How to properly begin a fitness program
How to properly begin a fitness program is key to your success. To fully understand body mobility and functionality is crucial to stepping in the right direction. Sometimes we make the mistake of telling ourselves that something is bad for our body's because it brings discomfort. This leads me to a post I ran into on my Facebook wall about an individual talking about how terrible running is on the knees. This is actually a misconception because we don't fully understand how the body functions. I feel it is my responsibility as a certified personal trainer, as well as the owner of Discovery Fitness, to teach and educate those who do not understand what is really happening. In order to explain this properly, I am not only going to focus on knee problems, but attempt to help people more fully understand the mechanics of the body as a single entity.
Running can definitely be an important part of your training in order to keep your knees healthy and strong, if done correctly with the proper footwear and technique. I, myself, suffered from knee pain after a complete tear of my MCL six years ago in an ATV accident. To this day my right knee has no MCL. There are many techniques I used to keep this part of my body healthy, without suffering from aches and pains. Running has been one of the training techniques I used to keep myself pain free.
Many of us suffer from body aches and body pains. This can be caused by a chain reaction from multiple events, situations, and habits that have occurred over many years. Let's take a look at proper shoes, how we have forgotten how to properly move our body, and how to use proper strength training.
In today's world everybody wants to have the newest shoes, the coolest shoes, or the most luxurious looking shoes for our everyday footwear. Remember, just because something has a big brand-name, looks cool, or has a high price tag, that doesn't necessarily make them good for our bodies. Did you know that some of the best athletes come from third world countries where they run around barefoot? These super athletes who run and move with no shoes, achieve their status because they are moving the way nature intended them to move. They properly use and fire every muscle group in their body, thus preventing many injuries. They are properly building muscle and supporting every joint in the body. They are more functional than those who wear incorrect footwear (read Born to Run By Christopher McDougall). The best footwear is actually just our naked feet. We are no different than any other mammal in the world; we were born to be functional with what nature gave us. Have you seen a cheetah running around with the best and newest running shoes with a high brand-name? Of course not. That would be silly to see a Cheetah with running shoes. In today's world it would be disrespectful to walk around barefoot because of the stigma we have created. There are also many elements that can make this dangerous for us, such as glass and other dangerous substances on our world’s floor.
So, what does wearing the wrong shoes do to our bodies? Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to long-term problems such as heel mobility issues, knee issues, anterior or posterior pelvic tilt, scapular mobility issues, shoulder mobility issues, and neck issues. Our bodies are like a set of tumbling dominoes with one problem leading to another and so on. Having the wrong footwear could be devastating to someone’s knees when it comes to running, as well as many other issues. I can see how someone may believe running is harmful, but it comes down to having the wrong shoes and having a body that is not properly firing.
Now that you have the correct footwear it is time for You to check your running technique. How to properly strike with every step without getting knee, hip, and back pain. If you are not properly striking you must step back and begin with walking and work on your corrective exercises. As your body begins to fire properly do a jog walk program and continue to work on your correctives. The goal is to get your body to function without any pain during your running program. It's important for us to take responsibility and get ourselves connected with a professional in two important areas, one who can fit you into the correct shoe and possibly, depending on your alignment issues, get you some inserts for your shoes as well. (All Discovery Fitness clients get a discount and a 3 month warranty on shoes at a shoe store in Tualatin, Oregon) two get with a Trainer for corrective exercises and to begin your fitness program. no matter what your goals are If it's running or strength training. A well balance trainer Will focus on functionality, mobility, and strength all together to guarantee your success.
Let's look at the next problem "Forgetting how to properly move our bodies." At this point you understand the importance of proper footwear to properly move your body, but that is just one of the problems. To fully understand proper body movements let's take a trip to our past when we were all young and innocent. Yes, we just traveled back to the day you became part of this world: your birth. Babies, toddlers, and young children are the key to functional movements. These young active kids are the key to fully understanding how we are meant to move. Don't believe me? I give you parents a challenge. Are you ready? I challenge you to mimic every movement your child makes. That's all you have to do. Simple, right? No, not really. You see, a toddler can squat for long periods of times, in a proper squat position. Yeah, I know your child can squat better than 95% of the people at your gym or club house. Babies are phenomenal humans when it comes to many things, particularly the process of movement, their dedication to a goal, and achieving success. Many of us remember how well our mobility was. As babies we had no pains or aches and we had great flexibility. We forget that we also had the strongest dedication in the world. How many times did you fail to roll over as an infant until you succeeded? How many times did you fail to crawl until you finally succeeded? How many times did you fall in your awkward first attempts to walk and how many times did you pick yourself back up until you succeeded at this walking thing? That is just one of the reasons why babies are so fascinating. They don't give up, and they set up the beginning stages on Proper Functional Movement.
