Not All Exercise is GOOD Exercise
Determining what exercises are appropriate for protecting our structural support system is a daunting task. Before attempting a new exercise, it is important to take a moment and assess the movement itself. With each exercise you choose to perform, you should look for certain criteria. Begin by determining whether or not the exercise you are about to perform utilizes only one specific muscle, or many different muscle groups simultaneously. It is preferable to select an exercise that utilizes many muscle groups at once. The reason being is that when you use your body in a functional manner, multiple muscle groups must work together at once to complete the movement; never is it only one muscle group working at a time. Another question we should ask ourselves is whether or not the exercise we are about to perform is sustainable. A sustainable movement is one that has the ability to be performed repeatedly over time without causing any adverse effect or injury. Lastly, we need to determine whether or not the selected exercise is functional. A functional exercise would be one that increases our ability to perform activities that are a part of our daily routine.
Think of the Leg Press exercise for example. This is an exercise where you sit down, and place your feet on a platform out in front of you, with the knees bent. You then press yourself back, away from the platform by extending the knees and hips. This is an exercise that is designed specifically to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in the legs. While it is effective in increasing the strength of these leg muscles, it puts the low back in an incredibly vulnerable position. The reason being is that the flexed position in which you are seated in, combined with the movement itself as well as the resistive force applied to the movement, drastically increases the intervertebral disc pressure, specifically in the lumbar spine. This force is often beyond what our bodies are capable of dispersing, and frequently results in an unfortunate injury known as a disc herniation. Aside from being a dangerous and non-sustainable exercise for our structural support system, it is also not a functional movement. Simply put, we would never use our bodies in the same way in which it is positioned and during this exercise. In this case, as in many others, the risk posed by the exercise greatly outweighs the potential reward gained by performing the movement.
Altering the mindset in which we think of the suitability of an exercise is a key piece to protecting our structural support system and limiting the potential for injury. If you are unsure as to whether or not some of the exercises that you are performing are not ideal, sign up for our upcoming Sustainable Exercise Workshop being held on Wednesday, January 27th at 6:15 pm, or schedule an appointment to meet with our Exercise Specialist.