Thursday, 2 August 2012

Body control, cookers and hair dryers

Not looking pretty. Or easy. Showing lots of imbalances.
There comes a point where you are pretty happy with the way you are, your performances in sport, yet there is always that niggling doubt about how much better you *could* be. Training plans get written, you get a bit faster, lactic training, hill training, strength training, aerobic and an aerobic thresholds looked at and analyzed.

But what if you are missing something? Something that is simple, yet, if you don't have it, you compensate.

I had an assessment recently, a functional movement type thing. In the past I have dabbled a little with pilates and found it, well, not easy as such, but certainly not impossible. I could quite happily move myself as the instructor wanted and make the shapes necessary.

This time in the assessment- 1-2-1, the movements and functions were easy. I did what I always do and muscled through them. Then I started getting poked and prodded in different muscles which were being used to keep me in position. Muscles which should have been relaxed.

The long and short of it is that although I appear to be strong, and have muscles, they are firing in all kinds of crazy compensation patterns which enable me to look like I am doing the right thing, but in fact I couldn't be further from what I should be doing.

What is interesting is that people tend to go to physios for assessment when they are injured, when something hurts, not because they "walk funny". I saw this person at the "walk funny" stage- which is quite rare.

So, comes the task of re-educating my movement patterns. Its not that the muscles aren't there, they are, but my brain isn't activating them in the right pattern. If I do any gross movements, the old "wrong" movement patterns immediately kick back in. Slow, easy, balanced movements.
This isn't just learning how to balance on one leg, its like trying to learn how to walk all over again, but with other muscles that are trying to kick in to compensate without even being asked.
At the same time, I still have all my faculties, so I can still walk, run, cycle, climb, lift weights etc. But the more I do that, the more the old movement pattens get ingrained.

One of the problems is that I can't even feel the muscles I'm meant to be using. Its like having the volume control of everything turned up to 11, and the things I am listening for are somewhere below a 1. Very difficult and frustrating.

However, as the physio said. If I can get this working, if I can make these muscles work correctly and move better, rather than compensate, my power, speed and control will dramatically improve.
If I don't, I'll still be able to run etc, but at some point, a small injury will bring me down, and because that muscle is being used for more than it is meant to be used for, that small thing will have catastrophic consequences.

As an analogy, if you have a cooker and a hair dryer and you use the cooker to eat *and* dry your hair, and have no concept of how to use a hair dryer to dry your hair, (far stretched, but bear with me) if your cooker breaks, you are screwed. You can't cook, and you can't dry your hair. Yes, you can at that point learn how to use a hair drier, but its not going to be any use in terms of roasting a joint.

That's kind of where my muscles are at the moment. I've got to learn to use a hair dryer before my cooker decides it is going to break.

Enough about cookers.

I really was very lucky to meet this practitioner, I have had a number of suggestions and diagnoses as to what is going on, but nothing solid that seems right. I'm glad I got this looked at before anything disastrous happened, but getting to a stage of "rightness" is going to take quite a while. Unfortunately I'm at the wrong end of the country to take advantage of her knowledge and skill set, so I face the somewhat difficult task of finding someone who can sort me out.
Anyone near Manchester want to take on a bit of a challenge?

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