Modify, Modify, Modify: Adjusting Exercise to Suit YOUR Needs

It is so important to realize that not everyone is going to be able to achieve the same exercise regimen, and that is ok. Modifying a move to better suit your needs doesn't mean you are failing. It simply means that you may need to work up to your goal.
Exercise is about adapting.

I've had to take my exercise routine way down to the basics and work from there. Because of my Cerebral Palsy, I start at a disadvantage. My strength imbalance from the left to right side of my body means I have to favor isolated exercises. What is most important with every workout session is the need to stretch. I stretch before my exercise routine every time.

Let me say that again. I STRETCH. Even when I think I am done stretching, I STRETCH SOME MORE. Tight muscles can lead to incorrect form. Strengthening with incorrect form puts unnecessary wear and tear on your muscles and joints. What should have been helpful, becomes harmful.

I tend to focus on stretching my hips, legs, and ankles to counteract my spastic muscles from my CP. I warm up with stretching for at least an hour before getting to the good stuff. It can be boring, but it is necessary.

When I am loose, I graduate to walking on a treadmill. The treadmill is key because although I walk around in public all day long, I subconsciously overcompensate by using the right side of my body. With a treadmill, I have the security of the handrails to keep my balance. Being able to take my time and focus on my form while walking, gives me a more even gait. Because I have trouble walking up hills, the incline feature on a treadmill is incredibly helpful in adapting my body to move in various ways. California seems to be like one massive hill, so training in this aspect is a must.

To combat my body's urge to overcompensate I try to isolate muscle groups during my gym sessions. Any sort of arm workout, like biceps or tricep curls, is done using two different weights. If I have a 2-pound weight in my right hand, I'll have a 5-pound weight in the other. Dedicating specific movements and weight resistance to activate atrophied muscles can help correct a strength imbalance. It can also give your whole body a more even aesthetic appearance.

If you have a strength imbalance like me I definitely recommend
-Leg curls

Another pesky pitfall of my CP is that I don't have total body awareness. A strong core is the best foundation I can give the rest of my body. So that is why I have a love-hate relationship with core workouts. Word to the wise when exercising, be careful you are not activating your abs at the expense of your neck or back.
I catch myself all the time pulling from my neck when I run through assisted sit-ups as if the further I dig my chin into my chest helps me at all.

I stand by the statement that planks are the worst. Even when it was a trend to plank on weird things and post to social media, I wasn't a fan. So, trying different moves and working up to different difficulties has changed my relationship with my body and overall motivation to strive for health.
But just because I never took part in hashtag #planking doesn't mean any of you readers didn't give it a go. What's the strangest place you've planked before? Also, pics or it didn't happen!

Until next time readers…

-Bianca A.

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