Today I’ve something a little different to share which you may find useful and interesting…

Variety is the spice of life…

Except in this case variety is to prevent Injury.

I’m talking about variety because it’s a problem which faces many athletes and casual trainers and particularly busy people with limited time.

You see regardless of exercise many of us make this mistake, and it not about the activity or sport but about you, it’s about only doing one type of exercise!

You see lack of variety can often be at the root of the problem that requires treatment, sometimes it can derail your training programme, or simply getting back you fitness after a lay off.

Recently I saw a young patient in Manchester who was making this mistake, the injury was a result of increasing the training for a marathon, a difficult activity at best. Maybe I should have sent her to Martina who herself is training for a marathon…

Anyway by whacking up the running less time was given to the cross training which ultimately leads to an imbalance in muscle use and development, on top of that the pre and post exercises didn’t increase with the increase in mileage.

This applies to any exercise and if you are time poor because of work, family or other commitments its all to easy to just do whats necessary…

In this case the young lady was experiencing knee pain, due to the imbalance and impact, more precisely the patella was being stressed leading to pain around the knee, a diagnosis given was Patello-femoral tracking dysfunction, however this was the tissue causing symptoms not the root of the problem.

This moves us onto why lack of variety is a bad thing..

When we exercise the muscles and joint movement should be a smooth however with an uneven tension you create excessive pressure onto that area and associated structures causing a degradation in the tissue, knee pain can be from damage the patella surface or maybe create scar tissue in the surrounding soft tissue, maybe there is compression to the cartilage damaging, such as a micro tears..

You see the joint has a range of motion and position which allows function, if you consider a car door that opens and closes smoothly and precisely, however if you twist the hinges you still might be able to close it but there maybe a resultant damage to the hinge, lock or body work..

Hopefully that makes sense lol…

“Now I’m not a golfer myself, but with the kids I feel like a go-for..this, that and everything else.”

“Cycling is a great sport but again cross training is necessary, here’s a young Harrison and he cross train’s with Judo, Swimming, Thai Boxing and winding his brother up..”

There is so much research about exercise and activities, but if you work to a basic method of warming up, exercise, cool down and stretch with exercise consisting of mobility, flexibility, strength and stamina training. Different sports and activities may need different aspects in lesser or greater quantities but our body really needs all of them for balance.

If we get a breakdown of tissue in the knee as mentioned we can develop menisci injury (cartilage) and arthritic changes, often these are felt later on in life as they wear prematurely and patients often say “I’ve always done this and it’s never bothered me before”, unfortunately the joints and muscles do the job presented which isn’t always correct and can slowly degrade.

Hopefully by now it’s obvious why we need balance..

A varied approach to exercise allows a greater range of movement and covering the different aspects gives balance and equal movement.

So what is a varied exercise plan…

It simply means adding a little varied and different movements to your program maybe some weights to give strength, yoga to help with flexibility, pilates to get to grips with core function. If you are a member of a gym try a different class have a light session with the weights, talk to a personal trainer or rehabilitation therapist they can really take your fitness to the next level.

The principle also applies many other activities such as walking which is a favourite of mine, however it really doesn’t do anything to make you strong enough to pick the kids up or grandkids so balance really is the key.

Now before you jump into different exercises remember where you are at with your fitness and ability, you may be good at walking or swimming but it doesn’t mean your good at thai boxing, I hope that makes sense.

And on that note keep well and keep moving 🙂

Francis Connor
Deansgate Osteopathic Clinic