What I learned in 2013…
I’ll start off by saying that 2013 was a great year. Of course, like all years there were ups and downs, but I can look back and honestly say I am a better person and professional than I was in 2012. I saw a few posts from others reviewing what they learned and thought it would be a good idea to share my own thoughts since many of you were part of my 2013 and may even be a reason for me getting better. For those that helped me move forward, I thank you. Okay, here we go:
- It’s not only the college education you get that matters, but what you continue to learn that is key. I received a bachelors and masters degree and thought I knew a lot. What I learned this past year was that I know nothing. I don’t mean that literally, but in terms of how much information is out there, and how quickly we are advancing, there is so much more to learn. It is honestly a shame when I see people who are satisfied with how much they know. Over time we start to forget things we learned, but also pick up new techniques and strategies to fill there place. I could honestly say I spent most of 2013 with my face in some kind of book, whether it be a textbook or a for fun reading book. The more I read, the more I realized I don’t know. I jotted down a list of books, but when I finished I probably added 2-3 books for every one that I read. Learning is a lifelong process, don’t be satisfied but continue to grow each and every day.
- I have always worked in professions where you deal with people on a daily basis. Kind of similar to #1, but I thought if I could learn more about the human body I would become more well-known and in turn make more money. 2013 made me realize it isn’t knowledge that necessarily makes you successful, but how you deal with people. One recommendation to everyone is to read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Once I read this book and started implementing the strategies into my daily routine, I was surprised at how much things changed for me. I learned to simplify what I was trying to tell people to just the basics, but most importantly just getting to know people for who they are. It made me realize we don’t smile enough or say hello to strangers. We are so focused on getting from point A to point B that we forget about the journey and those we pass along the way. Take a second, put down your cellphone and give the person who walks by you a smile and a hello, it’ll go a long way.
- Fitness is always placed over function. Let me ask you this, how good will your fitness be if your injured? Pretty poor I can imagine. So why do we go into the gym trying to loss weight or get stronger, but pay no attention to how our body functions. Before you squat with heavy weight, you must learn to squat properly, unweighted, through the full range of motion. DO NOT SACRIFICE THE BASICS FOR FITNESS! I realized based on this I need to be more stringent with my clients. Oftentimes, I would let my clients dictate their programs based on what they like, and not what I believe is right. In the end I may lose clients over this but we should all have a philosophy that we are willing to stick by no matter what.
- You do not gain range of motion through static stretching. This has been a big transformation in thinking for me in the past year. When I was at the college as an Athletic Trainer, players would come in everyday either before or after practice because their muscles were tight. I now realize I wasted countless hours passively stretching players that still came back everyday. If passive stretching actually did what I intended it to do, increase muscle length, why did these players need to come back every day? While attending the Perform Better Functional Training Summit this past summer in Chicago, I was turned on that flexibility may not necessarily be an issue with the muscles, but could be the brain. The brain has the emergency brake on certain motions and movements to prevent it from injury. My entire life I did the standard hamstring stretch by reaching down and touching my toes. This past year I added more single leg full range of motion exercises into my work and it drastically improved my flexibility. At what point during these exercises did my muscles relax and become stretched to their end point? Actually they never relaxed. But what it did was allow the muscle to stay contracted as it lengthened, which told the brain it was in control of the movement, and in turn increased motion. That is why I actually don’t say flexibility anymore but use the term mobility. I think this is a better depiction of everything that goes into motion such as stability, muscle length, and neural components. I believe if you are going to static stretch in order to gain motion, try adding it before you exercise while you are cold. While I’m cold? Won’t I get hurt? Not if you don’t push past your limits. But realize once muscles are warmed up they become more elastic. We all know what happens to elastics- stretch them out, release, and they return to their original length.
- The joint by joint approach- this approach shows the alternating relationship between each joint throughout the body. If you look at the body each joint actually has an opposite role of the joint above and below it. Ankles should be mobile, knees stable, hips mobile, low back stable, thoracic spine mobile, cervical spine stable, shoulders mobile, etc. And, when one joint does not function as intended it may cause additional stress at the joints above and below itself. That is why with people with low back pain it is essential to look at mobility at the hips and thoracic spine. If either of those two joints lack there full range of motion, the low back has to compensate by going through additional motion which over time increases the chance of injury.
- It’s good to be pushed outside of your comfort zone every so often. I really believe to become better at whatever it is you do, you need to be nervous and uncomfortable at times, and realize that it is okay. Shout out here goes to the Your Turn Women’s Group and the Fit 4-50 class. Man, did I hate being in the front of the room, all eyes focused on me, center of attention, with so many hecklers! When I started at the BAC I always hated public speaking and being in front of groups. I told myself I would jump into the lion’s den and work through it. If you are afraid of something face it head on. It’s important to look at stressful situations and ask yourself: what is the worst that can come from this? More often than not the worst situation really isn’t as bad as you expected. Try putting your fears and stressors into perspective.
- Kettlebells aren’t only for athletes! I was new to KB’s over the past year and really had no knowledge of the exercises and benefits of using them. I now believe they are an extremely valuable tool. Much credit goes to Steve Lewis and Ian Papworth at the BAC who taught me tons on proper KB use and their benefits. Definitely try out a kettlebell class to learn how to use them properly, it will impact your exercise program significantly.
- Exercise is important, but nutrition, sleep, and stress management even more so. Try developing a great exercise program but continuing with other poor lifestyle habits and see how far it gets you. I would almost guarantee you’d make some progress and then plateau quickly. There is so much more to wellness that I never completely dove into. I now see the values of getting a good night’s sleep, properly managing stress, eating a well-balanced diet, and finding what makes you happy.
- Crunches. There is tons of research out there on crunches and it’s damaging effect on the lumbar spine. Why are we still doing these day after day in our exercise programs. This is an exercise that I have given up completely for myself and my clients, and it has been challenging. When you say abdominals, most people would reply with crunches. Just realize that there is solid evidence out there that demonstrates the damaging effect of repetitive crunching of the lumbar spine. Try exercises like planks, stir the pot, side planks, rollouts, etc. The lumbar spine never moves from a neutral position but you still target the abs/core significantly.
- Everything works out in the end. Plain and simple. Keep an optimistic mind set, do your best, and things will work out. Maybe not always as planned, but you’ll get through it.