We all know that we should maintain our vehicles in order to keep them running better, longer, and to prevent them from breaking down. We get the oil changed regularly, perform scheduled maintenance work and check ups, and get things fixed when they break or when the engine light comes on. As modern humans, we should be doing the same with our bodies. By maintaining our bodies, we can keep them moving better and longer, and greatly reduce the likelihood of them breaking down, getting injured, or ending up in pain. We can keep our tissues and joints healthy and mobile, in order to keep us active and pain free. It should be everyone’s goal to treat their body better than they treat their vehicle.
Everyone has the right to know how to perform basic maintenance and mobility work on their body. This can be done using stretching techniques, mobilizations, foam rollers, lacrosse balls, softballs, bands etc. Regardless of the modality you choose, the maintenance work should be done regularly and with a purpose. At a minimum, maintenance/mobility work should be aimed at reversing the effects of static postures or positions like sitting. It should be done to help maintain a good overall posture, and keep joints and tissues moving through normal ranges of motion. It should also aim to allow us to get into better positions depending on what our activities, hobbies, or sports require.
As modern humans, many of us find ourselves spending a large portion of our time in static positions, or performing repetitive tasks without much variety. Our tissues and joints will adapt to the positions that we put them in most often. A good example of this is the effects that sitting has on our bodies. Sitting prolonged is harmful for many reasons, and it often leads to globally stiff hips, spines, and tissues in general. For anyone sitting throughout the day, a good way to start is by performing the maintenance work needed to reverse the effects of sitting. This can help get us back to a baseline level of mobility that our human frames should be at.
For the athlete or active person, it should also be done for the purposes of recovery and to help maintain the positions that are needed for each specific sport or activity. Mobility and maintenance work is often the missing link for active and athletic people. It can be done to reverse some of the restrictions that can develop from specific positions or movements seen in sport or training. It also allows us to work on maintaining the mobility that we will need for our sport, and to reverse the effects of our daily jobs or routines. For example, the office worker who happens to be a runner needs to make sure that their hips maintain enough mobility, (extension in particular), to keep running safely and pain free- this is where the maintenance and mobility work come in, as they must undo the stiffness that sitting all day causes. Mobility and maintenance work can help maintain good tissue quality, and can help calm down muscles that may be overworked or ‘tight’. It can also be done to help neurologically relax the body as a whole, and help athletes recover better.
Whether you are an elite athlete, a weekend warrior, or someone who wants to live an active and healthy life, a self maintenance practice should become a habit. It is one of the ways that we can reclaim movement and mobility, and keep our tissues and joints healthy. Be aware of what you are trying to accomplish, and target your specific restrictions. Mobilize and maintain your body with a purpose, and get attuned to how your body works. Maintain your meat vehicle.