Getting Faster as you get older (pt2) The Even Better News
What an osteopath would do to make you faster
In part one I wrote about muscle cell efficiency and decreases in muscle economy. Now I’m going to write about how me as an osteopath can help improve muscle economy through efficient movement by increasing flexibility.
An osteopathic principle believes that your muscles are a mirror of your life. What does this mean to you and why should it make you faster? Every thing you have done is “trapped” within your muscles. Every strain, pull and injury. All the times you overused, abused, mis-used your body. The hours you’ve spent sitting at a desk, on a sofa or stuck in a car in traffic. It’s all held in the muscles, making them stiffer, tighter and feeling older. These are inefficient muscles. It takes a greater effort to move them.
To move a joint the muscle on one side has to contract to pull it, at the same time the muscle on the other side has to relax to allow the movement. If the relaxing muscle is tight and inflexible it will require greater effort from the contracting muscle to allow the movement. Your economy of movement will be decreased requiring greater effort or power and decreases to your stamina.
Stretching can play a part in decreasing the inflexibility, but only a part if we consider muscle tightness in terms of structural and functional changes.
A muscle spasm could be thought of as a functional change. The muscle contracts to protect the area from further injury or insult. It’s normally short-lived and the muscle returns to its normal length.
A structural change is when the muscles form changes more permanently. There are studies showing the cellular structural changes associated with tennis elbow. It is also thought that shin splints can in part be caused by trauma and scar tissue formation in the shin muscles. Trigger points are another example of what I would call structural changes to muscles. All these examples leave the muscle either shortened or with shortened areas that don’t respond well to stretching. I also believe that training without stretching can lead to structurally shortened muscle.
This is where an osteopath can help. Working through your muscles may help return your muscles to more norm state, breaking down any restrictions to movement helping you move more efficiently.
One of my patients demonstrated that possible effects of this. He came in with left-sided low back, buttock, groin and leg pain. I treated the problems on that side and while training on a turbo trainer he noted
“Did 15mins singe leg spins this morning. Left side has more power and comfort with 10% more rpm.”
While I know this isn’t conclusive it does give me a way to start to measure improvements.
An osteopath won’t just look at your legs. They may also look at your back and pelvis to get that working properly. This would allow it to integrate with your improved leg movements making your whole running gait more efficient.
Why stop there? An osteopath can also look at your ribs and diaphragm. Loosening your diaphragm, which is your main breathing muscle, could give you a fuller breath. Working through the muscles between the ribs and the rib attachments may also allow your chest to expand more again allowing more air in.
So the other suggestion in the experiment’s conclusion, is to do some weights to improve your breathing. I’d like to suggest hold off on the weights. Get what’s there working properly and watch those efficiency gains. Then decide if you really need to do the weights. After all you’re going to be carrying the weight gain on inefficient legs.
The list is almost endless of what an osteopath could improve. The next post is going to be on what to expect when you visit an osteopath and a likely time frame for treatment. Part 3 out now