Break your habits!

Vary your body positions and movements to have less pain

Try a little test before you read further… Do these moves and notice how you do them. Watching yourself in a mirror might help! Tilt your head to one side. Then reach an arm up overhead. Then stand up and lift a leg up.

My guess is that you have a favourite side to tilt your head, arm to reach and a stronger, more comfortable leg to leave supporting your body. Habits in our movements form over years. A lot of them form so slowly over time that we have no idea why it’s turned out that way but sometimes they build because of circumstance or because of a particular injury.

A circumstantial habit may be that you are very tall and live in house with low ceilings. Constantly ducking your head and curving your spine may cause you to make a habit of walking that way even when there’s room overhead. An example of an injury caused habit might be that you broke an ankle and had to wear a foot boot for months. To compensate for having one leg out of action you started to overuse the other leg and hip. When the boot was taken off. Not every body does for every single movement but, unless you’re newly born, you will have your habits.

There’s no such thing as a bad movement or a bad posture

There is no such thing as bad movement but what is problematic is doing the same few movements time and time again. We are creatures of habit and tend to do things in the same ways. We use the same foot to kick with, we sit in the same positions while working or reading, we lift heavy bags with the same hand, wear a bag on the same shoulder, take a jar lid off with the same hand… you get the idea. There is also no such thing as a bad posture or a bad position for your body. What is problematic is your body being in the same position for long periods of time. We, in general, are much too sedentary compares to our ancestors we sit for far too many hours in the day than is healthy. We also tend to sit in only a few particular positions. I’m betting you sit watching TV in a similar way each time, that you sit at your computer in only a few ways (and most likely on the same chair every time you use it). Try varying the positions that you settle in – sit at different heights, use the floor and stand and kneel more.

There are an infinite number of sitting postures – consciously vary yours.

Dysfunction comes from overuse and underuse of muscles

Dysfunction in our bodies comes from overuse of muscles and also from their underuse. Dysfunction in our bodies brings pain. Being healthy is more to do with giving your body variety than to do with working out. Indeed, many people who work out a lot tend to do the same exercises every single time. Of course, exercising is good for you but giving your body variety is far better.

Of course, we make all these habitual movements unconsciously so a good start is to bring awareness to your movements. When you start noticing how similarly you carry out tasks or how similarly you sit you can start to break these habits. Awareness brings change. 

It is amazing how many physical aches and pains can be helped by troubleshooting habitual movement patterns.

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Analyse your movements and identify your habits

The first thing we should do if we start having any kind of chronic pain is to analyse our behaviour. What might be causing this? It is important to identify the behaviour so that you can stop it or modify it.

Your body doesn’t like to be in pain; it is constantly striving toward the state of homeostasis. The pain is a signal that it cannot get there. Very often the habitual behaviours that we engage in stop the healing process and prevent the body from returning to the state of balance. Identify those obstacles and then removing them is the first step to facilitating the healing process.

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Pilates identifies movement limitations, creates awareness and helps to break habits

For me, Pilates isn’t about the classical Joseph Pilates exercises. In fact you’ll rarely do a Jackknife or a Hundred in one of my classes. I approach every class with intention to move as many joints as possible in as many different ways, slowly, to full range and with intention. It’s a bit Pilates, a bit yoga, a bit Tai Chi and a lot of excellent movements I’ve learned from some excellent teachers. Through moving this way we can see the limitations of each joint, we can compare one side of our bodies to the other, we can notice differences and we can improve range.


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