In this post we discuss the reason why your rehab isn’t working in the gym.
Read most posts on this topic and you’ll see the usual fare, warm up, cool down, don’t increase the weight too quickly, and of course stretch before, after and during the session (don’t).
Few mention the most important factor, adapting the exercise to fit your body. This is called custom fit exercise.
What is custom fit exercise?
Custom fit exercise is resistance training exercise that’s designed to fit your body precisely.
Think of it like a bespoke suit.
Just as a tailor measures your body and cuts the material to fit around any idiosyncrasies it may have, custom fit exercise aims to do the same.
It’s the single most important factor in helping my clients achieve success. Often when other approaches like physiotherapy and osteopathy have failed.
Why is custom fit exercise so effective?
Ultimately because it works with your body not against it.
The most important aspect is adapting the exercise so it doesn’t take your joints into positions you can’t achieve under your own steam.
In other words if you can’t move it there using muscle contraction, it shouldn’t go there.
How far you’re able to move each one of your joints is not a random occurrence. It’s a finely calibrated decision that’s not under as much of your conscious control as you might think.
Don’t believe me?
Stand up and try bending one knee as far as possible without using your hands to assist the movement.
You’ll find your leg stops in a particular position.
Can you bend it further by focusing your attention on it?
Perhaps a bit but not much right? You may even find your hamstrings cramp if you try really hard.
It’s been estimated that 95% of your brain’s processing goes on without your conscious awareness.
In practical terms that means your unconscious brain can process roughly 11 million pieces of information per second. Our conscious processing abilities max out at about 40 pieces per second.
We’re not in as much control as we think.
Custom fit exercise doesn’t come as standard
So if your brain decides a joint should only move so far, is there any value in forcing it to move further?
The sensible money would say no.
Take a look at what goes on in most rehab and exercise facilities and you’ll see a total disregard for these facts however.
Restrictions in movement are seen as mistakes to be rectified, limitations to be overcome by force.
This of course is nonsense.
How to apply custom fit exercise
The quicker you begin to respect these decisions, the sooner you will begin to feel better.
That starts with performing exercises within the range of motion limits of the joint you’re challenging.
In practice that requires measuring how far you can move a joint before you begin an exercise and making sure you don’t breach that limit during the exercise itself.
By doing this you ensure the exercise is always within the control of your muscular system.
This dramatically reduces the risk of irritating any joint structures and creating unnecessary inflammation.
Do this and you’ll leave the gym feeling better each time not worse. And these feelings will stay with you for longer the stronger you get.
Making sure an exercise doesn’t take your joints into positions you can’t control is one of the biggest factors in achieving successful rehab outcomes.
It’s also the one factor that few practitioners consider.
Start to apply this in your exercise rehab programme and you’ll begin to make progress.