Load Management: Not Exclusive To High End Training

Load Management: Not Exclusive To High End Training

Load Management

 

Load management principles are used daily in high-end strength and conditioning/sports settings and are critically important in measuring relative injury risk and determining optimal load.

However, the concept of load management may not be limited to high-performance sports or training settings. There are principals of this concept that are applicable in non-sporting settings (eg. day to day activities, work, and leisure). Exploring the wider contexts to which load management principals can be used may assist in reducing overuse/chronic injury risk for the general population.

 

Let’s Talk Science

 

The Acute to Chronic Workload Ratio (ACWR)

A concept developed based on the idea of an ideal training stimulus having the capability to maximise performance through the use of appropriate training loads while limiting negative training consequences (injury and fatigue). The ACWR describes two workload zones, the ‘sweet spot’ and the ‘danger zone’ which represent the likelihood of subsequent injury.

The ‘sweet spot’ is represented in the graph below as a ratio range between 0.8 and 1.3. The ‘danger zone’ is represented as a ratio greater than 1.5.

Acute:Chronic Workload Ratio

 

Calculating ACWR & Load: Acute vs Chronic

 

Acute Workload:

In a training setting, this is typically calculated over a 7-day block (average of daily acute workloads). Measures of the sessional rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) times by the duration of the training session would represent the acute load for a day. Example: If sRPE (perceived difficulty) of a 100-minute session is 5 this would equal 500 arbitrary units (AU) (5*100 = 500 AU).

Chronic Workload:

The chronic load can be calculated as an average of the acute workloads.

Example:

Week 1: 500 AU

Week 2: 700 AU

Week 3: 600 AU

Week 4: 300 AU

Chronic Load: (500 + 700 + 600 + 300)/4) = 525 AU

ACWR: Acute Load (Week 5: 700AU)/Chronic Load – (700 / 525) = 1.3

To give some commentary to the above equation: If the acute workload for week 5 was to be 700 AU then the ACWR for that period would be 1.3. A value of 1.3 would represent the top end of the “sweet spot” bracket, meaning that the subsequent injury risk for that week is relatively low. If that acute load was to change to say 900 AU then the ratio would be 1.7 and the injury risk would be relatively greater.

 

 

Application to YOU

 

ACWR in an occupational setting

 

Both internal and external load is inevitable in the workplace, there is no hiding from the fact. The table above displays the application of the ACWR as a load management tool for individuals across a wide range of occupations. As you can see all scenarios have the capacity to create positive or negative outcomes. The outcome is primarily dependent on the preparedness of the individual to that specific task.

Looking specifically at the receptionist, the increase in acute load may come from working longer days during a busy period or working more days in the week to cover for a colleague who is sick for example. These factors can drive up the acute load, inherently increasing injury risk (eg. overuse injuries, such as a repetitive strain injury), leaving the individual unable to work.

However, this doesn’t only apply to occupational tasks…

Simple scenarios such as going for a 10km bike ride after just dusting your bike off from a 10-year absence of use or going on an overseas holiday where you may be walking over 10km per day while being lucky to clock up 2km at home during a normal day; both are examples of a spike in acute load far beyond that of the chronic load.

 

Take Home Points

 

  • Ensure that you are prepared for any task you will be completing; whether it be walking, running, cycling, gardening, working, playing sport.
  • Be mindful of what your body is used to and try to avoid the spikes in acute load for any given task; should you want to reduce the risk of developing any injuries.

About the Author

Strength Training to Improve Balance: What You Need to Know

Strength Training to Improve Balance: What You Need to Know

Did you know that getting older doesn’t have to mean losing your balance? In fact, you can actually use strength training to improve balance!

When I was a little kid, I couldn’t think of anything worse than getting older.

In fact, it kind of terrified me.

While I think that reading Peter Pan just one too many times may have had something to do with it, it certainly wasn’t the only reason.

See, I was scared of leaving school and ‘growing up’ (whatever the hell that means, anyway?). I was scared of getting a job, and I was really scared of leaving home.

