Balance Training

UnknownImagine you at age seven.  Now see yourself on a see-saw.  You are alone; your butt is low to the ground and it feels like a 1000 pounds.  On the other end sticking up in the air, seemingly far away is the empty end of the beam.  As you gaze longingly up into the blue sky, squinting at the warm afternoon sunbeams, a friend comes by.  This could really get going now; you could overcome Newtonian inertia and have a great playtime. But the friend sits down right in front of you and they too are facing the tilted empty distant plank.  So you ask the friend to go sit on the other end instead and the board comes into neutral and now, you can control the direction, pace and fun.

“What is the point of all this,” you ask? It’s simply a metaphor for balance.  I continually, see people who need work on balance. I’m not talking about being able to stand on one foot for thirty seconds.  I’m talking about the guy who’s working a 60 hour work week and then comes in at 7pm to do Boot Camp Class or the yoga die-hard who thinks stretching alone can take away all your aches and pains.

It is shocking to me how many people never stop to consider how much they are demanding from their bodies and yet, have absolutely no comprehension of how the system is actually functioning.  Consider a race-car driver who has no understanding of auto-mechanics but who simply wants to get in the car and go fast…predictably, a crash is probably in the near future.

I know many serious cyclists, marathoners and triathletes, many of whom just to do the training for their events are continually putting their bodies under a lot of stress.  It doesn’t feel all that demanding, because like all things you get used to it. Go back to imagining the kid on the teeter-totter.  If you sat in the down position for several hours, that would begin to feel normal. But your playmate brings the board into balance; it now feels “scary” and “awkward” because you just haven’t done that before, and yet, it’s doing what the toy was designed to do.

So let’s go back to that work-a-holic guy in the bootcamp class.  I’m not saying he needs to give up working out.  But I would recommend finding a workout routine that works on strength training but without the fever pitch pace.  And maybe a yoga class – NOT HOT OR POWER YOGA and a little more sleep.  We want to balance the plank.  Now for the lady in yoga class, who keeps complaining about back pain and thinks more stretching and more yoga is just what she needs.  I would recommend that lady find a great core class and build some muscle mass in order to stabilize her joints, instead of asking her tendons and ligaments to keep over-extending.  And you athletes – find some Hatha yoga, or even a basic breathing relaxation technique class, and let your system rest and repair itself so it can keep performing optimally. You may think that a boot camp class would count as “cross-training” because you’re not technically running or cycling.  BUT if your muscles and joints are doing rapid fire movement and your heart rate is in your training zone, to your nervous system, you’re still doing endurance training.

As Indiana Jones says, “It ain’t the years honey, it’s the mileage.”  If you want to keep playing forever, you have to begin to understand how your system is designed.  If you’re giving it a lot of one thing, give it the things it doesn’t have!  And if you need a playmate to help balance that board…contact me!  Deborah@VicFitLA.com!

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