All of life is about balance. Injuries take place when bodies get out of
balance. Athletic and life burnout take place when we spend too much time in a state of tension. With regard to the previous point,tension is the opposite
of relaxation. The Chinese defined balance as yin and yang, in electricity, we call it positive and negative. Success in life and training depend on your ability to balance times of tension with relaxation.
Please read this carefully if you are a ‘type A’ person. Being goal driven is great, however, there have to be moments when you take your foot off the accelerator, or else you are heading for a breakdown. You will never get the results that you are looking for if you don’t learn to balance tension and relaxation.
Movement starts in the brain. The actual mechanics of it are way too complex to summarize). Briefly, it starts with a goal or intention. The brain now needs to interpret this into a series of movements. The intention might be to go for a 5km run: This now needs to broken down into millions of movements.
Signals rush up and down the spinal cord. Muscles fire in the most profound
symphony. Nerves in the skin, muscle, fascia and five senses respond by sending back huge levels of information so that the brain can judge the next step.
On this point, let me comment about those that state that we only use 5% of our brains. We don’t. Movement requires your software (brain), IT connections (nervous system), and muscles/bones (hardware) to work to the max. I am convinced that those who quote that we only use 5% of our brains, do so out of personal experience!
A stressed nervous system realises that a slack/relaxed muscle is a weak muscle. In order for the body to respond to a fight or flight situation it needs to keep muscles tight. By tightening the muscle to the shortened length, the nervous system ensures that the muscle will be able to engage quickly as necessary. This works well when you face a situation where you are forced to take flight or to fight. However it is unsustainable over the long term. This is one of the reasons that massage and other relaxation techniques are so important.
Correspondingly, relaxation starts in the brain. This means that the brain needs to be coaxed into a state of rest. This does not include imagining the day ahead at work. It does not include thinking about your next workout. As you do that, the body immediately begins to brace itself for what is ahead.
So, here are some suggestions –
– Get into a quiet, warm room- a cold room will cause some of your
muscles to increase tone in order to keep yourself warm. It’s one of the
reasons why you need to be in a warm environment.
– Tense all the muscles in your body.
– Inhale deeply, thus increasing body tension.
– Now exhale slowly and let go of muscle contraction.
– Imagine your body growing really heavy with your feet, legs, torso, arms and
head all being pulled into the ground.
– Now imagine your body becoming light.
– You can repeat this a few times, as it is a process to bring the body into a
state of relaxation.
Last few observations.
Those that learn to recharge properly will have far more energy for times of
pursuit and action.
– We live in a stressful age. Learning to relax will help you adapt to that
stress and come up with winning strategies.
– Take a day off per week from training.
– I often incorporate a little bit of craniosacral therapy at the end of a body work session. Getting the brain/spinal cord/body to relax like this might just be the tipping point for someone trying to get rid of a tightened iliotibial
Take care, and take a deep breath.