I mean, how would I survive?

And I was also weirdly scared of getting wrinkles, but that’s neither here nor there.

However, as I got a little older, I began to realize that it wasn’t all bad.

I mean, getting older meant I could get my license, see R rated movies, and you know, kind of do whatever I wanted without my Mum telling me off (or so I thought, anyway…).

Living the dream, right?

Not to mention the fact that getting older provided me with the means to find interests and passions, create a career, develop important relationships, and ultimately build an entire life.

All of which sound a whole lot better than high school if you ask me.

 

But age is a fickle mistress.

With all these amazing positives (of which there are also many more), she also brings some pretty hefty negatives.

See, advanced age can cause declines in physical function — of which none are more apparent than a decline in balance.

Now this loss of balance can lead to an increased risk of falls, a loss of independence, and finally, even a reduced quality of life.

Not good…

But here’s the big thing.

It doesn’t have to.

In fact, if you take the right steps, you can give age the middle finger and keep your function indefinitely.

And as the title of this article so aptly suggests, it all starts with strength training.

 

What is Balance?

Balance is an interesting term that is thrown around sooooo often — but what does it really mean?

Well, balance is often defined as “the ability to maintain stability during movement while weight is shifting, and when changing base of support”.

Or as I like to think of it — the ability to not fall over.\

Genius.

Now, balance is pretty damn important.

If your balance is poor, then your ability to navigate the word around you becomes limited. This means that you are not only going to be at an increased risk of falling over, but that performing any normal task of daily living will also become harder.

 

Why Does Your Balance Get Worse As You Get Older?

It is important to note that your balance can start to deteriorate due to several different factors.

If your eyesight gets worse, so will your balance. Similarly, balance can start to decline if your cognitive function and mental acuity begins to decrease.

But these aren’t typically the main driver.

In fact, the biggest factor for a loss of balance appears to be related to strength.

See, as you age, you tend to see a general decline in muscle mass. And this in turn causes an immediate and direct reduction in strength.

And this is where things start to go downhill.

See, the stronger you are, the more force you can produce. This means that you have more force available to control your movements. It also means that you have much better ability to absorb impacts and react to erratic and sudden movements.

In short, it means you have better balance.

For example, if you accidentally trip while walking up some stairs, you are going to be at an obvious risk of falling. However, if you have a high degree of strength, you can rapidly produce the force required to quickly put your foot down firmly on the ground.

Moreover, the rest of your body has the strength required to stabilize against thee force of you tumbling forward at the exact same time.

The result?

You don’t fall over.

But, if your strength is poor, then this doesn’t happen.

Instead, you try to move your foot into position to catch yourself, but you are too slow. You begin to stumble forward, and because you aren’t strong enough to stabilize the rest of your body, you tumble to the ground.

Not pretty…

 

Now here’s the worst part.

The vast majority of this loss of strength occurs because as we get older, we move less. Our jobs tend to become more sedentary, and our activity levels decline.

Essentially we no longer tell our body that it needs to keep strength and muscle mass.

So we lose it.

This causes a decline in balance, which can make movement and exercise more challenging.

We then avoid it even more.

You can see the problem here, right?

It becomes a truly vicious cycle

 

Does Strength Training Improve Balance

With all this dark and gloomy information, it is important for me to say that this is not a death sentence.

In fact, all of this is very much reversible.

See, if a loss of strength is what contributes to a loss of balance, then increasing strength becomes the key to maintaining and improving it.

Simple.

And just to be clear, this isn’t a mere assumption.

There is a large body of evidence clearly demonstrating that strength training can have a massive impact on balance and on risk of falls.

More importantly, there is even some evidence to suggest that strength training may be even more effective than traditional ‘balance’ training (things like walking on unstable surfaces and standing on wobble boards) when it comes to improving balance.

Talk about the fountain of youth

Now with all this in mind, I also need to address a common misconception.

People seem to think that as you get older it becomes impossible to get stronger and build any muscle mass.

