We are often asked what the perfect exercise is for (insert any number of ailments or injuries). Unfortunately, there is no perfect exercise & it is often the wrong question to ask in the first place.
There are fundamental principles at play that you need to be aware of & embody if you really want to transform how you move, live & ultimately perform.
The first underlying principle (& probably the most important) is the understanding that it is your body & ultimately your responsibility if you want to improve how you move.
You cannot rely on other people or external implements to make real long-lasting changes. Both can facilitate you on your journey but you must make conscious choices on a daily & weekly basis if you really want to improve.
Exercise (movement), Lifestyle Choices (E.g. Sleep, Diet, Hydration, etc.), Personal Development (e.g. Mindset, Organisation, Vision, etc.), Stress Management (e.g. Meditation, social interaction, breathwork, etc.) & Education (E.g. Beliefs, past experiences, study, etc.) will all impact the nervous system & how you move.
You have much more control than you currently believe. The responsibility always lies with you.
This is such an important factor when it comes to achieving real-world, long-term results. If you don't understand the how & why behind what you do. You won't be able to implement the principles for the rest of your life.
Using a foam roller & getting a massage is not bad. They can provide short-term relief. Yet many are unaware the impact on the nervous system from both is only short-term.
They can facilitate you on your journey but you need to take a much more active approach (see point one) if you truly want to gain real confidence, clarity & conviction in your body over the long term.
If you are currently sleeping 4 hours a night & are struggling with recovery on the pitch. No foam roller, massage, or mobility drill is going to help over the long term. We NEED to work on improving your sleep to allow your body to regenerate, recover & for your nervous system to handle the stress of life, sport, and training.
If we improve sleep quality & increase it to 7+ hours. You will feel better (mentally & physically), you will perform better (mentally & physically) & we have laid the foundation to progress to the next level (mentally & physically).
A simple question to ask yourself. Are you using the best tools for your desired outcome? In a lot of cases, people simply focus on modalities that will only ever provide short-term results. The "Why" behind the "What". Matters.
"The process of becoming stronger & more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights".
When it comes to your body, we need to ensure we are building the necessary confidence in your ability to look after it & continually make progress for years to come. It's no good building a program & counting reps.
You need to have the necessary education on why you are doing what you are doing, why it’s important to continually improve & seek knowledge to be better.
We essentially use movement as a catalyst to transform our clients' lives. They are doing the work, for the goals that are personal & important to them. We are simply here to facilitate them on their journey to learn the underlying principles. These principles can then be plugged & played into the life for the rest of their lives.
Let's use the analogy of the dentist. You go for a regular check-up & he reveals to you that you are at the beginning of gum disease. He doesn't tell you to keep coming back for more cleaning. He details educates & empowers you to take ownership of the situation.
He shows you how to brush properly, tells you what floss to purchase (and how to do it) & notes some of the dietary changes you can make to help with your current situation. If you don't take these on board, your gums will continue to bleed, rot away & there will be serious consequences for your gum health in the future. You would be embarrassed to go back to him without action on his advice.
For our bodies, it is often the opposite, however. We expect the physio to fix our back pain, we presume the foam roller will loosen up our tight hamstrings & we keep doing ice baths after games yet we keep getting injured.
Go back to the 1st principle (Responsibility) & look at all of the choices, activities & systems you implement every single day to ensure your body is operating at its best. Both the dentist & physio can help you on your journey. You cannot expect either to fix a situation that is entirely in your control, however.
Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments.
This is the importance of working with a professional if you are currently struggling with your body, performance, or constant injury. They can educate you, build a specific/individualised program & coach you to ensure you arrive at your desired destination.
We all know what we SHOULD do (e.g. Eat better, go to bed earlier, exercise, etc.). Making the daily changes, building the appropriate systems & being surrounded by like-minded people is what a lot of people are missing, however.
If you have the underlying belief that your body is fragile, you are different because of your genetics or you have tried "everything" in order to improve. You just haven't found the right coach to facilitate you on your journey.
The human body is highly adaptable, massively robust & adapts to the stress (or lack thereof) that you place on it. If you are dictated by your past experiences, the education you have received or yourself limiting beliefs. They will all impact what you believe you are truly capable of. This will dictate the choices you make and in turn the results you get in every single avenue of your life.
5. Health & Longevity!
Every single one of athletes (both professional & amateur) are looked at as human beings first, athletes second.
We want them to have fundamental human capabilities - be strong, mobile & in control of their bodies - pass a number of tests to ensure they can perform (e.g. Hip Rotation, lower body coordination, movement through the pelvis, etc.).
All of our programmings is designed with Health & Longevity at the forefront. Remember that both sport & exercise are human inventions we have created due to not needing to be physically active in terms of our survival anymore (e.g. Hunter-Gatherer).
You won't be an athlete forever, but you will want to be able to run, jump, exercise, compete in sport & play with your kids in your 40s, 50s, 60s & beyond.
A simple rule of thumb is to listen to your body. We always look at our athlete's training volume.
Are you simply doing too much? Are you in-season or off-season? What is your desired outcome and is your training helping you towards that goal? Is there pain when you train or do a specific movement? Does your body feel good day today?
Listen to your body.
Often, we ignore the pain in the gym or push through the injury when we know we shouldn't or get back on the pitch too early in order to be there for the team.
2 simple things I focus on for my own training & with clients -
1. Don't do anything through the pain! -
Cramping, sweating or you pushing hard is absolutely fine. But do not exercise, train, or continue to push through the pain.
What is pain? You know.
At a very deep, visceral level. Your body will let you know this does not feel right. Listen to your body & change the exercise, seek a professional or decrease the volume. You would be surprised how many people continue to train in pain (I did myself for years).
2. Listen to your body! -
If you are tired from a terrible night's sleep, feel sore from a tough week of training, or are mentally drained from a busy week at work. It's perfectly fine to make the session easier, change the activity altogether or simply take a break.
Many think they are missing out on gains. When in reality if they continue to push through these moments and don't listen to their bodies. They are increasing their chance of injury. Imagine you continue to push through these sessions for 3 months and then you get injured. You're out for 6 weeks and can't train.
If you had taken 6 of those sessions lighter (or skipped them altogether) over the 3 months. Your body may have been able to handle the stress, was able to adapt & get stronger & you didn't get injured so don't miss out on 6 weeks of training.
The aim is to stress the body, allow the body to adapt to that stress & continue to train in order to progress. If you simply keep pushing too much too soon, injury is inevitable & your progress will be halted.
Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a month & underestimate what they can achieve in a year. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I am 34 years old, I want to keep doing this shit into my 80s, 90s, and beyond. I need to listen to my body if that's the case.
Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @brian_movement101 with any questions you might have. There is loads of educational content on my page & I am always available to help you if you need it.
Never forget how much power you have to take real ownership of your body. Lean in & do the work. It's life-changing if you do.
About the Author - Movement 101 was established in 2017. Their studio is based in Dublin & they run an online coaching service. They have several one-off programs & over 6,000-lifetime access members.
They also have a dedicated private coaching community where they train professional and amateur athletes alongside businessmen & women to help them with their physicality, personal development & lifestyle.
@brian_movement101 is my Instagram handle.