Physical Therapy: The Proactive Approach

This section provides an overview for the various rehab guides on the site:

Avoiding becoming injured is probably the last thing on your mind if you are just getting started or already healthy.

Be prepared to hit a wall though. You are going to develop imbalances and muscular deficiencies that will lead to injuries later on down the road. Lifting and working out isn’t a sprint to the finish line–it is a marathon.

Most of the time, training injuries are not caused by a singular event (unless you really mess up and do something stupid in the gym). Instead, they are caused by developing poor movement patterns through using improper or even just sub-optimal form over a long enough time period.

For this reason, you will naturally build up tight areas. Weak areas will also show their head. Regardless of what you do, they are going to come. So be prepared for that. But even better, instead of being prepared, act now.

How?

Stretching, followed by myofascial release, followed immediately by progressive resistance.

What exactly is myofascial release? It is a form of therapy that focuses on soft tissue. It is used to handle muscular immobility and pain by helping to relieve tension and stress that has accumulated during working out and basic day-to-day life. Additionally, it helps to promote better blood flow and circulation; some studies point that it may help build upon the “stretch reflex” found in muscles. This is great news for anyone who makes the decision to start working out.

But, how exactly does rolling around on a ball or a foam roller help provide those benefits? It all comes down to your fascia. Fascia is a thin, yet tough connective piece of tissue that wraps around your muscles. Chicken breast is a perfect example. You know that thin white film around raw chicken? That’s fascia. It’s role is to support and protect the structures that make up your body. This layer becomes extremely tight and inhibited if you workout consistently (which, you will, because you are ready to get massive results in the gym).

These are only two examples, though they are the most common. As you can see, by taking a holistic approach to your training, you will most likely never have to deal with these ailments. Making sure to develop your musculature evenly with the proper amount of stretching and myofascial release will leave your body happy, healthy, and constantly progressing.

  • Foam Rolling. This is an absolute must that needs to be done on a daily basis. This is going to make up the sweet sauce of your recovery protocol. I like to hit up a few different areas when I use my foam roller. There are a lot of things to consider when working these areas with a foam roller. I highly suggest that you watch the included video to get an idea of how I personally go through this. Just copy exactly what I am doing and watch as your body feels better and stronger:
    • Upper Thoracic Area
    • Lats
    • Lower Back
    • Glutes
    • Iliotibial Band (IT Band)
    • Quads
    • Calves
  • Using a Lacrosse Ball. This goes hand in hand with the foam roller above. A lacrosse ball is an amazing tool for your glutes, shoulder capsule, and chest. Again, simply watch this video to get an idea of how I am performing these movements!
  • Static Stretching. This has been getting a really bad rap in the fitness community lately and I don’t understand it. In fact, I used to believe what everyone was saying about static stretching and how “useless” or “outdated” it is. Because I followed that idiotic and unsafe advice I ended up injuring myself very badly. Don’t do that. Static stretching needs to be a part of your injury-prevention protocols.

Even more “experts” claim that static stretching before a workout is a bad idea. I call complete nonsense. When you are lifting weights, what are you actually doing? You are contracting the muscle group and then stretching it. That’s it. There isn’t anything complex about the actual phenomenon of a muscle being worked. However, as you can see, stretching is half of the battle. Therefore, how can all of these people (who actually know very little and have a crummy body) say that static stretching is “bad” or “dangerous?” Clearly they are lost.

One thing to note though: if you stretch while your muscles are cold, they will be more likely to maintain their new level of flexibility. Basically, try to stretch out prior to ever doing any other type of warm-up. This doesn’t negate the benefits of stretching after your workout when your muscles are warm though, so make sure to do it at both times!

  • Dynamic Stretching. This is the other side of the coin in a discussion about stretching in particular. Dynamic stretching is key to perform right before you begin lifting. For example, on lower-body focused days I will complete my dynamic stretching and warm-up right before I step under the bar for the first time. I then continue to perform my dynamic warm-up as I complete my initial sets with lighter weight. I have found this combination to be extremely powerful.
  • This is kind of a catch-all phrase that just refers to your ability to get into and out of strong positions. What makes up a strong position? Biomechanical Advantages. That’s a big word that may scare you off, but don’t let it. Basically, your body is just a collection of levers and muscles all attached together. And, just like with any other machine, your body has stronger levers and weaker levers. It also has certain positions that provide the best physical (aka in relation to physics/science) advantages and will lead to the most weight lifted. The easiest way for me to describe my mobility routine is to show you a video.