3 Myths of Corrective Exercise: It’s NOT about Correcting Dysfunction

This is a 4-part blog and video series put together by Dr. Evan Osar to help you uncover the 3 biggest myths surrounding corrective exercise and help you create a strategy to overcome so you can help your clients get faster, better results.

Part 1: [You Are Here] 3 Myths of Corrective Exercise: It’s NOT about Correcting Dysfunction

Part 2: 3 Myths of Corrective Exercise: Strength Prevents Injuries

Part 3: 3 Myths of Corrective Exercise: All Clients Have the Same Problem & There’s Only One Solution 

Part 4: 3 Myths of Corrective Exercise: The Solution—Your Corrective Exercise Program System

Hi there, this is Doctor Evan Osar, founder of Fitness Education Seminars and developer of the Integrated Movement System™. Welcome to this 3-part video series on the 3 myths of corrective exercise. Corrective exercise is one of those terms that’s been thrown around the industry for quite a few years (just like “functional training,” “sports-specific training,” “core training,” etc.), and it means a lot of different things to different people. So what we want to do in this 3-part series is actually define corrective exercise and uncover the 3 myths that surround it and muddle the concept of corrective exercise.

Myth #1—Corrective exercise is designed to correct a certain dysfunction.

Corrective exercise is often thought of as a series of exercises: “You’ve got to release this. You’ve got to put the body part in the right area. You’ve got to just squeeze this and activate this muscle. Everybody’s got the same dysfunction.” It’s not about correcting dysfunction.

So what is corrective exercise?

Corrective exercise is a systematic approach to identifying and developing a more optimal postural and movement strategy. Our clients come to us with a certain strategy for their posture and their movement. They stand in a certain way, and they move in a certain way, and often their posture and movement don’t allow them to accomplish their health and fitness goals. Even worse, postural and movement issues often can lead to direct problems, chronic tightness, chronic discomfort, and lack of results.

Our job as corrective exercise specialists is to help identify our clients’ current strategy. We need to figure out the answers to questions like, “How do they stand?” and, “How do they hold themselves?” Then, we need to figure out how that static posture relates to their movement habits, and we need to discover how their posture and movement relate to why they’re having chronic discomfort, why they’re having chronic tightness, and/or why they’re not performing at a level that they want to.

It’s an approach that incorporates things like releasing where they’re holding tension and are gripping, activating muscles that are inhibited, and/or altering movement patterns that aren’t contributing optimally to better posture and moving, and then incorporating these changes that we’re creating in our clients to help them move and hold their posture in a better place so they start to move towards accomplishing their health and fitness goals.

Our clients develop a certain group of habits. They’ve developed habits for posture, and they’ve developed habits for movement because of injuries, surgeries, traumas, and/or things they’ve learned. For instance, maybe they’ve been told to stand up tall, pull their chest up, and pull their shoulder blades down and back. Or maybe they’ve been told to squeeze their glutes as hard as they can, like they’ve got a million dollars between their cheeks, and tuck under, which has changed their alignment and changed how they function in the squat and other movement patterns.

They’ve been taking these habits and creating their posture and movement around them. Some of them are conscious—they’ve learned them, they’ve adapted them, they’ve read about them, somebody taught them to them—and some of them are subconscious. It’s the nervous system’s reaction to not having the proper control, not having the right connection, having sustained an injury, or needing to make a process more efficient.

Our job as specialists, through using this corrective exercise paradigm that we’ll be discussing, is to help identify our clients’ current strategies for posture and movement and helping them develop a more optimal strategy for posture and movement.

It’s not about correction, and it’s not about perfection; it’s about helping them move from where they are into a more ideal place, and that takes knowledge and skill, which is exactly what we’ll talk about in a future video.

Stay tuned for the second myth of corrective exercise.

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10 Comments

  • Joyce. Gardner says:

    All true and well presented

  • Martina says:

    Actually, dysfunction needs to be corrected BUT patients also need to learn how to control the new motor map. That’s the biggest missing link in corrective strategies based on my experience.

  • jason rolle says:

    it is great to learn from someone great about how people function, and lack their of, and how we can help them, thank you DR EVAN OSCAR

  • Walter Quick Sr says:

    One of the best thought patten of corrective exercise or what i call optimal functional performance level for an individual,that i heard in my 36 years of personal training. A thought process well done

  • Natalie Walkley says:

    Thanks, Walter!

  • Ingrid says:

    I like the way corrective exercise is presented. Although, my opinion is that this description is fairly synonymous with correcting a dysfunction, just with more description (improve posture/movement, ideal .optimal strategy for movement, etc. I see that as a further description of what “correcting dysfunction” is. Your description is more understandable language to use when talking with a client, but these things should be in the mind of the fitness professional when using corrective exercise with clients.

  • Joan Thompson says:

    This all makes so much sense, but what I find difficult to grasp though is if you work with the over 60 population it may be more difficult to make postural/biomechanical changes in movement patterns when these patterns have become habitual most of their lives. How can you change that? For a lot of clients this may almost be painful.

  • Ryan Ketchum says:

    Joan,

    It’s most likely a different approach in terms of expectations. In my conversations with Evan it’s about setting those expectations and then making slow progress towards better posture not perfect posture. THose slow changes will create new habits and be less difficult to change.

  • Lenny Hisey says:

    Very helpful information. Thank you

  • Marcy Curry says:

    Pain lives in the brain. There could be so many reasons why someone has chronic pain, check out ZHealth.net to help your clients get out of pain. I’ve been taking their classes for over 8 years and am no longer in pain and I’ve helped so many of my clients get out of pain. I HIGHLY recommend the courses, Dr. Cobb and Kathy are the nicest and best educators in their field. They have totally changed how I train my clients.