In my last post I mentioned a visit from the great Andrew Lock of Functional Strength Rehabilitation. I will write about his diagnosis in a moment, but first I want to talk about why I really like Andrew’s work.
At his most basic level, Andrew is a physiotherapist who lifts and is very strong. [Great!! That means the first “I need a good physio” box is ticked- if you lift, you need a physio who understands lifting.] Delving deeper, it is evident that Andrew has a level of intelligence that most do not. You know when someone is smart and they can apply specific knowledge fairly well, but not perfectly? An example is a teacher who seems to be a genius in their field but doesn’t have the social intelligence nor real world experience to teach their students applicable knowledge. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum- when someone is so bloody smart that they understand the importance of logical intelligence, social intelligence and practical intelligence and not only know the topic back to front but can realisticly apply it to the big picture and teach it effectively. This is Andrew.
Take it from a med-student in training, Andrew’s understanding of anatomy is second to none, but more importantly he understands with clarity the lifter’s body, psychology and training. As a lifter himself he knows how lifters work and how we think. His application of basic physics (great example HERE) allows him to understand what most physios do not- that for a body that is constantly loaded by weights training, rehab movement must be appropriate for the intensity and volume of the training. I have never met a physio who prescribes exercises as effectively as Andrew. With Andrew, the athlete’s pursuit should always be for strengthening, rather than resting or simply “stretching and releasing tight muscles” without asking the question “why is this even tight in the first place?” (sound familiar?).
[Side note: For anyone who follows Chris Duffin’s work, Andrew’s approach to treatment is very similar. Imagine a round table discussion with Andrew, Chris and leading expert Dr Stuart McGill…. Someone should make this happen.]
Anyway, I could go on; but let’s get down to business.
The reason my squat has been sucking is my absolute lack of core stability. I know, that sounds SO cliche- I hesitated to even share it. But unlike most PT’s who throw those words around like their online reputation depends on it, Andrew showed me exactly which movements are weak and explained how this weakness is actually causing the adductor pain I’ve been experiencing. Simply put: because of my ridiculously loose joints, the role of stabilising in a movement is passed down from muscle to muscle until one muscle just cops it all, becomes super tight, and hurts. In this case, my adductors are picking up all the slack. So logically, the treatment should be to strengthen the surrounding weak muscles and this is exactly what Andrew has prescribed.
In particular, my abs suck.
My Rehab Program
So my program is as follows:
#1: 3 sets of this everyday before training (or more):
Cues: stay tight when transitioning between side/front/side; hold for 15 seconds at each position
Helps: to work abs, especially obliques; and destroys glutes
#2: 50-100 of these every day:
Cues: think of it as a “stand up from box” rather than squat. Knees can’t shift forward. Hold weight out in front to force my core to stabilise. Practice ab/glute bracing and breathing techniques.
Helps: learn the position for me to squat painfree. This is what I have been using to teach myself my new no-knee-involvement squat. REALLY works the glutes and abs
#3: As many as I can do of these on each arm without my knee hurting:
Cues: keep front knee over heel to avoid pain.
Helps: really really makes you stabilise through the midsection. Very good because you teach yourself to stabilise WHILE using other muscles to execute the movement
#4: 50 reps of these every day (sets of 5):
Cues: keep head down, just lift arms up and down. Go slow and imagine the ground is made of eggshells (i.e. don’t just let your arms drop)
Helps: works the rhomboids and middle traps, which are really important muscles for stabilising the shoulder blade and preventing shoulder injury. I do these whenever I have shoulder pain.
#5: 50 reps on each side every day:
Cues: throughout the movement, imagine you are trying to pull the shoulder blade (of the working arm) toward the opposite glute – imagine you are tucking it into your opposite back pocket
Helps: stabilise the shoulder. This is the best exercise I’ve found to relieve the shoulder pain I get from too much study/writing (handwriting)
#6: 50-100 reps on each side every day:
Cues: make sure working knee touches the ground on every rep; lean body forward slightly
Works: glute medius- hits it way better than with normal clam. Probably the best exercise I’ve found to work glute medius/min, normally I find my hip flexors always take over but not for this one!
The only other staple is my seated band knee abduction… but I can’t think of a family-friendly way to film that one.
These exercises I try to do every day, I will probably go through the sets/reps outlined above at least 5x/week. Every time I train, I start with these movements. It’s a lot but after only a week of doing them, the hip pain has really reduced and my back is a lot better.
After my first visit with Andrew, I added his exercises in and within months it put 20kg on my conventional deadlift (170kg -> 190kg). Beautiful things happen when you isolate and improve weaknesses. Hopefully the same thing will happen this time round.
Something I have noticed with my hyper mobile clients, is that we all seem to follow pretty similar patterns. Tight calves, hip flexors, lower back, neck muscles, traps, pecs. Weak middle back muscles, glutes/hamstrings, abs and shoulder stabilisers. If this sounds familiar to you, these exercises might just help you.
Give them a go, and let me know how you find them in the comment section below!!