They seem to think that after the age of 40, it literally becomes impossible.

Which is a complete and utter load of bull.

In fact, there is an incredible amount of research clearly proving that this misconception is just that — a misconception.

Strength training has been shown time and time again to help build muscle and increase strength in people who are well into their eighties.

So you are never to old too start.

 

 

Using Strength Training to Improve Balance

exercises to burn more calories

I hope by this point you have a pretty firm belief that strength training can help you improve your balance.

Now its time to outline how it can be best implemented with this goal in mind.

First things first, you want to focus on large compound exercises that use free weights (think dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells) as their primary form of resistance. This means squats, deadlifts, lunges, presses, and rows. These movements not only recruit the most amount of muscle mass (which is perfect for increasing muscle size), but they also require the coordination of multiple joints at the same time.

As a result, they also improve your coordination, which is of obvious benefit to balance.

Secondly, you cant just “go through the motions“.

To build strength, you need to use what I like too describe as appreciable loads. This pretty much means weights that actually make you work hard.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that you need to be on your haunches in a pool of sweat at the end of your session — but the sets within your training session should not be easy.

Lastly, to optimize strength development, you need to train at least twice per week (and to be honest, three times is better).

This frequency is important, because it is what creates a demand for your body to grow new muscle tissue and devlop more strength.

It is this that essentially tells your body that it needs muscle and strength to survive — which is pretty important!

 

Strength Training to Improve Balance: The Perfect Program

Last thing I wanted to do was give you a simple program that you can implement 2-3 times per week to build strength and improve balance in the process.

ExerciseSets x Reps
Rest Period
Goblet Squat3 x 8120s
Dumbbell Press3 x 10120s
Kettlebell Deadlift4 x 6120s
Single Arm Dumbbell Row3 x 10 / side60s / side
Split Squat3 x 8 / side60s / side
Pallof Press3 x 10 / side45s / side

Now I appreciate that this program looks pretty simple, but that’s the point — we are using basic fundamental movements to build strength and coordination.

And it is this that truly carries over to balance.

So give it a go 2-3 days per week and make sure you let us know what you think!

 

Take Home Message

Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting frail — and it certainly doesn’t have to mean losing balance.

In fact, I would argue that it shouldn’t.

Strength training offers the perfect solution to improving balance and ensuring that you live the life you want too, indefinitely.

So what are you waiting for?

About The Author

Should Kids Lift Weights? The Ultimate Guide

Should Kids Lift Weights? The Ultimate Guide

Should kids lift weights? Given that it can improve health, boost function, and stave off injury, YES. Although It needs to be done properly, of course.

 

I first started lifting weights when I was 16.

My footy coach told me that I needed to get a bit ‘stronger over the ball‘. Fortunately, my dad had an old weights set sitting in the shed, so I put to and two together and decided that it was time to lift some weights.

Beast mode engaged (or at least, that’s what I thought was happening?).

See, while I thought it was a good idea, I literally had no idea what I was doing (enter google) — so I found a couple of exercises that looked good, and off I went.

I’m pretty sure for the next 2 years I did three exercises fairly consistently.

  • Bench press
  • Bicep curls
  • Chin ups

Seriously, what more do you need…

I tried a few lower body exercises here and there, but at the time thought running was more than enough for my legs… and as a result, they left my gym program pretty quickly.

While I admit that my footy performance didn’t improve a lot, I thought I looked pretty good, so that was a positive.

In hindsight it was probably this which put me on my chosen career path (not all that awe-inspiring, now that I think about it…)

But here’s the funny thing.

Even at the age of 16, my mum still held some huge reservations about me lifting weights. She was adamant that it was going to damage my growth plates, make me shorter, and get me injured.

In short, she had many of the same misconceptions that are still around today.

Interestingly, knowing what I do now, I actually wish I had started earlier.

I also wish I had done it properly — but more on that later.

 

Kids and Formalized Exercise

There are some pretty obvious benefits that come with getting your kids exercising young.

