me to continue to learn outside of the classroom.
So I shadowed him at Northwestern. He recommended this very different way of thinking about the body and movement. And that’s kind of how I got introduced to DNS. And so then I started just loading up my schedule with DNS seminars. Went to a lot of soft tissue things, learned acupuncture and dry needle.
And so I tried anything that I felt — in the beginning, I would say I wanted to add as many tools to my tool box as I could. And I thought that that’s the right approach. And I still — I would encourage students if they’re listening to this and they’re in chiro school or PT school to actually in the beginning pursue the skills that are going to make you unique and rare.
Not necessarily a passionate physical therapist or a passionate chiropractor. Because anybody can be a cheerleader for anything with enough passion, but like finding a skilled new grad or someone who’s already a student. Finding someone with skills in your profession is actually rare. And so I kind of set out to be skilled in manual therapy, manipulation and rehab.
Like that’s what I wanted to be really, really skilled at. And then now a few years, just three years down the road now I’m like, “Okay. How do I package the skills that I have for the specific expectations and needs for the patient in front of me?” So it’s less about the tool box approach and more about what I believe is truly patient-centered care.
Lindsey: That’s awesome. Yeah. I think that’s really important what you said to students. Like take something that’s going to get you a skill, skill-based approach. Yeah. Because too often and I think that goes for any career. You have these big companies that try to do everything or these chiros that try to be the one-stop-shop fix-all.
And that’s what got me into like the BIRTHFIT avenue is because, “Oh, I’m going to specialize in prenatal and postpartum. I don’t want to fix shoulders. I don’t want to fix knees. That just wasn’t me. But I want to get — find this niche because they need the support.” And I just wanted to get really good at that. So really glad you said that. That’s awesome.
Alex: Yeah, no. I remember — actually, I was listening to the Movement Fix. Movement Fix with Ryan DeBell. And how your background and how you even came to the chiropractic profession and now how you have this niche and you have your — I would say your calling, but your skills. That’s what I took away from it.
Like you are skilled at what you do and that’s what sets you apart. It’s not that you have like a CV that is a thousand pages long. It’s just about the things that you do and the things that you know impact lives and that’s what sets you apart. And it came across very genuine. And that’s what I think is missing.
A lot of people — the therapy or the intervention becomes about their skillset or it becomes about them. And it’s less and less about a genuine intervention for the well-being of last time I checked that’s a human that you’re dealing with. Unless you’re like a chiropractor and you’re dealing with other things, but I think you get my point.
Lindsey: Yeah. Most of us deal with humans. So when you started taking DNS and for a lot of people listening or they have been to our seminars, they know that we love the DNS philosophy. And like we get into that in our seminars, especially in our postpartum series. Like we give a little bit of education as to where some of the stuff comes from.
I don’t know if you remember this at all. What was your first impressions of DNS and being exposed to maybe some of the developmental milestones and those processes?
Alex: Yeah. Well, I guess I should fill you in on when I started in chiropractic school and I started taking a lot of courses. And I knew I wanted to kind of pursue rehab and sports medicine and strength and conditioning. So like all of those traditional classes were easy for me to pick up on.
My degree was in exercise science. So we had a section of our class looking at functional movement screens and great cook stuff. So then that was easy for me to pick up on, to then relate when I would get into student clinic then to actually utilize. It was easy.
And then when I took my first DNS class actually at National, it was one of the first things that I struggled with because it didn’t make any sense. And there was almost like I should already know what they’re talking about, almost how it was presented.
And so then when I started to realize I don’t know everything. I have to go and research and read upon some things and actually try the positions and try the test and fail ultimately. I failed virtually every single breathing test at the course. The demonstration for three of them that were like, “Hey, everyone. Remember what we were talking about. This is what not to do.”
And then they would come around the table and I remember sitting there thinking like, “How can I not do these simple breathing tests that they’re asking of me?” And so that kind of spurred me onto, “Well, I’m very competitive. So I want to figure out well if I can’t do it, how am I supposed to explain it to someone as method of backpain management? Like how am I supposed to do that if I can’t do it myself?”
So I started doing the positions and doing the breathing assessments. And even some of the different strategies that they would do for spinal stabilization. I would try all of that. And then I started to realize like the impressive results that it was getting. And so then I just jumped in.
