Introducing Darren from Propulsion Systems

Introducing Darren from Propulsion Systems

Darren McConaghy moved into Engineered Bodies at the beginning of February 2015.  He is our in-house clinician who speaks the same FMS language. This allows us to seamlessly communicate about your corrective prescription, ensuring your quick return to all the movement patterns you love (and possibly hate, but know are good for you!) in regular classes.

I interviewed Darren to give him a chance to tell you more about what he does and why he does it.

EBSC: Tell us about yourself.

Darren McConaghy CAT(C), CSCSDarren McConaghy (DM): I am originally from Toronto and I attended York University where I majored in Kinesiology and Athletic Therapy. By training, I am an Athletic Therapist and Strength and Conditioning Coach. I am currently studying Osteopathy at the Canadian School of Osteopathy Manual Practice. I spent six years working for the Montreal Canadiens as the first full time Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club (the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate). I built a system to optimize athletic development and performance of the Montreal Canadiens top prospects. After six years, I was looking for a new challenge and came out to Vancouver to work as the Director of Performance Conditioning at Fortius Sport and Health in Burnaby. I have since started my own company called Propulsion. Propulsion is embedding its services within like minded facilities like Engineered Bodies. I am also consulting with athletes and their teams to help restore the athlete to their optimal performance.

EBSC: What do you do?

DM: To put it in the simplest of ways, I meet people where they are at, help them find their weakest link, and take it off the table. I think the way to helping people find a solution to their injuries and chronic pain is first taking the time to get to get to the root of what is causing the clients pain. Too often a treatment is applied before we even know what the problem is. A good friend of mine used to say “measure twice and cut once”. This could not be more true! It is so important to discuss all aspects of an individuals health because the body does not operate in silos. Every system of the body talks to one another and they all an impact on each other. Often a client’s complaint is not where the actual problem is.

Think of a suspension bridge (we have a lot of of them in Vancouver! I never really saw them when I was in Toronto). A suspension bridge has multiple smaller cables that all work together to transfer load to the larger support beams. This load is then transferred down into the ground. If one or two cables break the other cables will have to pick up the slack. The bridge may be able to manage, but if too many cables break then the large support beam will collapse. The obvious damage that would cause the bridge to fall would be seen at the large support beam, however, I think we could agree that the actually cause had nothing to do with the large support beam.

This is much like the body. Chronic neck, low back, knee pain, etc., seldom have anything do with the neck, low back, and knees. It is imperative from the start all of the potential factors for ones current injury are explored. In order to do this, we must allow the time for a client to tell their story and for a thorough assessment. It has always amazed me how the therapy model has been built around one therapist seeing multiple people at once. It seems silly to me that your hairdresser probably knows more about you then your therapist!

EBSC: What tools and modalities do you use?

DM: I believe very strongly in two very important modalities: Manual Therapy and Movement. From a treatment perspective, I know there are lots of different toys and electric modalities out there. Many of which do a great job at helping speed healing in the early acute phase. I used all of these when working in hockey, however, I feel nothing can compare to the hands of a highly skilled practitioner. For the most part, when a therapists treats you it is because something is lacking motion and it needs to move more. However, when normal motion is present then manual treatment is not necessarily the right tool for the job. This is where I believe movement is very important. We can have a long discussion on defining movement….but that will have to be for another blog!

EBSC: How long have I been working with athletes and clients?

DM: I started working with athletes/clients more on the strength and conditioning side while I was doing my kinesiology degree. So….probably 15 years now. Through the years my skills and methodology have morphed and progressed. I started in Strength and Conditioning and added a clinical background with Athletic Therapy (and am continuing to add clinical background through Osteopathy). Now, I really feel like I bridge the gap from clinical to performance. I help build the foundation to make sure athletes/clients are ready to get bigger, faster, and stronger.

EBSC: Why do you do what you do?

DM: Great Question! My why statement:

I envision a world where the strength coach, physician, therapist, nutritionist, psychologist, etc can all sit at a table and agree on how to optimize a clients performance. This sounds very simple, but I have seen first hand how difficult this can be because often everybody is singing from a different song book. There is no agreed upon language that is spoken. When this happens the client is left confused. This is why Propulsion has embedded within Performance facilities like Engineered Bodies. We agree on a common language and we are working towards building a system that offers unprecedented integrated care to our clients.

EBSC: How did you end up on this career path?

DM: Well, I was a very active kid. I played every sport out there. I played very competitive hockey and baseball. In my teen years I suffered a shoulder injury that ended in me having surgery. This all but ended my aspirations of playing professional hockey. I had very good strength coaches and therapists that helped me through the rehabilitation process. This inspired me to look into this line of work. I have since realized that in this profession there is no end to the learning process and almost 20 years later I am still in school improving my skill set! I have been very blessed with a great family and fantastic people/mentors who have helped me along this journey. It has been an adventure and continues to be!!

EBSC: Any general advice for us?

DM: First off, I believe in being proactive when it comes to ones health. I always find it funny how we approach things in life differently. We have no problem booking our dentist for a check up even though we don’t have any tooth pain. We take our car for oil changes even though it is running fine. Why do we wait till we have pain in our bodies to come see a therapist? Truthfully I think dentists and the car industry have done a phenomenal job at educating people why it is important to come in for check ups. I don’t think the therapy world has done a very good job of this.

If you are currently in pain then you need to find out why. Too many times people are given labels like a patellar tendinopathy or hip labral tear. It is nice to know this information, but usually it tells us very little about why this problem has developed. Oh and stop blaming a “weak core” for every ailment known to man 🙂 We should do a blog on that!

If you need a preventative check up, or you are experiencing pain in your daily life, you can make an appointment with Darren by clicking here, or ask one of our coaches to set you up. You can also visit his website ( or email him.

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