A Mental Approach to Overcoming Injury - with MLB Recovery Specialist David Meyer
Injury! It's just such a tough part of our sport.
And according to statistics between 65 and 80% of runners are going to suffer an injury this year that will cause them to miss time.
Now imagine if that injury doesn't just cause you to miss the sport that you love. But can also hurt your career. And that's what our next guest David Myers had to deal with as a physical therapist for the St. Louis Cardinals.
During this discussion, we're going to talk about the mental aspects of recovery and how it can be just as important as the physical action. Plus you all know how big of a baseball fan Coach "B" is, and he and David share much more than just the love of the sport in this conversation.
So let's dive into this really important chat about injury, recovery, and mindset.
Links For the Show
Podcast TranscriptionThe following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
Guest Quote [00:00:00]
My mission, essentially in a nutshell, is helping on the side of development from a holistic approach outside of just the injury. But the physical injury is like a segue in for me to help that person. In a nutshell, that's what I do. Anything that kind of allows me to tap into that is going to be things that I am open and receptive to. Then I have to kind of audit myself and question whether certain things are in line with my mission.
Episode Intro [00:00:28]
Kevin Chang: [00:00:28]
Hello and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number 51.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd. And I'm joined by the head coach of RaceMob and master motivator. The incomparable Bertrand Newson.
Guest Introduction [00:00:42]
Injury. Man, it's just such a tough part of our sport.
And according to statistics between 65 and 80% of runners are going to suffer an injury this year. That will cause them to miss time. Now imagine if that injury doesn't just cause you to miss the sport that you love. But can also hurt your career.
And that's what our next guest David Myers had to deal with as a physical therapist for the St. Louis Cardinals.
During this discussion, we're going to talk about the mental aspects of recovery and how it can be just as important as the physical action. Plus you all know how big of a baseball fan Coach B is. And he and David share much more than just the love of the sport in this conversation.
So let's dive into this really important chat about injury, recovery, and mindset.
Start of the Interview
[00:01:30] All right. RaceMob crew. We have a very special guest for you today. Coming all the way from New York. We have Dr. David Meyer, PT, DPT . Former , rehab specialist from the St. Louis Cardinals, author of Injured to Elite, a guide to empowering yourself, to transform your life after injury.
Welcome to the RaceMob podcast. David. So happy to have you on.
David Meyer: [00:01:53]
Thanks, Kev, coach B. Glad to be here. Hopefully we can add some value to your listeners.
Kevin Chang: [00:01:57] .
We know that you have been a baseball nuts for a very long time baseball fan for yeah. For your life.
David Meyer: [00:02:03]
I think I'm nuts, you can call me nut. I mean, I'm not as crazy as runners.
I mean, talk about being nutty. Yeah. You know, there are some rules and...
Bertrand Newson: [00:02:19]
Yeah, my favorite sports, by the way, I grew up playing a baseball and, uh, uh, fell into running. So I'm, I've been looking forward to this conversation for a while, so.
David Meyer: [00:02:28] Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. Actually, I definitely run more than I play baseball these days.
Getting into Baseball [00:02:32]
Kevin Chang: [00:02:32]
Yeah, I was just about to say that I know , coach B, that you are a baseball fan, grew up loving baseball. You know, that those were very special moments for your family, your brother, your dad, and everything.
So, I mean, I guess David talked to us a little bit about getting into the sport. Um, you know, what was sports like kind of growing up and we know that you play some college athletics as well.
David Meyer: [00:02:53]
The way I tell my story is this way, I grew up a five foot five athletes, so not very tall.
So. The Rudy mentality, that was my favorite movie. Grew up with a father that was chronically ill with kidney disease. Had his first transplant by my grandmother lasted 27 years from the seventies. Kind of, was a big deal back then. Failed when I was around 12. And, you know, as a 12 year old, I was playing all the different sports.
I grew up in long island, you had to play every sport. You'd had to do everything, which is ridiculous. But anyway, that's another story. And my two loves were baseball and hockey actually. And my father was a diehard sports sports. My father was the sports nut, and that really allowed him to get through his adversity. And really gave him a sense of purpose and a connecting link between my father and I, we were self-deprecating Mets fans.
So I don't know Coach B, who your team is or where he grew up but, uh,
Bertrand Newson: [00:03:45]
Yeah, I was a Strawberry and Doc fan and, um, you know, yep.
David Meyer: [00:03:50]
Funny this morning, I heard a story about doc good. And going into a restaurant in Jersey. And it was like a hole in the wall restaurant. And it was just, I don't know why that struck me, but, uh, I would love to meet a few of those 86 Mets one of these days.
Bertrand Newson: [00:04:06]
That'd be a good podcast. I mean, you know, in a bars around the table, you know, talking about, uh, that team in particular,
David Meyer: [00:04:14]
I have not interviewed or spoken... Let me see any 86 minutes. I don't think I ever met anyone from that team. And, and I've met, you know, like Willie McGee, and I've worked with a lot of different people and met some really good ballplayers, but I never met an 86 Mets. So that anyway, that would, that would be a special thing.
But continuing on, so grew up playing baseball had to work a little harder than my peers because of my height. And I eventually got the chance to play in college baseball, actually junior college after getting my bachelor's, which is kind of strange.
The stock market crash in 2007. I was taking a lot of my pre-recs for medical school. Didn't do so hot in physics. And I went back to community college and I wanted to play baseball. I couldn't get a job after 2007, 2008. So I said, Hey, I'm going to keep playing. My father passed away just before that in 2006.
