Why you need more coaching and attention if you have pain or injuries.
The more topics I think about and write about, the more I relate our bodies to automobiles (aka cars and trucks etc.).
Every wonder why some people take their car in for maintenance almost every month? And then some people drive their cars until they nearly die and reluctantly take it to a mechanic? Maybe you are one of these people, or you're somewhere in between. The truth is, some people truly value their vehicles performing at 100% while others are content with their vehicles continually degrading.
This exact same mindset applies to our bodies and their health, particularly physical (mental health is a whole other subject I am not as educated in). Some people see a health practitioner (physiotherapist, chiropractor, personal trainer, massage therapist etc.) on a weekly or monthly basis, no matter if they are in pain or not. They value their body to be functioning as close to 100% as possible. Some people live in chronic pain EVERY DAY, and refuse to do anything about it because "this is how it is" and "I'm just getting old".
Let's dive deeper as to how similar the process is with cars and our bodies. I thoroughly enjoy creating metaphors because some subjects are so easily comprehendible that it's easier to relate to an already comprehended topic than attempt to explain a new one.
Let’s break this down. You have knee pain and shoulder pain. We can relate this to a car which has rusted wheel bearings and worn out shock absorbers (but you don't know that).
So you take your creaking and rough riding car to the mechanic. You ask the mechanic for ‘a tune up’ because you think something is wrong and hope it is a simple fix.
The mechanic tells you that a tune up consists of checking your engines' spark plugs and other wires and replacement of air filters. An extensive tune up will include a brake check, wheel alignment and checking your oil and other fluid levels. This costs $100.
This sounds good to you and it's a relatively low price point so you go ahead with this option. Unfortunately, none of what is included in the tune up will fix your wheel bearings and shocks. But having a tune up done makes you feel better about the situation. This feeling wears off 5 minutes after you leave the shop and realize your wheels are still creaking and have a bumpy ride. You start to get upset at the mechanic because his tune-up didn't fix the problem.
This is like going to a regular gym and joining into a group 'conditioning' or 'strength' class. It only costs $50/month so you're not really concerned if it doesn't help. But you HOPE that what the program prescribes to the general population who do not have any injuries will help you get out of pain and correct your movement patterns. Like the tune up, this is not the case. You had to modify a lot of the movements in the classes because your knees hurt and toughed out the push-ups because they felt 'OK' but you knew it you'd be paying for it later that night. But you feel a bit better because you are exercising and moving, and unfortunately still have the chronic pain in your knees and shoulders. You get a bit frustrated because you thought that joining an exercise program would take your pains away.
Now here's what SHOULD happen.
You take your car to the mechanic and tell them what's you think is going on. They suggest an initial inspection so they can find the root cause of the problems because they know a general tune up is not going to fix these detrimental problems. They tell you what they think may be wrong, but they need an inspection to confirm their hypothesis. This costs $200, and will then cost an undetermined amount depending on what their findings are, which will likely be around $1000 or more to replace the wheel bearings and shocks if that is needed. You trust this mechanic because your friend told you about how they fixed their car. So you tell them to go ahead because you know that even though it's a lot of money, A LOT more than a $100 tune up, they are 100% going to fix the problem and your car will run like new afterwards. The mechanic goes ahead, does his work as promised, and everything is working great. During his inspection and repairs, he also replaced your brakes which you thought were fine and even fine tuned your steering which you had no idea was loose. You are VERY happy that your car is driving like new. You remember what it was like when it had problems so you make sure you continue scheduling tune-ups to make sure nothing will create another detrimental problem. NOW, your car fits into the category of only needing a tune-up.
So how does this translate to the gym? Well it's almost the exact same scenario and process. Here's how it goes.
You find a reputable gym that offers assessments and personal training (like us at Forge Valley Fitness). You then talk with a coach about what you're looking for and the pain or problems you're dealing with - you mention your knees hurt every day and your shoulder pain wakes you up during the night. This is a fairly standard complaint of current and past clients, but everyone is unique and may have different underlying issues. The coach recommends Three 1-Hour assessments to view your movement patterns, test your flexibility and mobility, and assess for general strength levels. This will allow the coach to create a diagnosis of your symptoms and then structure an Individually Designed Personal Training Program that WILL get you out of pain. The assessments costs about $200, and the Individual Training Program will cost about $1000 for 2 months including 10 1-Hour Personal Training Sessions. Initially you raise an eyebrow at this cost, but then come back to the value of what you'll be getting: professionally assessed, diagnosed of movement pattern dysfunction and strength imbalance, a program designed specifically FOR YOU, and most importantly getting out of pain. You also remember how much Stacy and Timmy raved about this place for ridding their back and shoulder pains.
Given the value behind all of this, you agree to 3 assessment sessions and the personal training program. The coach creates a diagnosis of your knee and shoulder pain, and also finds your ankles are very stiff and you have limited back flexibility, things you never knew where a problem. Throughout the personal training you feel 10 times better walking out of the gym than when you walked in. This is because we are fixing your body with corrective exercises and workouts, not beating your body up with non-sense workouts to give you the satisfaction of getting a sweat on.
Fast forward to completing your initial program (the repairs are complete). You feel GREAT. Better than you have in the last 10-20 years. You remember what the pain was like that you had, and you DO NOT want to go back there. Fortunately, you invested in correcting movement and improving strength, but this not a quick fix that you can stop doing now. The coach is happy with your progress and recommends you join the group sessions to continue building and maintaining your new movement patterns and improving your strength and conditioning. This is great news as you've reduced pain, improved movement patterns and eliminated weaknesses so that you can now adhere to a more generalized program. Now in conjunction with the group program, the coach recommends recurring personal training sessions with the frequency of 1x/6 weeks, 1x/month or 2x/month depending on your agreed level of need. This ranges from $180-$280/month. Given the value that you now associate with this gym and coaching service, this seems like pennies, especially if it keeps you out of pain. You gladly continue being a member of this professionally established gym because you value the knowledge, expertise and service that you get - and not just how much you sweat.
The moral of this post is that we are all the same, but we are all different. Group exercise programs, even the ones at Forge, are not designed to help everyone get out of pain. They are designed to help the general population without chronic pain improve. Don't get me wrong, you WILL continue to get stronger and improve in a large variety of ways during our group programs. We also know what the majority of our members need and do our best to create a blanket of workouts and programs large enough to reach everyone. Typically though, most peoples' pain is unique to them and require a unique solution. That being said, you may improve in a class setting if your weaknesses are fairly general and many people see these improvements every day.
If you have pain, or feel tired constantly, or are frustrated that what you're doing isn't working, let's connect and see if what we do here can help you.
Terrence and the Forge Valley Team