How to Play Now and Avoid Paying Later

Recently I met two people who were of great interest to me. One, an eleven year old girl, the other, a 63 year old man. The young girl has been actively engaged in physical training as a competitive athlete for 4 or 5 hours a day since she was 5 years of age. She has not been able to walk without pain for the past four months. The gentleman has been physically active since his teen age years. He now walks like a very old man.

The young girl’s doctor has suggested cortisone injections. The man has already had several surgeries for his tendons and bones. Neither client can imagine life without being active for at least several hours a day in organized physical activity.

It is true that we humans must move, move, move. We need to improve our endurance, our flexibility, strength, coordination and balance. But, the question is: how much do we have to improve our physical abilities? The answer is that we need to be carefully measuring this with a professional who knows the norms, that is how strong and flexible the muscles need to be, how much mobility there needs to be in the joints. Someone who knows how to help us improve our physical body, but who, understanding the cost of overdoing exercise, will tell us, for example, that there is no reason to run every day for three hours, which may be good training for a marathon but for which we will pay the price with musculo-skeletal or vascular problems later. Strength training for hours a day, or excessive yoga practice can also lead to joint problems and replacement surgeries, witness what happened to Jane Fonda. We see super athletes who have heart attacks and this is why in many cases, the emotional desire to compete, to jump higher, to be more flexible, run faster can have many unpleasant side effects.

In classical physical training, for every hour of physical activity, the athlete needs 10 minutes of rehabilitation, or ‘body tuning.’ Just as every car after 5000 miles needs to have adjustments, the same goes for athletes, dancers and musicians. After 5 hours of practice there needs to be one hour spent on tuning the body to prepare it for the next day’s activity. Olympic athletes hire professionals who work with them every day doing tuning and rehabilitation. In contact sports it’s almost impossible to avoid contact injuries, but in sports like running, dancing, bicycling, or yoga, in most cases there are no contact injuries. The injuries are from repetition. And, once again, just as mechanics check and reevaluate the various systems of our cars after many miles of wear, so, too, must we regularly consult professionals who can evaluate the wear and tear on our muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints and help us minimize the damage with a tune up.

Neither the 11 year old nor the 63 year old had the benefit of that advice. The child’s trainer did not suggest such an approach. The surgeon who did the gentleman’s several surgeries did not suggest how to take care of himself to avoid future problems. The best piano teacher who has a brilliant student sees a competition winner. He does not have it in mind to take care of that student’s psycho-physical condition to avoid future problems. A coach may see in a gifted student a future Olympic champion, but may not take good enough care to see that the student pays attention to his/her physical instrument in order to avoid problems later.  Don’t expect from your trainer, coach or teacher suggestions about keeping the body in tune. In my 40 years of body tuning, only a few professionals who saw students trying to do things that strain the body, recommended a professional who could help them avoid the consequences.

I am so happy right now that more and more people are searching the internet and evaluating the best practitioner for their physical problems. I see piano players, yoga practitioners, musicians, dancers, famous, wealthy, poor…all who suffer with body ailments. I treat each patient, each body with the same amount of time and expertise that I have gained in a varied practice over the years. And to each I try to give the same message: Take care of your body today for a comfortable life tomorrow. Treat it with respect and do not overstress it. For every 4 or 5 hours of activity, you must spend one hour of rehabilitation and tuning.

I keep hoping that people will learn something from me and keep themselves from having bigger problems as time moves on.