When we watch the Olympics, Wimbledon, the Super Bowl, we are watching the best of the best performing, theoretically, at their best. Countless hours of training and practice go into setting a foundation for strength and endurance to stay in the competition and to win. But what happens when the will to win isn’t enough?
Barring outright collisions, most athletic injuries occur due to moments of instability. Ask any pretty much any athlete of any competition level to depict their most recent injury. They will likely tell you they were fine until they did this “one move” or this “one turn,” then something went wrong. From the patients I see in practice, to the competitors we watch on the Olympic stage,instability is the culprit of a lot of injuries, yet it is not an integral part of our training.
Understanding Stability and Instability
First, let’s understand more about instability. Instability can occur internally- within the body, externally- outside of the body, or both. It can be due to a muscle group that doesn’t engage properly during a certain move (internal), or a sweat spot on the floor that causes one to wobble and sprain his ankle (external). Now let’s look at stability. Stability isnot strength. Most people have seen the commercial where Serena Williams stretches to return volley and lands into a split on the court. (Cool, isn’t it)? But did you see the one where she injured her knee and had to sit out of competition? (Injuries plagued her most of 2008-2010. Not so cool, sad face). The knee was not strained due to Serena being a “weak” player. We can look at her and see that she is built for her sport. Stability is not endurance. Serena volleys for hours on end in both competition and in practice. Staying on the court is not problem for her. The problem was her stability. If it is challenged and we are not prepared, we will always lose.
How often does this happen in Christianity? We are strong in God. We speak to Him everyone morning, chat Him up all day, and even commune with Him all night. We do Kingdom work and would do even more if there was just one more hour in each day. We endure in God. Our faith is longsuffering. Our trust has no end. With Him, we will go the distance. However, one pebble on the track, one sweat spot on the court, one incorrect step by even a fraction of a millimeter, and we go plunging down into an ankle sprain, hamstring sprain, or even worse…ACL tear. Again, the issue is not with our strength or our endurance; it is with our stability.
Training for Stability
As athletes of life and athletes of the Kingdom we must make training for stability a priority. It is what sets us apart from the competition, and keeps us healthy for the next match. It is often skipped by coaches and training staff on the proactive end, and rather looked at reactively once the injury has already occurred.
One reason being, team sports require uniformed drills and routines. However, stability training is based on individual imbalances. Your training is catered to you, just like someone else’s training is catered to them. Don’t compare your faith walk with your pew-mate’s faith walk. Don’t compare your hip stability or instability to your teammate’s hip stability/instability. Even if we play the same position under the same coaches, or serve on the same ministry in the same church, our temples are different. We are all built differently and will therefore execute differently both biomechanically and spiritually. Your stability training must be specific to you.
Another reason stability training isn’t as highly emphasized in practice is because it requires additional effort. Athletes are usually sent to a specialist to receive training beyond sport-specific or position-specific strength and conditioning. That is because “stability” isn’t a skillset of play or “moves” of an actual sport. It therefore wouldn’t even be appropriate to include it in the practice setting. Stability training is arriving to the gym early and analyzing mid-move stances to determine which set of muscles is not engaging appropriately, causing fluid movement to be disrupted, and making one susceptible to injury. Stability training is staying after practice to challenge those muscles, even though they are fatigued from running routes and drills all day, to execute a regimen of repetitive motions coupled with light resistance that could get boring, but you know is for the best. Stability training is taking your efforts to the “next”level, which requires both “next” level time and “next” level dedication.
Stability training is also not included as often in general practices, because it is seen as minute or inconsequential. But isn’t it those minute things—that one misstep, that one awkward throw, that one funny landing— that blows entire careers? Isn’t it that one random thought that we didn’t take captive that sends us back to the altar? Wasn’t it that one serpent that whispered into Eve’s ear and sent Eden Life into a downward spiral? Be careful what you dismiss, because the little things pile up and become the big things. Find those small areas that no one knows about you that lack solid stability, and PURPOSE to work on those. Make it part of your daily regimen to pay attention to these areas and highlight them in your training.
Instability can change one’s career and entire life in a second. I’m sure Barkley would give nearly anything to not have ruptured his quadriceps and stay on the quest towards a ring. Shawn Johnson desired and even trained hard to represent Team USA in gymnastics at just one more Olympics, but her career took an injury-depicted detour. Tyson Gay has yet to win an Olympic gold for the 100 or 200 meter dash due to nagging injuries, yet he is certain that his healthy him can beat Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. None of us can predict when the challenge of instability will come our way, but we can be sure that it is coming. Start your training now, so you will be ready when it gets here. Don’t be caught strong, but not stable.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Dr. Asha 🙂
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the website, www.doctorasha.com. 🙂