I mean, they get fitter, they get stronger, they are less likely to become overweight and obese, and they will have better mental health. More importantly, if your kids exercise regularly as a child, then they are going to exercise more as an adult.

This means that exercising during childhood will literally set them up for a lifetime of success.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be pushed into formalized exercise at a young age.

 

Kids and Sport

While there is certainly merit in having them actively participate in a sport (it is a very easy way to introduce physical activity), this shouldn’t be their only focus.

In fact, if you get your kid to specialize in a single sport too early, then it will be to their detriment. They are more likely to get injured, they only become good at sport specific tasks (rather than important fundamental movements), and they will actually be less likely to make it to the elite level.

Conversely, if your child plays a number of different sports on a yearly basis, then the opposite is true.

They develop a broad base of motor skill and coordination, and they become more robust and resilient.

In turn, they build a solid foundation that will set them up for athletic success as an adult.

So even if you think your kid is the next Ash Barty, there is still no point in making them focus entirely on tennis — because I can assure you it will do more harm than good.

To add to this, a large part of your kids exercise routine should be made up of active play.

You know, climbing up things, playing games, and jumping off stuff?

Yep, all that fun stuff that involves moving your body simply for the sake of moving your body.

It is these sorts of activities that further develop those super important motor skills that I discussed earlier.

It is also these sorts of activities that help foster a true enjoyment for exercise.

 

When Should Kids Lift Weights?

Now we move onto the crux of the discussion — when should kids start lifting weights?

I have already outlined that your kids should be given the opportunity to try a number of different sports. Within this, I have also discussed the importance of play.

In my mind, this is imperative up until the age of about 10 years old. After which there is definitely some merit in moving them into more formalized training.

And yes, I am talking about lifting weights — but maybe not in the way that you think.

See, performing traditional strength exercises (starting with body weight and progressing slowly) is the perfect way to develop a base of good motor control and coordination.  This is important, because it lays the foundation that underpins their ability to perform more complex movement tasks.

Things like jumping, sprinting, bounding, and landing, are all predetermined by your ability to squat, lunge, and hip hinge well.

In this manner, formalized weight training can really set your child up for success in any future athletic endeavors.

Moreover, if they do get the opportunity to play sport at a higher level of competition, these movements will make up the bulk of their gym training. This means that they will be a step ahead of anyone who hasn’t performed these movements in a gym environment before.

In short, this results in more success!

Finally, the earlier your that your children are exposed to these basic fundamental gym-based movements, the more competent they are going to be. This means that if they do decide to enter a gym in their teenage years (AKA me circa 2008, V-neck T-shirt and all), they are actually going to have some idea of what they are doing.

This means less stupidity, and a reduced risk of injury.

 

How Should Kids Lift Weights?

I have outlined when kids should lift weights. Now we really need to delve into how kids should lift weights.

And it all starts gradually.

In my mind, they first need to become competent at performing those key fundamental movement tasks I mentioned above. This means that all their programming should revolve around squatting, lunging, pressing, rowing, and hip hinging. It should also teach them to brace their trunk and spine against external forces.

Simple stuff really (in fact, your program should look a whole lot like this too).

They should start training these exercises (and their many variations) using their body weight as the main form of resistance. This gives them the opportunity to develop the motor control required to perform these movements under load in the future.

Once you feel comfortable with their ability to perform these movements with control, then you can add some load.

But don’t be moronic about it.

Start slowly.

This means finding exercise variations that they can do well, and adding light loads slowly. You want them performing 10-12 repetitions with optimal technique. Moreover, you want to make sure that they finish every set with 2-3 reps in the bank — this way they are not training to failure.

Additionally, you want it to be fun.

This might mean incorporating game based play into your training sessions. It might involve some reactive agility tasks, some jumping and landing, or even some coordination activities.

It might simply mean that you spend a bit more time talking crap while they exercise — just make it fun.

And always  remember that this introduction to formal exercise provides the chance to develop lifelong exercise habits. As a result, the more enjoyable your kids find exercising now, the more likely they will enjoy it in the future too.

