SFH #57: Soft Tissue Maintenance
How to maintain a fluid and supported body as we age ⚒️
I woke up this morning thinking about my right shoulder. It's been bothering me this last week. My lifestyle lends to regular knots and tension in my soft tissue, especially on my dominant (right) side in my hip and shoulder. It feels like I've spent much of my adult life trying to repair or reverse the patterns that have caused discomfort and pain in my muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments.1
This morning's regiment called for a once over with my Theragun, a post-breakfast foam rolling as I went through emails, and for good measure, a focused session to work my right psoas out of its chronic stubbornness. I did the first routine here.
Whether you aspire to be spry for an entire lifetime, or you want access to a comfortable, pain-free body as you age, I'd recommend tending to your soft tissue and musculoskeletal system. The latter is your body's bones (the skeleton), muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissue. All the good stuff that supports and binds tissues and organs together. We need it to stay in fluid motion, protect our organs, and support our bipedal existence.
Here are some helpful tips.
1) Find your tune-up crew. 👷🏽 First and foremost, we need others to help guide us and keep us accountable for our physiological health. A trusted group of professionals is critical in my mind. I currently rely on my chiropractor, acupuncturist, yoga instructor(s), and close friends who are coaches and personal trainers. I chose my health insurance, knowing the first two were my focus. In the past, I've relied on a regular massage therapist as well. There is no 'right' combo. It's what works for you. Take your time, do some research, and ask plenty of questions. Not all bodywork professionals are experts or necessarily a good fit for you. I've had a mix of experiences and continue to learn from all of them. I'm happy to share more if you'd like to reach out for my advisement.
2) Dial-in your set of tools. 🔧 Your crew will help advise where to focus and what tools and methods to use. That said, I've been able to cover almost every soft tissue need with a foam roller, lacrosse ball (yoga ball works well too), tennis ball, and a Thera Cane. Combined these four (4) items shouldn’t run you more than $60. My purchase of the Theragun was a splurge and a move to reduce costs in regular massage. If you've never foam rolled or used another self applicable massage device, not to worry. It's not rocket science; it's just a bit uncomfortable or odd at first and takes practice. It can pay dividends in the long run, though.2
3) Build and test out your maintenance routine. 🧱 Good soft tissue and musculoskeletal care are about regularity. Whether you are going to a professional for a therapeutic application or doing it yourself, working it into a schedule will be essential. Former Olympic swimmer Dara Torres had an impressive routine to maintain her fitness and money-making ability. While we may not fall into that camp, our lifestyles still dictate a weekly and sometimes daily practice to release tension and provide access to a functional body.