Shortest way to functional, injury-free fitness
I'm a sucker for routine because it allows me to accomplish exactly what I need to and move on to other things, which is especially important in my very busy schedule. Having dealt with 2 injuries in my mere 9 month weight lifting history, I am realizing the importance of stretching, mobility, and foam rolling. The problem with all of those is that people say that they should be done on a as needed basis. Others say it should be done everyday, or even twice a day. I would imagine that a full body routine of even one of those activities could extend to as long as a half hour, thereby turning into a combined time of one and half hours every day of this stuff. This assuming I only do it once a day and this doesn't even include the 4 hours or more per week I lift weights and the 30 minute daily walks. And eventually, I'd even like to start Prowler work for conditioning. It all seems overwhelming.
Could I get some "veteran" advice on stretching, mobility, and foam rolling on the minimum I can do? A full routine would be great. I'm thinking that there are some muscles that don't need foam rolling if stretched (a vice versa). There's also seemingly hundreds of exercises for mobility in the hips alone that I'm sure that it all can be condensed into a few essentials.
I am no veteran by any means but to me the problem with people in general who wants to be in shape is that if they are a newbie they go all out when they first start. Your body needs time to adapt to what you have currently introduced. It's the same thing when people complain of foot injuries when they switch to barefoot or minimalist running.
Originally Posted by atmetal
Honestly, I foam roll once in a while, stretch and even get massages. I have been lifting for many years but never once I have an injury. There are so many factors to consider when talking about an injury free lifestyle aside from weight lifting. I don't think anyone needs to stretch necessarily everyday. Rest, diet, proper form or even checking out your ego when you walk into a gym can be helpful.
I bet the number one issue here is your lifting form. Get that NAILED.
I agree with Mr. Anthony on this one. If you have limited time I would stick to a basic strength or body building routine and really focus on form. Make sure you go through a full range of motion. Each set in the gym should be done with an emphasis on elegance. Forget about the amount of weight you can lift: shift your focus to how you are lifting it. The key to functional strength is learning to make less feel like more. Such artful lifting reduces stress factors on the joints while maximizing electrical production within the muscles. Get rid of any ego and focus on a much deeper awareness of form.
Lean to multitask: I foam roll while watching TV or relaxing at night, take walks with the whole family for conversation and playtime, take stretch breaks at work etc. Once you get your essential mobility drills down, you can do them almost anywhere/anytime and whether you need them or not.
One of the beauties of the Primal fitness routine, is that is does not take a lot of time (at least the serious workout stuff) and the slow moving and play can be incorporated into double duty activities. In fact I consider the play and slow moving the essence of primal fitness and probably the most elusive aspect of the PB fitness to achieve because they in essence a lifestyle change for most of us that requires us to make time, slow down, enjoy, and some clutter must be removed in order to do so.
Case in point: The other day I spent probably an extra 30 mins with my 7 year old working on his slacklining, where normally, by myself I would spend no more than 10 mins if by myself and move on to some pressing task. But I got to spend some quality time with my kid moving around slowly-wouldn't trade it for the world.
The PEMs are more than adequate as a workout and if done with excellent form can be quite a challenge. No need to kill yourself or move too quickly.
I always have held good form as very important. Proper execution has rarely followed. Certainly, after the injuries, I started recording my lifts to check my form and found flaws that I didn't know of before. Despite this, there is still one problem I have with ATG squats and that's keeping my back straight aka butt wink. It isn't significant, but it's there. No matter how much I will myself to keep perfect form, it happens. So I can't just say I'll use good form and expect it to happen. There's something I need to work on at the physical level. Based on the majority of responses, the implication is that I don't need stretching, foam rolling, and/or mobility drills. I don't believe this. I fixed my form on all my lifts, and stopped going ATG since that was, at the time, unfixable. I've been seeing a physical therapist who found all kinds of things messed up with me. Actually, a lot of the issues are common and facilitated by modern living. For instance, my spinal erectors are hard-pressed to activate, to the point of my traps over-activating to compensate. So my first injury (a low back injury) was probably caused by bad form via a rounded back. But the real cause is the reason my back was rounded in the first place. Another example follows: My physical therapist found my left hamstring tighter than the right, but my right quad tighter than the left, which she said could have caused me to shift to the right during my squats, causing my second injury in that leg. Whatever caused that imbalance, I don't know, but full ROM didn't stop it from happening. Stretching would have. So I implore you all because I'm sure you know better than me, what is the minimum amount of flexibility and soft tissue work needed before it becomes just icing on the cake.
And Jiggyz, I appreciate you answering the question asked, but your answer assumes that I watch TV or have a familiy. I promise you, my fitness comes second only to work. So the fact that I'm still concerned with fitting it all in just goes to show how busy I really am.
Let me direct your attention to the MDA article that covers hip mobility and show you what I'm trying to get at. One paragraph talks about leg swings, another describes fire hydrants. It seems to me that these movements do the same thing, so there should be no need to do both. God knows I wouldn't have time to do everything in that article. And that's just one article of many on the internet. And there's still mobility to work outside the hips.
One way to reduce your gym time is to stretch daily but not during the workout, but during the downtime, like when watching TV or going for a lunch walk.
Plus, if there was only one thing one could do, I'd recommend swimming. Resistance, stretch and cardio all in one. Plus, no sweat.
^To this... Personally I choose to get chiropractic adjustments and massage on a regular basis to address various mobility issues. IMO mobility problems are, in many cases, joint and myofacial constrictions/scar tissue/fixations of a nature that require passive intervention. Over and underactive muscle tone are more due to a neurological feedback loop from these fixations than any inherent weakness or imbalance to muscle strength itself. So no, you can't just stretch them away. Some foam roller and other stuff might be able to accomplished some myofacial work on your own if you know what you're doing, but thats a rather large if and in no way addresses joint fixation so I still go with hiring someone to do the work a couple times a month. You need someone with the knowledge and technique necessary to really get in there and work on these areas. Once these fixations are addressed a full ROM exercise like the squat in and of itself will be rehabilitative. It will train all the muscles to get stronger in the proper balance.... but only after the other constrictions are removed.
Originally Posted by atmetal
Last edited by Neckhammer; 08-06-2013 at 05:56 AM.
Downtime??? Let me go research this phenomenon.
Originally Posted by Leida
In regards to hiring professionals, is that something I would need to do the rest of my life. I'm sure the reason that Grok didn't need stretching, mobility work, and tissue work is because he never lost perfect fitness. So once I'm fixed, is it just a matter of staying active through full ROM, or does modern living still happen and need fixing routinely? Or is there some middle ground that in which I would maintain what I have at home?
BTW, when does the word "effortless," as Mark Sisson uses it, going to finally mean something? I can't remember the last time I thought about anything outside of my health.