I went to a really great Yin yoga class on Sunday night with Sarah at The Yoga Studio. She started the class by saying a few things about how her body was feeling after a full day in the powder. The realization that she had about how she was feeling and the way she articulated it resonated with me. I translated her story into my CrossFit training world and found it to be very similar.
She was saying how despite her lifelong efforts to maintain balance and range of motion through flexibility, a long day of riding can still make her feel wiped out and tight all over. The mistake that we can make when we are dedicated to a physical practice of any sort is to assume that there is an end point or an end goal at which time we are free from feeling the aches and pains of our bodies. We need to recognize that no matter how dedicated we are to our physical efforts, we will always be in process. Absolutely it will evolve, but we will always be in our bodies and therefore never free from the feelings associated with it.
I found that this spoke to me as an athlete and also as a therapist. The more I train, the more I learn about my body and what it’s capabilities and current capacities are. Overtime, I feel less and less “new” aches, but rather feelings that I can learn to associate with plain old muscle soreness, or fatigue, dehydration, nutritional deficits, fighting sickness or overtraining. Every time I experience one of these feelings I learn a little more about my body and what I need to do to alleviate discomforts. Only experience can teach you some of these things. Getting a new PR on a lift or a specific workout shows me that the process continues and reminds me that I am nowhere near the end. It seems fair to assume that at a certain point the numbers no longer go up (or down), but I would also assume that at that point my body had changed with age in the way that it recovers and metabolizes, therefore has created a new set of normal body conditions to work with (major life events, like pregnancy, also force you adjust your reference point). I hope that when I’m 75 I will still attempt some of the same movements and activities that I do now, but understand that my output only appears less on paper, not in effort.
Because I am a Massage Therapist who works predominantly with CrossFitters I find myself quite involved in other people’s processes of growth. The majority of people starting CrossFit bring with them a range of old injuries that they have accepted, and have often become self limiting. These people regularly have a very negative association between activity and body feelings. The result is usually guarding and protecting the area, and a reasonable bit of skepticism about doing anything that might require use of that part (and I can’t really blame them). What is really amazing about working with these people is teaching them to learn the difference between different types of discomfort and re-learning to trust their body. It’s amazing to watch the confidence that occurs when people start to use a joint or limb that they have grumbled about for a long time.
Here is where we come back to the concept of infinite process… we may always be managing an old repaired shoulder, or a previously herniated disc, but know that giving your body strength, stability and proper alignment is what allows you to keep the old injuries at bay and fend off new ones. Accept that there are going to be bumps in the road and potentially new injuries somewhere along the line. Accept that the body tells you things. Learn to decipher them. Appreciate and respect new or different feelings. Respect where you are at, but don’t give yourself excuses. There is always room to grow. Ego gets in the way.
Ask lots of questions.
If you can honestly say that you are feeling better and stronger now than before then you know you are on the right track. Embrace the process of learning about your body. It’s the container that you’re in forever so you might as well learn as much about it as you can. We can’t trade it in but we can definitely morph it to be a pretty efficient machine.
And nobody says the process is easy…. that’s why we feel so good about it once we have witnessed some change.