In Episode 68 of the Heads 'N Tales podcast I interview Parabolic Performance & Rehab Performance Director, Angelo Todaro, CSCS, FMS, USAW. Rather than talking about persevering after injury, illness or another obstacle, Angelo and I discuss how to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Obviously, it is impossible to quantify injuries prevented, but we discuss what goes into building a body of resilience. We use the elements involved in building a house as an analogy, which includes the foundation, support beams, electrical panel and the esthetic exterior.
Angelo is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the NSCA Certification Commission and a certified Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting.
Before joining Parabolic Performance and Rehab, Angelo owned and operated a very successful private training business in Bergen county New Jersey. He has held the position of strength and conditioning coach with the San Diego Padres in their minor league system and with a United States Tennis Association regional training center. He has also completed coaching internships with the University of Connecticut Strength and Conditioning department in Storrs, Connecticut, and at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Human Performance Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Building a Body of Resilience
Foundation: The foundation is the most important part of building a body of resilience, but it is also the least sexy. The foundation is comprised of general health markers that include, blood profile, organs, hormones, and immune system. Angelo recommends going to see your doctor to getting blood work and a general physical to find out if there are any glaring issues. In addition, having solid general movement patterns is a key principle to the athlete's foundation. Angelo and his team at Parabolic use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to assess their athletes in this domain. The FMS tests 7 movement patterns which include a deep squat, in-line lunge, hurdle step, pushup stability, shoulder stability, leg raise and rotary stability. The key to the test is that all movements can be performed without pain. Click the link above to learn more about the FMS. The team at Parabolic also utilize methods from the Postural Restoration Institute to address foundational issues. I have been doing some of these postural restoration exercises with Parabolic Physical Therapist, Dr. Danielle Clarke and have been seeing great results in my knee rehab. Some of the exercises involve inflating a balloon, which sounds bizarre, but I must say, I now feel the best I have felt since before my surgery. Overall, the foundation of a resilient body includes having good general health, good general movement and a good attitude.
Support Beams: The support beams include stability/mobility. These two requirements for both of these domains will vary by sport and position. During this portion of our conversation Angelo and have a sports specialization discussion. He mentions Urban Meyer's tastes for multi-sport athletes in his recruiting classes. Angelo also mentions the importance of prioritization when playing multiple sports and just playing for fun sometimes. This is something that I feel athletes get out of touch with as they get older.
Electrical Panel: Angelo gives us a brief lesson on the role of nervous system adaptations.
Furnace: The furnace element of the resilient athlete is right in Angelo's wheelhouse and he dropped some serious knowledge bombs in this area. In this part of our conversation we discuss nutrition, recovery and supplements.
In regard to nutrition, Angelo teaches us about why food quality is most important, portion size and the roles proteins, fats and carbs play in fueling the body during workouts and recovery. Angelo and the team at Parabolic structure the nutrition program for their NFL combine athletes and use a company called Eat Clean Bro to ensure they are getting the highest quality of nutrition.
Food as fuel is obviously a major contributor to an athlete's recovery, but sleep quality is just as important. Angelo mentioned how important sleep is on multiple occasions throughout the interview. Specifically, he says athletes should aim to get at least 9-10 hours of sleep to properly recover. This is because you don't get stronger in the gym, you actually get weaker. You get stronger while you sleep because your body is recovering. Technology like Bioforce can provide insight into recovery based on an athletes heart rate variations.
Angelo is also very knowledgeable about supplements and goes in depth on powder protein, creatine, fish oil and its benefits in brain function, hormonal function and inflammation reduction. He highlights the importance of trying to find these supplements in their purest forms. One way to do this is by looking for the NSF Certification on the labels, which proves what is listed in the ingredients on the label actually correlates to contents of the container.
Esthetics: Looks can sometimes be deceiving. Just like a termite-ridden house, an athlete with a sinking foundation, deteriorating support beams and a smoking furnace is doomed. Angelo said that youth is wasted on the young because they never think anything will ever happen to them. To some degree, athletes need this mentality to perform without fear, but those who take a proactive approach to make the necessary repairs will reap the benefits of an extended athletic career. Injury is sometimes unavoidable so we end this topic of discussion with one on returning to training after an injury.
We finish the episode by listing the characteristics of Angelo's most successful athletes. Angelo notes their willingness to sacrifice a social life/"career" and their good relationships with failure as the two most notable traits.
During his free time, Angelo enjoys training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, going rock climbing, and participating in many other combat based and outdoor sports. He is also an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts and rarely misses the opportunity to watch any MMA event in the area, professional and amateur alike. "Chef Ange" has recently started filming some of his recipes. His first two episodes can be seen below. Angelo and I plan on doing a nutrition specific episode to go more in depth on a complicated topic in the near future.