For many years practicing as a physiotherapist, I faced the challenge of helping people safely return to activity. Exercise prescription was – and is – an essential part of optimal rehabilitation and, while it may seem straightforward, many people struggle to find the right balance of stress and recovery. In fact, many arrived on my treatment table from doing too much of a good thing. Sprained ankles from weekend warrior activities, sore backs from lifting the wrong way, torn rotator cuffs from a sudden jolt to the shoulder, and so on, are all too common. The most difficult part with these people was helping them rein in their activities to allow time for healing and to gradually increase mobility and tolerance for loading. For others, problems arose not from doing too much but from not doing much at all. In many of these cases, pain from old injuries or chronic inflammation limited their ability to be active and perpetuated a vicious cycle of pain, disuse, tightness, atrophy, weakness, and more pain. When they tried to exercise, they generally ended up feeling worse.
In addition to these challenges, the general understanding of exercise had been dominated by a focus on aerobic activity or “cardio” and the belief that more is better when it comes to fitness. This belief tends to contribute further to some people doing too much and others, frustrated by no time or limited results, doing nothing at all. This paradigm has gradually shifted to recognize the importance of strength training for slowing and reversing age-related changes, including to the cardiovascular system. More and more evidence has accumulated that shows the value of maintaining lean muscle tissue in order to restore or maintain functional ability, improve body composition, and optimize performance in any activity. This shift demands a better understanding of exercise prescription in order to produce optimal results and to avoid side effects.
Exercise can be understood as a stimulus to your body, similar to a drug. Dosage is important. The right amount of the right type at the right time will produce the best effect. Simply because something “works” does not mean you should take as much of it as possible. In order for exercise to be effective over time, it must be challenging, and it must be progressive. Strength training allows these variables to adjusted with a great deal of precision. If something is going to be challenging – particularly if your intention is to improve your health – it is imperative that it be performed within safe parameters. This means learning proper form and using controlled movements that reduce unnecessary force and minimize the risk of injury. Unfortunately, these guidelines are too often ignored.
OneUp trainers teach safe and effective strength training that optimizes loading, ensures proper form, and allows adequate recovery. The goal is to strengthen your body so you can perform better in all aspects of your life, rather than to demonstrate risky feats of strength. The best results – from any program – arise from consistent effort over time. To get there, find a trainer who will teach you the middle way: not too much, not too little, but just right.