Finding My Flow
Has it ever happened to you? You head out on an adventure feeling pretty good about your overall fitness and physical abilities, then at some point on the trip you find a major weakness? I hope you said yes, ‘cause I sure have.
As someone who has spent most of their life dedicated to physical fitness, coaching, and the outdoors, I’ve always felt like I had a good grasp on training. But Alaska came in like a freight train just to prove a point.
My mobility was not where it should be, and it reared that ugly truth daily.
There’s a major difference when it comes to strength and functional strength. Strength, in general, refers to the amount of force a muscle is capable of moving… however, functional strength, it’s victorious counterpart, is the amount of force a muscle can safely and efficiently move. If you want any long term relationship with fitness then the latter should be your focal point.
But what does it mean to be “functional fit” or to have “functional strength”? It refers to the overall ability and efficiency of your physical body which incorporates strength, flexibility, and mobility. Without flexibility one will lack the opportunity for proper mobility, which ultimately set’s you up for nagging joint pain, or worse, injuries.
Returning home to my “normal routine” 4 days after coming out of the Alaska mountains my body was still telling me all about it. My hips were tight, my back was still spasming, and my big toes, well, I still don’t have any feeling there.
So, I did something major - I listened to my body telling me it needed some love.
Instead of lacing my shoes and heading out to work up a sweat I got out my foam roller and I started moving around, taking inventory of what was going on beneath the surface. Tight, sore, hot spots told me all I needed to know - no gym time for me. I needed to find my yoga flow, and allow my body some vital recovery time.
Over the next few weeks, I scheduled in the time to quiet the house layout my mat and focus on repairing and lengthening my tired and bound up muscles. I remember feeling the deep burning sensations and at one point I literally cut through the quiet calmness with hysterical laughter. “Bring your left foot across your body toward your right hip, aligning your knees one over the other, then exhale as you bring your chest toward your knees.” This, of course, is the part I found so humorous. “Bring my chest toward my knees?” I paused and looked over at my phone to see the instructor with her torso rested on her legs… ON HER LEGS! Meanwhile, I was sitting up, so upright, in fact, I looked like I was strapped to a beam. Bending forward was not happening, not even maybe. It was then that I realized exactly how tight and dysfunctional my body was.
I don’t know that this revelation was really that shocking to me, but it has changed my focus as I jump back into my flow, and restart my training regimen. Instead of a heavy training workload with small bits of stretching, and mobility, I have made the shift toward a 50/50 approach. For every training session that pushes my limits, I follow up with recovery, repair, and mobility. I am already looking forward to next year and seeing the changes in my overall mobility, and functionality.
Friend, I am here to gently remind you, those “things” your body is telling you… the way it screams after a long run, or a grueling hike, that’s your body asking you for some attention. Use those signals, and feedback, as your guide to undoing the tension and improving your functional fitness.
If you’re ready to make the shift, find your flow and begin your recovery make it happen. Your best, most capable self requires it.
Find more on this topic in EP 035 - Stretching & Mobility on The Her Inspired Journey Podcast.