This is a blog about movement. (I’m not sure if you caught that, but I thought I’d explain, just in case.) I like movement. I like to move, I like to study movement, and I like to write about movement (preferably while I’m moving, maybe doing a little stretching). (I also like parentheses. I have a problem. But that’s between me and my English teacher, who has just ruined her computer with red ink if she’s reading this!) More movement is good. Greater variety of movement is good. Movement makes the world go around. (Really!)
Yet, we have to know when to just say no. There are times where more movement does NOT serve us well. It pains me to say so, but there it is.
1) If it hurts, stop.
It sounds obvious, but it is amazing how often we ignore this. If we hurt when we move, our body is telling us that something is not right. We need to listen! If your arm hurts when you lift it overhead, you need to try to avoid the range where it causes pain.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should never raise your arm overhead again. It means that you need to figure out why there is pain and correct it so that you can raise it overhead again without pain. If there is enough pain, especially if it is causing difficulties with work or daily activities, you need consult a healthcare provider. (I may be biased, but might I recommend a physical therapist?)
2) If you can’t do the movement with good form, stop.
Walking through the gym sometimes makes me want to poke my eyeballs with a fork. Not bad enough to cause permanent damage, of course, but enough to make my eyes water so I can’t see all terrible things that people are doing to themselves in the name of fitness! I swear I once heard spinal discs begging for mercy.
I don’t care how tough you want to look. If you can’t maintain good form with a movement, then you are overdoing it! Back off to a level where you can use good form, and then slowly build from there. If you don’t know exactly what good form is, do some research on your movement of choice. However, a good rule of thumb is that you should be able to move slowly and with control through whatever movement you are trying to perform.
3) Rest is a good thing.
I am not encouraging you to slouch on the couch and not move until you grow mold. A lot of people who would take the time to read a blog about movement are the type of people who are used to doing a lot and being a lot in all aspects of their lives. We need rest to help us recover! Those hard workouts are great, but if we don’t have recovery time, we don’t have time for muscles to build and adapt. There is no need to sit at home while recovering (though down time is a beautiful thing). Easy walking and stretching are great things to do while recovering.
4) To smell the roses.
Or look at the sky. It’s good to occasionally just enjoy being where we are and what we’re doing.
Gray Cook, of Functional Movement Systems, often says, “First move well, then move often.” We like to jump right into moving often. We like maximal, because it is easier than optimal. This is the boring stuff first, like learning how to stand and walk well before we run and jump and climb and bike and lift, and ski, etc. Can I tell you a secret? I love the boring stuff, the stuff that’s so little it seems like it couldn’t matter. I love it because ever since I’ve learned to respect it better, I do the things I like to do, and I feel good doing them. My aches and pains don’t last nearly as long as they did 5 years ago. I also love it because when my patients embrace it, they are able to do more movement with less pain.