I'm about a month away from turning 30. There's been a fascinating development in 2016 for all the individuals I grew up with, we're getting old and our bodies no longer rebound as quickly as it used to. Weekend binges with your friends and starvation diets that worked at 20 stop working at 30 and you can't un-do the damage.
OKAY...Guess I'll start going to the gym you say to yourself.
Most restart training focusing on muscular fatigue (aka "the burn"). There's a huge problem with this type of approach for anyone who hasn't ran a mile since high school.
Muscular tissue regenerates approximately 90 days from end to end. Connective tissue however, takes about 200-210 days to regenerate. There's a HUGE gap there. So when an individual is fairly detrained and decides to go H.A.M at the gym, you're making a big mistake. You cannot cheat time, there's no supplement or happy dance to speed up the adaptation process. You will need to work within those parameters and be patient with your progress.
(Note: Please If it hurts, STOP! It will takes longer to repair an injury than it does to simply avoid it.)
When we were young we ran around from sun up to sun down. We hit high school and for many it's their first structured athletic program. We believe the body did well based on that structure, instead of the years of activity as a child. If you're good, you continue playing in college. You graduate and get a job. You go to the gym or play basketball every day and get by.
Suddenly you get married and little by little your level of physical activity decreases. Now you have children, and you haven't been hitting the gym. You spend much of the time hunched over at your desk. And your body yearns to be healthy. You join the softball team and blow out your knee rounding first base. I don't know how many children were blowing out their knees rounding first base. When you run around with your kids or join a rec team, an injury is almost always joint related. Very rarely is it an injury to the muscle belly. If a person trains, they often only train one linear motion e.g.- Squats so that injury should come as no surprise.
There's a point where you abuse the body that it will not come back from. We all see older adults with an extremely hunched forward posture, neck extended hard and chin up to see where they're walking. They can't fix this, the vertebrae are rectangular and years of being hunched over it compresses the front end into a trapezoid. Once it gets to this point, it's game over.
The same thing occurs to our muscle bellies. Individuals who get frozen shoulder or impingement, that's because you stop using the muscle. Lean muscle is metabolically expensive (meaning it requires a lot of energy and calories to maintain it) by not using it the body sees it as non-essential and will begin breaking it down. Of all the processes in the body, endurance is regained the easiest, followed by muscular strength, mobility though once lost takes the longest to regain.
As the muscle begins to lose its' size, but the body will begin to deposit collagen on it and the belly will shorten. For example, the traps start shrinking until a lot of it is connective tissue along the edges and you end up with that silhouette above.
Keep this in mind when you see an adult who's hurting, shuffling their feet and can't pick up their knees with their necks extended; remember they weren't this way when they were 30. This is because of inactivity.
If it happen to them, it can definitely happen to me too.