Don’t go searching for solutions that fix problems that DO NOT exist.
Just google how to fix knee pain, or type the hashtag on social media and the world will arrive at your fingertips.
I get this scenario very often.
CLIENT: I am having some increased stiffness in my lower back. Can you give me a few warm up exercises to complete before I train.
ME: I can give you a few movements but remember you already have your warm up sets as well as your other prehab exercises I gave you. If we add these in that’s gonna add an additional 3-4 minutes to your program and it’s just more to worry about doing correctly. It’s very important to remember that as your heart rate increases and you use the warm up sets/loads correctly that tightness should reduce week to week. These are all new movements.
The best intervention is usually always the simpler scenario.
So let’s look at two different methods to address this increased stiffness.
METHOD 1: Perform dynamic mobility and warm-up routine for a lower body day. Add additional exercises to isolate and target complaint of low back stiffness. Then perform routine warm up sets at same volume, intensity, and intent.
METHOD 2 : Perform routine warm up sets and assess how things are feeling. If needed focus on slowing the tempo down and perform some holds at the end range of positions (bottom of squat, bottom of pull, etc). Add a few additional warm up sets before getting into your top sets. As you fine tune that given movement pattern thing will frequently “loosen” up and feel better.
Often times the best solution is the simplest. The one that includes doing more of the actual thing. If you squats are difficult due to tightness, then spend more time actually squatting. Not working on hip flexion, ankle mobility, core stability, knee flexion, and every other individual part. This creates more confusion and often times doing more is not better. Better is better.
When dealing with acute knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain; we always search for some intervention. Maybe it’s:
- Foam Rolling
- Chiropractic Adjustment
- Corrective Exercises
- Dry Needling
The list is endless. The intervention implies that we have found a solution to address the problem. But if there is no problem then we are wasting time, energy, resources, and money.
You HAVE TO understand that part of pursuing fitness will be discomfort, pain, soreness, tightness, and other more negative symptoms. It’s my job as a doctor of physical therapy to find the true source of those negative symptoms but it’s even more important to determine if they are even relevant, relevant in pursuing. Tightness before you warm up is normal. A little discomfort on week 4 of your programming is normal. A little acute shoulder pain after 21-15-9 wall balls and OHP is more normal that you realize. Doesn’t mean we ignore it, we just don’t freak out and rush to complex strategies.
The solution is often times reframing what this negative symptom is and making a simple adjustment in your technique or positioning. When these simples strategies do not seem to fix the issue or the issues seem to be progressive; then we can look deeper to those interventions mentioned above. Never underestimate the ability of your body to adapt in both short term and long term intervals. Short term being the initial 15-20 minute warm-up.
Thats education. We help people better understand human movement. We simplify the complex and give you actionable strategies and knowledge to better understand the WHY?
WHY you squat that way. WHY you feel stiff. WHY you feel pain. WHY you have fatigue.
Then you know HOW to assess your movement and body.
Then you know WHEN to seek solutions.
That is priceless. And something you and everyone deserves. Especially if pursuing a level of higher fitness is your goal.
It’s peaceful to know that not everything requires an intervention. It’s just a normal part of the process.