It's a little bit to kind of wrap that baseball side up. My father died in 2006. Eventually got lung cancer from the immunosuppressive therapy you take to prevent rejection of the kidney.
And it's crazy. So dies in that on Thanksgiving, 2006 tells me the Mets and the Cardinals are playing in the NLCS. So coach, I don't know how, how much you were following that, but the Cardinals beat the Mets and, you know, Yaider Molina and Adam Wainwright, you know, they struck out bell trench.
Anyway, it was a tough moment. I throw my dorm room chair across my room. And my father tells me the team's not going to be the same for awhile. He passes away a few weeks later. I'm really speeding up. Eventually get my doctorate in physical therapy. I vowed to my family. I was going to do what I could to work in sports that Thanksgiving.
And then nine years later, after the Cardinals beat the Mets, the Cardinals hire me as their medical and rehab coordinator. I don't think I ever wanted to work for them or really the Yankees I would have taken, I think before that. But the Cardinals came and knocking on the door. And, uh, the rest is really history in terms of my dream.
Because as I worked for the Cardinals, I realized my dream to work at this level, you know, when you're a player that can't act, you can't get to the next level, you want to work as. Auxiliary staff or support staff, whatever you can do to get there. And that was my way in.
And then I'm there. And I see these players struggling with this identity crisis of sorts at points of injury, which happens to runners, happens to all athletes doesn't matter. And every athlete is a runner. And so for me, I realized injury was this time capsule into their mental health, their ability to find within themselves these resources, whether they're strategies, mentally physical strategies to better their life and to continue their journey.
And it really hit me after a player of mine was on the rehab treatment table. And I picked up on his energy being down. I was a psychology major. I was, I'm an intuitive empath, but instead of me taking them into my office at the time, I just kind of made light of what he was, you know, tried to just cheerlead a little bit.
And six months later go by, after he returned from his elbow surgery. And we come in one day and we find out that player attempted suicide on successfully. Thank God it was him.
And ultimately he was physically okay. And I was very happy about that, but just kind of upset at myself because I missed this little time capsule I'm talking about, I call it time zero, and it was about a two year process after that, of re-imagining my dream and where I really want to have impact.
And since then in 2017, I've gone on a journey of integrating the mental side. Into sports rehabilitation and just athletic development.
Kevin Chang: [00:07:57]
Thank you for sharing such a deep story. I, you know, I think coach and I were talking about this just earlier about, it's probably such a different game when that injury means something to your livelihood, it means so much to how you've identified yourself.
Dealing with the Mental Aspect of Injury [00:08:13]
So, talk to us, , about, , you've been working with these athletes, you're seeing, , ways that they are having to deal with injury, having to try to come back . And then how do you even approach that mental aspect ?
How have you done that in the past and, and I guess, what is your approach today to dealing with that mental aspect?
David Meyer: [00:08:31]
That's a great question, Kevin, and it could be a lot to take on as clinicians professionals, as coaches. We tend to really take our work home with us in terms of wanting to serve those that we help.
The physical side is almost enough to burn you out. And then you think about the mental and the emotional side, and you realize why a lot of our healthcare practitioners kind of shy away from it. They don't lean into it.
For me, the way I coach early career professionals and everybody is actually to just bring your own awareness into your own reaction to it.
So. When you hear a story, like even I shared the story about the player, there's a visceral response. You feel it it's a little bit provoking. You feel it may be in your midsection. And I practice mindfulness. That's a big piece of my entire work now research-based, not just the Eastern side of it, but really the westernized understanding of what it is. So I teach people to first go inside.
My last podcast guest actually talked about it as a medical student. He was taught to armor up as a psychiatrist, meaning develop that thick skin. Almost separate yourself, a little bit from him. You're going to see death. You're going to see bad things. Like you have to develop thick skin.
Actually, what I realized was, yes, you do need some level of resilience. But you also have to be in touch with your own emotional state. So when you're talking to the individual, you're feeling the energy I felt in that room, take a runner. And maybe they're David Goggins-ing themself to a point of maybe damage, right?
We'll use that as an example, cause that's going to be readily understood at what point maybe you're feeling, Hmm. This person told me that they're going through some, some tough times in their home. How do I step in here?
So a lot of people might just say, eh, I'm not going to go there. But you're feeling that, right? You feel that open window, that time capsule of, should I explore this? What you want to do there is gently lean into that a little bit.
And the two ways you can do that is. You can first identify the tension. The second thing you want to do is ask those open-ended or reflective-based statements. So ask an open-ended question or reflective based statement.
So just reflect back what they said. So if there, somebody talking about scheduling a ton of different races in the next few months, and you're saying yourself, you're not thinking the long-term here.
And you know that maybe they they're trying to prove something within their, their own life, because they're going through some other tough times, which we all know is usually behind a lot of this in a good way. So you stress, it's a good motivator. Not saying it's not.
But when you, you're looking at the big picture as the coach, and you're saying I got to lean into this a little bit, the way you can start that is you can say, so you got a lot of races you're scheduling out. What led you to schedule, you know, intrinsic motivation one-on-one, self-determination theory for the listeners that might know something about that. Lean into that a little bit.
They're going to guide you. They're going to tell you what the elephant in their room is so to speak or what their major stress is. And then you're not making the decisions for them as coaches. We want to coach, but the really good coaches don't tend to coach very much.
And I always notice that and you're helping them. Come to these realizations in their truth, building their self-awareness. But it starts with your own. It starts with how you feel about what you heard or where you want to go with that individual, what you want to tell them and why you want to do that.
