In today’s fitness industry there has been an explosion of personal training, small group training, Crossfit group exercise classes combined with the group training classes like Bodypump in Big Box Gyms.
The problem is that there are still a lot of dublin personal trainers, instructors and gym facilities that pay no attention whatsoever to a screening/ assessment process for injury prevention to assess your suitability to perform certain exercises . This matters more when you are over 40.
There is an incorrect assumption from trainers and gyms that everyone is built the same, in terms of limb lengths, joint angles and that they have the same mobility at each joint.
This omission of a screening process to determine your joint mobility and stability can increase your risk of injuries and can be like a time bomb waiting to be detonated when you are exposed to a certain number of repetitions or a certain load.
Here is a clue to what type of gym you are in – If everyone in your class performs the same exercise, it is likely that your trainer is either not assessing or he is simply guessing and injury prevention is not his priority!
The reality is that trainers are emerging from their 2, 4 or 12 week certification course armed with a qualification to teach exercise and group exercise classes with 15 to 50 participants all at once.
Unfortunately, they have not been trained with the skills necessary to keep your joints healthy or for injury prevention.
It’s not their fault, because they don’t know what they don’t know.
Most people are not aware that exercise is a licence to apply force into different joints with the variables like exercise selection, repetitions, loads and tempo or speed influencing how much force is directed into your joints.
Exercise is physics and the problem is that an exercise class for everyone suits no one and does not take into account the application of force into your individual joints.
Every step you take, you are applying force into your joints. As a coach, I must then be observant of all your joints that are moving and not moving during an exercise and understand what type of joint forces are happening at that time.
If you start to change the word exercise with a more accurate term “force application” you might be more wary about how much focus you apply when you train and what is really happening inside to your joints and muscles when you exercise.
The only way you can know whether an exercise is suitable for you is when you or a trainer performs an exercise specific mobility assessment of the exercise before you lift a weight.
(See in the picture above, the lady has an inability to raise her arms overhead with a massive difference between her left and right side.)
In our earlier conversation about her injury history, she revealed that she has previously fractured her gleno-humeral shoulder joint. Yet she is training in a class called body pump where she is asked to press a bar over her head to the beat of music with a barbell.
If she has no mobility in her shoulders and a difference between right and left, where do you think she gets her movement from to press a bar over her head?
Either she arches her low back to get the bar over her head, sacrificing her low back in the process, or she presses forward instead of upwards increasing her risk of a shoulder injury.) The risk of a shoulder injury would increase as the bar would also rotate as she presses with the difference of mobility in her shoulders.
Her inability to raise her arms over her head can be as a result of the previous fracture in her shoulder, weakness and instability, joint structure or a reduction in the extension of the vertebrae of her upper back known as thoracic vertebrae.
As women get older, post menopause, there is a change in their hormonal status, which can lead to a reduction in bone density affecting the upper back vertebrae which may limit overhead pressing if the rounding of her upper back cannot be corrected.
Some females posture has been in a rounded state for so long that it can lead to a dowagers hump. (See picture below)
A question to you is how many people were actually pressing a bar directly over their heads this morning doing a body pump or Crossfit WOD (workout of the day) that don’t have the ability to lift their arms up straight as depicted with no weight never mind a barbell?
So in all fairness, some gyms and trainers have started to learn one of two types of assessments, a specific assessment or a general assessment and implement it into their programmes. A general assessment looks at global movements and it tries to evaluate multiple joint movements at the same time when someone moves.
Examples of these include the overhead squat assessments, backward lunges and push-ups.
The problem is that these movements are skills which have multiple joints moving at once and is a technical skill that most people have never been exposed to before. So the question becomes, if someone struggled to perform the movement was the “false” result of your test based on joint restrictions or was it the challenge to perform technical skill?
Some people may also have struggled to get into a specific exercise position because of their joint structure. They could have an impingement in their hips or have different proportions in the length of their shin and leg bones, and their torsos.
They could also have limited ability to lift their arms over head because of the shape of their shoulder bones. (See pic)
But their trainer confuses their “joint restriction” in a movement at a certain joint with a limitation in flexibility.
The incorrect assumption he and many other trainers make is that there was shortness of tissues (tight muscle) across a joint and this was the reason that your movement was restricted and that you needed to stretch.
Stretching is not always the solution for tight muscles. Some muscles are tight because they are weak and your nervous system is trying to protect your joints by restricting movement.
These muscles might need to be strengthened through activation. Your stabilising muscles need to be activated and taught how to contract before you train them to increase the mobility at that joint. Mobility is dependent on much more than just muscle length.
A specific assessment may look at individual joint mobility but sometimes mobility becomes confused with joint laxity. Some people have excessive movement at a joint. They need stability to prevent ligament laxity damage and bone dislocations, not stretching. Just because you can get to a position does not mean that you’re sufficiently stable in that position.
That’s why those people who do specific assessments need to assess the movement and strength of the muscles around the joint.
The problem is that both kinds of assessments can fall short. Some Yoga enthusiasts can pass all joint range of motion assessments with flying colours but they collapse when the muscles are challenged with a muscular contraction.
A training plan should start with a detailed assessment of each joint to review its mobility and then the ability of the muscles that surround it to contract. This will give you the guideline to why a muscle / joint is restricted / tight.
And when you perform an exercise, a coach should determine the range of motion specific to you before you perform the exercise with weight. This way the coach can assess your anatomical differences and decide whether an exercise is suitable for your body.
Your evaluation prior to beginning exercise should begin with a thorough evaluation of your health history, training history, goals and expectations.
And from then on, training and each individual exercise becomes a never-ending assessment.
If you are a female, Click the link below to learn about our Fit, Forty and Beyond Jumpstart Programme, for women that want to melt unwanted body fat, once and for all!
If you are a man, Click the link below to learn about our Manly Fat Loss Programme, For men who want to muscle and lose fat, without dieting, eating carrot sticks and rice cakes.
Or if you want to schedule a FREE Discovery Session to help you with your nutrition and training,
Call us today on 01-2176518 or email [email protected]