Is Your Training Harming You?

by Bob Irwin

Many athletes and individuals are performing high‐level activities despite inefficiencies in their fundamental movements. They are attempting to add fitness to dysfunctional movement patterns. Many individuals train with a pre‐existing problem. They simply do not work to decrease their weaknesses during strength and conditioning (fitness) programs. In today's evolving training and rehabilitation market, athletes and medical professionals have access to a huge arsenal of equipment and workout programs; however, the best equipment and programs cannot improve fitness and health if fundamental weaknesses are not exposed.

The goal should be to individualize each workout program based on your specific weak link. This weak link is a physical or functional limitation. To isolate the weak link, the body's fundamental movement patterns should be considered. Most people do not begin strength and conditioning or rehabilitative programs by determining if they have adequate movement patterns. Thus screening an individual's fundamental movements before beginning a rehabilitative or strength and conditioning program is important. By looking at the movement patterns in not just one area but multiple patterns, will help determine if a weak link can be identified. This will enable your medical professional to focus on the area of weakness or decreased mobility and help you improve them. If this weak link is not identified, your body will compensate, causing inefficient or improper movement patterns. These types of inefficient movement patterns will cause a decrease in performance and an increase in injuries.

Prescribed strength and conditioning programs often work to improve agility, power, speed, and strength without consideration of movement competency or efficiency of underlying functional movement. An example would be if 2 people could run the same time in the mile but one of them had tight hip flexors and weak hamstrings who would most likely continue to get faster. Predictably if the individual doesn't address their muscle imbalances then they will get injured sooner than later.

Traditional rehabilitation methods don't usually assess if you are ready to return to a sport. Most are cut and dry if you have pain or don't have pain you can return to the sport. Pain is a poor predictor of good or bad function. Many people return to their activity because they are pain-free and a few months later have the same injury again.  This is where the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)™  comes into play.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS)™ is a screening system that attempts to allow professionals to assess the fundamental movement patterns of an individual. The screening system moves you through 7 different movement patterns looking at your movement efficiency, flexibility, and balance. This screening tool may offer a different approach to injury prevention and performance predictability. When used as a part of a comprehensive assessment, the FMS™ can lead to individualized, specific, functional recommendations for physical fitness protocols in athletic and active population groups.

The tests place the individual in extreme positions where weaknesses and imbalance become noticeable if appropriate stability and mobility are not utilized. It has been observed that many individuals who perform at very high levels during activities may be unable to perform these simple movements and that these individuals are utilizing compensatory movement patterns during their activities; sacrificing efficient movements for inefficient ones to perform at high levels. When poor or inefficient movement patterns are reinforced, this could lead to poor biomechanics and ultimately increase the potential for micro‐ or macro‐traumatic injury.

A sport‐specific example is a football lineman entering preseason practice who does not have the requisite balance of mobility or stability to perform a specific skill such as blocking. The athlete may perform the skill utilizing compensatory movement patterns to overcome the stability or mobility inefficiencies. The compensatory movement pattern will then be reinforced throughout the training process. In such an example, the individual creates a poor movement pattern that will be subconsciously utilized whenever the task is performed. Programmed altered movement patterns have the potential to lead to further mobility and stability imbalances, which have previously been identified as risk factors for injury.

An alternative explanation for the development of poor movement patterns is the presence of previous injuries. Individuals who have suffered an injury may have a decrease in proprioceptive input, if untreated or treated inappropriately.

This may be a reason why prior injuries have been determined to be one of the more significant risk factors in predisposing individuals to repeat injuries.

If you're serious about training and preventing injuries you need to be screened!

      Bob with daughters Beth and Ericka at Valley Cat 5K Father/Daughters Winning Team

Dr. Robert Irwin
FMA Certified Movement Specialist
Delmar Chiropractic Office 204 Delaware Ave, Delmar N.Y. 12054

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