Thursday, June 13, 2013

30-Day Fitness Challenge - Day 4 - Are You Dysfunctional?

Yes, I missed posting for Day 3. It's not because I didn't meet my Day 3 goal, but because of the crazy day I had yesterday involving moving furniture around, some serious decluttering (working toward a clutter-free home!) and organizing that I spent probably a good 5+ hours on! I slept very well last night. :) And then there was the monitoring of the tornado warning situation and driving in hail... But that's another story.

I just wanted to take some time today to talk about how functional we are. Are you functional? Truly? Do you even know? If you are prone to stiffness, pain or injury (joint and muscles injuries, not being clumsy like me and having your leg hit the corner of the little table each time you go buy, leaving a large bruise), this is a good sign that your body is actually dysfunctional.

What do I mean by this?

Well, have you ever noticed someone walking kind of duck-footed? Or feet turned out even slightly? Or perhaps one foot turns out more than another? Or somebody whose shoulders aren't level or are slumped forward? There are many signs of dysfunction, signs that our bodies aren't in proper alignment.

I think most people have some sort of dysfunction and don't even realize it. I know someone who ended up having knee surgery. For years, he's blamed his knees as just being bad, especially the one that ended up having the surgery. Do you know what I saw when he was walking? One foot turns out more than the other. Guess which knee was the "bad" knee? That's right: the knee on the same leg whose foot turned out more. The knee itself wasn't bad, just stressed. Damaged through years of dysfunctional walking.

These dysfunctions are the result of imbalanced muscle use. What initially causes this can be different things and, really, doesn't matter in terms of fixing the problem. But think of what happens if you work toward higher and higher level of fitness and you have muscles working improperly? Muscles taking over where they aren't supposed to and muscles that aren't doing their part? What happens as you keep strengthening the dysfunctional state?

The muscle imbalance becomes an even stronger muscle imbalance. 
This can and does in many cases lead to some sort of joint, muscle or tendon problem.

There is a fitness place here in town where they do a full assessment of your gait and everything before they put you on a fitness program. They check the dysfunction and target balancing things out before they get you into serious fitness work. It just makes sense to do. Those who start running without tackling dysfunctions are probably at the most risk. And when you think of how many runners have problems with their hips, knees, ankles or feet, it's pretty easy to see that taking up running is detrimental when your muscular system is out of whack. Running isn't the problem; the dysfunctional system is.

I encourage you to check out your own state of affairs. Especially if you are suffering any kind of chronic pain. Have a look in the mirror. Are your shoulders level? Does one turn in more than the other? Do both turn in? What about your hips? Are they twisted? Uneven? When you walk, what do your feet do? Now, you can't just fix all these things by forcing your body into position. Yoga can help (if you make sure to be doing the positions right!). Chiro can help, too, if you follow up with the necessary activity to strengthen what needs to be strengthened and let weaken what needs to weaken. I have found Pete Egoscue's books to be a tremendous help (he also has a website). If you have a local place that does kinetic chain assessment or something similar, that would probably be the best thing to do--having someone who knows what is what and do a proper assessment.

My IT band problems are a result of dysfunction. It would be silly and even dangerous for me at this point, I believe, to get into some sort of hard core program to improve my fitness when I know I've got some serious muscle imbalances. I don't want to strengthen those muscle imbalances! And so, for the next while, my focus will be on "Pain Free" sequences from Pete Egoscue and yoga and some small things to help encourage cardio and strength in my glutes (my glutes essentially atrophied with my 2nd pregnancy and left me in a particular dysfunctional state where working on fitness just led to other parts getting stronger and my glutes staying weak--leading to the IT band syndrome). I finished Day 4 this morning and it's actually amazing how much the short program makes a difference. The sequence I'm doing involves a wall bench. I could not get to a 90-degree angle and last more than 30 seconds when I started on Monday. Today, I was at 90 degrees and held for 70 seconds. It's fantastic!

But enough of my babble, there's a whole day ahead of me to get moving on. What will you do for your fitness-or dysfunction--today?

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