How to Precondition Yourself to “Stay in the Game” This Spring…

San Juan River

It was too early in the morning to smile, yet. The Sierra was still a silent and somewhat foreboding presence haphazardly spitting first rain, then ice, then snow. It was an unassuming but constant reminder: a storm is coming. Pack quick. Leave fast. Go now.

Nine of us scurried amidst the pre-dawn darkness of snow flurries as the cold snaked its way under all our layers, nipped at our fingers and forced us to fumble, slow, stop and start again. We were frantically fastening cam straps to oars, boat frames, ice chests, and dry bags. Somehow remembering, in the deep black of morning, all the rough hewn steps in our seasonal ritual: the river trip.

Arms strained under the weight of now-rolled rafts, recognizing the feel, remembering, again, what it was like to haul gear. And, as the sun began to seep its way through the cold bringing dawn and a new day, we all piled unceremoniously into our valiant chariot (a boxy, beastly fifteen-passenger van) bound for the southeastern most corner of Utah and the only place where low river flows allowed us to go: the sanctuary of the San Juan River.

The week that followed was filled with that delicious and ongoing experience of remembering. It was spring and we were all undertaking our first ‘game’ of sorts in our chosen sport of river running.

In so doing, we took our bodies through a process of re-aquaintance, of remembering. Remembering what it was to rig, and de-rig gear. Remembering what it was to build a kitchen, to cook by the river, to create fire. We remembered what it was to read slow, slipping water, to spy the sandbars, to pull a boat though shallow water, to push against 50+ mph headwinds.

Sometimes this remembering meant stiffness. Sometimes it brought exhaustion and dehydration. Sometimes it was glorious, sometimes it hurt. We were “preconditioning” ourselves for an entire season of this wonderful stuff. We were slowly taking the steps to create a fluid foundation for a summer’s worth of river-reading, of gear-loading, of rapids, of joy.

How to Precondition Your Body for Spring

Its a common story, really, in spring: stepping out into all our ways to physically play. The sun seems to call all of us out, out, out. Enticing us with warmth (and an entire winter’s worth of hibernation) to go. Do. Be. People pull out paddle boards, seek out surfing, clip into their beloved bikes. Sometimes, if the foundation isn’t laid flawlessly, this ‘tug’ to play has us doing too much, too soon. And, if we aren’t careful, if we haven’t preconditioned our mind, spines, and bodies, injuries happen.

Injuries are, after all, the number one reason players get benched. And who wants to sit out of their favorite springtime activities before even setting foot on the field?

So this spring, amidst the remembering of your sports, also remember to pre-condition. Keep you mind and body connected. Nourish your body awareness. Keep your spine supple. Stay fluid, free, and full of energy!

Nicole Marie Hickok3 ways to make sure you’re “pre-conditioning” yourself:

1.  Connect.  When you’re out pushing you’re limits, make sure that you are connected and present with your body.
2.  Listen.  Listen to your body and honor your limits.  Test the waters before overdoing it the first time out.
3.  Flow.  If it feels like a struggle, it’s because you’re out of synch with your body.  Slow down, and pay attention to your spine.  Keep your core movements fluid.

And what’s one of the best ways to ensure that all 3 of those things are happening?  Spinal Entrainment! Stay fluid, flexible, connected, and smiling this spring.

-Dr. Nicole







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