In this post we discuss why squats, push ups and chin ups aren’t enough to keep you healthy and won’t provide the best rehab outcomes.
Recently two posts on social media from rehab professionals caught my attention.
Here’s what they said;
‘From the millions of exercises out there, I really just rotate between 4 or 5 for my patients.’
‘From a health and longevity perspective, walking, push ups, chin ups and squats cover like 80% of your exercise needs.’
There are a few things going on here. Let’s take each tweet in turn because they both reveal common views which will limit your progress.
First a presumption that a handful of exercises hold the key to most people’s rehab needs. This idea is ubiquitous.
The exercises vary according to who you speak to but they usually involve a squat, deadlift, push up and chin up.
I’ve no doubt the physio who sent this tweet has some level of success with these exercises. I’m also sure they don’t work for everybody however.
If weakness in your muscular system is contributing to your issue, these exercises leave many joint angles unchallenged.
It’s like going to a doctor for a particular ailment and he gives you a few key medications that impact the most common diseases he sees.
It might work but if your particular issue is something different, it won’t.
Are these exercises enough for general health and longevity though?
There’s plenty of research to suggest that regular resistance training is good for your health and will help you live longer.
I think we can do better than this though.
You have around 650 muscles. I would estimate these exercises only challenge around 20% of them through their entire range of available motion.
That’s a missed opportunity. How much better could you be if your exercise programme targeted the remainder?
I’ve written before that longevity isn’t necessarily the best marker of health either.
What’s the point of living longer if you’re in pain and miserable?
One of the most common causes of pain and disability as we age is osteoarthritis (OA). OA won’t necessarily kill you but it will suck the joy out of life.
Whilst there are a number of risk factors for OA that aren’t in our control, there are some that are. These include excessive loading and how you move (your biomechanics).
If you apply force to a joint in the exact same way over a number of years it’s possible you might begin to cause issues. If an injury does occur you increase your chance of developing OA.
There’s no saying this will happen. Only that it might. But why take that chance?
By varying your exercises in a logical way you not only vary the forces on your joints, you also provide a changing stimulus to your muscular system.
Remember the old exercise adage ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it?’ This is very true.
If you don’t challenge your muscular system to take your joints through their available range of motion, you will ultimately lose motion.
Your muscular system is capable of producing a vast variety of movements.
For the health of your joints and the best rehab outcomes it makes sense to challenge as many of these movements as possible with your exercise programme.