Hey friends, welcome to this edition of HGTV. In the next 5-minutes, I want to talk about what it means if your body is feeling *better* now that your gym is closed. I keep quoting Dean Guedo on the Barbell Mesearch podcast as saying:
“Right now we collectively have a great opportunity to slow down, refine our movement and resist using extension strategies, and learn how to better take care of our bodies if our typical training is beating us up.”
My guess is that most people missed the last part of that statement, so I’m going to say it again: “How can we learn how to better take care of our bodies if our typical training is beating us up?”
First, I think we should address two facts: We as people tend to prefer exercise that we find to be more fulfilling, and that as animals, we have a natural inclination to self-preservation, so we tend to exercise in sustainable ways – but that’s not always the case. There are a lot of activities that are are fulfilling but not sustainable, and while I want to encourage and educate the world to engage in their preferred activities, I’m also interested in education people about how to be active throughout their lifespans. As such, here’s my definition of sustainable with you so that you can draw your own conclusions:
Whenever I have consulting conversations with people who are considering the longevity of an active lifestyle, I offer the following filter: If your cardiologist asks, “What are you doing for exercise?” that’s probably a good sign. If your orthopaedist asks, “What are you doing for exercise?” that’s probably a bad sign. Remember, Sustainable modalities are those which enhance cardiovascular or neuromuscular function without adversely affecting orthopedic health.
The World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” That all-encompassing definition means that everyone who exercises does so for their health, and that warrants that we ask, “Why?” My hypothesis is that anyone who’s doing orthopedically unsustainable exercise is doing what they’re doing because they’re prioritizing their mental and social health over their physical health – and I can’t fault anyone for that, especially since I’ve been there before.
I trained as a powerlifter for a 5-year span between college and starting to coach at MFF, and I distinctly remember when I fell out of love with powerlifting. I remember hurting my lower back twice over the course of a year and then reading an article about EliteFTS co-founder and elite-level powerlifter Dave Tate returning to box squats as quickly as possible after a hip replacement surgery. That was a light-bulb moment where I thought to myself, “I’m not so committed to this sport that I’m willing to risk my health for it.”
Once I was able to differentiate between strength training making my body feel better, and powerlifting making my body feel worse, I feel like I was able to take a step back from the fitness matrix with a better perspective. Powerlifting was incredibly fun and rewarding, but it wasn’t sustainable. I didn’t want to be a statistic for injury after injury, so I had to move on.
Speaking of injuries, in my last HGTV video I mentioned that a 2007 systemic review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated that “The overall incidence of lower extremity injuries found in the 17 studies varied from 19.4% to 79.3%.” Having an almost 80% injury rate running – in my humble and professional opinion – puts recreational jogging in my “discourage category” because the odds are that running will adversely affect your orthopedic health.
Is being active a good thing? Yes. Is being active and injured a good thing? 🤷♂️ What about being active in ways that deplete our overall health? That’s a no for me dog, but I’ll let you decide how to do things for yourself.
In general, if your body IS feeling better now that you’re out of your routine – that’s a good sign! Awareness is a gift – let’s figure out how to act on it. Consider what you’ve been doing for physical activity: Are you lifting super heavy? Are you doing a ton of cardio? Is it something in between?
The reality is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to exercise. To develop all-encompassing fitness we must practice a variety of modalities, all in moderation.
Sometimes we need a nudge to better balance our strength training, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility, and this coronavirus related disruption is a perfect opportunity to do just that. As Charlie Weingroff says, “It’s why Yogis need to be powerlifters and powerlifters need to be yogis.”
If you’re feeling better right now, it’s probably because you’re currently unable to do something that your body wasn’t able to recover from – my guess is that super heavy lifting and lots of jumping-style cardio are often the culprits of this. Rather than totally eliminating those styles of training, because the odds are that you totally love them, instead see if you can use this time to develop more sustainable movement habits.
Okay, friends, that’s it for this edition of HGTV, thanks for joining me! Let me know how your body is feeling right now, and if this departure from your normal training has actually let your body feel better. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to rethink how you want to train when we’re able to return to normal training. Take a moment to reflect on that, and while you do be sure to subscribe and turn on notifications so you continue to take control of your fitness. Next time we meet, we’ll talk about what it means to “run your own race” when you’re working out alone. As always, you can watch these words below. Cheers!