Quality over Quantity – know why and what you’re doing. The subject of quality has been covered in every medium thinkable. Physical wellness is no different. You can find information about quality movement everywhere, primarily online. The internet can be an invaluable source of information…this website is just one example. Yet, the good ‘ol world wide web can also be one of the primary reasons you are getting hurt.
The internet will give you exercises that are new and exciting ways to “get you fit” but may be too advanced, aggressive, or just not appropriate for you. In fact, many exercises are not necessarily appropriate for all. However, like most things in life, we can find a way to accomplish anything. Just push through. Work hard. Persevere. One problem with this approach is that the way we attempt to do this is often compensatory and can be harmful.
I think most of us have worked in the yard, gone for a run, chased our kids around, attempted to join an exercise class or whatever else in order to “stay active.” Do you ever hurt more than just muscle soreness after? Do you notice an ongoing ache in your knee, your foot, your back, your shoulder? Worse than that, is it more than an ache? This is not normal. You are likely doing something you perceived as “good” at the expense of something else. What is unfortunate is that you thought you were being healthy! Also, any of the above examples are great physical activities. The key here that you may be missing is QUALITY.
Often, we think if I ________, I am going to _______. Fill in these blanks with “stretch more, move properly” or “exercise, lose weight” or “work harder, perform better.” Most of us place assumptions on our activities. The problem with these assumptions is that it is possible for fit people to move poorly and unfit people to move well – Gray Cook. We cannot afford to call fitness and foundational movement quality the same thing. You may be moving in dysfunctional manners while attempting to gain fitness objectives. Now, that does not mean you should not attempt to improve your health or work toward performance goals – just make sure you move appropriately first. Also, I know the word dysfunction seems harsh. Really, it simply means sub-optimally. This can vary in its degree, too. Meaning, your level of movement dysfunction may be minor…like having slightly higher cholesterol or less than 20/20 vision. But it could similarly mean you have frighteningly high cholesterol or vision that is so bad, you need corrective lenses/contacts.
So, depending on the degree of your movement dysfunction may dictate your level of intervention. If you have poor foundational motion, stability, alignment, motor control, balance, etc…you cannot expect any given fitness solution to arbitrarily fix this. Most of us are looking for fitness and strength, but have poor efficiency. If we’re not efficient in how we move, becoming stronger while still moving poorly does not address our deficit. By moving without appropriate efficiency, we just survive. Survival does not equal competency or efficacy. More than that, survival may not only not make you stronger, but its perceived benefit may actually become a hindrance.
With all of this said, most of us would like to move well, but come into fitness with existing restrictions, past injuries, underlying conditions. These findings do not have to define you, but absolutely matter and effect how you should address your health and movement wellness. So, why would we want to perpetuate moving with a fitness or sport activity with asymmetry or poor movement integrity? This has to be the first thing we look at addressing…not what lifts to do, how much to run, what sport we play, what ab/core work is needed. Move well first – just your body, not additional weight or activities at higher speeds. Another consideration is that we must examine volume. Even with the best movement patterns and quality techniques, we have to be mindful of volume-related breakdown. Our bodies have amazing abilities and capacities. We must regard its abilities as well as its limitations. To summarize where I am coming from, know why and what you’re doing – be informed about YOUR body and its competencies.