Nancy Pickett PT, DPT MSEd, ATC
Our bodies are pretty incredible. Without our conscious thought they coordinate our movements, fight infections, regulate our heart beat and temperature, and digest food amongst countless other actions. Amongst one of the most visible day to day things our body does with little to no conscious thought is general movement, such as walking, jogging, running, sprinting, jumping, lifting, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, turning, standing, starting, stopping, climbing and lunging. While all these actions are important for daily function the amount of force exerted upon our joints during some of these activities can be potentially dangerous, especially with poorly engaged muscle groups and poor mechanics.
Some general forces exerted on our during day to day activity:
- Walking on level ground = 1.5-3x bodyweight
- Climbing stairs = 2-3x bodyweight
- Bending to tie shoes or squatting to pick up an item = 4-5x body weight
- Running = 4-8x body weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is a major factor for reducing potential injury to joints and muscles in our body during activity. However, proper muscular strengthening and body control is also vital. Benefits of strength training include improved body composition, increased bone density, better body mechanics with movement, increased likelihood of permanent weight loss, and improved energy and mood.
“Strength training” has come to be synonymous with Crossfit, powerlifting and Olympic lifting, which can be highly intimidating to those of us who are wanting to stay healthy, but have no prior experience in the previous matters. However, functional strength training is vital for injury prevention, despite fitness level, and can be scaled for everyone.
The primary goal of functional training is to transfer the improvements in strength achieved in one movement to enhancing the performance of another movement by affecting the entire neuromuscular system. Important functional strengthening activity includes squatting, deadlift, rowing/pulling and pushing/pressing. Examples of the four movements in day-to-day life include: squatting for rising up and down out of chair, deadlift for picking items from ground and rising from floor, rowing/pulling for moving items, changing positions and overall improvements in posture and pushing/pressing for placing things on high shelves and adjusting body positions.
These movements can be performed by anyone and adjusted for individuals depending on ability. Examples of these exercises in the gym include but are not limited to:
- Air squat
- Barbell back squat
- Barbell front squat
- Overhead squat
- Single leg squat
- Full deadlift
- Sumo deadlift
- Romanian deadlift
- Barbell deadlift
- Rack pull
- Rows on cable column
- Lat pulldowns on cable column
- Pull ups
- Chin ups
- Bench press
- Overhead press
- Incline press
- Push ups
- Pec fly
Before beginning any new strengthening program it is very important to get proper instruction in mechanics and programming, especially if you are overcoming ANY injury or experiencing aches and pains. If you are just beginning to strength train make sure to focus on correct form with movements and not be worried about lifting heavy weight. Ideally major muscle groups should be worked two to three times per week, with preferably a day in between strengthening sessions, especially for beginners. Our physical therapists and strength and conditioning specialists are experts in the matter of exercise form and prescription. Feel free to contact us for a visit!
Dr. Pickett is a Physical Therapist/Certified Athletic Trainer at One on One Physical Therapy, a multidisciplinary private practice in Atlanta. She has a Master’s in Sports Medicine and loves working with all types of athletes, particularly Crossfit and weight lifters. She has developed a huge passion for functional fitness for anyone at any stage in life. Learn more by visiting www.onetherapy.com or email Dr. Pickett at Nancy@onetherapy.com or call 770-500-3848.