I had a two situations this past week that made me step back and think of training, it’s purpose, and why training outside of our comfort zones is beneficial.
Over the past six weeks I have been having some mid-back musculoskeletal pain. I shrugged it off and thought it was just from sleeping on the couch a few nights. After a couple weeks had passed I noticed the pain and moved up into my ribs. I felt a pain when I ran, when I made right turns in the car, and when I made a pulling motion. Me, being the stubborn person I am, just figured, “Meh, the body will heal itself, I’m fine.” Until one evening about two weeks ago I went to pull a 45 lb dumbbell off the rack and tears started streaming down my face. I knew something was wrong.
A good friend of mine and I were having dinner and she recommended I see a chiropractor, and at this point I was up for whatever. So I called and made an appointment, after waiting an entire week, because I was sure ‘the body was going to heal itself’. They were able to get me in the day after I called. After a series of x-rays, stem therapy, massage, and an adjustment, I felt relieved. The tension had started in my glute muscles and worked its way up my back to the intercostal muscles in my rib cage. It was pretty crazy the relief I felt after just one session. After the second session, I admitted to the doctor, I never stretch, like ever. He smiled and said, “Kelley, I get it, in your mind you are thinking ’I don’t have time to stretch I need to train.” He then followed it up with, “If you’re lengthening, you’re strengthening.”
That quote made me smile, because he tapped into my psyche, I want to be as strong as a possibly can be. Immediately I thought of Yoga. I can honestly say for the past ten years of my life I have said I would try to get into it, but I never do. To be honest I think it’s because I am afraid of it. My short, compact physique is not long and limber. It’s a good day if I can touch my toes without my hamstrings screaming. Rationally, I know yoga has a number of benefits including flexibility, stress relief, and aiding in recovery.
So what do Yoga and Pull-Ups have to do with each other? Earlier this week my training partner and I were doing pull-ups. I brought along one of my resistance bands to assist us on the pull-up bar. As she saw me loop the band around the pull-ups bars, she looked at me like I was crazy. I was like “Okay, you’re up!” She was doubtful, but I told her I was behind her and would spot her the whole way. Before we knew it, she was doing them. Pull-ups can be intimidating, and for women even more so, we have strong lower bodies but normally, our upper body strength does not match our lower body strength. I have worked with lots of women and many shy away from push ups out of fear of looking silly, not being able to do them, or not having the strength.
So like the Yoga, sometimes the benefits of exercises we are not comfortable with are so beneficial for us. The strength and flexibility we gain from exercises we are not too comfortable with will translate over into the areas and exercises we are good at, making us even better. If lengthening the muscles makes them stronger, than it is safe to say that engaging in activities such as yoga, pilates, and stretching can help make us stronger by improving our muscles response to exercise. As for the pull-ups over time, with repetition, the band, the assisted machine, will not be needed. What isn’t strong and inspiring about seeing a person pull up their entire body up? Pretty impressive and not only physically, but mentally.
This week’s exercise is to get out of your comfort zone, safely. Not doing exercises that will injure us, but the ones that will benefit us. What exercises make you uncomfortable or less than confident? Why is that? I would love to know. Drop me a line at Kelley@kelleyvargo.com And if you have any recommendations for yoga (especially in the SoFlo area, I am all ears!)