When I was a kid, my favorite books were the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. I loved that I could guide the story depending on my mood that day and live through the characters of the books. Eventually, you went through all of the combinations and moved onto another book in the series. It’s also how I’ve lived much of my life. Playing in one storyline until I get bored and then moving onto something new.
This past week I’ve been doing a lot of exploring with myself and with clients in choosing how we’re approaching our lives. In this case, it’s related to pain and dysfunction. I have a friend and fellow Restorative Exercise Specialist who I’ve been working with for a few months regarding her pelvic dysfunction. She doesn’t have any athletic goals to return to, but rather wants to jump and play with her kids without feeling like everything is falling apart. Because of our mutual love of movement, we’ve been using that approach. I could give her a series of restorative and corrective exercises to implement into her day, but that’s not what she wants and it’s not what I enjoy doing. Instead, we spend our sessions talking about how we’ve been “playing” with the different movements of our bodies that affect pelvic function - hip rotation, foot mechanics, balance & strength, and impact - and what is coming up is so insightful and fun. Her observations on her own movement help me to come up with the next steps because I can put the movement into progressions. So, for example, she is very functional now at low impact and stationary movement. But she wants to climb a tree and jump down, and hop over rocks by the river. So we look at some of the more traditional movements and see how we can explore them in a more natural way. Can she practice jumping down from low rocks or beams around her house? Can she let herself “fall” as she lets go of a tree branch or bar and learn to absorb the impact? How do we bring more play into rehab? Jumping off a swing? Playing tag with your kids and seeing how the quick change of direction affects your pelvic floor. What happens when we add weight to our walks by carrying something heavy - a rock or a branch - in arms?
Being able to explore your body’s reaction to specific movement is so important to the healing progress, as well as just our general fitness. So often we’re tethered to a protocol of doing X reps for Z sets, and we tune out while we do them. But, if we are present for just 30 seconds to a minute of a movement in our day, we get so much more from it. If you’re unable to do something explore why you can’t. What movements make a knee hurt? What do you do naturally to make it feel better? What happens when you try something different? Explore, write it down, and try it again another day. You might be surprised by your results.
I’m doing a similar exploration for myself. Not necessarily from the pain lens, but rather for what is bringing me peace in my life. For so long I’ve been tied to a specific sports or fitness training program and it’s wearing me down. It’s not something that brings be joy and so I often won’t move at all because of that. So instead, I’ve been letting my imagination and intuition lead the way. Each day I have a variety of adventures to choose from: HIIT, walk, yoga, movement, SUP, strength training, hiking, running, rowing. I tap in to see where I am called for that day. Lately, I’ve been wanting more connection with myself, and so walking and yoga have been calling me. I’ve been repeating those adventure paths, but at least once a week I sprinkling in something else. There is a cyclical pattern that matches our cycles that guides us. Even if you are on a specific training plan, the workouts that you do within that training naturally follow a pattern if you clue into it - the feeling of wanting to train strength and power at the beginning of the cycle, and then stepping down to address form and function towards the end of it. Even in a set program, exploration can occur.
And so my invitation to you today is to explore your movement this week. Explore your fitness-based movement and your movement to resolve pain. What is your body being called to do? How is your body moving in this current state and can you change it at all to feel better? If you need help exploring this, let me know. I’d be happy to walk you through the process and help you to connect the pieces to start making sense again.
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