I made an awful mistake years back. It’s a mistake a I see many experts and trainers recommend their clients make. It has to stop.
When I was learning various forms of corrective exercise, I gave up on more traditional exercise. I only did rehab and prehab work. After all, I didn’t want to build on a broken body.
Here’s what I was missing then that experts and trainers are missing now. There doesn’t have to be a division between traditional exercise and so-called corrective exercise. There is really only exercise. When it’s done correctly, it’s corrective…when it’s not, it’s destructive.
When I first started hurting, all traditional exercise didn’t feel particularly good. I was dealing with a progressive chronic pain disorder and I abandoned other pursuits and focused only on getting out of pain. That was a mistake.
I didn’t know that pain most had to do with movement dysfunction. Pain can be brought about with something moving too much or too little. And moving too much leads to moving too little in another area…and vice versa.
And so giving up traditional exercising net-ted me less movement…which gave me more opportunity for pain. This is opposite of the approach I’m an advocate for now. Move as much as you can…even with traditional exercise…with modifications.
Let’s say it hurts when you perform a particular exercise. It doesn’t hurt during the entire exercise, right? It hurts during some part, or phase, of the exercise?
And if it only hurts during a particular phase, can you stop doing that phase. For many of us, that translates into partials. It may be upper most or lower most portion of the lift that gives us issues. We simply do what phases don’t hurt.
For others of us, the setup of the exercise is painful. It may hurt our elbow, our back or our knee just to get into position. What do we do then?
Whenever we’re setting up for an exercise and it hurts, too many of us just abandon the lift. Instead, try a different setup. I’m not talking about exercise variations.
Exercise Variations are all well and good but nearly every variation shares one factor. They’re symmetrical. And this, of course, ignores two variables.
The first factor is that most of our pains and injuries aren’t symmetrical. Even with our spine, it may feel more like one side than the other. This same goes for our limbs.
The second factor is that we may need to vary only on one side. We need to position and possibly move differently on one side. But that requires us to know more movements, not exercises.
It makes sense to me that people quit particular exercises. The paradigm behind exercise is there is a right and wrong way to exercise. If it hurts when you’re trying to do it the right way then don’t do the exercise.
But what if the paradigm is wrong? What if there isn’t one right way to do exercise? What if what makes an exercise right or wrong is not how much leverage one has over the implement…but what effect the exercise has on the exerciser?
What if we only judged exercise based on its effect? Then we’d have everyone doing the “same” exercises just a little differently. And we’d have everyone designing their exercises based on two things.
There are two main considerations when altering exercises. The first and most important factor is your response to it. Does it feel good to do it?
The second is less obvious. Are you addressing a needed or missing movement? If you’re missing a movement, you’re missing something else.
You’re missing the knowledge of movement. Before you can train all movements, you need to know all movements. And when you know all movements, you can know how to modify exercise so that it won’t hurt when you do that.