 

 

What about as they get older?

Finally, if your kids are transitioning into adolescence, then there is certainly merit in spending more time working with moderately heavy loads.

I mean, their training should still be built around the same movement patterns I have already outlined, but there is going to be some room to push it a little.

It is this that promotes the development of strength and lean tissue — both of which can improve sport performance, enhance health, reduce injury risk, and improve function.

However, there is an obvious caveat here.

If they have never stepped foot in a gym before, then regress them back to simple body weight exercises, and build from there.

Hopefully the following table outlines what I have been talking about reasonably well!

(Although if you want a bit more info, you can also check out another great article here)

AgeFocusExercises
10-12 years
  • Developing motor control and coordination through the performance of fundamental exercises
  • Predominantly sticking to body weight loading
  • Staying 2-3 reps short of failure every set
  • Make it fun
  • Playing a myriad of different sports each year
  • Body weight squats and lunges, hip hinges, push ups, inverted rows pull ups, planks, and side planks
  • Jumping, landing, sprinting, crawling and climbing
13 – 15 years
  • Enhancing strength and coordination through the use of fundamental exercises
  • The addition of lighter loads and more demanding exercises (free weights)
  • Staying 2-3 reps short of failure every set
  • Playing 2 sports per year, with a period of focus on keeping active and maintaining a good base of general fitness
  • Goblet squats, front squats, split squats, lunges, dumbbell presses, push ups, dumbbell rows, cable rotations, planks, and deadlift variations
  • Jumping, landing, sprinting, crawling, and bounding
16 – 18 years
  • Transition into heavier loading to promote strength and muscular development
  • Still adhere to fundamental movement patterns, and stay 1-2 reps shy of failure every set
  • 1-2 sports per year, with time dedicated to developing strength and aerobic fitness prior to each season
  • Barbell squats, split squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, and rows
  • The maintenance of body weight movements such as push ups and pull ups
  • Rapid change of directions, sprints, bounds, and explosive jumps

 

But Kids Only Need Play!

Before I finish up, I wanted to address the elephant in the room.

A lot of people of think that kids do not need any form of formalized exercise. That as long as they play, then they will be fine.

And once upon a time, they may have been right — but now?

Not so much…

See, kids no longer play — or at least, not in the way that they used to.

I mean, they play fortnight? They watch YouTube videos? They be playing Instagram?

But, in modern day, they don’t really play how they need too. And i think this comes down to the fact that they are no longer given the opportunity to use their bodies through exploration and movement.

And before you tell me that they get enough exercise at school, remember that to simply maintain health, children need a minimum of one hour of intense exercise per day.

I repeat — at the bare minimum.

So I would argue that kids actually need formalized exercise more than ever.

I would state that because they no longer have the opportunity to move and develop appropriately, we need to give them the opportunity.

Which is exactly where weight training enters the discussion.

 

But Isn’t Lifting Weights Bad for Kids?

Many people (my mum included…) are adamant that commencing weight training at a young age will somehow be detrimental to their health.

You know, because the load will be stunting their growth and all that….

Now, the first thing I will point out is that the forces placed on the human body when performing a simple landing are MUCH higher than those seen when performing a loaded squat. So if your kids are playing on playgrounds, jumping out of trees, and throwing themselves from trampolines, they are going to be placing their joints under heaps more load than they would in the weight room.

Soooo, yeah — its not going to damage their growth plates

Secondly, weight training has actually been shown to be extremely safe for kids — especially when supervised by someone who knows what they are doing!

So, as long as they are not being stupid, their risk of an injury occurring in the weight room is next to nothing. Moreover, when we consider that lifting weights can actually prevent other sport injuries from occurring, I would say this is a moot point.

In short, no, weight training is not bad for kids.

 

Take Home Message

Should kids lift weights?  I would give this a resounding yes!

When implemented correctly, weight training can improve coordination, build strength and resilience, enhance mental health and self-esteem, boost sport performance, and reduce injury risk. Moreover, it can set them up for a lifetime of health success.

