By Pat Davidson on 4/21/2014 Back to Articles
I’m a Lifter, and I’m Tight as Shit
I’m a Lifter, and I’m Tight as Shit
Pretty much says it all, right? I started lifting weights in 1993 when I was 13 years old. I learned to lift from Big Rick on Bodyshaping. Bodyshaping was on ESPN after Sportscenter. I was born in 1980, and my sports heroes looked like bodybuilders…Bash Brothers and Bo Jackson baby. I got to watch their early 90’s highlights, and then I got to watch Big Rick blast out Smith Machine squats with Kiana closely monitoring the status of his spandex shorts and fanny pack. Take home message, get jacked, crush bombs, run people over. How do you get there, follow Big Rick, obviously. I mean he came on right after Bo and the Bash Brothers.
I can’t even tell you how many coaches prescribed stretching for me growing up. Pat, stop lifting weights, you’re going to get muscle bound. Pat, you should do yoga. Pat, you should stretch more. Pat, you don’t want to get too tight. I listened. I listened loud and clear. I stretched and did yoga, and didn’t really go anywhere. I listened to Big Rick too. He used to talk about getting that good stretch at the end of a pec deck set. He used to talk about how full range of motion during lifts increased flexibility. I listened loud and clear, and still I didn’t go anywhere. Sometimes Dr. Pete would come on too. He was like Big Rick’s little bitch side kick, but he’s a goddamn doctor, so he’s got to know something. What did he have to say? Same shit as my coaches and Big Rick.
Big Rick, whatchooo know about osteopathy? What do you know about the autonomic nervous system? What do you know about right apical expansion? What do you know about Type II dental occlusion? What do you know about the Angle of Spee? Probably nothing. If just one of those coaches could have told me to see an orthodontist maybe I could have reached my potential. If Big Rick could have taught me to achieve molar to molar contact and to keep my tongue on the roof of my mouth when I swallow food, maybe I wouldn’t have been in chronic back pain from 1995 until the present. Maybe if I had a coach who could have taught me to move my ischium towards my popliteal space on the left side I could have enjoyed the way my body feels. Stretching…please. Maybe if you have advanced knowledge of the exact directions of osteo pathomechanics and which muscles correspond to which ligaments and capsules you could get some big bang responses from stretching. My guess is that nobody has ever mentioned the things that you just read about in this paragraph. Nobody mentioned them to me before last May. Too bad too, because I’m finally coming unlocked. I’m finally able to move my body as I remember doing it when I was a little boy. I’m finally able to think clearly, focus, be unafraid of the world, believe in myself, and learn to relax and unwind.
Do you hate days where you can’t lift? I used to as well. I used to not know what to do with myself on those days. Deload…sure buddy. Holidays, son of a bitch…training lost, sit all day, get tighter, feel like a lump…gross. Everything about my lifestyle was geared towards providing myself with a schedule that would ensure that I could lift and train on a daily basis. I never wanted to get a PhD to be a researcher. I wanted a PhD so that I could have a ton of time off to lift, and be able to hang out with monsters in their early 20s. If I could continue to hang with the early 20s monsters I’d ensure that my body stayed young and athletic. But the thing is, the more I trained, the more I NEEDED to train. I couldn’t feel good or okay about myself unless I trained my balls off today.
I am physically stuck in sympathetic tone. I need surgery on the palate of my mouth. If you were to look inside my mouth, you’d be amazed at how high and vaulted it is. It’s almost like it’s not there. I will never be able to get out of sympathetic tone until surgery flattens my palate. My palate is stuck in extension. Extension equals sympathetic tone. Sympathetic tone is associated with the fight, flight, or freeze response. How many people are able to feel relaxed, move beautifully, and be able to enjoy themselves when they’re stuck sympathetic? How about none. I can’t touch my molars together in my mouth. I read a few dental articles about this. There is a zero percent chance that I’ll ever be able to get my right neck into a place where it can relax until I can get those teeth to touch. The orthodontic literature shows that for people like me, the only way to fix the situation is through molar implants. Build up the bottom ones until you can close the top ones down on top of them. I’ve been rolling up napkins and putting them on top of my bottom molars. My top molars all of a sudden get to feel contact with something. This is the first time in my life that this has happened. As soon as my teeth hit that paper, everything relaxes. It’s wild. It’s still not a good situation. I’m a still a tight pathological mess, but it’s amazing how much better I feel when my teeth touch something. Dental occlusion is a big deal. Stretching, hah…whatchooo know about occlusion yoga lady? I’m not saying yoga’s bad. Hell I still do yoga. I enjoy it. Makes me feel good. In fact, these days yoga even helps me move better. Crazy.