I went through all of the clinical courses. I jumped in the deep end. I just got immersed in DNS. And then it actually even steamrolled quicker when I started organizing courses then in the Chicago land area.
So then for one year, I just organized two or three in Chicago and there were a lot of people here. And so then people are like, “Hey, are you going to do more?” And I was like, “Sure. Yeah, why not?”
And my mentor who I mentioned earlier is Tom Solecki. So he’s like, “Well, why don’t we just keep organizing some of these things?” We started to do it together. By the end of that year, we actually started a rehab company so we have an official education entity and we started to offer a lot of different chiropractic and physical therapy CEUs starting in Chicago here and then we branched off into some other city.
But really the class that we organized for DNS was really the hallmark and the beginning. And then from there, it just spread and people would show up to classes and they would say, “How do I get a DNS course in Washington, DC? Or how do I get a DNS course in Hawaii?”
And I just said, “Sure. Let’s organize it. Why not?” And doors opened just by being genuine and authentic. And I’m very appreciative for all of the loyal followers that we’ve had in just three years.
Lindsey: Oh, that’s awesome. So yeah, before we continue, can you share maybe the name of this rehab company or where people can find the courses and stuff like that?
Alex: Yeah. So the rehab company is called Midwest Rehabilitation Institute. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, I think Twitter if anyone still uses Twitter these days. Yeah, we’re on those two. I’m pretty — I won’t say like active, but yeah I manage it and I’ve got some other people that help me with it usually around when courses are coming up.
I’ll put a bunch of stuff out there to kind of let people know stuff is coming up. But you could you could go to midwestrehabilitationinstitute.com. And then there’s a courses tab at the top of the page there that have all of the classes we have listed. And in the next probably two or three weeks, we’re going to have another 15 or 20 classes added.
Not specifically just for DNS, but a lot of sports medicine and sports performance type stuff. And we just try to promote from within, but also if there’s other stuff going on that we’re kind of “partners” with. We try to throw stuff up on there as well to try to draw some more exposure for the classes that we want to help market and promote for.
So if you’ve got anything coming to the Midwest area, be sure to send me some of that information and we’ll put it on our website as well. And we’ll tag you in some of the post about the BIRTHFIT and some of the DNS courses we have coming up because I know they’re so intertwined. And it’s awesome that you’re preaching the DNS knowledge. It’s the perfect demographic of people right there.
Lindsey: Yeah. I’ll share this with you. I don’t know if I shared this in the podcast that you listened to. But people kept asking me to make a BIRTHFIT coach seminar. And I was like, “No. Something’s missing. I’m just not set on…” And this was back in 2011, 2012.
And I think I finally took a DNS course in 2013. And I was like, “Oh, this is it. This is what was missing.” Just like you, Craig Levinson, mentor of mine. He’s awesome. And he had talked about it some to me and he was like, “Yeah, you should check it out.”
And I’ve been exposed to the FMS stuff, but I never had pulled the trigger on DNS. And finally, I did and then I came home from that seminar and it was a seminar with Martina. And I literally that week wrote everything for the BIRTHFIT coach seminar. And I was like, “Okay. This is like literally this is the connector for human movement and breath. And then we can talk about training and all that other stuff.”
But I always have to keep going back to the why. Okay, but why do we do this and why do we do that? And I share with people DNS was the only thing that made sense to me. And I saw the results in clients and patients of mine for healing ab separation, diastasis. And that’s like the hottest topic in freaking postpartum women.
But for me, that was the — it’s not a quick fix, but it completely makes sense. So yeah, once I took that course I was sold. And DNS Exercise One is going to be a requirement for everybody that’s applying for regional directors come 2019.
Like right now it’s recommended, but yeah. The turn of the next calendar year it is a requirement for sure.
Alex: Wow. I think that’s a fantastic requirement. I really do. I would say I 100% agree with you on DNS kind of coming in and filling this like clinical void. Because to borrow a phrase from my mentor who’s also a DNS instructor. His name is Brett Winchester.
Lindsey: Oh, I heard about him.
Alex: A total stud. But he says DNS is the lens in which he has his clinic evaluation. And it doesn’t contradict any other technique or any other concept. So if you look at maybe more techniques. If you look at techniques, it’s almost either or. You either you do soft technique A or you do soft tissue technique B.
