Functional fitness has made a huge impression on fitness culture in a seemingly short amount of time. However, unlike Jazzercise, functional fitness looks like it is here to stay. I believe this to be a good thing. Instead of just jumping around to dance music (which is one of my favorite activities), or lifting weights to bulk out our beauty muscles, professionals everywhere are attempting to be more mindful of how movement affects our bodies and our minds. They are looking to movements that we do in everyday life, like lifting an object, getting out of bed, sitting on a chair, climbing over an object, and breaking them down to basic levels so that we can perform them optimally. These movements can even be broken down to movements that we acquire during childhood development and how these movements affect brain development.
But today we are asking..
“ Is the bicep curl is still cool?”.
In grad school, the bicep curl was the go to exercise, second only to the push-up. I would rise early on a Saturday morning to get to the gym and see men and boys getting a quick pump up in before hitting the pool in sunny Atlanta. A beauty exercise. Aside from bodybuilding, does this exercise have a place in functional fitness?
It depends who you ask.
If you are a lifetime athlete that has been training and performing upper body exercise for years on end, there is probably not much use for the bicep curl in your repertoire. However, with the trend of functional fitness and let’s just say it, CrossFit, there are new specimens of athletes. More and more people that may have not played upper body dominant sports are picking up barbells and kipping their way to pull up and muscle up victory. (The same trend is happening in rock climbing). People are valuing their health more and more and are realizing that movement (be it functional or what you have you) is essential if they want to continue doing the things that they love into old age. And we are living longer AND healthier.
Check this ninja out:
As a result more and more people are walking into my clinic with elbow tendonitis, shoulder injuries, neck strains, you name it - from their newly found and beloved sport. The focus here is an increasing amount of elbow tendonitis & elbow muscle strains. Think about it; You take an individual who uses their arms primarily to lift their cell phone and wipe their… face, and you start having them do pull ups, push ups, snatches, deadlifts - those tendons just aren’t ready.
So there is a place for the bicep curl?
The bicep curl can be a low stress, safe environment to wake up and condition the elbow and the muscles and nerves surrounding the elbow to begin to take on new stresses. However, as with anything the site of pain is rarely the problem. If people who begin these new sports aren’t using their elbows with proficiency, chances are that they are not using their shoulders well either. If you cannot execute proper shoulder movement, guess who gets punished - the middle guy - your elbow.
As with any new exercise regimen, perfect and calculated form always win the race. Oh, and finding a coach or clinical athlete that will support you in that approach. It is way worth your time and investment for your new found athletic endeavor.
In the meantime you can sell your tickets to the gun show,
Dr. Drwencke is a sports chiropractor, speaker, & clinical athlete in San Francisco. Her posts reflect some of the day to day interactions and questions from patients and clients. Dr. Drwencke strives to empower people through injury rehab and sports performance to lead healthy, productive lives.