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Have you built a house on quick sand?

This idea for this article came to me after talking to person after person in and out of the gym about re-occurring injuries that they seem to pick up. They seem to be in an endless cycle of starting training, getting niggles, continue training, get injured, see a therapist, take time off from training, recover, start again, get niggles, continue training etc.

Sound familiar? Let’s see what can be done…

Have a think about this question:

 “What happens when you build a house on quick sand?”

 Ok so I’m guessing that most people will have heard of this story right?

The basic concept is to make sure that you have solid foundations before you apply load so that in the long-term you are not faced with a disaster! (Your house won’t collapse).

 So we can use this story and apply it to many things by just taking the concept and adapting it to the situation.

 Today let’s do that with something that is pretty important…your body.

 I’ll set the scene: 

A former couch potato has decided that enough is enough and that they need to make big changes to their life and get there butt down to the gym to do some exercise. AWESOME! What a great thing that this person has managed to drag themselves out of their ‘rut’ and make positive changes to start progressing towards a healthier lifestyle.

 So what’s the first thing that generally happens when people join gyms?

I know obviously there are exceptions to this but in general a new member of a gym would rather be given a gym induction, or in some cases just left to their own devices.

Bearing in mind that this person may have never exercised before in their life apart from general everyday movements there is a good chance that they aren’t going to know what the hell to do with any of this gym equipment in front of them.

 The gym instructor will possibly give this person a general exercise programme to follow. Note the word GENERAL. So hang on, what about the part in the pre-exercise questionnaire that states this person has low back pain, and knee pain? A few changes may be made for example they may be placed onto a X-Trainer instead of a treadmill so that they take the impact aspect out of the exercise. This is great, but what happens if their pelvis is laterally tilted? What happens if their thoracic spine is locked up? What happens if their piriformis muscle is in spasm?

What happens is that they start loading dysfunction and taking dysfunction through repetitive cycles, and therefore making the dysfunction stronger. So now this person is up and moving which is great, but they are also unknowingly setting themselves up for an injury. Now this isn’t the gym’s fault at all, it’s just the way it is.

A few weeks, possibly months goes by and even though they are moving much more and feel the benefits of exercise, their low back, knee pain and general discomfort is gradually increasing to a point where they have to stop exercising so that it eases off. Now that they have stopped exercising, some other bad habits start kicking back in and before they know it, they are back where they started. These people add to more statistics of people that join a gym, use their membership for the first couple of months with only the best intentions and then are pretty much forced by their own good-doing to leave and slip back to the beginning of the cycle.

So what can be done about this? Well before starting any exercise programme, we need to know if the body is functioning correctly, and if there are any major dysfunctions that are going to be made worse through repetitive movements. This is where a movement screening process can be a a great injury prevention tool. By screening the body as a whole we can see where dysfunction lies, and also find the root cause of the problem. Once this is established, we can then set a corrective programme to follow that will correct dysfunctions, and also get this person moving at the same time. Win win really!

This person can now feel confident that they are addressing dysfunctional areas of their body, and that the correct exercise is then being prescribed to enhance their movement and seriously reduce their chance of injury, and therefore drop out of the exercise programme. Put this together with some solid nutrition and lifestyle advice and hey presto, one person getting some serious results! Correct me if I’m wrong, but this to me makes it much more of a PERSONAL service to the client and takes out the guess work when prescribing exercise.

Just some of my thoughts anyway. Please feel free to leave any comments below. More information to come, I’m just getting started.

Chris Kitson – Specialist Biomechanics Coach

“I don’t just guess, I assess”