A lesson in physical health, overcoming insecurities, getting motivated and quite simply feeling good.
For many of us, one of the biggest roadblocks to getting stuck into training, moving or simply just trying something new is the worry that we are probably going to, for lack of a better term, “suck”.
Now, there is no point in us softening the truth – you’re probably right. The best bit, however, is that by simply accepting that, you’re well on your way to getting where you want to be.
Movement and training is one of those things that people classically get caught either doing the things they are good at, or not doing anything at all. Now the risks associated may not be all that high (unless you’re in the “do nothing” basket – well save it for another time) but that is where the problem lies.
Most might think that not taking/mitigating risk is a very adult thing to do, funnily enough, most people turn to sports bet, social media or some similar medium for minor “risk inducing” thrills (yes, posting a photo is a risk and you can’t deny it).
What we encourage is an educated risk taking strategy when it comes to training because the payoff is astronomical – here are just a few of the benefits we love.
Nervous system adaptations.
Learning a new skill requires an obvious nervous system adaptation. Be it French, the guitar or a marathon, your nervous system has to learn how to handle the new stimulus. The more time you give to your desired skill, the better your nervous system becomes at doing it. It’s called neuroplasticity which, I am sure, is a term most of you are familiar with.
Now here’s a thought, have you ever marvelled at the multilingual ability of Europeans? Six languages seems to be the norm, yet most of us are flat out with wrapping our heads around English. The interesting point is, their brain hasn’t only developed the skill of learning a single language – it has developed the skill of how to learn a language. Their ears, eyes, brain and tongue are so attuned to the variability (and similarity) of language that it is a lot simpler for them to pick up yet another one.
A second consideration, is to think of people you know that have been/are dancers, gymnasts or multi discipline sport people. They too seem to have the ability to pick up a new sport or skill at the drop of the hat. The multilinguals of movement if you will. The rules are no different. The skill of how to learn is again at play here.
Hopefully by now you’re picking up what we are putting down. The more regular your exposure to variability, the greater your ability to adapt to it and vice-versa. Which brings us back to the risk taking conversation. Every moment you don’t ask something new of your body (take a training risk) it becomes harder to do – every moment you do, it becomes easier. Anything from learning to juggle, handstand, doing yoga or dance lessons will do – just be prepared to step out the box and “suck” for a little while and your brain will be all the better for it.
Structural system adaptations and “connective tissue plasticity”.
On top of your brains plasticity (for the better or worse) so too does the structural system of the body have the same tendencies. The rounded shoulder, tight hips and jamming lower back are all structural changes that have occurred as a result of the environment you have exposed them to.
Back to our dancing and gymnastic friends, you may have noticed they seem to have a lot less structural deficits compared to their less regular multidirectional moving counterparts (us). The encouraging part is that you too can enjoy such freedom of movement.
It requires two things, first diligence and second, patience. Gone are the days of chasing a 6 week goal. What we’d suggest is targeting micro risks. Take your body through something new that has different physical demands to what you are used to. Respectably increase your exposure (start once a week and build to two or three) and stick at it for 6months to a year. Your body is structured the way it is because of what it has been exposed to, so if you want it to change expose it to something new.
The natural reward system
Now it was tempting to throw this in your face on both of the aforementioned topics, so hopefully you’ve stuck it out for the juicy details.
Those of you that have ever thrown a bet down on Melbourne Cup day or posted a riskaayyy photo on social media (we are not encouraging gambling) you have probably felt the thrill and then the endorphin release of “success” (yes, getting lots of likes does make you feel good). The moments are intense and the release is rather instant – over as quickly as it started.
Well, the biochemistry of learning something new and eventually nailing it is fairly similar. What is different – is the time it takes to be successful. Take a handstand or training for a half marathon for example, it takes between 6 and 12months to be able to either and nailing it is up for interpretation. But the feel good hormones contribute to the process in a drip feed type of way and that is where the magic lies.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you learnt something new? The simplicity of taking a risk and sticking at it is abundant, you’ve just got to choose.