Everything in the body is connected to something else. Sometimes several something elses. This may sound pretty obvious but I, and my clients, have learned that the more you work out, the more you discover this is true. Either you’ll be sore in places that don’t seem logical, you’ll stretch or foam roll and something unrelated will twinge or pull (or make you swear), or you’ll move a body part and something usually considered unrelated will move along with it. For instance, whenever I teach a class and have people do side raises (lifting the arms out to the side like a T) I see about a third to a half of participants lips’ curl up, a la Elvis.
Why? Because your muscles don’t generally go in a straight line from point A to point B. Instead, they wrap around your body over and under each other creating a web of interconnected and interacting tissue.
Why should this matter to you? There are several reasons.
1) Function – Think about your day. Do you ever move anything in a straight line? If the answer is yes, think again. You’re reading this blog so you’re probably sitting at a computer right now. Imagine reaching for a pencil on the floor. What happens? Your arm extends and your torso twists. You had to lean over to the side. Nothing we do happens in one dimension and neither should your workouts. Simply being aware of the many directions we move can help your training. If you’re not sure what to do on your own, try a class with choreography. At RVC, BodyCombat and BodyJam would fit the bill.
2) Flexibility – If all you ever do to is reach down and touch your toes you’re only stretching a very small portion of your muscles. Rotating, twisting, rolling and changing the angle of whatever you are trying to stretch can open up your body in whole new ways.
3) Pain: Sometimes pain in one body part has nothing to do with that actual body part. Your knee may hurt but the real culprit is your IT band, or your hip, or the arch of your foot. Being aware of what else is attached can help you diagnose and treat what ails you. I find that when my left hip hurts I not only have to stretch out the front and back of my legs but also my left side and my RIGHT shoulder and back. Once one thing gets out of whack it travels around the body wreaking havoc in all sorts of unexpected ways.
Take some time to be aware of your muscles and where you feel what. Take a yoga or a full body conditioning class. If you really want to know what’s connected to what, get a deep tissue massage. Your life isn’t one dimensional and your workout shouldn’t be either.