Most adults that take up the sport of triathlon do so having done a lifetime of other sports. Over this lifetime those people will have accrued many bumps and scrapes that have led to an accumulation of muscle tightness.
Injury may have prevented them from continuing in a previous sport, or they may have had a period of inactivity and relish the challenge that a multi-sport event brings.
However they arrive to the sport of triathlon, the muscle tightness they bring with them is what I like to call “movement baggage”. This simply means that they are coming into a new sport with tightness accumulated over their lifetime that predisposes them to moving using certain compensatory patterns.
They may cross their arms over the centre line when swimming. They may kick their heels out when running. They may even roll from side to side when cycling. All of these issues are borne of excess muscle tightness and are easily remedied, but many adults struggle to address the underlying issues that cause these problems in the first place and this, over time, leads to injury.
Why do most triathletes continue to struggle with these issues?
Don’t get me wrong, science can be really useful in many areas of performance and human health, but when it comes to movement (which is a large contributing factor to improving performance), it gets in the way.
Here are 4 reasons scientific evidence holds most triathletes back:
Reason #1: Science is always playing catch-up.
In my view, nature just does what science is busy trying to measure. Which is fine if you use science as a guide, but for some reason, we’ve become obsessed with scientific evidence, to the point where if science doesn’t “prove” it, we think it doesn’t exist!
I’m sure no scientist would disagree with me when I say that science is the study of the world around us. But that means, in order to be able to study it, something must be happening already.
Movement is an integral part of our DNA. Every living being on the planet does it, right down to the most basic single celled organisms. If movement is such an integral part of our nature, why do we wait for science to say it’s “safe” to do it?
And more to the point, how did we come to the conclusion that there is only one “right” way to do something?
It is the simple action of repeating the same thing in the same way many times over that creates injury. We are multi-jointed beings, capable of moving in many different ways all at once. When we fail to do so, we create an imbalance of muscle tightness that causes injury.
Reason #2: Science can only be concerned with the measureable
Scientific study must have one crucial element if it is to be considered as scientific evidence, and that’s measurement.
The trouble is, many things happen in the human body that cannot yet be reliably measured. These things impact everything we do and even how we feel.
Muscle tightness is one of those things. It’s difficult to measure but can impact how the joints are positioned, how far they move and how well they absorb the forces of the world around us. Muscle tightness can even be responsible for changing our mood.
As it’s difficult to produce scientific evidence to back these claims up, I can only use my experience of working with many hundreds of patients to make such suggestions.
In my clinical experience, muscle tightness around the spine for example, creates an agitation in the body that makes patients feel like they can’t relax, many often struggle to sleep well and experience niggly injuries such as shoulder, knee or foot pain.
Science would have them look at each of these areas individually to try to address the problems.
Reason #3: Science doesn’t know
Professor Brian Cox from TV shows such as “The Wonders of Life” and “Human Universe” states that “if you ask science the question ‘why?’ often enough, the answer is always ‘I don’t know’”
Nature has no such problem, it continues to coordinate millions of actions inside the body and brain in fractions of a second, yet science has us believing that we can consciously think our way to better movement.
Dr Steve Peters, author of “The Chimp Paradox” suggests that instinct kicks in 5 times quicker than logic. If this is the case then consciously thinking about movement will simply serve to slow it down and prevent the body from doing what comes naturally.
In no other areas of our lives do we think out our movement. We don’t think about how we blink, move our eyeballs or scroll the screen on our phones, so why do we believe that we can teach our bodies what science believes is the “correct” way to move?
Reason #4: Science is a separatist
Science is brilliant at breaking things down into their tiniest forms, studying how they behave and trying to piece it all back together, but as anyone who has ever tried to disassemble, then reassemble anything knows, there’s always a piece that doesn’t fit!
In the case of movement, it’s how it all communicates. It’s not the fascia that needs releasing, or the tight muscles that need stretching. It’s not even the “weak” muscles that need strengthening –its ALL of it – simultaneously!
It’s not possible for the body to function at its full potential if we are constantly interfering. It would be like a learner driver trying to tell an experienced racing driver what to do behind the wheel!
When science stops trying to “teach” the body to function in a position it believes is best, we’ll all be a lot less injured!
Injury has become an accepted part of sport but does it really have to be?
If we stop basing our training techniques on what science thinks, and make our natural capabilities more of a priority, perhaps we can strike a better balance between performance and injury?
To find out how to use nature to improve your performance, come on over and try my FREE 5 day mini course to improve the function in your feet using a brand new, brilliantly unique mobility method!