Are you trying to overly fix or to overly correct something? What is the, what's the reason for that? Are you feeling like the client's going to look for somebody else that has better answers for them? Where is your own internal tension coming from? Sit with that first, and then when you're talking to that individual, go into theirs. So that's where I start that conversation to answer your question.
Bertrand Newson: [00:12:16]
That's a very powerful, and you know, as we're talking about being a, being a coach and, and athletes, certainly they can be task-driven were there to help them on their journey, but ultimately life is happening around the athletes. You know, it is more than just that race. It is more than just that series of workouts for a week, a month or a training block. Work, family.
And when the athlete elects to open up and to share some of those life challenges, and again, what is your role? And, um, you're not looking to make decisions for someone, but you do want to help them do self reflection to keep making progress towards those goals and have balance where you can ignore one party of your life pie, because it will impact another part of it.
So, um, but you're right. Um, knowing when to lean in is, is key, especially, um, with the coach athlete relationship.
Kevin Chang: [00:13:03]
I think we've realized this from the athletes that you're coaching Coach B, there's a portion of this that is around training plans or getting the right training plans in front of people.
But so much of this is the mental aspect of, you know, getting people in the right mindset to go after attack the training plans or pull back when they are attacking too much. And so much of that is just having an outside perspective, having that other person that can, can be there to help guide you in that, in that training to motivate you when you need motivation and see you. Again, pull you back from, from injuring yourself or, or doing more harm than good.
Finding Balance In Your Own Training [00:13:37]
I guess David, one question I have is how do you do that for yourself? You know, I think you talked a little bit about having the empathy, making sure that you can put yourself in somebody else's shoes, having that outside perspective. I guess if you're looking internally at your own training plan, what are some of the techniques or tools?
Um, and especially if you're coming back from injury, what are maybe some of the techniques and tools to be looking at doing that the right way?
David Meyer: [00:14:03]
So the question is along the lines of how do you find your own. Balanced in terms of setting your own goals on goal setting and an overall big picture kind of development.
Kevin Chang: [00:14:13]
David Meyer: [00:14:14]
I'm more of an existential type of person. So I just generally reflect a lot. So I'm a thinker. I'm cerebral. For myself during my meditations, during my, my long walks or runs, it happens organically.
I think the interesting question is when we find ourselves, because when you think about thinking, right, we have organic thoughts where we're able to kind of think about something consciously, right?
Bring a thought to life. But then there's a lot of things that are happening just on their own, right. Thoughts are just coming and going. That's how our brain operates, which is a really interesting thing to think about.
What I'm fascinated by with your, where your question kind of meets my interests is motivation and how I kind of steer the ship, I guess you can say.
We tend to look to find the pain, right? We tend to find, to look the look and see where the negative is. For instance, you know, what part of my body parts do I need to optimize to be able to run further, right? We tend to see it through that lens. And then there's parts where we're like overall, we want to be running more and more races.
We want to run faster and faster, but we hone in on these. We, we slap our wrists and we figure out where we're messing up.
For me, I have my mission. My mission, essentially in a nutshell, is helping on the side of development from a holistic approach outside of just the injury. But the physical injury is like a segue in for me to help that person in a nutshell, that's what I do. Anything that kind of allows me to tap into that is going to be things that I am open and receptive to.
Then I have to kind of audit myself and question whether certain things are in line with my mission, for instance, whether it's coming onto a podcast, whether it's a potential business venture, the book idea that pops into my head without me thinking about it. Right?
So the audit system is, is a gentle kind of just reflection awareness. It's not a Brendan Bouchard or a Tony Robbins-esque type of approach anymore. It was earlier on where I needed to apply the steps, apply the steps, apply the steps.
Now, and this is based on neuroscience. Using awareness can really help, and curiosity. These things can help us to come to those realizations that we need to come to. And find the more rewarding things that are best for us.
So if you're talking about an athlete and you're talking about them, figuring out the right return for themselves. Sure. As a physical therapist, I can lay out a program.
But if you really search inward and you start to just curiously use your awareness, they're thinking about the process for yourself and seeing your emotion: "I have to return quick. I have to. Run this race coming up in June" and then go a little deeper and start really letting your mind go there without acting on it.
I'm not saying to think your way out of it. Just think your way into it. Let your body experience it and keep sitting with it.
And then if you don't just turn to the clinician quickly and say, Dave, what do I do? Or even yourself, what do I do, eventually, what happens?
As human beings we're highly intelligent. We're able to come to good decisions a lot of times, but the problem is when we shut off these other systems, our ability to kind of awareness in particular.
So it starts with self-awareness. It starts with really exploring that without feeling the need. Solving this fixing this, sorry, I know it's esoteric, but this is really the starting point for me.
Kevin Chang: [00:17:52]
I love the fact that you are so mindful that you're taking the time to do the meditation that you're looking inwards and figuring out I have this goal. Why do I have this goal? What am I actually working towards?
Is this helping me in the, in the long run? And I think that is something that a lot of athletes don't take the time to do. Don't take the time to actually. You know, think about the goal and maybe that's what may lead to injury. At some point you put something in front of you, you put something out there, um, and you haven't really given the time or, or thought to like, why am I doing this?
Am I pushing myself too hard? Am I pushing my body too hard to reach this goal? , and you haven't really taken the time to dive deeply into that.
The Mind's Influence Over Healing [00:18:34]
Bertrand Newson: [00:18:34]
As we're talking about mindfulness and athletes. Blue collar or elite coming back from injury. We know the role as a physical therapist and a doctor and a plan structured way for someone to safely get back.
