Why you should avoid mirrors with exercise…

Prior to opening my own private practice I worked in a few difference settings, and each of those settings helped me learn what I sensed a space needed to be for folks to thrive in. Unfortunately, as it often is the case a great deal of these lessons where also what I learned a space needed to not be.

As it turns out, most of us are fairly sensitive to our environments.

And while there are many things that are very intentional about the space that Google Maps labels Portland Integrative Physical Therapy, there is one in particular that I will point out to many folks that I work with.

There are no mirrors on the walls.

None.

In fact, with the exception of the mirror hanging above the sink in the bathroom, there are no reflective surfaces that can be observed anywhere within that space.

This is completely by design.

You see, when is comes to training the way in which you move and physically function, the using a mirror truly does not serve you all but a few choice situations. Despite how common they are in many gyms, mirrors actually tend to work against you more than anything else.

Why?

Because you are never going to use a mirror for feedback in real life… most especially with anything athletically demanding. Or, at least I hope so… and if you do I implore you to take a cue from the accomplished athletes out there.

You will never see a sprinter staring at a mirror while they dash their 50 meters.

You will never see an Olympic Weight Lifter checking their form while they yank twice their body weight overhead.

And you will with absolutely never see a figure skater, gymnast or high jumper in the middle of the air search for a mirror to let them know their form looks right.

They do not need a mirror, and they do not want a mirror.

They know where they are and what they are doing because they can sense themselves.

The mirror would actually be a distraction more than anything else.

Ideally the feedback that you use to train any movement, activity, exercise or physical challenge needs to be feedback that is going to present and available to you going forward.

Thankfully we have a built-in feedback system to help use perceive exactly where we are, and what we are doing…our senses.

Rest assured, although at times one may need a little bit of tuning with those senses, or even a lesson or two in how to begin listening to those senses…these senses of ours work reliably well.

In fact, arguably we do not need anything else beyond our own senses to guide any movement.

The proof of this is right in front of our eyes in that this is how all of us learned to stand up, walk and interact with the world as little kiddos. That said, while all our senses as a whole work together miraculously well, there are few senses that tend to serve us far more than others when it comes to movement. With that there are a few choice things that most of us would do well to hone in on when aiming to perceive what we are doing… more on that HERE.

Now besides the fact that the feedback a mirror gives you is not anything you can truly build off of or take away with you, there is another problem with mirrors in general.

Mirrors do not show you reality…they only show a reflection.

The do not show you what is actually happening, instead mirrors show the opposite of what is actually happening.

Now, that may seem obvious but it is actually quite profound when you think about it.

The mirrored reflection that you and I have learned to interact with in a regular basis is not reality… it is a flipped reality.

Because of this, your brain has to interpret and translate along a bit more convoluted a manner what it is seeing in any mirror if you are using it to guide a movement. There is an understandable delay…and the translation to the movement when away from a mirror is often times fairly convoluted, and plenty of times inaccurate.

Beyond that, it is important to know that with heavy interaction with a mirror ones self-perception often becomes skewed heavily from reality. This is a fairly poignant for some folks when they see photographs of themselves (which is reality), or gaze at a True Mirror.

What is a True Mirror?

Well, if you want to learn about that, as well as two notable situations where the use of a typical mirror is extremely helpful, not to mention some great options for visual feedback beyond mirrors… you are in luck. Feel free and very much encouraged to watch the video below, where go into all of that…and more.

Why there are very few benefits to exercising with mirrors…

If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.