And now, a word about weightlifting

At Egoscue we’re big fans of strength training. We believe first, though, you should restore the postural balance of your frame so you can ensure it takes the work functionally. Here’s a story that illustrates that principle.

A couple years ago I had a new client, a young man who played football at one of the local high schools. He had back pain so bad he could barely run. When he came to me, I did a postural assessment and told him “this will get a lot better but for 2-3 months I don’t want you lifting any weights”. He was bummed, to say the least. But after I explained to him my reasoning, he reluctantly agreed. I told him “Look, I know you want to lift but right now you can’t even stand up without pain.” I had him do a free squat without any weights and it looked horrible, his pelvic girdle was just stuck and one hip stopped releasing into flexion as the other continued so as he lowered his body it didn’t stay centered but listed off to one side. We had work to do.

As our work progressed he did very well and his symptoms quickly improved. After nearly 3 months or so he asked if he could start weightlifting again. I said yes but wanted him to start at half his prior weight, ensure his body was symptomatically handling the demand well, and then gradually ramp back up to his prior weights on his various lifts. Well, at his second week back in the school’s gym they had what is called “Max Day”. That is where the players on the team perform a set variety of lifts and are measured on the maximum amount of weight they can lift. They asked him if he wanted to participate and he said yes. Now remember, he hasn’t lifted at full weight for 3 months and has only been back lifting for less than a week. Here is the email he sent me:

I have some amazing news! This past week has been our “maxing” week and I’ve done amazingly thanks to you and Egoscue. Since the last

time we maxed out, my vertical went up 2.5 inches to 25.5 and I increased 30 lbs. on Clean (to 205), 35 lbs. on bench (to 220), 25 lbs. on incline press (to 180), 15 lbs.

on military press (to 155), and an amazing 75 lb. increase on Squat (to 350!!!). I know for a fact that every single one of these increases can be

attributed to you and Egoscue. It’s the only explanation!! I mean, I’ve been working hard, but my body has never even been close to being

able to get those weights. Now that all my muscles can work together correctly, I’m having much more success! In fact, the junior ahead of me in the

depth chart is now below me in every category!

Thanks for everything! I’m looking forward to our next appt.!

At his next appointment he asked me “how could this happen, I hadn’t been lifting at full weight for months?” The best way I can explain it is this: before, his posture was so compromised that let’s say he could only use 50% of his muscles and their capacity to push the weight in a given lift. Now that he was more functional, he could use 75% of his muscular potential. Was the original 50% weaker from not having lifted at full weight for a few months? Almost certainly. But now he had far more muscle/functional capacity to use when he lifted, so he was FUNCTIONALLY stronger, and that is what counts, right?

So if you are an athlete or just someone who enjoys strength training, if you’ve gotten stuck in your training and can’t break through to that next level, there’s a reasonable chance the problem isn’t because you aren’t training properly or because your diet is off or you’re not getting enough rest. Those things are all VERY important, don’t get me wrong, but you can do all of those things perfectly but if your posture is compromised, there is only so far you can go and your body will not go beyond that point without compensating so severely that you’ll likely develop debilitating symptoms.

The moral of this story is, if you want to improve your performance, restore and maintain your postural balance. It will make EVERYTHING you do more effective, powerful and efficient. That’s true whether you are a 25 year old linebacker playing in the NFL or a 75 year old woman trying to overcome osteoporosis and a degenerative hip.

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