You are not as fragile as you think you are.



You are not as fragile as you think you are!

A very common problem I come across as a trainer is those clients who believe that their body is liable to break with anything other than the easiest, most gentle movement. This is often true of female clients who have not done much training or have ‘back issues’. Much of the initial work often centres around giving them confidence in the adaptability of their bodies.

Some of this is no doubt social conditioning where females are concerned – they have been told they are the weaker sex etc. Many will also have experienced back pain as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.

However, what I find is that many who come to me because of their back pain and who are adamant that they cannot do certain exercises, like rowing, for example, without pain, have totally forgotten about their backs after a few sessions.

The problem is a combination of poor technique, simply not knowing how to move safely and the brain trying to keep them safe.

Often they have been told to do pilates for their ‘dodgy lower back’. Whilst disciplines like pilates may indeed have many benefits, a lot of it tends to be done on the floor. To me this is not as functional as standing exercises because it takes the feet and gravity out of the equation for the most part. In this respect it can seem a little like the doctor looking at the back pain as just a back problem, not a whole body issue.

Many of the postural and movement problems we face are due to our struggles to react appropriately to the influence of gravity. Therefore stabilising our body first from foot to core in standing posture, then walking gait, should be the first step in my view, not putting people on the floor to focus on a particular body part.

The truth is that most people need to first be made aware of the effects of poor posture and the influence of their lifestyle on this. You cannot just deal with the symptoms again by sending them to a pilates class to ‘solve’ this – it won’t stick or transfer much to real life in standing posture or functional movement.

After learning to improve standing posture – feet forward and properly engaged with and reacting to the ground, stable yet mobile pelvis, shoulders externally rotated, then we need to look at how we walk. For many, what should be an effortless activity has turned into a muscular challenge, often for postural and mobility reasons.

Clients are often astonished when I start teaching them to walk but very quickly understand why, as they discover a new freedom of movement. We assume that we all know how to stand, how to walk and how to run but we are very often missing a gigantic piece of the puzzle.

The good news is that, once we get these fundamentals right, we begin to source much improved stability, strength and power which can be carried over into all other activities.

So you see you are not fragile at all. You’ve probably been told that you need to ‘strengthen your core’ but that in itself is not going to help much if you do it on the ground in isolation. Ultimately, it’s this reductionist, treat the symptom, not the cause attitude that’s just not effective. We need to look at things from a global, whole body perspective, not the individual parts.

That’s not to say that working on the floor is not useful for many things, nor to criticise pilates as such, but just that being bipedal is a massive part of being human and it’s this innately unstable position that creates a feeling of fragility, due to the pull of gravity on our frames, and being stable from the ground up is what creates a ‘core stability’ that is truly functional.

What do you think?

Call David on 07504439555 or email

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