When is the last time you really paid attention to how you're moving?
For most of us, the answer is likely not very much time at all, until there is a problem. We take our movement for granted until we have pain or weakness to remind us that it takes effort to use our body to get around.
We've fallen into the bad habit of moving mindlessly throughout our day.
But, what if one of the keys to optimal health is to bring back thoughtfulness and reflection when it comes to how you move throughout your day?
You don't have to wait until your quality of life has taken a hit to become a student of your movement. And in fact, to prevent your physical health from going downhill, you should adopt a learning mindset ASAP.
Curious as to both why and how you should do this? Read on.
As we've discussed in the past, movement is an essential component of health. And to take it a step further, the greater the quality of your movement, the greater the health benefits of that movement.
Moving better involves practicing moving better every single day. This might sound obvious, but it's the most common element we find lacking in health habits.
In your quest for better health, you might be falling into the trap of mindlessly performing exercise just to be done with it and cross it off your list for the day. It doesn't have to be this way. We've been fed the lie that exercise is this necessary evil, something that shouldn't be enjoyed but is a requirement for survival.
When you take away the mindfulness, you lose out on a major learning opportunity. What if mindlessly performing exercise is entirely missing the point? Making your movement more efficient and effective through mindfulness actually cuts down on the work you need to do in order to reap the health benefits.
The longer we've practiced as therapists, we've realized the clients who most easily achieve and maintain their health goals incorporate mindfulness into the process. Those who make movement a lifestyle rather than just another chore see the greatest change in a shorter amount of time.
So learn from these people. If you aren't getting the results you want with your current approach start to make mindfulness a regular part of your day. In other words, become a student of your own movement.
By changing your thinking in this way you can make anything an opportunity to learn. There is never a day where you've learned everything you need to know about any skill, including movement. To become an expert in your own health, learning is key. It's a process that is never complete, so learn to embrace it and enjoy the process.
There are many layers to start to peel back as you embark on a journey to learn about your movement. The first step to learning is to be inquisitive.
Start by asking yourself questions. For example, where are your feet pointing when you walk or while you are standing? How often and what techniques do you use to get on and off the floor? How long can you stand on one foot?
The most important piece in this style of learning is avoiding judgment. You're learning so you can take ownership and make changes for the better, but it can get easy to be critical of yourself in this process. Just remember, criticism and perfection don't lead to growth and instead hold you back. Find you can't stand on one foot? Can't get easily get on and off the floor? No worries. Make a note of it. It's just a starting point.
Then, once you find you start paying attention to your natural patterns, slowly start to make small changes. How is your walking different if you point your feet forward instead of angling them out? What if you try to get off the floor without using your hands this time? Try standing on one foot while holding onto something? Little by little is how meaningful change is made.
When it comes to our health, many of us feel there is an “all or none” approach. The thinking goes if you let yourself eat that one piece of cake, why not just continue to eat the cake all day? When you aren't forgiving of your missteps, you don't set yourself up for success.
However, by adopting the mindset of a student you start to be more forgiving of yourself. You are simply learning about your body and trying to do things better each day. Putting less pressure on yourself to get it perfect every time will lead to much better outcomes in the long run.
So, what can you start to learn about your movement today?