What is corrective exercise?

Mike Robertson

If we had a standard definition, I doubt the term would be the lightening rod that it’s become over the past couple of years.

And while this is the exact topic I’ll be presenting on in April, I want to at least give you a sneak peak into my perspective as to what “corrective exercise” really is.

But first, let’s talk about what corrective exercise is not.

Corrective exercise is not foam rolling.

It’s not mobility work, or static stretching.

It’s not front planks, side planks, or pillars.

Sure, all of those things could be constituents, or pieces, of a corrective exercise program.

But those things, by themselves, do not constitute or encompass corrective exercise.

I’m working on my definition of corrective exercise, and while it’s a work in progress, it’s going to go something like this:

Corrective exercise is an approach where an assessment is used to determine specific weaknesses and/or limitations of the athlete. This assessment drives the programming process, where a systematic and progressive approach is used to reduce the likelihood of injury and improve performance.

Using that definition, what could constitute corrective exercise?

Would foam rolling, mobility, static stretching or core training exercises be included?

If that was found to be a weakness or limitation, absolutely!

On the other hand, the sprinter with super strong quads and weak knee flexors that’s always pulling his hamstring would need a specific approach designed to address his limitations.

The powerlifter that tweaks his back every time he deadlifts needs a different approach.

And the basketball player who is completely healthy but can only vertical jump 20 inches would need a different approach.

In my viewpoint, any component of an exercise program can be considered “corrective” – whether it’s foam rolling, mobility, strength training, stretching, endurance training, it all depends on the person in front of you and how you piece their program together that determines whether a program is “corrective” or not.

In reality, at its root, corrective exercise is really just smart training!

Along those same lines, corrective exercise goes way deeper than just getting somebody healthy: Corrective exercise is all about improving performance.

And if someone can’t stay healthy and train the way they want to, I think you just found out why they can’t improve their performance!

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5 thoughts on “Mike Robertson: What is Corrective Exercise?”

  1. Dear Mike, I don’t think that the term “corrective exercise” fully explains the concept and purpose of the type of programming that you have described. Maybe one word is not enough to describe the full operational meaning of what you are talking about and does leave a lot to the imagination since it doesn’t include the main thrust of the meaning of what you’re talking about. I did and do understand what you meant but there was too much wiggle room in the term and unnecessarily easy to misunderstand. I think the concept of making the performance of the athlete better more directly conveys the thrust of just what you mean by “corrective” I would suggest that you consider using the the term “ameliorative exercise” or even, “ameliorative corrective exercise” would better convey your message.
    As always thanks so much for all the great information you put out there, I doubt that you realize just how far reaching your methods and messages ultimately are. How many trainers and enthusiasts are there out here who say as I do to the other denizens of the gym floor. “Hey, check out Mike Robertson’s site” or “Well actually, I learned this from Mike Robertson. Even the most dyed in the wool Bodybuilders are starting to get the message.
    Sincerely, gene sedita

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