I did a seminar last night at my chiropractor’s office on the idea of looking at the quality of your movement as the most important aspect of a fitness program. While the talk was geared towards the general population the principles I talked about are the same ones I use to design my mountain bike training programs.

The first thing that I discussed was the fact that looking at the quality of movement represents a paradigm shift in training. We used to think that the earth was flat and everything was based on that assumption. Once we learned that it was indeed round it changed everything. This did not mean that everyone was stupid before we found out the earth was round, they simply were making the best judgment based on the info at hand. Once that info changed, though, so did our judgment.

Same thing here – before we developed a better understanding of how the human body moves and how that impacts performance and injury potential  we looked primarily at training from a metabolic perspective. We knew that if you prescribed X number of reps for Y number of sets you would get Z results. We knew that if you rode for X minutes for Y number of minutes you would get Z result. This is what we knew so that is how we programmed.

Now we know that while the metabolic side is important, HOW you create the movements during your training program carries a significant effect on you results. Do too many reps in the wrong way and your knees or lower back start to go out. Bad movement also results in “energy leaks” which means you lose some of the force you generate in the inefficient application of it.

Movement must come first and then the metabolic side of things. If you rush into too many sets and reps before you correct the bad movement you are simply piling fitness on top of dysfunction. This is simply not the best way to look at a program any more – the “training earth” is simply not flat and pretending it is doesn’t make it so.

The thing I covered was the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This is a way of assessing basic movement so that you know what needs to be fixed and what can be safely trained. If you have not heard of this before you should check out Gray Cook’s website www.functionalmovement.com for a rundown on what it is and how it works.

In a nutshell, the only way to strengthen a chain is by addressing the weakest link. The FMS allows you to find out what that is in your “movement chain” so that you don’t have to guess at your weakest link. It also allows you to spot potential injuries before they become a problem. Any injury that slowly built up over time, as opposed to happening acutely because of a wreck or other trauma, could have been prevented through addressing the bad movement causing it.

The take home point was that not all exercise programs are created equal. If you are following a program that does not take the quality of movement into account you are simply not following a 21st century training program. Correct bad movement and train good movement – pretty simple but very profound. This approach will help you perform better and last longer which, in my opinion, is the ultimate goal.

-James Wilson-

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