Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should


Last week I had four assessment interviews with new clients. During that session clients get to come clean about what they want, and their injuries. People always have a real desire to start to exercise and get in shape again, but more often I find they have extenuating circumstances that restrict what they are able to do. In 100% of the interviews I’m given a list of what they cannot do. This isn’t because they’re being difficult, but because they’ve hurt themselves at some point in their past.

“I can no longer do type the name of an exercise here because I tore my. . .”

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a reality of life. We all age for a variety of reasons. We all have had injuries — some worse than others, and human nature what it is, we choose to forget that as time marches on. . . our bodies cannot keep in step. I no longer squat, do super sets, or run suicides because I overdid it 30 years ago. About the time I turned 40 I was feeling the strain of those workouts. That was when I started looking at Therapeutic Exercise. The rest is history.

Since I began that course of study in 1997 I’ve discovered that more people need a therapeutic approach to exercise than I ever imagined. Usually because they haven’t or aren’t currently following the proper exercise guidelines. (And trainers don’t always recognize a Boomer’s restrictions) The first rule we should follow is to be cautious. You must remember that just because the body can do an exercise doesn’t mean you aren’t hurting yourself while you do the workout. A perfect example is the story a client told me last week. She was in a facility working with a trainer who was encouraging her to do pull ups. You know pull ups — her hands were on the bar, her legs bent, and he held her feet while he encouraged (another word for barked or yelled) her to keep doing more repetitions. She was excited, nervous and then pretty impressed with herself. As she told me,

“I was really impressed that I could keep going.” 

Getting through a workout is much easier with support in the form of motivation from someone other than ourselves. Whether it’s an attagirl from friends or the push from a trainer a fan club is beneficial for most people. However, the excitement, and maybe the adrenalin can make us throw caution to the wind. Next thing you know you regret not thinking before you jumped off the bridge with the other lemmings. Such was the case with this client. Her next comment about that incident was,

“Until the next day. I had such pain in my arm here (pointing to her brachioradialis and biceps brachii above and below the elbow) it was horrible. That was a year ago.”

IMG_2656 (1)

From The Beacon in Virginia Beach, March 1985

Now, I’m not suggesting the trainer was to blame. Ultimately the buck stops with the client. Standing your ground and insisting you do a different exercise is not the same as refusing to exercise. Especially with the Baby Boomer crowd. A life well lived doesn’t mean you’re predisposed to injury, but it doesn’t mean your body is capable of doing movement and range of motion like you did as a youngster. Let me use my body as an example.

High intensity, heavy squats and dead lifts resulted in scar tissue forming throughout my hips particularly on the right hip, glutes and piriformis. The lifting itself isn’t responsible — I lifted incorrectly one day and did the damage. Remember it wasn’t the weights, it wasn’t the exercise, it was a situation where I lost my concentration and hurt myself.

Years later a surgeon recommended I lose weight (pictured below), and if I still had back and hip pain he’d see me on the operating table. That was more than 20 years ago. I might have done it differently if I’d had any idea — never having an injury would have been best. But hindsight is 20/20.

The best rule is to be moderate and conservative in your approach to

Yep! This is me! Circa 1993 - 2000. After bodybuilding and children. Before ZWL Method.

Yep! This is me! Circa 1993 – 2000. After bodybuilding and children. Before ZWL Method.

exercise. Keep moving, but be conscious of previous injuries. In cases where joints have been replaced or surgical procedures to repair breaks it can take from 1 to 2 years for the bones to fully solidify. Play it smart and modify your training. The worse thing that can happen is you have to stop exercising completely. Don’t let that happen.

Remember what your mother told you! “If your friends jumped off a bridge would you too?”

Please Love Yourself!

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