Skip to main content

More Control. Less Strength. REALLY?

Just go to the gym and look around.  Notice anything?  Hopefully you see a lot of people trying to get more fit and healthy.  But there is something else that might no be so obvious...

The exercise orientation at most gyms is largely focused on muscle isolation.  Free weights and machines that all ISOLATE muscle groups for MORE STRENGTH.  

The problem is that better strength requires a focus on training control and endurance FIRST.

One of the most popular and well published researchers on the spine, Prof Stuart McGill, has said it clearly: there are too many people that develop bad backs from training improperly, and the Americanized approach dominated by body building and muscle isolation fails for developing true functional fitness since strength requires a foundation of BETTER CONTROL AND ENDURANCE FIRST - BEFORE STRENGTH. Better control means that muscles need to work better as a "team" (known as muscle synergy), and that they begin to work to interact with forces more naturally over time.    What's more, an over emphasis on muscle isolation training and strength can actually be bad for your spine.  Some muscle isolation work like sit-ups is the WORST and eliminated completely... IMMEDIATELY.

As an example of how this related to better function and performance,  The Journal of Applied Biomechanics published an article in 2014 that showed that athletes activate muscles in certain sequences while inexperienced participants failed to execute these better muscle sequences when trying to make the same motions. The researches concluded that "coaches should emphasize smooth and quick transitions from proximal to distal segments (that means muscle teamwork!), with less importance places on individual muscle strengthening. So if you want better functional fitness and performance with daily activities, work, and sport, look for more natural directions and movement that works and refines muscle teamwork.  This is especially important for necks, backs and the body core. 

When I talk to patients about proper conditioning for the back and neck, I tell them to think who is more powerful -- Bruce Lee or Arnold Schwartzenegar.   Arnold is stronger, but Bruce has more control, agility, and endurance.  Put the two of them in a room and Bruce would come out on top every time.  Give me Bruce Lee style training any day!  That's control and endurance at its peak. Most great naturally powerful athletes like gymnasts train this way, too, and so should you.  Unfortunately, you won't find this type of muscle and fitness conditioning readily available at most gyms.   And sadly, many personal trainers will point you back to muscle isolation training.  

REMEMBER::  think control, endurance, and muscle teamwork – not muscle isolation and strength. 

Want to know how to do this easily and successfully?  Give us a call to find out.  We help people with this every day.  We focus on brining the best chiropractic center in Fircrest, Tacoma, University Place and the surrounding areas, and than means we include great fitness and conditioning advice for you as well.  After all, your path to your best health includes more than just having great chiropractic care. 

Give us a call today. 

Dr. Austin McMillin

Austin McMillin Chiropractor

You Might Also Enjoy...

Scapular Stabilization for Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It’s actually three joints—the AC or acromioclavicular joint (the collar bone/acromion of the shoulder blade joint), the glenohumeral joint (the ball-and-socket joint), and the scapulo

Low Back Pain and Balance Exercises

Let’s look at ways to improve our balance by learning specific exercises that utilize the parts of the nervous system that regulate balance or proprioception

Low Back Pain – Seasonal Injuries

If your back hurts after shoveling, use ice/rest followed by gentle stretching and modified activities – DON’T go back out and shovel (ie, don’t pick at your cut!). Some wise considerations for shoveling include warming up before starting.

Low back Pain and Sleep

Low back pain (LBP) can arise from a lot of causes, most commonly from bending, lifting, pulling, pushing, and twisting. However, there are other possible causes, including sleep.