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"How To Prolong Your Physical Capabilities & Longevity" (Blog #149)

April 17, 2017

I want you all to take a minute and think about your favorite physical activities.  Got them?


Now, imagine if one day someone came by and took them away from you!?  Whatever it is you love to do - whether it be running, weight lifting, biking, swimming, or hiking - really imagine not being able to do those activities anymore.  Unfortunately this is the reality for so many people these days.  The reason is simple: overuse!  


Overuse injuries occur when a motion is repeated time and time again.  These injuries wear down joints and lead to pain and often to surgeries.  Walk into any "meathead" gym and you will see dozens of guys (and gals) with a hundred excuses of why they cant lift their hands over their heads without pain anymore.  They might give reasons, but the honest reason is that they bench pressed their shoulders away; using the same sets, same reps, same weight and even the same day of the week to overuse their shoulders.  Any "ITIS" is overuse, and they can be career enders...


However, there's good news!  You can prevent these overuse injuries and prolong your physical capabilities so you can lift, run, bike and swim for years to come.  The first thing you must do is to make sure that you have good technique and form.  Assuming you do, the next thing you have to do is switch things up.  If you're a runner who runs the same milage, same routes at the same speeds every week, you will eventually breakdown and be injured.  If you're a weight lifter doing the same exercises with the same weights, you will eventually breakdown and have overuse injuries.  Your body will quickly adapt to certain stimuli, so it's important to change it up once in a while to avoid problems in the future.  


Long Distance Runners:  Get in the weight room and strengthen your unilateral strength (single leg work) / Strengthen your glutes so your knees wont take such a beating. Weight lifting will actually cut down your running times and decrease the risk of injuries. 


Weight Lifters:  Go do some running. I don't suggest you go run a marathon right away, but adding a run in one or two times a week will give you a day away from the weights and will improve your aerobic capacity.


Hikers:  Go find a big hill and sprint up it, walk down it, and repeat.


Adding variation to your workouts will not only keep you healthier, but it will also pull you out of those ruts that we all seem to hit once in a while. Bonus: it's fun.  


A mock week may look something like this for a runner:


Monday:  LSD Run (Long Slow Distance)

Tuesday:  Resistance Training 

Wednesday:  Hill sprints/intervals/increased intensity, decreased duration 

Thursday:  OFF/Active recovery (foam roll, stretch, walk); maybe a low intensity hike or yoga

Friday:  LSD Run

Saturday:  Resistance Training 

Sunday:  Mountain bike or hike


Or a mock week for a weight lifter:


Monday:  Resistance Training 

Tuesday:  Resistance Training 

Wednesday:  Hill sprints / intervals / increased intensity, decreased duration 

Thursday:  OFF/Active recovery (foam roll, stretch, walk); maybe a low intensity hike or yoga 

Friday:  Resistance Training  

Saturday:  Resistance Training 

Sunday:  Mountain bike or hike


These are just examples of what would keep your body lean, strong and healthy.  Don't be afraid to switch things up for the sake of your longevity.  Talk to any old school lifter and they'll tell you to take care of your joints (they don't lift anymore because they can't).  Talk to any old school runner and they'll tell you to decrease your mileage and increase your intensity (many don't run anymore because they can't).  We must learn from those around us and from the ones who have come before us.  


A simple rule that I tell all of my clients is: "If it hurts, don't do it!"  Lifting or running through pain is a sure fire way to end up on the disabled list quickly, and maybe permanently.  Assess the injury, avoid the painful motions, switch up that week's training and come back around again.  If you're knees hurt from running; stop running!  Not forever, but stop and go do something different until that pain subsides.  After which, have a professional help you figure out why you got the pain in the first place.  


No matter what you do everyday, I recommend the foam roller for all humans.  The science is still up in the air on it, but you can't deny that after you get off of a foam roller that you feel better.  They increase blood flow, decrease tissue density and decrease the risk of injuries.  Roll for a few days and see how you feel...  


Here's a quick video of a very basic rolling session:  










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