One of my first experiences that convinced me for the need for exercise science came during a horseback riding adventure.
In a horseback riding accident, I dislocated my right thumb. I was alone. My pain tolerance was high at the time, so I tried to relocate it. Despite my effort, I could not get the right leverage to do it.
It took me about ten minutes to walk and reach the rest of the group. We were in a remote area. It took several hours by Jeep to reach the nearest clinic. Today, after forty years, I still have some difficulty with my right thumb.
Without the support of the group and the ability to ride a jeep, I am not sure if I would have survived not being able to use my right-hand for several days before I found help.
One cause for the injury was that I learned to ride a horse by watching and imitating.
Today, I can easily spot those who have learned to exercise by watching and imitating. I can also point out the expected results and potential injuries they may expect following that process.
Part of the human experience is related to motion. A structured approach to movement is exercise. There are various forms of structure. Not all of these forms are based on evidence provided by scientific research.
It is difficult if not impossible to find reliable scientific evidence for the majority of exercise types and execution formats most follow.
Most people learn to exercise by imitation that is a natural process. That is how I learned horseback riding.
That is how a species survives in nature – Through observation and imitation. Mistakes threaten survival in nature.
However, humans in most cases are removed from a natural environment. In a supportive society, just like my friends and family in that accident, we could get away with errors that mask errors in observation and imitation.
A child who watches her parents bend down at the waist to pick something off the floor imitates that behavior. The low back pain that shows up years later may slow her down and reduce her quality of life, but it does not threaten her immediate survival.
In an environment that survival depends on sitting, running and jumping, the consequences of any behavior that cause pain and interfere with mobility are felt immediately.
In many conversations, the scientific evidence behind both exercise selection and exercise execution seems to be missing.
Those missing elements contribute to increased injuries, longer recovery time and diminished quality of life, not to mention the frustration that comes through lack of results.
Various scientific approaches try to answer questions regarding human movement and provide the research behind a recommended form of exercise.
Kinesiology, biomechanics, orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sports psychology, rehabilitation, corrective exercises, and occupational therapy are a few of the sciences that provide evidence.
These branches of science may not agree on the interpretation of the evidence but they do provide an evidence-based approach to exercise and getting results faster without sacrificing safety.