Rebuilding the Warrior with Gymnastics Strength Training: The Road to Recovery
Categorized In: Blog, Guest Blogs
By Ashleigh Gass
(Certified Clinical Sports Nutritionist and GymnasticBodies Affiliate)
As a passionate athlete and trainer, I have spent my life dedicated to the world of exercise physiology, nutrition, fitness and health. I’ve embraced a multi-directional approach to training, both personally and professionally. I am now a proud affiliate of GymnasticBodies™ – creator of Gymnastics Strength Training™ – which saved my athletic career. It has added dimensions to my view of fitness and my body I’d never experienced before.
I’ve undergone significant injury, in addition to seeing a lot of folks whose bodies have been strained and damaged to the max from their work in the military. I’ve met, and become friends with these warriors, who began their careers powerful and at the top of their class, and retire from duty with broken bodies. These veterans have chronic injuries they incurred through training and battle, and now, many of them as young as their 30s, are struggling at any semblance of ‘normal’ life. Using the system of GymnasticBodies and rehabbing soldiers is one of the most rewarding parts about my career in the fitness industry.
I’ve seen it time and time again. These once brave athletes and wounded warriors retire young and damaged in need of serious rehab – beyond the traditional methods. Take, for example, my friend and former Navy Seal Jason, age 38, who tells us how his injuries from the years of service made functioning in daily life difficult and painful:
“My L5-S1 discs were badly damaged while in the military, but I seemed to be OK. When I finally got out, I began slowing way down on my workouts. Now, 9 years later, I can’t lift heavy in bench, squats, back extensions or rows and forget about the days of running well. When I do engage in a workout, I tighten my core so much my sciatica inflames for about a week. I only get 3 hours of sleep a night. The tendons in the front of my shoulders are extremely stretched out and overhead work is isolated and painful. These setbacks to my body, affect my entire life. Pain overall is probably a 5 out of 10 daily.”
This testimonial of the after-math of live duty isn’t an isolated incident, but rather an extremely common reality for these warriors. Much like former Active Duty Marine Force Reconnaissance Sgt (and now new GymnasticBodies student) Matt, age 44.
“Both of my hips and my left shoulder were separated in 1994. My mobility has been terrible and my hamstrings are way too tight. After several tears in my AC joint, I have almost zero mobility. I have Tendonitis in my left elbow, and in my right knee. Currently I have to be very careful with what I do [physically]”.
You get the idea. These guys are young and with varying degrees of combat experience, all trained exceptionally hard – for years. They didn’t have access to information pertaining to joint preparation or recovery. They also didn't have the knowledge of how to merge mobility and flexibility training with their strength work. They are currently paying the price in a big way. This being said, fortunately they now have access to Gymnastics Strength Training military rehab, which helps to reduce their years of damage and support healthy mobility, giving them a healthier experience of life after duty.
With my close connection to these warriors, and many others, I’ve gained insight into injury, high-burnout, and the absolute need for fitness programming that helps to heal these injuries, while helping folks regain strength and mobility in their bodies. I’ve seen the reality of serious physical injuries, and I’ve learned that many cope with pain medication, which becomes another beast entirely; my work with GST™ has been to help find ways to rehabilitate those who have undergone such intense trauma.
Ryan Rubinstein, age 29, was a combat medic in the Army who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, outlines the military mindset, and the reality of physical punishment very clearly:
“The military mindset leads to an unbeatable spirit. Beginning in training and continued throughout operations, a forced exodus from our physical comfort zones leads to an understanding of our current mental limitations and how to expand them. The mind quits much sooner than the body, and that must not happen if soldiers are to adapt and problem solve when physical fatigue sets in. Success isn’t left up to dumb luck in our profession, but from mastering the basics. Methodical planning followed by frequent, progressed rehearsals all contribute to a successful completion of the mission.
My time in the military was spent rucking, running, jumping and then repeating the drills with loads exceeding 120 pounds. The continual punishment wears our ill-prepared connective tissue down to nothing. The problem is, the military doesn’t have the strategies in place to help soldiers repair structural damage – the costs are just factored into disability checks that do nothing to help our pain we've incurred due to years of service.”
Ryan has been following Coach Christopher Sommer and training with his system of Gymnastics Strength Training for the past 6 months. It took several years of pain and injury for him to realize that whole body strength comes from mobility and not just larger muscle group development. Injury should not be an expected part of the process. His goal? To use GymnasticBodies to help change the faults found within military training, creating a more complete strategy of health and performance within our Armed Forces. Combing GymnasticBodies and the military makes sense.
Moving forward, we cannot change the damage that’s already occurred, but we sure can take measures to improve it. Damaged backs, immobile shoulders, bad knees, hips and elbows can be improved dramatically if given the time and correct application of GymnasticBodies and rehabbing soldier training methods. Within GST™ programming, this is one of our goals – to teach you the merging of our training protocols with (or in place of, for a given time frame) your strength methods. We will give you the road map out of chronic pain and immobility, and help get your body (and mind) into a place where you can perform optimally – both in life and in battle.