Become a Control Freak

This morning I was watching a video of a workout that a friend posted which consisted of multiple rounds of high rep complex movements.  There was a few people doing burpees, and the ones that were still actually doing them (the others were completely exhausted and stopped) were flopping down, barely jumping backwards, spines all curved and loose and then had to modify their position through their hips and knees every single time to get back up.

This is a common theme in our industry and what most people pay for.  It’s high impact, you feel exhausted when you’re done and for many people they love the group atmosphere and consider it fun.


I don’t even want to imagine 50 types of burpees.  This is the typical type of workout that exists today, and constantly creates dysfunction and injury. 

Now here’s a fun little exercise for most of you:  stand holding onto something, lift your leg straight up in front of you without bending your knee and try to get it to 90 degrees (most people won’t even be able to do that).  Hold it there.  Then rotate your foot out and in and see what happens.  How long can you hold it up there for?  I’d imagine it was seconds.  And during those seconds the leg was shaking like a leaf or you had to lean over to compensate either in your trunk, neck, hip or all three.

In my opinion the way that strength work should be applied is under CONTROL.  This means if you can’t control the way you’re moving – especially under loaded conditions – you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  Athletes are an exception because they have to do it for their job more often than not and are highly trained to withstand the impact or have resources in place to minimize the damage.

For the average Johnny or Susie Q desk worker, this can have really awful consequences.  People don’t actually have any strength, then participate in high impact, movement based heavily loaded (and yes, your body weighs a lot and is a load) exercise.  Then they wonder why their joints break down and they deal with chronic ongoing situations like “my back hurts” or “I can’t move my neck today.”

Now before those people who love these workouts jump in with “it’s fun!” and “it motivates me.” I understand that.  All I’m suggesting is potentially adding something into your routine that encourages more control over your movement so maybe instead of barely being able to hold your leg up in the air, you can hold it for a period of time.  Then that joint might be able to generate more tension in its’ muscles – which means you get to DO MORE!  And, have the added bonus that your body will be okay with it.

straight leg hold

Holding this for 10 seconds can help establish hip control and engage your muscular system.  Try it lying down too.

I can run through these exercises in about three minutes, and you can too once you learn how to do it properly.  Three minutes daily isn’t a big investment but can reap long benefits over time.

If you’re one of these people who has had recurring injuries over and over but still wants to participate in activity you can, but at some point you have to acknowledge that maybe your approach needs to be adjusted because you’re constantly getting hurt.  This is where establishing control can really help.

Can you improve movement by not moving?  Of course you can.  In fact, if you think about it by establishing control over NOT moving, you’ll be better off when you do move.

So what I’m encouraging all my followers and clients to do it become control freaks some of the time.  Before you run into your next group fitness class or sport, take the time to establish some control over your joints and establish if they are likely to be there when you need them.  This can be as simple as assessing your available range of motion and seeing how the muscles respond.  You can even use it as a warmup for what you want to do.

If you find that your system isn’t responding well maybe you’re better off waiting to do high impact activity until you’re ready.  This doesn’t mean don’t exercise, it means MODIFY OR CHANGE IT.  This is something I do with clients all the time if they come in for a workout and I see there is something not working well.  You can do it yourself too.

In the weeks to come I’ll be posting more videos about what I mean.  Feel free to LIKE my Facebook page and follow me @strengthrehabottawa on Instagram.  And you can reach out with questions and comments any time.

Be a freak!  Let me know if you need help.


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