I’m a jack of many trades. By education I’m a computer geek, by occupation I’m a cop and by passion I’m a gym rat.
Like many I started learning about strength and conditioning by the finest part-time, volunteer, warm body that my school could coax into sitting in our weight room while we checked off exercises on our one size fits all program. Having been a mostly sedentary fat kid I realized several benefits of exercise despite the lack of any real amount of guidance or instruction. My introduction into the world of strength and conditioning wasn’t ideal but it was good enough to kindle a fire that has kept me in the gym over the last 16 years.
Somewhere along the line I found myself becoming the guy that uses nearly all of his free time in the gym or reading about things to do in the gym. I have a vast amount of experience and base of knowledge but I consider myself a tinkerer not necessary an expert. I’m deferentially not a English professor so bear with me on the occasional incorrect comma and use of there instead of their.
Cops have back and hip problems on a massive scale. If you search for cop back pain on the internet most of the returned results are surgery centers and workmen comp attorneys. You might find a few articles from law enforcement publications that talk about a few stretches and maybe some exercises to strengthen weak muscles but nothing of real substance. The fact of the matter is there is a massive amount of information available its just not being presented directly to cops. This generation of law enforcement has an incredible opportunity to stop the perpetual cycle of trashing our bodies for our jobs. All we need to do is start connecting some dots and turn ideas into practice.
My purpose is to reverse engineer our issues and present a basic blueprint for cops to follow so they can work their full 30+ year carrier and retire with full use of their body.
Allow me to disclaim myself:
1) I’m a cop not a doc. Talk to your doctor before taking part in any fitness or self care routine. Their advice trumps mine.
2) The ideas and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. When you think I’m a fool you can’t blame them but more importantly when you think I’m reasonably intelligent they don’t get the credit.
Why you need to start now.
We need to come to an understanding about being a cop. It wrecks your body. If you’re 22, pain free and bullet proof talk to some veteran officers and ask them how well their bodies work. Ask them about their shoulders, hips and back. They’re coming at you from the future unless you learn to maintain your body. A word to the veterans with pain. It’s not too late to start dealing with your junk it just takes time and effort.
A few rules before we get started
- It’s important for me to restate that I’m cop not a doc. Check with your healthcare professional before trying this. That being said you need to take responsibility for your body. As a culture we’ve gotten away from taking ownership of our well being. We wait until we have a problem and then pay someone else to fix it while we completely neglect or responsibility. We ask them to fight our uphill battle with six minuet doctor visits, and twenty minuet chiropractor/physical therapy appointments. We have to get away from that model and develop basic understanding that allows us to be our primary caretakers in conjunction with the advice of qualified healthcare professionals.
- If it feels sketchy its sketchy. Body maintenance can hurt especially when you’re getting started. Don’t freak out once you feel discomfort but you know the difference between the pain of a lacrosse ball pressing into the matted down tissues of your thigh and stabbing nerve pain. If it feels like something is wrong guess what… something is probably wrong. Try something else or go get it checked out if you need to.
- You need to give mobility work 15 minuets a day everyday. Look your body wasn’t wrecked in a day and it wont be fixed in a day. We’re chipping away at a growing mountain. You can make improvements every day but they’re going to be lost if you don’t keep at it. Not only are you trying to deal with problems you already have but you’re battling 9+ hour shifts that are putting you in bad positions and wrecking you again. 15 minuets a day is pretty reasonable when you consider what your working against.
- Test and retest. If something works it should make a difference if it doesn’t then it wont. If you’re looking to improve range of motion in a joint 15 minuets of maintenance should be enough to yield a result that is observable. Don’t just take someones word for it and assume it working test before and after.
- Some equipment is necessary. At a minimum two lacrosse or similar sized balls, some sort of jump stretch band green is ideal and voodoo floss bands. Most of this stuff you can buy local somewhere but you can also check out roguefitness.com, amazon.com or any other list of online retailers. Make the investment its worth it. Also having a squat rack somewhere in your house is awesome for many reasons. If you don’t have one you may need to consider where you went wrong with your life.
When it comes to fitness or self maintenance I don’t think we have too many original ideas out there anymore. Most sound practices are hundreds of years old were just following the newest iteration. What makes this current cycle interesting is that we have experts offering up incredible information at low or no cost on the internet and easily available books. On top of that we have obsessed curators of this information providing one stop resources for the end user.
If you’re looking for more resources on body maintenance check out the work of Kelly Starrett, Gray Cook, Dan John, Jill Miller, and Pavel. I refuse to hide the fact that the bulk of my material is made up of their ideas. I’m just relating it to law enforcement.