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Goldwyn & Boyland News

Getting Fit Shouldn’t Hurt

By Greg Streblow PT, CSCS


It is that time of year when many people are making resolutions to “get in shape”, lose weight, build muscle, or some other fitness-related goal.  Gym memberships are on the increase, and people are taking the initiative to improve their health by exercising.  This is a great thing, as exercise is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.  Studies have found that strength training changes not only what the body looks like on the outside, but that the appearance of muscle cells on a microscopic level changes to that of people who are decades younger.  In fact, the loss of strength and power with age is one of the main factors in losing the ability for older people to live independently, but it is far from inevitable.  That’s the good news.


The bad news is that many people with good intentions don’t stick with their plans.  Of course there are many different reasons for this, but one that I hear all too often is that people stop because the exercise causes pain or injury.  Getting hurt while doing something to get healthy is a poor result, and can be very discouraging.  More good news, though – most of these problems are avoidable.


Many times pain and injury are the result of a “no pain no gain” philosophy, and a belief that the more pain one can “push through” the better the result.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Mike Boyle, one of the leading strength coaches in the world, has two pieces of important advice that I want to emphasize.  The first is that “good exercise should make you tired, but it should not hurt your joints”.  The second is that “the question "Does it hurt?" can only be answered yes or no. Any answer other than no is yes. "It goes away after a few minutes" is a yes. "Not if I warm-up well" is a yes”.  If professional athletes who are paid millions of dollars to push themselves to the limit are told that the risk of exercising with pain is not worth the reward, what should that tell the rest of us about doing it?

So why does an exercise hurt?  Sometimes it is because when exercising one muscle other muscles are not supporting the rest of the body properly.  Sometimes it is because those postures we develop outside of the gym prevent us from doing the exercise in the gym properly.  Sometimes it is because the exercises people do in the gym actually reinforce the negative effects of modern life.  Doing situps, arm curls, or spinning on a bike just reinforces the slumped posture most of us are in at our jobs and makes it harder to change.   These are not “bad” exercises, but the workout also needs to include a steady diet of exercises that counteract these effects as well.  A program that does not balance these factors well may not cause injury immediately, but will often lead to a problem sooner or later.  Just as failing to change the oil won’t make a car engine seize immediately, the longer you go the more risk you take of getting stranded and needing the tow truck.

One of the best ways to correct or avoid these problems is by undergoing a movement screening assessment and discussing ways to pursue your fitness goals and protect your joints at the same time.  Another good idea is to work with an experienced professional to help design and supervise your exercise program.  At Goldwyn and Boyland Physical Therapy we have been among the first clinics in the state to use the movement screening which is now used by all major pro sports leagues to keep their athletes healthy.  In addition several members of our staff have been rehabilitation providers and strength and conditioning coaches for a US national team, as well as serving at the 1996 Olympics and many years at the Empire State Games.  For more information on our prevention and training services, please visit our new website at goldwynandboylandpt.com

With the changes in the law known as direct access, you can now consult with a physical therapist without the requirement of being referred by a physician.  It has never been easier to get help getting healthy, and there will never be a better day than today to take charge of your health.  Here’s wishing you a healthy 2008.




About the Author:  Greg Streblow, PT, CSCS is a licensed physical therapist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist.  He has been practicing physical therapy at Goldwyn and Boyland PT for 9 years, and has trained individuals and teams for fitness and performance for the past 18 years.  He has served as a sport coach and strength and conditioning coach from middle school to international level teams.