Why I asked for my money back on the FAI Fix

The FAI Fix was recommended to me by a friend of a friend. It was developed by two Personal Trainers (PTs) in the USA – Shane and Matt – who both had significant hip issues and manage to overcome pain, impingement and poor Range of Movement (RoM) without surgery – although they do admit that this has taken up to a decade of daily work! It comes with a number of success stories on the website: https://www.thefaifix.com/ and is supported by some really excellent YouTube videos and emails that made me really feel that Shane and Matt understood the issues and challenges of hip pain, and also explained the anatomy aspects of it really clearly.

However, when I was thinking about signing up for the programme I could not find any impartial reviews of how people had got on with the programme. And I saw tweets and messages of others looking for the same. So I thought that I would write about my experiences in order to support others.

The programme

There are 2 levels of the programme. The basic one is the FAI Fix Basic for $129.95 USD – a one-off payment that then gives ongoing access to the exercise library. There is then a further payment to do the more advanced programme for athletes who want more hip movement (eg powerlifters). But they are clear that this is a much smaller group, and is a progression from the first programme once you have resolved the pain in your hips in usual daily activities.

On the homepage, they explain their TSR system – Tissue Work, Stretching and Reactivation. This is a common (and well-proven) structure for many rehab programmes:

  1. releases with the foam roller, ball, knobbler etc to release the overactive muscles
  2. stretching to lengthen the tight muscles
  3. reactivation to activate and strengthen the underactive muscles

It is impressive how much more RoM you can get by doing targeted muscle releases before stretching that area.

There are a minimum number of tools that you need in order to be able to follow the programme – a foam roller, a strap (which could be a belt from a dressing gown), a lacrosse ball (or small, hard ball – there are different levels of hardness in therapy balls and the idea is that you progress) and possibly a ‘knobbler’:

The tools! The ‘stick’ was an optional extra, and the blue one is the ‘knobbler’ – but most of the programme could be done on the floor in front of a mirror with the foam roller.

When the programme link arrives there are 13 tests which are meant to narrow down which of the 5 key muscle groups is the issue. Then there is a TSR exercise set for each muscle group and a 6th workout that is a combination across muscle groups.

My experience with the programme

In advance of signing up for the programme, I was uncertain whether it was suitable for me given that I was 6 months on from hip arthroscopy surgery. However, I got a response that looked like it was a response from one of the 2 PTs reassuring me that it would be suitable – although looking back, I now think that it was probably compiled from a series of standard paragraphs.

Working through the programme is quite intense – the diagnostic exercises take quite a lot of set up and checking the form and RoM in front of the mirror. If you or someone in your family are not quite experienced in Personal Training and muscle groups it would be quite difficult to work through. And the challenge for me was that the tests were not discerning for me – all of them were painful and all of them had less-than-ideal RoM, so it was hard to diagnose where to focus.

I diligently followed the programme daily for 4 weeks. The good news is that I did see an increase in my RoM, but no reduction in the pain before, during or after the exercises. Therefore, I followed the process to get advice from Shane and Matt. I wrote a summary of how I had interpreted the 13 tests and what I had been doing, but got only a 2-line response from someone other than them telling me that I needed to choose just one muscle group and focus on that, but no further details on how to make that choice or how to better understand the diagnostic tests (given that all were painful and low RoM).

I followed the advice for another 4 weeks and then got in touch again, but did not get any response this time. In the meantime, the general emails from them changed. In the first couple of weeks, they had been bits of advice and case studies which were definitely motivational – especially on fixing the body through movement rather than surgery. But after that, the emails continued to come 3-4 times per week, but were now trying to sell more stuff (tools, personal coaching, other programmes etc). 

So, I decided to ask for my money back (which in-line with their no-quibble money-back guarantee they refunded immediately – although interestingly they did not ask for any feedback on what had worked and not worked, or why I was asking for my money back).

