My Holistic RSS Feed
Season 3 Episode 7 Transcript
First, do you know what an RSS feed is, in the technology sense? It’s an acronym that’s defined a couple of different ways but the one I like best is Real Simple Syndication. This is the term for automatic updates of information that are compatible with many types of users.
So, for example, this is the way your podcasts are kept up to date in Apple or Spotify or Stitcher or Podcast Addict or whatever platform you use- each podcast has an RSS feed that all the players can access, so each time a podcast episode is published, it automatically becomes available on all the podcast players out there. The podcaster doesn’t have to manually go in and update every single platform that plays podcasts.
This is an automatic process, and it’s a simultaneous process. New information becomes available, and poof! It’s shared everywhere, all at once.
This is a SUPER metaphor for what’s happening in your body when you learn something new! One of the first lessons you’ll always get from me is how to set up truly parallel feet. But when you practice this, it’s not just about your feet. The practice of this position is automatically and simultaneously updating information all over your body- muscles are engaging and disengaging. Nerves are activating, proprioception is being built, balance is changing, even internal systems are being affected like breathing and digesting and circulating blood.
So my own, physical, holistic version of this RSS feed stands for Release, Stretch, and Strengthen. When these 3 things are practiced consistently and together, they create the environment your body needs to establish the movement patterns that release the tension, build the structures, and relieve the discomfort that we don’t want to live with anymore!
RELEASE refers to holding tension in your muscles. I focus on muscles with this RSS feed idea because they're the parts in your body that you have the most control over. When you improve how they work, you’ll automatically and simultaneously improve how all the other structures work too, like the tendons and ligaments and bones and nerves and blood vessels… all the stuff.
So, release. This is a passive practice, and that can be hard to wrap your head around since we’re usually taught that everything that’s good for us is active. But we often hold active and inappropriate tension in muscles when they’re at rest, that impacts how we move and how we feel, so it takes time and inhibition training to let that tension go.
The line I use here all the time is that “Sensation is not the best indicator of success!” So when we’re doing a release move in my PF personal training program, you might not feel the “stretch” in the body part that the move is named for. You’re releasing tension in a body part that is potentially so used to being tense, you don’t have the sensory nerves there anymore from training yourself to ignore it.
Try this- can you lay on your back without:
If not, maybe your psoas needs some releasing!
This is the same principle that’s in play when you wear toe spacers- you’re passively releasing the muscle tension that’s created by wearing narrow shoes, with a heel, that pitch you forward. Basically your feet clench to try and prevent you from falling on your face, and that’s become a totally normal state of affairs. Toe spaces are passive tools that help you regain a natural foot shape and mobility level.
STRETCH is the second part of my holistic RSS feed. When you stretch your muscles, you feed information back to your brain about your available range of motion- not just in that muscle, but throughout your whole body. Stretching your feet loosens your hips. Stretching your core improves your neck. Stretching your hamstrings impacts your shoulders.
The thing to know here is that muscles have 2 parts. The “belly” of the muscle is the classic, all-red-on-the-anatomy-pictures, part of the muscles. It’s all muscle fibers, which kinda move like a combination of velcro and tug of war. So a good stretch backs up those velcro hooks, and gives more space for the tug of war to happen.
The other part is the “ends” of the muscles. Muscles connect to your body though connective tissue, but there’s no hard and fast boundary where red muscle fibers become white connective tissue. They overlap, with fewer and fewer muscle fibers closer to the bone and fewer and fewer connective tissue fibers closer to the belly of the muscle.
This is important because these ends can stretch too, and worse- they can tear. So stretching with good form, slowly without bouncing, and with resistance, will not only give you more range of motion in the belly of the muscles, but also more elasticity in the ends of the muscles. This is helpful for when we have to use the ends of the muscles, like in emergency situations, so that you don’t tear things we don’t want tearing.
Finally, STRENGTHEN is the final piece of our holistic RSS feed. My thing here is functional strength. I don’t care how many pull ups you can do, if you can’t pull a suitcase or pick strawberries without throwing out your back. It doesn't matter how many miles you can run or how many pounds you can leg press, if you can’t safely pick up and put down your child dozens of times a day. Strength isn’t an aesthetic thing, it’s a functional thing.
At the end of the day, the point of exercise (at least according to me, anyway) is to be stronger than your average day, so that your average day is super easy for you to get through. Practicing these RSS steps benefits not only the parts of your body you’re working, be it limb strength line hamstrings or biceps, or core strength like your breathing muscles or pelvic floor, but it also benefits your whole self to work together in a more complete, functional way- automatically and simultaneously.
Listen to the Episode Here
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Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
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