This article was originally posted a few years back, but we are posting it again as a StrengthCoach Classic to serve as a refresher and so newer members can see it.
Recently I wrote a fairly well received article I titled There is a Reason There is a Box. The premise of the article was that "out of the box" thinking is running out of control and that we need to make sure that we are "masters of the box" before we begin to think outside the box.
A recent conversation with my friend Dan Dyrek DPT added yet another thought to the process. As we discussed the premise of the previously mentioned article, Dan said: "what if your box is too small?" I realized that this was a brilliant slant that I had missed.
I have often criticized the one tool wonders.
These are people who have a very small toolbox yet think they can cure every ill with their one tool. Imagine a handyman with nothing but a hammer in his small toolbox. The visual quickly brings us to the clichéd line "when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." What about when the only tool you have is a kettlebell, or a Pilates workout, or a yoga class.
Any of these tools in isolation clearly gives you a limited toolbox. Personally, I like to have all of these tools in my toolbox. I love kettlebells for swings, split squats, 1 leg straight leg deadlifts, and getups. I love stretches derived from Yoga and groin rehab from Pilates.
I consider my toolbox to be large and well stocked.
Much like browsing the tool aisle at Home Depot, I am always experimenting with new tools. However, I think carefully before I add them to my box. If you look in your box and see one tool, you should ask yourself what you can fix with that tool. If you answer "everything," you probably should think again.
To be honest, we should probably all start with a small toolbox and add tools as you need them. The important point is to realize that you are not yet a master carpenter and that you still need to add quality tools and learn how to use them. The "one tool wonder" idea does not just apply to strength and conditioning or fitness. We often see the same thing in the worlds of physical therapy and sports medicine. Often here we may have more of a "tool of the week" or "tool of the year" approach.
Believe me, it's OK to add ART or Graston to your toolbox. Just don't throw out all the other tools. The real key may be to ask yourself if your box is big enough, well stocked, and has room to expand. An expandable box in this case is an open mind. Well stocked means that you have enough tools but, not too many. Room to expand means room to learn and room to grow.
Some suggested steps:
Step 1. Buy the basic tools that will serve you well for 90% of the jobs you need done.
Step 2. When something arises where your tools don't work, you go buy another tool. Just the tool you need.
Step 3. When another problem arises, you buy another tool. If there's no problem, you don't need new tools. Over time your toolbox will be huge, but it doesn't start that way. This gives you time to master the tools you have before you buy more.