Tag Archives: injury prevention

the moral of this MONSTER Monday mishap

16 Nov

Yesterday’s MONSTER Monday workout started off much like any other.  My lifting pal and I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and do our workout in the park.  We did a bit of TRX, some body weight training, tossed a football and included some hill sprints; it was all so far, so good.  Next, my lifting pal suggested, we would run up the stairs and at the landing do a lateral shuffle and chest pass back and forth with a soccer ball, then continue running up the stairs to the top.  Same story on the way down.  Going to the top was just grand, however on the way back down I managed to step into a deep sinkhole as I caught the ball on the last chest pass.  As is the case with most falls/injuries, I could see it happening all in slow motion and the thought going through my head was “Oh S***!!! I am going to smash my face into these stairs!!!”  Without even thinking about what to do, my body automatically reacted; I let the ball go and somehow managed to put my arms out to catch my fall, my face landing a mere 3 inches away from the cold concrete steps.  It was SCARY.

monster monday mishap

Ok Here’s a glimpse at the damage.  [I opted to include a link to another post, rather than just put a big ol’ picture of my bloody leg up here, just in case anyone gets queasy easily! 🙂 ]

After checking to make sure I was okay, my lifting pal (and I) burst into a roar of laughter.  Together we sat on the stairs for well over a few minutes laughing like a couple of hyenas.  She gave me her best reenactment of what she saw in slow motion, and I recounted mine.  We both could not believe that in the split second of my misstep, I managed to catch myself from totally falling and getting VERY hurt.

Here’s where the moral of MONSTER Monday comes in….We decided that it was thanks to lots of functional training that I was able to do so.

[Functional Training, in one description, is “Multi-joint, multi-planar, proprioceptively-enriched activity that involves deceleration (force reduction), acceleration (force production) and stabilization; controlled amounts of instability; and management of gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum.”  

In plain English, “Functional training involves movements that are specific — in terms of mechanics, coordination and/or energetics — to one’s activities of daily living (ADLs).]  **source**

I have read myriad articles outlining and explaining in detail the many benefits of functional training.  I have heard well-known and respected fitness professionals advocate for this modality of training over others because of its benefits in everyday life.  I, myself, have explained to clients how and why functional training is superior to many other modalities.  Training in planes of motion & training the body to work in a cohesive manner through movement patterns simulates real life actions.  In other words, training the upper body, lower body, and core to work in unison while IN the gym will automatically improve mobility outside the gym, doing everyday things.  In addition, working in this fashion is more efficient and effective in terms of reaching fitness goals.  Conversely, training a single muscle in isolation while the rest of the body is immobilized is not realistic in nature [think using a bicep curl or leg extension machine].  It is also a much less efficient way of working out, given the goals of most individuals.  Some people buy my explanation, and others don’t.  Bottom line, without functional training, I probably would’ve ended up with a broken nose, some missing teeth, or worse.  I was quite happy to walk away from the “scene of the crime” on my own two feet with a few cuts and scrapes.

I now have a new (and favorite, #1) reason in support of functional training: IT LITERALLY SAVES FACE!

Exercise burnout: what is it, and how can it be avoided?

15 Aug

Exercise burnout is a term I hear all the time amongst colleagues and clients.  I hear stories of folks who have been going to the gym; doing their routine day in and day out, over and over, and are getting quite sick and tired of it.  The workout that once brought them relief from the stress of a long day now is a looming monster.  It serves as another obstacle and another stress bomb to face before unwinding for the evening.  The pleasure and satisfaction once gleaned from pumping iron, hitting the cardio machines, and getting a good sweat has long been replaced with boredom, annoyance, resentment, and anger.  For some, the burnout goes beyond the mental exhaustion and carries over to physical exhaustion as well.  People overuse, overwork, and over train their bodies to the point of intense exhaustion, bodily fatigue, and injury.  Without time off the body has no time to rest and repair itself, leaving it always playing catch-up and never operating at 100%.  [and if you want to BE your best, you gotta BRING your best!]

