I have found that most patients who walk in my office are interested in managing symptoms and preventing future injuries so they can remain in their active lifestyles. I’ve also found that the vast majority of patients aren’t sure what they are supposed to be doing or how to do it. Some patients I run onto often have a preventative routine in place, however, this is a routine in which they could do in a near coma state-one that is performed so often it is no longer challenging, beneficial, and often can precipitate injuries.
Our society has become concerned with screening for breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart attack risk, diabetes risk, Alzheimer’s risk. And yet, when you go in for your yearly physical, the one thing you do every day consistently; movement; is not screened. I can not overstate how valuable movement screening would be in preventing future problems from arising.
The question then becomes how to know what to do and when to do it. I’ve often subscribed to the ‘check the oil’ mentality. In my previous blog, WE ARE CARS I have discussed how we operate much like cars do. When you maintain a car, regular maintenance is suggested to keep the car running optimally for a long car life. This is no different for humans. Auto technicians perform routine system checks to ensure the system is running smoothly. If a trouble spot is detected, further work is done to look into these areas to troubleshoot and fix the impaired system. Drivers know that inattention to these areas will result in premature breakdown and eventually malfunction of the car. Humans, however, often fail to perform even basic body checks to ensure smooth function. I want discuss something geared toward developing a system for weekend warriors, high level athletes and everyday movers to gauge their movement preparedness and check the oil.
I will go into, briefly, several movements which I have found tells a bigger story when it comes to moving well. The goal is for patients to test themselves and see if they have pre-existing limitations which may cause issues down the road. Many of these have been extrapolated from the SFMA, or the book The Athletic Body in Balance, by Gray Cook. I do not mean to make these ideas my own, rather, generate more awareness of my patients in how they move in an effort to prevent future injuries due to muscular or joint imbalance. Test yourself. If there is pain or limitation, please get checked out. Often the fix is quick, and easy. But if these problems persist, once injury occurs, resolution can be a long time coming.
As an aside, not all these tests can be performed by everybody- pre-existing conditions and surgeries can limit normal movement. Common sense is the rule. If there is pain, don’t push through it, contact your physical therapist and get a full examination.
1. Can you touch your toes with your knees straight? – Pretty straight forward. It’s a yes or no question. Lunging and straining mean a ‘no’.
2. Can you look down and touch your chin to your chest without letting your shoulders pull forward?
3. Can you look to one side and bend your chin down and touch your collarbone without leaning of lifting your shoulders?
4. Can you pat yourself on your back? Is your elbow pointed at the ceiling? (Doesn’t pull forward or out to the side?)
5. Can you reach behind your back and touch your opposite shoulder blade? (Leaning and twisting doesn’t count).
6. Can you balance on one leg? Can you do it for 30 seconds?
Lay a piece of masking (or preferred) tape across the threshold of a door jamb.
7. Place a toe on the tape. Without lifting your heel, bend and push your knee as far forward as you can. Does it end up at least 4″ in front of your toes?
8. Sit in a chair facing one side of the door jamb. Place your feet next to the wall on either side and squeeze the wall with your knees. Place a golf club ( or similar straight object) across your collarbones. Sit tall and turn your body to one side without letting your feet or knees move from the wall. Does the Club touch the door jamb?
9. Lay on your back, your hips straight with the line of tape. Keeping knees straight, raise one leg as high as you can without the back or hips moving. Does your ankle come in line with the doorjamb?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these 9 simple tests, you could be a risk for an injury. Often, simple muscle techniques and joint mobilizations as well as brief periods of corrective exercises can remedy any of these dysfunctions. However, left uncorrected, they can often lead to significant disability and pain down the road, especially when compounded with high intensity exercises.
Should you find that you are limited, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can assess, correct and improve your current functional mobility and get you back to your daily routine. Don’t wait for any injury to start fixing movement patterns.
Check your oil today.
Chandler Physical Therapy is a family owned and operated Physical Therapy clinic in Chandler, Arizona. We treat active adults who are looking to keep themselves pain free and active through exercise and healthy living.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and ask or, we have a Free Discovery Visit (Half Hour) that allows you to sit down, one on one with a therapist to discuss what you have going on to find out if physical therapy is a good fit for you. Check it out below: