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Solving Movement Problems: Entertainment vs Effective

The value of movement is undeniable. But the industry of movement has become a bit of a circus.

I have seen some doctors, therapists, and trainers using the label of “movement provider” lately and while I’m not quite sure what that means, I can speculate as to what they are trying to communicate. Yes there are many universal truths when it comes to human movement, health and performance, but the true pioneers of movement are few. Social media has created a tool for spreading quality information and education. I understand leveraging social media can become incredibly valuable to a business. However, when it comes to movement, exercise, and fitness, social media has become more entertainment than substance.

It’s become a sea one can easily become lost in, caught up in the wow factor of challenging movement drills and variations while others are less likely to engage with more of a simplistic focus. Movement providers from licensed healthcare professionals to run-of-the-mill trainers pop up all over the worldwide web and social media sending messages that may seem conflicting. There’s more information than ever yet many people searching for solutions are more confused than ever. The industry seems to thrive on confusion more than any other. Confusion creates dependence and the industry loves confusion because someone has to have the answers. They want to build an audience.

But are you building an audience based on your information being entertaining or effective?

Sadly it seems that he who yells the loudest, gets the most followers and gets the most attention must have the answers right? I mean they do have 62,000 followers, they must know their stuff? Not necessarily. Entertaining may score you points on social media, but effective scores you points with patients and clients. Yes there are extremely effective movement experts with massive followings, but I doubt they exist in the real world in the masses like they do on social media. If you’re chasing entertainment yet don’t know how to effectively get someone from point A to point B, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

While overhead lateral rotational lunges with hanging bands may score thousands of views on Instagram, does it have any significant relevance? From a clinical perspective, those who treat patients regularly know the majority of what entertains on social media has little transfer to patient care. The reality is that the majority of patients with musculoskeletal issues have lost the ability to perform basic human movement. There is a reason why the lumbar disc patient is a disc patient. Most of them are deconditioned and lack adequate strength, motor control, mechanics and proprioceptive awareness not only in their low back, but likely in their feet and hips as well. They need the basics. The fundamentals. Problem is the basics aren’t sexy and don’t get you likes or follows on social media. Advanced progressions of basic human movements make up 90% of what’s on social media, yet in the office 90% of our patients only need the basics. The same can be said for the population that works with a personal trainer or strength & conditioning professional. They often need the basics and just building off them.

The majority of patients and clients need to master the basics without the need of external resistance. For most, simply working against the resistance of their own bodyweight is sufficient. Problem is, if you take away the bands, the barbells, the kettlebells, the dumbells, the cables and sliders from some doctors, therapists, and trainers, they will struggle to think of exercise progressions/regressions to yield better movement by simply using one’s own body. The really good movement providers can achieve improvement without the need of equipment. This may be incredibly simplistic and not score big points on Instagram or Facebook, but you’d be surprised at how challenging the basics and their variations will be. So if you are using social media as your reference library on how to rehab your own injury, rehab a patient, or create a workout for your next training client, I would be incredibly cautious.

Sure the squat may be basic, but how many are actually capable of a proper bodyweight squat? The answer may surprise you. Yet how many are capable of a proper squat before heavier and heavier loads are introduced or they try an overhead, band-resisted, anti-rotational squat? I’m gonna bet not many. If you’re capable of performing an overhead, band-resisted, anti-rotational squat with ideal form, great. You’re part of less than 1% of the population that is capable. The other 99% need more of the basics and arguably may never need to do that advanced of an exercise. Most won’t even have the desire as they won’t see the relevance.

The basics may be boring, but they are incredibly effective. We all need them. The basics serve as the foundation. What kind of basics are we talking about? If I was to build a short list of basics to ask yourself, it would look something like this:
  • Are you able to breathe without excessive chest or shoulder movement?
  • Are you able to balance on one-leg for at least 60 seconds?
  • Are you able to balance on one-leg (eyes closed) for at least 30 seconds?
  • Are you able to hold a plank for at least 60 seconds?
  • Are you able to hold a side plank for at least 30 seconds on each side?
  • Are you able to perform a lunge with ideal form and control?
  • Are you able to perform a squat with ideal form and control?
  • Are you able to raise your arms overhead with ideal form and control?
  • Are any of these movements painful?
  • Are any of these movements difficult to perform due to tightness or restricted range of motion?
If you have answered, “Yes”, to one or more of these questions, you are lacking the basics. Lacking of these basics has been correlated with increased incidence of back pain, neck pain, hip pain, knee pain, foot/ankle pain as well as reduced athletic ability. And believe it or not, no equipment is needed to help someone achieve these basic standards. All you need is your body and the ground. This is what the really good movement providers understand and it’s all they need to work with.

Why are the basics so important?

People want to exercise to get in shape and improve their health yet most of us aren’t in shape to exercise. When we loose the basics – the fundamentals to human movement – more complex or more demanding activities will take a toll on our body. If the basics are challenging yet you wonder why you have knee pain after running or why your back kills after leg day, you now have some possible answers. Our body will eventually pay a price when higher and higher demands are placed on an inadequate foundation. Make a point to master the basics and never loose them. Your movement provider should be capable of helping you achieve the basics. In doing so you’ll realize a quality of health and physical ability that may have previously seemed impossible to achieve.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/prevent-re-injury-integrated-training-rehabilitation/
Ultimate Runner's Guide to Injury Prevention
The Most Effective Treatment for Shoulder Pain

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