Saturday, March 19, 2011

Re-education begins with Awareness

Often, most of us go through our daily chores and activities without giving thought to how our body move - are we aligning our bones/joints/spine and engaging the right muscles, for the very simple reason it has become in our subconscious. This means we have cultivated a habit or manner of carrying out our tasks, be it walking, sitting, standing. It is YOU, or rather it has become you.

So, we repeatedly walk, stand, sit, bend over, lift our arms, in that same manner, day in day out...until one day, our body cries out to us that there is a movement habit which isn't been doing us much good.

In more severe scenarios, the most common issue is a slipped disc. At this point, we'd pay a visit to the a healthcare provider, say a Physiotherapist (there may be others who would visit the Osteopath or Chiropractor). This is where we begin the re-education of our bodies. We learn not only of our bad habits, we also begin to learn about our spine, bones, joints! Something which most of us have taken for granted; how is our spine aligned and how our pelvis is positioned.

So, the first question is, do we then pay a visit to one of the 3 above-mentioned healthcare providers on a regular basis henceforth? I had a conversation with a good friend and this subject was raised. Apparently, there are people who would visit the Chiropractor once every month. This group of people most likely believe that it is the solution to their problems. I beg to differ though. I believe we should seek help when we encounter a pain or a persistent ache in our bodies. After we are done with the diagnosis and treatment and with the healthcare provider's clearance that we well, it is up to us to take care of ourselves. Now this brings me to the next point.

Now that we are well and we may resume our daily and/or weekly activities (which may be sports, dance, etc). Do we revert to our previous postural and movement habits, now that we don't feel the pain anymore? I cannot emphasize enough that it usually is our movement habits which may stress the spine and/or joints.

But how do we know which habits that is causing the ache and/or pain?

Basically, I would assume the healthcare provider would have given one some advice on what we ought to watch out for in our movement habits, then may recommend to start an exercise program that would help in the long run, which is usually Pilates.

So, how does Pilates help?

The important principles (to name a few: Awareness; Balance; Breath; Centering; Concentration; Control; Flowing Motion; Precision; Oppositional Energy; Endurance) of Pilates put together an exercise program that builds core strength and conditions the form. In particular, awareness of optimal alignment of the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment.

Pilates teaches awareness of movement habits that may stress the spine, and helps the person change these habits to those that preserve optimal alignment, and postural asymmetries can be improved as well. Awareness and use of proper focus helps decrease wear and tear resulting from excessive tension and uneven stresses on the intervertebral joints and discs, which helps one to use the body efficiently.

Getting to know your body is second to none!

Will you watch your own alignment? Watch for any asymmetrical alignment? And consider what habits you may want to change? If you have a habit of standing on one leg while standing, you might want to stand and place weight evenly on both legs instead?

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Movement should be approached like life - with enthusiasm, joy and gratitude – for movement is life and life is movement, and we get out of it what we put into it.”

~ Ron Fletcher

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