Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

For those of us who enjoy dark humour The Darwin Awards were launched in 1993 to commemorate individuals who have helped improve the human gene-pool by removing themselves from it under extraordinarily idiotic circumstances.

Previous winners are rumoured to include a martial artist who fought a lion, two drunk gentlemen who crashed a stolen plane into power lines and a high-flying executive who in attempting to prove his office windows were unbreakable, plummeted 24 floors to his doom.

In somewhat less tragic circumstances there are many people (including yours truly) who have removed themselves, temporarily and permanently, from the field of fitness through their own birdbrained actions.

Picking up an ego-driven injury by lifting weights beyond our capability, trying to keep up with a workout partner or attempting a gymnastic exercise because it looks cool are stupid ways to derail progress but at least we get instant feedback as to what went wrong.

The problem with many fitness-induced injuries is they are not noticeable straight away. Typically these niggles accumulate over time through poor exercise selection, bad biomechanics or excessive overuse until one day we wake up with a chronically degenerated shoulder, knee or spine.

The human brain does not manage delayed consequences very effectively!

Our physical training should make us stronger, fitter and more resilient yet many workout regimes end up achieving exactly the opposite (pushed along by the internet’s need for novel exercises and the marketing sway of punishing workout schedules.)

Sometimes bad stuff can happen but if we shut out the noise and refocus our attention on a few simple concepts the odds of injury rearing it's ugly head should fall in our favor.

  • Choose sensible exercises which honor our joints natural ranges of motion
  • Cut out momentum and perform exercises at a smooth, controlled tempo
  • Avoid the excessive use of a single exercise or movement modality
  • Allow time for muscles and connective tissues to heal between workouts
  • Progress performance one small step at a time, not one big leap at a time
  • If in doubt aim to be slightly undertrained versus slightly overtrained

Remember, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.