But DNS doesn’t rival that. It almost has its — it’s like the center. That’s why he said the lens of which his clinical exam is. And I love that. Yeah, because it’s that important because it’ll lead you down the right avenue for ultimately your patient or client depending on your profession.
Lindsey: Yeah. No, I would agree with Dr. Winchester as well because when we talk about DNS to let’s say chiros that are super straight or PTs or even OB-GYNES that have been to our seminar. Like once they hear — like Dr. Erica talks about DNS in our seminars usually or Melissa Hemphill. But once they communicate about DNS and take them through some of the developmental milestone, it’s like lightbulbs going off in everybody’s head.
So yeah, it totally compliments whatever profession or skill you’re in. But it’s awesome.
Alex: It’s also very humbling. And I know Erica really well and I know her husband, Kyle. Awesome, awesome people, really enjoyed — they’ve been to several of the classes I’ve organized and really, really awesome people. I think they were one of the first people that connected me with you, maybe with [0:26:15] [Indiscernible]. But yeah, they’re awesome.
But getting back to just DNS and positions and challenges and all that stuff, I think that the positions they look easy, but you could implement for whatever sport, movement. And it was quite humbling to see someone who might have rock hard abs and a perfect six pack, and they can’t actually relax, or they can’t actually have low tone.
Therefore, then they can’t move in a certain relaxed fashion. I tell people all the time, if you look at Federer move across the court, he’s the most relaxed person even in the auditorium. But if you look at Nadal, my goodness, that guy is so tense. And sure, Federer gets injured. He’s not totally —
Lindsey: He’s not bullet proof.
Alex: Yeah. But if you look at their injury depth and the magnitude of the injuries — Nadal is typically out for much longer on each injury occasion. And Federer bounces back quite quickly and safely too. So I like talking about tone and low tone versus high tone. Because someone will try to outmuscle or say it a different way. Someone will try to use muscle to try to stabilize in an area that they shouldn’t be. And therefore, they fail a test, or they fail a position.
And they realize, “Holy cow!” There’s something to this in a way that maybe they didn’t even cognitively grasp.
Lindsey: Totally. Could you elaborate on that a little more in reference to let’s say the core? Because everybody wants to get their abs back postpartum. And that’s like our biggest challenge is, “Hey, pump the breaks on the sit-ups, holding planks, mountain climbers. Let’s go about this smart like very efficient way.”
Alex: Yeah. I love talking about body efficiency too because I want my patients — and then when I’m speaking in front of other professionals, I want their patients then so you can get the trickle down as well. That they understand that performing a movement and then having an awareness of the movement could be two totally different things.
And so if they perceive a movement one way and then for example if they’re in the bottom of a squat, but they have complete overactivity of the upper abdominals. And they have just some of the typical compensations that we would see in a squat — hey, that’s the first time I’ve said compensation. Even though I try not to say it that often.
I think you know what I mean. If you see some of these abnormal movements occur, how someone thinks they’re breathing during a squat versus how they’re actually doing it could be two totally different things. So I really try to educate them on day one and day two on my office and really try to start in some of the more lower positions of DNS on a table and have them build their confidence.
So then when we do get into turning, I can say like, “Hey, remember don’t break through the spine right there and move through the hips or just move through the shoulder.” So you feel and they will see. If they’re moving through their spine and you just want them to move through a hip, they in the beginning will have no idea what you’re talking about.
And then you have to educate them and show examples. Sometimes feedback can be — not derogative feedback, but sometimes helping them manage the feedback so they can better perceive what their movement is doing is almost the daily win. If I can show them how I don’t want them to move and then see them change into how they are moving, then sometimes you just have to take that as a day’s win. And when they come back, kind of build off that and build their confidence.
Lindsey: Yeah. And you mentioned that you’re a coach as well. So I coach at DUECE Gym, our gym down the street. But yeah, that is so key. They may not do the movement correctly that day or as you want them to move. And then it’s like, “Oh, okay.” They’re processing it.
Alex: Yeah. I got to correct you here because I did say I was a coach. But I’m a high school varsity soccer coach assistant.
Lindsey: That’s awesome.
Alex: Yeah. And we’re in like our playoffs right now. So it’s like ten, 12 weeks out of the year. I go, I help coach. And I still like I have the DNS lens even at practice where I see someone take a throw-in. I can’t turn that clinical lens off. I’ll be watching guys strike soccer balls. I’ll slow it down. I’ll try to change their foot positioning.
