Runners World, January 2013. Article by Simon Anderson
The power to transform is at your fingertips!
We are living in the technological age. An age which grants us immense power to learn, develop and communicate – all at the touch of a button. We have keypads to activate our phones, car alarms,and computers… but what about the human body?
We’re often told that we only access 10% of our mind’s capacity. Could the same be true of our own bodies? Is it possible that by the flick of a switch we could access far more power, strength, mobility, agility and performance from our own bodies?
From as far back as 1600 B.C. the Chinese have been aware of the human body having powerful energy nodes that we know today as acupuncture points. These are linked by meridians which essentially function to transport energy or chi around the body. Much like today`s modern technology, they understood the body`s software and how energy could be directed to areas needing support. Now imagine your body as one giant electrical circuit, connecting all your muscles and their related organs. If this circuit were to be overloaded or pushed to a limit , it would blow a fuse. In effect, the body shuts down the neural drive to the muscles in the same way a fuse cuts the electric power to protect itself from further damage.
I am sure many of you can relate to some of the funky ways in which we move to avoid pain. Any injury sets up a compensatory pattern in the body, which essentially means the body must modify movement, while defending the injury. This is nature`s way of protecting us and it does a mighty fine job. The issue is, does the body know when it is time to shift from protection mode back to performance mode. Remaining in protection mode would be like continuing to wear a sling long after the injury has healed. What if, like our home computer, we had an option to reset the software back to factory settings?
Let us take the example of the hamstring and ask, why is it that so many runners have chronically tight hamstrings and how is it that with a touch of a hand this can change so quickly? What if the hamstring is short and tight for a reason? What if the muscle is being asked to do a job it was never designed for? In other words, it is compensating for a short circuit elsewhere in the body. Is it possible, that like an electrical circuit, by finding the fuse box and flicking the right switch; we could reconnect and reactivate the muscles at the root cause of the stress.
Let us try an experiment to get a feel for what can happen when we reactivate the body.Stand up and sit down several times and note how it feels. If in a pair, you could also perform a lying hamstring flexibility test. Next, using the index and middle finger of both hands, rub about 2cm either side of the navel for 20 seconds and then the back of your neck at the base of the skull for 10 seconds. Now repeat the sit to stand movement and notice how it feels. You may notice that your body shoots up the second time. This is because you have released a defensive pattern, which now allows the body to connect to more power.
I suggest that injury and pain is not a sign of weakness but merely the body`s cry for help. Your body is always doing the best it can with what it has. I worked with a marathon runner- who eight weeks prior to her race- had such pain in her Achilles that she was unable to walk After several physiotherapy treatments to address `weak ‘muscles she was given the all clear to start running again. Still in pain, she came to see me and we identified that all the muscles that she’d been told to address through a typical strength programme were still completely inactive. Her body was still running in protection mode and needed a reboot. By activating or stimulating the areas of the body that had been shutdown, this allowed the corresponding muscles and structures to immediately shift. With weeks to go, she not only managed to begin running again, but she completed the marathon pain free and beat her PB!
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