The Wimpy Weight Lifter describes a case study pertaining to a man in his late twenties, Matt, who had suffered from bilateral shoulder tendinitis due to power lifting.
His physical therapist, Lisa, had prescribed him an exercise program directed toward the upper back muscles to alleviate the painful pull of his muscles. Matt believed the exercises were too easy, but performed them in the gym anyways. Matt received negative criticism about his prescribed workouts, and reverted to his old routine causing more pain. He continued this cycle of returning to the old routine after gaining small improvements with the prescribed workouts; and ultimately felt defeated. Matt’s suboptimal compliance to his prescribed exercise routine was caused by a combination of the self-efficacy theory, punishment stimulus-response due to performing the exercises in the gym, and validation support from peers that he admired. Matt’s suboptimal compliance seems to be caused by the self-efficacy social cognitive theory.
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This theory explains the level of success a person would feel while performing an activity. Past performance and social persuasion play into this theory pertaining to Matt’s situation. “When his shoulders began to feel a little better, he returned to the gym, convinced he could resume his regular workouts” (Rotella, 1998, p.169).
He believes he is able to complete his old lifting routine successfully after a few days of his new program; regardless of the pain that will soon resurface. Beyond that, he listens to his gym friends when they talk about his new routine because he “trust them because they’ve reached the level I want to achieve” (Rotella, 1998, p. 169). Matt is susceptible to social persuasion because he wants to be where his friends are in the lifting community. The stimulus-response that appears to cause Matt’s suboptimal compliance is punishment. A punishment stimulus response is present when a person experiences discomfort or pain after a behavior is committed which then decreases the possibility of is recurring again. Matt experiences this when “the talented lifters, whom Matt admired, began to make negative comments about his new program and questioned Matt’s commitment.
Matt’s adherence to the rehab ended abruptly” (Rotella, 1998, p.168). He felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by the comments, which led him to overruled his pain and revert to old ways. This discomfort made him decrease his prescribed exercise, and feel like he then needed to be where he used to be athletically. Matt’s social support greatly effects his ability to follow through with his prescribed upper-back routine.
He has received validation support from fellow gym members that he admires. Validation support is based upon how a person compares themselves based upon their state of mind, thoughts, and difficulties that they face to confirm what they’re feeling is normal. Matt’s friend, Darryl explains to him that “you ain’t gonna make it unless you learn to push through the pain” (Rotella, 1998, p.167); which is the opposite of what his physical therapist says.
Darryl implies that he too, have been able to push through the pain to become as experience as he has been in the power lifting community. He validates Matt’s feelings of that they are normal for lifting, and that he needs to continue and not listen to his physical therapist. This then causes Matt to feel like his friend is correct, which results in him returning back to his old routine, even after repeated breaks with the prescribed exercises. This case study showed prime examples of validation theory, punishment stimulus-response, and the self-efficacy theory. Matt sustained a shoulder injury due to power lifting, and when he sought after a physical therapist’s help; he ultimately disregarded it and believed he could perform his old exercises along with his peers. He felt embarrassed for the light exercises he was prescribed and felt as if it was not benefiting him; therefore he returns to old ways regardless of the pain. In the end he needed a more effective source of motivation from peers and himself.