So what are you waiting for?

About the Author

 

Safely Initiating a Training Program For The Young Athlete

Safely Initiating a Training Program For The Young Athlete

Strength and conditioning is a vital aspect for all young athletes performance and development.

There are often many questions asked when referring to a young athletes training regime, “when should they initiate a supervised strength and conditioning program?”, “Is it safe to do so?”, “Will their growth be affected?” These are all legitimate questions of concern to parents and caregivers.

The opportunity for children to participate in more competitive environments at earlier ages is a trend which has increased over the past years, driving the many questions around training, but more specifically, “when is too young to start an organised strength and conditioning  program?”

The Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA), hold the position that if a child is ready to participate in organised structured sport that are generally ready to participate in a supervised resistance training program. It is of the opinion that the earliest a child should begin a structured strength program is 6 years old, this starting age is fluid and very much dependent on the ability of the child to follow clear instructions. Training intensity and loading protocols vary depending on age and development.  A rough guideline for athletic development can be seen below.

Training Intensity/Load:

6-9 years of age: modification of body weight exercises and light resistance
9-12 years of age: 10-15 RM; (maximal loading approximately 60% maximum)
12-15 years of age: 8-15 RM; (maximal loading approximately 70% maximum)
15-18 years of age: 6-15 RM; (maximal loading approximately 80% maximum)

The concept of this outline doesn’t differ much from the mindset and approach we would take with an adult, regardless of their training experience. We would still check to make sure the technique is sound, that everything is moving well and functioning as it should before adding any load. Yes, someone with more training experience will likely move through this stage faster but the concept remains, the only difference being recommended age brackets in regards to progressions when dealing with youth.

 

Injury Risk, Growth and Height

Touching back on the question of safety, the effect on growth and eventual height. Evidence suggests that the key growth and development phase in childhood and early adolescence may be the most beneficial time to implement weight-bearing activities. Such as during a time while the body is continually developing bone mineral density, mass, and structure. In regards to growth and height, there are no studies to indicated that resistance training will effect eventual height or cause injury to growth plates.

Youth typically have lower levels of joint and muscle sprains when compared with adults. Injury risk for youth in strength programs generally arise from unsupervised accidents either with equipment or from inappropriate training loads. This is where a qualified supervisor/coach becomes critical to the safety and effectiveness of a strength and conditioning program.

 

Let’s get onto the good stuff, the benefits!

 

 

Injury Prevention

A dynamic, multi-faceted approach to training has widely been shown to reduce injury risk amongst young athletes, very much similar to the effect it has on adults. It is vital to initially develop fundamental motor patterns in youth athletes that can then be transitioned over to competition or into the gym. Generally, athletes that regularly participate in a well-structured training program will often suffer fewer injuries and be able to recover faster from any injury sustained.

 

Performance enhancement

Benefits of resistance training in youth:

    • Improvements in muscular strength
    • Power production
    • Running velocity
    • Change-of-direction speed
    • General motor performance

 

 

Training Models 

Integrative neuromuscular training (INT) is a conceptual training model that describes a training program that incorporates a range of general and specific strength and conditioning activities specifically designed to enhance health and skill-related components of physical fitness. Health-related components including flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and cardiovascular health. Skill-related components including coordination, speed, power, balance and agility.

By taking a multi-faceted approach for the athlete we are ensuring that they are physically prepared for all requirements of their chosen sport or activity.

The below graph represents the difference between the initiation of these integrative training techniques during pre-adolescence and adolescence compared to sport only and no sport.

 

the young athlete

The graph displays a clear benefit of initiating neuromuscular training during both pre-adolescence and adolescence stages of development. Neuromuscular training initiated earlier in the developmental stage likely leads to greater neuromuscular performance and greater capacity above mature performance potential.

