In case you’re wondering, I did break my rib recently and I have been learning much about myself as a result. Fortunately, I have read and talked about turning setbacks into opportunities enough by now that it only took me a few days for me to look at this injury as an opportunity to do yoga with broken ribs – which I think is pretty awesome.
But I want to make it valuable for you, too – so here’s the most important thing I learned, and how I think this knowledge can benefit you.
When it comes to shoulder mobility, it’s EASY to cheat.
There are certain movements that are downright painful when your ribs are injured. The first is any kind of sit-up. The second is any sort of twisting. The third is any kind of back-bending, and this is how I learned that I need to avoid arching my back to get my arms overhead.
This is a concept I talk about often. In my videos you may hear me say “draw your ribs in”, “avoid arching your back”, or “make sure your spine is neutral, and tighten your abs”. While listening to directions is voluntary, ignoring sharp pain is not. Pain is a great teacher, and it has forced me to keep my back neutral when reaching my arms overhead, and helped me realize I was getting lazy with my shoulder mobility.
This is important because if you want to be able to hold weight overhead (say in an overhead press or in a handstand), then you need to be able to keep your spine totally neutral in order to properly engage your core and maintain stability/balance.
So… you can break your rib, or you can use a mirror and make sure your spine stays neutral. 🙂
If you’d like to know some other things I’ve learned from this experience:
- Playing lacrosse is still dangerous, but even more so when you haven’t played in a while and you haven’t been training enough for it.
- Shoulder pads restrict movement, but they do provide some protection.
- Breaking a rib generally sucks, but it’s an opportunity to work on other things. I’ve been focused on strengthening my glutes and improving my hip mobility instead of training upper-body or swimming.
And now let’s talk some other stuff. 🙂
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Here’s what’s going on this week.
Fitness focus: Glutes & Hip Flexors
I’ve been almost exclusively focused on strengthening my glutes and improving hip flexor mobility over the past few weeks, since my options are limited. My goal is to get my knees stronger by improving my hip strength and mobility for when I start working out all out again.
Music I’m listening to: Charlie Brown Christmas Album
This is my favorite jazz Christmas album. I asked a musician friend of mine for his opinion on the best one, but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. If you’re a jazz enthusiast, what do you think is the best jazz Christmas album of all time?
Product I’m enjoying: Earplugs
Put on some over-the-ear headphones along with these earplugs, and you’ll swear you’re in a noise-proof isolated room. I sleep in these every night to drown out the noise of my occasional-snoring dog and my Chili pad, and it makes a huge difference. They are also an absolute necessity on any airplane.
Book I’m reading: Why We Sleep
This is a very informative book on the importance of sleep. If you’ve read my past emails or videos, you should know that I’m a big proponent of sleep, and this is a good book that helps explain why it’s so important.
Personal Struggle: Stopping busy work to recharge.
There’s a difference between getting work done and just doing staying busy. I can stay busy with “busy work” for all hours of the day, but my time would be much better suited taking a break and recharging instead. It’s tough for me to stop since there’s always more that I can be doing, and I’ll look at the clock at 4:30 PM thinking I have plenty of time to wind down if I just finish a few more quick tasks, but then it’s 6:45 PM the next time I check the time, and it’s time to start dinner by that point.
So, I need to work on recognizing the point at which I am just “staying busy”, and force myself to disengage and recharge so I can accomplish more important work later on.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Off the Mat! Thank you for reading.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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