Our culture encourages certain activities as a force of habit, because they are fundamentally good for us. Brushing your teeth regularly, for example, is drilled into children to the degree that even the most resistant amongst us will be instinctively aware that to go without brushing your teeth for a day or two is bad. We all know that brushing your teeth can prevent terrible consequences. The same should be understood of exercise, and strength/movement training, as we teach it here are KneeStrength, and we want to make it clear that your physical health is as much in your hands as dental care is.
When we know to take care of ourselves…
At later stages in life, thanks to the general awareness of the necessity of brushing your teeth and the dire consequences it can have, when people lose their teeth or have tooth pain they’re all too aware that it could’ve been prevented with more effort on their behalf. At some stage of your life you’ve no doubt heard warnings from an older individual who failed to heed the rules – “Always take care of your teeth, or you’ll regret it.” The same is true for a number of points of human hygiene – when you have bad body odour you know to wash, sufferers of tinnitus might rue listening to too much loud music, even those with poor eyesight (playing into myth) may regret watching too much TV. These are factors that permeate common sense in society, because we all know the effects of certain bad habits.
Yet the same people will start to feel weak in the legs, or complain about knee problems, and will blame natural bodily deficiencies, never considering that there might have been something they could have done. Our society does not encourage the same level of responsibility regarding fitness, and physically taking care of your body, that it does to health and hygiene aspects.While what happens to your teeth is known to be the product of cause and effect, with a massive industry built up to advise on and combat the effects, the body itself, including the make up of your muscles and the way you carry yourself, is considered something personal and natural that we do not regularly monitor or address with the same natural, everyday considerations.
This should not be the case.
Why muscular health is ignored
The human body develops problems because of the way we use it. Walk with incorrect posture and your muscles will become imbalanced, causing your joints to suffer. This incorrect posture may stem from developing a bad habit such as sitting in a certain way, or from circumstantial causes, such as recovery from an injury (even a very minor one, such as stubbing a toe, could have lasting consequences), but whatever the case it can be combated.
The problem is that often you don’t know why you’ve developed a bad habit with your body – and this is why nothing is done about it. Bad habits that have become ingrained are considered natural, and the problems they cause are therefore considered bad luck. This removes all responsibility from the person, and results in a society where we accept our physical limitations in a way that we would never accept problems in other areas of health.
Think about your body the same way you think about your teeth.
The body needs to be taken care of, physically. If you train your body regularly, with the express purpose of improving your health, you will not only address any imbalances that arise, you will recognise when new imbalances emerge. Equally importantly, you will start taking responsibility for your physical health.
Everyone needs to pay attention to how they are moving, and everyone needs to perform exercises that ensure they correct any problems, and continue to move in the correct manner. It would be madness to brush your teeth on the few occasions that you feel in the mood and think you’re doing a good job, and the same applies to exercising.
The problem is the overall attitude to fitness and exercise in society is one of choice. We have a situation where many people exercise (or don’t) for reasons such as wanting to look good, lifting a certain amount of weight or running at a certain speed. Those who don’t exercise avoid it for the same reasons, claiming they just don’t care that much about how they look, or finding no motivation in hitting fitness targets. This type of thinking is too narrow-minded, because fitness should include ensuring your body works properly, to its optimum ability. It should be about taking care of yourself, and paying attention to your body. It should be a healthy habit, not a choice.
Consider the impact if it was popularly understood that the main purpose of brushing your teeth was to make them look nicer, whiter, fresher. If that was the primary function of brushing your teeth, some people would still do it, while a huge number would become very lax on the matter. But we’re well aware that that’s not what dental hygiene is all about. So why do children grow up thinking that way about fitness?
Our institutional bodies don’t make an effort to explore and explain how body movements, and strength training, affect your long term health, mostly because they don’t know and have no incentive (read “selling drugs”) to know. Medical professionals may tell you the causes of tooth decay, high blood pressure, and all manner of cancers, and advise you on how to avoid these, but they don’t make it clear to the everyman that the way your body moves, and the balance of your muscles, is something that’s in your hands too.
We want to make this clear to everyone.
If you believe brushing your teeth every day will prevent tooth problems, then also believe that doing regular squats with good technique will prevent knee problems. If you take a moment before meals to consider the impact fatty foods might have on your heart, then you can take a moment to consider the position your back adopts when you bend over, and how getting that wrong could cause problems for your spine in a few years’ time.
Doing exercise should be instinctive, a natural part of everyday life. It should be understood by everyone, everywhere, that regular movement training is a necessary component of improving and preserving your overall health. People should exercise as a matter of common sense, not out of reluctant choice. It should feel wrong not to exercise. As people’s knees start to fail, they should recognise why, and offer warnings to the younger generations that you should do your squats to avoid this suffering later in life.