It’s time to requalify, night shooting this time. As you wait of for the sun to go down, your weapon is already cleaned and ready to go, you and your team sits around making small talk and telling war stories. As you sit around the old table at the range you realize that your back is a little tight and your nagging left knee has picked a bad time to throb, but you did pull some OT last night and spent a long time sitting in your car.
The first evolution is kneeling followed by prone. As the range master gives the command and you drop into position you notice that the “fit guy” who was stretching while you were sitting is in position a lot faster than you and has two rounds down range before you even squeeze off the first round.
A colleague of mine is a range master. He shot some great video of 4 highly trained shooters going from standing to kneeling (fire 1 magazine) then to prone for 1 magazine. Two of the shooters stretch daily, use foam rollers and had “warmed up” prior to this particular evolution. The other two shooters, both highly skilled marksmen, “sat around” prior to this evolution. Let me tell you one thing: when we slowed this video down and looked at the biomechanics of the 4 shooters it became instantly clear that the more flexible shooters were much faster and, from what I am told, more accurate.
What we noticed is that the calf/bottom of the foot (plantar fascia), hip flexor group and upper back (thoracic spine) stood out as the limiting factors. Tightness in just one of these groups will inhibit safe and efficient motion but we commonly see tightness in all of these groups. As we have discussed at length in previous columns your job and life in general set you up for imbalances that not only slow you down but also drastically increase your chance of injury; I promise to not beat that horse any more.
So what’s a LEO to do? Get it loose and mobile and keep it that way. Law Enforcement is a physical job that makes you an athlete; athletes warm up prior to any event and so should you.
The rules: 15 repetitions. NO speed or bouncing. Slow and Controlled. These are active stretches so we are moving the entire time but we are moving thorough a very specific pattern and range of motion.
1. Calf and ankle glide: With the foot propped up a few inches and the heel on the ground do 15 slow mini-lunges. This is a foot, ankle and calf active stretch so you will not necessarily feel it any particular place.
2. Hip Flexor Lunge and reach: With your foot propped on a chair/bench/step/bumper lunge forward until you feel a stretch in the hip flexor of the floor leg. Keep the stretch as you rotate the same hand backward, your eyes follow your hand. Make sure the elevated leg does not move.
3. Thoracic Rotation: With your hand on a wall at shoulder height, reach under your body as far as you can then slowly reach back up to the sky. This is a full body stretch but focuses on the upper back, hips and shoulders.
While these look strange there are many benefits. It’s a full body warn up that works great pre-shift or pre-workout. You do not have to lie on the floor to stretch and you will feel and move better after these 3 active stretches.
About the Author:
Bryan Fass is a leading expert on public safety injury prevention. As the president and founder of Fit Responder Bryan’s company works nationally with departments, corporations; state and local governments to design and run targeted injury prevention and wellness programs. He is frequently contacted for expert opinion and content contribution for all aspects of public safety fitness, ergonomics and wellness. Bryan authored the Fit Responder book used by departments and schools plus writes for numerous web and peer-reviewed journals including the NSCA-TSAC journal, officer.com, & best practices in EMS. Bryan holds a bachelors’ degree in sports medicine with over 17 years of clinical practice, was a paramedic for over 8 years, and is certified as an Athletic Trainer (ATC, LAT), Strength Coach (CSCS) and the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Fit Responder developed the nation’s first validated pre-hire Physical Abilities Test for EMS. Bryan is a sought-after speaker on a variety of topics including risk reduction, employee self-care, real world wellness and How to Eat on the street. Fit Responder also has the only mobile app and program for Fire-Rescue fitness www.fitresponderfitness.com.