In 2012 I retired from military service. I wasn’t ready to settle down and find a comfortable job and begin the second half of my life. I wanted something different. So, my family and I decided to give it a go “off the grid”.
Finding a fairly rough piece of property, we gathered our gear, sold our suburban house, bought some chainsaws and began our journey.
I was fortunate to have two healthy sons and a motivated wife. One thing was for sure, life would be different on top of our “Nano-summit” in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Life resumed but the dynamics had changed for everyone. Every part of daily living would become more “manual”.
Years had passed since I had been running, training, and playing. Now, it was all work. From felling trees to milling our own timbers, keeping roads open, cutting and splitting firewood, structure building during winter, and hauling supplies up top by harness and sled. I assume you get the picture.
I was constantly moving, lifting, and pulling yet my body became increasingly tighter. Soon pain entered the picture where stepping in a small hole would send shock waves from my lower back throughout my entire body. After building our first guest house, I would constantly ask myself- “Could I continue to live like this, and if so, how long?”
I temporarily dropped the major projects and decided to go to town and start training at the gym. I began physically hammering my body again. The result- I appeared to get my gym strength back but, it did not transfer to what I was doing as far as working back on the hill. In matter of fact, the pain came back. This time it was not only in my back, now it was in my hips! I was losing the ability to stand straight up without extreme tightness and then the “hip popping”. Now what?
After a series of consults with doctors and physical therapists (all of whom were tri-athletes). I began a regimen of annoying exercises and opted out of any surgery solution . Eventually I began to recover.
Important Note: Exhaust all options before considering surgery. Once it is done, it is done! Avoid cutting into your “Earth-Suit” until absolutely necessary. Actively seek out counsel with multiple legit professionals (doctors, physical therapists, movement specialists, strength coaches, etc…)
Back to the story.
I eventually discovered their solution was to treat the symptoms, but not the root cause. I needed something permanent.
I found several great coaches and began working on proper strength, but only after improving movement quality. I would often hear, “treat the body as a whole, not a series of pieces?”
I wanted my previous life back, so I committed to starting from scratch.
Why do we lose our mobility and strength as we age?
I always use the aircraft analogy. As former aircrew. I knew a flying plane was a happy plane. Aircraft that were flown consistently were healthy planes. Planes that sat in the environment or flight line for extended periods of time, especially in austere (think stress) conditions would tend to have accumulating “issues”.
The human body is like that.
Let’s say for example, your job requires a lot of driving or sitting. You tend to allow our body to relax and collapse forward (think of someone on there “smart” phone). In response, the human body adapts and becomes more efficient at its present condition. It says, “We don’t need all these little (stabilizer) muscles working…. shut them down and let the big guys (prime movers) do the job”. What happens next? Tightness and pain associated with movement.
- You pick up a box to put it on a shelf overhead and you feel pain in your shoulders or neck.
- You turn your head around to back your truck up or reach for your seat belt and you feel pain.
- You sit for hours at a desk and get up and your lower back lights up.
Instead of resetting the system (re-tuning the engine) what we normally do is take ibuprofen and try to avoid the movement as much as possible and hope it goes away.
Unfortunately, hope is not a strategy.
What if I start exercising? Will it go away?
Yes and No.
While moving your body is good for you, stressing or ”loading” your body with bad movement patterns is not. Have you ever known someone who goes to the gym a lot but blows his back out picking up a 15-pound box off the ground? Remember, an injury does not have to manifest itself at the gym. It can happen anytime or anywhere which makes it even harder to explain why it happened.
Before embarking on strength or running programming regardless of age, I always introduce deep diaphragmatic breathing and a series of resets (explained below) before moving on. Once they begin these resets and demonstrate that their body can safely stabilize their own weight, we move on by integrating those within their specific training.
I always prioritize proper human movement before conditioning and skill training.
I want to avoid “Exercise Chaos”. We start with a solid movement game plan and then continue a seamless flow into the specific “loading” goals of the student.
What do you want?
If you are a logger, you probably don’t want hit the gym after twelve hours plus in the woods. That person probably wants to be able to just move freely and without pain. If you are at a desk all day, you know you probably need something more. Maybe you are retired and want to regain lost resiliency and be able to move with strength at any age. How about the aging bowhunter regaining back/shoulder stability and strength to actually increase his draw weight, not lose it?
Everyone is different.
What does everybody have in common?
One thing is for sure, we all want to be able pursue our sport, enjoy life, and move freely with strength and without pain. This applies to the college student as much as it does the senior. The big difference is that the senior is more aware of these changes and their consequences!
What is a movement system?
A series or flow of movements (also refered to as resets) that literally reset the nervous system resulting in a return of joint mobility, stability, and strength. Often called Reflexive Stability. Think of rebooting a computer. If the computer gets squirrely, turn it off and on again. All is good in the world. That’s it. There are several methods out there. I use and teach the Original Strength System. Why? Because it is very simple, consumes little time, and results are almost always immediate. It is not uncommon to observe a student gain 3-5 inches on their toe touch the first session! I affectionately call it “Redneck Yoga.” Yes, it’s that good! And it can be that simple.
How does it work?
OS contains “Three Pillars” of movement. The big three are breathing, vestibular system activation, and contra-lateral movements.
First, the breath. It always begins with breathing with your diaphragm. Just think of your diaphragm as the Captain of your “muscle ship”. It plays a vital role in how your body absorbs and projects power. It is part of what you would call the power cylinder and is not only directly connected to your nervous system, but it also plays a role in stabilizing the spine. Next, we continue by activating the vestibular system with quality head movement combined with proper breathing technique. Now we add contra-lateral movements in concert with the first two pillars of movement.
I still live off the grid, my children have run off and joined the military. Everything I delegated to them is now on my shoulders. Where it should be.
At present I am forty-nine years old. I have fixed my back, hips and shoulder issues. Even though I was told I should never run again and surgery was inevitable.
“That’s just the way it is, your getting old.” Ignorant words from ignorant Health Practitioners. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I am stronger and more mobile than I have been for decades. I have reestablished confidence to continue our goal to building our final home without doubt or fear. When I’m not building, I’m coaching others who want to work toward the same thing. Reclaim your ability to live life without fear of physical decay and weakness.
- Whatever your condition, you can always get better.
- Always address proper human movement before “sport or training”. Always.
- Don’t ever stop moving! Ever!
- Movement quality never ends, you practice until the day you drop dead. It is life maintenance. It has no destination.
- Life starts and stops with breath. Make them good. Breathe baby breathe!
- It’s nobody’s responsibility but yours.