But can you elaborate more on: can the mind, will the body from a healing perspective, there are different schools when I'd like to get your perspective on that. Can the mind help you with the positive mindset get healthier quicker, or with the pessimistic doubt, worst case scenario impede healing?
David Meyer: [00:19:08] That's the question. That's my favorite question. I had the hypothesis that, and the evidence that the answer is, yes. Your state of mind, the neurochemistry going on, whatever you want to, what are your nervous system we'll call it. Yes. It impacts your ability to heal. So let's talk about a little bit of the science first, right?
I'll give people the very one-on-one course of inflammation. Inflammation is actually a very necessary part of healing. We all learn that in any kind of medical program, that inflammation is basically the way of vessel heals.
What happens is the by-product of inflammation or the inflammatory process is swelling edema. Because of the biochemistry of what occurs at the cellular level and the different fluids leak out.
So it becomes a negative feedback loop where it can get out of control and it can impede joint mobility. It can increase pain. It can limit you from a, evolutionary wise protective mechanism. So we already know what's modulating inflammation. Your nervous system is absolutely at play there. So we already know that the brain is certainly very heavily involved with healing.
Now you take it further and you talk about the different parts of the brain. Let's talk about the more evolved human brain, the prefrontal cortex, the forebrain, does that have an impact on it? Well, so there's the whole adage, the 10% of our brain... that was from the seventies, it was the 10% of our brain that's made up of neurons.
I don't know if you're familiar with this study, the other 90% of our brain. And actually a lot of medical practitioners don't even realize this because the research is so new is our Gloria. Our Gloria are the supportive structures that support the neurons and the other brain matter.
Our Gloria is insanely. Important in the perception of pain. And there are these specific things called these pattern recognition molecules. I know this not from my own work, but from the people I speak with and interview.
A really smart researcher out of university of Adelaide in Australia, Mark Hutchinson, he's done some great work where he discovered that these pattern recognition molecules are a conduit and a segue between any kind of thinking or thought, different parts of our brain, the prefrontal cortex with biomarkers, such as biomarkers of immunity or inflammation.
So the studies that they did more so non-human, I think they're starting to do more. Human-based where they are finding a different immune response based on different patterns of thinking and things of that nature.
So the most direct answer is that there is evidence that our internal state of mind is 1000% correlated to our ability to heal. So I had this question to myself, well, can we manipulate that consciously?
And we always like to jump the gun in science and things, and we can't make a generalization that if I tell you every day to say to yourself, I'm healing, I'm healing, that I'm going to speed up your ACL recovery by. A month. I can't say that to you.
What I can say to you is that it is going to impact your healing and your negative thoughts can negatively impact your healing. So if you ask yourself, should I be paying attention to my thoughts? The answer is much more than you probably are. And that's the most simple way I can put it.
Now, the question I have is, is it more important than the exercise or is the exercise even manipulating your thoughts? Like this whole idea behind graded exposure therapy, which it's not so much graded, progressive resistance exercise.
So I'm not doing more and more straight leg raises with a heavier ankle weight, or that's a real fundamental, basic exercise. Hopefully not. Everyone's just doing those, but is it just doing the leg raise is giving you a signal to your brain saying it's okay to lift my leg up with my knees straight after your knee injury, I'm safe. And now your brain is a little less sensitive to that load.
So I look at it as not just physical load, mental load. What's the ability for you to tolerate the mental load after injury. And I'm not the only one talking about these things. I'm not the invent, the discover of any of this.
But where I am really putting my foot down is leaning into Kevin, your question into the emotional experience of this athlete into the mental state internal state of this athlete, because those are the roadblocks. Those are the bottlenecks. That I feel compelled to hopefully help that individual be aware of.
Kevin Chang: [00:23:41]
If you like our podcast and sign up for our newsletter, where we give you weekly tips on how to run your best race and have fun in the process. Just go to RaceMob dot com and sign up today.
Bertrand Newson: [00:23:52] Great answer. Thank you for that.
Motivation and Recovery [00:23:53]
Kevin Chang: [00:23:53]
Yeah. I can just imagine having dealt with so many athletes over the years, that some of them are gung ho ready to get back after ready to, you know, get back into the gym and do the rehab and, and some, maybe, you know, all the other end of the spectrum and just down and downtrodden and.
So, are there any tools that you've picked up in your tool belt to get them into the gym, to, to, you know, get them to actually do the rehab work or get them motivated to, to continue forward?
David Meyer: [00:24:21]
You mind if I kind of take this question and bring a interesting thing up to your listeners? I think they appreciate?
So David Goggins, right? David Goggins is somebody that I think we all respect. You know, you can't not respect what he's done to himself. But at the same time, I don't know if I believe that's the right approach for a lot of the people I work with.
But I can tell you that. So Dr. Andrew Huberman, who you might've heard about, uh, out of Stanford university big-time neuroscientist, he was compelled to research a little bit on David Goggins. I heard this on a podcast.
And the research he did was he put him in his lab in Stanford and the way he describes it as their lab in Stanford is kind of like a, um, it's set up there to kind of provoke the people coming in. It's like, uh, I guess Willy Wonka is w performance lab kind of thing. Right?
So there's great white shark tank, I believe. I think there were great white sharks. I'm not sure. And so when you think of David Goggins, you don't think he's scared of much, right? So he walks in, if you heard David Goggins speak before it's I can picture it. He goes, I don't like sharks.
Like that's the first thing he says. And then what do you think is next? Right? Like you could hear him saying that. He goes interesting. Well, that's what we're going to study. We're going to throw you in with the sharks because we want to understand how your brain works. How are you so motivated?
So they throw them into the tank. Uh, you know, he jumps in, he says that, but then. Something goes like this and that. I think Kevin, that's your question, right? Like what is that snap? Because I have that question for myself.
I'm a little bit more motivated than a lot. You too, I'm sure. A little more motivated than a lot of people. We think we have it figured out, but it's like, well then why can't I just tell somebody else to do it?
So the research that he did, he's very interested in internal state. So he was looking at the neuro transmitters involved. So let's just talk about adrenaline or epinephrin.
What he found was: the immediate stress to the fear, the fear response, the sympathetic activity from Dr. Herman's perspective, there is a mechanism at play neurochemically mediated that is pushing David forward.
It's incentivizing him reward based learning. You get some dopamine hits here. You there's a hole above David Meyer's pay grade. I am not a researcher. I'm not a neuroscientist. I'm. You know, just a common folk physical therapist, but there is something going on there that is pushing David himself forward.
Now we all have heard, like, you know, you want to go into the fear, like if you're afraid of flying, well, then put yourself in a situation, visualize it, use a script, right? If you're afraid of running, probably the best of, you know, go run in a pool or coming back to the graded, uh, exposure type of stuff.
But David is getting some type of reward in his brain by this app, this adrenaline response. So there's science to support that, that increase in heart rate, that adrenaline pumped, that exhilarating feeling that we get. Maybe it's from about to go on a beautiful run, maybe it's even that talk about like the deer blood thing that people say, right? Like, you know, the eye of the tiger for a fighter, these different things that might be motivating.
The question is for all the people out there, when they feel this stress response and they condition themselves to run away from it after injury, they box themselves in, they go into the quote unquote comfort zone.
Most of your listeners are people that are expanding their comfort zone. They're always trying to increase their mileage. But for earlier runners, there there's a lot of fears. When you start a new practice, you know, running your first marathon, I'd be pretty scared. I never ran a marathon. So the question becomes, what is the difference?
Why does certain people snap their fingers like David Goggins? And other people don't we could talk about intrinsic motivation, the three elements of autonomy, social support, and competency. I think after injury, physical therapists do a great job. Cheerleading social support, no problems there, encouragement competency.
Yeah. You're going to walk with your crutches this way, and then the next step, blah, blah, blah. But autonomy, you come into the PT clinic. I'm going to tell you what to do. I'm the doctor, I'm the PT. Eh, we have this ego trip, which is nonsense. Coaches experienced that too. Of course our colleagues.
So there's an autonomy issue, I think, but what really kind of is interesting to me is thinking about what was it along David Goggins story. Let's use him as just an example that clicked into gear. Maybe it gets out of control as a habit to keep pushing the threshold. Right. Anything can be taken to the extreme, but what was it that allowed him to.
Develop that intrinsic motivation there has to be reward behind it. So the way I brought this all together with my recent. Podcast guests, Dr. Jud brewer, who has studied mindfulness. He has discovered that we can reshape our reward based learning system. We can tap into that through a war awareness and curiosity. The feelings have closed down this verse, openness.
He studied motivation and a bunch of people, and he found that people universally connect. Describe what it feels like to feel closed down after injury. Let's say, all right, I'm scared of getting hurt. I don't want to. Take a step versus openness of that beautiful run across the Pacific coast highway, whatever, you know, it feels expansive and you feel invigorated, right?
You can feel the difference there. So in his study with the people that were experiencing that there was an increase in reward there. The people that are feeling the close-downnessleaning into that with awareness and curiosity might just be the flipper the way to turn that around.
But most people resist it, they try and fix it. Then they're almost going through like a maze and there they get stuck in a habit loop of avoidance, rather than realizing that your own body senses your own mindful awareness. Just that alone, after injury.
Take an example. We can use a use case. Talking about runners will take knee. Your knee feels pain. When you, when you take a step forward, every time you kind of, oh, is my hip flexor tight, my glutes not activated. Right. That, that's what we talked a lot about the last few decades.
Now just going into the awareness of that knee, that chronic pain is specifically feeling that. Okay. Let me really sit with that. Let me go into that. Let me do a little body scan, maybe different techniques, not trying to treat it, not trying to change it. Go deeper. Keep going with it. Keep going with it. Keep going with it.
And at a certain point, you're going to be able to break free from that habit of maybe keeping yourself safe, quote, unquote, which we know is not safe. It's actually, deloading you deconditioning you and being able to now experience a reward of, oh, I was able to actually walk further today, run a little jog today.
Actually jogging is more stressful than Eden, which is interesting. More time under load. And then you start to experience that change in that reward. Oh, that felt good. I was able to do that and you go forward from there. You can't will yourself into this though. That's the mistake most people are thinking.
We all were taught to be willful. Our brains taught us to be willful. It provided us something for me. I was the short athlete. What did it provide me a chance to play something I love. So, of course I'm motivated, but somebody that comes into you, that's not that don't skip the step. We have to help them experience the reward. Sorry for the long answer.
Kevin Chang: [00:31:59]
That's great. Yeah, it's fantastic. And I think, you know, we talked about injury. But it's also applicable to all sorts of, you know, ways people are dealing with motivation and dealing with, you know, that struggle as well, as you mentioned.
There's, there's a lot of athletes that come to us, beginner runners, or a lot of us that are getting back into the sport and trying to rekindle that motivation, trying to refine that love that we had a number of years ago.
