Your Body’s Check Engine Light (06/18/2019)

I attended Blackroll Trainer Education workshop this past weekend at Skill Of Strength. Blackroll is ahead of the industry with their fascial research and products and that’s apparent with the education they provide on self-myofascial techniques.

Mike Perry, co-owner and head strength coach at Skill Of Strength, is the Director of Education for ActiveLife (parent company to BlackRoll) and led the workshop alongside Dr. Stephen Bui, who is CEO of ActiveLife and a board certified surgeon and physician. As a duo, they led us through an educational and instructional day loaded with value I am excited to bring back to ELEVATE.

During the presentation, Mike stated “If you are in pain, do you ignore it? If the check engine light in your car turns on, do you ignore that too?” It’s a simple analogy making a solid point.

A lot of people want to ignore pain they feel while exercising, with a fake belief system that all their “gainz” will be lost. Many plow their way through pain, whether mindlessly or they’re crossing their fingers that whatever is going on will go away, eventually.

Too many people “deal” with the pain they’re in and don’t get evaluated early enough as to why they’re in pain.

This is when we highly recommend an intervention with a physical therapist, massage therapist or any medical professional who manages client pain.

Let’s go back to the car analogy.

If your car is out of alignment, will it fix itself, eventually becoming realigned? Most likely not. Most likely that alignment issue results in some different wear on the tires, the car starts drifting more to one side and the steering wheel isn’t exactly in line with how you’re directing the car down the road.

We aren’t as fortunate with our bodies. Advances in medicine and surgery allow physicians to do remarkable things, like replace parts and pieces in a body like mechanics do to a car. The major difference between the car and our body is we only get one body. We can always bang up a car and get another one.

Taking care of your body should be priority #1. When you are feeling some discomfort or pain, recognize it and make rational decisions on what to do.

Maybe you need to rest more between training sessions?

Maybe you need to remove the negative – the exercise or movement that’s causing the pain?

Maybe you need to find a better coach or trainer who will prescribe a safer exercise routine, based on your specific assessment, skill level and goals? Maybe you need to tell your trainer or coach you’re feeling something wrong when you come in to the gym?

Maybe you need to be examined by a medical professional whose scope of practice is managing client pain?

Maybe it’s time to break out the chainsaw and lop off that part of your body that is giving you a hard time? No, please, do not do this.

If the first car you ever bought was the only car you would ever own, would you have taken care of it differently? Would you have maintained it better?

The body you’re in today is the only one you’re ever going to have. What can you do to take care of it?

We suggest the following:

Get enough sleep for you. The general suggestion is eight hours, but that doesn’t work for everyone. I have been reading and listening to sleep experts and the trend many sleep experts promote is 90 minute sleep cycles. Four cycles is six hours, five cycles is seven and a half hours and six cycles is nine hours of sleep. With a 3 year old and 1 year old, I’ve been aiming for 3-4 cycles and getting by, but I know it’s not enough. What I can’t get overnight, I try to make up for in naps when I need it. Sleep is one of our most powerful recovery tools.

Eat nutritious foods. What you eat will directly correlate to how well you perform. Eat poorly, perform poorly. Well well, perform well. A nutritious eating plan includes quality proteins from various sources (chicken, red meat, turkey, fish), colorful fruits and vegetables and healthy assortment of fats.

Breathe. We have helped more people clear up shoulder mobility issues and/or restrictions with breathing alone that any other method or tool. Getting people to chill out, relax and breathe properly (rib cage – diaphragm – pelvis positioning and function) resets the body from the sympathetic nervous system (fight & flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest). 

Soft Tissue Work. Fascial tissue (think of this as a wrapping paper or glue that holds all of the body’s tissue together) can limit mobility throughout our movement system if it’s ignored or not addressed frequently enough. Soft tissue work is the use of any fascial manipulation to achieve a release using a number of tools or methods. It’s not necessarily self-myofascial release because we are using a dull object on a precise point but it can be helpful because we’re letting the body know something needs to chill out if it’s overactive.

Foam rolling, stick work, lacrosse balls and other similar tools can provide proprioceptive input and for some people act as entry level bodyweight strength work. Trigger points, aka “hot spots,” are tender points that are asking for attention. Soft tissue work can also help with inflammation. A joint can become swollen because the automatic response of the nervous system is to protect it. You can improve joint health by manipulating the fascia and muscles upstream or downstream.

Soft tissue work is like bringing your car in for a tune up. Do a full body run through and see what areas need attention. Work on those areas, see how you feel and ask yourself, “Do I feel better, the same or worse?”

If you bring your car in for an oil change every 3,000 miles, consider spending an hour doing full body soft tissue work every 30 days, as preventative maintenance.

We suggest performing the following routine when coming in for a training session at ELEVATE:

  1. Do a breathing reset for 8-12 breaths. We suggest crocodile breathing, 90-90 wall breathing or a variation that works best for you.
  2. Target soft tissue. Do a quick run through your body. Spend 30 seconds to 60 seconds per area. If the area feels fine, move on. If you get a targeted response, and make a face that looks like my 1-year old trying to poop, or the angry emoji with the “&$!#%” across the mouth, you might need to spend some more time giving that area some love/hate.
  3. Light stretching and movement preparation.
  4. Train!
  5. Regeneration. Take 10 deep, diaphragmatic breaths before you walk out of the gym. Time to tone down.