Prepare body for action after rehabilitation regimen


Photographs by Celia Storey

Fitness instructor Lindsay Petruk does step 1 of the Medicine Ball Power Toss

Back in college, I accepted a position as the lead exercise therapy technician at a chiropractic office. I figured that I would be exposed to the rehabilitative side of the industry while earning a few extra bucks.

I had very little personal experience with chiropractic care and really didn't understand the benefits clients received from it.

The doctor I worked for was extremely progressive for his time. In the late 1990s, many chiropractic care centers were largely volume-based businesses with a "crack and pay" approach. Less scrupulous chiropractors would see the same patients many times per week year after year just to keep the income rolling in.

This doctor was different. He believed that his role was to not only relieve pain for his patients, but educate them to prevent their return to his office.

My outlook aligned with his, and we began a fantastic partnership. I'd bring the patients from the waiting area to our treatment rooms, and we would use these motorized roller tables with moist heat pads to loosen up their backs and relax them for their treatment.

After the doctor provided the adjustment, he would update the patient's chart with my next task. In almost all cases, he would ask me to show them one of our exercise rehabilitation workouts.

Through working with the patients, some of whom were in extreme pain, I learned that exercise should never be taken for granted.

Most of our patients were not physically active people, and their injuries or discomfort were symptoms of an inactive life combined with poor postural habits or repetitive motions required by their jobs. All that our patients wanted to do was live a pain-free life, and this was eye-opening to a 20-year-old kid who wanted to lift weights to look better in a T-shirt.

As I've grown older, I've never forgotten that health is the foundation that fitness must be built upon. Before prescribing bicep curls, it's important to learn what challenges an individual faces from a pain or dysfunction standpoint. Without functional movement that's pain-free and balanced, a complicated weight-training program will fall like a house of cards.

The takeaway from this anecdote is to walk before you run. Rather than focusing on outcomes such as weight loss or body fat loss, it's important to prepare your body for action. This week's exercise is one of the movements I'd use during the last phase of patients' programs -- when they were nearly ready to be released from our care.

The Medicine Ball Power Toss will challenge the entire posterior chain from the hamstrings to the upper back.

1. Select a heavy medicine ball and hold it with both hands extended downward in front of your hips while standing.

2. Squat down until the ball nearly touches the floor.

3. Quickly reverse your position and rapidly stand back up while extending the arms upward.

4. Toss the ball over your head and behind you while taking a couple of steps forward -- for safety.

5. Turn around, pick up the ball, and repeat.

6. Continue for 10 repetitions.

The Medicine Ball Power Toss may not seem appropriate for a rehabilitative exercise program, but it was a fantastic way for our patients to apply the knowledge we had bestowed, and to give them the confidence that their care had been successful. Many of the patients who successfully performed this exercise had been in so much pain just weeks earlier that they could barely get out of bed in the morning.

Although I only worked in rehabilitative exercise for a few years, it's experience that I'll continue to apply for a lifetime. Now let's get to work!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.


Fitness instructor Lindsay Petruk does step 2 of the Medicine Ball Power Toss

Fitness instructor Lindsay Petruk does step 3 of the Medicine Ball Power Toss

Fitness instructor Lindsay Petruk does step 4 of the Medicine Ball Power Toss

Fitness instructor Lindsay Petruk does step 5 of the Medicine Ball Power Toss

Fitness instructor Lindsay Petruk does step 6 of the Medicine Ball Power Toss

ActiveStyle on 04/16/2018

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