Scott Dolly, MS, ATC, CSCS, is the owner and CEO of Evolution Human Performance and Rehabilitation in Winchester, VA. A top sports performance and rehabilitation specialist, he earned his master’s degree in athletic training at Shenandoah University. Dolly specializes in movement analysis and biomechanics, as well as myofascial release and instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). He’s also an international educator and lecturer who has presented on a wide range of topics relating to human movement, performance and rehabilitation. Dolly works with RUNGA, an eight-day retreat in Costa Rica where attendees train with top professionals in their fields; Healthy Running, for which he serves as a professor and educator; and Spartan Race as a provider of movement analysis and IASTM/manual therapy services for pro athletes.
What is the mission of Evolution Human Performance and Rehabilitation?
The current model in healthcare is you have to first sustain an injury, let’s say elbow tendonitis. Then you probably need to take off work to see a doctor, who might prescribe muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories and write a referral for you to see a physical therapist. Then the PT will work from a script that says “elbow tendonitis” and must treat within the scope of what insurance will allow for that condition. So they can’t really touch the shoulder, wrist or any other joint that could be impacting the condition or even be the actual source of the problem.
In the elite sports performance world, it’s an entirely different model. For example they pay a lot of attention to fascia, and IASTM is an emerging practice utilized by many athletic trainers, PTs, and chiropractors among other clinicians. There’s actually a documentary of Winter Olympian Shaun White that shows him receiving IASTM treatment in between runs on the half-pipe. So high-end sports competitors are able to access the best treatments. When Kobe Bryant was playing in the NBA, he had a team of about a dozen people who focused on his fascia and flexibility. That’s where the dichotomy exists. Big-time professional athletes can pay for any preventive and treatment techniques available to keep them healthy. On the other hand, the “Average Joe” has to deal with a dysfunctional insurance-based healthcare system that doesn’t really focus on the problem, but rather the symptoms of it. It’s a reactive model.
So when I founded Evolution in June 2012, my mission was to offer the general public the same high-quality athletic training services elite athletes receive. There are so many people out there who work full-time but are very active in athletic pursuits during their free time. For instance, I remember a finalist on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior” last year who found time to train around working 40-50 hours a week as a contractor. So I wanted to provide an outlet where people could work out, while receiving excellent athletic training services that would both prevent injury and help keep smaller injuries from becoming bigger ones. If you begin addressing anterior impingement syndrome in the shoulder when it begins, it won’t turn into a rotator cuff surgery.
So we try to give care to people more frequently, through an injury-prevention model. Our philosophy is let’s get ahead of a potential injury before it has a chance to become worse. Whereas in the traditional model, it’s impossible to seek care until after you get injured. Then surgery is needed, along with 12-16 weeks of rehab through our insurance-based system that will only pay the therapist to work on the affected joint. The patient is then out of commission for months and has spent thousands of dollars in the process. How does that make sense to any of us? I have a cash-based practice where we focus on restoring movement to the body and don’t deal with insurance. In the first four years, my business model achieved a 91.8 percent slope. That kind of growth speaks for itself. Evolution is now a 10,000-square-foot sports performance and rehabilitation facility with a public gym membership system that’s changing the game.
I create individualized workouts every day for our members, and our patient population is very diverse. I remember a day when my 10 a.m. appointment consisted of two professional athletes from the D.C. United team in Major League Soccer, and my 11 a.m. appointment was a woman in her 70’s recovering from double-knee replacements. That’s how dynamic the business is. But no matter who the patient is or what injury they suffered, we focus on training them to move properly. It’s amazing how even top-class athletes can have terrible movement patterns. Restoring proper movement is the best medicine.
How did you first get introduced to IASTM?
I ruptured my Achilles tendon in 2008 playing basketball, and during my rehab after surgery one of the therapists used Graston tools on my Achilles. I was a little concerned when I first saw them and remember asking the guy, “Do you know what the heck you’re doing?” But after just one treatment, I was amazed by the difference it made. So for me, the first exposure to IASTM was experiencing it personally. I have a piece of fiber wire in my calf now, and I’ve been working on it continuously with IASTM for the past eight years. Last year, I was able to run a 4:41 mile at 35 years old! I’ve made recovery and healing a major part of how I train my body and mind.
The body has such an amazing ability to heal, especially with the right treatments. Fibroblastic repair can continue up to two years after an injury. But so many insurance companies will only pay for 12-16 weeks of treatment after a surgical procedure or injury, and they consider their job done once a patient can return to activities of daily living (ADL’s). What if the person can’t do anything else besides perform ADLs? What if they can’t participate in any of the fitness or athletic activities they used to? What does the entire population do in that case, outside of professional athletes who have continuous access to treatment for as long as they need it? Well, that’s why my practice is called “Evolution,” because we’ve evolved beyond the traditional model.
It’s awesome to see the rehabilitative impact IASTM can have. My first experience was with Graston tools, but I actually cold-called [HawkGrips COO] Sean MacNeal a few years ago. Evolution was already a business at that point, and I had previously treated patients with Graston tools. But I decided to develop my own IASTM educational course because I saw how effective the treatment was. I knew HawkGrips instruments were the best on the market and that’s what I wanted to provide in my course. So I introduced myself to Sean and said I’d like to start a relationship with HawkGrips.
What kind of feedback do you hear from patients about HawkGrips?
I see about 70 patients a week and I can honestly say that I use HawkGrips with all of them. Their classic initial reaction is that it looks like I just unrolled a medieval tool kit. These are surgical-grade stainless steel instruments that may appear a little intimidating to people who aren’t familiar with them. But then I explain how the tools are utilized to both detect and alleviate adhesions in fascia. The majority of my patients are referred by others who already told them about the instruments and how well they work. But after the first treatment, many patients are still surprised by how effective they are. That’s probably because they’re so used to trying other therapeutic interventions that just didn’t work. After experiencing HawkGrips treatment, their response is often, “I can’t believe how much better I feel. I move so much better every time I see you.”
How has your relationship with HawkGrips as a company developed over the years?
It has just gotten stronger and stronger. There’s growing unfavorable sentiment in the rehab and human performance industries toward the Graston company because they’ve become associated with traditional-model, single-joint-approach rehab protocols and standards. They’ve never updated their tools and still don’t allow massage therapists to take their courses. HawkGrips takes the opposite approach. I’ve seen firsthand how Sean and [HawkGrips President] Frank [Osborne] focus on being open-minded and staying ahead of the game. They try to find other people and facilities who are pushing the envelope too and develop relationships with them.
I’ve watched them shift the focus of HawkGrips from basically just producing tools to now significantly investing in education, and becoming part of the circle of expert professionals who exemplify what IASTM is and can be. I’ve seen the HawkGrips educational course offerings improve significantly from their inception. They’ve kept up with progressions in the field and the role of fascia in sports performance. Just look at how many of the top people in this industry rank HawkGrips instruments as the best.
Are there any final thoughts you’d like to offer about IASTM in general or HawkGrips in particular?
If you’re a rehabilitation professional who isn’t utilizing IASTM yet, you’re missing the boat. This isn’t some gimmick or trend that will soon pass. It has rightly become the new standard and is vital in rehabilitation and injury prevention. If you’re a patient seeking help, find a HawkGrips provider. Our current society is plagued by injuries and conditions resulting from improper movement patterns that were never identified and went untreated. Restoring and enhancing movement is very potent medicine. When proper movement is restored, it’s amazing how efficiently the body begins to heal. Correct movement is essential to healthy and functional lives.
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