Rekindling the Love for Sport [00:32:26]
And so talk to us a little bit more about this technique of sitting down. Into it. Right? Like looking into that closeness, the apprehension that you might feel, especially rekindling that love and getting back into the sport and yeah. What do you actually do or how do you actually sit with yourself on that?
David Meyer: [00:32:44]
Well, I'll give you quickly the answer because I've been giving you philosophy. So the first step for me is always acknowledgement and acceptance and it doesn't have to happen right away. I call it times zero, like the moment after injury. It's the beginning of a science experiment or triage in the emergency department called times zero.
So I thought it was interesting, the moment you're down, right. The first thing is to try and go into your body senses there, to go into your emotional state, lean into that because we all know the stages of grief. You're gonna, at some point or another, it's this whole fundamental element of accepting the circumstance or acknowledging the state that you're in.
So first and foremost, anybody that's going through this, it's really scaling back the intervention, the solution, and going into it. Here we are, right? That's the answer like the first step and I go deep into the book and you can, you can listen to the whole first section of my book for free injuredtoelite.com forward slash listen. That is the whole mindset mentality piece there,
but you brought up something interesting. There, can you repeat, you were talking about kind of like the steps, but also you mentioned something else there too.
Kevin Chang: [00:33:56]
Yeah. Well, I was just talking about rekindling, your li you know, w we talked about, about injury, but it applies to so many other things as well.
David Meyer: [00:34:04]
Thank you. Yeah. So the other piece of the passion like Angela Duckworth wrote the book grit. She talks about grits, the combination of passion and perseverance.
I just had this conversation with a client of mine who is a, who was an elite skateboarder, young skateboarder. And he went through a gnarly ankle injury, really kind of a few surgeries. Difficult. Really just, uh, as a skateboarder, your ankle is like your hand for a, uh, writer, uh, elbow for a pitcher.
And the thing that he experienced was he wasn't enjoying doing the simple little tricks, the little alleys and the simple skateboarding things that didn't provide him. The neurotransmitters, the dopamine that eventually he was getting up to like a runner, right? The next race he was going on, the half-pipe he was doing the crazy kickflips.
And he was just lost his passion. It's like a baseball player, that little throwing at 60 to 70 feet after surgery, doesn't hit the same nerve that they need to be hit. So the question that you're asking of, how do you find that passion early on is a real challenge because you can easily tell somebody, just try and be in the moment and enjoy it.
But they're not conditioned that way to do it. So you probably know where I'm going to go with this, but it is rewiring your brain to find some level of joy there. So what I like to do remove the benchmarks. We have so many benchmarks as physios, early on, remove them.
There was a movie searching for Bobby Fisher about chess, which is one of the, it's a really favorite childhood movie for me. And there's a scene where Ben Kingsley. He's teaching this young, innocent, sweet kid, how to pit play chess. And like, it's kind of, it goes into the youth sports kind of mentality too.
And at a certain point. . He hits the chess pieces off of the board and what he's getting at. Like he was trying to figure out all the moves, but his brain wasn't able to like get to that next thing to the bigger picture.
I think that's how I look at the early phase of rehab. Forget about the chess pieces. Forget about the steps for a second and be a human get into the deepest level of like when you're a kid. I think there was a book written on like play and curiosity, and I think this can't be stressed enough, like a runner, same thing.
Don't worry if you're going to stop at the light, just stop running at the light. Just as much as possible, get into the intrinsic value of what it is you're doing. And hit the chest pieces off of the board.
It's not easy. It's like breaking an addiction. Like, you know, it's like telling it's not the same as, as alcohol or a drug because there are good elements to this, but it's almost like telling a drinker. I want you just to have a sip and then just sit with that. There's not a lot of success with that. Right?
So the way you have to look at the running now, after your injury is in a different light, you got to find that you got to find that. And if you don't find that. You're going to struggle. If you try and be the same, you're going to struggle.
So maybe that's where David Goggins and I maybe he would probably, you know, beat into that, which works for him beautifully. But for the people I work with, it doesn't always work that way. For me. It's like, I hate to use this phrase, but what is your new normal, but before even the new normal, like, Get into your senses.
Did something feel good there? Did you enjoy the feel of the grass on your feet? Run on a different surface, run backwards, run sideways, just get into the value it provides your brain and your body. Just the act of being on your two feet.
That's I think where you have to start, because that's what happened for you before to get to those points of passion. But it's not sexy. It's not the hack everybody wants, but it's the answer. The only way you got to go through it.
Kevin Chang: [00:37:59]
I love that. Yeah. And our audience can't see it though. Like poached me and I are just nodding. I mean, we're just like, okay. Nodding in agreement. We see it over and over again, you know, it's... And it can be so difficult why you probably see it with your athletes because you are used to comparing, you know, we tell our athletes all the time, don't compare, right.
Don't compare, but you're always comparing with your previous, you know, oh, I used to run this fast two years ago, three years ago. And sometimes we use that injury as an excuse. Right. We get injured. We're out of it for a couple of months. And then we're like, oh, I just can't run as fast. And we just kind of use that as an excuse to not get back into it.
And so rekindling, finding some love, finding some passion. I think something else that you brought up is is sometimes you don't have to actually plan out that entire run. You don't actually have to plan out, Hey, I'm going to go on a five mile run or a 10 mile run. Sometimes you just have to put on the shoes and go down the driveway.
And, you know, just find some love again, right? It's like the small steps, the small little things as you can do to rekindle that passion and that love. And so, yeah, I love, I was just nodding and saying yes, in absolute agreement to all of that.
