Updated: Jan 25, 2022
As an athlete, you’re a part of a special group of people. You have a drive and a positivity that won’t allow you to sit back and take no for an answer. You’re driven, maybe stubborn, and you don’t give up. And when it comes to your sport(s), you want to keep at it until you fall into your grave.
But, sometimes your body doesn’t agree with your mind. Are you finding yourself doing more rehabilitation and sitting on the sidelines, slowing down or just not able to make gains like you used to? While aging is a factor in athletic performance, there’s more to performance than training hard, good nutrition and foam rolling.
If you are finding yourself in this spot, not making gains, more pain than pleasure, on a rotating routine of Chiro, massage and PT, it’s time to step back and take a look at the big picture. WHY do you keep getting injured? WHY aren’t you making gains? WHY are you feeling burnt out?
The answer is recovery. “But,” you say, “I take a day off each week, I foam roll and pound my quads daily with a lacrosse ball, I sleep a good 6 hours a night. I spend time recovering!”
Here’s the scoop: you can be doing “all the right things”, but even if you’re spending 6-8 hours/day in “recovery phase”, what’s going on the other 16-18 hours? Modern life is what’s going on, where stress is destroying your mammalian biological systems. If you spend the majority of the day in fight or flight, your systems are just working to make it thru another stressor and keep your human organism alive, and there is no time for regeneration of tissue that leads to gains.
“Ahh,” you say, “so I need to relax more.”
Well, kind of. What you actually need is the ability to cycle in and out of fight/flight/get ‘er done mode and rest and digest/healing and restoration mode. It’s in this healing and restoration mode where our gains are made. Lifting heavier, running more, all of our training breaks down tissue which stimulates our bodies to repair that tissue and then make that tissue even stronger. If we can’t get into that mode, we never heal or get stronger. We never make gains.
Here’s where I come in. Using a neuroscience lens, I work with the body and nervous system to improve your ability to get into rest and digest mode. This is less rehabilitation and more recovery focused care that works with your nervous system to allow your body the opportunity to heal and recover, i.e. make gains.
I work using a 3 part assessment and approach to help you get into a rest and digest state. First, I use a technique called Listening. I place my hand on the top of your head and feel for where in the body your energy is drawing me. It sounds a little woo-woo, but there is a lot of research by legitimate scientists on the human energy fields. From here, I work on the craniosacral system with a two-fold purpose. One is to facilitate change in the positioning of fascia, nerves and bony structures of the head and neck to allow for optimal functioning of the cranial nerves which are concerned with functions that keep us safe and alive. The second result of working on the cranial nerves is that they stimulate a parasympathetic nervous system response, especially because many of them have a common point of origin with the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the main nerve of invoking the rest and digest response we are looking for in recovery. It innervates the heart, lungs and the majority of the viscera (organs), 80% of it's function being to relay info from the body back to the brain.
The second assessment and approach I use is to 'look' at your viscera using my hands. And again there is a two part approach; one to check for proper positioning and function and the second to stimulate the vagus nerve and rest and digest response. Using techniques called visceral manipulation, I assess the mobility and motility of your organs. "How in the world does this affect your athletic abilities?" you may be asking right now! Your organs are what keep your human body functioning and keep you alive. If your organs are not functioning at 100%, you are not functioning at 100%. Your musculoskeletal system, while most definitely being the prime mover of your human body, also provides protection for the organs that keep us alive. If something is not right with the organ, we can have referred musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction or just plain increased tightness of the muscles and fascia as they work to protect our organs. Tightness that won't go away no matter how much stretching, massage or chiro adjustments you get? It just might be because your muscles are protecting your organs. I do not diagnose any type of organ issue; I simply check in with your body to see if I can help facilitate a myofascial reset that helps your muscles to let go of the need to be tight to protect. (As an aside, recently, I've been working with someone who has been stretching their "tight psoas" for 20+ years with no change. The first time I worked on him, I was able to determine that his "psoas problem" was really a "liver fascia problem" and after one treatment, his "tight psoas" was improved by >75%!).
The third assessment and approach I use really just ties in with the first two. Stress, all stress, is held in our bodies. Working somatically (i.e. with and in the body), allows some of that stress to dissipate and be released from our tissues. This creates more space and allows us to more easily access the rest and digest states we need to actually recover and make gains.
Of course, there's more to it than can be conveyed in a blog post and can really only be experienced. Many of the tools I use are tools that professional athletes are utilizing to help them maintain their abilities to play at elite levels (read here: https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/pro-football-players-testify-to-craniosacral.pdf , here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580370/ , and here: https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/sports-injurty-and-vm-fsmta-lu-jan-feb-2018-final--1-.pdf for more info).
If you’re serious about your sport, serious about your health and longevity, and want to get off the endless cycle of pain, injury, rehab and back to kicking butt, set up a free discovery call or book a session with me. I’d love to help you keep being the best you.