Pre-Hab | Undoing the damage before it’s done | #FitnessFriday

Aerobics Pilates personal trainer helping women group

For decades, health officials have continued to encourage the masses to get moving – and with good reason.

Even if governments have not yet declared it, the health of its citizens is, by all definition, a natural resource, and therefore in need of protection. However, wellness experts, so enthusiastic to encourage people to become more physically active, have neglected to understand that many of us have evolved into beings whose movement patterns were in fact causing harm to our own bodies. Our own movements are just as responsible for our chronic pain as inactivity and lack of movement the culprit for most of our medical problems. Choosing to go down one road caused other serious health issues to become manifest.

A recent William J. Broad article in the New York Times, “Women’s Flexibility is a Liability (in Yoga),” proves my point. Rightfully, we’ve all believed that the practice of yoga has a myriad of positive health benefits. “The bending, stretching and deep breathing can renew, calm, heal, strengthen, lift moods, lower the risk of heart disease, increase flexibility and balance, counter aging and improve sex,” writes Broad.

Much of his research had clearly proven, “proportionally, men got injured more often than women and suffered damage that was far worse, including fractures, dislocations and shattered backs,” from yoga. But, not so fast.

|”I’ve long expressed that flexibility without strength is a recipe for disaster”|

“It made sense,” expressed the writer. “Women are well known to be more flexible than men. Macho guys too often used their muscles to force themselves into challenging poses and got hurt.” However, just as men used their muscles and healthy ego to pull themselves into the poses and postures, so did women use their finesse and flexibility to achieve the same results. I’ve long expressed that flexibility without strength is a recipe for disaster. It was to the writer’s surprise that women were in fact experiencing more serious injuries than men while practicing yoga.

The problem isn’t yoga. Nor is it Pilates, Functional Training, CrossFit or any other movement modality. Getting fit is hard work, made harder when we attempt to improve our bodies without learning sound technique, muscle and joint loading, or what makes for a proper movement pattern. The results can be catastrophic.

A myriad of unintended and potentially catastrophic consequences could result from attempting to make extreme changes too quickly, and too randomly.

I recently discussed these phenomena with Dr. Eric Goodman, creator of Foundation Training.

“Adding load to a faulty structure is a bad idea,” says Dr. Goodman.

“When you have a muscular or structural imbalance,” he explains, “you’re taking that imbalance further or making it greater when you begin to exercise before correcting the imbalance. Furthermore, if you take any imbalanced movement pattern towards a more advanced movement pattern, you’re adding more of the proverbial straws that will break the camel’s back.”

He cautions beginners to the advanced fitness enthusiast to not skip over the basics. “Addressing how tension is impacting our bodies,” warns Eric, “is, unfortunately, a neglected component of physical health and fitness discussions.”

It is imperative that we focus on creating an effective communication with the body, its strengths, weaknesses, instabilities and postural deficiencies. This requires patience.


Written by:


Devon McGregor, BFA, BSc, Human Kinetics, is a fitness expert with nearly 25 years experience and co-founder of Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness centre.

52 St. Clair Avenue East
416-BALANCE [225.2623]

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