Training Elasticity

A History Lesson

Muscles have evolved to do more than move you through space or carry you through ‘exercise’. As a matter of fact, the musculoskeletal system has evolved over time as the fist line of defense in keeping your body healthy. Thousands of years ago it helped us find food, sure, but it also kept us from becoming food. Our biological traits shaped us to walk, run, throw, carry, protect, and carry-out tasks. Your muscles are the reason your body is able to interact with the world and do what you make it do. No matter what your daily activity or lifestyle is like, we owe our muscles gratitude for everything they help us with. Even if you sit most of the day, which a lot of the population does, your muscle system is at work doing its best to keep you from slouching and disengaing your spinal system. Without your muscles you’d be this organism, having lots of thoughts, but never being able to carry out any sort of action.

Lets go back to what I said about them being your ‘first line of defense’. Your muscles work as a spring system, a well tensioned and well distributed spring system. Granted most of us don’t have to worry about being eaten anymore, we do have to watch out for 21st-century health diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis, tendonitis, scleroderma, frozen shoulder, hammer toe, neuropathy, etc. So what does this mean? Simply put, when used correctly, your muscles can help you maintain healthy circulation occuring in the fascial system, which then keeps unnecessary friciton off of your joints. However, your muscles have got to understand how to function in order for this to be the case, otherwise you end up with a lot of overuse and misuse of your muscles. If there’s no comprehension of how to contract a muscle fiber, either eccentrically, or concentrically, then there is little to no myofascial force transmission happening in the body. Movement becomes reactive tugging of tissues instead of responsive unification. So if there’s no tensional balance being created in a person’s structure your muscles will forfeit your tendons to act as the prime movers.

Elasticity Training: Its That Important

Tendons, fibrous tissue that connects from a muscle belly to a bone site, are there as a secondary defense system against joint inflammation. Third you have ligaments which connect bone to bone. The difference between lines of defense 1 (muscles and fascia) and lines of defense 2&3 is that tendons and ligaments do not ‘snap back’. They just get more and more lax. Whereas a muscle can be hypotonic or hypertonic, tendons and ligaments get weak and inflamed. Mainly because they aren’t designed to be as elastic as muscles. Their job is to keep the bookends of fibers well connected, or in a ligament’s case, the joint site’s well protected.

What you can take away from this post is that your muscles have to do their jobs if you want them to stay working. Basically, KEEP THEM WELL FED and they will keep you well functioning and without pain. For example, if your glutes, transverse abdominis, and diaphragm are all working in conjunction with one another, there should be no reason for chronic back pain. If your quads and glutes are functioning correctly, knee pain usually isn’t a ‘thing’. If your teres, low traps, serratus, rhomboids, and subscapularis is functioning well, shoulder and neck pain will be a thing of the past.

But how does one do this? You think, “I workout, isn’t that enough?” Well yes and no. Yes because you take the time to move everyday, and work out your system. But, if you’re always working out to ‘burn’ something else off, and not paying attention to biomechanics, your approach will not be sustainable for your body. You’ll be in and out of chiropractic offices, physical therapy centers, and one day probably an orthopedic surgeons office. All because you didn’t take the necessary steps to understand your muscle systems. If you could avoid surgery and ‘rehab’ wouldn’t you?

To be elastic is to be able to retain your original shape after lengthening or compressing. Think of a rubberband, you can stretch it, it can snap shut, and then it retains its shape. Your muscles, each and every one, needs to have that elasticity.  “Any movement is better than no movement,” reigns true (sort of), but not when it comes to biomechanics, which is physics applied to your anatomical movement. It is imperative that you regress to simple myofascial associative patterns (MAPs) and understand where your joints, spine, and posture is. Undoing myofascial restrictions and correcting basic movement dysfunctions will make you such a better mover. And much tot he benefit of your health, you’ll get stronger, more flexible, pliable, and to a degree indestructible. But it means taking steps back! If you’re trying to learn how you operate as a human, it starts with understanding elasticity. 

What Train Rugged Does

I use a step-by-step approach to retrain elasticity into the body and the brain. I have found this to be the most effective solution when addressing myofascial distortions of someone’s body. It goes beyond examining a joint function, but it takes into account somebody’s global positioning, ie; how much weight they put on one leg, where their hip ‘lives’, spinal patterns, head tilts, and the list goes on. These sorts of ‘screens’ tell me how bones are positioned and which culprits are contributing to the inefficiency. After you get a sense of where you are, I’ll take you through a protocol. It looks like this; myofascial release, breath work, isolation correctives, and eventually locomotion patterns. I don’t even touch ‘performance’ until somebody can show me competent breathing, isolation control, force transmission, and kinetic chain tensioning. Although elasticity is the goal, you’ve got to realize that most of your life has been lived inelasticly. So it’s only normal to expect that it will take time to build elastic muscle associations again.

Potentiating intra-abdominal pressure and instituting breath control has proven to be one of the paramount stepping stones towards better aligning somebody’s body. That mixed with the proper structural connections of an individual are what help somebody make progress in their physiology. I say physiology because this sort of training extends far beyond ‘working out’. Train Rugged uses methods to heighten people’s consciousness and gets them to reevaluate their behaviors and tendencies in the world- or at least this is my goal. “Training Elasticity” is TR’s way of training somebody’s neural plasticity, thus getting them to become more cognitively flexible and less impaired when making physical and mental health decisions.

Going slow and learning how to become strong, well connected, and eventually explosive takes time. If you’re down for the long-game, and want to sustain longterm health, then ge moving towards elasticity! It could change your life. Train with purpose and attention.

-Rob

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