Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bridging the Gap Between Fitness and Medicine, the Importance of Movement Proficiency

Fitness and medicine are often viewed as two separate realms of health and wellness.  We view exercise as a way to improve our body composition, strength, and/or endurance.  But, if we have joint pain, then seek medical attention to get it fixed.  Fixed usually means medical or surgical interventions to alleviate the pain.  Once our joint pain is fixed, then we go back to our fitness training. 
In my opinion, fitness and medicine are not two separate realms of health and wellness.  The dichotomy that has evolved is a huge misconception.  What is viewed as fitness and what is viewed as medicine (not including trauma) are simply part of a larger movement continuumMoving efficiently should be the basis for health, fitness, and performance.  It should be the foundation for our general physical preparedness (see picture on right).  However, the vast majority of people working out never even consider it.

Often, joint pain and injuries are the final manifestation of chronic muscular-skeletal deficiencies and compensation.  But, we never know if we have any deficiencies and compensation because movement proficiency is never assessed or even considered.  What is movement proficiencyMovement proficiency is how we choose (or can) move.  For example, how do you get up from a chair?  Do you set your feet, balancing the pressure evenly through both feet, lean forward slightly, maintain your knees in line with your toes, and rise up with a smooth combination of hip and knee extension, and torso stability?  Or, do you throw your torso forward, shift your weight to your toes, squeeze your thighs together, extend your knees prior to your hips fully extending?  The first description is an efficient movement pattern and demonstrates adequate: mobility, stability, coordination, and strength.  The second pattern demonstrates an inefficient movement pattern.

The inefficient movement pattern would more likely be associated with lower back, knee, and foot pain.  If you displayed these inefficient movement patterns and have joint pain, what do you do?  Do you seek medical intervention?  Do you just work around it?  What model do you fit into, a medical or fitness model?
Both models may fail to help you.  They both view and address your problem from different perspectives.  Although, a movement continuum model would help you detect inefficiencies and give you a starting point for intervening. 

My training philosophy is based on moving efficiently.  Whatever your goal is, fat loss, increased strength or performance, or just get healthier, it all starts with addressing your movement proficiency.  All training is in the context of improving or maintaining movement proficiency.  It takes more time to individually assess and evaluate each client, but it is worth it.  More than ever, the average adult presents with poor posture, mobility, stabiity, strength, and/or endurance due to their sedentary lifestyles.  I estimate that one out of every two clients I work with has at least one or more issues.  Luckily, the movement continuum model is a powerful tool to improve your movement efficiency, alleviate joint pain, and help you reach your fitness and performance goals.


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