Note: This article is specifically about strength foundations for adults. If you’re looking for info on training for kids and student athletes, check out this post about the importance of strength training for youth sports.
It’s Thursday evening. You’re playing a game of pickup basketball with the guys at the local rec center. Your team is down 3, time is winding down, and there’s a round of drinks on the line. Something comes over you, and suddenly you feel like your old college self – you take to the air, grab an impossibly quick rebound, hit the ground, pivot, and POP! Your knee buckles and you hit the floor. Game over. Now instead of spending your evening tossing back a drink, you’re sitting in Urgent Care waiting for an X-Ray.
We know. So many adults have been there. You love sports, you love being active. But your body can’t recover like it used to; it’s not as durable as it was. And while you can’t reverse aging, you CAN take action to bulletproof yourself against injury!
Injuries in adults commonly occur when we ask our bodies to do something they haven’t done in a while, or at an intensity they’re not used to. Think about backyard football with your daughter, golfing with your friends, tossing your kid in the air. These are all activities you *should* be able to do without pain or injury! And you can!
Injury prevention starts with a solid foundation.
All movement can be broken down into a few basic patterns. These patterns are the foundation of everything you do in your daily life. (Think: carrying groceries, getting up and down off the toilet, picking up your 25lb. furry mess of a cat… or maybe that one’s just me…) Over time – especially as you spend more time at a desk and less time moving around – your body will lose its ability to move through those fundamental patterns. And when you lose those patterns, you put yourself at a higher risk of injury.
Rebuilding these patterns – and as a result, preventing injury – means going back to basics and rebuilding the foundations of your movement.
If you think about your movement as a pyramid, the tippy top is sports, the middle is daily activities, and the base is foundational movement. So we start at the base and work our way up. Once you learn (or re-learn) how to move your body through space, then we add weight. Then we add dynamic effort. Then we add sports. The end result is a stronger and more resilient body that can handle anything you throw at it.
Knowing where to start can be a huge challenge. Here’s a simple test you can do at home:
- The Chair Test: Without using your hands and without “plopping” down, sit down in a chair. Then, without using your hands or rocking your weight forward, stand back up. If that was easy – great job! (Now try a lower chair.) If that was hard, your squats need some work.
- The Deep Squat Test (only try this one if the chair test was easy!): Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and your toes turned out. Now sit your bum all the way down to your heels. Can you get all the way down without assistance (awesome!), or do you get stuck halfway (uh oh)? Is your back nice and flat like a plank (awesome!) or rounded over like a turtle (less awesome)? If this is difficult, you probably need help with your ankles, hips, and/or thoracic spine (aka mid-back).
- The Overhead Reach Test: Stand with your back flat against a wall and your feet about 6” away from the wall (knees can be bent). Without bending your elbows, reach your hands straight out in front of you, then reach back toward the wall. If you can touch your thumbs to the wall without bending your elbows, you’re doing great! If that’s difficult, you need some help with shoulder mobility.
These are just a few simple ways to see how your body moves. If you’re moving well, you will definitely benefit from adding some strength training to bulletproof those movements and make sure they don’t go anywhere! If you’re having trouble, start with some basic stretches and mobility routines, then slowly add strength training.
If this all feels overwhelming, don’t worry! You never have to do any of this alone.
There are loads of videos on YouTube (check out the Power Plant Gym YouTube for inspiration) if you’d like to go it alone. Or if you want guidance, just hit the “Free Intro” button at the top of this page or click here to set up a chat with a Power Plant Coach. We’d love to hear about you and your goals and help you find the best path forward.