Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sustainability

Over the years I have talked to a surprising number of people who once worked out, but were hurt and no longer felt they could work out “until they healed”.

And never got started again.

Or, when they did get back into working out found the challenge daunting. Each time I do my best to help them understand, and come to believe that they can in fact get started again, and have a chance to again get fit.

Reminds me of an older gentleman I’ve talked to a bit over the last month. Rotator cuff injury, used to be able to do 60 one-armed push-ups - recovering, but giving up on the pushups - too difficult any more. Makes me sad to think that his injury is resulting in a cut back on the exercising he is doing - back to the concept discussed in an earlier post - we are either growing, or dying.

There are a lot of accidents that are truly not avoidable - and there are things we can do to help avoid accidents. I like to think that my focus on core and balance will help me avoid some of the falls that can result in bruises, sprains, and in later years, broken bones and joints. Especially it seems hips.

Lenny’s shoulder injury got me thinking about something I hear a lot in the gym - not from the women I talk to, but from the guys - all too many of whom have had rotator-cuff injuries and now can’t get back to where they were. Or are waiting for their injury to heal.

Which brings me to my concept of sustainability. I meet a lot of men who’s focus in working out is seeing how much they can bench, curl or squat. Being a competitive sort, I can readily understand the allure of being able to bench more than your friends. It is something that is very measurable, and which carries a very immediate reward. Funny, I never hear about how many chin-ups or push-ups they can do.

The challenge is that there is never really enough - until one hurts oneself - then it is a whole new ball game - at best waiting for the damaged joint or tendon or ligament to heal, or, at worst, giving up on working out.

The reality is that lifting ever heavier weights will one day snap something. Which is clearly born out when I see some of the heavy lifters using straps to protect their wrists - pity there aren’t straps to protect the next most vulnerable joint - the shoulders.

I suppose I am bringing all this up because I think it ratifies the approach I have been developing - unbalanced exercises focused on developing the core, and body-weight exercises with a focus on reps, not weight. Granted, doing unbalanced exercises increases the chance that one can fall over while exercising - this is definitely an area where one wants to progress slowly and maintain a safe approach to doing exercises that demand greater balance. But, the payback is significant - improved balance reducing the risk of falling, and strengthening the core so that the back is not as readily strained.

This is a subject I plan to think more about - and hope you will share your thoughts about how one can best avoid the exercise-related injuries that can make working out problematic.

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