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A Publication of WTVP

The National Injury Illness Reporting System has determined the number one factor contributing to athletic injuries is improper training methods. Last month’s article stated the key to minimizing injuries while exercising is to minimize the amount of force your body is exposed to. It also indicated various physical activities place a tremendous amount of force on our muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues. However, if performed correctly, strength training exposes the body to significantly less force to the joints. Therefore, this article defines safe exercise as slow and controlled strength training movements.

Safe. A sticker placed on the dashboard of many U-Haul rental trucks reads, “Speed Kills.” This may be an exaggeration when it comes to exercise, but it carries more truth than most people realize. According to Matt Brzycki, the head strength and conditioning coach at Princeton University, “We must be concerned with an exercise’s speed of movement because we do not know the structural limitations of the human body’s various connective tissues.” Limiting the repetition speed also means avoiding movements such as sudden jerking, bouncing, lunging, or jabbing. Even a person with a pre-existing injury can perform repetitions in this slow and controlled manner. Strengthening the damaged structure directly will speed rehabilitation and greatly reduce the possibility of exacerbating the injury.

Effective. The slow speed of movement makes an exercise more effective because it reduces momentum—this demands a higher amount of the work to be performed by the muscles to overcome the resistance. It requires a maximum number of muscle fibers to be ignited, which is the key to effectiveness. It maintains a constant tension on the muscle groups you’re working. Slower movement speeds also promote stricter form and aid in concentration and awareness of form and technique.

Efficient. If the quality of your exercise program is high, the amount of exercise your body actually requires is quite low. Since slow movement speeds enhance the quality of each exercise, your muscular and metabolic systems will be more deeply stimulated and fatigued. As a result, your body will require more recovery time between workout sessions. Instead of trying to discover the maximum amount of exercise you can withstand, strive to discover the precise dosage of exercise your body needs to produce optimal results. Too much exercise—and activity—will lead to poor results and injuries.

Why would we subject our bodily structures to forces that aren’t needed? Without realizing the facts, many people who are exercising appear to be trying to demonstrate how much force their body can withstand. To reduce the risk of injury from your exercise program—yet still achieve optimal results—it’s important to exercise safely and properly. The time and money spent learning safe, proper exercise techniques is nothing compared to what’s spent recovering from an exercise-related injury. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. IBI

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