Exercise "Thought Viruses" That Must Stop!

Exercise and training are wonderful things.  It is great to see people moving and trying to better themselves.


There are certain claims or ideas that are out there that are still being perpetuated by either professionals and/or people who may not know otherwise.  Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but today’s post is here to discuss why certain “thought viruses” must stop in order to help move the professions of physical therapy, strength and conditioning, and performance forward.

Exercise Thought Virus #1: Don’t Let Your Knees Go Over Your Toes When You Squat.

 

 I don’t know about you, but it is pretty hard not to let your knees go over your toes when you squat.  This idea has been around for a long time and was most likely perpetuated with a study about the increase in patello-femoral forces with anterior (forward) tibial translation.  If increasing tibial translation aggravates a client or athlete, find another way to load that person without increasing their symptoms.  But, in order to squat effectively with proper form and depth, the knees need to migrate forward.  In the case of a box squat,   

I don’t know about you, but it is pretty hard not to let your knees go over your toes when you squat.  This idea has been around for a long time and was most likely perpetuated with a study about the increase in patello-femoral forces with anterior (forward) tibial translation.

If increasing tibial translation aggravates a client or athlete, find another way to load that person without increasing their symptoms.  But, in order to squat effectively with proper form and depth, the knees need to migrate forward.

In the case of a box squat,

 

There is very little to if any anterior tibial translation.  This would be the only instance I can think of where there is no forward translation.  In order not to fall backwards, the knees must move forward in order to counteract the weight shift posteriorly with squatting.

There are studies stating that squatting and allowing the knees to go forward is not detrimental to knee health.  As long as someone can squat pain-free and with good technique, the knees should relatively be allowed to go over the toes.  

Exercise Thought Virus #2: Strength Training Makes You Lose Flexibility

I don’t remember how long this one has been around for.  Coaches years ago would claim that if you lifted weights, you became big and bulky and in turn would lose flexibility.  The research has shown that someone’s flexibility is not hindered by someone lifting weights.

For the first 24-48 hours that DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is occurring, someone may “lose” flexibility temporarily, but it is not permanent.

Many clinicians and coaches have spoken about the benefits of strength training for improving mobility.

Performing movements that consist of slow eccentric isometrics such as:

Slow Eccentric Reverse Lunges

Slow Eccentric Goblet Squats

 

Slow Eccentric Single Leg Deadlifts

 

Slow Eccentric 1-arm DB Bench

and many more can all help to improve mobility.  With any of those slow eccentric movements, a pause should be incorporated at the bottom position to include the isometric portion of the lift.

Exercise Thought Virus #3: Self-Myofascial Release(SMR)/Stretching Fixes All Mobility Problems

This is still a discussion point in the rehab and performance worlds.  There is one side of the debate that thinks stretching and SMR does not work whatsoever and the other side of the debate believes that is the best thing to implement into any program.

Like with most things…

IT DEPENDS.

SMR and stretching has it’s place in an athlete’s program.  It can be a great tool to improve soft tissue tone in problematic areas.  The idea that a foam roller or stretching is physically lengthening a muscle has been debated and the research has found that there is no actual tissue length changes occurring.  

What is believed to be happening is that SMR and/or stretching is neuromodulating tone at the level of the Central Nervous System (CNS).  With that being said, SMR and/or stretching can be a way to decrease tone in certain areas to allow for improved mobility and improved lifting and performance.

So, a well-rounded program should not just consist of SMR and/or stretching.  It should consist of SMR, mobility work, motor control drills, and strength training.  Consistent strength training when coupled with the other aforementioned parts can be a great way to maintain/improve mobility.

As mentioned before, there are countless movements that can incorporate slow eccentric isometrics to help teach the CNS to be able to control any “new” mobility so that it can be maintained.


Exercise Thought Virus #4: 3 sets x 10 reps

I’m not sure where the idea of 3 sets x 10 reps came from, but I figured it was an easy way to train clients and athletes and just tell them to do 3 sets x 10 reps for each exercise.  Think about it, do 3 sets x 10 reps of x weight and when that becomes too easy, go up in weight and do 3 more sets x 10 reps.

The problem is that this has continued and still continues to this day in the rehab and performance worlds.

Don’t get me wrong.  Athletes and clients can make gains and improvements in strength and muscular endurance with this method.  If someone is very weak or recovering from a surgery, there is nothing inherently wrong with this method.  Things with eventually plateau though.  You can only continue to progress linearly until changes need to be made in regards to reps, sets, weight, etc.

As professions, we need to elevate ourselves away from the 3 x 10 mindset.  We need to program intelligently for our athletes and clients and incorporate variations in reps, sets, weight, rest breaks, etc. 

Exercise Thought Virus #5:  Theraband/Pink Dumbbells Are All That You Need

If you plan on training and/or treating athletes or clients who wish to get back to an athletic lifestyle, you are going to need more than theraband and pink dumbbells.  If you have someone that comes in and they can back squat 300-400 lbs or overhead snatch a significant amount of weight, you are going to need the equipment to help rehab and train them to get back to that.

To piggyback on my previous point, there is nothing wrong with pink dumbbells and theraband.  I use theraband or similar implements with some of my clients...when indicated!  Someone coming off a surgery or are flared up from a recent exacerbation, these tools may be needed.

Eventually, clients need to be loaded!  Whether it be with barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, the body is resilient and in order to improve that resiliency, it needs to be challenged and loaded to withstand the demands of life and sport.

The physical therapy and strength and conditioning fields are always evolving and changing.  We need to be open to new ideas that may improve aspects of these fields as well as move the professions forward.

Andrew MillettComment