A Simple Question: How can I continue to exercise and reduce my risk of pain and injury?
This is the question I started asking myself when, at the tender age of 27, I realised that squash and other exercise was doing some real damage to my body.
I was a decent squash player, playing semi-professionally with the odd paid match and some coaching. I had represented my club at national league level and played a lot of squash, starting at the age of 7, and trained with some great players of the game at my club in England.
As early on as my mid-twenties, it was clear that I had reduced hip mobility and this was turning into pain doing simple movements, which eventually went away after a few rallies on court, but would come back to haunt me later as sciatic pain drifted down my leg. My ankle was also becoming a problem.
I was fortunate really, circumstances meant that I started playing less, and even stopped playing for months, even as long as a year at a time. I always came back to the sport though and that I had a fair amount of competence and experience in. But the breaks gave my body a chance to rest.
Things were far from perfect, though. The combination of my genetics, my sport, and my lifestyle up until this point had left me with some postural issues and continued aches and pains in certain areas. As I entered my mid-thirties, it was clear that these problems could easily cause me some serious issues with age.
Ever since I was young, I have always been involved in sport and exercise; my bachelors degree was in Sports Science and I have worked in the fitness industry for about 20 years in total. It is, however, a frustrating industry to be a part of, full of fads, quick fixes that don't work, and a surprising lack of knowledge, especially in terms of human movement. The industry is really based around vanity, not optimizing or improving human movement. Even professional sport is stuck with a dated and misinformed way of trying to improve performance.
Evolutionary Biology was always my favourite subject. I was a big fan of Richard Dawkin's books on the subject, and at present enjoy the evolutionary prespective of Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying. One of their catchphrases, "Welcome to Complex Systems", really rings true in my perspective of training the human body, and with many other aspects of life.
As part of obtaining my personal training license in Australia 8 years ago, I was introduced to 2 key influences; the work of Thomas Myers at Anatomy Trains, and Functional Patterns, founded by Naudi Aguilar. It has taken some time, but after years of study and work on myself, practicing techniques of functional human biomechanics, I now feel like I have some valuable knowledge to give.
On this website I will show you how certain forms of exercise hurt you and how to mitigate this, prolong your career in any sport (whether professional, amateur, or casual), reduce pain, discomfort, and move more efficiently in everyday life.
Why "The Free Trainer"? Well, that's because I enjoy my freedom, especially through travel and exercise. As well as my professional influences, my experiences in different areas of the world have had a profound effect on the way I do things. As I write this, I am with my in-laws in a small village in the mountains of South Korea. The idea of this site was founded in Cairns, Australia, home of the world's most ancient rainforest and next to the Great Barrier Reef. However, I will be based in Colchester, UK, my hometown for the forseeable future (maybe).
The ability to move freely, both geographically and bodily (although the former is at real risk at the moment) opens up experiences you never thought possible and this is all part of the rationale behind this site (not to mention all the free information on this site). Indeed the picture above is from Cape Levique in the Kimberly in Australia after the end of a 11 000Km cycling trip from Melbourne.
The human body is an extraordinary tool. We can adapt to fill almost any niche, but this ability to adapt has a trade-off and that is we are adapting to the demands of modern day life, which are way out of sync with our evolved biomechanics. We are paying the price with chronic injury and pain.
I focus on first improving posture then working on gait mechanics to help people move more efficiently and therefore placing less stress and strain on their bodies. I have bee practicing this way of doing things for the last few years in Cairns, Australia, and will continue in the UK, and hopefully back in Cairns too in the future.
BSc Sports Science and Biology