Why Do You Get Hurt?
It’s becoming more and more common for people to have a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, and orthopedic doctor on speed dial. It almost seems like “bragging rights,” if you go see a collection of body maintenance specialists. It also becomes rather expensive. The issue is that people are searching for solutions and looking, maybe not in the wrong places, but not at root of the problem. That problem is pain, injury, and the buzzword of mobility.
What leads to pain, injury, and mobility issues? We can always start with lifestyle. Sitting 8-10 hours a day probably isn’t helping matters. However, the trend for office workers to get up and move around is improving. The next area to look at is how people train/exercise. Improper movement and high-volume exercise is a recipe for injury and potential muscle imbalances. Is it their fault? No, the modern marketing trend for fitness typically implies more is better. More calories burned, move movements done, and “do more in less time” have wreaked havoc on the common exerciser.
What is the solution? First, prioritize your body maintenance spending. If you’re going to see specialists to alleviate pain or discomfort, then ask for a means to not have to return. Treatment is great, but the solution is having someone coach you on movement and improving movement quality. If you exercise an hour a day, the honest need for all those specialists is relatively low. If you learn how to move efficiently, develop unilateral strength and coordination, and actually know what it feels like to stabilize a joint, you’ll end up saving more money in the long run. Not everyone can coach movement though. It takes time as a coach to develop a standard for treating muscle imbalances and identifying them.
First, let’s define some of these buzzwords. Mobility: Dr. Quinn Henoch defines it as, “The potential for motion and the ability to produce that motion, within a given joint system. Mobility includes soft tissue flexibility and extensibility as well as joint range of motion, arthrokinematics (small accessory movement within a joint), and osteokinematics (larger movements of bones at joints in the three planes). Possessing “normal” qualities of these attributes does not mean you have the motor control/stability to control movement, it just means that you have the potential to produce it. All that means that even if you’re super flexible, when load is applied, the body can’t (or the CNS won’t allow it) move freely or controlled in certain positions. Stability: Now that you have a desired range of mobility, next will be your ability control that movement and reduce/resist movement faults. An example of poor stability would be having a valgus knee in the concentric part of a squat. Flexibility: this is the ability of the joint or muscle to lengthen passively in different ranges.
You may feel “tightness” in an area and equate that to a lack of flexibility but “tightness’ is ultimately neuromuscular, meaning the CNS is restricting range of motion because of a lack of stability and mobility when trying to produce force. When we stretch, we’re trying to lengthen the muscle. A short muscle example would the inability to extend the elbow because the bicep lacks the ability to fully lengthen. I’ve had reasonably higher-level yogi’s struggle to stabilize a goblet squat. Even though they can freely move in the squat position, once load is applied, their body says, “nope. Not gonna happen.”
There is no honest answer with how to prevent injury. All we can really do is train responsibily, have discipline in the process of gaining more ROM, listening to your body, get stronger in different planes of motion, and being patient with all of these processes. But! We can definitely mitigate the chance of injury by striving for better mobility, stability, and flexibility.
At our facility the main training focus is movement quality. We do other things like strength and endurance training too, but without proper movement, the total function will be limited. We believe in utilizing proven methods for increasing motor unit recruitment and joint stability. Remember that more is not always better, but it damn sure isn’t better if you’re moving poorly. Sometimes it does help for someone to look at you and recommend changing the variation of the movement so you can prosper in the future.