by Terry L. Wilson
Old-School Martial Artists Offer Advice for All Who Plan to Train for Life! Part 5: Brian Garrett
In the United States alone, millions of people practice the martial arts. Each discipline — there are several hundred around the world — comes with a specific skill set that requires regular reinforcement. Unfortunately, life can get in the way and prevent us from training as often as we want in pursuit of that reinforcement.
One of the most common reasons we miss workouts is an injury incurred during training. This is readily apparent to anyone older than 40. Eventually, the human body pays a price
for the concussions, tweaked joints and broken bones that often accumulate over time. Black Belt wanted to know how veteran martial artists deal with careers filled with such damage. More importantly, we wanted to know how they have adjusted their training and teaching to account for those impediments. To that end, we spoke with four respected masters.
To assist you in staying in fighting shape decades into your career, Black Belt Wellness & Performance Store has been intentionally curated by top experts in the field of medicine, health, and fitness along with key insights from former professional athletes and martial arts champions.
Remember That As You Get Older, Your Stress Threshold Drops!
Expert: Brian Garrett, DC
Just as America has its interstate highway system that connects cities, towns and rural locations, the human body has an intricate network of 7 trillion nerves that connect the brain, the spinal cord, the muscles and everything in between. The key to avoiding problems lies in keeping everything in good repair so nothing disrupts the body’s
Brian Garrett is a San Diego–based chiropractic kinesiologist and taekwondo black belt, and he’s fine-tuned that biological network in patients for more than 30 years. His job is to ensure all those parts are communicating so they can function properly.
“It’s all about getting 100-percent proper function from the brain, body and muscles,” Garrett said. “The labyrinth of nerves traversing through the body is like a busy one-lane highway going north and another four-lane highway going south, so your body gets way more
information because it needs to adapt.”
According to reports from the American Institute of Stress, some 120,000 people die each year of stress-related causes. Just as stress that stems from a bad day at the office can build over time, stress that results from a training injury and the aftermath can become serious if left untreated, Garrett said. “If you are working out so hard that you are stressing yourself and not allowing time to recover, you are more likely to get injured — and as you age, you may never recover from that injury.”
The No. 1 martial arts–related stress injury involves the hips, he added. “Years of high kicks [can] result in hip replacements that may have been preventable. Unfortunately, very few people look at the five ligaments of the hip to make sure they’re working properly. It’s the same with the pelvis’ ligaments and muscles; [people] don’t work on the six external rotators of the hip to ensure they’re aligned.”
Garrett said that warming up before class and making a conscious effort to not overtrain during workouts are crucial elements of training for life. “When you’re young, handling 500 ‘units’ of stress isn’t a problem, but when you are older, your stress threshold goes down,
and that’s when long-term problems can set in.”
The knees are also the cause of frequent problems, he said. “Don’t be afraid to ice your knee after a workout. Swelling can set up scar tissue, and that shrinks over time, making it tighter and tighter in that joint. Preventative maintenance and common sense can add years to training and overall health as you age.”
He encourages all martial artists to focus on prevention. “One of the problems in today’s world is that people believe that science and technology is better than the original equipment,” Garrett said. “I am here to tell you that just isn’t true.”
During his career, he’s treated plenty of people who have had hip and knee replacements. Yes, such procedures can improve the quality of life of a person in pain, but he’s adamant that preventive maintenance is an infinitely superior approach.