Fitness Trail " Exercise: It is what you can do that matters
February 12, 2009
Just about everyone has physical limitations regardless of age, fitness level or gender.
Consequently, what really matters is what you physically can do, not what you cannot. Perhaps with physical therapy, future corrective surgeries or replacements, and certainly with well designed exercise programs, what you can do today may improve with time. But, in the interim, focusing upon what you can physically do will help you to achieve the best short-term, and perhaps long-term, results.
– First, find out specifically what your limitations may be by seeking the advice of your physician. Ask them for a referral form to submit to your certified personal trainer or instructor so that you and your trainer specifically know what your physician advises. I request that my clients have their physician be very clear about what they cannot do so that I can design their exercise program around what they can do.
– However, when performing any exercise/activity, listen to your body, and if it hurts, don’t do it.
– Once you know what you can do, then the world opens up as hundreds of exercise programs may be feasible. Carefully designed exercise programs that take into account your limitations and through modifications enable you to safely perform many exercises and participate in many activities.
– If you have been diagnosed with a chronic knee injury (depending upon the type of injury), running a marathon may not be the activity of choice for you. However, road cycling might be a good alternative as it is generally a non-impact activity when compared to running.
– In fact, many of my cycling clients were runners for many years. Over time, their bodies began to break down and they ended up attending cycling classes and riding outdoors, which can be an equally challenging but less impact-oriented activity than running. After giving their knees and backs a break, many were able to return to running but continued cycling as the two activities are an ideal cross-training combination.
– You may find squats hard on your knee joint. However, perhaps you can still perform a squat pain-free as long as you do not perform too many and you are performing the squat correctly. So, instead of three sets of 8-12 repetitions of squats two/three days per week, perhaps you will perform one set of 4-8 repetitions, one/two days per week. Or, if you simply cannot manage a squat, then try a leg press machine instead. This is a non-weight bearing exercise, so it does not have the same functional benefits for the core that a free-standing squat does, but it still works the quadriceps/hamstrings/gluteal muscles effectively.
While cycling instead of running and modifying squats are just two examples of focusing upon what you can do, the concept can apply to just about any exercise/activity. So begin thinking out of the limitation “box.” There are a world of exercises/activities that you may be able to perform successfully and still reap many of the benefits.
Next week, we will begin a three-week series on the training principle of periodization.
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