The available literature on exercise primarily talks about the benefits. We know that exercise is great for cardiovascular and lung health. It is a great way to control weight and help prevent osteoporosis. What really isn’t written about is the damaging effects of exercise. There are two types of exercise, low-impact and high-impact. Walking, hiking, elliptical/rowing machine, most step aerobics, cardio dance workouts and swimming are considered low-impact exercise. Unless there is an underlying condition these are typically safe and the risk of injury is minimal to some degree. In the past 15 years new high-impact workouts have been on the rise in popularity. These include running, jumping, functional training and high intensity interval training. Heavy weight training and Crossfit style workouts are very high-impact exercise and carry an increased risk for injury to the joints of the body.
Keep in mind that many programs combine high and low impact exercises into a single workout and sometimes the line isn’t as clear. If you have any pre-existing condition such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease or a bulging disc you may want to avoid the high-impact and heavy weight training until you know if it is safe to perform any type of exercise.
How do I know if it is safe to exercise?
As we learn to crawl, stand and become mobile we develop 10 Primary Movement Patterns. These are the baseline movements we all should have been able to achieve unless we were born with a physical disability or structural abnormality. If you have lost a Primary Movement Pattern then you are forced into a Compensated Movement Pattern. These compensated movements are much like a wheel that is out of alignment. The abnormal alignment of the wheel will wear down the tire, brakes and routers and could potentially lead to damage to the frame of the car. Compensated Movement Patterns will cause damage to the joints and their surrounding tissues. If you have lost a Primary Movement Pattern you can suffer damage even in low-impact exercise.
What can cause you to lose a Primary Movement Pattern?
Any sort of injury to the body such as a fall, car accident or injury in a sport can cause a loss to a movement pattern. These major injuries easily cause the spine to shift from its normal alignment. The majority of the time it isn’t a major injury that caused the spine to shift resulting in you loosing a movement pattern. The most common cause of a structural shift in the spine occur from repetitive movements that happen day after day. From the person who installs drywall to the person who sits at a desk all day. Everyday our lifestyle causes these shifts that end up breaking down our movement patterns and eventually leads to our physical discomfort. In our office every patient will have their Primary Movement Patterns assessed during their Structural Chiropractic Examination. After finding out how your body is moving, or not moving, then you will know which exercises are right and wrong for you. The good news is that the majority of the time a movement pattern can be restored with treatment as long as there isn’t too much damage from a long term uncorrected structural shift.
If you are an athlete or even if you want to be more active and want to do as much as you can to prevent an injury then assessing the 10 Primary Movement Patterns is a great start to any training program.