So I enjoy the game, but I also enjoy how I can improve performance with some little things like that. But I’m not like in a gym, coach, doing classes. I did say that earlier and I didn’t even think to elaborate on that. But anyways. So go ahead.
Lindsey: Yes. So okay. I go off in tangents, but this is kind of awesome. I love soccer and I played soccer all growing up. But yeah. Let’s say there’s some professional athletes listening, which they do. How would you integrate — and you could even use Federer as an example because people always me, “Okay, how can I integrate DNS into my professional training?” Because there’s going to be some asymmetries and some compensations once you start to get sport specific, correct?
Alex: Yeah. Well, it starts with a good assessment and then going from there. And then you kind of paint this picture of where some of the lose ends that we can tie up first before this grand change has occurred, kind of like the daily win. Just get your foot right if you’re trying to have a really powerful tennis serve or if you’re trying to think maybe on pitching.
I’m doing a lot with throwers in the lower quarter, working on foot, knee and hip positioning for optimum — like throwing mechanics. And so it’s like there’s so many little things that go into it that I don’t want to overwhelm them on day one. I want them to maintain an attentional focus to the task I’m giving them.
So if I’m giving them five, six, seven different things on day one, the retention of those is probably going to be just one. If I have them six or seven changes of a throw mechanics which I did in the beginning and now I absolutely do not. But I would just stick with one change.
And I heard this from — actually, it was at the DNS golf class I just organized back in September where one of the guys that was speaking. It was a guy named Max Prokopy from the University of Virginia and the gate lab that he runs out of there, tons of biomechanics up there.
He was talking about how when Einstein was golfing, believe it or not. It’s kind of the point of the story. When Einstein was learning to golf, he lined up in his game and he would take a shot. He took one shot and then his instructor sat him down and made all of these corrections to his swing. And then the instructor was basically itemizing what was wrong with the swing.
And then Einstein said, “Stop right there.” And he grabbed four golf balls and he threw them up in the air and right the last second he said, “Catch one.” And the instructor of course dropped all four. And so he’s like, “This is what you’re telling me to do. I can’t catch all four at the same time.”
And I think we do that too often with patients where we get them very focused on for example if they’re doing some type of pressing position. Then they’re focused on their wrist and the elbow and shoulder. And they lose everything we just worked on Tuesday with each abdominal pressure and breathing and all of that.
So then you go back to the breathing and you work on that and they forget about the wrist. So you have to take these daily wins and build them. And so for people that are actively performing right now in a given sport or event, it’s a lot of joint awareness and joint positioning. So just getting your feet set, get after of course after the intraabdominal pressure and some of the breathing strategies that DNS would really preach on.
I would really say focus on just one thing at a time and then watch as actual movement as a whole becomes more efficient and more fluid. You see guys like Ido Portal on YouTube. And you look at some of the things that he’s doing and you’re thinking, “I would never be able to do that.”
Well, first of all, you don’t know that. You could train the way that he does and your tissue would adapt. And you would have more body awareness potentially five, six now than you do right now. But the point is you have to go and you have to do it. And it’s not going to happen on its own. You have to actively participate in it.
Lindsey: Yeah. I love that. I think that’s great. Pick one thing and evolve from there.
So you mentioned that you have three kids. Do you take care of your wife?
Alex: Say that again. Do I take care of my wife?
Lindsey: Yeah. Does she come into the office?
Alex: Okay. So I treat her at home. Sometimes I treat her at the office, yeah. And I do have to admit here. So when we had our first daughter, we had all of the bells and the whistles as first time parents. And then my DNS attendance was going through the roof. And so then our gadgets and all of the harnesses then slowly started to either get thrown out or passed off to other family members or friends or we just gave them away to people.
And so I do tell people and I’m partially right I think. But our first daughter — so the oldest she has overall really good movement. And then our son is just like in certain positions just a little bit better, in others not as good. So there’s a little bit of a difference.
And then our third, we got rid of like all of the gadgets, all of the toys. And she moves in some positions the best and in other positions the worst. So I’m doing this like self-assessment on our children’s development. And I’m enjoying it, but at the same time if I see something, “Oh, shoot.” Now, I got to just stop what I’m doing and I have to go treat that left internally rotated foot on our 16 month old.
