Foundations are a key to building, not just in the construction world, but also in business, relationships, stories and in this blog posts case, the fitness world. As any ‘good’ builder will tell you, trying to build without foundations is a risky business, and as a self-proclaimed ‘good’ coach, I am going to tell you the same is said for building fitness.
So let’s get to the point, what are foundations of the fitness world? Well for the next couple of weeks I’m going to write about a few key ones and help to make the foundation of it a little bit deeper…
Biomechanics of the body.
Run, bike, swim, choose your poison. Each one has a huge biomechanical demand on the body and each one will easily get you injured if you’re not biomechanically sound.
Biomechanics is defined as the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms.
A huge part of biomechanics is your everyday posture..
Posture is defined as the attitude or position of the body and, according to the book Functional Movement Development, should fulfil three functions:
It must maintain the alignment of the body’s segments in any position: prone (swimming), quadruped (cycling), standing (running), supine (sleeping) and sitting (working/driving).
It must anticipate change to allow engagement in voluntary, goal-directed movements such as reaching and stepping.
It must react to unexpected perturbations or disturbances in balance.
In short , your POSTURE is very, very important! The most common postural deviations are:
Flat back (Lumbar region of the spine is under curved).
Hollow back (Lumbar region of the spine is over curved).
Sway back (the pelvis is positioned forward of the trunk).
Each one is different and not always so easy to see but they have a few things in common. In all of these deviations the head sits forward to the centre line of the body, the cervical part of the spine becomes extended and there is an increase in the thoracic spine curvature. They also all cause back pain! Add in the stress of fatigue when training in these positions day in and day out and the problem increases tenfold.
Why are we developing poor posture?
Physical trauma is one of the most common causes. Any injury that affects the body’s movement patterns forces a compromise to the body’s posture in some way. An acquired musculoskeletal deformity, whether it be from birth or a progressive disease, will usually cause posture problems and needs addressing early on in the condition to minimise any long term effects. Lastly, a faulty loading pattern is also a common causative factor as this can occur frequently during daily activities. Sitting or standing in a poor position at work, driving, on public transport, at home or even walking in the wrong shoes means poor posture is being repeatedly enforced. Now add in exercises and the loading pattern becomes up to 7 times greater meaning a rapid increase in injuries.
What are the implications?
Impaired movement, usually due to poor posture, can easily lead to injuries. To the untrained eye, not knowing where to look or what to look at, it is difficult to pin point what has caused the impairment. As an example, for those following a training programme, resistance training is wholly based on repetitions. If you are not performing the exercise with the correct posture, movement patterns will be affected and can cause injury. Sports that involve uni-lateral repetition or static positions over long periods of time such as golf, cycling and race car driving, often see their professionals committing a lot of time reinforcing and strengthening posture.
It is not always during the impaired movement phase that injury occurs. A sudden movement or over-extension during an exercise session or just participating in normal daily activities can catch your body off guard and unprepared. Consistent poor posture will almost certainly in some type of injury which will cause pain and discomfort.
Muscular pain in everyday life occurs when muscles are over activated and stop working within their correct movement patterns. When muscles contract, blood flow lessens. If a muscle is overactive, blood flow becomes restricted, lactic acid and other metabolites build up. This leads to tension and discomfort which in turn leads to reflex contraction. Postural position is then over adjusted and leads back to more overactive muscles. This is known as the pain spasm cycle.
Ways to avoid poor posture.
Prevention is always better than cure.
We use the latest technology, The Performance Matrix screen. It allows us to recognise and assess the site, direction and threshold of uncontrolled movements that lead to poor posture and injuries. From this screening we then put together a rehab program with instructional videos and diagrams so you can then rehab and pre-hab any issues picked up by The Performance Matrix screening.
If already in the pain spasm cycle, it is highly recommended to seek professional help to alleviate tension and discomfort. Once the acute pain is under control, an assessment to find the root cause of the problem is essential and should then be followed up by a corrective exercise plan.