Maybe I’m Wrong About Exercise Injury Risk

Anyone that has read this site in the past few years knows that when it comes to exercise I seek out movements that are kind to the joints and respect how the muscles move. My general position is that much of what passes for exercise today exposes the exerciser to too much injury risk. There is both the risk of getting injured during or immediately after the exercise or years later from cummulative wear and tear on the joints. Treat your joints kind when you’re young and your older self will be grateful.

But maybe we shouldn’t be as concerned about the second class of injuries? The reason is I consider myself a Healthy Optimist. Technology to the rescue. The trajectory of health care progress is impressive and will continue to get better every year. Look at the strides made in artificial limbs in the last decade. I could easily see in 10 or 20 years that replacement parts will be superior to our human parts. Going into a Jiffy Lube like facility for new parts might be common. Throw in lots of sensors and a datalink to a cloud server and we’ll become more and more indestructible.

Bionic man

Photo by JD Hancock

Twenty years from now all those ripped CrossFit athletes will be laughing at me as they strut around with their new bionic shoulders. Kippling pull-ups away! The average barbell back squatter will be lifting 500+ pounds well into their 60s with the spinal replacement. No disc compression with the new Super Spine 3000. And the runners will be able to go endless miles as their robotic joints absorb the energy from every step and redirect it to the muscles.

As the runner heads down a trail, their new parts will communicate to a cloud server which knows their location. The server will send optimized settings for that trail. The squatter’s Super Spine 3000 would of course be able to detect load and adjust for optimal safety throughout the repetition. Even if form suffers, the Super Spine 3000 is always calculating where optimal safety is and makes the appropriate adjustments.

This future world of bionic parts may not come or it may come too late for many. So I’ll still play it safe. But if you find walking and slow HIT too boring, go knock yourself out with extreme exercises. The engineers are working hard on solutions to ensure your later years aren’t spent in pain with restricted movement. YOLO!


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  1. By the way, MAS, the new site layout is great. The spacing between the lines is excellent. Yours is one of the few sites in which I don’t use Readability to reformat for reading.

  2. @Jim – Thanks. I am *mostly* happy with the fonts.

  3. This is sarcasm, right?

  4. @Garymar – Maybe. 😉

    I do think we are going to see amazing medical advances in the next 20 years. Engineers and big data are going to figure out a lot of things. Will those advances come in time? Will they be as great as I imagine? The Super Spine 3000 is likely science fiction, but having “better than human” knees doesn’t seem far fetched.

    One thing I forgot to post was how I do expect is we will start collecting better data that helps us predict overuse injuries. My mechanic can measure my brake pads and estimate the number of miles before they need to be replaced. I expect that someday we will have an app that collects massive points of data and does predictive analysis.

  5. I am an engineer. Seeing how engineers work makes me not want an engineer designed spine, especially the first iteration. ^_^

    It’s not that engineers are awful, just seeing all the human fallibility going into safety critical designs makes you realize just how amazing it is that we achieve relatively robust results. It’s like watching ants. Tiny and seemingly weak, but achieving results that seem outside their capability.

  6. I’ve have older relatives who have had joint replacements – they may be better than extreme pain and disfunction from severe arthritis but nowhere near as good as original equipment that works. Maybe someday that will change. But given the current trends in health care, I wouldn’t assume that the best available technology will always be available to people of average means.

  7. @Craig – In the near term, I am still pessimistic on health care, but long term I see medicine being highly influenced by engineers and real time data. And like all technologies I see it getting better as prices decline. The question is really about timing.

  8. Will this be possible? yes one day.
    Will it be as good as we hope, no probably not.
    will it be available to people of average means, definatley not for a long long time.

  9. @Daniel – When I look at Lasik eye surgery, I get optimistic. It went from science fiction to an expensive reality to dirt cheap in under 20 years. Now if you combine today’s technology and big data to solve other health issues, things get interesting.

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