Imagine this experiment. If you were required to pick up two different items off the floor, what would be the best method of doing it?
Let’s say that the first object was a box of paper weighing about 30kg. For a lot of people, 30kg can be quite difficult to lift. If we were to lean down, bend our knees, get close to the box, get our hands under it, brace the muscles around our spine and lift using the entirety of our strength, more than a few people would be able to lift it, and more than likely, quite easily.
Now consider if the second object was a pen lid. Weighing next to nothing, how much wasted energy would we be using up if we were to try and pick up the pen lid in exactly the same way as above?
How much quicker, more efficient and easier would it be if we bent over (however we desired), grabbed it in one hand and stood back up? Notice how much less effort it took to lift this pen lid compared with the 30kg box?
The movements that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis are situationally utilised to make movements as efficient as possible each time. If we were to huff and heave on every single movement we did with as much tension possible, it would take twice as long to complete our day-to-day movements and we would be required to eat far more than we normally do to restore the energy required for these tasks.
Please remember that we are talking about persistent pain here; if we were to have suffered an acute injury (ie: the injury was recent, and damage had occurred somewhere in the body), we may need to slow down and take our time with these.
But as soon as the body heals itself (it really is quite efficient and effective at this), we can reintroduce these movements at a relatively steady pace.
Coming back to our SAID principle from the last blog post about the World’s Strongest Man, let’s now take the example of a gymnast.
They require a huge amount of flexibility and more importantly coordination, through hundreds of different directions and variants of movement to complete the summersaults, tumbles, twists and turns that are required to complete the routines they are put through.
They utilise completely different motor patterns to the strongmen, which they have practiced thousands of times, just as the strongmen have done in their own events. Of course the main differing factor lies with the stimulus they are exposed to.
If you were to trial any of these movements today at the same loads required to complete them at an advanced level (twists and turns or lifting heavy stones), then you would probably find these difficult, or would be unable to complete them, unless of course you were trained to do them.
When you first rode a bike, most of you wouldn’t have started on only two wheels, it may have been a tricycle at first, followed by training wheels, and then onto the bicycle. That is the Progressive Overload principle at its finest. Gradually increase the exposure to movement without overdoing it. When we meld this with the SAID principle, we are able to achieve amazing things, despite our experiences with pain.
A little bit of something, performed with multiple repetitions over a long period of time that gradually increases in intensity or challenge, is the best way towards learning and in our cases, re-learning movements and how we respond and react to them.