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A Look at Athletic Life & Its Many (Hard-Earned) Benefits

1 Jun

I am a lifelong athlete. I wouldn’t say I am a “natural,” but I consider myself athletic. How do I define athleticism? Fundamentally, it is the attitude of being inspired by the potential of human movement to improve your physical health, as well as in activity’s ability to enable mind/body learning and goal achievement. Another way to consider this is that every movement-related activity is an opportunity to understand how your body and mind function in a way that is different than eating, sleeping and working. Each new sport is a complex integration where you are learning the rules and then applying them to specific movements.

At a basic level, most sports are a practice of efficiency and economy of movement to generate the most output. With few exceptions (cross training, functional movement training), every sport is a very specialized set of activities. Your body is an adaptable machine, and over time it internalizes the movements required of a particular sport. Simultaneously, the plasticity of your body molds and develops it around the movements inherent in a sport.

The downside of this is that same increasing efficiency through specialization contributes to the creation of imbalances in your physical machine. Witness the various injuries related to each activity: “tennis elbow,” baseball’s “Tommy John surgery,” ACLs in skiing, and many others.

Through my nearly 50 years of athletic life, I have gone through bursts of starting, learning, and then practicing many sports and activities at a high level. Even now I have a practice of making a deep dive into a new activity for three months every 12 to 18 months to understand how it works and explore whether it’s something I want to add to my set of preferred activities. Continue reading