Fitness With a Side of Dysfunction?
Wow! A lot has changed since I first started writing this article about fitness. COVID 19 is changing all of our lives. People are working from home. Schools are closed. We are all trying to maintain our social distance. We talk a lot about taking care of our kids in this newsletter. But, we also need to make sure we take care of ourselves so that we can be the best version of ourselves for our kids. Now, more than ever, this is especially true.
A lot of us are feeling the strain of having kids at home. We are having more anxiety and uncertainty about the future. If you are like me and a lot of people around our country, you are focusing on fitness. So let’s take a look at what fitness really means. The dictionary defines fit as being sound physically and mentally; healthy. Using that definition, many “fitness” routines fall short of the goal. If you don’t enjoy running and dread every workout, you’re probably falling short of the “sound mentally” portion. Exercise should be enjoyable, reduce stress, and leave you feeling better, not worse.
No Pain No Gain?
Exercise should also leave you feeling better physically. If you can run a good time in a 5k, but have aches and pains for days after, you’re not “sound physically.” If you are increasing your personal record in the squat rack, but your joint pain is increasing right along with it, you’re not “sound physically” either. Sure, some muscle soreness and fatigue after a hard workout is normal. But if you’re having pain that doesn’t go away, sore joints, or trouble moving after exercise, you’re probably developing movement dysfunction along with your fitness. A new ache or pain will not make chasing after a child any easier.
Go back to the dictionary. Dysfunction is impaired or abnormal functioning, so movement dysfunction is impaired or abnormal movement. When someone has a movement problem like a sore joint, limited range of motion, or strength loss the brain finds a way to get the body to do what it wants. That usually means moving in a way that is less than optimal. For awhile, it works. But eventually it leads to injury.
As a concrete example, think of someone who has trouble bending one knee doing squats. When one knee bends further than the other, it will cause one side of the pelvis to drop lower than the other. Now that the pelvis isn’t level, the spine bends towards the high side to stay balanced. When that one side of the pelvis drops lower than the other one, it also usually rotates. Now the spine has to bend to the side and twist to keep you upright. This works for a while. However, as the amount of weight and the number of repetitions increase, so does the risk for a back injury.
Preventative Medicine for Fitness
Pain during workouts, or pain and soreness that don’t go away after, can be warning signs of a movement dysfunction. If you’re experiencing any of these, your physical therapist (PT) is a movement expert who can help. Physical therapists are trained to analyze movement and can figure out the root cause of your problem. They can then design a program to treat the cause and correct the abnormal pattern. There is no need to wait until you’re injured to see a PT. In fact, it’s preferable not to. Fixing minor problems early means fewer visits to the PT, less pain, and not having to put your workouts on hold because of injury. Click here to learn more about how physical therapy can help you. Or call MOSAIC today at (406) 388-4988 to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled adult physical therapists. Get that minor problem fixed now!