And I haven’t been as diligent on it, but this is a friendly good reminder that I got to be actually be diligent on it. But the other thing I was going to say is that my wife and I just participated in the Hot Chocolate 15k here in Chicago yesterday and she smoked me.
I mean it wasn’t even — I made it about six and a half seven miles before I had to take a minute and walk. But she went the whole — it was almost nine and a half miles for the 15K. And my goodness, she killed it. So I’m very proud of her for that.
We basically did no training for it. We just signed up and did it. So I mean she’s the real deal. I have to say that.
Lindsey: Wow. Yeah, she sounds like that. So what’s a day in the life look like for you in your office?
Alex: Well, in the mornings is when I’m at the office. And then in the afternoons — well, I’ll start with the mornings. So the mornings, I have one office guy that helps me out. And then I see patients on one-on-one. I don’t have a stay. I don’t have any — I have like probably seven or eight patients a given morning.
With all the travel that I do for the education side of things, I only treat patients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. So then Mondays and Fridays become my — I’m a dad. I’m a husband. I’m a coach.
So otherwise — and this is actually one of the reasons why I opened my own practice because I worked for a chiropractor in Wheaton here while I was in school. And then I talked to a couple others, but having an education company and virtually being gone two to three weekends a months where I’m leaving either Thursday or Friday night and coming back Sunday night, that’s my weekend.
So then telling them like, “Hey, I’m going to work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Is that cool with you?” And they were all like, “No. We need you Monday through Friday and every other Saturday.” And I was like, “Well, then by default I can’t work for you because I made this commitment to be a husband and a father and I want to make sure that my Mondays and my Fridays stay my weekends.”
And so I decided I’m going to open up on my own. It was like when I was in school. When I was going through all the clinical sciences, I never thought I would open up on my own. And I just did it by default because I wanted to continue to pursue the education side of things.
So having said that, Mondays I’m totally off. We homeschool our six-year-old. I do my part which is very, very little at the moment with actually educating at home on Mondays. But then on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursday, I’m treating in the mornings. And then in the afternoons, I jog over to either Chicago State University where I’m one of the team chiropractor there or at the Wheaton Academy High School which is where I’m the team chiropractor there as well.
So I juggle the afternoons maybe in two locations. And then Fridays I hop on a plane and I go somewhere either to speak myself or to attend or organize a class that I’m hosting or that like I said that I’ve organized. Then I’ll get home Sunday night and then Monday we start back up all again. And it’s a fun ride, but it does get exhausting after a while as you know.
Lindsey: Yeah. You’re busy, busy, busy.
Alex: Yes. Productive I like to say.
Lindsey: Productive, yeah. How many — oh, sorry.
Alex: [0:40:58] [Indiscernible] artificial significance. So I try to maintain a higher level of productivity than the day before. And there are days where I’m busy just doing absolutely nothing. Like I mentioned Ido Portal. I could watch YouTube and Facebook all day and be busy, but not get anything, you know.
Lindsey: Totally, totally. How many seminars do you teach? Oh, sorry.
Alex: Oh, no. So I’ll answer that and I’m going to ask you because I want to know. So last year — our first year, we only had — I think we had like four classes a year. And then it’s picked up I think last year the last time I checked. We had about 42 classes across the country.
Alex: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then next year I think we’re close to 40. I think 40 is my top. And I think if we get into the 40, 45 range that’s when my wife just goes like, “Okay, really?”
Lindsey: Yeah. Are you going to come home?
Alex: Yeah. You’re really going to be gone for — no. But she’s been fantastic on that. But if you get up to 40, 45, that’s virtually one every weekend and there are holidays in there. So sometimes I double up. I’ll have two or three classes on one weekend and try to condense things down. But yeah, we’re probably around — averaging about 40 a year.
Lindsey: And do you have to — are you present at all those?
Alex: So we do dry needling and acupuncture training as well for chiropractors and physical therapists. That’s all in our website as well. And so I don’t attend those. I went through the full — a $100 program. It’s actually really nice. It’s two 25-hour classes on acupuncture like specifically neuromusculoskeletal acupuncture. And what we feel like you’re going to use 90% of the time in clinical practice in a chiropractor’s office.
