Who can we consult about our Musculoskeletal Health?

I keep asking people to ask their General Practitioner, their Specialist Doctor, their Orthopedic Doctor, their Massage Therapist, their Chiropractor, their Physical Therapist, their Personal Trainer, their Priest, their Anyone who they think might know the answer, this question: “What is the best fitness routine, sport or activity to do in this town?” Tell them that you are confused by all of the choices that are labeled “Fitness.” There is the big box chain Fitness Center and YMCA with the strength training, cardio machines and plethora of classes, the neighborhood Crossfit, Burn Bootcamp, Camp Gladiator, Orange Theory, home gyms, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Slow Yoga, Barre, Pilates, Spin Classes, Personal Training Spaces, and Zumba Classes, company fitness centers, condo fitness centers, hotel fitness centers, etc… Then you have to include the sports, tennis, soccer, running, Iron Man, Swimming, Water Aerobics. Also, some may think Walking is best. Or, power walking. Tell them you goal is to my live a relatively pain free, surgery free, injury free life with ability to get into your 90’s and beyond moving well, with great balance, and a strong and healthy musculoskeletal system. I ask people to ask people this because I don’t think people think much about it. I think they are just going where everyone else seems to be going. There are so many articles on my newsfeed that start out, “I asked a Personal Trainer and here’s what she said about blah.” As if, the Personal Trainer is somehow the expert on all things fitness. Shouldn’t it be someone with more college credits. Perhaps a doctor or something? I feel like we are missing a Specialist. Aren’t there Doctors of Physiology or something? Where are they? We need them.

Now, once you have their answer I want you to cross examine them. You want to make sure that the fitness advice they have suggested will help you in these four categories. The first is your container. The container will be soft if you partake in a vigorous exercise a few times a week. The second category is flexibility. Your muscles should maintain their full range of motion throughout your lifetime. Third is structure. Things like shoulders back, clavicles level and a normal curve of the thoracic spine. The fourth category is tight areas. Are tight muscles created by your fitness activity? You can read my other articles for better description of my four categories of musculoskeletal health. The answer to the question will show you what they value. Do they value length of muscles? Do they value, understand or even see structure. Do they talk about structure and how? Do they value Softness and Pliability of all of your muscles while they are at rest? Some people don’t touch bodies directly so they may not ever grow to value pliable muscles. Some don’t check range of motion, so they don’t see this as important. Some don’t see structure, so don’t value it or see how it is affected by your workout. Some people really, really, really value strength because of many reasons none rooted in what a healthy body is. So find out what they value and how that has affected their answer. Some will get very scientific and use words like protagonist and antagonist. You will hear about tracking of the knee joint. Some will talk about the Kinetic Chain. Do not be thrown off by their science. Find out what they value and why.

I’m not a Doctor of Physiology but I would answer the question this way. “Power Yoga and specifically Baptiste Power Yoga.” It’s good for my four categories. It’s good for what I value. I had a couple that was in their 80’s take a ride in my car recently. They had a lot of trouble getting into my car. I remember thinking to myself, “I bet in the future we will wonder why we thought 80 was old.” Once people start doing yoga, everyone will be walking and running just fine into their 90s. When the lady got out of my car she dropped her scarf. She bend over to pick it up and right on cue, fell to the curb. It was weird, I saw the whole thing coming. No Power Yoga, just as I suspected.

Many people will value the Philosophy of “It’s All Good.” They will suggest you do a little of everything. They may talk about a balanced approach or moderation. This is their way of not taking a stand. What do they value? I tell people not to go to the YMCA for yoga or the big box Fitness Centers for yoga because they have not taken a stand on what fitness is the healthiest. They are just adding classes as the popularity increases. It’s like when the chain grocery store added organic food or GM started to build electric cars. They weren’t exactly jump starting the revolution. I tell them to go to yoga at the places that say “Yoga” on their door. Go to the places that have a philosophy for health and our promoting that. Sure, you could buy an electric Ford but wouldn’t you rather reward Tesla for helping us believe?

As far as the advice you are getting now or not getting now, consider this. This is dark and cynical but needs to be said. There are those that are gaining from your confusion about what is actually healthy. There are a lot of adjustments, massages, surgeries, training, rehab and pain meds being sold because you are confused about the answer to this proposed question.

I don’t include balance and strength in my four categories but I do value them. I think how we build strength is important. The good people at Tom Brady’s TB12 Sports have suggested we get strength from resistance bands or yoga. They say that leads to strength while keeping the muscles pliable. They say that breaking a muscle down and building it up with metal weights actually creates a less functional, less pliable muscle and is bad for the surrounding joints. Have you ever thought about what a foam roller or a massage therapist is doing? They are making your muscles more pliable. So, why would you want to do the opposite of this with your training?

A good way to find out how functional your muscles are is to take a power yoga class and see which poses you struggle the most with. You can use yoga as an assessment. Ok, let me know how your inquiries go. And remember, the time to work on pain is before you get it.



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Marty Kunsman

Marty Kunsman is a Massage Therapist, writer and educator with an office in Davidson, NC. — Visit mk1now.com for more information.