When a chef creates a meal, the order in which he or she adds ingredients can substantially affect the characteristics of the final product. When solving a complex mathematical equation, the order in which you add and multiply will change the answer. Putting on your pants followed by wiping your ass wouldn’t be an ideal order, but at least it inevitably gets cleaned. In many areas of life, the sequence in which we do things makes a huge difference.
“They” say you can’t out-train a bad diet. It makes sense, then, to focus on improving lifestyle and eating habits prior to, or simultaneously with, focusing on improving physical fitness. If you’re stressed, depressed, anxious, etc., then you might have quite a difficult time making good eating and lifestyle choices. It makes sense, then, to improve mindset before, or simultaneously with, focusing on improving eating habits and making healthier lifestyle choices.
If you choose to begin by working on improving mindset, you will find that the lifestyle and fitness improvements comes easier. You could also choose to begin working on two, or all three, of these areas simultaneously. They all work together, but the point is that without a solid mindset in place, diet and lifestyle changes will be difficult, and without solid routines and eating habits in place to fuel your workouts, you can forget about making substantial progress toward any sort of meaningful fitness goals.
Let’s get back into the realm of moving our bodies better. If we want to be physically active then we need to be aware of how well our bodies are able to perform various movements, skills, and tasks. This means that flexibility and mobility should always be prioritized, because improving these components of movement will always make it easier to acquire strength, improve conditioning, and develop task-specific skills. If we are working to improve flexibility and mobility daily (and we all should be!) then we should be prioritizing the quality of our breath and the movement quality of our joints, which directly impacts how well our nervous system responds to various stressors.
One of my favorite courses i’ve taken is the selective functional movement assessment (SFMA). Just one of the many great concepts from that course is using the three “R’s” — reset, reinforce, and reload — to help restore necessary mobility and stability. Using the R’s in this specific order consistently delivers the best results and can be exponentially better than just using any of these principles on its own. As an example, for someone with limited ankle dorsiflexion, we would first reset, using something like self-myofascial release, manual therapy, IASTM, etc., to restore some movement to the tissues/joints that are limited. Next we would reinforce the reset with something like a calf stretch biasing dorsiflexion, ankle dorsiflexion PAILs/RAILs (FRC nerds), kinesiotape to promote better gliding of the reset tissues, etc. Lastly we would reload the movement with some kind of real-world scenario ankle-dorsiflexion movement. This could be a squat/lunge variation, closed/open chain ankle-mobility drills, or potentially even just walking. We just want to make sure that the intervention we use can be safely processed in a real-world scenario.
In closing, it may be extremely valuable to re-evaluate the sequence that is used, whether consciously or not, in accomplishing any goal. When it comes to moving our bodies it’s better to prioritize breathing, mobility, and creating an adaptable nervous system. When improving mobility, we can use the sequence of the three R’s to more efficiently regain the range of motion that is so fundamental to moving well. For help in figuring out what a proper sequence might look like to progress you toward YOUR goals, please feel free to reach out. Keep on moving!