There are good ways and better ways to treat and prevent injury. Chiropractic adjustments, massage or manual therapy, cupping, flossing, the list goes on and on. One of our favorites, because it can be so powerful, and so empowering, is strength training.
Rehab exercises can be good, but often aren’t enough to keep the body working. If we strength train, we are driving adaptation to make the body stronger. And when the body is stronger, it’s more resilient. When the body is more resilient, the usual aches and pains can be silenced by the capable brain.
We always present this as good news to patients, but many are doubtful at first. “I’m already hurt or injured, won’t that make it worse?” There is some risk involved, but there are a lot of ways to minimize that possibility, and the rewards are so much greater that the danger is outweighed.
One of the most important distinctions we try to make in clinic is the difference between pain and injury. Even if you have pain, you may not be injured. Even if you are injured, the best treatment is likely movement and/or exercise. You can have injury without pain as well. The two are separate, so the important thing is to learn ways to move with less or no pain.
With an experienced coach or trainer, you can usually find a way to perform a movement so it feels better and has less risk.
When we bring up training, many people tell us that they don’t like gyms. They feel uncomfortable, they’re dirty, the people are unfriendly. We can’t blame anyone for that. Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there that are much smaller, cleaner, more modern, and more friendly. They usually have a more personal touch, and they will probably go out of their way to make you feel more comfortable.
When we make decisions in the clinic, the thought process is always, “is the reward greater than the risk?” In the case of strength training, the risks can be minimized and the rewards are great. With general strength comes resilience.
Resilience is the ability to shrug off the aches and pains that commonly plague us. Our threshold for pain is higher. It takes more to hurt us. I like to use the analogy of the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” When we consider injury we talk about the straw as if there was one thing that pushed it over the edge. But it wasn’t just one thing.
There was a pile of straw there first, before the one that tipped the scales. So we can look at strength training (and sleep, proper nutrition, meditation, giving and receiving kindness) as a way to take straw off the camel’s back, making it harder to tip the scales toward pain.
When we have less pain, we feel less limited. We feel able to do more, to keep up. We can do the things we love to do. And because mindset is so powerful in healing, as we feel better that feeling compounds, and we get exponentially better and stronger.
It can feel amazing to feel capable and independent. No one wants to feel like a burden. Everyone wants to be able to be relied upon in one way or another. Strength leads to that independence. Talk about minimizing fall risks as we age. We can think of no better way than strong and resilient hips and feet.
If pain or discomfort has been keeping you from the things you love, now is the time to act.
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At this point we can talk about what you have on your side. We’ve talked about many of the reasons that strength training can help you. We’ve hopefully covered many of the reasons preventing you from taking action. Now let’s talk about your strengths.
If you’re reading this article, my guess is that you’ve been dealing with some sort of ache or stiffness or pain for a long time. Maybe off and on, maybe constantly. Maybe it prevents you from doing the things you love, maybe not.
We feel that your greatest strength is that you’re still trying. You haven’t given up yet. There will always be something else to try if you haven’t found the answer yet. We can’t stress enough that not everything works for everyone. The converse of that is everything works for someone. There is something out there for you.
We feel that general strength and efficient movement is something that has societally slipped away from us as things have gotten easier, and that means that it is likely that you could benefit from strength.
If we’ve convinced you to give strength training a go, excellent! As we stated above, when you think about risk versus reward, the rewards of getting stronger are huge. The risks are there, but they can be minimized easily. Here’s a couple things you can do to find ways to safely get stronger.
We don’t think you should do this part alone. We don’t know how we’re moving that might be perpetuating our issues. Having a trained eye on us can be so helpful for preventing injuries, and for pushing us to do more than we thought we could.
Any gym has personal trainers, but we find that some are better than others. A good way to find one near you would be to check out Functional Movement Systems. They have a standard movement screen, and we trust people that use it. Plain and simple.
You can contact us here. We could offer you an online assessment if you're not in our area, or we could help you find someone in your area. That could give you a pretty solid starting point.
Talk to your chiropractor, physical therapist, or an active friend or family member. Someone you know does or has done strength training. Ask them for a referral, or take to facebook or instagram. There are a lot of ways to research these things, but the point is to do the research.
So there you go. It's never too late to get stronger, and there are very few downsides. There are many workarounds. There are many reasons to get started. We encourage you to do that. With the right guidance you can get momentum, and that could change your life. Can't hurt to try it out, right?
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