I am always surprised by how much I learn every year about my own body and what it needs to stay healthy. After many many years of training I thought I had most of it figured out. Nope, far from it. Every year I learn just how little I actually know about maintaining my own body to meet the constant demands I place upon it. A couple of years ago I was about to give up my two passions sprinting and heavy lifting in the gym. I was done. I couldn’t lift my arms above my head as my shoulders hurt so bad, my Achilles gave me constant problems and my lower back and hips just didn’t want to play ball anymore. I was could do limited track running and I had modified my entire gym work out.
Bring in 2014. Probably one of my best years for feeling healthy and strong. I haven’t got back to my best on the track due to a few little niggles however, I did get through some pretty intense training. As far as my gym goes its been one of my best years in a long time. I went back to very conventional old fashioned heavy lifting. I squatted my heaviest weights in 10 years and had PB’s with my cleans multiple times.
So what did I do differently. I found a new physio. My hip was a major source of pain that I had just accepted that I needed to live with, until I meet Dave. He was convinced even with the small tear in my hip that he could reduce the pain and get me back running pretty quickly. What he told me just made sense. “As a sprinter you are always forward in your hip socket placing large forces in the front of the joint”. He showed me how I was not able to activate my right glute very well which in turn was forcing my femur forward. With minor pelvis adjustments and a few very innocuous strength exercises that I could do at home he had reduced my hip pain by 80-90% after just 3 sessions.
My other big issue was my gym training. My shoulders were so bad that I couldn’t squat anymore as I couldn’t get my arms back far enough to get under the bar. My legs were fine I just couldn’t put my hands around the bar. I have been following Dr Kelly Starrett at Mobility Wod for over 12 months. I have mentioned him here before.The one big thing that I learnt was how stiff I was in my thoracic spine. My spine was so tight that with every exercise I performed in the gym I internally rotated my shoulders to stabilise them. However an internally rotated shoulder is not a stable shoulder.. I will not go into great details here as it may bore you tears. The crux of it is that if your thoracic spine is stiff you can not set you shoulders back in a good position to allow them to be stable. This is where Dr Starrett’s techniques came into play. Its not about stretching the area its about making it more mobile.
Using two lacrosse balls tapped together under your spine and rolling and moving on them for 5-10mins every day I increased my range of mobility substantially. For those that have never rolled on two across balls taped together a word of warning you probably won’t be able to stand it. I also have yoga tune up balls by Jill Miller. Slighter softer and a lot better to begin with. They also come with a handy little mesh bag to use them together or separate. Jill Miller also has some great tips and techniques for maintaining your body.