Have you Hit your Threshold??

September 27, 2008

Inspired by Pat McKinney’s lastest post, this post reflects sort of what Pat was talking about from a different point of view.

In his post, Pat mentions how a modern lifestyle can lead to muscle strength imbalances and muscle recruitment issues. Another cause I’d like to add is the training performed by driven yet misguided trainees (where program design and attention to technique is concerned). Ultimately I’ll be looking at what do these issues lead to.

All of us usually start training in our youth with some sort of bodybuilding inspired routine we learned from someone or somewhere. We do so many things wrong or without considering risk/benefit and yet an interesting thing usually happens: nothing!

Underneath the pain-free facade, our bodies are undergoing postural (structural) changes due to that lifestyle of ours, which leads to altered function; we get compensation patterns. Basically due to the muscle imbalances and recruitment deficiencies that develop, muscles that we want to work might not work as well and others have to pick up the slack to get the job done. And we can remain pain-free for some time using these compensation patterns at least until we hit a threshold level at which point the stress on the compensation pattern is too great and something has to give.

The thing with lifting weights and training is, this accelerates the process. We get stronger faster because we are consciously challenging our bodies to lift more weight or go faster each week. As our numbers go up, we are inching closer to our personal threshold level.

Have you hit threshold?

Have you hit threshold?

Now unless one is knowledgeable about training or has a knowledgeable coach, we’re not aware of our compensation patterns until its too late (when pain results from passing your threshold level). At the time of injury, we naturally think it was an acute thing; that the injury resulted from something we did or didn’t do just a moment earlier. However with these non-contact, “reaching threshold” injuries, they are the result of pushing a compensation pattern too far, so to find out the cause of the injury we have to look further back in time or less obviously, at our lifestyle.

As a coach, this was something that would be in my head as I was observing exercise performance. In essence, I was assessing. If a movement pattern didn’t look as I knew it should, where was the error that I needed to correct to keep them healthy and playing. If the athlete already reached threshold for some pattern (ie. they had an overuse injury currently or in the past), what needed to be fixed to get them healthy long-term so they could continue playing/competing.

To conclude, I guess the point of this is we don’t know we’ve hit threshold until its too late. If you have hit threshold, don’t just look at the immediate past for a cause of injury because its rarely that simple. The other 23 hours in a day impact your body more than the 1 hour in a gym, is there a positive impact or a negative one?



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