Bertrand Newson: [00:39:08]
I agree. 100%. Um, being present versus kind of being on autopilot is kind of going through the motions.
You can't always go through the motions. There's times when it is more relevant on many levels. And when you get some emotional traction that kind of. Moves you internally and it gets you more in sync and in tune on what your real path is going to be in it,
it's more positive vibes versus that autopilot going through the motions. I'm obligated. I gotta hit this mark, this many reps, this many sets and this amount of time. Yeah. And just take a deep breath, relax and be present, be mindful, and you can enjoy the experience and kind of rediscover your passion and your why.
When you calm your thoughts that way versus tuning out earbuds music got to get it done, time crunch back to work, kids, all that good stuff, just being present in the moment being present in the activity can be profound. So thanks for the sharpening that for our listeners.
David Meyer: [00:40:05]
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it's great to see more and more people and coaches really kind of going this direction, but I also feel, I don't know how you all feel, but I also feel that. It doesn't, it doesn't sell as well. Right. When you talk about these things, it's just like, there's more than that, right?
Kevin Chang: [00:40:24]
Well, I mean, I think what sells is getting results right. Is helping people with transformation. And so, yeah, I mean, I think it's not sexy, some of the stuff, because you have to find your intrinsic motivation and sometimes you have to give your yourself some, some times to rekindle that, that love and that passion.
So sometimes you do have to. Demand it of yourself put it on the calendar. Right. I think I was reading, uh, atomic habits, which is a great way of, of just thinking about, you know, breaking things down, creating a habit from this, and then maybe that will then rekindle your love and your passion because you loved it.
At one point it was something that you were passionate about. At one point it was something that you saw progress in at one point. And so, you know, sometimes it is just like refining that rekindling that, um, especially after injury.
David Meyer: [00:41:06]
A lot of the people that I worked with in professional sports, unfortunately at a time of injury was many times the end of their career.
So kind of an interesting other point to hear not the recreational side, but a lot of times an injury was the, because of the business of the sport. It was really kind of like writing on the wall. So I think also what happens with recreational athletes is they see the business of it and they also try and put themselves into that framework.
I don't know if it's exactly the same, because when you're getting paid to play a sport more, a team sport, the constraints are different. There's a lot of different elements at play. You have to sometimes manipulate your rehab based off of that, it's just a reality.
And then I think we take that as our approach for everybody. And it goes out of context and maybe that's why maybe that's why we don't want to use these strategies as much. Maybe we think it should be more fireworks and quicker.
But as a recreational athlete, you actually, I I'm sure people are gonna think I'm crazy, but you actually have a luxury of the intrinsic side it's already given to you. You have. It's for you.
This whole thing is yours. It's part of your business. It's not someone else's business. And I think we sometimes need to tune out what we're seeing on the socials and what we see the athletes doing on the screen, because that that's their context. And it's not your context. And that's okay.
maybe that's a great thing. I think it is. I think it's actually less of a constraint, more freedom.
The Fun Parts of Working with Professional Sports [00:42:46]
Kevin Chang: [00:42:46]
I did want to get into some fun aspects, you know? I mean, I I've been listening to your podcast. I love the guests that you have on. I mean, I grew up in Colorado, so I'm a huge Rockies fan. So I saw Matt holiday on your podcast talking about 2006, 2007 and the world series back then, you know, the one time I think the Rockies ever made the world series.
So talk to us about. Some of the adventures, some of the fun parts about, uh, of working with professional sports as well.
David Meyer: [00:43:12]
Yeah, it's really, I mean, if you're, I like cars, you know, if you're around a bunch of Ferrari's all the time, I mean, it's intoxicating. I got to play catch with these insane athletes and I've, I, I'm very passionate about baseball. I love. I love playing catch. I love, you know, I got a big reputation. Your coach be you, you get it .
Bertrand Newson: [00:43:36]
All day man, all day.
David Meyer: [00:43:37]
I mean, I have a whole bunch of baseballs. I took from the Cardinals. Yeah. I took a whole bunch of those before I left. And uh, I mean, I miss that right now. So you want to talk about the dopamine hits I got from going out there and having catches with, with all those big leaguers.
It was an unbelievable adrenaline adrenaline rush. I mean, I'd imagine like, if you're a runner and you want to be running with somebody, you really look up to like, that's gotta be, you know, a second wind.
So that was so amazing. And then I got to be around these players. Kevin you'll appreciate this, uh, Daniel Bard. Coach B, I don't know. I don't know. Uh, if, if you, uh, were following Daniel Bard story, but he.
So I met Daniel when he was with the Cardinals in the minor leagues. He was with the red Sox. The guy was lights out, upper nineties back when the upper nineties was like actually fast with the red Sox, he was going to be papel bonds, successor.
Bertrand Newson: [00:44:30]
David Meyer: [00:44:31]
And then he developed the yips. He couldn't hit the catcher. He was throwing the ball like into the stands, hitting the hitters. All over their bodies, like couldn't worst case of the yips who was featured on real sports. He goes on like a five to seven year period of just trying to refine his career.
And I meet him with the Cardinals and he was, did all kinds of crazy things. They put heavy metal music on him, on the mound to get him to, I don't know what they were thinking exactly, but Daniel makes it back to the big leagues last year, after becoming a mental performance coach with the diamond backs.
And as he was playing catch with his players, he finds his arm slot again. Incredibly has an amazing year. I don't know what he's doing right now, but he was back up there again this year. So he makes this amazing comeback. So Kevin, the, the success stories you see are unbelievable, and then you really can learn from it.
