Do You Have A Body?
If you live in a body, keeping it running smoothly should rank highly in your priorities.
I mean, where else are you gonna go?
There's simply no way you can think well, work well, lead well, crochet well, or anything else if your body functions poorly. We've talked before about the fact that you can literally choose your health (thanks, SAID Principle!), so why settle for less than awesome?
I love this quote from Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert: "Movement is the only way you have of affecting the world around you". It sounds hyperbolic, but consider that even speech is coordinated movement.
Movement is key, and as we'll see it has a huge role to play in why you aren't stronger, faster, and better at life. Let's dig in a bit, shall we?
1. You're Outta Line!
Alignment may be the single biggest hardware limitation in the body. You're a living machine after all...things need to line up to work properly. If you exercise and aren't massively concerned with your alignment, not only are you sacrificing progress, you're also setting yourself up for injury.
Keep in mind: under all those glamor muscles you have an intricate skeletal framework. These bones are essentially a bunch of levers stacked one on top of the other. And if your bones are out of alignment (even slightly!), then the muscles have to work overtime to compensate, leading to fatigue much more rapidly.
Consider a student who recently came to see me after a deadlift snafu. She had tried to pick up the bar while it was a couple of inches too far in front of her, leading to a lot of extra work by the muscles of her back. One of which decided it had had enough. Cue injury.
Hone in on your alignment, and you unlock huge amounts of hidden strength & speed.
2. You Might Be Terrible At Moving
Movement as a skill is highly complex. Sure your coach may tell you to squeeze your glutes, but you actually have very little voluntary control over the movement once it's underway. So squeeze away, but if your internal processing isn't up to snuff, it's not doing you much good.
The interesting thing about movement quality is that your movement (your output) is only as good as your sensory awareness (your inputs). See, the brain organizes a whole lot of information at any given time. The nervous system sends out the motor signals for every single movement in the body, both voluntary & involuntary. And your brain has an ever-changing "map" of that body of yours, created from constant sensory information like pressure, tension, temperature, and so on. Some areas are pretty clear & well-drawn. Others are a bit fuzzy. And some may as well have HERE BE DRAGONS written across them.
Just as the brain maps body parts, it maps movements. And if your movement map is fuzzy or nonexistent, there's simply no way you'll be able to perform it well. If crap goes in, crap comes out. Improve your movement quality, and strength & mobility naturally come along for the ride.
If your run time isn't what you'd like it to be, it may be time to look at how you run before you buy a new pair of shoes.
3. You're In Pain
Remember how that nervous system of yours helps to organize your movement? Well, if there's one thing the nervous system doesn't like, it's pain. Pain effectively shuts down our motor control, and forces us into patterns of compensation.
But it gets worse. If you train with pain, you're literally telling your body to be in even more pain next time.
See there's a rule in the brain: things that fire together, wire together. If you train through knee pain on leg day, your brain links those signals together. And it's likely to link those movements with pain in the future...even if there's nothing wrong with your leg anymore. Pain is tricky like that.
It sabotages our motor control and creates a vicious cycle if we let it. Don't train with pain.
4. You're A Stranger In A Foreign Land
Your body is essentially a house that you live in for the rest of your life. Why not explore the place?
Body awareness is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to moving well, getting strong, and being great at life. Our body is filled with little sensors called proprioceptors. These guys essentially tell your brain where your body is at any given time (think back to #2). Safe to say this makes for clearer mental maps along with better coordination & balance.
If we aren't in tune with the body, we may miss out on red flags and warning signs. Things like muscle tension & fatigue. We may be so focused on BIG stimuli that we lose sight of the smaller ones.
Want to improve your body? Get to know it first.
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