Beyond Bro-Science and Bra-Science
Written by: Dr. Mehran Tabrizi, Chiropractor, Cambridge Club
Health and fitness are not immune to the influence of pop culture and, particularly at the “new year, new you” time of year, we may be tempted to foray into the latest trends. The brain has a novelty bias that will lean towards newness, however, in the interest of sustainable training, it is important to not lose sight of the fundamentals.
To avoid injury and to continue to move toward your goals, here are some foundational things to remember and incorporate:
- Progressive Overload: Basically, this is graded exposure. Increasing your workload weekly by 5-10% in either weight, reps, or time (depending on the exercise) will allow you to gradually improve. This also involves acknowledging where you are at now so you don’t get in over your head from the start. It is a common misstep to go too hard too fast and either get injured or burn out. Pace yourself.
- Balance: While it is not the sexiest part of wellness to train, balance is critical to maintain with regards to longevity of mobility. On average, we have a capacity for 10 seconds balance on one leg with eyes closed, decreasing to 5 seconds by age 60, and 1-2 seconds by age 70. This is a significant predictor of injury. Spending a couple of minutes practicing balance on each leg during your workout will serve you well in the long run. Be sure you are safely set up to do so - it's not as easy as it sounds!
- Train Hard, Recover Harder: In order to optimize athletic performance, recovery is an under-emphasized part of training. A study from the University of Pennsylvania shows that the gut microbiome can actually influence the motivation to exercise, not just the ability to execute, so proper fuel before and after workouts, regarding both nutrition and hydration, is key in more ways than we imagined. Likewise, optimizing sleep and giving yourself the appropriate time to recover will allow you to continue your routine without forced interruption.
- Breathing Biomechanics: If you spend time noticing how you breathe, you may realize that it is not as automatic or ideal as you might imagine. You may have heard to breathe into your belly and, while that is part of it, being able to have that external rotation of your rib cage to actually expand through your chest and into your abdomen is key. You can train this by practicing side bending through your ribs and progress to a side plank. Life stressors can disrupt our breathing patterns and the proper functioning of the diaphragm is actually the foundation of our core.
Whether or not you are looking for a “new you”, it is important to not let your past be bigger than your future. Having a solid foundation is the space from which to build and where transformation happens.