At Absolute Performance our philosophy revolves around improving movement and getting stronger. From a physical standpoint, there’s not much that being stronger and moving better won’t fix – it’s the closest thing to the fountain of youth that exists.
But why are strength and movement so important? Apart from the obvious benefits of looking better and being awesome, cultivating strength and good movement creates buffer zones.
A buffer zone is an area between two things that serves to mitigate or neutralize potential conflict. With regard to training, this buffer zone serves to separate optimal performance/health from injury, sickness or ailment.
Think of it as an emergency savings account that you only touch in dire circumstances. You don’t need the money for your everyday expenses so you put it away so that you have it to fall back on should something happen where you need money quickly.
If you have an emergency savings account (a financial buffer zone) you have the money at hand should you ever need it – and the funny thing about life is that you’ll always need it at some point.
Likewise, your biological systems need similar safeguards when it comes to performance and health.
Sport and life is, by nature, chaotic and unpredictable. There will always be unforeseen circumstances that put your body in situations that exceed the normal demands placed upon it. It’s important to have a strength and movement reserve to cover these unforeseen circumstances.
Straining a muscle, tearing your rotator cuff or ACL, rupturing a disc in your back – these are all examples of injuries that, for the most part, can be avoided.
But they happen all the time when joints/tissues 1) are put into positions that they don’t have control of or strength within, and 2) have to absorb more force than they are capable of absorbing. Basically, you’ve overdrawn your “checking account” without having the emergency account to fall back on.
Developing a strength and movement reserve (an emergency savings account) to buffer the risk for injury when your body is inevitably put into one of those situations is critical to staying healthy and optimizing performance.
How To Create Buffer Zones
When it comes to strength there are very few people or athletes who are “too strong”. Most people need to just get stronger in the basic movements. Until you reach fairly high levels of strength, getting stronger will have a significantly positive impact on your life – in both health and performance.
In regards to joint mobility, practice your mobility drills daily. Controlling joints through their full range of motion on a daily basis will make you feel great and keep your joints healthy.
Avoid passive flexibility and opt for active flexibility drills instead. When you use your strength to get in and out of new ranges of motion it ensures that your body can control those new ranges. If you only passively stretch (going into a stretch and just hanging out there for a period of time) you will acquire new ranges of motion that you have no strength or control over, which isn’t a good thing. Make sure you can control all ranges of motion by using your strength to pull yourself into and out of those ranges.
There’s no way to know how much strength we need to develop or how well we need to move in order to be durable and live an active and healthy life. One thing is for sure though; being strong, athletic and possessing the ability to move well is never a bad thing.
Continually developing these qualities creates a buffer zone that protects you against unforeseen circumstances – which life always seems to throw at you at some point. Make sure you have that emergency “savings account” of strength and movement quality – just in case.