Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Michaelangelo, and Steve Jobs. What do these names all have in common? Of course, they were inventors. But they were also tinkerers. They were willing to try new things and to spend a lot of time exploring their endeavor, tinkering around until they got things right. The living and breathing human body is like an invention, something that should be tinkered with in order to keep it running well. That’s why tinkering is a major principle of fitness, training, and exercise. You need to explore and find out what works.
Just like the inventive engineer who goes out to the garage with his pocket protector, tools, and pencil and paper, to work on designing something, the trainee should go to the gym with an open and inquisitive mind, always to apply proven principles, but also willing to try new things and see what works for him. Injuries can be managed, strength and flexibility improved, and modifications can be made, based on the way someone is wired and the way someone’s specific body is built. Every person is different and every person’s body works just a little bit different. But you have to explore a little sometimes to find what works.
I know someone who had terrible back pain for years. She had tried everything- physical therapy, chiropractic, medicine, yoga, you name it. Finally, I suggested she try a vibration plate, to do some stretching and light exercise. Almost miraculously, it worked and her back felt better. Now when it hurts, she does some work on a vibration plate and it seems to always give her relief. In case you didn’t know, vibration plates are purported to increase the recruitment of muscle fibers, engaging dormant muscles that haven’t been working. And they also provide a massaging vibration. The research is spotty on them, and there have even been some negative studies lately, so I can’t give them an unqualified endorsement. But that being said, tinkering often pays off. Ask your doctor before you try any alternative treatments for pain.
It’s not that you shouldn’t have a plan for pain or for working out, or have a set program, because you do need at least a basic plan, even if it’s as simple as “go to the gym”, one of the shortest and most effective programs of all time. But never be so dogmatic, so rigid, and so stuck in your ways, that you never take the time to explore the joints, the muscles, the hormones, and the big picture for the way your body works. Keep an open mind and be willing to tinker.
- Try working out early in the morning, or later in the day, to see which is better for you.
- Try doing cardio before weight training to warm up.
- Try stretching after cardio.
- Try using bands to warm up.
- Explore different grip positions and alignments.
- Put some explorative stretches in between weight training exercises.
- Come to the gym with only a loose plan sometimes and do some random stretches.
- Try various recovery techniques like active release, self – massage, hot & cold showers, whirlpools, dry and wet sauna, and acupuncture.
- Learn breathing techniques that lower blood pressure and increase blood flow for recovery and anxiety reduction.
Tinker, explore, and learn. Tinker with your own body and physiology. Most of us are too cut off from the way our bodies work. Become more intuitive by slowing down and getting a feel for your body. Tinkering will always pay off in the fitness game.
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