As an OT and certified strength and conditioning specialist, people are always asking me what’s the “best” exercise they should be doing – the one that will help prevent injury, make them stronger, and improve performance.
My answer might surprise you. But first I want to tell you about one of my long-term clients.
A Case Study
This client, who I’ve been working with for several years now, is very healthy and fit. He first came in for treatment for tendonitis in the elbow and wrist. He also had recurring minor injuries to the knees and shoulders. This is someone who is healthy and exercised on a regular basis.
Why is someone who exercises 4 or 5 times a week always chasing injuries and unable to get stronger?
Lack of variety. The “best” exercise and the best way to avoid recurring injuries is to have variety in your fitness routine. Seeking the “one exercise you should be doing” can do more harm than good.
Once we got my client’s tendonitis treated, I performed a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) on him. The FMS assesses total body mobility, body control, and strength and can be an indicator of risk for injury. Needless to say, the screen showed room for improvement. It was clear that there were holes in his exercise routine and he was paying the price.
Fast forward a dozen training sessions and a revised exercise program – with a wide variety of exercises – and his FMS score improved 25%! He’s now able to run faster, lift more, and exercise for longer periods without injury.
How To Apply This In Your Training
We all get stuck in ruts and just do the exercises that are most familiar. It’s normal to use the same muscles in the same way over and over while neglecting other muscles and movements. But it can lead to a plateau of strength, endurance, and movement.
Research shows that changing up your routine is the best way to increase strength, endurance, movement quality and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Don’t fall into the trap of a “one size fits all” exercise that some coaches will try to sell you on.
If you’re really looking for a way to perform better across the board, keep an eye on this space for details about something that’s launching later this month that you’ll want to check out!