Sunday, August 28, 2016

8 Key Elements to a Well-Balanced Life: "A" is for...

"What you don't know can't hurt you"

Have you ever heard this phrase before? Well, when it comes to the human body, I beg to differ. 
The human body is equipped with a multitude of sensory signals that can help us understand where we are in space (called "proprioception"), whether something we touch is hot or cold, sharp or smooth, whether a muscle feels tight or loose, or a movement or position feels comfortable or uncomfortable, and the list goes on. These signals all boil down to the same basic message to our body, which is whether something is safe or unsafe. It is important to "listen" to the signals that our body gives us on a daily basis and adjust our activities to accommodate the messages we are receiving so we can keep moving well and prevent injury. 

It blows me away the number of times over the past 2 decades I have met clients who have not listened, or "heard" but completely ignored the signals their body was trying to tell them for a long period of time. However, it struck me that some people are just not aware that their body is trying to communicate with them. They may not know that something they feel may be abnormal and injury may result, and that someone like me is specifically trained to help them move and feel better to prevent or overcome injury.  It turns out, what they don't know CAN hurt them! Awareness is the 4th key for a well-balanced life. 

Luckily, some people are aware of their body and notice differences between how things look or feel on one side or the other.  Recently, I have worked with some clients who are feeling pretty good overall, however, they are aware of muscles firing on one side of their body, but not as well on the other side. They sought out my help to bring their body back into a balanced state and prevent injuries from occurring. Keeping tabs on how your body is functioning is important so that you have a baseline established and can gauge whether one of your body parts may be in need of some assistance to feel better. 

There are several important points to consider when becoming aware of your body's baseline. Bring your awareness to your posture and alignment (the blog post from June highlights all the key alignment points to consider). How are you lining up from head to toe when you are sitting or standing? Does one shoulder feel higher or lower? Do you feel any areas of muscle tension or tightness from right to left? Do you feel that you are bearing more weight on one side of the body than the other? Is it difficult to breathe and relax into these positions or do you have to exert effort to breathe, keep yourself upright or relaxed?  Now consider your body's baseline while you are lying down on your back. Do you need a pillow under your head for extra support? Does one leg rotate out more than the other? Does one shoulder feel higher or lower now? Are you aware of any tension or tightness in your body in this position? Is it challenging for you to breathe into all parts of your lungs in this position? Bring your awareness to how you feel when you are walking. Does one arm swing across your body more than the other? Are your thumbs pointed toward your body? Is it easier to push off from one foot than the other? Do you have pain in any of your joints as you take your steps?  

If you answered yes to these questions, you would likely benefit from a Muscle Activation Techniques assessment and treatment to identify and correct your unique muscle imbalances contributing to these sensations. If you are feeling good and not having any of these issues, you must be well aware of your body. Keep up your good work!

Awareness is a crucial element to know your body's baseline and manage it so you can move and feel your best for years to come.  Move well, my friends!