Move in the “correct” way or you’ll injure yourself

Something I am constantly seeing and hearing from the fitness industry is a fairly constant rhetoric of how things must be done a certain way or you run the risk of injuring yourself. I however don’t believe that there is such a thing as a bad movement, I don’t believe you can move “wrong” and on the flip side of that I don’t believe there is a right way to move. I understand that lots of people do get injured whilst moving but I don’t believe it’s a consequence of moving incorrectly. As I’m sure you can appreciate, the human body is a little more complicated than either moving right or wrong. I am not advising against paying close attention to how you move as I am a firm believer that the devil is in the detail when it comes to a successful training program, but what I’m saying is that doing it different to the textbook isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It should go without saying that you’re unique and you will move in your own way and so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that moving differently is neither good nor bad it’s just different. With different movement patterns comes a different sequences of muscles firing and a different spread of load upon the relevant tissue structures. My job as a coach is to simply observe this and make the appropriate adjustments based upon your history, current skill set and training goals.

There are more and less efficient ways to move, and if you are wanting to get the most out of your training then certain sequences will work better than others. This is where the benefit of having a coach that understands movement and skill development will come in handy. A good skill development program will allow for exploration of the more and less effective sequences and allow you to find your form. To find where you are strong, find where you are weak and then truly allow for holistic development. With a lot of the research I’ve read about skill development pointing away from repetition and more exploring tasks in a variety of environments it can be concluded that there is no wrong way to move.

Certain movements such as spinal flexion for example get a very bad reputation in the fitness industry, and a lot of fear has been created around some of these movements. How often do you hear the cue of neutral spine and to avoid the “risk” of coming out of this position. Things like the “buttwink” in the bottom of a squat or deadlifting with a rounded back are heavily criticised. However there is nothing inherently dangerous about flexing your spine through either of these movements. The issues only start to arise when you load these motions under fatigue and it’s only with the addition of intensity that the body’s ability to handle that motion comes under scrutiny and where the risk starts to increase.

There are many cultures around the world that use a deep squat as a resting position, this demonstrates that with just bodyweight you can spend as much time as you like in a “buttwinked” squat and not only will you not get injured but you’re probably less likely to develop back problems as a result of this. Your spine is perfectly capable of flexing so you should flex it as often as want.

I believe where most people run into trouble with flexion lies in whether or not their spines are actually prepared to flex. If you’ve held your spine stiff for years you can’t suddenly start moving it as much as you want and expect everything to be ok. Too much, too soon of any motion will probably lead to an injury but this is the exact same as a sedentary person getting off the sofa and trying to run a marathon. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about running but you’ve got to manage the load appropriately.

If you check the videos of me lifting you can clearly see my form isn’t what the textbook says it should be and my spine can clearly flex under load but I’m just not that worried as I know I have a back that can pull a relatively high amount of weight. I’ve trained my back in flexion a lot and know the amount of weight I can handle. It is a position I am strong in.

This is a concept heavily incorporated into own personal goals and is something I try to pass on to my clients. I want to build a body that doesn’t break in any situation as opposed to needing to avoid the so called “dangerous” positions. I want my body to be free to move in as many ways as possible. I want to be able to handle everything life throws at me and to do so without breaking a sweat. I don’t want to worry when someone asks me to pick up something heavy and awkward. I want to be able to play football without worrying about a hamstring popping, I want to be able to move explosively and fast if I find myself getting chased by a bear. Yes I know I can’t outrun a bear, but I only need to sprint faster than the person I’m with. I want to be able to thrive in Ju Jitsu class, a yoga class and then in head into the weight room and lift a lot of weight. I want a body that just does what I want it to do.

I refuse to live in fear of movement, and you don’t have to either.