Specialization is for insects.
By and large we ignore the vast potential for movement in the human body. We narrow our focus to a single discipline, taking pride in being a runner or yogi, a bodybuilder or cyclist. Why? Are there bonus points for a general lack of preparedness? Unless you are the 1% of people who use your sport for income, you need to broaden your athletic base. If not, you set yourself up for predictable (and preventable) injury. Let's explore a few disciplines...
*Warning! There's some serious snark ahead. Not for the overly sensitive specialist athlete.*
Hey runners, side step. Touch your toes. I'll wait while you foam roll. I exaggerate a bit, but the fact is: repetitive single-plane movement leads to some familiar patterns of dysfunction. I'm sure the runners out there are very good at moving forward, but odds are good they also have weak (and therefore stiff) ankles, hips, and glutes. An easy fix? Strength train. Skip the long run and get under a barbell...you too, ladies. A strong runner is a resilient runner. Squats will be your best friend. Want the world's simplest strength program? Here it is:
Day 1: 5 sets of 2 squats, 3 minute rest between sets.
Day 2: 3 sets of 3 squats, 3 minute rest between sets.
Day 3: 2 sets of 5 squats, 3 minute rest between sets.
Go heavy with the squats (meaning you have to actually work under the bar). Don't go so heavy you miss a rep. Revel in your newfound legs. Rest. Repeat.
Another heaping helping of single-plane movement without the benefits of locomotion. I get it: you can touch your toes. Maybe you can find a handstand too. Can you do a pullup? Can you sprint to catch a bus? We all know the stereotypical emaciated vegan in Lululemon...don't be that guy. Be strong to be useful. By all means keep up the yoga, but add in some movement off the mat.
You'll be blown away by the effects of the runner's squat program. If the gym isn't your scene, throw in 20 minutes of sprinting once per week. Please don't fall prey to the enduarnce running + yoga combination...that has its own dangers (to be covered later).
Do You Even Lift, Bro-ing
For the rec body builders out there: sure would be nice to scratch your own back, wouldn't it? Or tie your shoes on the floor? I kid, I kid, but seriously...mobility has to come before strength. Layering strength on dysfunctional movement is a recipe for disaster. Your muscles are pretty, but if you can't reach overhead, you're doing something wrong. The key here is balance. We tend to excel at pushing patterns (bench press, pushups, etc) and flounder at pulls (chin ups, rows, and the like). And I'm betting you skip leg day...but let's focus on healthy shoulder function, shall we?
Simply add in 2 minutes of straight arm hanging at the beginning and end of your routine to bring some usable space to those stiff shoulders. Couldn't hurt to hit a yoga class once a week either.
Well, I've made enough enemies for one day! I hope the common theme is clear: specialization is NOT for humans. Movement is though...movement of all sorts and kinds. The body is begging for variety, so give it some! Go for a walk, pick up some weight, sprint, jump, climb. Get moving and don't stop.