Fun ways to add balance to your workout lifestyle
A very common type of injury most active people will encounter at some point in their athletic career is due to overuse, or chronic repetitive strain. Tissues that become injured due to repetitive micro-traumas, and one day they just “give up” and you are left with an injury. These injuries are usually labeled as some type of syndrome, such as IT band syndrome or Upper Cross syndrome.
An easy way to prevent these types of injuries is to add more balance to your workout routine. This is accomplished by looking at your overall weekly activity schedule and determining the amount of time you spend doing similar motions and body positions. Most people enjoy doing things they are good at. This can add to the problem of doing too many activities that are very similar. Our bodies are healthiest when we are able to do a wide variety of activities with many different body positions. For example, a runner might spend the majority of the week running. Soon, their body will adapt to this type of training by tightening and strengthening certain muscles while other areas will atrophy. A great balancing activity to running would be yoga. Yoga will lengthen the tight muscles used in running and provide your body with new movement experiences.
Your work setting will also have an impact on your physical health. You should strive for variety in positions here as well. For example, a person who sits over a computer for eight hours in the day should avoid sitting in a similar position in the gym, bending over a bike for an hour. Finally, there are some new theories in the health industry about sympathetic and parasympathetic workouts. How this works on a practical level is, if your daily activities are very stressful, you will be spending many hours using your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. When you get to the gym it would be more beneficial for you to do a very relaxing type of workout that stimulates your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, instead of a fast paced, intense workout where you are competing against reps or times. This sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how often your personality will cause you to fill your day with things that are very similar.
It is also common to favor certain movements and avoid others due to joint pain and lack of mobility. Chronic pain and joint deterioration can actually become worsened through lack of movement, and when we move our joints blood flow to the area in increased, allowing healing nutrition and lubricating fluids to move through the affected area.
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Take some time to analyze what the dominant movements are in your day and the factors that may be encouraging one type of movement while limiting another. By taking control of your pain and providing your body with natural building blocks for healthier joints, you will increase your mobility and ability to engage in a wide range of movement that will restore over-all strength and balance.
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