So like from Daniel Bard, I learned. These players have a process. They have like a specific process by which they, for him, it was a certain visualization technique of a certain type of player and, um, a different anchor. And we know that, but then also seeing how it works for certain players and not others, I thought was really interesting. So like, you can't just apply it to everybody.
So I saw that too, at the highest level of like, not every Ferrari is running on the same type of fuel. Right. So. You get to see those, that variation. And it's really kind of fun. I really honored to have worked with so many different high performers. And then also work with, Coach "B" you use the term blue collar.
I've worked with people that, that have been homeless that are homeless. I've worked with the gamut and then. I think that's, what's drawn me into like the human side, the humanistic side, that it's really fun to be a part of someone's journey when they're, when they're going through challenging times, because it's an important moment in their lives and your connection with them is important.
So I cherish all those times, even if I don't work with as many professional level athletes at this time in my career. And I actually coach more professionals themselves. I still remember almost all of them. I never forget the young professional that plays basketball at his ACL reconstruction. He was shivering and crying on the treatment table the first day he met me.
And I never forget the fact that I helped him calm down that day. And doesn't matter if he's not Michael Jordan or Mike trout, he was a, somebody that needed some help and calming down his nervous system was the first step in. It's rewarding.
And I think some of the people out there that are personal trainers coaches. You should again, enjoy those moments of just how that experiences, rather than the dream job always. Cause that'll burn you out for sure.
Bertrand Newson: [00:47:17]
Dr. Davis, I really would love your perspective and the depth because you're, you're drawing on your own life experience. I mean, you're going back to your father, you know, having a kidney transplant in the seventies, Kevin knows this story quite well.
My younger brother, my best friend had a kidney transplant in oh seven by way of our sister. And there was a point in time when we couldn't look 10 years ahead. And now we know we're here. We are, you know, we've celebrated boys oh seven and we can, we can do the math on that. And he's doing well, run a marathon together. Um, most recently in February of this year, we had all the siblings ran a half marathon.
So as a coach, You can't take things for granted. And if you've had some life experience and some perspective, the ability to impart that on other people who may not have that, or maybe down on themselves and realize that, um, you are in control of your path, um, in many cases, if you can change your mindset, Um, because there are a lot of people out there who don't have that chance or in many cases, far worse circumstances.
So being grateful and taking out that mind fog, which will tend to dominate. And permanate the mind. And, uh, being a coach or a doctor or a physical therapist, being able to look at the bigger picture and get people to kind of flip the switch, that if you can change your mindset, you can start to get some traction and move forward versus kind of fighting yourself and finding the process.
David Meyer: [00:48:38]
Yeah, Coach, uh, that's amazing to hear that your, your brother has done so well. And that came from the family. I can relate to that. One of my recent guests was a cancer survivor of a really, really rough type of cancer called Ewing sarcoma. And he is pediatric case. So he was 12 to 14 and it was very much a life or death situation. Very, very much.
A matter of fact, one of the friends that he had in the hospital with the same diagnosis out in San Diego, she died with pretty much a very similar case. And I was interviewing him. He's just started physical therapy, school, huge baseball fan.
And I was looking to find out what his motivation was. I really wanted to understand. How he kept, like you're talking about through the, how he fought through the brain fog. And it is a Greek word called philotimo. I never heard the word before. The word philotimo is unconditional love. And his mother was very his uncle, his FA his family, his father. Where they flipped a switch.
he told me that there was a day his mother came in and was just like we got, this was supportive. I was that for my father. I'm only imagining with somebody doing the work you do, Coach B, probably served that coming kidney, coming from your sister, you cannot underestimate the power of community and social support.
I talked about PTs doing that well, but for those out there that don't feel like they have good social support. If you go a little deeper into your circle or out of your circle or the Facebook group or whatever it is, there's going to be somebody out there that can help you through that brain fog. And specifically for the ones that can't find them, believe that there's somebody out there that's going to help you with that, that can help you with that.
And it's so important, froze those of us around these people to offer it, to give it clinicians, coaches, try and provide that support. They need.
Social Media [00:50:46]
Kevin Chang: [00:50:46]
Thank you so much, David, for joining us today. I mean, I think, uh, we all got so much more than we even thought we were going to get out of this conversation for our audience.
Where can our audience find you? Where's the best way to, to reach out to you.
David Meyer: [00:50:59]
I'm on Instagram all the time. Dave M Meyer D-A-V-E M M-E-Y-E-R and then check out the first section of my book and listened to it: injuredtoelite.com forward slash listen. Check it out, even if you're not injured, it still applies just a mental approach to life for athletes.
Kevin Chang: [00:51:17]
Fantastic. Yeah. I mean, you know, would you just enjoy this conversation so much? Thank you again for taking the time and man, incredible stuff. Incredible stuff. Go check out his book, go check out him on Instagram. Go check out his podcast as well, where he dishes a lot of this information and philosophy as well.
Just been fantastic. So thank you again, Dave. And hopefully this is just the first of many, many conversations.
David Meyer: [00:51:40]
Thanks Coach "B". Thanks Kevin, for having me, welcoming me into a tight running community circle. I know how you all roll, so it's great to be here and I appreciate it.
Bertrand Newson: [00:51:49]
Play ball, just play ball.
Kevin Chang: [00:51:50]
Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the RaceMob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy online at RaceMob.com. Please subscribe to us on apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time.
Keep on moving.