“The key to functional exercise is integration. It’s about teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently.” says Greg Roskopf, MS, a biomechanics consultant with a company called Muscle Activation Techniques. (He works with athletes) .
So when thinking about exercise or training we need to make sure that the muscles we work with are ones that match our life styles. And as well as that – when we have a job that places physical demands on our bodies and that job is based in the outdoors , we find that as the seasons change so do the demands on our muscles.
Whereas a month ago I was hauling buckets of warm water to fill frozen stock tanks for animals, now I am dragging hoses to fill the same tanks. All winter I throw hay down from the loft and break the bale and distribute it amongst the cattle. In the summer I will work at baling the hay and lifting hundreds of whole bales up into the loft.
As the days allow us longer outside our fitness increases and soon I will be working for hours at a time in the gardens, bending my backs a lot more, and walking miles further than I do in the winter. Many of these changes are slow so we get the chance to train our muscles to work differently again.
But some of these changes in farm exercises come along very quickly.
All bodies will do better with these changes in routine if they have been maintained and tuned – exercised and stretched over the winter in preparation for the jump in spring work. A body is a body, muscle tissue and fibers and blood and dense bones and we need to take good care of our bodies. Feed the beast as we used to say in the theater.
Eat your chosen diet well.(No problem there). Eat seasonally – the food will actually match your needs – for instance the vitamins and minerals and roughage in the fresh dark greens we eat in the spring are essential after a dark winter.
Have a simple series of exercises that maintain your core strength. (For me this is the Salute to the Sun – yoga – and in the winter all the walking that comes with travel – my chosen goal is 13,000 steps a day in the winter).
Drink water (my biggest downfall – as I am a “cup of tea” drinker!).
Just like I tell all my workers that part of their work with the animals is to stand and watch the animals for a while – noting changes. To watch them with your brain in gear. We also need to apply this watching and thinking to our own selves. Check our muscles, check our mind, note changes and work on solutions.
Do this quietly. No need to make a song and dance about it. Just match your solutions to the functions you expect your brain and body to cope with.
I have noted that I am tireder in the mornings this season, a little sadder, less physically co-ordinated, so I have tweaked my diet adding more protein and more greens to every meal and I am using Lent to make other short term changes. Though I am not a practicing Catholic now, from childhood I was trained to the 40 day fast by a very strict Catholic mother and, because of her training, I find 40 days a very manageable time frame. Though of course I don’t fast!! But I will increase my usual physical workout just a little for that same period.
I will be working on the muscles in my back and core and arms so they all DO work together when the gardening starts. These objectives are a very productive way to get me through the March blues. And remember the quote at the top of the page. Functional strength. Integration.
The sun is out and I think we might get ample sunlight today. It will not be overly warm 38F/3C but the winds will not be as strong.
I hope you have a lovely day.