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Fitness on top of dysfunction: Brian L. Schwager reveals the fallacies of exercise performance and what you can do to avoid injury.

Whether you're new to exercise or hitting a plateau in fitness or athletics, the mental and physical challenges of activity are what strengthen the mind, body and spirit of your being.

Yet, no matter how committed we are to refining our bodies, we need to heed these words: proceed with caution] There is a chance your exercise is doing you more harm than good.

What We Don't Know Will Hurt Us

Many people have movement restrictions that cause faulty movement patterns, which in turn interfere with proper musculoskeletal function. If you're applying the wrong exercise, you will develop injuries over time. The number of people whose exercise is doing them more harm than good is growing. In other words, many people are putting fitness on top of dysfunction, unknowingly risking physical injury to areas of the body that are already weakened by muscle and strength imbalances or pre-existing conditions, such as sports trauma, arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis.

Today, there are an estimated 40 million Americans dealing with chronic movement restrictions (1). These weaknesses and faulty movements carry over into-daily life, affecting natural movements such as bending, squatting, twisting, pulling and pushing. This dis-use of the body's natural stabilization system is the leading cause of musculoskeletal dysfunctions. The reality is that for years we've been exercising all wrong!

The Exercise Machine Era

The widely used exercise approach that does more harm than good is the isolation workout. This method refers to most of the machines found in fitness centers and gyms nationwide; the programs typically involve using the leg extension, leg curl, leg press, bicep and tricep machines, to name a few. This theory of exercising has led to an increase in the musculoskeletal challenges that plague today's society.

What the Experts Say

Vern Gambetta, renowned in the field of athletic training, says, "We must shift our focus from muscles to movements." Paul Chek, founder of the C.H.E.K Institute, points out, "Trends are moving away from the machine-based, bodybuilding programs and more towards functional training." The Best Life Magazine 2007 article "Is Your Workout Wasting Your Time?" states that "a traditional machine-centric regimen ... promotes training muscles in isolation (as opposed to how muscles really work, in a chain of movement)." The article further states, "A leg-extension machine actually causes the kneecap to rotate on the thighbone. The mechanics of the leg-extension machine simply doesn't simulate what happens in functional activity (e.g. walking, running or going down steps)." (2)

Machines can actually shut off the body's natural stabilization system. Over time, this creates what is known as sensory motor amnesia, when your stabilizers forget What they're supposed to do. When you need to use your stabilizer muscles to run, lift, twist, push, pull or squat, they won't function properly, causing discomfort, pain or debilitating injury. The good news is that improved exercise concepts, training programs and better equipment are emerging nationwide and are making their way to our area.


What's First?

Assessing posture and movement before engaging with an exercise program is a paradigm shift within the fitness industry as a whole and is already being embraced by professional sports.

A static postural assessment detects imbalances to the musculoskeletal system, and a movement screen detects faulty movement patterns, which lead to injury. If you're not assessing, you're guessing! The final outcome of assessment? A tailored, corrective exercise program that will help you avoid injury.

Sources: (1) Bone & Joint Decade: (2,) www Wasting_Your_Time.php.

Ask Yourself...

* When I look in the mirror, is one shoulder lower than the other?

* Does one side of my body seem more flexible than the other?

* Am I experiencing any pain or discomfort before, during or after I work out?

* Am I bored working out? Have I reached a plateau with my exercise routine?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, seek out the advice of a professional personal trainer, get assessed, and re-establish your goals before you end up with an injury.

Brian is held with high esteem in the health and fitness field as a martial artist, a Director of Corrective Exercise, a Certified Master Reboundologist, a Certified Functional Movement Screen Specialist, and a Corrective High-Performance Exercise Kinesiologist Practitioner, Level I. To learn more about his functional movement training services, publications, seminars and products, visit or contact The Functional Movement Center at 1-877-238-7810 or 828-667-9334.
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Title Annotation:BREATHE IN
Author:Schwager, Brian L.
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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