Pritchard: Understanding art, science behind corrective exercising (column)
Better Version of You
Within human kinematics, there is no such thing as a “perfect mover,” although some are much closer to it than others.
Poor movers are often unable to execute movement patterns while demonstrating proper alignment and technique, especially under load. Even if they manage to lift a heavy load, they often risk severe injury in the process.
Some common movement deficiencies include valgus knee collapse, excessive thoracic extension, lumbar flexion, excessive anterior pelvic tilt and excessive internal rotation of the shoulders.
Continuously exercising or participating in activity with these deficiencies almost always correlates with injury.
Understanding proper movement and biomechanics is paramount to maintaining healthy joints as well as training safely. A keen understanding of safe and efficient movement patterns is only part of the equation; however, understanding how to correct poor technique is another.
A better understanding
If you aren’t familiar with corrective exercise, then it is essential that you gain a firm understanding of it before continuing training. Whether you are jumping, sprinting, squatting, deadlifting, pushing, pulling or cutting there is likely at least one area in need of work.
Corrective exercise aids in manipulating the movement pattern in which you are lacking. This is done by providing specific exercises tailored to the movement and the individual. These exercises are not intended to exhaust the trainee nor be metabolically expensive. The aim is to re-establish proper neurological pathways deep rooted in the fundamental movement pattern being assessed.
If a trainee is unable to squat to full depth without the chest collapsing forward, a few corrective exercises may include thoracic, hip and ankle mobility drills as well as reactive neuromuscular training drills aimed to “fight” the deficiency. As a side note, if you are suffering from this, the cook squat is an excellent corrective exercise, and one that you can easily find video example of on YouTube.
Simply plugging random corrective exercises into a program based on movement deficiency will not do the trick, however.
The first step in the process is conducting a proper movement screen, preferably by a qualified professional. The most common assessment is the functional movement screen, although there are many others out there equally as effective. After conducting a proper screen, areas in need of correction can be identified and a plan of action can be formulated.
A professional who knows what they are doing will aim to correct the pattern and not fixate on a single joint. From there they will prescribe exercises aimed at correcting gross movement patterns that can be executed on a frequent basis.
It becomes both art and science when structuring these into a program, as they can be inserted into either the warmup, used as active recovery between sets, or included into the mobility/cool down portion of the workout. Corrective exercises should not take over or dominate a program, they should seamlessly integrate so that they do not detract from the overall plan.
If a poor movement pattern is identified, it does not mean it should be completely taken out until corrected rather an alternative method should be executed until improvement is seen. For a perfect example of this, see the previous example of squatting with a collapsing chest. This does not mean squatting should never be executed. Instead it means barbell back squatting should be eliminated and substituted with something such as the goblet squat until corrective exercise alleviates the issue.
In my next article, I will highlight some of the best corrective exercises for the most common movement errors seen in strength and conditioning. Thanks for reading.
Jimmy Pritchard has a BSc in exercise science from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the director of strength and conditioning at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website http://www.pritchardperformance.com.