First of all, congratulations! If you’re checking out this post it means you are exercising or working out to some degree and that, my friend, is awesome! One of the simplest strategies for maintaining health and increasing longevity is to have continuous regular exercise habits. For the average Joe like me, and possibly you, the latest research says that we should be investing a minimum of 150 minutes a week in exercise. What you do- running, CrossFit, Orange Theory, Kickboxing or Beach Body workouts- is much less important than how much you do. If you are a more competitive athlete, then of course, that time will be way up. Either way, high 5 to you!
Why We Exercise
Most of us that work out do so in hopes of making some kind of change. Whether it be for improving biomarkers like blood pressure and cholesterol or weight loss, increased muscle mass or endurance or frankly, just to look good. The cold hard truth is that we all know we feel better, perform better in our daily lives and have a more active social life when we are more fit.
Seeing change and making progress is a key factor when it comes to sticking to a program. Watching inches shed from your waistline? Yahoo!! eeing your squat numbers climb higher? BOOM! There are very few feelings that equal that of accomplishment. Especially when it’s earned through effort and sweat. On the flip side, reaching a plateau in your training can be equally frustrating. Stalling it out when putting in the time and effort can be the result of many things, some of which you are in control of, others you aren’t.
Avoiding Stalling Out And Injuries
One factor that can lead to plateaus or stalling out is reaching your body’s physical limit. This is especially true when working at building strength and wanting to see the weights get bigger and bigger. I’m not talking about muscular limitation, but more along the lines of structural and functional limitations. When trying to increase your squat weights, for instance, the spine and pelvis have to have proper alignment and balance. Your knees and ankles must also move through a specific, predictable pattern to provide the most stable platform possible for moving heavier weights. Even the slightest imbalances or irregularities in a movement pattern will limit your ability to move heavy weight. Likewise, even the smallest improvements in your movement patterns will get you back on the “gains train”.
Abnormal or improper movement patterns can also be the underlying cause of another common issue that will cause you to stall out in your training: injuries. Injuries in adult athletes and fitness enthusiasts are very common. In fact, the research tells us that in an average year there are 8.6 million adult exercise related injuries in the US. As we push our bodies harder, faster or longer, at some point we cross that threshold where the body can no longer adapt. That is where injury happens. When injuries occur it can take us off course and set us back in reaching in our goals. And sometimes, it can result in a loss of motivation to continue working out after recovery.
Whether looking to continue to make gains or prevent injuries, having quality movement patterns is key to success. Movement pattern analysis and screenings are valuable assessments for athletes, young and older alike. Finding defaults that are limiting mobility in your primary joints like the shoulder, hip and knee will give you significant insight into your abilities as well as your risks for injury. While these tests can’t guarantee less injuries, the mounting data surrounding them is showing a significant positive impact on injury reduction and performance enhancement.
Real Life Stories
One example I recently uncovered in a 30-something year old female multi-sport athlete. She presented with recurring right sided shin splints when running for longer than 15 minutes. She had been trying to up her mileage in preparation for an upcoming event but wasn’t able to get past 2 miles without having to shut it down due to shin pain. A thorough movement screen showed 2 major faults; right ankle and left pelvis. Once the faults were discovered, treatment included stretching and mobility drills, kinesiotape and a couple of chiropractic adjustments to the pelvis. Within 2 weeks she was beginning to up her mileage without pain.
Another example is younger male adult wanting to get back into the gym. He presented with discomfort and stiffness in the left hip when getting close to parallel in the squat and the discomfort increased with load. A thorough assessment revealed 3 contributing factors: 1) there was a dropped arch in the left foot, 2) the left knee drifted inward during the squat and inline lunge test, 3) the left SI joint was fixed in a forward position that altered the mechanics at the hip socket. Again, with the right mobility drills, strengthening exercises and chiropractic adjustments, he was back to squatting full depth and proceeded to re-engage in training.
Movement pattern analysis and screenings are an important tool that we utilize every day at Life Quest. If you’ve never had an assessment or feel like you are under-performing, or worse yet, you are injured, look us up. Call us for an appointment or schedule online here. And, if you mention this blog post, we’ll take $20 bucks off your evaluation making it only $49. More gains and fewer pains is the only way to train!