This really does not have to be complicated. Most injuries are from a sudden increase in activity that your body was not prepared to handle or a repetitive physical stress without ample rest. The way you avoid Physical Therapy or Injury is become resilient to stress.
News flash! You don’t build resiliency to stress by standing on a BOSU ball and thinking you are working on balance.
In order to become resistant to injury your body has to be able to withstand stress. If you have ever seen someone who was bed ridden for any period of time, you can almost see the person becoming more fragile right before your eyes.
Strength training is on the opposite end of the spectrum because it signals for survival and GROWTH. This forces the body to grow stronger muscles, tendon, ligaments, and bones. It also impacts the endocrine and central nervous system as well! All these qualities you would think that strength training would be more mainstream in the public health sector. Essentially it could be considered the anti-old geezer medication or maybe the fountain of youth.....
Working as a physical therapist (and being young, will be 27 next month) I hear patients tell me every day that "getting old sucks!" or "whatever you do, don't get old!". Does it really take an almost 27 year old health professional to tell you point blank that aging is normal? It’s going to happen folks! Cardiovascular disease, muscle atrophy, hypertension, Type II diabetes, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, obesity are all preventable. Yet they are the majority contributors to death and healthcare dollars. So what are you going to do about it?
The McDondalds drive through, watching your favorite tv season on Netflix for the 3rd time, and going to your Doctor so they can prescribe you some meds isn’t exactly a recipe to age well.
Side note: If you are still reading this, I think you may realize how much the title of this article actually pains me. Did I really have to catch your attention by saying how to avoid physical activity (physical therapy) by taking a medication?
Enough ranting, let’s go back to the topic at hand which is strength training. I fully realize that everybody’s goals are different. For the athlete, strength is important for performance and resisting injury. To be clear, you do not have to be big/bulky to be strong (so lady’s, that’s a poor excuse). The average Joe or the aging population, strength training has a multitude of benefits that keeps your mood and body strong and resistant to injury. A study in 2008 by Ruiz and colleagues titled “Association between muscular strength and mortality in men” found that of the 9000 men followed over 20 years, muscular strength was inversely related to death from any cause. This still held true when the stats were adjusted to take into consideration fitness and cardiovascular health.
Boom! Strength wins!
Now for the elephant in the room. Guess what? Strength training is going to take some work. It’s not easy. However, a 2016 study by Giessing and colleges showed that training just 2x per week, 8 exercises, just 1 set to failure actually increased strength. If you are still in the boat of not having enough time. Then I really don’t have the sympathy when you say “getting old sucks.”
If you have never strength trained before, and are intimidated, then it would be a great time to find a trusted trainer or healthcare practitioner who believes in these same concepts which are backed by science and research. Being intimidated is perfectly fine and normal. Most anything of value is going to be intimidating the first time you do it. That’s why when you were a kid, your parents forced you to do things you didn’t necessarily want to do. Find a trainer or healthcare provider that knows what he/she is doing and will take things in stride because you’re going to be in this for the long haul. It’s an investment in your health that can benefit you both mentally and physically, but also financially by avoiding frequent doctor visits and medication bottle refills.
Listen, I get it. I was a collegiate athlete just 5 short years ago. I can’t do some of the things now that I could then. Life happens. Priorities shift. Time doesn’t stop. But how to stay strong doesn’t change!