The Five Deadly Sins of Corrective Exercise

Okay. They’re not deadly sins. I don’t think anyone has ever died at the hands of a foam roller, and I don’t think yon need to go to confession if you commit one of these errors, but I liked the tittle. 


Without further adieu, here they are:


1) Selection. 


2) Execution. 


3) Sequencing.


4) Omission. 


5) Excess. 


It’s never that simple. Is it? I’m watching the Celtics pretty handily beat the Pacers.  The Celtics have a 20 point lead in the 4th quarter. I was talking with a friend about the C’s woes of late. They have not been playing the defense that they need to win, or rebounding, but the rebounding is a longer standing problem. Whether the newer players are not grasping Doc Rivers’ system or that Ray Allen was a bigger part of the team than some thought or perhaps they really missed Avery Bradley’s quickness and on the ball defense, they have just not had the success that most around these parts have expected. Until tonight.


I won’t continue about the Celtics sporadic defensive intensity but I will relate it to corrective exercise programming. Many of us know what we should be doing but we may miss out on the how or consistency. Selection, execution, sequencing and consistency are important in many aspects of life and corrective exercise.


1) Selection.  An old adage that holds true, your program is only as good as your assessment. I have a friend who is also a massage therapist and on his business card he lists “source work” as one of his services. Now he is not talking about going back in time like Jake Gyllenhall in the “Source Code”, a good flick, but he is talking about identifying and treating the cause vs. the symptom. Get good at this and you will develop quite a following. 


2) Execution. Just like the computer programmers will tell you , junk in equals junk out. One reason we will never be replaced by computers is the ability to assess and correct form. Most people are working off of faulty motor patterns and they will continue to perpetuate those even when they are trying to rewire them. Do the right thing, right. I’d rather have most clients doing the wrong exercise well than the right exercise poorly. 


3) Sequencing. You may be familiar with NASM’s approach to corrective exercise. They have a four step system; inhibit, lengthen, activate and integrate. This makes perfect sense to me, however there can be even greater detail paid to the sequencing of the muscles or patterns addressed when performing these techniques. For instance, releasing the plantar surface of the foot can have cascading effects up the posterior chain due to the fascial connections. If someone has a restriction in the hamstring complex or the calve complex, try starting with the foot first. Obviously you need snow before you build a snowman and the base of the snowman needs to go down before the mid section. But would you ever put the hat on the snowman befor the eyes, buttons or arms? I think not. You’ve seen how Frosty does it right? The order of the muscle or movement addressed may not be as important as the sequence of techniques, but it will make a difference. Play around with this on your own and see what works best for you. 

4) Omission. Sometimes what someone isn’t doing is the problem. Either personal preference, poor planning or poor programming can lead to a sin of omission. Some people just don’t like to roll. If you have soft tissue dysfunction, tough, do it or pay a therapist to do it for you. If clients are in a rush they tend to bag the things they either don’t like or don’t think are important. Educate them about the importance of setting the appropriate amount of time aside to train and then the importance of competing their program in it’s entirety. And practitioners have been known to miss out on the occasional muscle, movement or technique so be dilligent while programming. 


5) ExcessThe fewer movement issues that someone has the more precise the programming needs to be. Beginners will often benefit from a general “shotgun” type of approach but those in the upper echelon of athletics and movement quality will require much greater precision. Save the 30 minutes of foam rolling for the retired banker without much to do during their days or the busted up ex-athlete who is just a train wreck. More work does not mean better results. Be as efficient as possible for maximum effectivenessq and compliance. 


Thanks for reading and Happy Moving!


Eric Beard


Corrective Exercise Specialist

Integrated Manual Therapist

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