We don’t make any negative views on if someone has gone through thousands of hours of training in acupuncture and they want to try to be treating in that capacity. We think that’s awesome. We’re not that type of acupuncture training. We’re for the like I said the neuromusculoskeletal model of acupuncture. That’s two 25-hour classes.
And then we two 25-hour beginner and advance dry needling classes that we go into the evidence, the science, the neurophysiology of trigger points. Do trigger points even exist? I mean there’s a lot that have really gone into those classes.
And the nice thing is that under our kind of chiropractic education entity, NCMI, seeing some of the other malpractice, insurance carriers for chiropractors, count those hours towards your policy. So if you’re allowed to do that in your state and you submit a hundred hour completion from me for acupuncture and dry needling training, it’ll be accepted for your policy. So a lot of people will take it as opposed to like a traditional hundred hour acupuncture program.
Lindsey: Yeah. Wow, that’s awesome.
Alex: Yeah. We enjoy it.
Lindsey: Yeah. I’ve known a few of our BIRTHFIT regional directors and coaches have taken DNS through your education platform. So if anybody’s listening and you need to get DNS Exercise One, check their website out for next year. I think that’s great.
Alex: Yeah. If they’re interested, they should just email me directly because what I’ve done is I’ve limited some seats because DNS is getting just overly popular across the world. So I’m already organizing —
Lindsey: Isn’t that crazy?
Alex: Well, it’s awesome. It’s really cool. So the first time I organized a class, I just said like, “Hey, I’d like to do this class in Chicago. Could I get Petra?” That was the speaker that was kind of interested. And I had to wait like maybe three and a half months before Petra was free.
And then she came out and then Robert Lardner is a well-respected physical therapist here in Chicago which makes commuting and traveling really easy. And he’s fantastic. So him and Petra taught the firs DNS class I organized. And like I said, I put it together in about three and a half or four months.
And you mentioned Martina earlier. I met Martina in Prague at the D course last August, and she was already booked until the class that I just organized with her which is I believe it’s April of 2018. So it was about an 18-to-24-month — not quite 24 months, but 18-to-20-month wait for me to get her — from her to get on our schedule. So I’m already making plans for 2019. And so if someone is interested in like if they’re a medical or health profession and if they’re interested in an A course or if they’re interested. If they’re going to go through the regional director process with you, have them email me and I’ll let them know some potential dates that were lining up actually all across the country too.
I’ve got Chicago and Charlotte lined up for 2018 and then potentially a few other cities where people have expressed some interest. So those will be posted pretty short here.
Lindsey: That’s awesome. All right, so I’m going to ask you a movement question. Since you study movement, what do you think are the biggest, I would say, misconceptions out there?
Alex: That’s a loaded question. I would say if I answered this three years ago, I would say that the biggest misconception would be that you have to move a certain way. Like there’s only one way to move. And I would still agree with that now that that’s kind of a misconception.
Because you look at some of the elite athletes like even you’re saying Bolt has a [0:47:13] [Indiscernible] at the starting block. You look at even the guy — I don’t know his name unfortunately, but if you look at the guy that — he’s an African-American guy who set the squatting record and he was on Time Magazine and he had a huge [0:47:26] [Indiscernible]. I forget his name.
But like a stud athlete who otherwise would have been told, “No, you’re damaged. There’s no way you can do what you’re trying to do.” Or you look at even players in the NHL that have Scheuermann’s disease and MLB. There’s guys with like real, large thoracic kyphosis. And they move differently than a baby. There’s no doubt about it.
So therefore, how does DNS correlate with some of the things that they’re going through? And there’s absolutely ways that it does, but there are techniques and there are mass produced assessments that I don’t know if they’re actually lined up. Or I should say I don’t know if they actually get the results that they might be claiming to.
And so you have to try and you have to fail ultimately at this whole movement profession. Because then you kind of find out what works and what doesn’t. And then ultimately you’ll have the research and the evidence will start to back up some of these claims or maybe they’ll just flat out refute them.
That’s a vague answer and I’m okay with it. I don’t have like, “Oh, I know exactly what’s wrong.” You know what I mean? Even if I did, I think I would be hard-pressed to actually think of it over the next couple of days. But I might just let that simmer for a minute.
