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'Functional fitness' takes dysfunctional turn as gym injuries rise

Fitness instructors have moves to mimic things we do on a regular basis. But gym injuries are up significantly.
December 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Whether it's lifting groceries or golf clubs, putting a suitcase in the overhead bin, fitness instructors have moves to mimic some of life's more challenging situations. But gym injuries are up significantly.

"Everyone wants to be functional, but sometimes functional can be dysfunctional," said Fabio Comana, National Academy of Sports Medicine's director of continuing education.

Comana says we have gone from quality to quantity in workouts and that repetitiveness creates overuse injuries.

"Energy systems fatigue and when people fatigue, usually they try and find short cuts in terms of how they get the exercises done and usually that leads to some type of dysfunctional movement," said Comana.

Our sitting society leaves our posture rounded forward with our back and neck weak, and our chest and hips tight. Add high heels, and you've got unstable ankles as well. Combine all this with a workout that's too advanced and exercisers can get into trouble.

"They have a tendency to overdo things -- overwork, over-exercise, over-commit -- and in the process, they can get injured," said Breakthru Fitness owner Phil Dozois.

Take common exercises, for example. A push-up to plank while lifting a limb can be an issue because the middle back and glutes are generally not strong enough to support the body. But isolate the plank and then try arm or leg work alone.

Instead of squats with an overhead raise, do squats only, and then arm raises independently. In addition, watch your speed.

One thing the experts stress is before you do any repetitive motion quickly, learn to do the move slowly. If your body can't do it in slow motion, it's an ineffective exercise for you, which can cause injury.

"The faster the music is driving you, the faster you're going to try to get down and up into a position," said Dozois. "Then to ask your body to open up and stay in good alignment when you're moving in a dynamic way, it's just not prepared to do that."

Experts say slow it down and have an expert watch your form. Then you are on your way to add more moves or weight.


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