My summary

The exercise video library is good (there are probably 50 exercise variants covering the 5 muscle groups), but I would suggest that the money is much better spent with a Movement Trainer who specializes in Corrective Exercise and can really help you to diagnose which are the problem movements and then focus a personalised programme on just what you need. This should actually start to address where you have the pain and monitor development and progress you see with the exercises, in order to then make choices on how to progress.

That said, the overall message that you can make progress on your hip pain without surgery is profoundly supportive. Plus there is a strong sense of realism in the sense that they are clear that it will take work and time.

Good luck with getting to the bottom of your hip pain and finding the key to unlocking the pain.

Do you ‘Walk like a Man’?

Not a gender-specific criticism – I promise!

I just love Frankie Valli songs and had to use one of his song titles for this blog! That he can still be out there doing his Farewell tour and perform at 84 years is already amazing – and when we add in his vocal range, it is an inspiration that shows how training & technique can keep you going for a long time.

But this blog is all about posture – the muscle memories that we learn from young in how we stand, walk and sit.

A little game to play

Here is a little game to play next time you are in a place lots of people are standing – whether in a bar or waiting for a bus and a train. Have look at how people are standing. Specifically, look at their legs and the back of their knees. Are their knees locked out backwards? My experience is that at least half of all people stand like this.

It is often called ‘sway back posture’. Standing with the knees locked back pushes the thighs and the hips forward, which in turn means that the pelvis is tilted forwards (posterior tilt). This means that the lower spine has to counteract this by flattening (which is actually increased flexion vs the natural curve) and then the shoulders are back, but the head has to balance – so it leans forward, sometimes leading to a rounding of the shoulders. In terms of the muscles, this is tight quads, psoas and up the spine, with underactive glutes & abs, and probably short and tight hamstrings. All of this from simply locking the knees back – a habit that was probably learned from the day that they started to stand & walk – and is now embedded into decades of muscle memory.

And extending this to walking

Now watching people walk, it is striking how many people walk with the legs leading the way. Almost like cartoons. Where their legs and lower body lead the way and then the body catches up (see Robert Crumb’s ‘Keep on Truckin’ image for an exaggerated view.) This movement is simply an extension of this quad-dominant posture. Watch a crowd walk across a road and see what a large proportion of people have this walking posture – with the hamstrings, glutes and abs taking a holiday whilst the quads and spine do all of the heavy lifting (literally). 

A walking posture that looks after the spine and the posterior chain feels a bit like the POSE running technique – as though you are almost falling forward each step, with your leg coming under you to catch your body just in time. And with it, the pelvis moves gently compared to the rest of the body every stride (like a bucket maintaining stability to ensure that its content does not leak out) and the rest of the muscles work around it. A clue that you are on the right track is that you can feel the abs activated with every stride. Plus you may feel that you are taking fewer steps, with a higher cadence (more per minute) – which can be a very efficient way to walk.

If you are really keen to understand it, get a friend to video you walking – watching you from sideways on. The camera never lies!

Things that you can do

Changing how you stand and walk every day accounts for a lot of hours, and can really make a difference. So here are a few tips that may help:

  • Correct how you are standing every time – and as well as breaking at the knee, move it around – move into a small split stance and move the weight around
  • Think about how you are walking all of the time
  • Give friends and family the permission and request to comment on your walking, so that you can all work on it together
  • Stand tall, and find some moments to stretch in the day
  • If you are sitting for long periods, make sure that you stand and walk at least once per hour (ideally a lot more than that!)
  • Always try to sleep stretched out, not curled up or with your legs bent up
  • Make sure that you keep your feet parallel (not turned out) with every step when you walk

For more detailed guidelines and support, check out Jonathan FitzGordon’s advice on https://corewalking.com/

Obviously – as the song title suggests – how you walk projects some of your personality. But making sure that it is functionally kind to your body should keep you out of pain for a lot longer.

Best of luck – walk tall 🙂