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Wear and repair


We carry stories about our lives around in our heads that translate into our bodies. I’ve been trained to assess a human body based on postural cues from standing position and walking gait, but the most informative tool I have is to ask “Tell me about your movement...”

Photo: @wendy.shep

I listen to discover mindset. Belief systems inform our choices and our movements. Some people have decided what they are capable of based on past experiences and keep that belief close to their heart. They aren't ready to test themselves in those ways and will use their pain experiences to ferret out whether I can find it and respect it. This is their test of my competence and, eventually, of their trust. It can be shattering to their sense of self to try to jump from “I can’t do that” or "I don't do that" to “I can” or "I will" too quickly. The idea that they, themselves, might be actively participating in prolonging their own pain by protecting that story is not a comfortable concept to own. We have to allow for the process of unravelling the story in whatever time it takes. It may have taken years to build it, experience by experience, into the story it has become.

“How far back should I go?” or “Everything? How much time do you have?!” are common answers to my history request.

The most interesting book in the world is titled,

My Life

“If it is relevant to you, it will be relevant to me. List anything that came to mind. Perhaps we’ll discover more as we begin to move.”

I can generally spot discomfort, fatigue, and protectionism while you move and I'm going to ask about it in our discovery process. I cannot tell you how often I’m informed mid-movement, “Well, I did have surgery in that area a few years ago, maybe that's it?”

In my honest opinion? That’s long healed. Your body has likely adapted and we are masters of finding ways to accommodate or compensate to get the task done. How much attention went into retraining yourself back into alignment after the acute phase was over? Now add years of unconscious practice into that adaptive pattern. Is the surgery a current concern? No. Though it is clearly a part of your story. Like a past relationship can inform your behaviour in a current one, but how present you keep that memory can determine how invasive it will be.

Movement can be like medication.

Too little is no good and too much can feel like poison.

Respect your resistance. Sometimes we cannot pinpoint why we don't want to move certain ways or why it's so difficult to connect our brains into our bodies. We can stare at our pinkie toe and will it to independently wiggle while nothing much actually happens. This is a benign example of a challenge to our neurological connections in a specific area. Respect resistance when you find it. It's a chance to investigate or, perhaps, to return in future. It takes 8 to 12 weeks to make physical changes to the internal structure of the body through consistent practice. Push to a point of challenge, not through pain or beyond fatigue, and never against your will. Ask yourself what you have to gain. A freely, independent pinkie toe is a great parlour trick amongst movement professionals and simply freaky to the rest of the population.

Difficulty is inevitable, but drama is a choice

Back to the story you're telling me about your movement. What words do you choose to describe yourself? Are you "broken" like glass? Have you "worn out" like a machine? Are you "falling apart at the seams" like clothing? These are all common examples of analogies we use to explain our pain experiences in movements. The human body is not like clothing or machines, however; it is in a constant, consistent state of renewal and repair. We don’t experience “wear and tear”, we wear and repair. Where our bodies work, our systems focus to replenish resources and adapt. We have a constantly renewable source of resources because you eat, don’t you? We are not a closed system by any means.

Based on the premise that we change what we challenge because we repair what we wear (i.e. work) what movements would you start to do that maybe you've avoided? Perhaps that worn out knee on its way towards replacement surgery has more options available to it. And, of course, perhaps not. It’s your story after all. I show up to learn it from you.

#rehab #fitness #mindset #stories #pain #experience

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