Happy almost end of the week to all of you! Things have been pretty good in the working world over the past couple of days and we even have hints of a massive snow storm. Then again, we’ve only had *hints* of snow for the last three months. Sigh…
I am always one for experiencing “firsts” and so yesterday I took my first foray into the world of chiropractor treatment. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. As an athlete, there’s clearly a lot of brutality and jolts and bumps and bruises and misalignment bound to happen.
Sure enough, about five seconds into my appointment, the doc said it was blatantly obviously what was going on and that not only was there hope but that the symptoms were easily resolved! YES!! [Note: symptoms involved strained/rope-like feeling just buried in the belly of the right calf, taught Achilles tendon, difficulty running any longer than 40 minutes, which happens to be incredibly important when you’re training for IRONMAN or a half marathon… or all of the above.]
Anyways, in between getting zapped with electrical muscle stimulants and having my neck and vertebrae cracked up and down, I noticed a sign on that wall that essentially said that the three steps to self-care in life are your diet, your exercise, and taking care of your frame (bones, structure, ligaments, etc.) That’s good stuff, and again as someone who puts their body through the ringer, I couldn’t think of a more important example of true self-care, even though I am just now getting around to the frame care part… deep tissue massage only gets you so far. I would also argue that there is a spiritual element to self-care, which is far greater than the three listed, but that is a topic for another time.
- Exercise – ask any advanced level athlete and they will tell you, without a doubt, that crushing it at the gym, getting your swim, bike, and run on, or hurling weights is, in fact, the easiest part about getting in shape. While an overwhelmingly majority of people think that it’s difficult even getting to the gym a few times a week, they fail to understand that exercise is the easy part for someone addicted to endorphins.
- Diet – Hands down, the toughest part about being in incredible shape is eating an incredible diet. It’s easy (comparatively) to lift, hit the track for a speed workout, or go rock climbing. The more difficult part is timing your recovery nutrition, loading your fridge with healthy, power foods full of fiber and muscle-strengthening goodness instead of crappy, sugar loaded nastiness that does next to nothing. Nutrition is the key to building muscle, shredding fat, allowing your muscles to recover, and fueling yourself for the next workout. The smart athlete eats to prepare for the next workout. The silly athlete eats for the sake of face-stuffing. Granted, it takes discipline, lifestyle changes, and a great deal of tact, effort, and control to shift away from greasy bacon burgers, dripping pizza, and ice cream sundaes. Maintaining a healthy balance of eating will reap far more benefits than simply going cold turkey but doesn’t make it easier, plus fruit and yogurt can easily grow on you as a dessert replacement…
- Frame – This is an area I am only barely beginning to understand. I have owned a foam roller for about two years, and have collected a wide variety of muscle-working tools for smashing, mashing, and bashing my tissue back into place. A great analogy from my chiropractor was that just like a car frame scraping over a pothole, our bodies get out of alignment and need to be readjusted. CRACK. Mid-sentence my neck and spine were aligned in a rather sudden, startling, and fantastic fashion. I can’t wait to get everything fully taken care of because it never really occurred to me that alignment is so critical. Since 2011, I’ve participated in several IRONMAN sponsored events, meaning that I’ve been swimming, biking, and running on a misaligned frame, and that each mile twisted me further and further away from equilibrium. Well, there is hope in sight and not only hope, but the doc is confident that there will be huge performance gains with a straight body. AWESOME! Free speed! It has been a frustrating process for me, especially since 2012 when injury ruined my race season, because I feel like I’ve been doing the correct things for recovery, which I have, but misalignment and working at a desk 40 hours a week are a bad, bad combination. Here’s to a great (straight) race season!
Friday is here which means it’s time for weekend shenanigans. Whether you swim, bike, run, or eat your way through the weekend, keep the three tips in mind. Alignment in all three areas makes for a happier, healthier you!