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Are you a house built on sand?


WEAK CHASSISPosture problems can scupper the prospects of all new runners.

Failing to build a solid base becomes a problem when starting a new fitness regime

Paul O'Brien

We’ve enjoyed an explosion of interest in outdoor pursuits over the past ten years in Ireland. The west coast is at the forefront of this, with adventure races, couch-to-5ks, charity runs and cycles and many more events shouldering each other on our annual sporting calendar. This is a very positive and welcome trend. It points to an increasing awareness of our need to take responsibility for our own health – physical, mental and emotional.

Too high a price?
As with anything in life, there is a price to be paid if the many benefits of increased physical activity are to be reaped. You must put in the work and be prepared to suffer the, often painful, early stages as your body adapts to the new stress and regime. This is all accepted and well worth the price for a healthier fitter body and mind.
There is another price, potentially, for many of us who take to the streets with aplomb after many years of hiatus from physical activity. This price is often overlooked, but it has the capacity to compound and ultimately cost us far more than we want to pay. It’s the price of failing to lay a solid base.

Poor posture
For those returning to activity after years of often sedentary living, the body has a lot of catch-up to do. Spending much of the day sitting at a desk, driving and slouching at home in front of TV in the evenings can, over time, wreak havoc on the body’s joints and muscles. What follows are the aches and pains associated with poor posture and misalignment in the kinetic chain (the arrangement of the body into segments connected by joints).
If we compare the body to a car, pounding the streets – or performing any type of exercise for that matter – with poor posture is akin to trying to push a Ferrari to 200mph on the chassis of Nissan Micra (no offense Micra drivers). We take to the streets with the minds of 20 year olds but with the badly damaged chassis of someone twice our actual age.

Build a strong foundation
The cumulative effect of operating on a damaged chassis is chronic injury and a severely compromised musculoskeletal system. Despite the benefits we get from exercising, we could also be banking serious amounts of health debt for later life.
The solution is to address the issue before it becomes one. By all means get back to exercise, especially if you are north of the 40-year mark, as studies show it correlates positively with longevity. In addition, seek to correct any postural anomalies you may be carrying. This can be achieved by following a programme of stability and mobility training in conjunction with your exercise. These exercises can be prescribed by a fitness professional, are simple to perform and can be incorporated into a warm-up routine or simple daily programme.
Stability and mobility training will help your joints function as they are supposed to and help you build a chassis that’s fit for the journey ahead. You will reap benefits in your current training, but the real payback will be a long life of uninhibited physical activity, and pain-free and blissful movement.

Paul O’Brien is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise since 2007 and a qualified Life, Health & Nutrition Coach. He is co-owner of Republic of Fitness in Westport. He can be contacted on 086 1674515 or

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