And guess what, he doesn’t have any hip problems!
Landen Lucas is a former member of the University of Kansas Jayhawks Basketball Program. He graduated in 2017 and is now embarking on his professional career. After playing with the Boston Celtics in the 2017 NBA Summer League, he signed a 3-year contract with Alvark Tokyo in Japan.
As a 6’10” and 240 lb. forward, Landen’s body is constantly taking a pounding. He’s running up and down the floor, hitting other big bodies, diving on the ground for loose balls, taking charges, setting big screens and training intensively day in and day out. Athletes like Landen require proper rest, recovery and restoration to succeed – and to keep doing it for years on end.
Like all professional athletes, Landen has sustained and recovered from multiple injuries. He knows what it is like to practice and play in pain. A few years ago, Landen noticed tightness around his hips and started having lower back pain. His training staff at Kansas, one of the world’s most elite led by Andrea Hudy, worked with him to eliminate his pain and tightness. They developed an effective hip mobility program as part of overall care to make sure his lower back recovered and performed optimally.
As Landen graduated from Kansas and began his professional career, he continued to stay ahead of the back pain and tightness by performing the hip mobility program. Hip mobility exercises and tools are no secret to elite and professional athletes. Any physical therapist, chiropractor or athletic trainer understands the central role the hip joints play in not just a healthy lower back, but an explosive, performance-enhanced lower back.
What he found was a new and specific way to create significant relaxation of the joints and muscles around his lower back and hips.
As Landen continued his training, he came across HipTrac, a medical device that performs independent long axis traction at home. He wanted to give it a try to see if it would be helpful to his weekly restoration and recovery program. Landen had concerns that using a medical device that was developed for individuals with hip osteoarthritis, femoral acetabular impingement and labral tears, when he didn’t have any of these, would be contraindicated. What he found was a new and specific way to create significant relaxation of the joints and muscles around his lower back and hips.
HipTrac’s creator Dr. Tony Rocklin caught up with Landen during one of his training days to ask him a few questions about his experience with HipTrac:
TR: Landen, thanks for taking the time out of your training today to talk to us. Why don’t you start by telling our readers a little bit about what you’re up to these days?
LL: No problem. Well, I’m back from Japan recovering from a toe injury and about ready to head down to Los Angeles for some advanced sports performance training and conditioning. Right now, I’m working with a sports physical therapist by the name of Dr. Jordan Brandon at Therapeutic Associates: PACE in Portland, Oregon. Most of the pro athletes that are in Portland do their rehab and performance enhancement training out at his clinic or their other sports facility in Lake Oswego run by Dr. Shawn Dailey. Jordan has a great basketball-specific rehabilitation and performance enhancement program that I am doing as I get ready to head down to LA for some other strength and conditioning stuff. I’m preparing to go play in the NBA Summer League again.
TR: Is it your goal to play in the NBA or are you happy playing in Japan?
LL: Well, I’m extremely happy in Japan. My Dad played professionally there when I was a kid and I lived there for the first part of my life. I was able to become fluent in Japanese and become immersed in the culture. At Kansas, I was able to graduate with degrees in Japanese and Strategic Communications as well as work towards my MBA during my 5 years there.
I really enjoy being overseas. I feel very fortunate to be able to get paid a good amount of money to play a sport I love in a country that has been a big part of my life. Of course, I think any basketball kid’s dream is to play in the NBA. I have a clause in my contract in Japan that if I am offered a NBA contract, I’m able to return to the US to play.
“Training really hard can make you feel stiff and tight, even if it’s not an injury, and I don’t want that feeling. So, I do HipTrac.”
TR: What is a typical day of training for you?
LL: Well, it depends on whether I’m in season, in recovery from an injury or preparing to return to the team. At this point, I am in transition from Jordan’s program here to another program down in LA. So, I usually get about 8 hours of sleep, get up and get a good breakfast, head down to Jordan’s facility, do some dynamic warm ups and the training they have planned that day. It could be functional strength movements, power and explosion training, core endurance training, SAQ stuff (speed, agility, quickness), cardio, that type of stuff.