 

 

Take home points

  • If a child is ready to participate in organised structured sport, they are generally ready to participate in a supervised resistance training program.
  • Resistance training initiated at an early age is beneficial to physical growth and development, while not being associated with growth abnormalities and increased injury risk.
  • A multi-faceted approach to strength and conditioning (such as the integrative neuromuscular training model) is beneficial for injury prevention, performance enhancement, and motor development + capacity.

 

 

Resources:

 

About the Author

 

Redefining the CORE: it’s more than just your abs!

Redefining the CORE: it’s more than just your abs!

What is the core?

‘The Core’ is essentially a collective term to refer to the primary muscles at your centre. These muscles collectively bring stability to the spine and support movement of the limbs. The core makes up nearly half the body, and includes all the muscles that attach to the pelvis and spine.

To the rehabilitation world the core is the thoraco-lumbar-pelvic (trunk) complex. It is composed of as many as 35 different muscle groups! These muscles connect into the pelvis from the spine and hip area. In order to simplify the Core muscles I usually divide them into four regions; back extensors, abdominals, lateral trunk muscles, and the hip muscles.

The core as a cylinder, not a 6 pack

Put simply, you can think about the core as a cylinder; it has a bottom (the pelvic floor muscles), a top (the diaphragm) and sides (the abdominals, obliques and back muscles). I’ve put in some diagrams to really help you see how all these muscles come together to create ‘the Core’.

the front of the core, the most superficial muscles

The back of the core, the most superficial muscles

See how it looks like a cylinder? You can see the deep back, front, side and pelvic floor muscles

the deep back muscles of the core

the lateral or side muscles of the core

The core’s VIP: The Diaphragm

We already know that it’s primary function is to stabilise, but how? Well, this is where the diaphragm is really funky and important: the core creates stability when it generates intra-abdominal pressure by a gentle ‘drawing in’ action from all sides of the cylinder at the same time… but particularly from the diaphragm being a secure lid.

So what happens if our diaphragm doesn’t function optimally?

Well, studies have looked at the associations between lower back pain and diaphragm functioning. One study in particular found:

  • Comparing people with lower back pain (LBP) to people without, the LBP group had less diaphragm movement when they inhaled and exhaled
  • The difference was more noticeable during inhalation, and they noted the diaphragm was positioned higher than the other pain-free group
  • This finding was even more pronounced when they added a level of physical exertion (a simple postural task)

The researchers hypothesize that this dysfunction of the diaphragm may exacerbate syptoms of lower back pain by increasing the anterior shear forces on the ventral region of the spinal column.

It’s all very interesting. But how does this information help you?

Well, it means you now know where to start if you want to prevent or start treating lower back pain. Let the process of holistic treatment begin…

 

 

How to train and strengthen your core

There are a plethora of ways to train your core. Let me tell you, sit-ups and crunches are NOT THE ONLY WAY! (they’re actually the worst way). Now that you understand how the core functions, you can see how it comes into play all the time, not just when we try to isolate it. Since our centre of gravity resides within our pelvis, and is where all movement begins; our core becomes fundamental for creating stability of all our lower limb movements. This even includes simple ankle and knee movements!

Start with:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Transverse abdominus activation
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Isometric exercises (no movement) e.g. dead bugs

Then build strength and control:

  • Animal crawls
  • Bird-dog (4-point alternative arm leg extension)
  • Forearm plank and side plank

Then implement into:

  • Compound movements e.g. lunges or lunges with single arm press
  • Dynamic movements e.g. cable rotations
  • Unilateral exercises e.g. single arm cable or dumbbell press

There are many exercises that I prescribe to my patients for core strengthening. The exercises include basic body-weight movements, sometimes really simple exercise to increase body awareness, proprioception and neuromuscular connection; it doesn’t always need to feel like its burning for it to be having seriously positive benefits!

Our philosophy is to progress things to more functional movement patterns where they have to rely on core strength and stability to complete movements with good technique and control.

A strong and stable core can improve optimal performance throughout the whole body and enable you move better, move more, and move longer, as well as preventing injuries!

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Weight Training and Joint Health: What You Need to Know

Weight Training and Joint Health: What You Need to Know

Weight training and joint health. Find out everything you need to know about lifting weights to improve the health of your joints!

