Look For the Causes, not the Effects

One thing which I have found time and time again – disregarding acute injuries, incorrect lifting technique isn’t typically the CAUSE of injuries in the gym, but an EFFECT of the summation of everything you do in your day to day life.  As an example, how many of you have seen people deadlift poorly for YEARS with zero back issues?

Consider Steve Hypothetical – one shoulder is significantly more internally rotated from a tight pec/bicep, he has an elevated shoulder blade from a very tight trap and terrible thoracic mobility. For his job, he sits hunched over at a computer desk all day. While nothing really works as it’s meant to, he’s never really loading up in a terrible position so has no issues.

One day Steve decides to go to the gym. A few weeks of bench pressing with average technique, and he gets some shoulder impingement. He hires a PT and they work on his bench press technique until it’s absolutely optimal, however as soon as he leaves the gym in the morning he heads back to work and sits slouched over. Even though he is moving better for that 30 minutes, for the other 8 hours he is at work and possible 7.5 hours he is at home (given that most people sleep 8 hours a night) he’s back to his old ways. By failing to target the root cause of his issues, any benefits they see are only temporary, and it is not guaranteed that the issue will go away long term.

While Steve isn’t a real person, I have seen this exact same thing happen in many clients and even with myself.

The point this is all getting at is that what you do in the gym is a very small part of your day. Even somebody who trains for 2 hours a day is only spending 12.5% of their waking hours at the gym (given an 8-8-8 split between work, rest and ‘play’), and only 8.3% if you consider the time spent sleeping could be adding to your issues. This is compounded by the fact that while training you are likely ‘aware’ of your bodies positioning,while most people are NOT for day to day activities.

If you have any long-term niggles that won’t go away regardless of what you’re doing in the gym, start thinking about how what you’re doing outside of the gym could be affecting you. More importantly, surround yourself with a team of exercise professionals who can do any diagnosing for you.

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