In approximately one week, I will turn 31 years old.
Thirty one. As a guy who loves being active and would love to consider himself an “athlete”, my coming years are usually those known as a slow decline in to a dad-bod and decrepit-ness in our society. My testosterone will begin to wane, minor signs of degeneration will begin to show up in my spine, and in another, weirder universe the professional athlete version of myself will not see max money after my current contract expires since my best days will have been behind me. Although real world me won’t have to worry about how I’ll feed my family with my less-than-optimal multi-million dollar contract, he will certainly have to address the biggest factor in why I might start seeing a decline in how my body functions: soft tissue dysfunction and inflexibility.
As a soft-tissue expert, I spend my days fixing my patients’ adhesions and preaching the analogy of “muscle dentistry”. Adhesion can be seen as a “muscle cavity” in your musculoskeletal system, causing pain and or dysfunction that alerts your body that something is wrong. Things such as a balanced exercise routine, soft-tissue mobilization after exercise or a long day at work, and stretching would be ways to “brush your muscle teeth”. If you have a cavity, there is no number of times you can brush to remove the cavity. You have it and it isn’t going anywhere unless you see a “muscle dentist” (me) to remove it. Once its removed, regular brushing and an occasional maintenance check up will keep the “cavities” away. Once I heard this analogy used I loved it and have been using it ever since with my patients. For as much as I preach these things, I SUCK at doing it myself and this year I’m going to change it. In fact I’m going to shoot for the stars. By January 1, 2018, I’m hoping to be able (or damn close) to do the side splits. How am I going to do this you might ask?
This presents a bit of a challenge since I am the best option within a 90 minute drive of Milwaukee and there are some structures that I simply cannot treat on myself and most of those are used while performing the splits. I’m opting for some aggressive deep-tissue massage for some help, but I know I won’t be able to get everything I need from this. TBD on what I’ll end up doing.
Find a program
Aside from trying to do yoga twice per week, I scoured online and at the gym on exactly how I will manage this epic task. Around the gym I was told by the most flexible man I know (Kellen Milad–a pretty smart cat) that I should be sure to devote plenty of time to flexibility everyday and make it part of my lifestyle going forward. Coming from a man who practices his hip range of motion out the handstand position, I’ll take his word for it. On the internet you can find pretty much everything and this certainly includes “how to do the splits” routines aplenty. After an hour or so, I decided on the routine outlined at fitbodyhq. The site mentions that you should check your doc to see if you’re healthy enough to do this routine and I definitely wish more people would take this to heart with exercise. Just because you aren’t obese doesn’t mean you don’t have a certain amount of injury risk when starting an exercise routine (my patient load is a reflection of this). The routine is pretty well rounded (includes both front splits and side splits) and includes exercises as well as stretches and suggests that I will need an “epic playlist” to get through it all. I see you, fitbodyhq, I see you.
As a person who loves to watch a good Netflix episode or seven, I think I know exactly where I can fit this in my day. Having two hour lunches and working out of gyms doesn’t hurt either. If you are one to wake up early and get your workout in, that would be a great time. For most millenials I think the period of time we spend on our phones after work/working out/eating/breathing would do the trick as well.
Here are a few pics letting everybody know where I’m starting at in this quest. These pics are after I had already started a bit of stretching so now my side split stretch has graduated from “my muscles are ripping out of their insertion points at my knees” to “very uncomfortable but tolerable intensity”. As you can see, its going to be an uphill battle.
I will do my best to keep a running progress report of how I’m coming along and changes I notice in my body along the way. As I improve, I fully expect my overall function to improve as well, since my “ceiling” for function has gotten a bump. This will in turn reduce my likelihood for adhesion popping up in my body in the future, which is a pretty sweet thing perk. Wish me luck!