Lindsey: Yeah, no. I think that’s a great answer. Yeah. We’re not forced to move a certain way or we shouldn’t be. Yeah.
Alex: Yeah. It goes back to what I said earlier too. Like last time I checked, that’s a human being you’re dealing with. So their ability to adapt and to manage load or to tolerate load or to even — I actually tell some of my patients like in chronic paid where they’re just going through things that I physically or emotionally or mentally cannot relate to. But they’re going through things that I can’t describe.
So sometimes — I don’t know if it’s helpful. Sometimes I just tell them like you know when — one of the bravest things I ever saw was when my wife naturally gave birth to our first daughter. And I was talking to her, but she was there, but she wasn’t there. Like she completely took her mind out of her physical pain. Like she was in pain, there’s no doubt about it.
Pain could be perceived with or without tissue damage. And during labor, there’s tissue damage that is absolutely occurring. So this is not just pain in her head so to speak. But I try to convey that there is a capacity where bad things can happen to you, but it doesn’t ultimately define who you are as a person or the things that you’re trying to complete. And in that case, my wife delivered a wonderful, still perfect child.
Lindsey: Oh, I love that. So since you’ve been on the supporting side of bringing life into this world, how long would you say it takes a woman to heal postpartum?
Alex: Well, the generic answer is the six to eight model. But I think, again, I have three little empirical tests from the three children that we’ve had. So I think even with my brother’s wife, she has three kids. There’s my wife’s brother’s wife has had four kids. So there’s been a lot of babies around in our house or in our family.
Lindsey: And you know movement.
Alex: And I’d like to think I know movement, yeah. But each person responds — I’m sure you talk about this at your courses. But each person responds to the same stimulus in a very different way. So sometimes mom will have an expectation or a fear leading up to the labor and their labor might be long.
I’ve also seen some one and they’ve had a really short labor. So it’s not a hard pressed rule, but I will say that someone who has a good support system and someone who actually is very active throughout their pregnancy, they have generally speaking and I don’t have any analysis or any randomized controlled trials. They generally have a tolerable birth and they also have a quicker recovery.
First of all, because they’re ready to get back into that active lifestyle that they were once a part of. So I think a minimum of eight weeks just for the tissue and some of the other changes that occur, hormones, all of those things that you can’t put a clock on and just say, “Okay. Now, you’re doing this. Now, you’re doing that.”
But I think if I could and I would love to take one of your courses. But I would generally say like you’ve got probably a year, maybe longer. And in some cases, definitely longer where you’re going to be going through some bodily changes. And it’s not just going to happen at the eighth week mark and then we’re going to say, “Okay. See you. Let us know if you [0:52:55] [Indiscernible].”
So I’m going to leave it vague again because it depends. But I think eight weeks to a year is where really 80 to 90% of the recovery occurs.
Lindsey: Yeah. I’m so glad you said that. Yeah.
Alex: Okay. Good.
Lindsey: I approve. Yeah. Like especially our coach course, we talk a lot about like hey, just because somebody gave you a clearance at six weeks, it doesn’t really mean shit. Because like you said, tissue is healing. There’s tons of changes happening on the inside. And we map out the whole first year postpartum.
Because, yeah, it sometimes takes a year. Sometimes longer, sometimes takes nine months. But yeah, everybody’s different that’s for sure. But yeah, solid answer.
Alex: Yeah. And I would say up to and around a year just for some of the physical traits that we want to see start to come back. My wife actually very quickly when she started nursing and everything, she very quickly dropped weight. So then getting back to a healthy weight for mom and for baby because nutrition plays a huge role in this.
So getting back into safe movements. And my wife still — and she’s okay with me saying this — still has a little bit of diastasis. But that ultimately is something that I just probably should have done more on after the first child.
And so now, it’s a little hard to change at child number three. So there’s certain things I’ve picked up where I’m looking back thinking, “Oh, shoot. I definitely should have.” But at that time also, I didn’t know what DNS was even years ago.
So it’s crazy how much you blink and maybe you missed a window. But at the same time, there are things that we can do. I mean my goodness, she just smoked me on a 15K. So am I ready to say that the diastasis that she has is limiting her from some capacity?
