Does exercise need to be corrective?
In contemporary life, the average individual is exposed to an array of postures and positions and for extended periods of time. The common, popular theory is that as coaches and trainers, we need to ‘correct’ it straight away. Someone has an anterior pelvic tilt - WE MUST CORRECT! (Actually many people have a genetic predisposition to have a tilted pelvis - that’s why some people will be good sprinters, and others will be good MMA fighters) Or someone has ‘rounded shoulders’ and WE MUST CORRECT. Actually, we do not need to correct as many things as we may believe. Daily life sees postural adaptation, but this is immediately linked with ‘bad’ posture. Why does it have to be bad? It’s not. Firstly we must realise that everyone is an individual, with their own anatomical variations, limb lengths, and individual make-up. 9 times out of 10, the ‘bad’ posture that people see on others is actually serving a pretty good purpose, relative to the demands of that person. If someone is sat down for extended periods fo time, hip musculature will adapt to meet the demands of that position, hence we get ‘tight’ hip flexors. Immediately this is diagnosed as a problem or issue by uneducated trainers/coaches, and then they will be forever fighting a losing battle to try and ‘correct a posture’ that the body is actually trying to created, to meet the demands of the individuals daily needs.
What we actually need to do is create an exercise environment that will suit, and match the needs of that individual. Not just throw them into a program with squats, deadlifts and push ups like everyone else, “because everyone should be able to do the primal patterns”. Nonsense. We don’t live in the caveman days anymore, no matter how much I would have loved to. A desk worker, that may be sat at a desk for multiple hours of the day for the foreseeable future, does not need to squat and deadlift daily, trying to correct posture to try and fight the human bodies mechanical adaptation system. What we need to do is find available ranges, and pick exercises that will match the mechanical ability of the new posture.
Why do people get pain when they ‘have bad posture’.
Normally this will be due to the individual, or trainer, not doing the above (matching the individuals needs to the exercise selection), and exceeding load tolerances of tissues that cannot handle the exposure. They will be forcing themselves to do squats, split squats, chin ups etc, but their new biomechanical ability will not be suited to perform such movement, thus injury will occur. What then happens is the coach/therapist will say “your lower back hurts because you have tight hip flexors”, when actually having strong, tight hip flexors will be beneficial to the individual on a day to day basis, it was purely the fact the trainer/therapist is trying to fight against the adaptations of the human body, and is too lazy to assess and find exercises that fit into the individuals new available range.
Don’t try fighting your human, mechanical adaptations (‘bad posture’). They are not the issue for your aches and pains. The reason for your aches and pains are the fact that you are trying to do what “everyone should be able to do”, and not what your body needs you to do. Asymmetry is not a bad thing, nor does it need correcting. We only need to correct something if it is the CAUSE of a pathology. note; not a symptom, and after controlling for the above information. If you are trying to fight a postural adaptation to an individual that will still be exposed to chronic seated positions for the foreseeable, you will be wasting your time. Understand the adaptation, assess the new available range that you have, or your client has, and pick exercises that will match the ability of the body in front of you. Not everyone should squat, not everyone should deadlift, row, push up. It all depends on the availability an individual has, and the pre-requisites they have that are required to perform such exercise.
Luke French | Health and Physique Coach
Personal trainer, offering personal training in Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Hildenborough.