IT MIGHT COME as a surprise, but TB12 Performance & Recovery Centers are not exclusively for professional athletes. At TB12 facilities, our Body Coaches help people of all ages and athletic levels do what they love better and for longer by providing personalized services and developing customized programs. “A lot of people come to us because conventional methods haven’t worked for them,” says Tom Brady.
“Our Body Coaches see a wide range of people who are drawn to our holistic approach. We see professional athletes, elite amateur athletes, weekend warriors, and men and women from eight to 80 who just want to unlock their peak performance, whatever that may be, and increase their vitality through all stages of their lives.” - Tom Brady
To give you an inside look at what happens in a TB12 Performance & and Recovery Center, consider the range of clients Body Coach & physical therapist Rebecca Coutts, DPT, sees in a typical day. When she first meets with a new client, Coutts looks at the big picture. “It’s a one-on-one session during which I’m focused on getting to know you,” Coutts says. “Not just your injuries or performance goals, but your mental state, your nutrition, and your lifestyle.” Coutts shared a few stories that showcase what a day in the life of a Body Coach can look like.
A 4-year-old recovering from a stroke
Coutts also treated a four-year-old who had suffered a stroke in utero. The stroke had led to motor control issues that prevented the client from walking normally. “She was born with weakness and lack of control on the right side of her body, especially with her leg,” Coutts says.
Because of limitations in the child’s ability to move and control her foot, she could only walk on her toes. “Toe walking can cause a lot of issues as a child grows and develops,” Coutts says. “It puts abnormal stress on the joint.”
“Performing deep-force muscle pliability work on this client was essential,” Coutts says. “The active movement aspect of our pliability work helped reduce spasticity in the client’s muscles and helped to improve her motor control.”
“After several sessions, we were able to get her ankle moving through a more natural range of motion.” Over time she developed the neuromuscular connections to achieve a full range of motion in an active, controlled way. “Now, as she walks around, she can strike with her heel first and walk and play like any other kid.”
Coutts says that TB12’s approach of using pliability treatments to help clients who have nervous system impairments is still relatively new. “Our goal with the pliability work is not only to reduce tightness and soften the client’s muscle but also to improve the neuromuscular control and reinforce proper movement patterns for each muscle we’re working on. This is why working with kids is so interesting. Their nervous systems are still very plastic, so they can learn things differently than an adult would. This plasticity allows us to maximize our impact.”
A 40-year-old recreational tennis player with a disc herniation
The client experienced an injury while playing tennis, which resulted in severe lower back pain and numbness that radiated into his hip and down his leg. He had been unable to exercise since the injury.
In listening to this client describes the problem and the origins, Coutts suspected it was a disc bulge. The bulge was causing compression through nerves that exited the spinal canal. Coutts continued her evaluation by looking at the client’s general mobility. “He was extremely limited in what we call thoracic rotation — the ability of the upper body and ribcage to rotate. This lack of rotation, especially while playing tennis, meant that he was rotating too little through his thoracic spine and too much through his lumbar spine.” These lumbar vertebrae, Coutts explains, are not meant to rotate. Abnormal forces pulse through the disc and muscles around the spine. “The muscles tighten and work harder than they should.” Additionally, Coutts determined that the client had a weak core. Weakness in the core can increase load through the spine and pressure on the discs, which ultimately results in overload. “These two issues contributed to the disc eventually herniating, creating symptoms the client felt in his back and leg.”
Coutts used deep-force muscle pliability work to off-load the client’s lower back muscles and re-educate his body about how to move properly. Next, she took the client onto TB12’s turf area and provided instruction on specific functional strength & conditioning exercises. “This was not only for his mobility but also for his core and hip stability so he could support the weight of his body without further damage to the disc.”
Coutts says that when a client gains freedom from the pain, they often develop a thirst for performance. “He is another client that transitioned from injury assessment to work on general fitness. He can now play tennis and work out pain-free. We see this type of injury with a lot of clients in this age range.” Coutts adds that this is especially true for rotational sports like golf and tennis. “By improving mobility and stability in the spine and trunk, we can prevent injuries like this from occurring in the first place.” As Coutts puts it, this becomes the foundation for being able to do what you love better and for longer.