Because obviously she’s — I almost said she’s a better athlete. But obviously, she’s at a different level. Like running economy is way better than mine. So I don’t want to label the diastasis as a negative. It could definitely enhance some improvements, but I’m very slow to label what I heard awhile back from a Canadian chiropractor. I forget his name at the moment, but anatomical body-shaming where you just find something whether it’s an X-ray or an MRI and that becomes that person or that patient’s label.
Lindsey: The other identity.
Alex: Yeah. You’re just like, “Oh, there’s Nancy. She’s walking in with a disc bulge.” And she’s known as the low back disc. Like no. Like I said, that’s a human the last time I checked.
Lindsey: Yeah. And I like that you mentioned the previous pregnancies. Because that does play a role in breastfeeding with relaxin still circulating. Like it may not heal if mom is still breastfeeding or approximate all the way. And there’s just not enough research done on DRA or healing tissue postpartum.
But yeah, we’ve seen cases where mom’s completely functional. And maybe she still has a one finger separation. So yeah, there’s no one way to move.
Alex: Yeah, no. I totally agree. I think that that’s a great insight there.
Lindsey: Awesome. Well, it’s been great chatting with you. But I won’t take up any more of your time. But where can people find you at?
Alex: Well, you could fine me on Facebook, Instagram either through midwestrehabilitationinstitute.com. You can just find me there and then or you could send me an email which is firstname.lastname@example.org. And that will get to me and I can collaborate with anymore who have any questions on upcoming courses or if they’re in the area and they’re looking for — even if they needed some extra set of eyes on some of their movement stuff. I’d be glad to help and assist in any capacity that is needed.
Lindsey: Awesome, awesome. And then if you could leave the audience with one piece of advice, what would that be?
Alex: Well, I would say I’ve been — podcast has been the thing of my year. Maybe the theme of my year. And so I’ve been listening to a lot of the Movement Fix with Ryan like I mentioned. And then also there’s a guy named Jocko Willink who’s got one of the top [0:57:54] [Indiscernible].
So he wakes very early–
Alex: So I will say that I have a much greater appreciation of all of my life, full circle, when I get up earlier. In fact, I was just talking to a guy not that long ago. And he was like, “What can I do? I wake up at 10:00.” And then I was explaining my day. I’m like, “Well, this is easy. Wake up earlier. Get up early.”
So my advice to the group would be small little steps of discipline including waking up or shaving or brush your teeth. These things that we inherently shouldn’t really think about, but we end up thinking, “Maybe not going to do that today or maybe I’m going to sleep in.”
I think small little steps of discipline lead up so that when you have to make a big decision, or you have to make a big step, you either go through that line and you do it with the full confidence that you have in your skills. Or you kind of are able to then take a step back, detach from a situation and say, “Well, I’m not ready to do that.”
But I would say start with really small steps of discipline. And if you’re going to start small, it can’t possibly get any smaller than waking up early. So I’ve got my alarm four or five times a week. I wake up at 4:11 and I’m up doing my thing, getting stuff done. And I enjoy the process that that brings. So I have a last piece of advice, wake up early.
Lindsey: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Alex: Well, my pleasure. Thank you again for the invitation. It’s been a lot of fun. I hope to meet you and get connected with you. It’s going to be awesome.
Lindsey: Yeah. I’ll meet you in person. Yeah, meet you in person soon.
Alex: That’d be great. That’d be great. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Lindsey. I appreciate it.
Lindsey: All right. Thanks, Alex. Have a good night.
Alex: Yeah, you too. Bye-bye.
Lindsey: All right. Love that guy. He was super rad, definitely knows movements. So if you’re in the Chicago area, go check him out. I know he told you his one little thing, his one little tip was to wake up early. I would have to agree. I’m a morning person. I wake up at 5:00 every day.
But my other takeaway which I was going to say before he said the waking up early thing is that there’s no one way to move, no one right way to move. And I’ve been exposed to this. He’s been exposed to this. You see these phenomenal athletes, these sprinters, these volleyball players, these soccer players.
And they have some freak ability and maybe they have the worst pes planus or flat feet or the worst internal rotation of a leg or it’s just something, thoracic kyphosis. But they have this ability and their ability can also be enhanced by the intention of how they move or how they train just every day.
So yeah, go study movement. Watch movement. See how movement evolves when you put a little intentionality behind it. So that would be my takeaway for the day. Have a purpose when you train. Get intentional and see yourself evolve.
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