Reflecting on their relationship
The more I learn about Crossfit, the more I have reflected on my own practice of Ortho-Bionomy and how much crossover there actually is. On face value they don’t seem to have much in common but when one digs a little deeper, it becomes obvious how much they actually complement each other. So this raised the question in me :
What has Ortho-Bionomy got to offer the CrossFit community (and what has Crossfit got to offer that deepens my understanding of the ways Ortho-Bionomy can be applied)?
Greg Glassman has said that Crossfit training is a combination of enhanced functional movement and high intensity training. As our physical form is the basis of efficient and effective human movement, that form needs to move with as much co-ordination and coherency as possible. This allows us to perform at the peak of our ability and to reduce any possibility of injury.
So what does this have to do with Ortho-Bionomy?
Ortho-Bionomy works with the musculature, fascia, joints and the neurology underpinning those structures. It effectively releases tension, enhances proprioception* and, through affecting the way the neurology is ‘firing’, retrains our body for efficient, coherent movement where poor habits are disrupted and injury is less likely to occur.
This is especially important when we are learning new ways of using our body such as when we first start using any of the techniques employed in Crossfit. It is equally true when we are recovering from injury and in the process of rehabilitation. We need to get the basics right to avoid problems into the future. This is where Ortho-Bionomy can really help.
It is easy to develop poor habits when we are learning something new. If we already have tension or a ‘flat spot’ in our body then it is easy to develop poor technique despite our best efforts. This is because our movement is mediated by our neurology, which is beneath the level of conscious control. Despite our best efforts we just can’t quite find the way to change it in order to do things more effectively. Because Ortho-Bionomy is engaging directly with the reflexes of the nervous system, it stimulates and re-trains a coherent pattern of movement through which we can develop the most efficient technique.
Through this stimulation of the nervous system, the changes become known to us consciously through our awareness which makes it possible for us to fine-tune our technique but with clear intent.
It is also true when we have suffered an injury or are experiencing pain. Ortho-Bionomy speeds up the process of repair through reducing the inflammation and engaging the body’s self-correcting responses – responses it is already undertaking anyway. This means that there is less time spent away from the gym and from training and means that you can get back a whole lot faster.
When we experience an injury or are in pain we will usually compensate in order to relieve the pain. We may also be left with a change in the structure after healing is complete. This can set up patterns of tension that often lingers long after the injury has healed. This makes us more susceptible to further injury down the track.
This is especially likely where we are performing high intensity training as we are in Crossfit. Where there are patterns of tension we have the forces acting upon us in a different way. There will also be less responsiveness in the tissues at a time when we need that responsiveness the most – especially when making large sudden movements as in the snatch. Through addressing those patterns of tension, be they in the fascia or musculature, and addressing the neurological patterns underpinning this, Ortho-Bionomy ensures that we maintain the most effective and efficient technique possible. This basically means we are less likely to re-injure ourselves or cause pain.
Where there is less tension in the fascia and musculature there is also greater capacity for the flow of fluids through a specific area or through the body as a whole. This is important in flushing away the waste products including any inflammatory markers and bringing back the fresh fluids into the areas of the body we have been working on. It’s these chemicals that contribute to the pain and discomfort we experience after a training session or following competition.
Coupled with the increased responsiveness of the tissues and nervous system itself, recovery time is reduced and we build a great deal more resilience in our system and in ourselves as a whole.
In summary, Ortho-Bionomy is effective at helping develop the neurological and physical coherency and co-ordination that is essential in developing the best technique. This is true when we are starting out, have been doing Crossfit for a while or are recovering from injury or experiencing recurrent pain. It also aids recovery time, repair, healing and rehabilitation after injury.
*Proprioception is the ability to be aware of where oneself is in space. The proprioceptive nerves are clustered around the joints but are also present in the muscles and tendons. It is these nerves that track and let us know our body position and the speed of our movement