Archive for October, 2011
Your body gets put through the ringer every day. Sitting, standing up, walking up and down stairs, running to cross the street, bending over to pick something you dropped, and hardly ever stretching. Regardless of your daily pattern, you have a DAILY PATTERN. What this means is that you are most likely repeating certain movements over and over again without realizing it. This can lead to muscles being shortened or overactive. Lets say for example that Muscle A and Muscle B help move a joint in the same direction, but Muscle A is the “prime mover”, and Muscle B’s job is to help keep the joint stable during movement. Muscle C moves the joint in the opposing direction. Now lets pretend that something has caused Muscle C to become shortened. Maybe you have a knot, or maybe it is overused and never stretched (happens all the time). If Muscle C is shortened, then chances are Muscle A will become lengthened and will only be able to produce a fraction of its normal force to help move that joint. What’s so bad about that? You won’t notice. That’s the problem. Somebody is going to have to take over for the work that Muscle A is no longer able to do, and that somebody is Muscle B. Muscle B, however, is only built to handle smaller loads, because his job is to keep the joint stable during movement- not to move the joint by himself. This can cause inflammation and discomfort in Muscle B.
So now Muscle B is hurting and achy so you go to your local spa. It smells nice, they are playing soothing music to help you relax, and your massage therapist walks in and asks if anything is bothering you. You say “Yes!”, and you point to Muscle B. Here is where you know if you have a good massage therapist or “knot”:
Your rookie massage therapist is going to unleash his/her wrath on Muscle B. They will dig in and say, “Wow! This one is really bad!” Then they will dig, dig, dig some more. They spend a huge chunk of time on this one area. Two things can happen here:
- The inflammation can increase because they have prodded way too much on a muscle that was already aggravated when you walked in. This kinda sucks for you, but is also a great reason to find a new massage therapist.
- You can feel relief. What’s so bad about that? The discomfort is going to keep coming back, and you are going to end up spending WAY too much money and time on massages.
Why is the discomfort going to keep coming back? Read the first paragraph again and see if you can guess. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Did you figure it out?
A good massage therapist is going to be able to see that although Muscle B should be worked on to help it relax, it is not the problem. Muscle C is the one that caused all of this in the first place! Remember? Muscle C is the one that was shortened, causing Muscle A to leave it’s duties to little Muscle B, who is now screaming in agony because he is overworked.
This happens all of the time with people who sit in front of a computer every day. Do you know anybody like that? 🙂 They sit with their head and arms forward, their shoulders sloped. This shortens the Pectoralis Major & Minor (your chest muscles). If your shoulders start to stay in that sloped position, your Upper and Middle Trapezius Muscle fibers (run across the top of your shoulders and the back of your neck) can become overworked, from holding your head up all day.
Stretching helps a ton. The only problem is that you cannot stretch a knot. So try to find yourself a good massage therapist, or better yet, an Active Release Technique practitioner (ART). Here are some good resources in the Orange County Area:
Wellness Choice Center: Corrective Chiropractic and Massage Therapy, www.wellnesschoicecenter.com
Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez @ P3 Sports Care, Inc: Active Release Technique and Chiropractic, www.p3sportscare.com
Dr. John Saddik @ Spinal & Sports Wellness Center: Active Release Technique and Chiropractic, www.drsaddik.com
Jim Elliott, an evangelical Christian and missionary once wrote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
This really spoke to me and I have been wanting to share it with you all. What’s funny about it is that the more I thought about it, the more I was able to apply it to different things in my life. This is a fitness blog however, so I will try to stay on subject 🙂
What are some things that we cannot keep?
1.) Money. We are all eventually going to pass on from this life. Some of us believe that this is only the beginning, and some believe that this is it. Either way we all agree that once our time on earth is done, our money will be of no use to us personally. So why do we let making money become such a priority in our lives? Of course we have to eat, sleep with some sort of shelter, get from one place to another, and be able to communicate with each other. But how much money do we really need?
2.) Time. Time is limited. You can’t buy time. You can’t create time. Time is passing all the time and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. BUT, we do have complete control of how we use our (spare) time.
Now, what are things that we cannot afford to lose? Let’s start with our health! There are different aspects of our health that are very, very important:
2.) Food choices
Stress: What causes stress in your life? Is it work? Money? Not having a purpose? Feeling down about your health or your appearance? Low sex drive?
What helps you deal with stress? Hobbies? Exercise? Better self-image? Working less? Having more money? Getting your libido back?
HMMM, it sure does sound like all 3 of these things are interrelated! Don’t you think?
Tying it all together…
I cannot speak for anybody else, so I will give you my personal take on this. The reason that this quote spoke to me is because I have always had that thought in my mind, but not in those words.
I don’t care if I die with $1 Million in my bank account or $0.01 in my bank account. So why work like a dog my entire life if that’s not what I want to do?
I cannot create time. So why spend all of my time working a job that I hate to make more money than I need, which causes me stress that I try to get rid of by spending my hard-earned money? What a vicious cycle this is, and I see people doing this every day. So I looked at what is important to me. Owning a home?? Nope. Driving a Mercedes? Nah. All I want to do is enjoy the small amount of time that I get to spend on this earth. How do I plan on doing that?
1.) Live for a long time- So I eat healthy, natural, whole foods that are free of preservatives and other harsh chemicals. I also exercise and stretch to keep my body strong and feeling good.
2.) Experience- I want to experience new people and places, so instead of spending money on owning a house (which sounds stressful), or going out to fancy dinners, or buying wine, jewelry, etc, I save money for traveling.
3.) Keep low stress levels- I avoid stress like the plague. If I catch myself doing too much work when I don’t NEED to, I cut back to a more manageable level. I also avoid interacting with people that cause me stress. I have even had clients that stress me out so much that I had to get rid of THEM!! Negative stress isn’t worth the money if my bills are already paid…
4.) Hobbies- I think that it is important to have something to look forward to. Maybe losing yourself in a book is your thing. That’s what my wife looks forward to at the end of her day; getting caught up in a fictional story helps her to focus on something besides work so that she can wind down. I started taking Jiu-Jitsu lessons a couple of months ago just to do something fun for my cardio. I am having a blast and have found something new to challenge myself with.
So do yourself a favor. As scary as it may seem: take an honest look at your life. Trim the fat. Get rid of any stress that is avoidable. Have you been putting off a goal or project? Do it! Make yourself happy, because today only happens once. I guess all I am trying to say is this: we only get to do this life thing one time. Make the most of it.