Daily Movement Medication
If you go to the doctor and find out you have (or are at risk for) conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or any other medical condition, what is typically the first thing they offer you?
Well, for those of us that are unlucky, a full rectal exam, but for most of us, the first thing that most docs offer is some sort of daily medication.
And while I’m not a big believer in pushing pills, especially if the issue can be addressed in other ways (diet and exercise anyone?!), the daily medication is given to try and help mitigate the progression of the condition, or potentially reverse it all together.
And if it works (hopefully without ridiculous side effects) then the docs are saviors and have done their job.
But what happens when you are suffering from a movement condition, or should I say, pain with movement?
These are the kind of conditions I see at TAW on a daily basis.
Well, like the docs, I prescribe daily medication, except the medication I am prescribing is not in the form of a pill…that is a bit outside my scope of practice.
Instead, I prescribe daily movement medication (DMM).
While I’m all about lifting enormous amounts of weight off of the ground, crushing chin ups and sprinting up mountains, this is not the type of movements I’m talking about. In fact, for many of athletes if you solely focus on these types of movements without the “daily medication” movements I’m about to talk about, you will likely end up making frequent visits to your local ortho. This isn’t a terrible thing as I know some pretty cool orthos, but you don’t want to be needing their services every few months.
So lets get to the daily movement medication.
Below I give you DMM for common injuries/pain that I see. Those are knee pain, low back pain and shoulder pain.
While the movements below may not be exactly what you need to help you work through your movement conditions (you can’t tell for sure without an evaluation), for 90% of athletes I’ve worked with these movements are the foundation for helping them get back from an injury, or out of pain. Complete them in the order they are written for the best results.
Here we go…
1) Knee Pain
When it comes to 99% of the knee pain that I see with athletes, the first thing we need to address is the soft tissue and extensibility of the quad and hip flexor.
When the quad and hip flexor is stiff and/or short, it pulls on the patella (knee cap) and creates a tension through the patellar tendon that results in pain. This is likely responsible for the pain you feel during squats, lunges, walking up or down stairs, etc.
Put on top of that poorly functioning and/or weak glutes and you have the perfect recipe for knee pain.
Here is the DMM to address knee pain.
Soft Tissue / Foam Roll the Quad and Hip Flexor (Rectus Femoris)
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Stretch the Quad and Hip Flexor (Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch)
**You can elevate your downside foot on a 6-12 inch surface behind you to enhance the stretch
Activate your Glutes (Bridge, Side Lying Clam, Band Walk Variation)
**For the bridge, side lying clam and band walk work, it is imperative that you feel the work taking place in the glutes (your butt). If you feel any of the work taking place in the hamstrings, low back or front of the hip you are not executing the movement correctly and are reinforcing faulty movement.
Bonus: Stabilize the knee during an “open” activity (kb swap)
2) Low Back Pain
Low back pain may be the most common injury / pain seen at The Athletic Way.
Most of the time, low back pain is not caused by a weakness in the back as many individuals believe. In fact, it is typically the exact opposite.
When you have muscles that are overworked, they tend to be super stiff which creates a feeling of “tightness” and achy pain. This is what happens with the muscles of the low back. You are using them more than other muscles that help stabilize the region, mainly your abs.
With that, the other issue is if the abs aren’t working as much, or as well as they should, you experience lack of stability at the pelvis/lower back. This lack of stability causes excess movement at that segment and results in pain or injury.
Lastly, if you have stiff hips, the hip stiffness makes it harder to work through an appropriate range of motion at the hips, and instead causes you to move more at the low back.
All that together means that the following sequence of movement medication can help address low back pain.
Soft Tissue the Quad and Hip Flexor (Rectus Femoris)…same as above
Stretch the Quad and Hip Flexor…same as above
Quadruped Adductor Mobility
Glute Bridge…same as above
Bonus: Plank Variations
3) Shoulder Pain
When it comes to shoulder pain, most of the athletes we see at TAW have an issue with lat extensibility, or stiffness. And when the lat is stiff, it doesn’t allow the shoulder blade to rotate upward or elevate effectively, thus causing impingement when you try to reach overhead.
Along with the lats, we typically see that the pec muscles are also stiff. This is because we are anteriorly dominated beings, who like to bench press and do push ups. When our pecs are stiff, they tip our shoulder blades forward, again creating impingement especially when going overhead.
After we address the soft tissue of the lats and pecs, it is time to get the shoulder blades moving well, and then strengthen the muscles of the upper back and around the shoulder blades.
Lastly, it is critical that we keep the muscles of the rotator cuff active and strong.
All of this will help to reduce shoulder pain, and prevent future problems. Here is your daily movement medication sequence for shoulder pain.
Soft Tissue the Lats
**6:10 of this video
Soft Tissue the Pecs
**Here is my intern leader and 0ld friend Chris with the demo
Band Pull Aparts
Shoulder External Rotations
**Once you get this solidified, you can go to the standing 90/90 version with the band
Bonus: Suspension Rows and Push Ups (full push through)
If you are currently experiencing any pain of the knees, low back or shoulders, you now have some daily movement medication to help you mitigate and hopefully eliminate the pain.
Even if you are not currently in pain, these daily movement medication series will help ensure that you don’t become “ill” and ensure that you continue to maximize performance.
Just remember, all of the movements above should be completed without pain, especially the bonus movements if you get to them.
While these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimally correcting or preventing pain and injury, they have worked magic with the athletes I’ve prescribed them to. And when they are in conjunction with a solid strength and conditioning program, you’ve got a winning recipe.
Take the few minutes per day to go through the series that is best for you (or cycle through them) and you will decrease your potential of needing to head to the doctors office because of pain or injury…and best of all, these daily medications don’t require a prescription or cost you a dime!