There are 3 fundamental truths, not on “trend” or a “fad”, you need to know before you start your fitness journey or workout routine for maximum results and injury prevention.
Being in the fitness industry for 20 years there have been fads that later turn into fitness “bads”. Fitness fads come about because an individual or small group finds success with a particular process or method and then decides to share it thinking that everyone will benefit as a result. They think that the fitness idea that was good for one must be good for all ignoring some fundamentals. It then catches on, gets traction, then fizzles out, and here is why.
Everybody’s body is different and has a unique set of imbalances and compensation patterns. While one exercise could be great for one person it might be damaging to another. When an idea is introduced initially, we can’t see the long term effects that an exercise or set of exercises have on an individual until it is done for a time under tension of either weights, bands, or body weight.
After a given time period, it becomes clear how the one size fits all approach to fitness is not a way to forge the fittest people but rather a way to leave joints damaged. There is no one thing that one can do that is a cure-all for those desiring a bikini body or a place on next year’s Olympic Team, but there are some universal truths or fundamentals we need to understand.
Once we understand the fundamentals of fitness and strength building we can look at new fitness innovations through the lens of knowledge. Often finding that not only will those of us looking to break our own physical barriers correctly and safely have more success but also have the best chance of steering clear of injury. Here are three of our favorite fundamentals:
- Time under tension: This fundamental states that when something is done for a time, under tension, on top of a dysfunctional movement pattern, an injury will happen sooner rather than later. Pay attention and seek corrective exercise specialists before supplying too much time under tension exercise and you will prevent injury.
- Bad form: There is no such thing as a bad exercise only bad form is another fundamental. When someone is unable to complete a movement properly this can cause more harm than good compromising the joint and muscle tissue integrity which leads to injury.
- Three exercises that are better to not be seen or heard from again. (Caveat: this information intended for the general public and of course there may be few exceptions depending on the individual)
- Lat pulldown behind the head: this exacerbates the already troubling ‘forward head’ issue most of the population has as a result of overuse of cell phones or being sedentary at a computer for too long. The lat pulldown performed behind the head increases the risk of a cervical spine injury and also creates unnecessary stress on the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. The subscapularis muscle gets put into an overly stretched position thus preventing it from properly supporting the shoulder joint. Here’s our form fix video on better exercises to try.
- Seated inner and outer thigh machine: People are most often not sitting in the chair properly which puts unnecessary stress on the low back and straining the muscles of the adductors and hips as well. In addition, this movement does not generally mimic specific movement patterns of many common actions in athletics.
- Straight leg lifts from the floor: This has been taught as an ab exercise when in fact it puts unnecessary pressure and force on the low back. In addition, it does more to activate the hip flexors when lifting the legs than helping create that washboard stomach. One of the main hip flexors, the psoas, attaches to the lower back so the tighter they get the more they pull on the lower back. The cost-benefit of this exercise is just too high for the mainstream individual and there are far better ways to isolate the abdominal muscles.
Whether you are a seasoned athlete or trying for the first time to realize your new year’s resolutions these are some great guidelines to mind. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of knowing how unique your body is. This isn’t just something your mom said to make you feel special, this is true! Yes, we can generalize to a certain extent, as instructors do for group fitness workouts or rehab protocols post-surgery or injury, but the truth is we are all unique, and though the nuances may seem small they make a huge difference when trying to dial in optimal function for an individual.
A good example is that a few mm is the difference between a healthy arch and a flat foot. Flat feet can lead to knee alignment, back pain, and chronic injury. By dialing in proper foot function, for example, compound movements can work for you instead of against you, but it is treating you as the individual which is key. Check out our Corrective Exercise Experts and set up an assessment to see how we can help you reach your optimal health!