Let's talk about Toddlers next. They run around. They jump. They roll. They move around in all directions. They are just little balls of energy. They are the second stage of Proper Functional Movement. As children get older, they become more capable of new challenges like hanging, throwing, and kicking a ball. They are beginning the process of eye, hand, foot, and body coordination, and foot agility. They move and play and they have fun. This brings me to a saying that too many of us use… "I'm just getting old and that's why I hurt so much" or… "I can't do the things I used to do because I'm getting older." The truth is, as soon as you disconnect yourself from your inner child, you begin your path to your own end. We forget to play and we forget to move our bodies. We get our “big boy” and “big girl” jobs and we sit for 8 hours a day. We become tired because our bodies are not functioning. Our muscles begin to shut down because we are not training them anymore. We lose mobility because we aren't moving to the left, to the right, or backward and forward, like we did when we were younger. We sit and watch hours of television. So, what should you do? You should focus on corrective exercises and yes, many of those exercises are the ones you did as a child: rolling on the ground, crawling, eye and hand coordination, working on improper developments like anterior or posterior pelvic tilt, scapular mobility, ankle mobility, shoulder mobility and so on. You get back to the basics before you start loading your body up with weights.
This brings me to using proper strength training. After you properly fix all of your dysfunctions by getting the correct footwear and doing corrective exercises, you can begin strength program. You can avoid many aches and pains by taking the proper steps and guaranteeing that your body is firing correctly. So what is proper strength training? I personally use a trainings style I like to call animalistic. So what is Animalistic? Animalistic is moving how nature intended us to move. We have some basic moves. We squat on a daily basis. We pick up objects from the ground, which would be performing a deadlift which is helping us keep a strong back and core, as well as legs. We lift objects overhead, which would be
shoulder pressing. We pick up our own bodies, pull-ups. We push away from our bodies, chest presses and shoulder presses. And we balance on a daily basis, which comes down to core strength.
The best thing to do is to stick to free weights. You don't need all the fancy and showy gym equipment to have a successful program. Think about how your body moves and stick to basic free weight movements. Work with dumbbells, kettle bells, and barbells for maximum results. When it comes to other movements, do animal movements like bear crawls, alligator walk, and the duck walk. Don't forget to incorporate jumping, rolling, rope exercises, running, sled pushing, box jumping, and so on. Stay away from machines, maybe with the exception of cable machines. Avoid fixed machines like the leg press, chest press, rows, shoulder press, and so on. Fixed machines don't move our bodies in a natural way, but instead, they move you in a fixed position. Don't lift over your ability. If your form goes, bring down the weight so you are properly working the correct muscle groups. Don't lift heavy weights that look like you are going to break your back. When doing pull-ups, avoid those floppy fish pull-ups (It hurts my shoulders just looking at them). If you are a shoulder Doctor, you are like, “Yes!! Keep it up because I'll be seeing you in a year or so for shoulder surgery. Cha-Ching!!!!.”
All of the aches and pains in our bodies, such as knee pain, lower back pain, and so on, are a chain reaction of problems built up over the years. To correct your problem and get back to the things you believed you couldn't do any more like running, hiking, or just moving without pain, it is all about getting back to the basics and building up. You build a Pyramid from the ground up. Our bodies are no different. As children we started from the bottom and built our bodies up. There is a point in our life where we start going the opposite direction and when we get back to training, it is important to have the proper tools, to check our mobility, to properly move by doing corrective exercises, to look at our under and over developed muscles, and to begin a successful strength and conditioning program. Get with a professional personal trainer to get you back on track. You are always welcome to check us out at Discovery Fitness and set up a free conversation.
I hope this small amount of detail helps you choose a better, more beneficial exercise program. Have fun and reconnect with your inner child.
By: Jorge Armando Najar
Owner, Discovery Fitness, LLC
February 18, 2018