50 years ago, if someone said, "I'm going for a run," you may have asked, "who are you running from?" Now running has become a mainstay in public health thanks to brands like Nike, Adidas, and the Olympics popularizing the benefits of running on T.V. Today, we see a similar trend in how Crossfit has branded high-intensity Olympic lifting. What these two phenomena have in common is a mixture of new developments in sports science, new information platforms (T.V., the Internet) and remarkable branding. So with those things in mind, what will be the next wave of public health and fitness?
Before we explore what might change, let's first identify what will not change. First, human beings will have arms, legs, feet, hands, a torso, a neck, and a head barring abnormalities from birth, sickness, or accidents. Second, human beings need nutritious foods to function. Third, average humans walk, get out of chairs, pick things up, open doors, and carry things every single day. Finally, human beings require rest and sleep to recover. These things won't change, unless we shift to an alternate reality or this is just a simulation.
Now, even if we compare movements an athlete does within any given sport and an average person's daily activities, both groups of people are still using the same extremities to do their work. Moreover, the base mechanics of healthy movement are the same for athletes and everyday people. The biggest difference is that athletes require higher motor control, explosiveness, strength, and endurance specific to their sport.
A great example of this is squatting. Athletes learn how to squat and develop squat strength because it helps increase speed and power in their lower extremity. This is generally good for any sport. How does that translate to everyday life? Well, we squat when we sit down and stand up out of a chair (I know some cultures don't use chairs). A great way for people to alleviate pain who suffer from knee aches and back pain associated with sitting in a chair is to strengthen the muscles that support joints we use when getting out of a chair. In addition, there are mechanical advantages to properly squatting that many people don't realize. That's why some physical therapists have begun teaching squat mechanics in their daily practice. This crossover from sport to everyday performance is just one of the many examples of how elite athletes and normal humans can benefit from similar training.
Other public benefits that will trickle down from the sports science world are nutrition, mental health, and sleep. Athletes and their coaches are at the cutting edge in these fields because it's their job to be. In the past, new developments may have been kept secret as a competitive advantage. Now, research costs are lowering, tools are more accessible, and the internet enables us to find the best information at any time. Plus, once the best techniques are unpacked, they are typically pretty simple and intuitive. A great example of high-quality information being made available for everyday people is the Precision Nutrition Blog. Founder of PN, Dr. John Berardi, could easily save his knowledge for paying clients, but by sharing his research he asserts himself as an expert influencer. In turn, his scientific approach is one of the most shared nutritional resources on the internet.
So today's question is, "Oh, so what SPORT are you doing strength and conditioning for?" Thanks to advancements in sports science and amazing brands like EXOS, we believe the transition from esoteric training method to mass public adoption is just around the corner. We even believe that methods for performance training are the foundation for a public heath renaissance.
"The elite athlete is the beacon that gets all the attention, but those same principles trickle down to how we treat every athlete," said Dr. Ed Laskowski, the co-director of Mayo's sports medicine operation.
To thrive, we must have a solid foundation of mental health, nutrition, exercise, and rest. Most decisions we make that impact those key elements are simple habits. If you are genetically blessed at an early age, you might be able to optimize those habits for sport and become an elite athlete. But if you're like most of us, improving those four areas of life can lead to successful careers, happier families, and healthier lives. The fundamentals are the same, so there's no reason you can't do it too. In fact, you deserve to do it!
We are investing our time and energy to provide coaching similar to EXOS at Arkansas Fitness. In addition, we hope to enable even more people to receive this type of coaching by build products like Strengthen. If you're interested in either of those give us a shout!
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