In 2018, Examine.com did a comprehensive overview study of scientific research into optimal fitness. They came up with a list of 6 areas they believe are all equal components of optimal health. While they constructed this list based on the things that science has tested, some of these areas can be quite limited in thinking, so I’ve adapted them slightly.
The six components of optimal fitness created by Examine.com (and adapted by me) are:
- Strength and endurance
- CV health
- Digestive health
- Hormone balance
- Sleep & recovery
- Joint health
I completely agree that all these areas are hugely important to our mental and physical well-being, but there’s ONE thing that will disrupt them ALL simultaneously – and that’s PAIN.
If you have pain anywhere in your body, you won’t be able to train properly, which means that you won’t be able to, maintain or improve your strength and endurance. You won’t be able to improve your CV health, your digestive health will be compromised because your body will be stuck in the “fight or flight” nervous system rather than the “rest and digest”, which leads to excessive production of stress hormones, which will upset your hormone balance.
If your body is dealing with pain it will disrupt your sleep, which will also impact your recovery from exercise and since it’s likely that your pain is coming from a joint, or the muscles surrounding a joint, it’s unlikely that that joint is as healthy as it could be.
But it’s not all doom and gloom here. Let’s take a second to look at how we can smash through this pain roadblock.
Muscle tightness is progressive and gradual. It might help to think of it as a staircase.
Pain is at the top of the staircase, and relaxation is at the bottom.
Anything that you do in your life, whether it’s training, falling off a horse, getting hit by a car, just knocking yourself when you’re bumping into a sofa or something like that, all this increases your muscle tightness.
Sitting for long periods and repetitive movement also add to your muscle tightness.
Every time one of these incidents happen, your body adapts to the resulting muscle tightness in exactly the same way as it does for your fitness.
Unfortunately, when you’re training for your fitness, you’re usually doing a lot of repetitive movement, which is increasing your muscle tightness.
If your muscle tightness is increasing throughout your daily life and your body is simply adapting to it, it’s taking you further and further up the staircase, and it’s only a matter of time before you hit pain.
The only way to stop your gradual progression up the staircase towards pain, is to do something to reduce that muscle tightness. Things like meditation and mobility training will help. But the amount of time we spend actually doing that isn’t enough to counteract the amount of tightness we’re creating in our daily lives, so we gradually head up that staircase towards pain.
The reason that most exercise enthusiasts or sports and fitness lovers don’t spend enough time on reducing the muscle tightness is because they think of mobility as an add on, or something extra to their training. So, they’ll do their couple of hours training, whatever is, and then they’ll add mobility on to the end or the beginning, which makes it more of an awkward thing to be doing. And if they don’t really want to do it in the first place, they might do the odd five minutes stretch here or there, but you can’t lose weight and you can’t train for a marathon if you’re doing some half-hearted five minutes here and there, a couple of times a week and mobility is no different because everything you do in your daily life is increasing the muscle tightness that’s leading you to that pain in the first place.
A much better solution is to blend it in with what you’re already doing. Since you’re already moving and movement is the best way to unwind your tightness, then it’s really simple to put it into the warm ups and cool downs that you’re already spending time on.
So, the first take away from this article is that pain free movement is the key to success with everything that you want to achieve with your fitness training and your overall health. The second thing is that you don’t wait until you hit pain before you start trying to unwind this tightness. And the third thing is that you add variety into what you’re already doing.
If you’re serious about wanting to get back to training pain free WITHOUT disrupting your training schedule, then I’m running a LIVE webinar on this exact topic. We’ll be diving deep into this topic and you can join me completely FREE! Click here to grab your seat and I’ll look forward to seeing you there!