Monday, June 11, 2012

When Corrective Exercises Get Boring...

Lately I have had to attend some physical therapy sessions for my recent pectoral repair surgery. My surgeon is very adamant about me doing it with his particular physical therapy partners; so I am attending twice per week. As I stand or sit performing my rehab exercises, I look around the room and observe the other patients that are also working with other therapists. I see many of them yawning, looking disenchanted with their drills or watching TV. I understand that this makes it tough for many physical therapist to deal with patients that are disenfranchised with their rehab program.

Makes me wonder: Don't they want to get better? Does the physical therapist care anymore? 

As a fitness trainer, what do you do when you have a new client that requires corrective exercises included in their program to help fix some imbalances here and there? Let's face it, corrective exercise can be boring because it doesn't necessarily have a high work capacity demand such as squats, push-ups, burpees, or chin-ups. Corrective exercise is a modality that demands attention to detail. Most corrective work is isometric, intensive core concentration and integration, and ROM keenness. There's little room for power, momentum, and fun in corrective exercise. Much of it is strict and best in a controlled environment.

Most times--depending on the findings you are trying to fix--it can be perceived by the client as discomforting, wasteful, and boring. Lets face it...clients receive a larger "effect" from flipping a tire, throwing medicine balls, or executing some inchworms than they would  performing lateral band walks, hip bridges, and side planks. 

But at the end of the day, you know your new client really needs to work on those scapular depressors because every time you see her performing an upper-body movement, she does nothing but shrug her shoulders upwards. That continuously reminds you that the scapular depressors are weak and the upper trapezius is over-active. So where can you include things like face pulls into the corrective phase without taking away the focus on the exercise program? Or what about your client that continuously folds like a lawn-chair during squatting because of she can't get the glutes and hips involved properly?  Where can you include simple hip-hinging drills without making the program boring and stagnant?

Here are a couple of tried and true tricks to expose your clients to corrective exercise without actually emphasizing the need to set aside an entire "phase"in their program.

1.) Use corrective exercise as active recovery between sets. This is my best usage. Everyone knows corrective exercise doesn't typically wear you out, but it's important to include them when you are working on the area of the body that needs constant reinforcement. So a good thing to remember is between those sets of bench presses or barbell rows, you can include a set during their rest periods of scapular protraction/retraction:

If your client and you (trainer) are simply just sitting there looking at each other or at the ceiling in between sets, you are wasting alot of time And someone is wasting their money. If you are not busy trying to make your client healthier by way of injury reduction,  then you are simply contributing to the problem. 

2.) Use corrective work in the warm-up. This is a popular route. Many professionals will choose to place movement prep drills (which include some corrective exercise) in the beginning of the program. Before the program, corrective work serves as a way to "wake up" dormant muscles, or to sync the intrinsic muscles with its counterpart global musculature. This is a great way to make clients integrate it and place its importance firstly in a program preparation. I talk and demonstrate the use of corrective exercise as a warm up in my video Moving More Muscles.
3.) Auxiliary Workout/Take home. At my facility, clients often want to perform their exercise program at home but don't have the equipment at their disposal. When they don't meet with me, I prefer that they perform a workout consisting primarily of corrective work. It helps clients to adhere to the overall program and helps clients stay on the path to injury reduction.

4.) Make corrective exercise fun. Since the topic of this post is tackling boredom associated with corrective exercise, then how do you make it fun? Corrective exercise can be fun in groups (bootcamps) and partner training. Making  it fun by incorporating rewards systems for longest isometric holds, most reps, or most progress. Injury prevention and reduction is usually not a laughing matter, but there is no reason to "scare" people into doing their exercises either.

Hope this simple ideas help you out. the term "corrective" can be interpreted in many ways. I tend to view my physical therapy drills as "corrective"; but mots trainers will deem exercise that address muscular imbalance as corrective. Some may even look at some movement prep work as corrective. Whatever the case, make any phase of your overall program fun, engaging and most importantly...effective.

1 comment:

  1. Good article. How to work correctives in with the rest of the workout is especially important now that so many want just half-hour sessions.

    I have done a few of these things. Where I put them depends on the exercise. Glute activation will obviously go well before any deep knee-bend exercise, but internal/external rotation of shoulder for rotator cuffs can go between sets of other things.


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