If you drive a car you know it needs to be regularly maintained for it to get you where you need to go. Changing the oil, tires and brake pads are part of owning a vehicle. Everyone accepts that routine maintenance is essential and a regularly tuned car can last indefinitely. I find it curious that this same principle is often lost in regards to our own bodies.
Some clients tell me they have low back pain, their knees hurt or their shoulders are tight. When I ask: “What are you doing to treat the condition? ” I am often met with puzzled stares or responses like: “I saw the doctor and he told me to let it rest for 3 weeks” or “My PT is working on it for me.”
These answers aren't necessarily incorrect, but many times the clients aren’t taking responsibility for their own condition. Very seldom when asking a new client about their injury history do I hear: “I do 15 minutes of mobility work per day” or “I did some research, found this great book on back pain and I have an appointment with my PT in so I can really see what’s going on.”
Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to neglect the maintenance of your body.
Cars are crude pieces of machinery compared to the complexity of the human body. So why do people assume that you don’t need routine maintenance for your body? Let’s focus on the philosophy and correct attitude needed to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
Our bodies are designed to move in a myriad of ways for very long time periods. Genetically, humans are made to move about 16 hours a day. Unfortunately in modern society, our bodies don’t move half as much as they should. Many of us spend long periods of time in comprised positions. This leads to poor physical performance and a much greater chance of injury. Working in an office, driving your car, and sitting on your couch for hours and hours a day wrecks havoc on your joints and soft tissues.
It is your responsibility to undo the damage from today’s modern lifestyle through daily practice. If you want to move well and live a long and active life, you need to take care of your body. Here are 3 tips to help you rediscover what moving like a human is all about.
RE-EVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES:
People rarely wake up and think about the way they move. In your pursuit of movement mastery, prioritize moving from the best position possible. Not just during exercise but for ALL movement throughout the day. This means learning the most efficient way to generate force while expending the least amount of energy. Eliminate compromised positions to correct any movement “faults” you may have collected over the years. It takes a conscious effort to be connected to your body.
Examples of conscious movement are: sitting up straight, walking and standing with your feet straight, and not extending your neck forward while typing on a computer. Correcting these simple faults will positively impact how your kinetic chain functions and the longevity of your joints and soft tissues.
MOBILIZE YOUR BODY:
Stretching for 30 seconds before jumping into explosive movement is a recipe for disaster. Learning how and when to mobilize your body gives you the tools to unlock your athletic potential. Watch videos, buy books, hire an educated trainer or physical therapist and talk to your training partners. Actively teach yourself and pursue a higher level of knowledge in regards to mobility. Set up a routine and stick with it. When you feel your range of movement increase slightly, modify your routine and progress towards a new goal. Always strive to improve yourself and never stop learning.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY:
This is the big one. Choosing NOT to listen to your body is terrible. If you’re in pain while exercising and it increases as you keep moving, it’s because something is wrong and the problem needs to be addressed. Pain is your body telling you to STOP! Swallow your pride and listen before it’s too late. Your body is an amazing complex organism with the potential to heal from nearly any injury if nurtured properly. On the flip side, if you neglect it for too long, you’ll destroy it in a short number of years.
Our bodies were designed to move beautifully, be resilient, have full freedom of movement and perform whatever task we command. It’s your responsibility to care for your body and keep it pain free and happy.
It doesn’t matter if you are an elite athlete or you can barely touch your toes. With the proper mindset and habits, you’ll get your body moving like it should. You can take away back pain and even prevent serious injuries with some simple movements. But first you must pay attention to how your body feels and listen when it talks to you.
Focus the mind, strengthen the body and live a good life!