It is often assumed that the ‘Push’ station of the Police Physical Abilities Tests (PATs) are a measure of upper body strength or endurance. While upper-body pressing power is a major factor, the ‘Push’ requires whole body involvement. If you only train for pressing, you still won’t get anywhere if you fail to transfer force from your core...
In late 2015 I was watching a Free Shoot session during a University of the Fraser Valley’s Men’s Basketball Team practice. After a few minutes of observation, I texted the head athletic therapist of UFV and said “This guy is going to have knee problems” accompanied by a picture. Fast forward to early 2016, he tore his ACL. It was a non-contact injury while he was changing directions at the baseline. I wasn’t thrilled that I was right, but I did take some pride in my prediction coming true...
Here is how I made my prediction and how you can start to see the big picture and prevent injuries.
I mobilize every day. Or at least.... most days.... But that's beside the point. What I am trying to say, in a less-than-elegant manner, is that mobilization is important, and it should be done often. My car, my desk, and my kitchen table all contribute to some sticky spots in my Range of Motion that I need to work out on a regular basis. BUT. I have a different set of tools than most of the people reading this. I have a pretty strong knowledge of anatomy and access to clinicians and soft-tissue tools that aren't commonplace.
But again.... that's beside the point. The POINT is that you don't need any sort of advanced anatomy knowledge, fancy or expensive tools, or to pay $50 every time you have sore calf muscles. You are perfectly capable of doing regular maintenance on yourself. All it takes is a simple understanding of a few simple principles to get you heading in the right direction. That is what I outline in this post.
Stop. Stop it right now. Seriously.
This isn't really a post about the POPAT (which is the Police Officer Physical Abilities Test). This is, in reality, a book about 'Sport Specific Training' and the flaws most people commit. There is a perception that when we are training for a sport or a specific task that my exercises need to directly emulate the sporting task. For example, using a weighted baseball bat to try and make your swing stronger or faster, or using weighted boxing gloves to try and accomplish the same thing when you are boxing. While this seems like it might be a good idea, the reality is that it is misguided and lends itself to injuries without an improvement in performance.
Instead of trying to improve the specific components of the POPAT, train to make your machine (aka your body) more efficient. A well-rounded strength and conditioning program is going to take you a lot farther than any POPAT specific training protocol will....
Our ankles and our feet are our foundations. Like any structure, we need a proper foundation in order to have a long-lasting, sturdy and resilient building. But, unfortunately, modern footwear bears little resemblance to the way our feet are designed and limits the way they're meant to function. Ankle dysfunction, whether it be lack or range of motion or simply altered biomechanics, can cause serious hiccups and dysfunctions upstream (namely our knees, hips, and back).
High heeled shoes, stiff soles, and narrow toe boxes are a constant hindrance. The good news (yet again), is that you have the power to do something about it.
Like I did for Back Pain and Neck/Shoulder Pain, I have put together my favorite exercises and mobilizations. They are easy and effective and don't take any more equipment than you have laying around the house.
Whether you are suffering from shoulder pain, recurring tension headaches or neck tightness, you can still do something about it. All 3 of these things are often linked to poor posture (spending time seated with your head 6-inches out in front of you?), bad habits or upstream/downstream "tightness". Here is a shocker for you: I am a chiropractic student, and I still recommend you take a crack at solving your pain yourself (pun intended, but don't literally CRACK anything. That's MY job).
Below are my favorite exercises to help address something called 'upper-cross syndrome', which is a fancy way to say rounded shoulders and poor posture. Give them a shot, pick your favorites, and GET OUT OF PAIN.
More often than not, the site of the pain isn't the route of the problem. Often times low back pain comes from the hips, a product of our poor posture and daily habits.
Back pain sucks. Trust me... it runs in my family and I can tell when I have had a lazy day (i.e. spent too much time in a poor position). The good news is that for most of us, the pain comes from a neuromuscular problem, NOT from some sort of disease or irreversible problem. You not only have the power to take you pain and your health into your own hands, you have the RESPONSIBILITY to do so.
Here are my 4 favorite stretches and mobilizations to improve your hip mobility and alleviate back pain.
As a first responder you are responsible for the public's safety and well-being. FR are some of the most important jobs in today's modern world. There is a catch though. Not only are you responsible for the public's safety (including my own!), you are also responsible for your own. You owe it to yourself to be prepared and ready to respond to the demands. To do this you need to be injury free, strong and fit. Sometimes when you are living a high performance lifestyle (such as a first responder) it is easy to get side tracked and forget about what is important. When it comes to fitness, there are a few goals that I recommend working towards to stay in tip-top shape. Whether you are running into a burning building, chasing after the bad guy or lifting the MI patient into the stretch, these goals give you the fundamentals you need.