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3 –Step Movement Flow to Health and Vitality
by Dr. Ryan Slaughter, DC, SFMA, Rocktape CMP
Movement is key to health and vitality. Having your joints and muscles move smoothly the way they’re supposed to enables you to enjoy life. When movement isn’t fluid, our bodies tighten up and we don’t get enough oxygen or nutrients; it can even have an impact on how well our brain functions and our emotion state.
One of my practice goals is to empower my patients to maintain their own health and not have to rely on me or other practitioners to keep them pain-free and moving forward. Because of this, I ALWAYS give my patients homework that is tailored to their specific needs. Not everyone likes to do to homework, we all thought we left that behind in school. But a few key self-care “homework” exercises can make a noticeable difference in health.
Every patient is different, so everyone’s homework is too. The assigned exercises are different depending on the patient’s specific limitations but they all follow the same basic formula and sequence:
- Mobilize (~ 1-5 minutes)
- Stabilize (~ 1-5 minutes)
- Integrate (~ 1-5 minutes)
Let’s keep this simple. The basic formula is to do the following steps in the sequence I’ve outlined below:
Mobility is all about movement. The first thing we should do is mobilize the joints or muscles that are tight or restricted. Each muscle or joint should be worked on for 30-60 seconds each. That doesn’t mean your whole body – focus just on that shoulder or hip or leg that feels tight and doesn’t give you the range of motion you’d expect.
The step includes: Foam rolling, stretching, distraction, and mobility band work.
We’re all pretty good at doing this. People will sit on a foam roller or hold a stretch for extended periods of time, but what most people miss are the next two steps. We have to follow the muscle release by training the body on what to do with the new range of motion. If we don’t you’re going to fall back into the same old movement pattern and be just as tight later.
Stability exercises focus on activating the core and the muscles that stabilize the joints. These exercises are usually done on the floor or are in a quadruped position and focuses on controlling the movement.
In this step, I usually suggest that each exercise is done in a 4-second block: 4 seconds out, 4-second hold, and 4-second return. Slowing these exercises down forces you to control the movement, which turns your focus towards stability and breathing normally.
Some examples of stability exercises are 90-90 breathing, dead bugs, bridges, and planks.
Integration exercises involve taking the new mobility and stability we just gave the body and putting them into a whole body movement pattern. The goal here is to plug the new range of motion into the nervous system and learn how to incorporate the changes we made into everyday movement patterns. In other words, reinforce this new way of moving so it becomes second nature.
Some examples of integration exercises include: toe touch, walking, squatting, lunging, push-ups, etc.…
Put Theory Into Action
Let’s put the three steps into action using an example of something I see frequently: A patient complaining about “tight hamstrings”. The three step movement flow exercises – which only require 10 to 15 minutes – could be:
- Mobilize: (~5 minutes total)
– Foam roll / stretch:
- Calf (30-60 seconds)
- Hamstrings (30-60seconds)
- Quads (30-60seconds)
- Glutes (30-60seconds)
2) Stabilize (~ 2-5 minutes)
- Leg lowering (~1 minute each side)
- Bridges (~1 minute each)
- Dead bugs (optional) (~1 minute)
3) Integrate (~1-2 minutes)
– The following integration exercises should be done in a SLOW AND CONTROLLED fashion (4-count down, 4-count hold, 4-count up):
- Toe touches (10 repetitions)
- Squat (10 repetitions)
- Lunge (5 repetitions on each side)
The whole progression shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. If your schedule doesn’t permit you to invest that much time, you can shorten it by taking out one exercise from each step (foam roll hamstrings, leg lowering, toe touch). If you have more than 15 minutes to invest, you can always get more benefit from adding an additional set and going through the entire flow again. So as an example if you have 20 minutes, you can get better results doing 2 rounds of 10 minutes circuits, rather than 1 round of 20 minutes.
As with any exercises, if you experience any pain – stop. Then get in touch with me (ryanslaughterDC@gmail.com) or a medical professional that focuses on movement. I can help you understand what’s going on with your joints and muscles and tailor the exercises to help you be strong and mobile.
I hope you found this helpful!
-Dr. Ryan Slaughter
(831) 440 7845