Why does this happen to so many people and so often?  What causes people to reach the point of such profound burnout?  I believe it stems from the lack of understanding the importance of two concepts: diversity and rest.  The first of the two, diversity in exercise,  is crucial to practice in order to avoid burnout, boredom, and injury.  Most people get into a routine at the gym: they come in, use certain machines [because they know and feel comfortable with them] and then leave.  They do this day in and day out.  While ANY exercise/activity will initially produce change and results, eventually the body gets used to the same repetitive motion/action [our bodies are so much smarter than we give them credit for!!] and the benefits begin to diminish.  What once produced significant calorie burn and muscle hypertrophy will, over time, no longer be challenging.  Exercise is meant to be progressive, that is changing and becoming more challenging as a person’s fitness level increases.  Without progression a person’s fitness level becomes “stuck”.  The elliptical machine might still say you’re burning X number of calories every time you get on it, but the calorie counters on cardio machines are rarely accurate and do not take into account enough information to make a precise assessment of what’s going on during the workout. 

In order to maximize the benefits of exercise, you MUST change it up!!! Don’t get comfortable using that one specific machine [3rd elliptical from the left, right by the TV that always plays BRAVO], instead discover something new! Give your body and your mind a new challenge.  Hop on a machine that you’ve never used before.  Its okay, it won’t bite!  And if you don’t know how to use it, just start pedaling and something will happen!  All else fails, ask a staff member at your gym to show you how to properly use it!   If that doesn’t sound appealing, find an activity outdoors that piques your interest: rollerblading, biking, swimming, hiking, walking, running.  If you’ve never done it before, try it!! The key is to always change it up.  Instead of spinning 5 days a week, try using the stair master, treadmill or ARC trainer.   If you’re a hard-core runner, try spin on one of your cardio days!  Something else to consider is group fitness classes; many gyms offer a wide variety of classes that are different from what goes on out on the cardio/weight room floor.   This also applies to strength training; if you are simply lifting barbells and dumbbells, try a body weight circuit or a Bootcamp class.  Increase sets, reps, and try doing unilateral exercises instead of bilateral.  Throwing a change into the mix will confuse your body and produce greater results.  And not only will this keep you from getting bored, but it will prevent you from getting injured.  Because exercise diversity forces you to work different muscles in different ways, it strengthens the body from different angles and gives all body parts a chance to work.   No single muscle (or muscle group) will be overused or over trained, and no muscle will be left under trained or ignored.

The second factor I believe contributes to exercise burnout is lack of rest.  When people get serious about working out and get into a groove, they rarely give themselves time to rest and repair.   They are so caught up with and focused on their goal [losing weight, gaining muscle, training for an event, transforming their bodies and minds, etc] that they may start to believe a day of rest will put them behind schedule and a day further away from reaching their goal.  Let me say: REST IS A MUST!!!  Exercise puts the body through the wringer: muscle fibers rip and tear apart during strength training, and we take a beating moving around during cardio exercise.  The work does not happen when we are in the gym, on the court, track or street.  The work- the lean muscle repair and growth, and fat loss- happen when we are asleep and otherwise at rest.  One day of FULL rest from exercise per week is recommended for people working out at a moderate intensity on a regular basis.  I personally believe that of the 7 days in a week, one day should be full rest and another should be an “Active Recovery” day.  Active Recovery can be anything that is LOW impact, does not raise the heart rate to its maximal levels, and is considered fun!  For my active rest, I enjoy going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or doing the elliptical for 15-20 minutes on a low setting.  Other folks enjoy doing Zumba or other dance classes for active recovery.  The remaining 5 days can be devoted to training well and training hard. 

Exercise burnout can cause people to abandon their workout routine all together.   This can lead to further deviation from a healthy lifestyle- becoming inactive, abandoning healthy eating habits, and allowing the mental muscle to weaken considerably.  In extreme cases, focus and determination become lost to apathy and self-loathing.  Don’t let yourself get to that point!!  If you feel yourself getting there, stop and check the nature of your routine.  Are you bored? Do you need to diversify your workout? Go ahead, try something new TODAY!  Are you letting yourself rest? Or have you been exercising hard every day for the past 2+ weeks?? Take a day of rest; it will do you a world of good! 

Have you ever experienced exercise burnout? What caused it? And how did you combat it?