When a patient is released from an active treatment after having achieved restoration of joint motion, attained adequate range of motion, and understands the concepts of core activation and stability, it’s time to start building fitness so they can be capable of doing life at a high level.
Each person’s base level of readiness to perform a task is different. And that level of readiness is what we can refer to as General Physical Preparedness or GPP. Your level of GPP is what determines if you can unexpectedly shovel snow for an hour, take on a hike to a mountain lake and still be able to move the next day, or lift lots of boxes to clean out the garage. If your GPP is very low, going up stairs can be daunting, getting the dog food out of the trunk might be impossible and raking leaves would leave you feeling wrecked for several days. And really, these are tasks that we should be prepared to do without too much trouble, yet I see people everyday that have this low of a GPP. My aim is to improve everyone's GPP so they are ready for whatever they need and want to do.
If we were to break down a person’s capacity or GPP into 2 categories, we can start by looking at strength as one category and cardiovascular fitness or aerobic capacity as a second. In this article, we are going to discuss Strength.
By definition, strength is the ability of an individual to withstand force or pressure. This definition is obviously a bit general and can refer to one’s strength of character or mental fortitude, and while that is important, I am talking about a person’s physical capacity to manage forces or pressure (loads).
So, to talk about strength, we need to go over six foundational movement patterns of our activities of daily living. It is these six foundational movement patterns that every person should train to develop and maintain: squatting, hip hinging, lunging, pushing, pulling, and carrying. These are the movements that are needed to climb up stairs, shovel snow, rake leaves, lift boxes, carry the groceries out of the car into the house....we need to be excellent at these movements to carry on our daily lives. And all of us need to at least
maintain the ability to do these foundational movements to stay in the game. Better yet, we should endeavor to raise our individual fitness bar to maintain our ability to do life well by excelling at these foundational movements.
Let's look at these 6 movement patterns.
Squat: squatting is a crouch or sit with the knees bent and your heels close to or touching your buttocks or the back of your thighs.
Hip Hinge: A hip hinge is somewhat similar to a squat in that both actions can allow us to get low or pick something up from the ground. Although a hip hinge is a more ‘hip-centric’ move that does not approximate the feet to the buttocks or the thighs to the lower legs. The spine will remain more straight than a squat as well. Sitting into a chair should be a hip hinge type of activity.
Lunge: A Lunge can refer to any position of the human body where one leg is positioned forward with the knee bent and the foot flat on the ground while the other leg is positioned behind. It is important to keep the forward knee behind it's own toes and to keep a straight back or neural spine. You need to be able to lunge to go up stairs.
Pushing: Pushing is a common movement utilizing our arms. Most people have done at least a couple of push ups in gym class or a bench press in the gym. And even more likely, you have used a shopping cart at the grocery store or opened a door outward. We rarely think of shoveling snow as a pushing action, but we need to be able to push to pull off this feat. These are all pushing activities.
Pulling: Pulling is an equally common movement because humans need to learn to pull objects towards them pretty early in life. For instance, at least half the doors you use require a pull, so does rowing a boat, or walking an over-excited dog. Raking leaves is another pulling activity.
Carry: From suitcases to grocery bags, if you want to take things with you, at some point you are going to have to carry. Humans learn to carry objects from one place to another early in life. We think of this as being such a simple activity, but plenty of people make appointments with me because they tried to carry rocks in the backyard or carry their kiddos around on their back only to find out they did not have the carrying capacity they thought they had.
Everyday life requires us to be able to do these activities. To be able to live and function at a high level, we need to do these movement well. So when a person is ready to improve their general physical preparedness, we look to these movements as the place to start. In fact, most exercises, at their core, are one or more of these movements combined.
In the future, we will discuss these movements in more detail by going over proper form, everyday use, and athletic performance. We will also look at some simple, as well as some more complex, activities one can use to train and improve capacity within these fundamental movements and, well, life.
Dr Stephen Dobelbower treats and trains patients to focus on function as a better guide to living a healthy life than pain and disease. He has extensive knowledge on functional movement therapy in-addition to using Chiropractic care, soft-tissue therapies, and nutritional and herbal therapy to help people live full functional lives.