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Assess for Individual Success

Column #6 25th November 2006

If we are to make a success of training to make ourselves happier and healthier, then we must know exactly what it is our own body requires.  To ensure that we do this we must assess and evaluate our current condition.

What sorts of things should we assess (physical)?

Health Screening, Body Composition, Aerobic Capacity, Strength and Endurance:  These are all important components to assess and typically include blood pressure, body fat percentage, oxygen uptake and 1 repetition maximum tests.  They help identify our general health levels, consider medical conditions, indicate weight loss or gain requirements, determine sport specificity and are important in setting training intensity, volume and frequency.

Posture: Whether an in-depth assessment or enough focus to raise awareness, attention to your posture will help build a body free of aches, pains and injury.  The body is designed to be stacked upright with all its structures in place, where joints can work efficiently.  Occupations often distort this and our posture suffers, leading to overworked, tense muscles and wear and tear at the joints.  Many problems such as painful ankles, knees and hips, bad backs and necks and even headaches can be improved by correcting postural defects.  For 30-60 seconds a day try standing straight upright against a wall.  It may feel awkward at first, but you are re-educating your body back to good standing posture.

Muscle length tension testing: Bad posture is often accompanied by muscles that are too tight or weak.  Testing muscles throughout the body will identify which ones need stretching and strengthening.  With this information, a corrective program can improve posture and enhance movement for daily and sporting activities.  If we continue with unconditioned muscles we will lack efficiency and could be prone to injury.

Functional Movement Screen: ‘Functional Trainer’ is a big believer in learning from the body.  It is designed to move in an integrated way, so it is important to assess its ability to perform successful movement.  This can be done by looking at key functional movements like a squat or a lunge.  Any imbalances manifest themselves in a compensated movement pattern.  Basically the movement is limited or compromised in some way.  Some of the best work in this area looks at the body in all the 3 planes of motion in which it moves and determines which are successful and which are in need of some work.  When we consider that even walking involves all 3 planes, the importance of this ability hopefully becomes clear.

The Core: Assessing the core has become a buzz phrase in the industry in recent years and opinions are divided on it.  Whether your core strength is tested in isolation or in integration it is key that we appreciate that without a strong core we will not be able to stabilize our spine to provide a solid base for movement.  Those of us who took part in this year’s Great North Run will especially appreciate the level of impact our body has to deal with.  If we have an unstable pelvis then we could suffer from conditions like tendonitis, shin splints, excessive pronation and various joint problems.

So, to increase your performance levels in next year’s run, to avoid injury, or to just increase your vitality and health, make sure you investigate the best ways to assess so as to achieve individual success.

Jack Walton
Written on Wednesday, 01 December 2010 21:12 by Jack Walton

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