Monday 3 June 2019

Injury or Adaptation? Post1.

One of the reasons that we are so successful as a species is our ability to adapt: to environment, to circumstance and to the demands made on our bodies.

A simple example is starting a new job or activity that requires heavy lifting. This will result in some body discomfort for a short while but soon the body strengthens the most often used muscles. The body will add extra fascia on any structures that need strengthened. The body adapts.

I noticed another example at the massage course I have been running recently. The course is uncertified, but designed to give people a feel for how fascia systems work in the body. I teach them to look/feel for adaptations that are so powerful they pull the body out of shape. We then learn how to manually correct that tension.

The students always remark on how demanding the hands-on treatment is. Many are themselves in good physical shape, strong athletes who can run far and fast, they can be fitness instructors yet they find an hour of massage demanding to perform.

They have trained their bodies for their own chosen skill and it has adapted. They are often dismayed that they don't have the same strength that I have and wonder at my stamina. I too am well adapted for my activity, I would not be so strong at theirs!

When we move, exercise and train our bodies, we are encouraging them to adapt to the demands we put upon them. The human body adapts very well. This allows us to develop skills and strengths.

As I see it there are 2 problems with adaptation.

The first is if that adaptation/training is not balanced. Then the strong structure will pull others out of place and strain the opposing structure.

An easy visual analogy for this would be an old fashioned tent. Imagine the guy ropes on one side being a thick strong rope elastic and the other side being little elastic bands. Clearly the elastic bands will be under tension, they would be the painful muscles, they would be the muscles that tear.

The second adaptation is about how we adapt to injury and fail to unadapt. More about this in the next Blog.

It is important to mindfully work towards a healthy balanced body. If you spend your working day at a terminal, shortening the front line of your body, make sure you do not choose only to train in a way that encourages this front line tension. Things like cycling and boxing will encourage front line tension. That is not to say they are bad activities. Like all they have merits but be aware of  their impact on your body and that you need to put some effort into balancing this if you are to be wothout injury. 8 hours in front of a terminal and an hour of these activities will cause a lot of adaptation that cannot be counteracted with a 3 minute stretch.! Try yoga, dance, acro, learn to handstand, climbing - anything that opens up the front of your body.

My advice always is to choose an activity that undoes the negative impacts of your most trained activity (remember that sometimes a sport involves repetitive activity). Once your body is balanced, you can do what you like.

Enjoy living in it!

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