By Philippos Kyriacou and Dan Giordano, Physical Therapists at Bespoke Treatments
It’s amazing to think that the people of New York City now consider their workouts an integral part of the social scene — as much as sampling the latest cocktails at the hot new bars, and scoring a table at the most talented new chef’s restaurant. It’s important to point out that this hasn’t replaced our social activity, but has added another dimension.
With the crazy hours and stress in our work lives, it's understandable that people are constantly looking for an outlet to wind down, relieve frustrations, or awaken senses that are dormant during the work hours. This means that we are living an “always on” lifestyle that really stresses the adrenal system, and often exercise is the only way that we can get the added endorphin rush and adrenaline kick to make us feel awake and energized.
Our body is a complex integrated system of beauty that instinctively repairs or adapts itself. When one area of your body becomes injured or shuts down, everything in your body compensates for that injury. Not to mention, these breakdowns make the body less efficient. This on top of the constant attack on your system can lead to adrenal imbalance and breakdown, because your body doesn't have the resilience it needs on a cellular level to repair itself.
High performance athletes take care of their bodies. If you want to continue to improve your athletic prowess, performance longevity, and overall health, you too need to take care of your body. Working out is just one part of the equation — attention to detail and correct movement patterns during the workout are JUST as important as the intensity and duration of the workout. The recovery and extracurricular attention pre-, post-, and between workouts is just as important as the frequency of the workouts. Finding a balanced approach will leave you feeling emotionally energized, physically prepared, free of any pain, and protected from future injury.
Preparing your body for exercise
Warming up will increase blood flow to the muscles (delivering the nutrients and oxygen needed for a quality workout), boost nerve conduction to the muscles (helping with your speed and coordination), and stimulate synovial fluid — the liquid that lubricates and protects your joints from wear and tear. A well-executed warm up will fully potentiate your body for a high quality workout every time — no matter what actions and demands are ahead, without any danger of injury or compensation.
Most of us work out before work (which means we are going straight from a sleep state) or after work (which for most of us means long periods of sitting and inactivity), so it is very important to get blood flowing to the muscles that have been dormant for the long period of inactivity. Foam rolling for a warm up is a fantastic way to start this blood flow and get the body prepared for movement. It helps your body decrease tension in the muscles, and loosens up any of the tight muscles/fascia that will be trained that day, as well as giving good attention to any existing problem areas and tender points. Because it is a warm up it is important that you don’t spend too much time on a specific muscle, as long periods can fatigue the muscle, which will decrease its performance potential.
Mobility drills will really help to increase range of motion for improved performance, because the body will be able to explore movement to its greatest capacity. This will allow you to get greater effect from your muscles on an individual level as well as a compound level. When you can achieve full range of motion from your joints, there is no need for a compensation pattern to form, which will inevitably lead to injury.
Once joints have been mobilized, it is very important that they also achieve stability, to ensure that the repetitive stress of exercise and the performance demands don't cause injury and stiffness. The stability needed to maximize performance outcomes and workout efficiency comes from hips, shoulders, and of course the mid section. A series of planks, bridges, get ups, and bird dogs will help activate the necessary stabilizers for an injury free and high quality workout.
Understanding your limitations
Understanding your performance limitations is one of the most important things to ensure longevity and risk of injury. Stressing your system through high intensity and maximum repetitions, while pushing your mental limitations is an important part of any effective workout. Stressing your system in this way while it's compromised because of range of motion limitations, instability, and imbalance is only going to lead to more pain, more instability, and more limited motion — eventually pain will be constant and debilitative.
Just because you have limitations, it certainly doesn't mean that you shouldn’t take part in the exercise class. Just know which movements need more attention to form, and which need decreased intensity or slight adaptation to achieve the same desired outcomes. A good trainer will help you identify these things and cue you to perform the exercise correctly. If you still can’t perform the movement, it is time to address the reasons that you can’t perform the movements correctly (which should be done outside of the class), and modify the movement in the class until you can perform it correctly (which will help you achieve the exercise outcome, but will not put you at risk of injury).
Adapting or modifying the exercise
With the current boom of varied, high quality, and well programmed workout classes, we are exploring movement potential and experiencing athletic performance at a higher frequency than ever before. With this comes the challenge of achieving high physical performance but without risking injury.
Most of us are dealing with imbalance, limitations from old injuries, and common, everyday pain. While we don’t let these things hold us back or exclude us from taking part in workouts, we must identify these factors and find appropriate adaptations and modifications to cut risk of feeding these imbalances, limitations, and increasing pain or injury risk. Remember: Train Safe!
Daniel Giordano received his Doctor of Physical Therapy honors from the prestigious New York University and quickly progressed his professional career in sports & orthopedic rehabilitation at a highly regarded physical therapy center in NYC. His high service standard, quality of care, and outstanding results led him to the corporate world. Dan became a wellness concierge - acting as physical therapist, strength & conditioning specialist, and health coach for a respected hedge fund in NYC. While his work ethic remained strong, his capacity to care and desire to treat and help others was not being fulfilled. It was here that Dan realized that this investment in health should be available to everyone and so he co-founded Bespoke Treatments. Excelling in his field, Daniel has gone on to serve on the medical team at many National Championships, for CEOs, Broadway performers, and professional, NCAA, and Olympic athletes. He specializes in orthopedic rehabilitee ion, manual therapy, pain management, Graston technique, fascial movement taping (Rocktape), and strength & conditioning coaching.
Philippos Kyriacou is a Sport Science and Exercise Physiologist, and earned his degree at Brunel University in London, England. A short and injury filled career as a professional rugby player gave him the opportunity to work with the Elite Player Development Group at a Premiership Rugby team, while also taking charge of sponsorship, new business development, and marketing as the Community Marketing Manager. A spontaneous trip around the world led him to settle in New York City and back to the world of Exercise Physiology, only this time round focusing in the Physical Therapy industry. Philippos is the Yang to Daniel’s Yin, but they share the same treatment philosophy, care approach, and desire to give the highest quality service possible, so Bespoke Treatments was founded.