Hi everyone! Kristen invited me over to share some of my knowledge about keeping your body in top shape. With all the training general wear and tear is inevitable. Many times injuries can be headed off at the pass by fixing small problems before they turn into major problems. The truth is, most injuries are a result of cumulative stress. It’s the rare injury that’s the result of acute issue, like taking making a bad landing after a judo throw.

Two of my favorite reference books.

Over my 25 years of competition and general activity, I’ve gotten really good at breaking myself. As a consequence, I’ve also become pretty good at fixing myself. The biggest thing that has helped me is my knowledge of anatomy and how the human body works. I’m an anatomy dork and often find myself reading textbooks. It’s really handy when you’re done reading them because they resell for a lot of money! But you don’t have to read text books to get a basic understanding.

Pictured to the left are two of my favorite self-maintenance books. The one I use the most is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies, and the other one I use a lot is Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Both of these books have a lot of anatomy and technique information. Becoming a Supple Leopard is much lighter on the anatomy and heavier on the technique.

You can do a lot of self-massage with your hands, but frankly it gets tiring. This is where tools can come in handy. While pictured to the right is a MobilityWOD SuperNova, any firm ball will work just fine. Lacrosse balls are a great on the cheap option. If you’re really tender you can use a tennis ball because it will give some. You don’t need a fancy call to get work done.

It’s also handy to have balls of different sizes. Smaller balls will penetrate deeper into the muscle and apply more pressure. They’ll also let your work in areas between lots of bone better. Larger balls will hit a larger area and offer more general area pressure. They’re also more pleasant if you’re really tender.

For those hard to reach places, nothing beats a Theracane. Places like the back of your neck, upper back, traps, and even your lats are really tough to get without some help. The Theracane really lets you reach around and apply pressure to spots that are problematic to reach. You can get a similar effect by leaning against a ball on the wall, but it’s not convenient or as easy as the Theracane.

In fact, they’re so handy you may consider getting two. One for home and one for work. I have one that just lives in my work truck!

Of course they’re more to self-care than just self massage. I’m a huge fan of stretching. Muscles move joints. That’s their purpose. When muscles are tight they create extra friction in joints. This leads to cartilage loss which eventually leads to osteoarthritis.

You can get a lot of stretching done on your own, but partner stretching makes stretching a lot more effective. In lieu of a partner, you can use a stretch rope or yoga strap. The red piece of rope in the picture to the right was purchased 20 years ago when I was a competitive swimmer. I think I paid $25. Money well spent I’d say.

The other important key to self-care is to do it regularly. A long time ago… Actually not really that long ago in human history, our bodies were maintained by our daily lives. This is no longer the case. We spend hours a day doing things that are bad for us. I’m not talking about eating McDonald’s or stuff like that. I’m talking about hours of sitting, not walking, not climbing, not sitting on the ground. All of these things are important to human body health.

All this un-movement means we have to take some extra time to keep our bodies in top shape. Do a little every day and you’ll be less likely to get injured and you’ll perform better too!

If you like this article check out my other stuff over at BenjamynSmith.com!

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