In the ideal world, our bodies should – within the bounds of normality – be able to do what we ask them to do. That doesn’t sound too farfetched, does it? However most of us, without even realising it, are stuck. Our bodies cannot do what they should be able to do. Can you lift your big toe without all your other toes coming with it? Can you hinge at the hip without also bending your spine? Have you any awareness of your shoulder blades at all? (that’s the one I struggle with…) Whether through bad habits, incorrect postural cueing, loss of awareness and/or loss of range of joint motion, most of us have parts of our bodies that don’t – can’t? – move as they should.
From the moment of conception our brains and bodies grow together, with movement being one of the main stimulators of brain and tissue development. Throughout our lives our cells continue to replicate as our tissues renew and remodel themselves. We need to maintain this on-going growth and development of our brains and bodies through movement – movement that takes our bodies through the ranges of movement we are designed to do, movement that asks our bodies to work a bit, movement that keeps us healthy.
All the joints in our bodies should be taken through their normal ranges of motion regularly, something which our modern life – with shoes and cars and chairs and laptops – rarely encourages us to do. If our joints are not taken through their full range of motion on a regular basis they start to lose their capacity for full movement: the surrounding muscles and connective tissues retrain themselves to a new, limited normal, the flow of blood and lymph through the area is restricted, the nervous connection to the area is reduced… Essentially the tissues in the ranges that are not stimulated through movement start to atrophy: they start to die.
Furthermore, without full range of motion at each joint the normal ranges of movement of the whole body are compromised – if one joint has a limited range of motion, another area of the body may have to move more in compensation, leading to over-lengthening of muscles and connective tissues and/or joint wear and tear. And then we feel pain. But the cause of that pain may not be the poor overworked muscle or joint that is griping at you, it may be the unmoving area that you don’t – can’t? – even feel that is the true culprit. Or it could be that unmoving part that is starting to die and is calling out for help…
So what do we do? What is the cure, or, better yet, the means of prevention? Movement. Healthy movement that takes us through the full range of motion of each joint, through the full range of movement of our bodies. Unfortunately for most of us this will take some relearning: regaining of awareness, restoring of range of motion, reconnecting of the brain and the body through the neural pathways. And some changing of habits: creating healthy habits of healthy movement.