Armstrong Podiatry & Sports Health's Blog

Information that promotes wellness

An interview with Mike Young, Ph.D.

I have the honor of talking to Dr. Mike Young, an extraordinary person and even a better coach/sports professional.  I first knew about Dr. Young while lurking around on the ELITETRACK website and was excited that he decided to come to the Raleigh/Durham area to open up his sports training facility, Athletic Lab.

Dr. Young has a Ph.D. in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics and has been an instructor or adjunct professor for three major universities.  He also served as a track coach for three NCAA Division I programs.  He is currently the Director of Sports Performance at Human Performance Consulting and the head coach of HPC Elite track and field team.  As followers of my blog well know, it is this combination of academics and practical knowledge that I truly admire.  The following is the interview:

Q: Your accomplishments have been amazing for anyone at any age.  How did you decide on this path?

(MY): I think I knew from very young that I wanted to be involved in athletics in some way for the rest of my life.  I didn’t have the talent to continue competing after college, so coaching was the obvious fit.  I had been a student of athletic development from as young as 10 years old.  When others were asking for toys for Christmas, I was asking for training manuals and translated foreign training publications.  I’ve always had a keen interest in sport science and the “jump start” I had in learning gave me the foundational knowledge to build my coaching from a relatively young age.

Q: Tell me why you decided to open Athletic Lab?

(MY): I started a sport training and consulting company with a buddy of mine eight years ago, while we were both pursuing our doctoral degrees.  We became very successful fairly quickly, but were essentially a virtual company.  We had no physical headquarters.  Most of what we did was off-site research, correspondence training and speaking engagements.  The athletes that were coached in person trained on a local school facility, depending on what city/state I was living in at the time.  This worked well during the early years of the business because it meant we had minimal overhead.  The research that was done was performed off-site so we didn’t need to have a complete lab environment.  It worked really well for us, but within a couple of years it was clear that to continue growing that I needed to open a training and research center.  That’s when I opened Athletic Lab.

Q: How important a role does a coach play in the injury assessment and rehab of their athlete?

(MY): The role of the coach is critical for injury assessment and rehab.  Because coaches spend so much time with the athlete they can often times screen for injuries before they even occur by watching movement patterns during warmup and mobility activities.  Coaches should develop effective and simple-to-use movement screens that can applied on a daily basis to monitor things like balance, joint health and movement strategies.  Likewise, closely watching the movement quality on a day-to-day basis for any drop-offs can be quite useful in assessment and diagnoses.  Similarly, when the athlete does get injured, the rehab and recovery process should be part of the training and not an addendum to it.  As such, it’s important that the coach be involved at every step to provide alternative training means that work around the injury limitations as well as incorporate and enhance what is being done by medical professionals.

Q: What exercises or training schedule do you feel are the most important for injury prevention?

(MY): I look at injury prevention very holistically.  I’m not sure if there are any specific wonder-exercises that will guarantee an injury-free state, but if the coach develops a comprehensive training program with multi-lateral and multi-system balance, and use the appropriate progressions of volume and intensity, the athlete should largely stay healthy and injury free outside of acute catastrophic injuries.  That said, I do ensure that in addition to doing the specific high-powered activities that are necessary for success (Olympic lifts, pylometrics, sprinting, etc.), we also include a good balance of lower intensity activities aimed at strengthening the “less sexy” areas of physical development.  This includes incorporating things like foot strengthening exercises, multi-directional locomotive activities, strengthening the core of the body using various means and methods, and incorporating various body weight strength to enhance joint health and build strength through extreme ranges of motion.

Q: As a coach with no medical training, but a high understanding of human anatomy and physiology, do you feel there is a divide between the medical and coaching community?  Do you feel like you are the type of individual that can bridge that gap?

(MY): There definitely seems to be a big divide. I think part of this is because many members of both the medical and coaching communities believe their area of expertise extends far beyond what it actually does.  This problem is compounded because both groups often attempt to do “land grabs” in each other’s area of expertise.  This can create a lot of problems…and most of the time the victim is the athlete.  I do think an understanding of sport science helps to bridge the gap.  Sport science can be the common denominator between both groups.  It also helps to have an appreciation for what you DON”T know.

Q: Obesity is a growing problem worldwide which really concerns me.  What can you do, as a health fitness professional and owner of Athletic Lab, to help combat this problem?

(MY): As I’ve grown older and now have a daughter, health and fitness (rather than just athletic performance) is something that’s become increasingly important to me.  I try to use various web outlets (twitter as well as several of my websites) to educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  And at Athletic Lab, I try to make sure my clients are aware of the healthy and quality of life benefits of eating well and exercising regularly using a broad spectrum of activities.

Q: There are so many factors in developing an healthy individual.  Which one do you think is the most important, i.e., diet, exercise, mental health?

(MY): It’s hard to really pinpoint one and say it’s the most important.  All aspects of health and wellness are interwoven and we can’t really separate one from the other.  When someone focuses on one area (for example, diet) to the neglect of another (like exercise), they will never be truly healthy and fit.

Q: You always seem to be working!  What new things are you working on presently?

(MY): Right now I’ve got a lot going on.  I’m in the final stages of editing a book I’m writing; I’m in the process of preparing for a big move of Athletic Lab in to a newer, bigger and better home; and I’m in the middle of my annual research projects for USA Track & Field.  Trying to fit this in around speaking engagements and training at Athletic Lab has been pretty tiring, but I’m hoping that things will start to slow down a little by the end of 2010.

Take time to read more interesting information from this knowledgeable guy:

www.athleticlab.com (Athletic Lab company)

www.elitetrack.com (website about speed development)

www.medirected.com (personal blog)

twitter.com/mikeyoung (personal twitter account)

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August 23, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] a good interview with Mike […]

    Pingback by Good Reads for the Week « Bret's Blog | August 26, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] a good interview with Mike […]

    Pingback by Good Reads for the Week | Bret Contreras | October 2, 2013 | Reply


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