Today’s post will address common myths I still hear and see in the gym, at my clinic and with talking to friends and family. I wanted to address these myths because at one point I believed in all of them. There were so many things that I tried in my life that I now know are not the best possible options in rehab and exercise. I developed this platform to educate people on the best evidence, the best thought processes and the best way to get healthy, stay in shape, rehab properly and empower others to take care of themselves. Here we go!
1. I need to foam roll my IT band because it is tight
The Iliotibial band (IT Band) is a thick, dense stretch of connective tissue running from your lateral (outside) hip down towards your lateral knee. This band is not a muscle, and will not respond in a neurophysiological way that muscles do when you foam roll them. Stop trying to foam roll or stretch your IT band. It is only going to hurt. Instead, try foam rolling your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes to reduce pain or discomfort on the outside part of your leg.
2. I need to stretch my hamstrings because they are tight
As I addressed in my recent blog post about calf tightness, those same principles can apply to your hamstrings. Your hamstring very well may be physically shortened and need stretching to increase ROM at the hip and knee. It may also feel “tight” because of pelvic alignment, perceived weakness and a host of other reasons. Find a rehab professional close to you to help you best assess how to help your hamstrings.
3. My hip is out of alignment and I need it adjusted to put it back into alignment
Joints don’t go in and out of alignment unless they dislocate or sub lux (partial dislocation). Your hip isn’t out. It may feel this way and most people get temporary relief with an adjustment. The problem is when you don’t address the strength and mobility issues that are causing your hip to feel this way. Temporary solutions aren’t bad unless you refuse to address the underlying problem.
4. Ultrasound works
There is no evidence that ultrasound is an effective form of treatment. They have done studies where the machine was TURNED OFF and it was no better than when it was turned on. Relying on a passive modality that doesn’t have evidence behind it to improve your symptoms is not an empowering form of therapy. Some people will argue it has a placebo effect. My counter to that would be this scenario: I hurt my shoulder and I end up needing surgery. Instead of surgically addressing the issue, the surgeon plans on cutting my shoulder open and not doing anything, just relying on “placebo” to think my shoulder got better. Crazy, no one would ever agree to that. I wouldn’t want to give my patients a similar option in therapy. Education and exercise are the two most powerful tools in therapy. Your sessions should reflect most of your time in these two areas, with manual therapy and other evidence led treatments as need be.
5. I have flat feet and hence need arch support
I cannot address everything related to this subject in a tiny paragraph, but I will give one big question for my readers: If you have a foot that is weak and immobile (flat/fallen arch), why would your solution be to give it more support so it becomes weaker and stiffer? Doesn’t make any sense to me, and we have better ways to address this common issue. You can see my other posts and blogs so far on foot health to better address your feet.
6. I have headaches, but refuse to alter my 8-10 hours in poor position at the computer
Most headaches that I see are a result of a forward head position from constant typing, texting, reading, etc. None of these activities are bad for you. But when you don’t utilize all the different forms of motion your head and neck can perform, problems arise. A lot of therapy is exercise but another good chunk is activity modification. If you aren’t willing to consider a standing desk option or more frequent breaks throughout the day, it will be hard to expect not having headaches come back in the future.
7. Deadlifting is bad for my back
The deadlift is a highly technical lift that can produce vast amounts of benefit to any gym enthusiast. Most people run into a problem with it by adding too much weight before they master the technique of it. A common solution to improving one’s technique and getting the most out of deadlifting is altering the lift to one of its many variations: trap bar deadlift, sumo deadlift, single leg deadlift, ect. I will address more of these variations in future posts with the goal of you thinking deadlifting will get your back stronger and is a must in your exercise routine.
8. If I want to jump higher, all I need to do are more calf raises
Try jumping as high as you can without bending at the hips or knees (just ankle motion). You probably got as high as two inches. Although the calf muscles and Achilles tendon are important for vertical jumping, a lot of the power and torque needs to be developed upstream in the glutes and quads. Keep doing your calf raises, but make sure you are as strong as possible in your hips and knees as well.
9. Lifting weights will stunt my kid’s growth
A properly programmed, supervised and well coached training session will aide in your kid’s physical development. There is no research that a strength and conditioning program will alter your kid’s growth. Important considerations for having your kid to start working out include maturity level, enjoyment of exercise and ability to follow instructions. Jumping off the jungle gym at school will put a lot more stress though the legs of a ten year old boy than a properly coached goblet squat.
10. Going on a slow 3 mile run will help build my conditioning when I am in a speed and power sport
Running slow will help you to be better at running slow. Usain Bolt is well documented for never running more than 1 mile in all of his training history. There are far superior ways to build a solid aerobic conditioning base than by pounding for 45 minutes on the treadmill at 5 miles an hour if you are a basketball, football, soccer or hockey player. Stay tuned for more ways how to in future posts and with an announcement this week.
I hope reviewing these common myths were beneficial for you and your family and friends. As stated before, my goal with this platform is to educate people to the best of my knowledge in order to improve their physical performance and success with rehab. Please feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions. Stay tuned this week for the biggest announcement I will have to date. Thanks!
Tom Broback, DPT, CSCS
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