In our chosen career field it is all to easy to neglect the body day in and day out. We been abroad multiple times and have a few tricks that will help you to better improve your quality of life as well as longevity. In this article I will go through and explain in layman's terms so you can take this information and pass it along. We never mean to insult anyone's intelligence, we only mean to improve it.
The first aspect is you need to be real honest with yourself about what is hurting and what has been injured in the past. Do you have a vertebrae that gives you pain from a bad free fall incident? Do you have a knee that sends a sharp amount of pain through your whole body as you go past 90 degrees in a squat? These are all questions you need to ask yourself as you go through the process of building a system for you to regain your mobility.
You must be willing to do an honest self assessment of your body
Post honest self assessment you can begin to solve your issues. I want you to write down the three things that hurt you most through out normal range of motion. Now take those three things and identify the muscles above and below the injured points. 90% of issues can be resolved from taking time to realign these battered tissues and focus on end range of motion. For example, for years I had knee issues and was convinced that there was nothing I could do. I just had bad knees and this was how I was destined to go through life. It took a while but, I talked to the right people, did my own exploration in the realms of physio therapy and discovered what can be accomplished. Kelly Starrett's book, "Becoming a Supple Leopard" Can change the way you move through life. I highly recommend that anyone who makes the military a long term career read through this and put in the due diligence required to keep your body at that high level of performance.
The Three Problem areas for SOF
Common to nearly all members of the military (more specifically Special Operations Forces also known as SOF) we see a few common issues among the population. They can be debilitating but if remedied correctly that can be solved and lead to a pain free career.
- Tight Quads
- Tight Hips
- Tight Glutes
DO you have knee pain? Good! The odds are it is caused by your quadriceps pulling too tightly on your Patelofemoral tendon in the front of your knee. The way one stands when their body is under load also plays a vital role in why your knees are causing you pain. When in heavy kit or under the weight of a ruck one tends to stand with their feet in a wider position putting a lot of strain on the medial part of the quads (part inside towards centerline) this tends to overload the VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique). And boom here is the root cause for your knee pain. This can all be simply fixed by taking some time and giving your Quads the care they need. Whether that be rolling out the quads with a foam roller, pvc, or rumble roller or going off the deep end with a Tempur roller, make it happen. I guarantee you find some positive changes.
Tight hips are the culprit of so many things. The problem with Americans' bodies today is that so many people spend too much time sitting down. This causes the shortening of the hip flexors and tightness when standing. In extreme cases this can push the femur back into the hip socket causing more pain. When you have tight hips what do you think is the first area of the body that is affected?
The Quads, good guess. Tight hips can adversely affect the quads by pulling on them tighter and tighter exacerbating knee pain. Give your hips some love by working on the Couch Stretch with this explanation from MEN's HEALTH. This mobilizations will be a game changer for you I promise.
The glutes are the largest muscle in your body. They have a large impact onother muscles around them? Weird...
The glutes are one of the most neglected muscles in modern humans. A large percentage of Americans have little to no glute activation due to less and less physical activity. Most men don't like to work glutes because they view it as a body builders lift when in reality weak and inactive glutes are one of the leading causes of poor squat form and limited strength.
When it comes to lower back pain, the glutes tend to be one of the main culprits. They have so much force behind them that they can crank on the lower back cause all sorts of debilitating pain. Simple fix? Use the elevated pigeon pose. Follow that link to MENS HEALTH so see more about the pigeon pose.
For anything positive to happen to your body you are going to need to spend some time in these mobilizations. I am not saying that it has to take all day but before every single gym session I do mobility, every damn time. Nothing crazy, simply 1-2 minutes per side per mobilization in problem areas. Mobility work gives me time to mentally warm up, let the pre kick in, and time to work on my body as it needs it. You can't keep beating it up over and over expecting it to perform until you retire with 22 years of active service, it doesn't work like that ...at least it shouldn't. There is that old adage that says that if you want to get different results than everyone else, you're going to need to DO something different than everyone else. People are going to judge...let em, they're not going to the places you are.