Making Modifications

By: fitfactor May 5, 2022 1:55 am

Making Modifications

Happy Cinco de Mayo, my friends,

Before I get into my topic today, I want you to look at the picture above. These are my Beach Warriors, as I call them. They show up every Saturday morning ready to put in their best effort and start the weekend with a positive attitude. Their ages range from the mid-40s to mid-70s. They each have different goals, different strengths, and limitations. So, keep that in mind as you read on.

​Earlier this week, I asked my longest client if I could write about him in my newsletter. He hesitated, saying he is shy (yeah, right) and does not like the spotlight (yeah, right). But he agreed after about 10 seconds, as long as he stayed incognito. I respect it, and I am glad he decided to do it. I will refer to him as Mr. A.

I have been working with Mr. A. for as long as I can remember. So I think I know him well. But the longer I work with Mr. A., the more I learn about his body, movements, injuries and limitations, strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, the more we work together, the more we become acquainted with each other, and the more I understand him. Like many of our clients, we have created a long-term relationship. He knows me pretty well too. Sometimes I think he knows me better than I know myself.

​Mr. A. is in his 50s and very active. He runs his own business, likes to play tennis, and rides his bike to and from work every day (it is really not that far). He also spends quite a bit of time working on his yard and enjoys an Old Fashioned or a glass of red wine now and then.

He works out regularly 4-5 times a week, plus all the stuff he likes to do on his own time.

Unfortunately, Mr. A has a few physical limitations: Four disc herniation on his lower spine, a tear on his left hip, a tear on his right shoulder (technically called “labrum tears”), and another tear on his left hamstring! “That’s because of all the stupid things I did when I was younger,” he says. He also complains about “aches and pains” here and there. Other than that, Mr. A. is pretty healthy.

As his personal trainer, I need to keep him fit and motivated so he can handle his active lifestyle. I have to be on the top of my game so he does not get further injured or aggravate the ones he already has. So we modify and adapt his workouts a lot, accordingly and specifically to his needs.

We at Fit Factor can do that because, as Functional Aging Specialists, we understand that everyone is different. Particularly later in life, we are more likely to have experienced injuries, surgeries, or some other event that can, to a degree, limit some of our abilities.

There is nothing wrong with that. And it is not an excuse to stop exercising. Many of our clients have hip, knee, and shoulder replacements. Some had spine or rotator cuff (shoulder) surgeries. Many are cancer survivors. They may have diabetes or pacemakers.

Having an injury or limitation simply means we have to be more mindful of what we are doing and how we are doing it. Working with a qualified fitness professional will ensure that modifications can be applied without compromising a good workout.

What Is A Modification?

A modification is simply a change to an exercise, a regression to a movement, or a substitution to accommodate an injury, inability, or weakness.

Modifications are necessary because everyone is different. Everyone needs a different approach to the same purpose (move, feel, and perform better at life doing whatever we love to do). Even top athletes who have been injured modify their programs. We do not stop exercising. However, we do some things differently.

“I work out. I can still lift heavy. I play tennis,” Mr. A says. “I’m 51. I can push myself and train hard, but I can’t train like I was 25.”

A basic example of a modification is the push-up. For a full push-up, you start on your toes and hands in a high plank position Then you slowly lower your body down so your chest is in between your hands, then you push yourself back up, core and hips first, so you do not compromise your posture and keep your spine safe. But some people need to start on their knees instead of toes. Others might start out doing elevated push-ups and work their way up (or down in this case).

​As another example, someone with a knee or hip replacement may need to decrease their range of motion during a squat or lunge, but they still need to squat and lunge. These are movements required for our daily lives. Therefore, we must master them.

Limitations could be an injury, lack of strength, confidence, or improper cueing.

Make the Workout Fit You, Not the Other Way Around

If someone tries to push you into a cookie-cutter routine – especially if it is painful – stop immediately and look for someone else. There is a big difference between joint and muscle pain. Or between discomfort and pain.

“Luckily, I found a trainer who helps me hit the tennis ball harder. You know, it’s OK to get older. I know I can still do a lot, but I can’t do everything I used to do, nor do I want to,” – he says. – “I want to work out with a fitness professional who understands that as well as I do.”

Here is an excellent article on the subject where Yours Truly had a little something to say.

At Fit Factor, we will assess your condition and individual needs to meet you exactly where you are, and get you started on the best workout for you.

If you have an injury or limitation that is keeping you from exercising, I would like to invite you for a complimentary session so we can discuss them, along with your goals. Then, I will prove that it is possible to have a great workout without pain.

See you soon.