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Preserving Function and Reducing Injury: Building Your Movement Like a Pyramid

There are two big issues I see when people become injured frequently with movement. Take a look to see if you fall into either of these categories:

1) A mismatch in what folks are asking their bodies to do and how they are training

2) Lopsided training

Think about your movement as a pyramid.

Mobility/Strength are pretty clearly defined. They are collectively the amount you can move, and also your given strength in that area.

Biomechanics can also be thought of as your self selected movement patterns. If you run, it is how you run, how you squat, how your head may fall forward after spending hours at your desk.

Skill relates to your movements that are complex and require your mobility/strength as well as biomechanics. Skills can be athletic- such as running hurdles or throwing a full on a balance beam, but for most of us they relate to more mundane tasks (such as rolling out heavy garbage cans or carrying groceries up a flight of stairs.

1) A mismatch in what folks are asking their bodies to do and how they are training

When you take a look at the pyramid above, you can see that a diminishment in any of the foundational supports of the pyramid (strength/mobility as well as biomechanics) limits our skill production. How can we be a successful mountain biker when our hips aren’t strong enough to support us on our climbs? How can we head out to swim in a beautiful reserve when our shoulders aren’t flexible enough to accommodate a successful swimming stroke?

I often use a math analogy to explain this concept- if your training routine (strength/ mobility and biomechanics) is at a pre-algebra level, how could you ever be successful in performing a calculus level skill?

The solution for this challenge is super simple- meet yourself where you are. Allow the weakest point of this pyramid to guide your intervention. Will it be frustrating as hell? Yes, of course! It never feels good to admit you may not be ready for something. But the only way to progress your skills (your functional outcomes) is by meeting yourself where you are- working at that level until you progress.

2) Lopsided training

We are all guilty of this.

As adults, it just sucks to be a beginner. We tend to do what we are good at, over and over, and avoid venturing into movements we are uncertain about. I always reflect on this when I look across participants in a yoga class and see only women.

Women tend to be more flexible than men. Because of this endogenous flexibility, they have a different yoga experience than men. Men have a bigger barrier to developing flexibility- and tend to stay away from yoga classes.

Women, traditionally have stayed away from the weight rooms at the gym. Gratefully, these stereotypes are being challenged everywhere.

We still tend to migrate to what we are already good at. A super flexible ballerina may stretch and stretch whenever she gets the first inkling of failing a skill- even though power and strength may be what she needs to get to her next level of performance.

All of this to broadly say, we generally have little insight about where we lack in our own movement pyramid and where we have plenty. Work with a skilled physical therapist to help you identify where your own limitations to healthy movement are- and diligently work and achieve objective goals in those areas until you are no longer hindered by them.

If you’re interested in working with me on a 1:1 basis, or in a class setting, please check out my offerings for Practical Strength class and 1:1 Wellness

Happy Moving!


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