In a world with way too much unsubstantiated fitness info, there are a lot of incorrect practices that have become “common knowledge.” Despite your best intentions, you’re probably doing some things that don’t benefit your health.
In today’s article, we bust 4 corrective exercise myths that can affect your fitness.
WHAT CORRECTIVE EXERCISE IS
Myth: Corrective exercise is physical therapy, just not run through an insurance paid Physical Therapist.
Truth: Corrective exercise is not the same as physical therapy. It can be used as a step from physical therapy toward regular physical activity. Your trainer is not a physical therapist and therefore cannot diagnose or prescribe treatment for acute injuries and their recovery.
The goal of physical therapy is to rehabilitate a specific muscle, tendon, or ligament until it has the necessary strength, stability, and range of motion to resume physical activity with a reasonably low risk of reinjury.
Corrective exercise picks up where physical therapy left off. The goal is to reintegrate the rehabbed area into a larger movement system and correct altered movement patterns used to compensate for the injury.
Imagine a patient has a hip replaced. This involves surgery, an artificial joint, and physical therapy. Most patients put off a procedure like this for as long as they can, living with chronic hip pain until their surgery date. After surgery, a Physical Therapist will help mobilize and strengthen the recovering hip muscles and ligaments so the patient can walk with reasonable comfort. Then, a corrective exercise specialist will help strengthen the hip through larger ranges of motion (like squats) and more challenging stability (lunges). Then the corrective exercise specialist will help correct the limping gait pattern the client developed before the surgery.
To be frank, many personal trainers give corrective exercise advice when they aren’t qualified to do so. Without experience and advanced certification, there can be a dangerous gap in knowledge that may lead to reinjury.
WARM UP PROTOCOLS
Myth: You need to thoroughly foam roll and stretch every part of your body before exercise or you will get injured.
Truth: You only need to stretch or roll chronically tight or currently sore areas. A dynamic, movement based warm-up is what prepares your muscles, joints, and connective tissues for physical activity.
SMR techniques (foam roller, lacrosse ball, etc.) and stretching cause the target muscles to relax, inhibiting their ability to fully contract and temporarily lengthening the muscles. None of the effects of a single session are permanent. Using stretching as a targeted tool to prepare yourself to move correctly is great, but long pre-exercise stretching and rolling of the entire body does very little to properly prepare you for exercise.
We use a 6 step warm-up that takes 10min or less. Build your warm-up to support your exercise for the day. For example, if you’re doing a lower body workout, choose warm-up exercises that address your lower body.
Myth: Yoga will restore proper mobility and flexibility.
Truth: Yoga, like all exercise, will reinforce whatever movement you use. If you repeatedly use unhealthy compensation patterns in yoga, you will make them worse and harder to correct.
If you already move well, Yoga can be great for you. However, if you lack the true flexibility to perform a pose, but force yourself into the pose anyway, you will teach your body to use that compensating movement pattern. This will not help you gain flexibility or mobility.
For example, say you can’t reach both arms straight overhead. You force them up by arching your back and lifting your ribcage. As you repeat this arching pattern, your shoulders don’t get more mobile. Your back will learn to arch when you reach up. Over time your core strength unbalances to accommodate this new position and your low back starts to hurt.
All kinds of training trigger specific adaptation to the demands you impose on your body. Be intentional about what you teach your body to do.
BELTS AND BRACES
Myth: Using a belt/brace will improve my lifting.
Truth: Braces have specific purposes in specific situations. Braces do nothing to improve your technique or build up a weak point. These things must be trained in order to improve.
Now, with lifting belts and knee/elbow sleeves, powerlifters moving incredibly heavy loads use them for added stability. In these cases I endorse their use. In addition to the safety from assisted stability, these athletes have already shown that they are not weak. Even gym goers lifting above 85% of their 1 Rep Max weight should protect themselves by using a belt or sleeve.
However, if an average gym goer walks in and throws on a belt to squat sets of 12, they’re missing the point. Don’t pass up the opportunity to build more strength and stability because you saw a strongman looking cool in his belt on YouTube.
When it comes to ridiculous contraptions like those shoulder braces that hold your shoulders back to “improve your posture” - they actually make the posture problem worse. These wearable devices don’t strengthen any of the muscles that would improve your posture. In fact, they allow those muscles to relax and atrophy even more because the brace is doing the work for them. Over time your brace-free posture will deteriorate even further. Don’t use any device that claims to fix an imbalance without strength exercise. They don't (and can’t) work.
WHAT OTHER MYTHS CAN WE BUST?
Everyone has heard some ridiculous fitness “fact”. Is “starvation mode” a thing? Does “muscle confusion” exist?
Send in any questions you want cleared up. We’ll give you the truth.
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