Friday, June 25, 2010

Of dominant paradigms and religious zeal in sports training

In sports training, as in other things, there is a tendency for people who have bought into certain ideas about the best or "right" way to go about things. We don't have to see any data to convince us that something IS actually true. We need only for it to "ring true." Well, I'm hear to tell you that history is repleat with failed concepts that were once dominant paradigms, having rung true to embarrassingly large numbers of people for embarrassingly long periods of time.

Once people adopt a paradigm, they seem to want to cling to it like a security blanket. Any observed failure of the paradigm to explain something around them is either ignored neatly. For example, if you try any of the "new" running forms out there, that are supposed to reduce your injury risk, but despite your best efforts still injure yourself, it seems there is always a chorus of adherents there to explain to you that it's not the form that is the problem... It's you!

It's a little like going to your church service, being bitten by one of the poisonous snakes your congregation likes to handle (I'm just sayin'...), and having the congregation stand around and watch you die while they shake their heads and lament your lack of faith!

Yes, it's clear that strong adherence to particular paradigms have such a strong belief in that paradigm's power to explain reality that it could be considered a kind of quasi-religious zeal.
Hey, learn our method of running and running won't hurt anymore!
What? You tried it and got hurt? Well, you have to work into it slowly! Try again...
What? You tried it again and now you've got a different injury? Well, you must be doing something wrong! Try again...
What? Again? >plugs ears with fingers< La la la!  I can't hear you!  La la la!
Sounds just like, "if you're not feelin' it, it's because you just don't have enough faith." What a bunch of crap. I don't care how you do it, if you jump up from years on the couch and start running around the block regularly, you are likely to have a physical injury/issue or two crop up. If you change your form, same thing.  When you put stress on things, they have a greater likelihood of breaking. It's that simple. There is no magic way to do it that will solve all of everyone's problems, as some of the zealots would have you believe. Still, I think it's probably correct to say that some approaches may be less likely to lead to certain types of injuries over the long haul.

Despite what the zealots of one persuasion or other tell us... There is more than one way to skin a cat (note: I do not really condone skinning cats...  much).

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