I bet you’ve wondered why you just can’t get out there and start jogging, lifting weights, or take a boxing fitness class without it producing some sort of discomfort in your body soon after you start. Just Do IT…isn’t that all we need to do? Just get out there and get moving?
Well, not exactly…
The reason why your knee starts to swell when you go jogging or your elbow hurts when you start playing tennis is because random exercise doesn’t correct body misalignments. AND, with continued random exercise and repetitive sports you actually risk making yourself worse. Your strong parts keep getting stronger while your weak parts get weaker, hence perpetuating any malalignment in your body. And well…you could be exercising for weeks, months and years and actually be putting yourself farther down the road to dysfunction.
It always amazes me how long someone will keep doing things and ignoring pain.
For example, if your upper back is hunched over all day working at a computer and you take a spinning class…you will tend to do this class in the same hunched over position. This reinforces the position of your muscles that keep you hunched over your desk. If your body is out of alignment, then starting that 8-week boot camp or spin class isn’t going to magically correct it.
If you ask me, I think all weight machines, free weights, stationary bikes, golf clubs , tennis racquets, and reformers (and even yoga mats need to be on this list too!) should have “Warning Labels” on them.
You ask why???
Because of things like age, previous injuries and gravity, our alignment gets off, as we move, it hurts, so we move less, as we move less and less, our range of motion becomes less and less. What used to be enjoyable to do in sport or recreation (or even turning our head to check the blind spot in our rearview mirror), has now become uncomfortable or harder to do.
Face it. The body doesn’t like pain. No exception.
In any physical activity, we naturally favor using our strong muscles. Same thing goes for that exercise class you signed up for last week. In an attempt to keep up with your instructor, you’ll end up using whatever muscles necessary to get the job done. Hence, we move within our own set Range of Motion boxes. Stiffness and inflexibility prevent us from accessing and using the very muscles we need to use.
Even if you do all your exercises with meticulous correct alignment…feet shoulder width apart, eyes looking forward, etc. Its not going to get you back into proper alignment (though it does help). Your stronger muscles will end up doing the work and the disparity between the two just keeps getting bigger.
BEFORE your weaker muscles can become stronger and alignment corrected, space must be created for this change to happen. This means stretching and opening things up in your body and taking away the restrictions. I’m not talking about a few brief attempts at touching your toes or a few cat-camel back stretches. I’m talking about REAL tissue stretching that genuinely opens up tight areas and creates space for your weaker muscles to get stronger.
Most of the time, attaining REAL space can only be accomplished through one-on-one help. I spend an enormous amount of time during therapy sessions properly stretching, creating space for alignment corrections, and then teaching my clients how to maintain this at home in between our sessions. My custom integrated therapy programs are based upon this concept. I spend time listening to my clients, assessing their movement with motion analysis, testing muscles, correcting imbalances with various techniques, doing corrective exercises, and then assessing and testing them again. I stress that getter better aligned is a process and this process takes time and effort. In other words, time isn’t spent chasing pain and rubbing on what’s hurt in my therapy sessions.
Just as we become more fixed in our ways as we grow older, so do our bodies. What was once a slightly forward head posture has become more forward. All the gyrating and twisting you do in your attempts to enlist the weaker muscles in the pilates class ends up relenting to your stronger muscles…and to another compensation in your body movements.
The way I see it…you have 3 choices:
- Keep doing what you’re doing and see minimal improvement (if any at all). Keep paying for your stubbornness the next day with unnecessary soreness.
- Keep on pushing your body relying on what you know and at the risk of hurting yourself or doing serious damage that will eventually require having some part of your anatomy cut on or shaved off (do you even know that part of your scapula is shaved off in most rotator cuff surgeries?).
- Get HELP. Approach your training from a different perspective and truly improve your performance. With One-on One expert guidance, you will get your body back to moving the way it was designed to move.
Why One-on-One? Let’s face it, fitness classes and clubs are a business. Their goal is to make money. That’s why they have these attractive 20 somethings’ with abs and butts of steal in their ads. It’s impossible for group instructors to monitor and personally coach individuals in a class of 20 or 30 in a hour. Let’s do the math…
- 60 minutes divided by 20 = 3 minutes per person
- 60 minutes divided by 30 = 2 minutes per person
From my experience, I know how long it can take for me to get someone to perform a corrective exercise properly and to contract the right muscles while relaxing wrong ones…usually way more than 10 minutes to get this done correctly…and you think you are the exception to the rule?
Now, I’m not bashing the exercise industry. Let me interject that I have the utmost respect for those who exercise regularly without causing damage to their bodies. Anyone who does this to maintain health and sticks with it is a hero in my book. It’s just that the ones who usually succeed at these programs or sports are usually a select group. They are usually the people who already possess the attributes needed for that class…strength and flexibility.
Rather, I just want to stress by aligning yourself first you bring more efficiency, results and enjoyment to your sport or exercise program.
So, we often avoid what we really need. It’s human nature.