I have to admit, I ended 2017 as a sloth, glutton, and lush. I don’t necessarily regret my decisions as I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday season and gave my body a chance to recover. Consequently, I packed on some undesired weight which certainly made it challenging putting my military dress uniform on the other day (#wakeupcall). There are plenty out there who do not believe in or make new year resolutions, and for good reason. However, I do believe there is some good in using a hallmark moment such as New Year’s to start striving towards a better self. The problem is that most resolution-making individuals bite off more than they can chew, have too vague of goals, do not track progress, and/or are not held accountable. For these reasons (and others), many resolutions fail. I am using 2018’s start as motivation to get myself back on track, and I am sharing my plan with you all to 1) hold myself accountable, and 2) maybe provide a kick start for someone else.
Goal: Pain Free Functionality
Like many other Americans, I too have chronic low back pain with the added pleasure of right leg radicular symptoms. Yes, I am a physical therapist with pain. Even we get hurt too. Mine was likely an accumulation of poor movement patterns under load over time that culminated with me being on the losing end of a deadlift. Almost two years later, I have learned consistency is key. The more regularly I perform specific rehab exercises, general mobility work, and trunk stability training, the better my symptoms and functionality. Over the holidays I failed to do so, resulting in increased back pain, leg pain, and foot numbness. I have adapted the “Every Day Is Back Day” mindset from Doc Danny and Coach Joe from the Doc and Jock Podcast. By performing a little every day, I am able to be pain free and return to an active lifestyle without restrictions. So, my goal this year is consistency with my exercises. I am programming various trunk and hip stability exercises as part of my warm-up each day, performing prone press-ups during the day, and knocking out 30 minutes of mobility each night after the kiddos go to bed. I am not perfect and will miss workouts and have hectic nights, so 100% compliance is not the realistic goal. I am simply aiming for five out of seven successful days per week.
Side note: I am a strong believer in the “Every Day Is Back Day” mentality. Chronic low back pain is by far the biggest musculoskeletal complaint I see with our active duty service members, and I preach this approach. If you have chronic low back pain, I strongly encourage you to adopt a similar approach. At a minimum, consider incorporating two or three exercises focusing on general hip and trunk mobility and stability into your daily routine (changing the exercises up daily). Twenty minutes of back-healthy work each day will payoff huge down the road. It’s like they say, you can only eat an elephant one small bite at a time.
Goal: Improving Overall Mobility
I have never been a nimble guy, and I blame my lack of mobility for sidelining me several times previously. I have made some progress through basic mobility work (stretching, foam rolling, band work, etc.) but it has been slow. As mentioned with the above goal, I still plan to perform some general mobility work most evenings as part of my back programming, but I also plan to supplement my efforts through strengthening. Specifically, using the Turkish Get-Up and the Overhead Squat to improve my mobility through stability. In a previous post (click here for article) I discussed how I love these two exercises and why. Now it’s time to practice what I preach and incorporate these movements more regularly into my programming. The plan is to perform a few reps of each as part of my dynamic warm-up as well as dedicate one or two days weekly simply focusing on these two movements. My end state goal is a full-depth Overhead Squat without a notorious “butt wink” (tucked tailbone with lumbar flexion). Being able to get into this position safely will allow me to work towards the next goal.
Goal: Body Weight Snatch
The Snatch is an awesome exercise that incorporates several aspects of physical fitness into one quick movement: mobility, strength, power, speed, coordination, and balance. Due to its complexity, it can easily sideline an athlete who may lack one or more of these physical attributes. For me, I find myself re-aggravating my back when I incorporate more Olympic Weightlifting into my programming, and I believe my mobility is the primary contributor. By working on the previously addressed goal, I am confident I can start working towards achieving a body weight Snatch without injury. My best Snatch is 35 pounds off my current body weight, so I have some work to do. Either I need to get a whole lot stronger or lose some weight! Either way, work needs to be done.
As previously mentioned, lack of tracking and accountability are some reasons why many New Year’s Resolutions fail. Thankfully, there are several tools available to help. For me, I was recently gifted the SELF Journal by my friends at Vertex PT Specialists (thanks again!), and I plan to use it to assist in achieving these goals and others. This specific journal, which is only 13-weeks long (one quarter of the year), is designed to identify your overall goals and break them down into smaller milestones to achieve along the way. There appears to be more work on the frontend and some time spent daily in planning and reflecting, but I believe this concept and design will be extremely useful to get myself back on track in 2018.
So, here is to 2018 and the kick in the butt I needed to get back on track. For those of you who made resolutions this year, best of luck! To everyone, I wish you all the best this year. Stay healthy, my friends.
Thanks for reading,
2 Chronicles 15:7
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.