Why You Like Complicated Exercises

file7561270859459One of the standard questions during my evaluation is, “Prior to this episode of pain, what did your exercise routine look like?”

Many times, the answers I get are worn like a badge of honor. “Well Tuesday and Thursday are Power Sculpt-Hop Yoga while Wednesday and Sunday are my Hot TRX-BOSU-lates. Then Saturdays I’ll run 10 miles.”

Once the subjective portions of these evals are done, it’s time for a movement assessment, and sure enough touching toes, squatting, active straight leg raises, etc become the most difficult things these poeple have done in ages. A light glisten will begin to become an outpour of sweat on their foreheads as my patients tell me on their 6th attempt, “I swear I can touch my toes”. Log rolling and crawling seem to have become more difficult than running wind sprints, or a one hour blindfolded, single leg beach boot-camp. But besides pride, why do many of us prefer working on these extremely difficult exercises?


For the most part, a lot of us move like crap. We can’t touch our toes, we can’t squat down, we can’t even step over something without compensating or performing the movement improperly. When the body is told to do these movements, the brain thinks:

  1. Start the movement
  2. Am I doing it proprly? Yes, ok keep doing it, or no, change what you are doing
  3. What adjustments do I need to make the body do to perform the movement correctly
  4. Success or failure?

This third step and the constant adjustments that need to be made due to underlying movement restrictions such as poor mobility and stability are where inefficiencies lie in our movements. To overcome tight hamstrings or poor spinal mobility during the toe touch, our hip flexors and trunk need to fire like crazy and all of a sudden this “easy” movement becomes very difficult, meaning it is not an efficient movement. Squats, which we can do with ease as children and other cultures around the world continue to perform with ease into adulthood, have been modified to become bench squats. We end up having difficulty doing these movements that seem easy and then become frustrated and give up on them. There’s no way this should be so hard, I’ll find something else to do is the typical mind set. And that something else to do is usually something even harder. Something that we think should be difficult.

If something should be difficult, then we don’t feel bad when it is difficult. People become combative and doubtful when you tell them to crawl, yet their exercise routines sounds like the ones above. There is no substitute for a good foundation when it comes to movement and exercise, but these foundational exercises and principles like mobility, stability, range of motion, and balance are simple in idea but are rarely worked on at a proper level. Per Gray Cook’s categorization, these people are over-powered in their performance pyramids, and lack mobility and/or stability.

If we just dumb down our movement complexity, then we will ultimately move smarter.

Always Evolve (your foundation),


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2 responses to “Why You Like Complicated Exercises

  1. Pingback: Educainment 12.21.12 | Mike Scott, DPT·

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