In our modern society, rounded forward posture is becoming more and more common. It seems that the more advanced technology becomes, the more sedentary we as humans become. Whereas physical activity used to be a natural part of our lives, now we need to schedule time to go to the gym to stay in shape. Many people spend most of their days sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, in a car, on the bus, or in front of a TV. No wonder we appear to be de-evolving!
After spending so much time hunched over, the muscles in our mid-back between the shoulder blades tend to get weak and lengthened, while the muscles in the front of our body and around our neck become shortened and tight. This can lead to shoulder pain related to a/c joint impingement, tight upper traps, rotator cuff muscle imbalance, anterior delt irritation, and more. These problems are then aggravated by many common exercises such as chest press and overhead press.
As I discussed in one of my earlier blog posts, I was involved in pretty serious car accident as a teenager. A tire blew out and our vehicle rolled into the ditch, throwing me out of the window and about 20 feet through the air! I ended up fracturing 3 lumbar vertebrae (spinal compression fractures) and was confined to several days of bed rest in the hospital.
After that I was told to never lift heavy weights again, which didn’t make sense to me because it was strength training that had protected me from a more serious injury! So I set out to learn as much as I could about strength training and post-injury fitness, and in the process I have trained my lower back and core to be one of my strongest muscle groups.
Now, I understand that for most people suffering from lower back pain and/or tension it may not be as a result of serious trauma. A far more common cause of back issues is simply muscular imbalances developing over time from one’s lifestyle; especially from sitting for excessively long periods!
Back in 2004 I was taking Judo lessons (along with Kick-boxing and Wrestling) in my quest to become a legitimate bad-ass. During one lesson I was grappling with another big yellow belt and both of us were being a bit bull-headed, so when I tried to throw him (with sloppy technique) and he fought it, I ended up awkwardly twisting him across my leg and suddenly “POP”, there goes my ACL.
Since a major part of my life involves being physically active I opted to have ACL reconstruction surgery. After the surgery I was surprised and disappointed to discover that my knee wasn’t recovering as quickly as I’d expected. I tried everything: physio, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, laser, etc. I’d get temporary relief at best, but my strength and stability wasn’t there when I hit the gym. I just couldn’t get my medial quad to contract properly. Even after several months nothing seemed to work… until I ran into some professionals who guided me toward a different approach.
As in many aspects of our society, in the fitness industry there are things that many of us accept as true based on dogma rather than science and facts. An example is the persistent myth that “eating fat is bad for you”. Once an entire system of training (or nutrition) has been developed around a certain (erroneous) belief, it becomes very hard to change, regardless of how much evidence is presented. Cognitive biases are formed over time, which are inflexible by definition. This is why it is SO important to keep an open mind and to become a critical thinker!
Stretching and flexibility training is one of the aspects of strength and fitness that really seems to be dragging it’s ass. Despite the abundance of mounting research and evidence to indicate that passive stretching can lead to muscle weakness, joint instability, and increased risk of injury, there still seems to be a stubborn faction of fitness pros who won’t give it up without a fight. But if you try to argue against science armed with only your opinions it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Much to the dismay of my wife and daughter I have decided to participate in Movember this year!
This means I will be grooming my moustache for the entire month to increase awareness of and raise funds to combat testicular and prostate cancer. But I can’t do it alone… I need your support to fight the good fight! Find out more and give what you can on my MoBro page at:
Or sign up yourself and start growing your own epic stache! If you do I invite you to join our team at:
Watch this short video introduction to my Movember crusade: