The Possibility of an Injury Is Better Than The Sure Thing Of Cancer or Heart Disease
I hope you’ll agree there is no contest and that this is our reality right now. I hope for future generations – my direct offspring, and yours – that this improves. Exercise is part of your prevention plan for disease in the intricate simplicity it offers. The simple act of increasing your heart rate, breathing harder and deeper is good for you. It also decreases stress hormones within seconds – about 5 – of you beginning. The positive feel-good hormones buffer your mood and mental health. We know now that if you’re mental health improves your physical health improves.
The purpose of this article then is not to scare you. You should be far more scared by a sedentary life. Every day that you sit for more than two hours without getting up for a movement break you should be concerned. Each day you don’t spend at least a minute or two breathless from exercise is an internal injury waiting to happen.
We’ve all been there though, for ourselves or for our children maybe. During golf season I would question how smart it was for my son to go tubing or water skiing with a tournament days away. Then when one of the talented boys got injured doing just that it only confirmed my fears. I’ve turned down opportunities to snow ski in the beautiful mountains while I was making my living physically running workshops to train trainers how to cue and spot and working with a few clients who needed my physical support during sessions. I was extremely active but chose not to do extreme sports.
Let’s look at 26-year old Rory Mcllroy, who by the way I hope the best for – we’re a golfing family and it feels like I should send a card! He’s one of our favs. This is not a criticism of his choice. I’m sure he’s giving himself the business enough.
Was soccer “extreme” for him? He’s young and he’s fit. But is he soccer fit? I really don’t know how often he plays but what I would say is that if he wasn’t playing regularly, practicing cutting and kicking and the unique torque on a body – even a 26 year old body – that yes, it was an extreme activity two weeks before the major tournament of the year defending his title. And the same is for you – even without the tournament.
What if in reverse, you’re aerobically fit and run or bike regularly. You’re lifting weights and have good strength. You try golf – this seemingly stand-still sport requiring less athleticism by comparison. Feet planted, little risk of falling, how hard can it be?
I’d predict your injury rate could be similar to Rory’s if you hadn’t been doing preparatory movements. Rotation throughout the body causes a great deal of torque in your entire kinetic chain. Yes, your feet are planted. That is actually part of the problem. Given your knees are caught between the planted foot and the ability of your hips and back to rotate there is a lot of torque landing in the low back. The top injuries for golf include:
- low back
How do you prepare for golf? Using cables or tubing rotation exercises will add some resistance that will help your body adapt to the power that comes from swinging rapidly. Core strength is key to golf as many sports. You need a variety of core exercises, not a one of them forward flexion, however.
Yoga increase rotation but does so without any resistance. It’s a part, just not the whole of your prep. It can be a good recovery movement causing you to rotate in the opposite direction equally if you’ve just swung 200 times on one side. (No, I’m not calling you a really bad golfer, but suggesting if you take some practice swings before each shot an afternoon of 18 holes adds up quickly). With any sport, warm up. Low or no resistance first. You use your 9-iron at the range first and work your way up to a full swing through your clubs before you actually tee off.
Contrary to what you might think, running doesn’t have as many injuries as you’re led to believe. There are a lot of doctors including chiropractors and podiatrists who don’t recommend it, it’s true. For every one of them I’ll bet I can find you a doctor who him or herself runs. It does have a lot to do with you and your body mechanics. We’re each put together differently. Things that put you at risk however, will also discourage you from participating in something that is likely to cause an injury. If it hurts: don’t do it. Or, have someone look at your form and technique. When your “hips” are not in alignment (from too much sitting or one-sided activities) you of course will be uncomfortable. A small adjustment whether through chiropractic or soft tissue work can make a big difference.
Even a physical assessment done by a trained personal trainer will reveal an imbalance in your body. You may be referred to someone or you might be given a set of exercises and stretches to improve the way you feel and move. These seemingly small things you didn’t “feel” the need to do because you’ve “settled” into this being your norm, can reduce a lot of aches and pains from ever happening.
The greatest concern for running is the impact. The sweet spot for running is moderate level. A study out just recently suggested that Sedentary individuals and those running more than 30 miles a week had equal risk of early death. The moderate runner – say three times a week for a few miles at a time had the most optimal reduction in mortality. The study didn’t say but I would hypothesize this moderate frequency and volume runner probably also had the least amount of injuries.
Beware of your terrain. Run on even surfaces that are not concrete or pavement. Trail running might be beautiful but it’s an ankle-buster waiting to happen. Find a soft track if dirt trails – without obstacles – aren’t an option.
Get educated on your foot. You need either a neutral, a support, or a flexible shoe. You may pronate or supinate You have a high arch or flat feet. Your shoe and your foot should compliment each other. A high, rigid arch requires a more flexible shoe. A flat and very flexible foot needs more support and a firmer foundation. Don’t ask your friends what shoes they like unless they have your feet. Every brand has this variety of stability, neutral, or flexible shoe. You don’t always get to pick by color. Where them, try them, be sure the store believes in their fitting you so much they’ll allow you to return them if they don’t work.
If you find yourself saying you can’t run because of your knees, consider that you may have something going on at your ankles or hips. The pain happens at one joint and it’s a symptom of a problem at the joint either above or below – which will feel no pain at first, anyway. The body is pretty amazing. In order to help something happen it will beg, borrow, or steal from another spot. If you fix your feet with the right shoes or improve your hip mobility with stretches you might find some of your movement woes go away.
*There is a place where fast walking burns more energy than slow jogging. It does so without the impact of jogging. So don’t necessarily feel you need to “run” to get results. Just don’t ignore your not liking it because it doesn’t feel good. It may be a hint you need some rebalancing of your body right to left or front to back to feel better 24/7.
What about mild, relaxing, flexibility-inducing yoga? Your down dog too could come back to bite you in the bun. Yoga is complicated, really, There are so many strains and limbs. I don’t mean your arms and legs.
You can practice a restorative yoga that’s predominately supported by pillows, posters, blankets propping your body into positions that allow you to let go.
You can attend a power yoga moving so quickly from one pose to the next that it doesn’t allow you to settle in or breath deeply but is vigorous and more strenuous in nature.
You can participate in flow yoga, Bikram “hot” yoga with heat indexes up to 140 (I don’t recommend – I don’t recommend even 105 for that matter and this may catch some controversy), and everything in between.
The greatest risk for yoga injuries I’ve observed are to beginners straining to see the instructor while upside down. Shoulder-supported exercises are the cause of many yoga-related injuries. Wrist injuries come from the same. Lower back injuries can also happen during yoga though yoga is touted as a good-for-lower back exercise. It can be. The challenge with yoga or any exercise is that your body is unique. Your needs are unique. Our first attempt at a new activity is quite frequently in a large group or a made-for-the-masses dvd. Jillian doesn’t know your body when she’s telling you what to do from her dvd.
Problems with backs, shoulders, wrists, or hips prior to beginning yoga or another activity should be addressed one-on-one before you go hide in the back of the room in a group. Get suggestions on your needs. What to do and what to avoid. A sequence of back exercises to prevent back pain may be just right for you but detrimental to someone else with say, a disc problem that they may not even be aware of.
P.S. Injury history? From a new exercise? I’d like to hear about it.