Prior to takeoff, you may be aware of the fact that every pilot must go through an extensive checklist.
On the list, are critical requirements that the plane needs to meet in order to fly.
Without going through the entire checklist, the plane doesn’t take off. Period.
Likewise, our doctors take us through a checklist when they examine us…
Vitals, such as blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, etc. are measured and must meet a certain minimum for us to be deemed healthy.
If these minimums are NOT met, we’re given medications so that we can “operate safely”
Unfortunately, our MOVEMENT vitals are rarely ever checked…
Biased as I am,
I firmly believe that if everyone had their movement vitals checked on a regular basis, many of our modern movement problems could be avoided.
Bold statement, I know, but think of it like this:
If you’re an avid golfer and have an asymptomatic (non-painful) hip rotation limitation, what do you do?
Nothing? Maybe stretch a little?
But chances are your hip rotation limitation is going unnoticed and untreated. And why should you be bothered…it doesn’t hurt!
That’s fine for a while, until it isn’t…
Maybe you start feeling some dull aching in your low back. Maybe you feel a little stiffer in the morning than usual. At first it’s hardly noticeable, but eventually you’re dealing with some real hip pain for the first few minutes of your day.
Or…maybe you’re not quite “getting through the ball” the way you’d like. Maybe the ball flight isn’t what you want anymore. And son of a…..after all that time you spent grooming that swing to be just right, how disheartening to have things go sour!
You get an X-ray and tell you that you have degeneration in your spine and hip – you’re 58 you see, hardly a young man.
Maybe you’re given some pills, had a few injections, and they take the edge off for a bit, but at this point your pain seems to be getting out of control. The doctor tells you to take a few weeks off golf and throw your feet up, you’re “too old” to be playing this much golf anyways, but you don’t feel any better after you do.
Eventually you find yourself in the orthopedic’s office, talking about a “simple surgery” to provide you with a little more space in that spine, which should relieve your symptoms.
If you think I’m taking you through some outrageous, outlier of a story, you’d be wrong.
I literally hear stories of this nature on a daily basis. Chances are if you’re reading this, you think I’m psychic because this is what happened to you.
It’s THAT common.
And it’s unfortunate, because remembering back to the beginning, this all started with a movement problem you either didn’t know you had, or you hardly noticed.
So how could we have caught the problem?
By looking at this person’s movement vitals…
A checklist of minimums a person must be able to perform in order to move safely is…vital.
If you’re a golfer, it’s even more important because you are moving explosively with high amounts of force, which will result in pain much quicker than the average person.
The easiest way for me to help you at home, is to describe the way the body is set up for movement:
It’s incredibly easy to remember, because we alternate between stable and mobile. In other words, some joints are designed to move in many directions, and others are not.
Consider the difference between your knees and hips.
Your knees really only go in 2 directions (bend/straighten).
The hips, on the other hand, go in roughly 6 directions each. The hips are obviously much more mobile than the knees.
But what happens if one of your hips loses 1 of these movements?
Your body isn’t going to stop moving. Instead, your knees and low back are going to start trying to move extra, in order to make up for the lost movement at the hips.
You’re now “compensating” in order to accomplish simple tasks, like sitting, standing, and walking.
While this compensation allows you to continue moving, it comes at a cost as it wears away at the joints that should not be moving as much as they are.
An easy way to see this in the golf swing is to look at something called the reverse spine angle:
***This can happen for a multitude of reasons, I’m going to present ONE of the reasons but if you struggle with reverse spine angle don’t assume the reason I present is your specific reason for having the problem***
With an inability to fully internally rotate into my right hip, my lower back takes over by side bending towards the LEFT to allow me to continue my back swing.
If I can’t fully rotate my hip in the opposite direction on the down swing (externally rotate), my body will help me swing by slamming my low back into RIGHT side bending, creating an incredible amount of force on the facet joints in my spine.
Over time, the combination of increased loading and extra movement will cause my low back to “freeze,” and eventually create pain.
Scans and images may tell me I have degeneration and inflammation in my spine, but as I’ve just shown you, that’s not the root cause of my pain.
