Why You Should Avoid Isolation Movements

What is muscle isolation

Definition:  Isolation exercises are movements that involve one joint or one muscle group rather than multiple muscles and joints.

First of all, there is not real isolation. We must understand that the body is not made up of individual pieces, like a robot, but it is build and suppose to function as one whole unit.

If you tried to drive your car (which is designed to function with 4 wheels) on only one wheel what would happen? There is no balance, you can’t. If you train for it you might be able to, sure, but your car was designed to work on 4 wheels. Or driving it without the engine, no matter if everything else is perfect, your car will not go anywhere.

So why do you think that flipping a tire without using your hips (tire flipping doesn’t come from the shoulders), punching that bag without putting your body behind it (all the way from the back foot) or run without using your upper body (including your arms) as well, is the “correct” way to do things?

It might be fast, but the body is not designed to work like that. And that’s where many injuries come from.

Weak muscles?

There are instances when certain muscles become weak so we are advised to isolate and train that specific muscle. That’s not a bad thing of course.

But the question is why did that muscle weaken in the first place? Leaving aside situations such as fractures which lead to weaker muscles, muscle dystrophy, In many cases it is the incorrect use of the body.

If we don’t use the body how it was designed to function, as one whole unit, certain parts of the body will grow weaker.

Sabotage!

Your body will always, always try to find ways to sabotage, to make it easier for itself.

Example #1:

Many people walk with lumbar lordosis (excessive inner lower back curvature). Why is it that we feel more comfortable doing that?

It is easier to just “sit” on the vertebrae, which just stack up and support the body as a pillar, than using the core muscles (the mid section of your body) to keep a correct posture. The body looks for finds ways to make it easier.

The result:
– weak core muscles – they don’t work anymore (which makes it more difficult to keep from curving the lower back)
– poor posture – as a result of weak core muscles and poor habits
– lower back pain – again core muscles
– shoulder pain – poor posture because of weak core muscles
– injuries from lifting and carrying – because of weak core

And the list can go on as the body is interconnected. You body is as strong as your weakest link.

The links I made here are just scratching the surface. There are other muscles which don’t work as they were designed to.

Example #2:

If every time we stand, walk and run we distribute more weight on the right side then that side will work more (and also wear out faster) while the left side will gradually grow weaker.

Again the body is supposed to work in balance and as a whole unit.

Strength vs technique

Using strength to flip a tire or do monkey bars is impressive. But it’s just the surface. We don’t see what actually happens with the shoulder, the deltoid muscles, scapula, shoulder joint.

There is a lot of tension and strain if we don’t put the body behind it: abdominal muscles, hips, legs (in tire flipping). You see this all the time, as so many of us focus on flipping many times and fast. We forget to actually pay attention to what we are doing.

Throughout the hundreds of articles I wrote there is a pattern, a common element. That is: Go Beyond The Surface.

Once you get it right they you can go for quantity and speed.

To truly be strong and powerful train and use your body as one whole unit.

alexandramerisoiu
Alexandra Merisoiu, The Body Engineer, is the Founder of The Merisoiu Technique - Institute Of Health And Human Movement and Dracula’s Retreat. She is also a qualified Low Back Pain Management and Prevention Exercise Instructor and REPS registered.

She specialises in working with runners, beginners and advanced, who want to run faster, further, with less effort and fewer injuries. This is done through natural movement fitness and running technique and mechanics drawn from the many disciplines Alexandra has studies throughout the years, including long distance running.

Since 1995 she has explored how the body and mind works. She has done this through using many different sporting techniques and working with a wide variety of highly respected coaches. Throughout her Martial Arts career she has achieved 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate Shotokan, runs her own Karate club and is IJKA 2017 triple World Champion, 2016 WMO Martial Arts British National and European Champion. She still competes at an international level.

It is through these learnings, and drawing inspiration from respected natural movement names such as MovNat, IdoPortal and POSE Method of running among many others, that she has created The Merisoiu Technique and has established her own unique transformational programs that incorporate thousands of years of knowledge with Natural Human Movement.

Alexandra’s mission is to challenge the status quo of how to achieve the truly strong, fit and powerful body a runner needs to perform at their best level. This is done through building strong, lasting foundations in the natural outdoor environment; reducing the risk of injuries and educating people on the power of the fundamentals of natural human movement and running mechanics.

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