Walk into any gym, and you’ll notice a plethora of gym-goers sporting a variety of gear: belts, shoes, sleeves, straps, and the list goes on. While all this gear might seem like a flashy way to show commitment, there’s a more fundamental question to ask: Is this piece of equipment genuinely helping or merely masking a deeper issue? Fear not, dear Lumos fam; we’ve got a simple rule to guide your gear choices.
The Golden Rule
So, what’s the cardinal rule when considering gym equipment? It’s this: “Does it improve a position or does it cover up a sensation?” Let’s break that down.
1. “Improves a position”:
This essentially means the equipment, in some way, helps change the setup or angle of a movement(s) to reduce unnecessary stress on your joints. By doing so, your body doesn’t need to make compensations or adjustments to achieve the desired range of motion. You’re simply aiding your body to function at its best.
Example: Shoes. For many, investing in a good fitness/crossfit/”flat & firm” sneaker does wonders. By reducing the squishy wobble of a normal running shoe, a Nano, Metcon, etc. will immediately make your positions better and easier to achieve. Weightlifting shoes go one step further. These gems are designed to provide stability, support, and an elevated heel. They allow you to squat deeper without compromising form or by having the joints of your knee, hip, and back make up for the reduced range of motion in your ankle. This makes them the most prominent example of equipment that “puts you in a better position.” If you’re considering investing in gym gear, weightlifting shoes would be my top pick.
2. “Covers up a sensation”:
Gear that falls into this category generally masks or shields you from pain or discomfort. Instead of addressing the root issue, it’s like putting a band-aid on a crack in a dam.
Example: Knee sleeves. While they offer warmth and compression, they can often act as a crutch, masking pain signals. If you’re constantly relying on knee sleeves to get through a squat without discomfort, it might be time to address the underlying issue rather than covering it up. Hence, they earn my award for least favorite piece of equipment.
The Gray Area:
Life is rarely black and white, and neither is gym equipment. Some gear doesn’t fit neatly into our binary rule.
Example: Weightlifting belts. A belt can be a game-changer for some, offering lumbar support and helping brace during heavy lifts. For others, it can act as a crutch, covering up pain and joint disfunction. The key? Use it wisely and understand its purpose. Gymnastics grips can also fall in this grey area- while they can give much needed grip help, sometimes they can “over-help” and lead to people being able to hang onto a bar for longer than their shoulders or epidermis can handle.
Fitness journeys are deeply personal, and what works wonders for one might not be ideal for another. When considering gear, always circle back to our golden rule: “Does it improve my position, or mask a sensation?.” At Lumos Fitness Collective, our priority is to ensure your workouts not only make you stronger but sustainably stronger for a loooooong time. So, gear up (or don’t!) and live to lift another day! 💪🌟