During this last year of my fitness journey I have learned a lot about muscles and recovery. For example, did you know that there is a muscle close to your hip that can be tweaked for knee pain? Or you know when you sleep wrong and you wake up with a sore neck? Did you know there is a muscle underneath your shoulder blade that can help relieve that pain? I had no clue of these little tricks, until recently. My mom who is an athlete, an insane one at that! She runs marathons, does triathlons, Go Rucks, bikes across Indiana, and so much more. She has been one of my biggest inspirations for fitness, and has also taught me so much about supplements, food nutrients (did I mention she is a biochemist? So she understands the break down and chemicals, and all that fun stuff), and she has also taught me about tweaking your muscles.
For example, I was visiting them for the holidays and I woke up with a sore neck. She told me to lay down on the floor and put a racquetball underneath/next to my my shoulder blade – close to where the teres major and the rhomboid meet- on the side where my neck was hurting. She then told me to slowly raise my arm, on that same side up, then slowly lower it back down. I have to say, after several minutes of whining about the pain, I got up off the floor with no neck pain. I SWEAR IT WAS A MAGIC TRICK!! No joke, ever since then, whenever I wake up with neck pain like that, I grab a racquetball and sit on it for a good couple minutes, and am able to go on with my day without any pain.
The body is a never ending learning cycle. I took the personal training course from National Academy of Sports Medicine, and was completely blown away by what muscle controls what, and when there is a weaker muscle what can happen. My most recent astonishment has been after fighting the most annoying back pain for a little over a year, with no real explanation to what was causing it. I was originally told, after getting an MRI, that I have a degenerative disk and a bulging disk as a result to a back fracture my senior year of high school. I didn’t ask any questions with it, I just did what I was told. Low to no impact for cardio, no weight on my shoulders, and if I do lift anything it must be light weight. For a little over a year, the pain started to be less and less, however, on my leg days at the gym I noticed that is when my back would literally just throb after. I would be fine during my workout, not putting any weight on my shoulders, but as soon as I stopped moving, that is when the pain would hit. Fighting with this for over a year, after I moved to Florida, I looked specifically for a chiropractor that was tailored to athletics. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I found one pretty quick, that has AMAZING reviews. My first appointment, I told the chiropractor what has been going on, past history up until what caused the injury to flair up, etc. It took him a little bit with the questions, but shockingly a good portion of my back pain is due to tight hip flexors! I have a disk in my lower back that is slipped forward (apparently a common issue with cheerleaders and gymnasts), this causes the hips to naturally be tilted forward, this in combination with needing more core stabilization. So opening up the back muscles, hip flexors, and working on core stabilization (stay tuned for a blog about all of the fun facts for core stabilization), have alleviated so much of my back pain and I can finally start lifting how I have wanted to for a long time.
The moral of this story, due a little research, if you know someone in the fitness industry/chiropractor/etc. ask as many questions as you can. Listen to your body, if something is hurting or pulling, don’t push it! It isn’t worth the pain in the long run, or putting you out of your sport for a long period of time.