Like most kids in the United States, sports were a huge part of my life growing up. If you would have asked the 10 year old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it wasn't a physical therapist, it was a professional baseball player(that obviously didn't happen).
When I do look back on my athletic career(I guess you could call it that) it's riddled with injuries. Here's a list of the major injuries I have sustained playing sports to include, football, baseball, basketball, soccer and dabbling in military combatives.
-Broken right ankle at the growth plate age 15.
-Non-contact related right meniscal tear requiring surgery age 16.
-SLAP labral tear right shoulder age 18.
-Torn disc lower back L4-5 causing nerve root compression for 6 months age 24. (High volume deficit dead lifts with poor technique, my own damn fault)
-Torn disc neck C5-6 causing nerve compression for 3 months age 26.(Army combatives, accidents happen)
Looking back all the injuries that I have sustained it's a fairly long list. Some people would say that I'm injury prone, others may blame it on my genetics. I blame it on my horrific lack of mobility!
When I was in elementary school, I can remember taking the President's Physical Fitness Test. It was a big deal to me back then, mainly because I was sure I would be a professional athlete one day. I did great on all of the events and went into the last event with my confidence at an all time high. The last event was the sit and reach and I failed it! I could not for the life of me reach forward and just touch my damn toes. I was an emotional train wreck, my whole life revolved around sports and I couldn't even pass a national standard. That's a tough pill for a 10 year old to swallow.
I think back to that test and I think of something different that could have come out of that. An educator, my parents or a coach could have seen that as a red flag or a warning sign. Sadly, the reality is that mobility is often overlooked and brushed aside as just being "tight". If you are making all-star teams and progressing in your athletic skill sets, who cares if you are a little on the tight side, right? Wrong, that's a big mistake and it needs to change.
We as coaches, parents and physical therapists have to prioritize movement first. That comes down to two components, motor control and mobility. Motor control is the ability to perform a movement correctly aka technique. Mobility is having enough available range in your joints and tissues to perform that movement optimally and safely. You need both to have proper movement, one without the other is worthless.
For me, mobility was my greatest obstacle to achieve better movement. Working on mobility sucks! I know, both as an instructor and from personal experience. Shit, two years ago I couldn't even touch my toes and now I teach Movement and Mobility courses across the country. It's very humbling for me to teach these courses for CrossFit and it's because I know first hand how much it can change people's ability to perform at a high level and stay injury free. Since adding MWOD concepts into my training I have not been injured once. I did get hit in the face with a surfboard that broke my nose a couple years ago but no amount of mobility/technique would have changed that. Some injuries are unavoidable but they are very rare.
Here's my advice for all my CrossFit athletes in Atlanta. If you suck at something, you need to focus on trying to improve that weakness everyday. This is not what most people want to hear. If you're flexible, you will enjoy yoga. If you're strong, you will enjoy powerlifting. The reality is, that super flexible yoga practitioner would benefit a hell of a lot more from doing some heavy squats than working on her pigeon position.
Find your flaws, chase them down, go for the throat and don't let go until your weakness becomes an asset!
P.S. Don't forget to check out the Athletes' Potential Lower Body Mobility Course at CrossFit North Atlanta April 19th. Move better, recover faster and get stronger faster.
Do you sit frequently? If the answer is yes, you need to work on you psoas. The psoas, technically psoas major, is a hip flexor that starts at our back and inserts into our thigh bone(femur). When we sit for prolonged periods of time, this muscle gets brutally short. It's very rare to work with a CrossFit athlete in Atlanta or around the country for that matter that doesn't have problems with this muscle group.
We can use some common strength and conditioning equipment to help get into our psoas and reset our pelvic position. Give it a try guys and don't forget to test your squat before and after you mobilize.
It's time to take your psoas back!
So you learned how to hold your kids in Part 1 and then learned how to pick your kids up in Part 2. Now that you fine physical specimens have that stuff under control it's time to learn how to fix yourself!
The reality is sometimes we can't help but be in a bad position with our kids. Sometimes you have to round your back to get your toddler out of the tub. Sometimes you have to keep you neck in a flexed position for a long time when you are giving a baby a bottle or breast feeding. Shit, sometimes you even have to sit for long periods of time in chairs designed for people that are 3 feet tall and you may be 6'2, like me. In these situations it's up to us to correct some of the damage we may be doing to ourselves.
Today is about correcting the upper back and neck. A nice little addition to this is that it will also do wonders for your overhead position. It's a win win! Minimize the effect of crappy positions while chasing your kids around and snatch more!
Good luck and thanks for all the positive feedback about the parents series. Kids are awesome but so is a pain free back!
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.