While there are the formal Latin phrases associated with the various branches, (most importantly Semper Fi and Semper Fortis) Semper Gumby is one all of us have heard, Always Flexible. While it’s usually used in reference to perpetually changing plans concerning some facet of military life, it should be applied literally as well.
Always going to medical for constant pains? Or worse, are you experiencing some kind of constant, but bearable, pain in your shoulders, knees, back/neck? What about medical waivers for basic movements like push-ups, sit-ups or running? Does it seem odd that somehow you are so injured, performing rudimentary exercises causes great discomfort? If pain is a constant or lingering part of your life, it doesn’t need to be. On top of that, fixing it is pretty easy once a consistent routine is established.
Here are some statistics on just back pain, one of the many ailments from loss of mobility, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA): worldwide leading cause of disability, second most common reason for missing work, and costs Americans over $50 billion each year. Now if only spewing out shocking statistics was enough to get people to take action, but it isn’t.
Flexibility is easily one of the most overlooked aspect of fitness and more importantly self-care. We PT because it’s good for us, strong body strong mind right? We try to eat right because we know we need good fuel to feel good for the day. So why would we over look one of our most critical human functions, the ability to move through our naturally given range of motion? It should be important to make our selves our healthiest, and most functional, so we can be the best at any hat we wear; parent, Sailor, spouse, leader. It’s hard to accomplish anything from medical, or laid up with spasms, or at physical therapy. We need to be present in order to be effective.
So, on to the action part of this post. What can we do today to incorporate a manageable mobility routine in our ever day lives?
Step 1: Buy a Foam Roller
This is a small investment, but an investment none the less which will gives us some motivational factor; paid for it, might as well use it right? Also, it’s one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective stretching tools to have in the house, at the gym, in the work space even. Watch some YouTube videos searching “foam roller stretches for -insert body part here-“ and learn to use this tool effectively.
Step 2: Set a reminder to stretch
Add it to the to-do list, put our foam roller in plain sight, set an alarm on your phone. Also, establish a nice 10-15 min session before bed. It will help with getting comfortable and sleeping faster. Once there is a good bed time routine, try to add in a morning routine and some stretches we can do around our work areas; the most important thing is to move as much as possible throughout the day; sit, stand, walk, squat?
There is more than one way to tie a bowline knot; sometimes we need more than a foam roller and some sit and reach. There are many methods to treat muscle/joint pain. Remember weakness is usually associated with pains, in some way. For instance, if the glutes are too weak, the low back often suffers; therefore, stretching alone would not be enough. While professional advice is always suggested, doing research on our own can only be to our benefit. Yoga is a phenomenal practice that can help with many ailments/restrictions and can be done from the comfort of our homes with anything that can access YouTube.
Step 3: Always Keep Learning
Always quality over quantity when doing mobility work. Stretching is only effective if it’s performed correctly. Don’t waste our time with that! Also, we mitigate the potential for injury when learning new movements. It’s important to remain patient and remember it’s a process that requires consistence and dedication.
Looking for a great cardio work out that also improves flexibility? Try swimming. If mobility is something you struggle with, check out the “PRT Coaching” tab for personalized assessment and advice! Semper Gumby! Always Flexible!