As a martial artist and a dancer I have become intimately aware of the condition of my body. I want it to last for a long time and I want it to be able to perform for me to the best of its capacity throughout that time.
I realize for a long time I took this for granted. I would ignore pains in my body and biomechanics were interesting to me in as much as they gave me immediate insights into fencing or dancing outcomes I immediately desired. Perhaps as I have aged I have gained more wisdom or just more aches and pains I can’t ignore.
The thing that I’ve learned is that every joint in the body is rated for more than a lifetimes worth of reps, provided you’re using that joint properly. If you’re not, you’re grinding away at your long-term health and your immediate performance.
Over the past few years of education through books, physio, and some good friends with excellent knowledge, I’ve come to see that much of what there is to building good bio-mechanical health is actually quite simple. Small exercises, like rudimentary muscle engagement exercises where you tense and relax a given muscle or alignment exercises where you do simple exercises like squats with proper core or limb alignment, can have a profound impact on your body’s performance, power, and health in a relatively short space of time.
All you need to do is make sure that you are armed with information, and that you take the time to implement it on a daily basis.
Check out Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starret, an amazing and brilliantly thorough book on alleviating pain and upping performance. Also check out Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, a tremendous resource on body mechanics for weight lifting — sure you may not want to lift weights at the gym but learning how to do these exercises well and getting at least some basic training will make you better at everything you do.
Get access to a coach trained in Functional Movement Screening (FMS). FMS is a powerful model for analyzing the core movements of the body and helping you diagnose where you are causing yourself damage or bleeding performance.
See a physiotherapist. Don’t just think of this as a doctor’s visit (who likes those), think of it as an educational adventure where you are going to learn about upping the performance of your body while resolving pain. I love visiting physiotherapists because the information they have to share is so darn cool.
I recommend that you make 20 minutes a day to work on the health of your body with intent. Put it on your calendar. Use a timer. Build an exercise regime with the help of an expert or at least some good personal research. 20 minutes is not much time to devote to something that will help you enjoy your body for years to come. You’ll also find that it can be kinda fun.
Then bring awareness to your physical movement throughout your day. Certainly when you’re performing your physical arts but also as you walk down the street or up a flight of stairs, or bend over to pickup a penny. Every moment counts and is an opportunity to train health in your body.