Stretching isn’t bad. Lifting weights through full range isn’t bad. I don’t know if anything is really bad. It’s just that we’re placing emphasis on secondary factors. We haven’t hit the most proximal of proximals. We haven’t identified your magic button. You probably don’t have the world’s shittiest mouth like me. That being said, I’ve been looking inside the mouths of big strong monster lifters lately, and I’ve noticed something. Vaulted palates. Oh that baby’s up there. It doesn’t look like the flat, wide palate that flexible, easy movement, I don’t like to lift weights because I don’t want to get too jacked girls show me. Son of a bitch. Maybe she knew something. Maybe all that time that I thought she was a moron and lacking a scientific perspective, it was me who was the moron who lacked perspective. Talk about feeling as though I had in my mouth for years, hated the taste, but didn’t even realize I had toes straight under my nose.
What’s your take away reader? Maybe you identified with me. Maybe you’ve tried everything to be able to get that good arch when you’re setting up for a snatch. Maybe your warm-ups started encroaching upon an hour duration. Maybe a lacrosse ball has found its way into every angle and crevice of your body. Maybe you feel like you hate slow days. Maybe you feel like you can’t fall asleep at night, and you can’t get going in the morning. Maybe you feel like you’ve got that belly fat and love handle situation that’s just going to be a part of who you are from here on out. Maybe you’ve been stuck in your log clean and press for three years, and you purposely don’t do contests with a log because it’s embarrassing and it hurts you for weeks after you do one rep. Maybe you chalk up your inability to win contests because you’re getting older and that’s just what happens. No man, it doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t know what you need if you’re reading this. I’d never know until I got a chance to take a look at you. Maybe I can help you, maybe I can’t. If I can’t, I’ll send you to an eye doctor, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, a podiatrist, a dentist, an orthodontist, a psychologist. Hell, it might even be expensive to work with somebody like that. You just have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Is there a price tag on looking, feeling, and performing at your best? Apparently there is, because most people would probably be unwilling to do this. I’m not okay yet. I’m still in pain. I still move like shit. My log clean and jerk is still embarrassing and painful. But I feel good for the first time in my adult life. I’m moving better. I’m losing fat I didn’t need. I’m motivated. I’ve got energy. I’ve got passion again. I didn’t need more stretching. I needed my teeth to touch. I needed to find my palate with my tongue. I needed to learn now to extend, adduct, and internally rotate my ilium bone. I needed to learn how to rotate my sacrum back to the left. I needed to learn about sphenoid bone rhythm during breathing. The improvements that I’ve felt in my life are not a placebo effect. My life is tumultuous. I just lost the job of my dreams. I don’t know where my future is heading. My status is as uncertain as it has ever been. Doesn’t matter though, because I finally learned the truth about myself. It’s a hard truth. It’s one that says surgery is the only option. It’s one that says that my mouth will be wired for three years post-surgery. It’s one where I’m probably going to go broke in paying for the surgery and the wiring procedure. You know what though, I can’t take money to the grave. I can’t take accolades to the afterlife. All I’ve got is my time on this rock. All I’ve got is me in the end. Do I want to live a life where I feel better? Yes, most definitely, because in the end, the quality of your life, and the way that you felt about your experience here is all that matters.
Pat Davidson is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Springfield College. Pat’s academic background includes an M.S. in Strength and Conditioning and a Ph.D in Exercise Physiology. Pat competes in Strongman in the 175 pound class, and has coached Springfield College Team Ironsports members to national championships and world championship appearances in Strongman. Pat specializes in using Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) concepts to keep athletes healthy and block program designs to help elite athletes raise their physiological fitness capacities to the highest possible levels. Pat is launching DELTA Force Training Systems (Dynamic Exercise Leading to Adaptations) in the spring of 2014. Services include seminars, in person evaluations, online evaluations, coaching for optimal lifting performance, strength and conditioning for all types of athletes, and program design. If you’d like to contact Pat, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his cell phone is (508) 685-8455. Don’t be afraid to give a call or shoot a text, you don’t have to be a stranger…let’s talk shop.