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Dr. Dirk Farrell

Foundations of Health: Condition

Today’s blog is about the Foundation of Condition.

The first thing to understand is the difference between conditioning your body and exercise. As I see it, conditioning is exercise with a purpose. Conditioning is using exercise to achieve measurable increases in ability.

 

First, do no harm.

One of the prime commandments of Condition is to, “First, do no harm.” Surely this seems obvious. It is also obvious to most that too much of anything can be a cause of harm; too much weight, too many reps, sprinting too hard, too much too soon…you get the drift. Another obvious cause of harm is poor form. Poor form is to be avoided like the plague. Good form should be guarded like that which you most cherish.

What few people know is that poor form and other seemingly minor movements of the wrong kind can and do harm people quite regularly. This is why good form is essential. If you have read my blogs on Structure or watched some of my YouTube videos, you’ll know that bones in the spine and in other places of the body can get pulled into positions which your body cannot self-correct. EVER. The harm of bones getting pulled into these unstable positions may be readily noticeable, though, most often it is not. This type of harm builds up over weeks, months, years and decades and causes problems which you would never know to associate with how they were started. Much of the soreness following a strength workout is actually this type of soreness. Almost invariably, when someone comes to see me after a workout that made them sore, their soreness is between 90% and 100% gone when I’m done adjusting them.

 Don’t stretch.

The quick instruction is, “Don’t stretch.” This goes contrary to what many believe and what many feel is a good idea because stretching relaxes muscles and feels good. One’s favorite alcohol beverage can relax muscles and help them feel good, too. That doesn’t make it healthy.

Meta-analysis research has shown that stretching actually DECREASES athletic performance. The longer a stretch is held, the more likely it is to decrease performance. Stretching is kind of like picking at a scab. It can be addictive and having the scab gone can be a great relief – in the short term anyway. Yet, it slows down and decreases the healing process.

 Warm up.

Warming up (by gradually working up to a sweat through movement or sitting in a sauna or hot tub until you sweat) is critical. Full range-of-motion is great. Jumping, twisting, lunging, etc. can all be great as long as they are within your normal range of motion and not held as a posture for any length of time more than a few moments.

Some people are flabbergasted by this and report feeling better when they reluctantly stop stretching and just do a quick warm up instead. Others are overjoyed because they don’t have to spend time stretching which they never liked doing in the first place!

 Recover.

Recovery is critical for both strength and aerobic training. With strength training, it’s a bit easier to figure out how long to recover. For efficient strength training, maximum effort in a short period of time is the best way to signal your body to get stronger. After that, recovering is when your body gets stronger. Without enough recovery time, results will be limited and efficiency of time in the gym goes down.

Any muscle that has had maximum or very near maximum contraction needs a minimum of four days to fully recover. As we age the recovery time needed can lengthen because our livers work slower. Age isn’t the only factor though. The stronger one becomes, the more muscle fibers contract and the longer it takes to recover.

The secret quickly revealed is that if you are not able to move more weight in the same amount of time in your current session as you did in your prior sessions, you probably need more recovery time. That is, unless you went weeks or months longer than your usual recovery interval between workouts. In this case you’ve probably lost some muscle.

“What is the solution to not moving more weight with the same recovery time?” you ask. The solution is adding an extra day between your workouts. Do this enough and you may find you are working out every two weeks and still getting stronger. I did!

Are you interested in learning more? Do you want an easier transition to better results? Contact us to schedule a Condition Consultation today!

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