Dear Breathers,

With The Walking Dead returning back this week, it’s best we have a little conversation about your Zombie Preparedness Plan, or ZPP.  I’m sure you’ve already thought about the essentials like food, water, shelter, gasoline, weaponry, etc. You’ve also probably thought about who you’re going to ask to join your Zombie Survival Team, or ZST. This list probably includes friends, family, and the neighbor up the street who is a little too into Bear Grylles. This is all well and good, but the best plan in the world means nothing if you don’t have the capacity to execute it. Do you have the strength, endurance, agility, and flexibility to carry equipment day after day while navigating through a post-apocalyptic landscape?

Let’s talk zombie facts for a second. Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide1 is an excellent resource to gain insight about what you will be up against. Zombies aren’t fast. On average, they move at a speed of about one step per every 1.5 seconds, or about as fast as a turtle. Only 1 in 4 zombies can get upstairs, which gives you another health reason not to take the elevator. And, even if you can’t out run or out climb them, zombies are not very agile, so you can probably out maneuver them when they come stumbling at you. However, the zombie is an amazing endurance athlete. They move constantly and relentlessly. That’s a problem if you’re hindered by a sprained ankle, painful back, or injured knee. Even if you‘re in good shape now, have you made yourself injury-proof? You don’t want to be the slowest member of the herd; things don’t usually end well for those who lag behind.

Here’s a closer look at the physical requirements needed to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse.

Neck: While zombies aren’t fast, they are many, and being able to turn and look in all directions will be important as the undead are closing in. Decreased range of motion or pain when turning your neck could literally cost you your head.

Shoulders: Strength, stability, and endurance of your upper extremities are critical. You will have to be able to hold a gun, stab with a knife, and fend off any zombie that gets too close. However, more than self-defense, you need the strength to clear wreckage from the road, climb up to safety, and pull your friends and family up and out of harm’s way.

Back: We’ve already mentioned the importance of strength, and your back is no exception. But when society breaks down, you will no longer be dealing with an organized world. Your back will have to tolerate twisting, turning, bending, and extending over long periods of time. Not to mention, you won’t be able to recover at the end of the day on your memory foam mattress. You have to increase your functional capacity to perform even in sub-optimal conditions.

Hips and Legs: The most important function of your hips and legs will be to carry you for miles at a time. Your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves will all have to be well-conditioned to endure the micro-stresses of being on your feet all day. However, you will still need the unique blend of power and endurance when you find

yourself needing to leap to safety, kick open doors, or sprint away from a Biter.

Ankles/Feet: Have you ever been on vacation and noticed how tired and sore your ankles get after walking on a sandy beach? After the Walkers take over, you can forget about having nice, paved sidewalks. The muscles of your feet and ankles will have to react to unstable sand, mud, rocks, and tree roots. With our comfortable shoes and flat surfaces, these muscles don’t nearly receive enough attention in our modern world.

So, are you still feeling confident about your ability to face the Walkers and not go “Full Shane”?

If the answer is no, consider adding a visit to your Performance Physical Therapist to your ZPP. Your therapist can diagnose your areas of weakness and prescribe interventions to enhance your performance in difficult conditions. They can give you the tools you need to zombie-proof your body. They can take you from an average “Joe” and turn you into a “Daryl.”

And, if you’re currently building your ZST, I’m open to all offers. Remember, a Performance Physical Therapist could help keep you in peak condition when the “Stiffs” hit the fan.


Your ZST’s Physical Therapist?,

Dr. Bryan Schwebke, DPT

Brooks M. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. New York: Three Rivers Press; 2003.