Considerations in Exercise

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

Exercise programs are performed by lots of people everyday.Whether with a trainer or independently, there are considerations that need to be made while performing any and all exercise.

The following need to be considered when executing an exercise program:

  • Are there any medical conditions that need to be taken into account?
  • Reason for exercises -GOALS
  • Open versus closed chain positioning in exercise
  • How much weight and how many repetitions?
  • Are the joints involved in good or malalignment?

Medical conditions should be screened prior to exercise. Some but certainly not all considerations are heart issues, diabetes, brain (neurological) or vertigo problems, blood pressure problems, breathing limitations, and medications that someone may be on controlling any of theseissues.

Specific goals made by someone are key to address. Depending upon the conditioning and safety of a person, one may start easy and with only the body acting as resistance. As someone progresses from the basics, improving strength requires more weight and less reps while endurance requires more repetitions. This is based on using a percentage of the 1 Rep-Max principle.

Power deals with increasing speed or explosiveness in an exercise. In an open chain activity, if you kick a ball and move your leg slowly toward the ball, the ball will not go very far. If, however, you propel and the leg flies fast toward the ball while the other leg is anchored, more power propels the ball further. Considerations may vary for sport specific, activity specific, general conditioning, or in combination.

Exercises can be done in either open chain or closed chain positions. Open chain is when the distal end of the arm or leg being exercised is non weight bearing in any way. This positioning will call upon the distal bone in the joint to move relative to the more proximal bone. The biomechanics of the involved joints are specific. Muscles contract and pull on the bone that they are attached to in order to move that bone. Kicking a ball with the kicking leg or throwing a ball with your dominant shoulder are examples of open chain execution.

A closed chain exercise for the legs is a squat whereas for the shoulders and arms could be a push-up. The biomechanics involved with open versus closed chain varies and especially if working on sport specific training must be considered.

The biomechanics when the more distal end of the extremity is planted tends to call upon the more proximal bone of the joint to move relative to the distal bone as the distal bone is fixed.

A good exercise program can include both open and closed chain. Each day, a person uses a combination of both open and closed chain activities. One must consider, however, the condition of the joints involved.

If performing a push up, the hands are mounted somewhere between the floor and a wall depending upon the level of exercise tolerance. This position loads the whole arm up through the shoulder complex. If the exerciser has a faulty posture or specific weaknesses in the rotator cuff, this can cause abnormal compression in the shoulder and if done regularly with this issue, the mechanics of the shoulder will falter and place excessive wear and tear on the rotator cuff muscles and the joint articulations.

In the closed chain squat, proper execution is key. This requires strong hips and knees to drive upwards from the squat position. If there is a weakness in the hip abductors or the inner quad (VMO), the kneecap (patella) may not properly glide in its track. This can lead to future issues. Aberrant motions when trying to perform a power move can be injurious.

The neuromuscular system is a complex system that is taken for granted. It begins to develop in utero and matures as we mature and develop. Strength, power and endurance all call upon the neuromuscular system. The exercises can improve this system’s efficiency and thus allow the body to excel!

Don’t be intimidated by exercise, embrace it! For further information call Fitness Together in downtown Naples at 239.263.9348. We have been in business here for 19 years so give us a call today!

Here’s To Your Health!

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