When returning to yoga in January, I was told to stop resisting and not to work the body so hard, but instead to make use of props to support me. That way I would get more release and more movement with greater ease.
The same is true of the way we use our muscle and joints in daily life. With the advent of high-intensity classes and going to the gym, the recent cries of ‘Get Stronger,’ ‘Stronger means fitter” we spend so much of the time working to make things strong. However, this is not the whole picture.
It’s not always easy to keep moving. Illness, injury, emotional stress, and trauma all take their toll over the years.
Our “bad knee” or “gammy hip” is often the body part that we put under the most pressure. We can become frustrated and angry with that body part, and feel that it is letting us down, but if we look more closely at our movement and postural habits, it is quite common to see that the painful area has been astoundingly tolerant of the repetitive, continuous loading that has been heaped upon it. However, our joints, tendons and muscles are not designed to manage abnormal stress over long periods of time.
Our bodies are functional units, so for us to move efficiently we need to be able to transmit and disperse forces through the body. When this doesn’t happen is when get injured.
One of the key principles of force management is that whether you are a bridge, a building or a body, you need to share forces over a large surface area if you are to avoid breakdown somewhere. Forces also need to be able to move through the body, and interruptions or breaks in this flow can create both technical and injury issues. There are many reasons for these breaks, and the fun for me is in determining what they might be in a sport, occupation, or even just general lifestyle.
I hear time and time again patients saying to me that they need a strong core, but in many cases their core just isn’t the problem.
We humans love to be in control. Core stability, which has taken an early piece of research and a broad principle and created an entire industry from it.
However, in rigorously strengthening the core, natural movement can be compromised. I often see patients who are so worried about “uncontrolled movement” that they have ceased to move in any natural way at all therefore compromising optimised movement. That in turn alters and impedes the body’s ability to disperse and dispel forces efficiently though the body.
Nothing is more rewarding than getting people to feel and understand through their own bodies and nothing nails down a point like feeling it in your own body! I love when I’m working with my patients and I’m getting them to explore their seated position or finding what glutes feel like when they’re properly activated…… those ‘light bulb’ moments just reinforce to that person how that body should be working.
It's often about getting people to explore their body and making subtle changes, reducing the load, and optimising movement patterns and suddenly the body feels such a huge sense of release and so much better movement.
So, we should worry less about having that rigid core and instead explore moving beautifully that is not just about the body — it is also in learning how to release tension while expressing force effectively, and this engages mind, emotions and body together. Training for movement is truly a holistic enterprise.