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Follow in the Right Footsteps

Follow in the Right Footsteps

One last thought about injuries. A few weeks ago I pulled a muscle on the top of my foot. While I would like to say the strain happened while I was pushing myself to the ultimate limits of fitness during some type of uber competition, I can't. I hurt myself on a recent weekend trip to Los Angeles where I spent hours walking around shopping, going to museums and, even though I know better, trying to look cute by wearing trendy, uncomfortable shoes. I know. It's lame, and as a fitness professional, I know better. Your members might not.

The chasm between what the public knows and what we think they know is wide. Heck, most people can hardly identify their bicep let alone know what to do when it comes to injury prevention or muscular-skeletal imbalances. For many, just the words “muscular-skeletal” is a cue to tune out as a fitness professional ventures into scientific mumbo-jumbo speak. But don't let them. They need our help. And occasionally, even we need our own help (I did learn my lesson though).

While I understand that wearing poorly constructed and fitted, flimsy-heeled shoes while walking the streets of Pasadena, CA, for four-plus hours is a badly supported (pun intended) idea, to many of your members it's normal. It's what they do everyday. And they see absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's the same lack of knowledge that drives your long-time and loyal member Joe to wear the same pair of running shoes to the gym each and every day — since 1978.

As fitness professionals, we do more than just get people fit. We educate, inspire and drive clients and members to become better versions of themselves. Although incredibly rewarding, most in the industry would agree that accomplishing this is no easy task — especially when a member gets hurt and either gives up on exercise all together or refuses to modify his/her current fitness regime resulting in worsening an already bad injury (both are equally bad situations).

I can understand their frustration. Clients work hard — running mile after mile, logging set after set, only to have one fall or misstep (or poorly chosen sandal) take it away by keeping a member off his/her feet for an extended period of time. But, if they don't, weeks of recovery could turn into months or even a lifetime of limited activity because a body's warnings (namely pain and discomfort) weren't heeded.

By not talking to our members about injury and how to deal with common strains, sprains and pains, or showing clients exercises to help them avoid pain in the first place, we are hurting not only our members, but also our business. Injured members are members who give up on exercise and stay home. So consider sponsoring a lecture on preventing and treating common injuries. Display large posters with examples of weight-lifting form do's and don'ts in your strength room. At the next trade show or educational event, attend a seminar or two that will increase your muscular-skeletal knowledge, and make sure you share the knowledge with other trainers and professionals at your club. Do what it takes.

And for goodness sake, don't follow in my footsteps. Wear proper footwear and tell your members to do the same.

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