Consider the current trend of alignment in the fitness world in the same lens that perhaps we viewed germs in the late 1800’s.
Louis Pasteur made an important discovery: germs make you sick (oversimplified, I know, but let’s roll with this).
And, thanks to that discovery and subsequent ones, we made some beautiful advances in medicine, saving a lot of people a lot of grief.
We also, as we are really discovering now, took it too far. In the land of super-sterility — antibacterial hand soap, germ-killing alcohol swabs, bleach on every counter and disposable, pre-packaged everything — we’ve created a few monsters: super-bacteria, impervious to traditional antibiotics, is one.
The biggest one, though, is our lack of immune resilience.
We’re hearing a lot about this particularly in kids, and the resounding conclusion is woah, getting some germs in your mouth is not only okay, it’s essential in a child’s immune system.
And at any age, taking antibiotics — though perhaps necessary — is really harsh on the flora of the gut and wrecks havoc on the body, and even the mind and its moods.
So back to alignment.
We’ve made important “discoveries” (in quotes because, of course, not much new under the sun, but I’m all for repackaging for current times) about core stabilizers, neutral spines and pelvises, shearing forces and how all that correlates to pain levels.
Misalignment in movement can lead to pain. Germs can cause illness.
Are you with me on the analogy here?
We’ve also created very sterile movement facilities and therapy practices: do it this way and not that because god forbid you flex your thoracic spine … or have your sphenoid slightly out of tune with your calcaneus.
And so, perhaps just like our developing immune systems that do not thrive in a sterile environment, we have a structural immune system guided by some similar principles.
Alignment hypochondria, if you will.
Though we don’t need to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Alignment has its place, its relative truth in context. Our moving bodies likewise are left to reveal what tends to be a more intelligent and inclusive truth (as the truth tends to be … annoying, isn’t it?) than just a set of “do this; don’t do that” directions.
Your structural immunity will not thrive on reckless throwing yourself around any more than your lymphatic immune system will thrive on making out with 10 people who are about to get the flu.
But it will also likely not thrive in the predictable, room-temperature, anti-bacteria-soap-like sterility of alignment only.