Mr. Bones Takes A Ride, And That’s What It’s All About

Hi folks,

We have a number of major sub-systems holding our bodies together, which in order of depth from the surface include the integument (essentially skin and nails), fascia, muscles and tendons, and bones and ligaments. These structural components are nourished in a number of ways by the gastrointestinal, respiratory, vascular, lymphatic, nervous (central, sympathetic, and parasympathetic), and endocrine systems. Along with a few other bits and pieces, that is us in a nutshell. As athletes you should be sure to take care of each and every one of these systems, to paraphrase Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (loved that book), by Charles Dickens.

How do you take care of something that you don’t understand, and for many of us don’t even know or care that it is there or that it needs nurturing appropriately? The trick lies in completing your body map, which will take you many many years, will never be finished, but is well worth the effort. A body map is an image in your mind of your body, where each part is located, and how it functions. There are tools and businesses to address each of these systems and their integration.

The author takes Mr. Bones for a ride, while he reads about the 'no loitering' conflict in Chapel Hill.

For instance, Feldenkrais, which I have been studying for about five years, is somewhat focused on the skeleton. This is why Karen, my instructor, has Mr. Bones as an active collaborator in our sessions, and to whom we refer frequently for anatomic insights. For your fascia you might go to a Rolfer or study Continuum, for muscles a Kinesiologist or a Massage Therapist, nervous system a Sports Psychologist or Coach, gastrointestinal system a Nutritionist of caveman, and so forth. For integration of it all, I think Yoga, Tai Chi, a good coach, or just watch what goes on in your body and record it in your mind, a notebook, the website, or an online training log, such as Training Peaks. Whatever you do, however, follow Ayn Rand’s advice and develop a conscious philosophy of your training approach. Here is a vignette from my weight-lifting days to show you what can happen if you don’t take this approach:

I was at the gym a number of years ago, and I met a guy who had suffered the consequences of failing to take into account the differences between his body systems with respect to growth rate. He was a nice young man, with a good attitude, lifting moderately heavy weights for his size, but I noticed a major asymmetry in his pectoral muscles; big on the left and small on the right. Somehow this issue came up when he asked me to ‘spot‘ him on benchpress. I asked what happened to his chest, as I was concerned for the safety of the spot, which is one of the reasons for spotting in the first place. He didn’t seem to mind my question. The answer was startling and enlightening. He informed me that at one time he was able to lift very heavy weights through the use of steroids, or some other endocrine ‘aid,’ but that he had done it too quickly. The drugs, along with regular lifting resulted in massive pectoral muscle growth, but unbeknownst to him the related tendons, that attach these muscles to the chest, grow much more slowly. This guy was my height, 5′ 6″ and weighed about 160 lbs at the time of the incident, when he was bench-pressing a straight bar with 450 lbs. All was well until the pectoral muscles on the right side of his chest literally tore away from his ribs; I still cringe at the description he gave of the tearing sound it made. He luckily escaped any other serious injury as the bar fell to the floor. Years of rehabilitation had returned him to the gym, but now he came with a much better ‘body map.’ That is what can happen if you don’t understand what you are doing, but do it anyway.

Watch, listen and learn my friends, and you will have a long and happy athletic life. The Internet has made a world of information available at your fingertips, so start there, perhaps.

-k Your Medical Mind


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.