How we move in the gym vs. how we move in real life
“We tend to only think about our health until after we are already unhealthy.”
For many people (80% of the adult population), this health issue is episodic and/or chronic lower back pain.
Episodes of low back pain are often times a “straw that breaks the camels back” (no pun intended) kind of situation; we sit, stand, and move with poor posture/positioning all day and then, all of a sudden, it goes. We harmlessly bend over to pick something up and it pulls, pops, or seizes up on us. If anyone has experienced this, they understand how utterly terrifying this can be.
Our immediate reaction is to regret doing what we just did. For most of us, though, it dates back much further than the actual incident itself. Think of all the hours you spent slouched at your desk or number of times you bent over to lift something with a flexed spine. The accumulation of all these instances is probably more to blame than that one instance where it finally went.
Question: what can we do to fix this?
Answer: move in real life how you move in the gym.
Think about it. You walk into the gym and (hopefully) spend 5-15 minutes warming up, stretching, doing mobility work, etc. Then, when you get into your exercises/lifts, you very mindfully move with correct positioning and technique. Take your deadlift for example. Before I get into working sets, I will spend a large chunk of time doing specific mobility drills and warm-up sets. When I actually begin deadlifting, I am thinking ‘hips back, lats tight, back flat, chin tucked, abs tight, push through my heels, extend through the hips, etc. But do you ever do any of these things when you are lifting a child or a heavy package off the floor?
At the end of the day, half the reason I love teaching the dead lift is because I have the opportunity to teach people how to move in a way that translates to what we do so often in our everyday lives. Not only will the deadlift make your stronger and more resilient to related injuries, but it will also teach you how to effectively position your body when put into similar circumstances outside of the gym. But what is the point if you are not utilizing it that way?
Moral of the story: don’t be that person with spot on form at the gym who moves horribly in real life! Use the principles of movement you use at the gym everywhere else and you may just protect yourself from an unnecessary injury.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS