I am sure that a 14-hr flight does nothing for your hydration levels, tension patterns or body as a whole. I’m sure that following a 14-hr flight, the last thing you want to do is get off the plane and throw around a baseball, THEN, get back on the plane for another 14-hr round of travel. But then again, I’m not getting paid more than $4 million a year.
My point is that our bodies are amazing at adapting to the stresses we put upon them. Just as Jill Miller says, “Your posture follows you like a shadow” and you can’t shake the shadow no matter how much you stretch or strengthen. If you still spend 90% of your day slouching or sloppily standing on your feet, all the tension patterns that you spent your entire yoga class stretching will be back. If strengthening is more your thing, your posture shadow helps to really cement your tensional patterns in, making sure they will not be stretched away any time soon. Once a sloucher, always a sloucher, unless you do something to consciously make change!
Did you know that it takes only 5 hours for adaptive shortening to set in? Adaptive shortening is when your body’s tissues begin to conform to the shapes you most often put them in. Are you shoulders rounded forward? The hours spent at a workstation in internal rotation probably has something to do with it. You know how your hip flexors and quads are insanely tight? Sitting all day leaves these tissues in a shortened position for 10+ hours a day and your lazy body adapts.
If you’re thinking “Me lazy? No way! I spend 2 hrs at the gym 5 times a week!”, I’ve got news for you. Our bodies are inherently lazy and will do everything they can to expend the least amount of energy. The brain’s job is to consciously arrange our body in optimal positions (least amount of energy required, which not surprisingly is with good posture) and to take our joints through full ranges of motion often. When we get into movement ruts and do the same movements day after day, our body begins to habituate to the new “suit”. 2 hours at the gym will not undo your posture habits, unless you are spending 2 hours uncovering the areas that your body does not sense well and improving your proprioception of them.
Perhaps your regular aches and pains are not because of X, Y, or Z, but maybe there from a lack of movement? Just as your development and growth would be affected by poor nutrition, poor movement affects your body’s soft and hard tissues.
If the Dodger’s were ever to ask me how to help get Brian Wilson and Clayton Kershaw back on the field, here’s my plan of action:
· Focus on pain-free ranges of motion, including dynamic range of motion (SHOULDER FLOSSING, ANYONE?)
· Daily massage, not just by therapists, but also self-massage by the athletes (Yoga Tune Up Therapy balls are perfect for this!). Until people take ownership of their health and body, recovery can be sluggish.
· Seek and eradicate any body blind spots (areas that are poorly perceived by the brain) and work to improve strength or flexibility, depending on the issue.
· Call me. I can help. Seriously.
Though these two athletes are most valuable for their shoulders, they are whole people too! And I bet there are some asymmetries lurking in the joints and tissues below those precious shoulders.