An Interview with Dr. Hays Estes

By Corey 0

We sat down with Dr. Hays Estes ahead of his seminar at CrossFit ABF to discuss his background and why functional screening is an important step in the CrossFit journey.

How did Premier Physical Therapy & Sports Performance get started in the Clearwater area?

Premier Physical Therapy started around twelve years ago. Eric Schweitzer, the original owner, had a background with endurance athletes. So, he built up a clientele of those athletes, which we still see. He decided to step away and retire, but he wanted to keep the business as a private practice.

I was in the corporate world, but was getting burned out by the business model. I wasn’t able to deliver the quality of care that I knew I could deliver. We were introduced by a mutual friend a few years ago, and I eventually joined Premier as Eric’s successor so he could step away. I became the owner a little over a year ago. My background is strength and conditioning related, but I still love my runners.

Based on his running background and yours in strength and conditioning, I guess your prime demographic really is CrossFitters.

Exactly. In addition to my degree, I sought out certification in related fields. I’ve worked as a CSCS. I’m a USAW Level 1 Certified Coach. I don’t plan on training athletes, but I need to have a background and something behind my name. I can say, “Listen, I know what these movements are and I know how to break down these movements. I can get you back to doing these movements with the people that are going to train you and progress you.

What are some general inefficiencies you see in CrossFitters?

A lot of what we do is education. We see a lot of “overuse” injury or repeat injury, where there’s a lot of cumulative effect on the body. Maybe you do handstand push-ups on day one of the week and cleans on day two. A couple days later you’re going to do some snatches, then some strict military presses, The next thing you know, you’re having trouble just lifting your shoulder up to wash your hair.

You can do all these things, but we need to modify the intensity, or maybe we need to talk about taking a day off here and there. I do as much as I can to keep people going as often as they want to, but a lot of CrossFit injuries, and research supports it as well, comes down to overuse.

It’s nothing against CrossFit itself. I love CrossFit. I think it’s great. But, I think people want to push themselves to the limit and forget that the body needs a chance to recover.

Additionally, CrossFit certified coaches teach proper technique, but they scale down very easily. I take it down to a muscle-specific level. If I see someone’s shoulder caving in on a snatch, I don’t just automatically modify and say we need to do cleans or squats. It’s more like, “Okay, I need to figure this out.” Is it your middle trap? Is it your lower trap? If so, there’s a specific way we can get that person back to that muscle group or that muscle itself.

This shows ignorance on my part, but if I’ve got something going on – I don’t segment it out. I say “my traps.” I don’t designate a certain, particular muscle and work on that individual spot. I’m sure that’s something most people don’t do, either.

Let’s talk about what happens if you modify your workout. Are you going to hit that muscle group? Yes, you probably are.

But, part of what I do is determine what you can do. Just because you can do one thing doesn’t mean that you can’t do another. There’s a step-by-step process to gradually expose people to those types of movements to get them back to it.

So what are you going to cover in the seminar?

Well, we’re not going to cover mobility. We’re going to assume that everyone has perfect mobility and that mobility, or lack thereof, is not playing a role in somebody’s pain.

I’ll take people through the same functional screenings I use for my patients. A functional screening for CrossFitters is pretty high level, but I can modify them for lower level patients, too. I’ll pull a volunteer and, based off what we find, we’ll go through how I diagnose and provide corrective exercises.

We’ll do some breakout sessions, have people practice these exercises and then go from there. If your mobility is great, but you have some areas of weakness… you’ll have some exercises you can do. If those don’t help, you really need to come see me.

To learn more about Dr. Hays Estes or his practice, please attend his seminar at Crossfit ABF on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM.



Premier Physical Therapy & Sports Performance is a physical therapy clinic that employs only doctors of physical therapy who treat and diagnose musculoskeletal aches and pains, weakness and balance, as well as specializing in headaches and vertigo. The clinic is also a 5x “Best of the Bay” winner for physical therapy. Learn more at www.PTandSportsTherapy.com.

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