Springsteen got it right.
Did you know that the human body contains approximately 213 bones? It might surprise you to know that those bones interact with over 600 muscles. What can that tell us? Even if you don't feel like you were personally born to run, we were all made for mobility. No matter who you are or what your age, your body needs to move. Sadly, many of us exist in a lifestyle of sitting for work and reclining for rest. Why am I so stiff and sore? There's a good chance it's because I don't move.
"I feel so stiff all the time". "That's where I hold all my tension". "I'm too tired at the end of the day to exercise". I've heard it and I've said it many times. The way we habitually use our bodies is likely the cause of much of our discomfort.
Maybe you have a seated job that requires you to stare at a screen for most of the day, engaging in fine-motor movements while your postural muscles remain shortened and contracted to provide support. You may need some larger motor movements to invite health back to your body.
If you are a parent or caregiver of young ones, you are likely changing postures and activities all day long so you might think that full body movements are not what you are lacking. Consider for a moment the positions you assume that require strength and stability like when you rely on the sustained contraction of your shoulders and arms to support the weight of a child. Though you may be relatively busy during the day, you might be surprised to realize that your movements only involve a small portion of the full potential ranges of motion of your joints. When we consistently move joints within a partial range of motion we begin to lose voluntary control and flexibility as the surrounding musculature resists any unfamiliar larger movement.
In both examples, the muscles collaborate in a complex pattern of engagement, all initiated by the brain. When actions, postures, or even thoughts are repeated the brain gains efficiency as it practices. Eventually this allows the body to accomplish the actions, postures, and thoughts without having to concentrate. These patterns begin to happen quickly and subconsciously, which is helpful when learning to tie your shoes or respond defensively while driving. A complication exists when we use our bodies in a way that is not aligned or balanced properly. The brain will focus on efficiency first in order to complete the task, compensating for any damage occurring to the body along the way, until eventually we are consciously alerted to the problem by experiencing pain.
So now what? I regularly share with my massage therapy and clinical somatics clients these 2 simple activities that are free, easy, and attainable. First, whenever you are travelling from your seated position to the washroom or to get something, swim your way there. Use the time to rotate your shoulders and back through large ranges of motion. Don't worry about looking silly. You will feel so much better and you may even start a trend! Secondly, find a way to access uplifting music and have a kitchen dance. Make it a solo performance or involve the whole family. It's a fun and freeing way to prepare your meals.
It's time to wake up the voluntary control of our muscles. It's time to develop awareness of how we are using our bodies and relearn healthy patterns of mobility. Turns out Springsteen was right. Even if you don't feel like you were born to run, you were definitely made for mobility.
For further opportunities to reset and refresh your mind, body, and spirit, join Jennifer as LIBERTY Pursuits presents AWAKEN, a monthly experience of free-flowing dance and movement in a shared space to inspiring, eclectic music. Kick-start the new year by awakening your joy of movement. AWAKEN is the first Sunday of each month 7:30 - 8:15 pm in Milton, Ontario, beginning on Sunday, January 1st. You are invited to visit www.libertypursuits.com for more information on this and Clinical Somatics sensory-motor learning to address chronic pain.