You’ve always wanted to try yoga or martial arts but you were afraid you’d get hurt.
No matter what you do, you always seem to get overly sore or sidelined by knick-knack injuries that take the pleasure out of getting in shape leaving you with pain and no gain.
WHY? And how can this be prevented?
In the course of multiple physical pursuits I’ve sustained many injuries before I understood the keys to prevention.
In gymnastics: I broke my thumb, ripped out both hamstrings, tore a shoulder twice, severely sprained both wrists, jammed my ankles and severely strained my abdominals.
In martial arts: I suffered a dislocated jaw, broken hand, bruised instep, severely sprained back three times, dislocated shoulder, foot contusions several times.
In dance: I severely tore my groin, had acute knee tendinitis, concussion and compressed cervical neck injury.
In yoga: I strained my lower back, aggravated a disc in my middle back, strained a shoulder, pulled a hamstring, neck strain and mild concussion.
Lifting weights: Severely strained my shoulders.
Running: Sore knees, hips, back.
From overwhelming stress and lack of exercise: Herniated Disc.
From doing Flashpoint Fitness™ … drumroll please ……….. NO INJURIES.
Looking back I can clearly see that all of my injuries fell within three categories.
A) “I’m just gonna do one more…”
B) “Ego ego and more ego
C) “Who cares about technique, I’m just going for it.”
How to prevent A) “The One More Syndrome”
In any workout or ﬁtness regimen we usually determine ahead of time how many times we’re going to do a particular activity. Sometimes, we try to challenge ourselves so we’re optimistic about the number of minutes, laps or reps or sets of kicks, punches or poses. The mind sets up the structure and the body follows.
And in the course of pursuing our workout goals, our bodies constantly send us a stream of signals. One clear-cut signal that we often hear but sometimes ignore is: “That’s enough.”
It’s good to challenge yourself. But it’s even better to “live to work-out another day.” Think about improving one hair a time, one breath at a time.
In ﬁtness there is sometimes a ﬁne line between “build up” and “tear down.” Connecting the mind and body is a two way street. The mind tells the body what to do and the body tells the mind exactly how it feels about it. It should be an ongoing dialogue of communication. Problems occur when the mind becomes dictatorial and makes a decision regardless of how the body feels. That “one more time” could be the last time for quite a while.
However, if your body signals that you’ve got enough in the tank for “one more time” then focus clearly on technique and do it. But when that instinctive voice inside says “that’s enough,” take a deep breath, and appreciate the value of the work you’ve already done.
How to prevent B) “The Ego Problem”
If you ﬁnd yourself trying to keep up with someone who is at a more advanced level, check yourself, stay within your own capabilities and push to improve gradually. If you feel the impulse to “show off” without warming up, resist the impulse and prepare yourself. Once all systems are go, you can put on a show.
If you ﬁnd yourself trying to prove you can do something you did ten years ago, remind yourself you have nothing to prove. But with patience, you can incrementally build with technique and alignment to be able to do what you’ve done in the past and more.
If you are not physically ready to do something but you want to please an instructor or trainer, stop, remind yourself it is their job to please you. I’m not saying be timid or fearful, just maintain your body-mind dialogue and if you are trying something new or are being pushed, think breath, technique, alignment and step by step growth. Once you try to impress someone else, you often lose yourself.
Your ego can be a motor that takes you where you want to go if it is in control. Self-pride in proportion is valuable and worth cultivating. However, when the ego becomes dominant and is the prime motivating factor for action, take a deep breath, look inward for your true intentions and connect them to your true abilities. Think of ﬁtness as a process and not a ﬁnal destination. A process is always developing, always evolving. You don’t need to rush too fast or push too hard or take giant steps.
Grow a little each day and the ego can still be fed.
How to prevent C) “Technique Shmechnique I’m Going For It”
“Going for it” has become not only the test of manhood and womanhood, but the great separator between winners and losers. The concept of throwing aside all fear and going for it is liberating, empowering and often necessary. It’s the “mindless” going for it that causes a problem for the body that suddenly ﬁnds itself ﬂying without a pilot.
The easiest way to clarify this is to use gymnastics. To just go for a back-ﬂip is insane. But if you’ve worked with someone who is spotting you and you’ve broken down the technique, you have a strong chance of success. The interior monologue might be something like this: Focus, arms up, down, jump, knees, tuck tight, open! Practicing exactly when to tuck, how to rotate, when and how to open and land is critical. The spotter starts with a heavy spot (meaning actually holding and helping), then a light spot (light touching on a strategic area), then a free spot (standing there to instill conﬁdence without touching), then you try it alone.
The ﬁrst time you try a free standing back-ﬂip alone is deﬁnitely a “go for it” moment. But you don’t throw technique out the window. You ride it to success.
Obviously, unless you’re a gymnast, your “go for it moment” won’t be a back-ﬂip. But we mindlessly go for stuff all the time. It can be hiking to the top of a mountain before you’re ready or picking up a heavy box, or trying to touch your toes even though your hands are a foot away from the ﬂoor. Listen to the body, resist an unnecessary “one more time” control the ego, and pick “go for it” moments following the proper preparation. And technique will give you the best chance to come out the other side unscathed.
To your health and happiness.