Exercise is Like Medicine

I once overheard part of a joke where two guys were talking about what drug to use.  One of them said, “yeah, but what happens if you take the wrong drug”; “you just get the wrong high”, the other responded.  It got me thinking that like the two drug users, people exercising can get very different results if they have the wrong “prescription”.  Some approach exercise with a “just do it” attitude as if you can’t mess it up.  The problem with this is that giving the wrong prescription can have negative effects.  Just like drugs, exercise can end up producing no results, or even worse, bad results.  This is one of the main reasons the vast majority of people quit an exercise program.  If the wrong drug is given, the dosage is not appropriate, or the purity of the drug is not controlled, the desired results will not be achieved.  Below I will talk briefly about each of the three areas and how they can affect your results.

First, you must pick the right exercise(s)/drug(s). Based on an individual’s health history, movement history, movement screens, goals, and needs the appropriate exercises should be chosen.  The squat maybe an appropriate exercise for many people looking to improve their fitness, but for the person who lacks proper mobility in the ankle or hips, or thoracic spine, (along with many other reasons) it may actually do more harm than good.

Second, the right dosage must be given.  There is a target dosage (volume: how much is work is performed, and intensity: how much effort is involved) of exercise that will provide desired results.  Too little exercise and you don’t get the results you want; too much, and you not only may not get results you want, but you may hurt yourself.

Third, proper technique for exercise is as important as the purity of a drug.  Impure drugs not only deliver poor or no positive results, but can cause harm.  Poor technique not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, but also increases the risk of injury, sometimes in seemingly unrelated places.

Here are some other general considerations:

  • The more accurate the prescription the better the results.  Nobody is perfect, but we should always be striving for excellence.  Obviously, the bigger the error the more likely to either produces little or no results, or injury.
  • The size of the error that can be tolerated and still achieve results without losing results, or causing harm varies.  Individuals with more health/movement issues and those with high performance/fitness goals will tend to have less room for error.
  • Some errors, usually bigger ones, show up quickly.  These usually end up as acute injuries or health problems.
  • Other errors, usually smaller ones, take time to show up.  These errors usually show up as lack of results, or chronic injuries.

This illustrates the importance of a thorough review of history, movement, goals, both before beginning a training program as well as during.  If you would like to make sure you’ve got the right prescription for exercise, give us a call at Movement Training by Design.  860-970-8575