In the era of extreme everything, remember the body is not a simple machine. Well, it is and it isn’t.
We’re seeing a new kind of injury through what I’d call extreme fitness. Those are the activities that make you feel guilty if you don’t push out one more rep, extend that stretch into and through a lot of pain, complete one more cycle of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), or get in one more mile.
While there are best practices for all sorts of training, I believe we need to bring awareness to where we are today, right now, because each day can be different. Yes, we want to push our body and temper that with recovery and adaptation time. The challenge is to know where we are today to build on our best foundation. What if we’re going too hard and too fast way too soon? What if we’re simply not changing our routines enough?
I am not a believer in “one size fits all.” It doesn’t make sense to me. I am a believer that there are activities that best fit each of us and that often changes as we age. When we have flexibility in mindset, there is flexibility in performance.
While we are designed to be physically active, I do not know if we are designed to undergo extremes on a regular basis. And “extremes” means different things for each of us.
In my generation we’re seeing the results of degeneration related to repetitive trauma from lifting weights as gym rats in our 20’s. It was all about the weight and sometimes, perhaps often at the expense of correct form. Same thing goes for those who played contact sports. There’s a cumulative effect of impact that is balanced with the many life lessons gained and joy of organized sports.
So what to do? As BJ Palmer said, “Life is motion and motion is life.” We want activity. A couple of reminders if I may:
- There is a difference between good pain and bad pain. The discernment is made through internal awareness. Good discomfort is where you are pushing at the edge of your limits, bad pain is exceeding them, going too far, creating wear and tear. If you are tuning in and undistracted in your activity, I believe your body will innately tell you the difference. Then it’s important to listen to what it’s saying.
- Ask yourself, “Where is my body at today?” We come to each day in a different point of time. Some days we’re rested, happier, ready to go while other days perhaps it’s the opposite. The saying that “the body reflects what the mind is on” is true.
- While daily activity is life-supporting, check in and make decisions on where you are today. If your body is telling you not to push out one more burpee while others cheer you on, who knows best? If you’re taking the last ski run at the end of the day when tired, guess which run it is that blows your knee out? If the stretching pose you’re doing just doesn’t ”feel” right, perhaps your body is telling you to let up on it a bit today. Tune in and always work with your discernment.
- Look at your form. Be present and focus on what you’re doing. If you have poor form are you really gaining the true benefits? Especially at the end of an activity, is it really going to be helping or hindering you? Be it yoga, running, cross fit or golf, are you patterning an asymmetry, and poor movement patterns? Are you compensating?
Something to think about.