The Importance of Routine Maintenance
Everyone who drives a car knows that it needs to be regularly maintained for it to function properly and get you where you need to go. You change the oil every 3-5000 miles, you replace and rotate your tires, and you may even need to have the transmission replaced. It is the driver’s responsibility to take care of the car if you want it work. Maintenance must be done and everyone accepts that. When regularly tuned, the car will function properly and can last indefinitely. I find it very curious that that same principle was somehow lost when in regards to our own bodies.
Routine Maintenance for your Body:
Often I will have clients tell me that they are experiencing low back pain, their knees hurt, or that their shoulders are tight. When asked what they’re doing to treat the condition I am often met with puzzled stares or a response along the lines of “I saw the doctor and he told me to let it rest for 3 weeks” or “My PT is working on it for me”. Whereas these answers aren’t necessarily incorrect, they are subconsciously shunning any responsibility for their own condition. Very seldom when asking a new client about their injury history do I hear “I’m doing 15 minutes of mobility work per day, I did some research and found this great book on back pain, also I have an appointment with my PT in a couple days so we can really see what’s going on”. It’s unfortunate that today it has become commonplace to neglect the care of your body.
Complex Bodies Don’t Need Complex Maintenance:
It’s very simple to agree that in comparison to our bodies, cars are very simple pieces of machinery. But why then do people assume that you don’t need to take responsibility for routine maintenance on your body? I have written before on the importance of mobility and as opposed to explaining exactly which exercises to perform, today’s focus will be on the philosophy and correct attitude to adapt when trying to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
Focus on Moving Like a Human:
Our bodies are designed to move in many different ways for very long time periods. Genetically we as humans are made to move about 16 hours a day. Unfortunately due to modern life, our bodies don’t get to move half as much as they should be and when we do move them, it can often be in a very comprised position, which leads to poor performance and a much greater chance of injury. Working in an office, driving your car, and sitting on your couch wreck havoc on your joints and soft tissues. If you want to live athletically it is your responsibility to undue the damage from today’s modern lifestyle through daily practice. If you want to move well and live a long and active life, you need to be active in taking care of your body. Below are 3 tips that will help you on your way to rediscovering what moving like a human is all about.
1. Alter your mindset to what is important
People rarely wake up and think about the way they move. In your pursuit of movement mastery always prioritize moving from the best position possible, not just while exercising but with all movement you perform. This means learning the most efficient way to generate force while also expending the least amount of energy. Furthermore, focusing on avoiding being in a compromised position is paramount to correct any movement “faults” you may have collected over the years. In order to do this, it takes a conscious effort on your behalf to be connected to your body. Some simple examples of conscious movement are: sitting up straight while sitting, walking and standing with your feet straight, and not extending your neck forward while typing on a computer. Correcting these simple faults can greatly impact how your kinetic chain functions and the longevity of your joints and soft tissues.
2. Learn how to mobilize your body
Stretching for 30 seconds before jumping into explosive movement is a recipe for disaster. Learning how and when to mobilize your body gives you the tools for unlocking your athletic potential. Watch videos, buy books, hire an educated trainer or physical therapist, and talk to your training partners. Actively teach yourself and pursue a higher level of knowledge in regards to mobility. Set up a routine and stick with it and when you feel your movement increase slightly, modify your routine and progress towards a new goal. Always strive to improve yourself and never stop learning.
3. Listen to your body
Here is the big one. Listening to your body is what every athlete chooses not to do, and it’s terrible. If you’re in pain while exercising and the pain keeps increasing as you move, it’s because there is something wrong and the problem needs to be addressed. Pain is your body’s language telling you to STOP! So put down your pride and listen to your body before it’s too late. Our bodies are one of the most amazing and complex organisms on the planet, possessing the potential to heal from nearly any injury if nurtured properly. This being said, our bodies are not immortal and if neglected for long enough you can destroy it in a number of years.
Our bodies were designed to move beautifully, be resilient, have full freedom of movement, and perform whatever task we commanded. It’s your responsibility to care for your body and keep it pain free and happy. Regardless if you are an elite athlete or can barely touch your toes, you can teach your body how to move exactly the way you want it to, you can take away your back pain, and you can even prevent serious injuries with some simple movements. But in order to do so you must pay attention to how your body feels and listen to it when it talks to you. If you want to live a good life, first strengthen the body.
Interested in learning better ways to get in shape and rehab your body? Routine maintenance is important, but it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know what to do! In our group workout classes for strength and conditioning, you will learn how to workout with proper form and how to take care of your bodies. We teach safe movements and mobility drills to compliment our strength work. Interested in joining? Call 310.478.5425 or schedule your free trial class online. You’ll thank yourself for doing it!