The most simplified description of the management of health I’ve come across was to look at health as the combination and involvement of four pillars. The pillars are nutrition (inc hydration), movement, sleep, and de-stressing. The analogy given was to imagine each pillar representing the 4 legged chair you are sitting on. Imagine the length and strength of the pillars to be representative of how well you look after yourself in that area. When I was asked to look at it like this I realised I had become a little lazy in my approach or one-eyed perhaps. I am great at looking after my movement, and nutrition, and I do try with my sleep but work prevents that from being optimal, and de-stressing doesn’t get looked at at all. Kind of weird considering stress and lack of rest are my prime issues and my inability to regulate them on all levels have created my biggest downfalls. Like the mechanic analogy, I seemed to do a better job of seeing dysfunction in others and dealing with it than with myself. But until I went through this exercise, I couldn't see it.
When people start talking about recovery they commonly refer to sleep, stretching, foam rolling, massage, recreational activities that bring joy etc. Often the most basic skill of staying still and relaxing, deeply, is neglected. I think this is because most don’t know how to just be still. It seems at least 80% of people who’ve reached the top of their field, whatever it may be, chooses meditation as a method for self control, stress relief, and self development. Every athlete has some type of ritual and a style of self talk that helps them stay relaxed and focussed. One of the most defining differences between a trained athlete and an untrained individual is the speed at which the athlete can completely and totally relax. It isn’t something they were born with, like any skill, it’s learned. It doesn’t matter the field your in, or the method you choose, learning to let your mind and body relax is integral to high performance.
My personal choice for warming up is by doing precise, rhythmical mobilisations. I’ve utilised a mixture of Dr Cobb’s method (Z- Health), and Scott Sonnons method (IntuFlow). These methods are the most efficient I’ve come across for helping muscles and joints heal and stay healthy. Using these methods seems to provide enough stimulation to facilitate healing, without producing aggravation. Essentially what you are doing is re-educating your nervous system, utilising restoration of joint mobility as the mechanism. The main idea with these systems is that, to make quick change in pain, you need to work on the nervous system as it is the fastest responder in the body. This is done simply by encouraging movement. Movement in all directions, and importantly, pain free. This creates fast change. I strongly recommend you check these guys out and choose a method that resonates with you. Really, what you need to take from them is the principles. You can make rhythmical mobilisations out of a lot of movements and traditional stretch positions simply by making them more rhythmical.
Scott Sonnon describes technique as a bowl and discomfort as akin to a crack in the bowl. The effort the technique requires is analogous to the flow of water into the bowl. The effect of the crack is expressed in the leakage of power, potential, and practice, one experiences as a result of poor technique. Pain inhibits. And the pain doesn’t need to be related to the movement whatsoever to create inhibition. Inhibition of motivation, activation, force generation, stability, power, etc. People often train with injured or painful areas, say a sore shoulder. Then they leave the session with new back pain. Why am I falling apart?! Everyones been there. Why does this happen? Well physically, the body will do all it can to avoid pain and compensatory patterns start very quickly. What most fail to do is listen to the attempts of the body to communicate to you that something is wrong and to stop.
The intricacies of motivation, particularly the motivation to be and do better, and why some people just don’t have it, will always perplex me. It seems such a natural human instinct to not only want to survive, but drive, create, and thrive. I’ve loved many sports and intellectual activities and am completely understanding of others who feel differently. What I don't get is some peoples’ general aversion to physical work. I don’t understand how someone can dislike something so innately human, purposeful, and meaningful as expression via movement. I want to highlight the mechanics of motivation, why it works for you and fails you, and provide a structure to stay motivated. Hopefully this’ll result in some stickability to your chosen ‘movement program’.
There are people who are just slow at picking physical things up, but it’s visible that they try, it’s visible that they’re listening. They just struggle as their nervous systems aren't as developed as others. Bad learners however are this way because of their mental approach. From the word go they are away with the fairies, looking at everything but the coach, taking in everything but the lesson, and then telling the coach whats going wrong with their movement and body before they give the coach a chance to actually speak. On top of this they seem to like to choose mid-movement as the time to analyse and critique their own form, completely destroying the flow of movements that don’t offer the time to think, and visualise themselves doing it whilst doing it! Finally, and most annoyingly, because the approach is so, poor rep after poor rep is repeated again and again and again. Yet the expected result is improvement! Einsteins definition of? These habits are totally defeatist, they lead to poor self talk, low satisfaction, low self esteem and more. The hard thing is, bad learners are often unconsciously bad. So, here are some pointers to help become conscious, and become a good learner:
CrossFit is hugely popular with females. The variety, fun, and obvious metabolic effect attracts a lot. Plus they get to lift heavy and not be stared at like some unsightly beast ;) The things I love about training females is that they often seem naturally more efficient with their movement, they are naturally more mobile, and their attitude to progression in general is much more sensible. This ability to maintain efficiency, and the general size of females allows them to handle much more volume, and less rest between sets and between workouts. There is also a definite a preference to really nail something before moving up in weight, something a lot of males could learn from. All of the above, makes for easy coaching. There are however some significant roadblocks to be aware of and to work through...
In some ways, I hope you get injured. Why? Injuries are the most informative loss you can have. Most competitors will tell you they learn more from they’re losses than their victories. That’s understandable. Not many people analyse why the won, they just celebrate. Likewise, not many analyse why they are injury free. But when someone loses, they investigate the hell out of every step they took to find out where they went wrong and how they can improve. Then do everything in their power to come back better than before. That’s the never give up attitude that sees a competitor make it. Unfortunately for a lot of people who get injured, that’s where the analogy finishes.
At TSR, we understand one size doesn’t fit all. We alter programs for the individual. We are honest about our abilities and refer when we can’t fulfil someone’s needs. We keep it fun! Recently I read some very interesting research on ignorant and incompetent people, and something coined, the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The Dunning-Kruger Effect basically highlights the idea that we are all in various stages of denial about our own level of skill and expertise, and importantly, that the more incompetent and ignorant one is, the higher the level of denial. Ignorant and incompetent people are basically terrible at knowing and understanding their level of incompetence and ignorance. They actually think they’re awesome.