The Unconventional Exercise Movement
April 21, 2020
Although the coronavirus pandemic has devastated our nation in the last two months, one could argue that the rise in physical activity among Americans is in the silver lining. While shelter-in-place stipulations may prevent us from going about our “normal” routines, they have not prevented us from accomplishing a great workout. In fact, during the first week of quarantine, large department stores rapidly sold out of exercise equipment and some popular online fitness retailers still have many items on backorder. It seems there have been more people walking, running, riding bikes, lifting up odd-shaped heavy household objects, throwing down barbells in garages, and performing an assortment of bodyweight movements in driveways. Could this be a step in the right direction for the world in regards to fighting chronic disease through physical activity? We know one thing, it’s certainly not a step in the wrong direction.
We could go on and on about the good in this unconventional exercise movement that seems to be positively sweeping our nation, but we do want to address a few concerns. What happens when people are left to their own devices at home… to exercise… for over a month? We highlight some of our biggest concerns below.
- Lack of equipment can lead to using resistances that are potentially too light or too heavy for various movements you may be performing… this could lead to decreased gains or worse, injury.
- Lack of exercise ideas (and lack of equipment) could lead one to perform a lot of the same movements each day… which could lead to overuse injuries. So, if you don’t have a variety of equipment, you need to know a variety of exercises. If you do the same movement and stress the same muscles every day without proper recovery, you may see short term gains--but in the long run, this could lead to injury.
- Lack of exercise prescription knowledge or lack of subscription/membership to an online programming platform could lead to inappropriate exercise planning and programming which in the long run leads to muscle imbalances and overuse injuries. Googling workouts may get you through a few home sessions, but you need to have specific goals and intentions for your workouts. If you are performing random workouts daily, you 1) might not get the results you are looking for and 2) ...could get injured.
- Lack of supervision from an exercise professional could lead to performing exercises incorrectly which, you guessed it, could lead to injury.
So, how can one prevent falling into one of the above traps? Simple.
- Variety is the spice of life. If you do have an understanding of exercise programming and you are planning your own workouts right now, you need to have a mental library or good access to a platform with a variety of exercises to cut down on overuse injuries from performing the same movements day in and day out.
- Don’t forget your backside. Although it is important to work the anterior chain (chest, core, quads), it is ESSENTIAL that you don’t neglect the posterior chain. We could devote an entire blog series on the posterior chain, but in simple terms, it is responsible for helping to maintain good posture, prevent injury, and give you power . Where is the posterior chain? Take a look behind you. The posterior chain includes rotator cuff muscles, scapular stabilizers, erector spinae muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Yep, pretty much all the muscles you don’t see in an Instagram snapshot.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Let’s say you know how to program your running schedule, but you have regularly attended a group fitness class or used a personal trainer or coach for strength training--don’t start trying to program your own strength workouts now without properly educating yourself. This is true in reverse, if you have been strength training on your own for years and want to pick up running, don’t start running 5 miles without safely ramping up your weekly mileage. These are all scenarios that could lead you down the path to injury. If you don’t know how to safely program your weekly exercise, seek help!
- Seek help and you will find it. Many CrossFit gyms are continuing to program for their members with the intention of increasing gains and reducing risk for injury. If you aren’t a member of a gym that is programming, there are several credible online platforms and subscription services that you can sign up for (some are even free) that will help you continue to make strength gains at home without missing a beat. For the first time runner, there are several apps that you can download to safely increase your weekly mileage and reduce your risk for developing an overuse injury.
- Buyer beware. If you choose to sign up for anything that is asking for your credit card number… make sure you do your research. There are a lot of subscription services that have popped up in the last month that are after your money, don’t fall victim to these platforms. Make sure you are choosing a credible program by asking your friends, doing a thorough google search, and reading customer reviews before purchasing any online programming. Also, consider choosing local. Look to your local gyms, strength and conditioning coaches, running coaches, and personal trainers for assistance with your at home workouts.
At Physiolete Therapy and Performance, our vision has always been to inspire a fitness movement that transforms the community of Tuscaloosa. While the coronovarius pandemic wasn’t what we envisioned to kickstart this fitness movement, we are so happy to see the community of Tuscaloosa out exercising safely. Even though we are under shelter-in-place orders, we are still here to help you achieve your fitness goals! We continue to offer complimentary physical therapy screens in person and virtually at this time to help make recommendations to improve your physical well being. Please DM us or email us at [email protected] if you have any questions, or if would like to schedule your complimentary screen.