A Lot of the Strength Training You Do is a Waste of Time

I’m all for build­ing mus­cle.

You need devel­oped mus­cles to sup­port your pos­ture, safe­ly per­form dai­ly activ­i­ties, and con­tin­ue to enjoy an active life well into you eighth, ninth, or tenth decade.

But a lot of peo­ple, in their quest to build bulk, waste a lot of time and even increase their risk of injury.  Prop­er weight train­ing tech­niques are impor­tant.  Based on my exten­sive knowl­edge of anato­my and move­ment sci­ence, my clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence, and my expo­sure to numer­ous sys­tems of align­ment and body devel­op­ment, I’ve iden­ti­fied three com­mon exer­cise myths.

Abdom­i­nal crunch­es, curl-ups and sit-ups actu­al­ly put more pres­sure on your discs and can make your low back worse

An iso­met­ric abdom­i­nal sta­bi­liz­ing exer­cise – the plank pose in yoga – helps the stom­ach mus­cles sup­port the back bet­ter than all the sit-ups or crunch­es in the world.  It’s actu­al­ly the only abdom­i­nal exer­cise you’ll ever need.

Typ­i­cal rehab exer­cis­es for the knee can make your pain worse

quad exercise machine

Ouch!

The most com­mon­ly pre­scribed exer­cise to strength­en the knee is to sit and lift a weight by straight­en­ing the knee.  The prob­lem is — it puts more pres­sure on the kneecap (patel­la) and can make your pain worse.  A sim­ple dance exer­cise – plié – is safer and more effec­tive.  Or use the leg press machine in your gym.

 

Your brain needs a work­out too

I don’t mean doing cross­word puz­zles.  I mean becom­ing aware of your body move­ment, align­ment and breath.  It’s impor­tant to learn new move­ment skills (tan­go, any­one?), not just grunt your way through a repet­i­tive work­out.

In order for your mus­cles to work effec­tive­ly, they have to be orga­nized, moti­vat­ed, and coor­di­nat­ed by your brain.  When you exer­cise vig­or­ous­ly, what actu­al­ly tires first can be the nerve sig­nals that con­trol the mus­cles (not only the mus­cles them­selves.)

Com­plex, skill-based exer­cis­es (fenc­ing? bal­let? t’ai ch’i? fig­ure skat­ing?) are impor­tant brain-enhanc­ing activ­i­ties.

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.

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