The Problem I have with “The Biggest Loser”

I have to admit it: When watching NBC’s The Biggest Loser, I always find myself one-part inspired and one-part watching with my hands over my eyes. Let me say up front that if the training team of Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, and Dolvett Quince were to put me through a workout, they’d crush me, plain and simple. They get unbelievable results. They take some of the unhealthiest people in the nation and truly inspire them to not only lose weight but to also change their belief system.

I’m inspired by the contestants who step forward and step on the scale in an effort to regain their lives. Because of what they do on national television, in front of millions, I’m challenged to get myself up off the couch and move, to workout, to strive to be healthy in my own right. The transformations that happen every season are nothing short of miraculous, and I always find myself tearing up when listening to their stories and seeing their transformations at the season finale. There are contestants who, by the end of the season, are literally half the person they used to be. They are exponentially more healthy than when they started the show, typically their family members back home have improved their health, and the contestants have set their families up for a lifetime of health success.

However, as I said earlier, there’s another side of the show that I really struggle with. I watch as these contestants push their bodies to the max without their bodies being able to handle “the max.” When I say that, it has nothing to do with their physical state at the beginning of the show. Obviously they can make it through those first few workouts. Sure, they might puke, but they make it. What makes me almost cringe is that their bodies can’t handle “the max” because they aren’t functionally stable enough to handle it. These clients are completely dysfunctional and unfortunately it seems as though no one is addressing the issue. 

Some contestant end up hurting themselves–they hurt their knee, their hip, maybe their back, perhaps they sprain an ankle–but not because they’re getting trained too hard. Their injuries are because of the missing links in their kinetic chain. Somewhere along the way they have lost the connection from ankle to knee to hip to spine to shoulder, their bodies have started to compensate and can’t hold up under the demand of the workouts. To steal a cheesy line from Top Gun, they’re writing checks their body can’t cash.

Simply put, they need Egoscue!

Most of the contestants have been told that their weight is to blame. It seems natural, right? It sounds logical that there would be a direct connection between someone weighing 400 pounds and having knee pain. But if the pain is only in one knee, then that begs the question: How overweight is the other knee? The same can be said for their hip pain, shoulder pain, and the fact that they continually and chronically sprain the same ankle. I’m sure some have been told that their lumbar herniation is due to being overweight, yet no one asks why only one disc herniated. Do the other discs weigh less? I doubt it.

Our goal at Egoscue is to get to the root of the issue, to fix the posture that is causing the pain and/or injury. Thankfully there are some excellent before/after photos that show us exactly what we need to see.

This contestant lost a ton of weight and looks amazing! However, notice his left shoulder position hasn’t changed. Notice how his knees are still knock-kneed, and we also can’t ignore his everted foot position. For him to get the most out of his workouts, not to mention train safely and decrease his chances of getting injured, his joint positions have to be addressed.

BL 4

Take a look at this contestant. Again, an incredible before/after transformation, yet the knee position remains unchanged. He’s still knock-kneed, and to make matter’s worse his stance has gotten wider, which means his hips aren’t functioning properly and his body feels the need to widen the basis of support in order to stay upright. This is an injury waiting to happen if he continues to train like he did on the show!

BL 1

Here’s one more. Again, she has changed her life! Yet the posture remains the same. She’s no doubt healthier, but nothing has been done to tackle her structural dysfunctions. If she doesn’t currently hurt there’s a really good chance she will, especially if she continues to workout and train at a high level. Just like the example before, notice her knee position. Also notice that her stance has widened as well, and she’s also still leaning to her left in both photos. An overloaded left side (or right side, for that matter) is a recipe for disaster.

BL 2

Not only are these contestants at risk for injury, but Bob, Jillian, and Dolvett are working harder than they need to be. They are building Ferraris on bent frames! When a body is functional, everything gets easier because the movements are more efficient. If these contestants are focused on first straightening their bodies and then strengthening their bodies, they would get much more out of their time in the gym. No longer would the body be spending precious time and energy on compensatory, wasted movements. The body would be moving functionally and efficiently like it is designed to move. The end result is that these contestants would get stronger, faster, quicker, etc. at a much faster rate! My guess (because I’ve seen it in our clinic) is that they would also lose more weight at a faster pace.

Like I said in the beginning, I love The Biggest Loser! I just wish there was posture work along with the gym work.

QUESTION: Are you a fan of The Biggest Loser?