First, I need to express the obvious disclaimer that this doesn’t replace advice from the relevant experts and that a diagnosis and treatment from a sports doctor, physio, chiro, or osteo, is advised for any suspected injury or self treatment plan! If you can take care of the above - lets look at the rest. You can use the same process for rehab, rehab, or posthab.
My personal choice for warming up is by doing precise, rhythmical mobilisations. I’ve utilised a mixture of Dr Cobb’s method (Z- Health), and Scott Sonnons method (IntuFlow). These methods are the most efficient I’ve come across for helping muscles and joints heal and stay healthy. Using these methods seems to provide enough stimulation to facilitate healing, without producing aggravation. Essentially what you are doing is re-educating your nervous system, utilising restoration of joint mobility as the mechanism. The main idea with these systems is that, to make quick change in pain, you need to work on the nervous system as it is the fastest responder in the body. This is done simply by encouraging movement. Movement in all directions, and importantly, pain free. This creates fast change. I strongly recommend you check these guys out and choose a method that resonates with you. Really, what you need to take from them is the principles. You can make rhythmical mobilisations out of a lot of movements and traditional stretch positions simply by making them more rhythmical.
Paul Ingraham of painscience.com describes mobilisations as “rhythmical movements that gradually expand your comfortable range of motion, providing your tissues with a variety of stimuli and stresses. - “Massaging with movement.”” He goes on to say that “(M)obilizations are more “neurologically interesting” than stretching and stimulate more metabolic activity in the tissue while remaining gentle. They are more practical and efficient than stretching in many ways, especially because they can affect more tissues more quickly, and because they constitute both a better warm up and a better warm down for more intense activity that also cultivates coordination and relaxation.”
One major reason this works, apart from re-educating the nervous system, is it constantly instructs your brain and body that everything is ok. It CAN move with out pain, it CAN do what you ask of it. When people get hurt, you’ll typically see them reaching for the area, grimacing, moving in weird jerky ways, moving so it hurts (like they need the reminder), complaining, shaking their head, and generally making a fuss out of being sore. You know you are hurt! You know what hurts. Stop doing it! Stop constantly touching the area making your pain, face, swearing under your breath, and doing movements that you know hurt. The key point here is, you know you are injured! You don’t need to tell your brain every 30 seconds how much pain you’re in and what movements create it.
All you are doing is creating a program for your nervous system that says “this is unsafe, it’s dangerous, it hurts. Protect it at all costs”. Then you find other areas start working harder to compensate. Maybe you keep training over the weeks long enough for the original site of pain to disappear, but now you have pain elsewhere. When you take no notice of an issue that is of importance, the body will find a way to make you listen. It’ll recruit everything it can to make you listen and create pain in areas you didn’t know you had. LISTEN. Respect the injury for its illuminating nature. It’s highlighted a weakness. Here’s a chance to get better. So take notice, and take care of it. Show it it’s safe and you are creating a safer better environment for it. Teach it it can move without pain, massage it, bathe it in warmth (literally - use warmth on it daily), rest it from it’s most aggravating activities, and replace those activities with movements designed to improve your function in that area, whether through mobility, or stability.
Let’s wrap up by condensing the basic plan as a result of the two parts of info:
*Get your movement assessed and keep re-assessing it. I tend to assess my movement overhead and my squat, every time before I train. A lack of restriction and pain is obviously a green light. If you get injured, get someone switched on to diagnose whether it was just one of “those things”, or the more frequent load transfer style issue. Meaning, a summation of forces over time have beaten up a joint/muscle and, bang! “Sudden” unexpected injury. Joint mechanics, amnesiac muscles, or facilitated muscles, are usually the issue here. You need to know WHY.
*Look in to IntuFlow or Z-Health.
*My approach with these movement drills is, the earlier the better.
*The number one rule when performing these mobilisations is that pain is kept below 40% (Sonnon’s method).
*I’ll do it every few hours throughout the day, every time I feel the area/injury, I mobilise until pain decreases or goes.
*Mobilise between every set of any exercise that involves the area. The frequency can drop as pain drops and movement quality and range improves.
*In conjunction with these drills I apply heat daily, I never ice.
*And I always precede the heat with some solid work on a ball, getting in to all the sore spots (usually 10-20min worth).
* As you can see there is other work going on here, but the mobilisations seem to be the glue that binds all this work together and makes it useful.
*If there is no change within 1-2 weeks, you’re well off, you need someone with more skill to handle the problem.
You know what they say, train hard, recover hard. I want to say it’s that simple, but it’s not really. Training is easier. Recovery requires a lot more adherence and commitment. But the rewards are pain free, consistent training. That’s what we want right?