When I first stepped foot into a gym, I spent a lot of time watching other people (not like that, you creep).

I was genuinely interested in what they were doing. What exercises they chose to do, why they were doing them, and what the results of those exercises were.

With this, I spent a lot of time trying to learn from some of the older guys in the gym.

Guys who simply screamed ‘old man strength’.

And I quickly noticed that these people could easily fall into one of two categories.

  1. Jacked old guys who moved well, lifted a whole lot of weight, and were pain free, or;
  2. Jacked old guys who could lift a ton of weight, but spent their time hobbling around the gym in obvious pain, and wore braces on every single one of their joints.

So what gives?

Is weight training good for your joints? Is weight training bad for your joints?

Does it come down to genetics, diet, or lifestyle factors?

Or maybe it comes down to how you train… (hint: it probably comes down to how you train).

 

Weight Training and Joint Health

exercises to burn more calories

Contrary to popular belief, there is a large body of evidence showing that lifting weights can be pretty damn good for your joints.

See, weight training increases the strength of the muscles that surround your joints. This improves your ability to stabilize those joints during movement, which ultimately reduces joint wear and tear.

It is for this reason that weight training is actually pretty good for people with osteoarthritis.

However, there is a caveat here.

If you train like an idiot, then your joints will hate you.

 

Training like an idiot…

So, what do I mean by this?

Well, i guess I would characterize it by two things:

  1. Lifting weights with poor form and an inadequate range of motion
  2. Training heavy all the time

To put it simply, weight training with poor form is a great way to place undesirable loads on your joints. It is this load that has the potential to cause an acute joint injury. Similarly, lifting with a small range of motion means that you will only become stable in that short range of motion, which can create joint instability everywhere else — which may also act as a precursor for a joint injury.

Pretty simply, make sure your prioritize technique.

On the other hand, we have heavy weight training (as in lifting really heavy loads for 1-5 repetitions).

Now, just to be clear, I think heavy weight training is the cats pajamas.

It is integral to building strength, increasing power, enchaining stability, and generally making you a more robust human being.

And seriously, who doesn’t want to be a more robust human being?

But the kicker here is that it places much more load on your joints than weight training performed using higher rep ranges, and lower loads.

So if you lift heavy week in week out, you wont allow your joints time to recover between workouts, which can take an obvious toll on your joint health.

As a result, you want to make sure that you match your periods of heavy lifting with periods of higher rep stuff using lighter loads. This gives your joints some time to recover, and ensures that you continue to build strength and stability in the long run.

 

But Won’t Weight Training Ruin My Flexibility?

A common knock on weight training is that it will make you stiff and immobile — leaving you completely unable to get your arms over your head.

But, much like the above, I would argue that this only happens if you lift weights using inadequate range of motion,

In fact, if you weight train using a full range of motion, you can actually cause some pretty large improvements in flexibility. Impressively, some these improvements are even comparable to those caused by stretching.

Additionally, you want to make sure that you are performing a variety of movements that train all of the muscles surrounding your joints. This will ensure that you do not develop any muscular imbalances that can lead to unstable joint positions.

So, in short, no — if you train appropriately, it will not ruin your flexibility at all.

 

 

Best 4 Tips on Weight Training for Joint Health

With all this in mind, there a couple of things you can do to make sure that your weight training improves the health of your joints, rather than hinders it:

  1. Train using a full range of motion for every exercise
  2. If you enjoy heavy strength training, make sure that you also employ periods training with lighter loads and higher rep ranges
  3. Use a variety of exercises to ensure you do not develop any muscular imbalances
  4. Stretch any stiff muscles if you do have some limitations in flexibility before you start your weight training session

Simple and effective.

 

Take Home Message

When performed properly, weight training actually has the ability to improve your joint health — which is pretty incredible if you think about it.

But not that I said “when performed properly”…

So make sure you use the tips outlined in this article, and drop us a comment t if you have any questions!

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