Fall Fitness

I can't say enough about the importance of getting outside and being active for both physical and mental health! This weekend I had the privilege of participating in the MEC Fall Century Ride. A windy, but gorgeous 60 km leaving from Turner Valley, Alberta. It was challenging, but with encouragement from friends, and focus on my inner dialogue, I completed it in one piece. This may be the last thing you would be interested in doing on a beautiful Sunday, but there are some common themes I can share that may help in finding your inner drive to get moving. Here are some ideas to incorporate more activity into your week:
 
- Find something you LOVE to do! In summer I bike, swim, run, lift weights and hike. In winter I spin, swim, snowboard, snowshoe and lift weights...this keeps me conditioned year-round and changing my activities through the year adds variety and helps me cope with the changing seasons. Having a variety of activities also keeps me doing SOMETHING if I am not in the mood to do what I otherwise planned to.
 
- Sign-up for an event to train for! If this is out of your comfort zone, start with volunteering. You can get to know other participants, how the event works and most likely see how much you belong! Everyone, at some point has taken on the challenge of their first 'race'. I am always inspired by the people I see and meet at races and events! To be truthful, I didn't train for this weekend's ride. And I felt it. But I showed up, complained a little, and was so glad that I did it!
 
- Plan weekly meetups with friends, neighbours or coworkers. Having someone else you are accountable to can be a nice "push", especially as the days get shorter and colder.
 
- Meetup groups can be a great way to meet new people and try new sports or activities you otherwise may not have tried. The University, Mountain Equipment Coop, Running Room, Lululemon, among others, have various programs to participate in, some of which are complimentary!
 
Being active on a daily basis, is our primal nature. Building and maintaining strength with functional movements, flexibility, ease in motion, endurance and stamina, are all vital to living a long, healthy life.

Move it or Lose it

My initial draw to studying Chiropractic was the fact that it involved human anatomy/ physiology and offered a wholistic perspective of the interconnectedness of the body and its functions. The nervous system being the body's internal communicator, receiver and interpreter of information needed to stay alive, is tuned into everything occuring in the body- from changes in pH balance to the  position of our L4 vertebra. In regards to body movement, an aligned properly moving body requires minimal attention from the nervous system. If areas of the body are not moving properly, either due to restriction and limited motion or moving too much due to laxity, the nervous system senses this and initiates a response to help counter and restore balance.
 
With proper biomechanics and adequate alignment, reflexes to maintain and restore balance can occur without a hiccup. When bones in the body (spine or extremities) are out of alignment, or not moving properly due to chronic restriction or hypermobility, the nervous system senses this and creates a response to achieve balance of the whole.
 
In terms of movement, the body is organized in a reciprocal pattern of mobility- joints that are designed for maximum movement, and stability- joints that move but overall are not meant to move beyond a certain range. This alternating nature in the body allows for healthy, efficient motion. If the body consisted of only highly mobile joints, it would take a lot more effort to move around. The surrounding muscles would be required to become the anchor for each movement and every joint would absorb the momentum created by the movement, thus reducing the leverage to propel forward. On the other hand, if the joints in the body were all created for stability and minimal motion, movement would be extremely restricted. Long strides required for many sports would be virtually impossibly, changing the performance potential of athletes as we know it. The body would be unable to absorb the momentum being created or the force entering the skeletal structure with each impact, putting a tremendous amount of force on each joint involved.
 
To maintain and optimize body function, we must first understand body design. There are a number of reasons why an otherwise mobile joint becomes restricted. Repetitive posture or biomechanics such as sitting long hours or poor running technique can create hip restriction over time. On the other hand, trauma, weakness of the surrounding musculature or repetitive demand on an otherwise stable joint, can lead to laxity of the surrounding tissues may contribute to instability.
 
The dynamic nature of the body is fascinating in that pain or disfunction of a joint never occurs in isolation. If a joint is not functioning according to the design of nature, the surrounding areas of the body will adapt to maintain balance. This is important to remember in considering the source of a problem. In the process of addressing restricted hips for example, consideration must also be made for the knee, pelvis, etc. to ensure longterm resolution, and minimize compensatory adaptations.
 
So often, the source of a problem is not where pain initially surfaces. Understanding the dynamic nature of the body is helpful not only in the rehabilitation of dysfunction, but also in the maintainence of optimal, efficient movement and injury prevention. As a rule, the body is designed to move. So move. Strive for balance right to left, front to back, as well as balance of strength and flexibility. The body will adapt to injury as much as it will adapt to healthy behaviours.