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How to train effectively to prevent injury and improve your quality of life

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 31 March 2014
Hits: 5431
In recent years Functional Strength Training has become a big part of most gyms and personal training studios. This type of training is nothing new to the rehabilitation field where therapists have been using different methods and coming up with innovative ways to restore their patients function for real life. However if you visit any gym you will see majority of the people working out using traditional strength training exercises which have been influenced by body building principles, with the sole goal to give people an attractive aesthetic appearance. Although body building may give the appearance of strong physique, the exercises performed are far from anything you would need in the real world and could be labelled “dysfunctional training”. Rarely would you ever sit down to lift something heavy. You would perform this standing up, and the sequence of muscular contractions must be precise or injury occurs. A common example is moving furniture or gardening. Paul Chek refers to this as Primal Pattern Movements. Meaning that if you were a caveman and could not squat it is likely that you would either be eaten by a predator or starve because you could not hunt. So in the modern world if you cannot squat you will not be eaten or starve but suffer many health issues and movement problems until the pattern that has a weakness is addressed. Traditional strength training however ignores this principle and develops muscle strength through isolating specific muscle groups, commonly lying down or seated which does not mimic any real life movement. In actual fact you are training your body and the muscles to become “dumb” as they are taught poor movement techniques and not to stabilise in a standing position. Wikipedia defines Functional training as a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life. This means the goal of an exercise program or any type of training must have a goal of trying to improve a person’s functional capacity or ability to perform daily physical tasks, whether they are job related or sports, simple or complex tasks with great efficiency, balance strength and control. You should be trying to complete every exercise STANDING UP! Rarely have a met a person who was injured from a movement or an event that was sitting down. But I have met hundreds, if not thousands of people who were injured from a movement standing up. Life demands a level of skill for your body to move correctly and efficiently without compensation. If your training program is lower in skill than your demands for life you will have a problem. Your training and fitness program must be trying to work your body at a capacity higher than what is needed for life. Only then can you really achieve great results but prevent most of the unwanted injury, pain or dysfunctions that exist with many people today. Our training philosophy is to go towards the movement that causes you the most pain. A good quote by Tony Robbins is “If you cant, you must”. Meaning that if there is a certain movement, for example bending, that causes you back pain. You must adopt a training program that teaches you how to become the Master of bending. This way there is a very small chance of this movement ever hurting you ever again. But what happens most of the time is, this particular action or movement is put into a box of “never do again”. We hear this all the time from clients who have been told by a Doctor. “I am not allowed to do Squats in the gym as it is bad for my back or my knees”. This is a crazy approach as now this person will further develop more dysfunctional movement than what they had before! They will lose even more muscle, skill, stability, balance, confidence and ultimately be on a knife’s edge of hurting themselves again. The use it or lose it theory is quite evident here. Check out these videos here of how we design exercises to help walk up stairs, get in and out a car and how to work in the garden. These most possibly are the 3 most common life movements that many people with poor movement pattern find very difficult to do A “good” Functional Strength Training program will demonstrate a comprehensive assessment approach to that identifies all the performance components such as muscle imbalance, postural concerns necessary to achieve the goal of a healthy well conditioned body. Most of the exercises performed are multi-joint, multi-plane, multi-tempo exercises with moderate to high demand on the nervous system. And once again they are all performed in the standing position. Benefits of this training include improved posture, improved athletic performance, improved stability, less chance of injury, efficient movement and better aesthetic appearance. Anyone playing sport must adopt Functional techniques if they want an improved performance or reduce their chance of injury. Check out success stories of Luke Andrews a VFL football player for Box Hill who has trained with us for several years to see how he is able to beat the ruckman in strength tests and hold the record for the 40m sprint! Or if you are just someone who wants to improve your ability to move for activities needed for daily life, like 76 year old Laurie Ford. You see regardless of whether you want to improve sporting performance or simply walk up the stairs more easily. Lying on your back pushing a barbell in the air or sitting on a chair pushing a heavy weight does not replicate the movement and timing needed in any sport or any daily movement that I can think of! It is dysfunctional! It might improve muscle, but as we have discussed here it does not improve movement. In conclusion train your body in a standing position and try to train your body in every angle and every plane of movement to mimic what you would need in the real world. You will not only realise your potential and find activities, sports, occupation and in general life is so much easier. You will also prevent many of the injuries we commonly see that stop people from getting results and live a long life of fulfillment and joy. This should be the goal of every Health and Fitness program and what Functional Strength Training is all about.