Posture x Habit

Posture is not fixed — it’s a dynamic expression of who we are, what we’ve been through, and what we’re thinking / feeling / doing in a given moment. If you find yourself ‘stuck’ in the same posture all the time, the problem isn’t that you ‘have bad posture’... it’s that you’ve created a habit of thinking, feeling, sitting, standing, & moving in the same ol’ way.

Posture-related pain isn’t the result of any ‘wrong’ position you’re putting yourself in. It’s that you’re not exploring a wide-enough range of your body’s capabilities and, as a result, you’re not developing the adaptability & resilience that your body needs to feel alive & strong.

Varying our movement is the answer to so many of our body’s problems, and it’s the advice I give most to my clients. Take a wiggle break at your desk. Learn a new skill. Try a new movement class. Practice consciously relaxing all the muscles in your body before bed (stillness is a point on the spectrum of movement, so don’t forget to practice that too!)

And if you want help fine-tuning your movement & posture, click here to see what it might look like for us to work together.

Pain x Thoughts & Beliefs

I meet a lot of people who suffer from chronic pain. Most of them have been to chiropractors & PTs & other bodyworkers, and have been told the root of their pain is biomechanical — it’s a slipped disc, or a tight psoas, or ‘bad’ posture.

But here’s the truth about pain: all pain is in the brain. Even when the cause of the pain is obvious, like a burn on your skin, it’s still your brain that is producing the experience, not your skin (or even the nerves in your skin).

Because pain comes from the brain, there are a lot of factors that influence our experience of pain, like our thoughts & beliefs and our overall sense of safety. Some things we do with our mind that that make pain worse are:

  • Obsessing over it • Every time we think the same thought about our pain, repeat the same movement that makes it hurt, or focus exclusively on the part of our body that hurts & ignore what feels neutral or good, we are deepening the habitual groove for that pain experience, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Believing we’re broken • When we believe that our pain is incurable or unavoidable (i.e. “my back hurts because I have a slipped disc” or “my knees hurt because I’m getting too old/fat”) it can elicit feelings of fear or hopelessness, which shuts down our ability to be curious, creative & resourceful about resolving the issue.

  • Fearing it • Feeling fearful about how ‘damaged’ we are activates our stress response, which can make pain worse (or, at least, reduce our ability to cope with it.) Also, when we protect or ‘baby’ the spot that hurts because we’re afraid to move it, we rob ourselves of one of the best pain medicines — movement!

  • Ignoring it • When the stress & discomfort of pain becomes overwhelming, our reflex might be to dissociate, numb, or distract ourselves from it. This can provide temporary relief when we need to focus our attention elsewhere, and it’s sometimes necessary if we’re to avoid obsessing. But ultimately, whether there’s tissue damage or not, pain is a message that something in our body needs our attention.

Rather than obsessing, fearing, or ignoring our pain, we can resolve it by staying present, open / non-judgmental, & curious, and by trusting our body’s inherent wisdom.

How to Exercise Smarter & Not Harder

There is a way of exercising that I KNOW will improve the way your body feels & functions. It doesn’t involve a bunch of repetitions, heavy weights, or intense cardio — you don’t have to break a sweat at all, if you don’t want to.

What it does require is a lot of presence, curiosity, & patience. I often refer to this way of moving as Mindful Movement or Intuitive Movement because it’s all about the relationship between body+mind.

The ‘old way’ of exercising says that more is more — more weight, more reps, more speed, more intensity = healthier body & less pain. But it doesn’t always work like that. Yes, movement is medicine; but some of the most active people I’ve met have terrible chronic pain.

It’s because our bodies are complex, alive & intelligent. And if we want our bodies to feel more vital & healthy, we need to tap into this innate intelligence. We don’t do that through rote repetition. We don’t do that when we’re moving so fast or pushing ourselves so hard that we’re completely checked out, just counting reps & waiting for it to be over with. We do it by:

  • sloooowwing down,

  • paying attention to what we feel,

  • getting curious about our sensations, and

  • mixing up / refining our movements

I’m a big believer in using mindful movement to cultivate greater mastery over our bodies! I teach this to my clients to help them overcome pain & discomfort and improve their overall energy. If this is something you’re interested in exploring, click here to see what it might look like to work together.