Most likely you are highly skilled at the fine art of not paying attention to your body.
For starters, you're probably a thinker with a mind that has a tendency to go a million miles a minute.
You may be busy keeping up with your kids, preoccupied with work, trying to remember the grocery list floating around in your head and wondering just how long have the clothes been sitting in the washer and will they smell if you don’t rinse them again?
Add in a culture that takes great pleasure in broadcasting over and over that your body falls short of the "ideal" and it's no surprise that there’s more than a little disconnect between you and your body.
Perhaps you’re at a loss about something as basic as where your feet are in relation to each other.
Maybe you're unaware that your shoulders live half a mile behind your pelvis or that your knee caps are permanently stuck in the up position because of quads that forgot how to relax long ago.
The first step to learning to move well is to notice how you move right now.
These patterns that you’ve become oblivious to, the ways of moving that you do over and over and over again year after year, decade after decade, without thinking, they all add up.
Every one of your movement habits has helped create the body that you have today – the lower back that aches when you stand for “too long”, the heel pain when you walk around your house barefoot, a bladder that no longer waits until you’re on the toilet to let go.
During a one-on-one session with a client, I noticed while she was talking that she stood with her left leg crossed over her right leg, supporting most of her weight on her right foot and the ligaments of her hip. No wonder she was experiencing pain in her right hip! Once she became aware of this habit she was doing day in and day out, her hip pain went away.
If you want to change what you're experiencing, start to develop a relationship with your body that nurtures and supports its function. Learn how to move well and gradually increase your quantity of movement.
It’s the little things that add up.
Pay attention - maybe you notice that your right foot has this curious tendency to turn out more than your left, leaving you vulnerable to bunions. Maybe you cross your arms over your chest when you talk to people to create a bit of a buffer for your lovely introverted self, but it's a habit that sets your shoulders up for problems.
Remember, you can change what you notice. You can coax it to shift bit by bit. You can create new ways of moving that create health and stability and flexibility.
You can develop a body that’s resilient. That repairs itself efficiently. That doesn’t blow through its cartilage faster than it can be created. A body that’s able to support its pelvic organs for life.
Where to start
Be curious about your habits, after all you and your body are guaranteed to be inseparable until the day you die, you might as well get to know it and develop your body literacy.
Start with the foundational pieces – begin to pay attention to how you stand. Set a timer, use your phone or this app that I can set to go off at designated times throughout my day. Every time it goes off take a few seconds to notice how are you standing? Do you have more weight over one foot than the other? If so, shift your weight so it’s supported equally by both feet. Are the outside edges of your feet straight? If not, shift them just a bit closer to straight.
Check in with this over and over again throughout your day and begin to create more habits that support the body experience you're seeking - resilient, pain-free, movement loving, strong and supportive experience.
It’s all connected
Along this journey of discovery, you’ll learn that your body isn’t pieces parts but rather each piece is part of an interconnected web that impacts all the other parts.
Yes, your tight calves have everything to do with that less than flattering hunch you try to disguise by standing “up straight”.
Those knees that you keep bent all the time tend to cause you to tuck your pelvis which decreases the curve in your lower back – a risk factor for pelvic floor disorder. Yes, your knees affect your pelvic floor!
This is how you begin to develop body literacy, how you cultivate awareness, how you begin to change the habits that have led to what you wish to change. Notice where you are right here and now, so you can learn how to get to where you want to go.