- Become aware. Start paying attention to your body and the way it feels. Start trying to learn what it really wants once you get past whatever your brain is telling you up front. This can start as simply as noticing what you’re feeling throughout your day, even if at first you don’t do anything about it. Is your neck stiff? When? How does it feel when you try to adjust your posture? Do you tend to stand with your weight on your right leg or your left? Are you alert and interested in your surroundings or collapsing into yourself from boredom? In the morning, pay attention to anything that feels stiff or needs warming up. At night, switch out your sheep counting for a body scan. With any luck you might fall asleep before you get through the whole things. What’s a body scan, you ask? Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Make your exhale longer than your inhale. Control it. Be patient. Everything in the world takes and improves with practice, and you can do anything. Feel your belly expand, then your chest on the inhalation. Feel your chest depress, then your belly empty on the exhalation. Now start paying attention to the top of your head. Your forehead is a good place. Try to feel your forehead on your inhale, and on your exhale see if you can release any tension from it. You may do this for several breaths or move on to your jaw and do the same inhale/notice exhale/release and relax. Then your neck. Then your shoulders. Your right shoulder, then the left shoulder, your biceps, your forearms, your hands and fingers…you get the picture. Inhale/notice, exhale/relax. Make your way down your body in the most complete way you can all the way to the toes. If you have trouble finding awareness in something, wiggle it a bit or tense it consciously before trying to relax it. And don’t worry if you don’t feel a lot in many places, especially on your first couple of tries. One advantage to this as a sleep aid is it gives you something to focus on, often a problem for people that overthink once bedtime starts.
- Getting to Know You(rself) – self massage and playing around: Ok, you’ve had a week of becoming aware of your own body as it exists today. Awesome. Now let’s delve a little deeper. Your skin is the largest organ in (on?) your body. It’s your first defense to the rigors of life and your most consciously sensitive connection to the world. Get to know it and get to know your muscles while you’re at it. When you wake up in the morning, give yourself a five minute massage. When you notice how good it feels you’ll probably do more. Notice where you’re sore. Notice what surprised you. Get some idea of what parts of your body have been working hard. It will clue you in that other parts of your body might not be doing their jobs. Do another massage when you get home from work and see if anything changed. You’ll also get added bonus of learning how good (or bad) your range of motion is as you try to reach different areas to work on. When you find sore areas, play around with them. Can you contract those muscles? Can you consciously relax them? Imagine that you’re breathing in and out of those areas. Feel anything when you try that? Stretch, move, and find what feels good to you! (I find the active contractions and active attempts to relax the most effective for finding relief of sore areas). Start playing around throughout your day and see what you feel. Congratulations, you’ve started to introduce yourself to yourself.
- Focused effort – Congratulations, you’re more aware of yourself throughout the day (and be kind, think positive thoughts about whatever you’re newly aware of). Any time you learn something, anything, you start with focused practice.Now it’s time to really break down what we can do. I’ll be posting more videos soon breaking this down further, but for now how about we start learning about how our bodies move one piece at a time? Ground up or top down, take a minute (or 5) in the morning and move your neck around (top) or do exercises for your feet (bottom, also featured already on my video page). When you feel curious, continue down the chain to either your shoulders or your ankles. So on and so forth until you’re doing 4 or more pieces of your body in the morning, moving them through their entire range of motion with concerted effort the whole way around. I’m not talking about waving your joints around loosely, I want real engagement and effort to make BIG circles – the biggest you’re capable of. Try this: straighten your arm at your side and then raise it to shoulder height, then bring it down. Now with your straight arm back at your side, engage the tissue around your shoulder without moving anything. Internally squeeze all the stuff there. Without losing the squeeze, raise your arm to shoulder height again. Feels different, right? That’s one way of feeling internal resistance for the glenohumeral joint. When you’re doing your joint range of motion drills you’re trying to send a lot of neurological signals to the area so that you really learn something about how you’re moving and signaling that you want to increase that range further, which won’t happen if you’re doing entirely comfortable circles. So try pre-tensing the joint, or just imagine that you’re trying to move through a vat of fudge or some other thick substance that’s fighting you. You could even ask a friend to press lightly against whatever movement you’re exploring so that you feel the engagement. Don’t lose that internal tension for any part of the circle. If you catch yourself disengaged/going through the motions without real effort, reset and try again. You don’t want to feel pain or pinching. Pain is defined as discomfort with the intention to withdraw, so if you feel something sudden or sharp, reduce the range of motion you’re doing because that’s not healthy and you should seek help from somebody on this site – functionalanatomyseminars.com. Get really good at one joint at a time. Appreciate and observe the differences in how you feel after regularly doing even just one piece of your body every day for a few weeks.
- Consistent maintenance
- Find your derailers