Last week I taught one of my favorite classes; The Train the Trainer Tactical Fitness Officer class. I like teaching this class for some specific reasons. The officers are all fitness and exercise enthusiasts. They all know the need for exercise and wellness to promote career longevity and these officers all understand the challenges of getting officers to take proactive steps toward their own wellness. I am not sure when or why being a fit cop became a challenge, why officers are so reluctant to welcome fitness and wellness into their careers. Of course I have my suspicions and relish the day that we can all sit down and map out the benefits of being a fit cop without worry about losing jobs or anything punitive. As I see it fitness is a job requirement and can make the difference between have a good or really bad day.
As the class progressed one theme emerged that I have seen in ALL the classes I teach, the officers were expecting a class on power lifting, cross fit type training or who knows what. What they got was a system; a system that each officer can take back to their department or team and use immediately. A system that no matter the officer’s fitness level or age or gender can immediately change how they move and feel. A system that can rapidly restore range of motion, flexibility and joint mobility all of which will reduce on the job injury while creating a better tactical athlete.
During the class there was an officer who lets say looked reluctant. During the course of the class it was apparent that this officer was VERY tight but the tightness he displayed was unilateral so it was on one side only. Specifically his right hip was at least 40% tighter then his left and in the sports medicine world that folks is an injury waiting to happen. So I volunteered or maybe even corralled this officer to the front of the room and set about “rolling him.” No not that rolling; using a therapeutic foam roller to release the tissue adhesions and restrictions in his hips and legs. Reluctantly and with a good bit of pain and groaning this officer “rolled” his glutes, hips, IT Band and inner thigh. We then spent exactly 3 minutes “mobilizing” his ankle, hamstring, hip flexors and thoracic spine/mid-back. I then had this reluctant officer go back and try the movement where his single sided imbalance was first readily apparent and he now had 100% normal movement! So in a total of 5 minutes using a simple foam roller and a rapid joint mobilization technique this skeptical officer now was able to move with ease and no longer displayed an imbalance that would have gotten him hurt.
Now ask yourself if there is anything scary or punitive for an officer to go through a simple movement assessment and then be given a series of “corrective exercises” to help restore the body to normal function. When the class asked the officer how he felt after the intervention the immediate answer was “I feel like running and I hate running”. When we as a culture take a negative for many of us like fitness and approach the situation from another perspective and turn that negative into a positive then we have nothing to fear when making the push for fit cops. Cops are not immune to the diseases of society, you get fat, have high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, digestive problems etc. BUT you deal with all that in a high stress environment where being fit, having good flexibility, eating a healthy diet will only make your job easier but it seems like the norm is just the opposite…
So I challenge you to try the “stretch” in picture. If your knee does not contact the table or there is extreme tightness in the hip you need to “roll” the Hip/glute/IT Band and Inner Thigh. Then go right back and try the stretch again and you WILL see and feel the difference in your flexibility. Then walk around for a minute or two and you will feel lighter and more able, all in around 5 minutes!