After that I’ll have a small meal. I eat about 5-6 times per day right now as I work to get to my playing weight of 240 lbs., with around 8-10% body fat. They help me with meal planning which is great. Then I come back for treatment and rehab-type stuff. That includes physical therapy, acupuncture, dry needling, etc.
That is also when I do HipTrac. Training really hard can make you feel stiff and tight, even if it’s not an injury, you still can feel like you’re tightening up and I don’t want that feeling when I am moving throughout the day. So, I do HipTrac at that point of my day and it takes that feeling away and makes me feel ready to go again. Then I get lunch, rest for a few hours, and try to do some reading or just hang out.
Then I’m back at the sports lab with Jordan for some more training on stuff that we didn’t do in the morning session. After that it’s another small meal. At that point I head home, rest again, hang out, get some dinner and maybe do some light stretching. I’ll do HipTrac again if I feel like I need to, then it’s off to bed depending on what is going on that night. I do that about 5 days per week and then actively rest on the other days.
TR: Wow, that sounds like a very busy schedule.
LL: Well, the way I look at it, there are only so many spots on a NBA roster and I always just think about the next guy who is working harder than me, fighting for that same spot. I won’t be outworked. This is my time, this is my shot at achieving one of my dreams I’ve had since I was 6 years old. There’ll be plenty of time to rest when I’m older. Right now, it’s go time!
“Landen, you’re 6’10” and 240 pounds – no, I cannot keep pulling on your leg for 20 minutes. Why don’t you just use the HipTrac?”
TR: I hear you. Let’s talk specifically about HipTrac. How did you find out about it?
LL: During one of my rehabilitation sessions with Jordan, he was kind of cooling me down after training, doing some hip mobility work and was doing a technique where he pulls on my leg like he is stretching it out or something. I told him that it felt really good and if he could keep doing it. He kind of chuckled and said, “Landen, you’re 6’10” and 240 pounds – no, I cannot keep pulling on your leg for 20 minutes. Why don’t you just use the HipTrac?” I said what’s a HipTrac and the rest is history.
TR: How does it make you feel after using it?
LL: Well, in the beginning, I didn’t really feel anything. Jordan said that some people will feel something right away and it must accumulate in others. For me, I just started using it as he taught me, but I didn’t feel much. Then, after the 4th time on it, I noticed that when I would get up, my hips and lower back felt almost buoyant and light. It kind of freaked me out because I’m just used to feeling tight during intense training weeks.
I think for me, it was good that I started out kind of too easy with it and just naturally let the relief come to me over time. To be honest, I felt a little nervous because they said it was a medical device for people with hip problems and I didn’t have any of those. But Jordan told me that some other pro athletes were using it and some of them had hip problems and others didn’t. After I use the HipTrac, I feel like I am 7’ tall and just relaxed around my hips and lower back. I feel like it helps me recover quicker, so I can be ready for the next training session. Now, after I play a game, I will cool down with HipTrac as well.
“Man, I would tell them to check it [HipTrac] out. I just feel like I bounce back quicker and am ready to hit the next training session hard.”
TR: Do you think recovering quicker and feeling more relaxed after intensive practice or training will extend your career?
LL: (chuckles) Dang, I sure hope so. I’m just trying to get my career going and the last thing I want is something holding me back or holding me down. I’m going to keep using it. Why wouldn’t I? Why take the chance and feeling tight when I can feel relaxed and recovered? I feel like I get more out of my training when I don’t spend the first half of it trying to warm up.
TR: What would you tell other professional or elite athletes about HipTrac?
LL: Man, I would tell them to check it out. Being confident in your body as a pro athlete is important. If you start feeling vulnerable, you start to question your body and you just cannot do that as a pro. You need to feel dominant, confident, healthy so you can hit your training hard and hit the competition even harder. I would tell them that if you have any lower back or hip problems and even if you don’t like me and some others that I know, just check it out and see if it helps you. I just feel like I bounce back quicker and am ready to hit the next training session hard.
TR: Landen, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me about HipTrac and how it helps you. We wish you the very best and hope you have a long and successful career.
LL: You’re welcome, but I should be thanking you. HipTrac has helped me a lot already and I feel like it is going to be a big part of my career.
You can follow Landen Lucas on Twitter here.