Mother, 55, with osteoarthritis
“This client had chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis — wearing down of the cartilage in the knee joint,” Coutts says. The pain became both physical and emotional, as she wasn’t able to keep up with her very active family. “She was starting to feel the mental and emotional effects of having chronic pain and not being able to do the things she loves to do.”
A doctor had diagnosed this client with osteoarthritis via x-ray and an MRI. "However, through observation and hands-on manual evaluation, I was able to determine that she had an underlying hip rotation issue on her affected side.” While not an actual leg length discrepancy, this issue made the leg functionally longer on one side. An Optogait analysis showed that that the client was overloading her affected side by over 15% more than on her opposite side. “This meant she was putting more load and more compression on one side of her body compared to the other.” Together with a lack of glute and core strength, the client experienced the problem through her body in what Coutts calls a “kinetic chain issue” that went directly to the knee and through its cartilage.
Deep-force muscle pliability work was essential to help off-load the client’s knee joint. “I corrected the problem by working on the muscles around the hip.” Coutts was able to confirm the effectiveness of her treatment with a gait analysis. “I also asked one of our acupuncturists, Paul Hagerty, to work with this client to get deeper into the actual joint line of the knee and reduce pain. Acupuncture can be very beneficial for treating chronic pain or arthritis.”
After the underlying issues were addressed, the client’s walking became normal. “This allowed her to use the appropriate muscles to support her body weight without overloading her knee.” It was a comprehensive team approach to helping the client successfully regain the kind of movement she desired. “She was able to get back to keeping up with her family.” She hasn’t stopped there. Someone who at first may have been a candidate for a knee replacement, the client is now aiming for performance that was previously unattainable. “She’s doing well now and has achieved all of her initial goals — so we’ve transitioned to working on weight loss and general fitness targets.” Coutts emphasized a key message in the story of this client: assuming you need surgery can often be a mistake. “A lot of clients think there’s nothing they can do for osteoarthritis outside of eventually having surgery or a knee replacement,” Coutts explains. “But if we can off-load the joint by addressing the tissues and muscles around it while correcting the underlying biomechanical issue, we can often prevent or slow down the degeneration in the joint.” Coutts adds, “Our comprehensive treatment, including acupuncture, is very effective for people with joint pain or arthritis.”
Lacrosse player, 16, with knee pain
“During her initial evaluation, this client arrived with lateral knee pain that limited her ability to run, cut, or play lacrosse for her high school,” Coutts says. “She had a history of knee injuries and ankle sprains on the same side of her body.” The client’s goals were to get back to playing pain-free and preventing future injuries.
Watching and evaluating her movements helped Coutts understand the underlying biomechanics of the client’s problem. “As with many young females athletes, this client’s knees caved inward when she did squats, lunges, or single leg balance exercises.” This, Coutts determined, was due to a lack of hip stability and inadequate glute activation. These problems become exacerbated when running or cutting on a playing field. As Coutts explains, this “puts unnecessary strain on the ligaments of the knee and can make her more susceptible to injuries, like anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and cartilage injury.”
Coutts used the Drift Protocol with the Optogait, a data-collection technology that can measure the client’s stability on each leg. “The protocol requires the client to jump on the right leg and left leg five times each,” Coutts says. “A system of lasers and sensors allows us to measure power, speed, and explosiveness.” Additionally, Coutts could track the accuracy and consistency of the client’s jumping and landing, and establish a baseline measurement to enable progress tracking over future visits.
The client was pain-free after her first session. “She is doing great and playing lacrosse again,” Coutts reports. Coutts continued to work with the athlete to address the underlying issue of poor knee stability, supplementing her in-person treatment with at-home exercises to improve knee stability and overall pliability. “This is a common issue with many young athletes — we can make a huge impact by providing deep-force muscle pliability treatment and providing them with access to our ACL injury prevention program.”
The comprehensive approach Becca Coutts and other TB12 Body Coaches use to help their clients is inspired by and patterned after the approach Tom Brady has depended on for most of his career. It's about balance and moderation in all things, but also about openness — being open to smarter ways to manage health, recovery, and performance. “Playing the way I am today, after 19 seasons in the NFL, requires focus, discipline, and an openness to doing things differently,” Tom Brady says. “If you’re going to achieve peak performance, you need that same focus, discipline, and openness.” This sentiment is foundational to TB12 Performance & Recovery Centers. And the doors are open to all.