We all know that, approached the right way, being active and taking exercise is good for us – but not if it aggravates old injuries and causes new ones. So what’s right for you? Doctors of Chiropractic Gurjot Nandhra & Penny Clark bust some of the myths so you can enjoy exercise and activities safely. Whether you’re concerned about exercise if you’ve been injured or you’re concerned about starting exercise if you’ve never really done much of it… this blog is for you – you will learn the basics in how to go about your training regimen, and how to get the best out of it.
Are your training capabilities different?
Why is it that some people are capable of lifting heavy weights, and then others get injured by something relatively innocuous? Are you born a certain way? When you see people get injured who are regular gym-goers, or do a particular sport, does that mean that it’s dangerous to take part in such physical activities? Time to bust some myths and find out what’s what..
As Chiropractors, our main concern is the spine.
Depending on the person and their demands, an individual will need a certain amount of strength and flexibility of their spine and extra spinal joints and soft tissues. A ballerina will have different demands to a power-lifter, for example.
Therefore the advice here is not ‘one size fits all’, and it is recommended to get specific advice from your Chiropractor.
At Spinal Care Clinics, we offer a tailored posture rehabilitation programme, and we are looking forward to having our 8 Weeks to Wellness programme back.
There are a few rules to go by when it comes to the right fitness programme:
The Right Stress is GOOD
Stress usually has negative connotations. In fact, it’s something that our bodies need to adapt and get stronger.
The body is incredible how it adapts to stress. Resistance against tissues and bones in our bodies causes stress adaptation, which leads to development of strength. A lack of resistance leads to weakening of not only the muscles and soft tissues, but also the bones! This is why it is particularly important for women to take part in exercise with applied resistance, to help maintain good bone density when they are at risk of a decline later in life due to biochemical changes after menopause.
The right kind of stress is key. We all need a coach sometimes and so guidance on form is recommended, as well as a gradual increase in resistance/weight. It’s good to identify the resistance that is ‘harder work’, but not at the expense of good form i.e. using the wrong muscles to achieve a position or movement.
A fantastic example of this is a particular case, whereby a man with an injured and extremely painful achilles, wanted to have surgery in hope it would put his pain to a stop! In an attempt to cause more pain in his achilles to the point of being eligible for surgery, he did calf raises with a subjectively heavy weight. What he found is that the pain got better.
It’s now understood that increasing resistance onto muscles, tendons and ligaments strengthens and helps to align the striated cells if they are injured and have adhesions. It is of course important to gradually increase resistance if progressing with strength training!
“The results from 8 Weeks to Wellness have exceeded my expectations. The flexibility in my neck and shoulders was very poor when I first came to the clinic and was preventing me from certain exercises. Now I can return to things I haven’t been able to do for several years. Nutrition was the area I was weakest in but with the support and information available, my family and I are now eating much healthier” Neil Bain.
How Are Tissues Injured?
There are 3 modes of tissue injury;
the application of a sustained and excessive force,
the application of a repeated and excessive force,
the application of a sudden and excessive application of force.
Note the word ‘excessive’, which will vary from one person to the next. When the mode of injury is by way of sustained or repeated ‘excessive’ force, that force may not feel ‘excessive’, but the nature of being sustained and/or repetitive can build to the point of ‘tissue failure’.
Think of the force to bend a pencil, at first it buckles slightly, if sustained or repeated it will effect the integrity of the pencil. The same applies when repeatedly bending or keeping a sustained bend of the spine while gardening, for example.
While your body is capable of that position, eventually it will lose tolerance. As we spoke about in the previous paragraph, your body needs stress to adapt and get stronger, but think about how frequently you put your body in a certain positions. It’s important to strengthen your body in different ranges of movement. The other important consideration is using the strength of your core with a neutral spine to minimise stress to the spine in different exercises or activities. Please read further for more information on this.
The right kind of stress is key! Start with simple & basic movements.
Get Back to Basics
It’s easy to get carried away by the latest trend, or become competitive with yourself and/or others to progress. Start with the simple and basic movements. Even when you feel comfortable with a particular exercise or movement, use visualisation and light practice drills before adding resistance- and make sure the resistance goes up GRADUALLY!
Keep it Functional
Our bodies have been built a particular way for a reason. We are not designed to sit all day. Ensure the exercise you take part in reinforces good habits, even when the workload is light, such as picking your children’s toys off the floor, repeated poor form can cause excessive stress and strain over time. Keep good habits at home as well as in the gym! (If the gym is your jam!)
We are not designed to sit all day. Keep good habits in your everyday movements.
Always Consider Your Core
A frequent question we are asked is “how do I tone-up my abs”.
When it comes to exercising your abs, it’s important to understand that the actual function of your abs and core is for stability of your torso.
Therefore effective exercises include the bird-dog, plank, McGill sit-up and lunges. A well coached ‘neutral spine and abdominal brace’ will activate the core while doing various exercises. This activation of the core actually helps to generate power in different activities. These are just some of the exercises we use in our ‘Posture Prep’ programme, which is individualised to ensure the appropriate prescription of exercises for each person.
Here at Spinal Care Clinics, we strive to give you the best possible outcomes and this is achieved by looking at all the different aspects of functional health. All our Chiropractors, Personal Trainers and Massage Therapists have a goal of improving joint mobility, stability and flexibility.
Article is written collaboratively by Dr Gurjot Nhandra & Dr Penny Clark
Dr Gurjot has been helping patients improve their function, pain levels and mobility for almost 10 years and having had multiple injuries himself, knows first hand the importance of exercise rehabilitation. Dr Penny believes in addressing key aspects of lifestyle to help reach your optimum health potential.