So I ask you – would you rather treat my back in that scenario? Or the hip?
Further I would like to know, if you’re in my shoes, and you see a hip that cannot meet the “freedom of movement” minimums to swing a golf club, would you clear that person to play golf?
What if they weren’t a golfer…would you allow them to walk out of your clinic untreated, knowing full well that he will develop a problem in the future that can be easily prevented today?
This is the essence of checking your movement vital signs.
Let’s put this into practice by looking at yourself with 3 movements. These examples are particularly important for the golf swing.
Before attempting any of these movements – I want you to ask yourself whether or not you think you can do them. Then write it down. No cheating.
First, place your feet together, keep your heels on the floor, and squat all the way down. Squat until your hips are below your knees. Then place your hands on the floor next to your feet.
Second, simply place your feet together and touch your toes with straight knees.
Third, stand facing away from a mirror, feet still together. Rotate in both directions until you see the front of your opposite shoulder in the mirror. (so if you’re rotating to your right, you should be able to find the front of your left shoulder in the mirror)
You should be able to do all of these movements fully and without pain.
If you can’t, it’s very likely you have some pretty obvious mobility problems (movement freedom).
Understand that while you may never really need to fully squat to the ground with your feet together during golf, that’s not the reason we use it as a screen – we use it because it gives us an incredible snap-shot of spine, hip, knee, and ankle mobility all in one movement. If you have pain, lose balance, or simply “tap out” and can’t do this movement, we know we have a problem with one of these areas.
These movements cover the bare minimums needed for safe movement, and are designed to produce a strict yes or no to the question: “can you do these?”
If you can’t, then you can get hurt within that pattern of movement, simply because your body is having trouble effectively coordinating the entire movement.
Quickly, let’s return to the notepad to see what we thought about our capabilities before the screen.
Did it line up with what you thought would happen?
If so then congratulations, you have an understanding of your limitations, and more importantly, you have an idea of where you should and should not push yourself.
If not, then you fall into the category of someone who is at a higher risk for injury, because you’re out there doing things you probably shouldn’t.
The purpose of this point isn’t to call you out. I would imagine the majority of us fall into the latter category, myself included.
Time after time I’ve been humbled by movement tasks I could’ve done while I was a boxer and in incredible shape, but no longer can.
I’ve had to train myself to be aware of my limitations, and further train my body to overcome them.
And this understanding of my limitations keeps me safe from injury.
The full screen is much larger, and goes into more depth.
I’m not holding out on you, as I’ve hopefully just made perfectly clear, self-screening is incredibly unreliable and can often lead people to draw the incorrect conclusions about their own bodies, the results of which can cause further injury.
It’s like giving someone a blood pressure cuff and having it read 180/100 at home but they don’t understand how to read it so they tell you it’s reading 130/85 – that’s a huge problem.
This screen is something we do for anyone, usually for free. So if you’re interested here’s an application you can fill out and submit to our clinic:
Frankly there’s a lot of marketing BS on the internet and I understand how hard it is to trust information like this, which is why we created the discovery visit opportunity.
We want to show you that this is the real deal, and is the best way to move through life safely.
I want to close on a serious note.
Sedentary living is literally killing us.
We live in a world, where back pain is the number 1 cause of disability, and you are more likely to die of an opioid overdose than you are in a car accident.
Metabolic diseases, heart conditions, and obesity are crushing the medical industry. And I don’t mean the pharma companies that profit from selling $1000 pills, I mean the medical experts that are treating scores of people every day.
You ask any doctor and I guarantee you one of their biggest complaints is being over-booked.
And the one common thread continues to crop up when someone is asked how their health started spiraling out of control: I was injured and couldn’t move very often.
This is serious.
Immobility (sitting/lying down for extended time periods) is toxic. It causes weakness and tightness among many other negative health risks. Doctors are starting to compare it to being about as healthy as smoking.
Movement is critical to our survival. But without the ability to move freely without injury, we’re risking putting ourselves in the very position we’re trying to avoid: immobile and injured.
We need to start taking the time to make sure that we meet the minimums of movement so we can continue to live active and healthy lives.