I have often wondered about the origins of certain sayings and expressions. I was brought up to be taught that when you” fall off your bike, just get right back on again.” As a child on my first two wheeler, it was a literal expression to be applied to the training practice and process of learning. Mistakes and failures were simply part of the process of eventual accomplishment. This life lesson is so emperical that its sayings origin dates back much earlier in time. The original expression, in fact, refers to “getting back on the horse again” which dates back centuries ago. And today the message still remains timeless.

The real value of the expression remains on when and how to “get back on that horse.”

My experience has shown that a knee- jerk instantaneous reflexive return isn’t always the best strategy. Whether its recovering from an acute injury, a lost job, a broken relationship or a mourning experience, there needs to be a suitable healing period first. This is the rest and regroup phase that I discussed in last weeks blog.

So when is the right point to shift from rest to action and what approach should be given to overcome that self-protective fear response to avoid trying again?

Lets continue this discussion with respect to the human body. The human frame is built for motion. Movement and regular exercise are an essential component to the healthy maintenance of not just the muscles and ligaments, but to all the complex organ systems in the body. Millions of dollars are spent each year on research that supports the necessity for adequate exercise. Depending on the severity of the injury, the suitable rest period may vary. Generally speaking, the average fracture takes 6-8 weeks to heal. The average sprain takes 4-6 weeks and the average cut/bruise takes 1-2 weeks. Once this period passes, sufficient rest has been attained and now the risk comes from the effect of too much rest and inactivity. Consider a finely tuned automobile. In order to keep the engine running at optical performance, the car must be driven regularly on the road or carbon will build up in the engine and it will sputter at high speeds.

So too does the human body when subjected to prolonged rest. Soft tissue adhesions in the form of chronic scar tissue may build and that prevents optimum elasticity which can limit the full range of motion and lead to pain and stiffness. (Remember the tin man in the wizard of Oz? Rain leads to oxidization of metal but its the prolonged immobility that causes the iron oxide to corrode and fuse the metal together). An aptly used oil can was sufficient for the tin man. For humans, the preferred choice is chiropractic adjustments and active release therapy (ACT). This is an effective therapy that combines manipulation with movement by isolating and breaking up trigger points and scar tissue, and promoting blood flow to muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves.

The next element to consider is in the DESIGN of the return to motion. This includes the scheduling, the frequency and the intensity by which to establish a new consistent and optimal rhythm. If you a sports fan, you will often hear commentaries on this subject of getting the injured star athlete back in the game,especially during playoff season. For those of us not under the rigid clock of an urgent time deadline, the slow incremental approach is best. It may take a little longer, but the long term gains are quite substantial and often more rewarding because they ultimately lead to an automatized rhythm of fluidity, consistency and a lifestyle habit.

For a practical strategy, consider breaking down your return to rhythm goals into my three faceted volcanic model approach.
1. Mindset- Decide which health endeavor matters most to you. Always know why you wish to continue to pursue your chosen actions. Understand that FEAR is an expected element in your return to action. Its hardwired in your DNA to protect yourself. Learn through practice of letting fear be your Importance indicator and not your cue to avoid.
2. Structural framework- Design an incremental schedule of return that is the least intimidating and very easy to attain. Start with 2 minutes and 2 repetitions.Its a small win and a small gain but it leads to consistency and rhythm. Build momentum by gradually adding repetitions and increasing time intervals. Listen to your bodies pain cues if the increment levels are to great or too fast. Instead of stopping, maintain current levels until the body adapts and habituates.
3. Action- Follow through with the habit formula of execution that I have described in detail in prior blogs. Use your daily reminders and rewards to set up and track your daily performed actions. Follow and keep your streak going until the fluid rhythm of your activity takes over. The rhythm is everything. Its a driving force. It eventually becomes automatic and requires minute cognitive awareness. It keeps you on track even when your mindset, energy level, motivation and willpower are challenged. Next stop – Your back in the saddle again!

Please share: Can you envision a hobby, activity, sport or program that you could perform regularly, seemingly effortlessly and daily with competence? Its possible once you establish and regain your rhythm.