It’s fairly obvious to see how an injury can result in restricted movement – pain and tissue damage typically prevent normal movement patterns and limit the ability to load the tissues. Thus, we don’t move well when we’re injured or in pain. But how does movement become restricted in the absence of any specific injury? Or after we’ve healed from an injury?
It comes down to adaptation.
To begin with, the human body is really good at adapting to its environment. That means if you spend most of the day sitting, your tissues adapt to this static posture because nothing more is being required of your body. We become what we do.
Unfortunately, so many of life’s conveniences and technological advances deprive our bodies of movement opportunities. Less natural movement throughout the day leads to bodies that get stuck in bad patterns and in turn, have more aches, pains and stiffness.
Don’t let this be you – restricted movement and poor posture is preventable. And because the human body is so amazing, it’s also changeable. Even if you’ve already acquired some less than optimal movement habits that’ve kept you stuck, your body can change.
So, let’s dive in and look a little deeper at ways to expand your movement boundaries and get unstuck.
Of course, we all have limits to what we’re physically capable of doing. But movement boundaries are more than physical limits; thoughts, pain and emotions can limit movement too.
Physical movement boundaries are defined by what the myofascial, muscular, cardiovascular and nervous systems are currently capable of handling. And if you’ve ever injured yourself trying a new exercise or fitness class, then you know how it feels to run smack into that boundary!
But if you keep getting hurt every time you try something new and your activity level plummets because of it, I’m almost certain that pain and emotions have created some other boundaries for you. It becomes more than physical limitations that keep you stuck. Your body adapts to the lack of movement and your mind adapts to the notion that movement equals pain.
And while pain may seem like a physical limit, beliefs and emotions become entangled with pain when it becomes chronic.
When this is the case, it takes a slowed-down, mindful approach to overcome painful movement and reach your goals. Keep these 3 things in mind to get unstuck and move beyond your current boundaries:
- Pain is a message that something in the body needs attention. It doesn’t mean there’s been irreparable tissue damage or that you’ll never be able to move the way you want. Pain signals are meant to protect, but sometimes they become over-protective and may be doing more harm than good. Find what’s triggering the alarm so you can stop it from going off.
- Your body must learn that it’s safe to move. This means finding ways to move that don’t flare up the pain signals (at first anyway), but keeps you moving toward your ultimate goal. It’s essential to feel healthy, pain-free movement in order for new patterns and beliefs to form. Focus on what you can do!
- Be open to exploring. This is how you’ll start nudging those boundaries to create change. Exploration involves feeling a bit uncomfortable, taking some risks and being curious. Embrace the journey.
And remember: We become what we do.
I hope these ideas makes sense. But maybe now you’re wondering just how to put this into action. Well, the truth is you might need some guidance if you’ve been stuck for a while. Take it slow, have patience and enlist the help of a movement professional to get you started on the right path. A few tips on postural alignment, movement integration and self-care can have a remarkable impact throughout your body.
Movement variety prevents negative adaptations in posture, mobility and overall health. Humans are meant to move. It’s when we stop moving that we run into trouble.
Thoughts? Questions? Please comment below …