It was the creator of Essentrics® Miranda Esmonde-White who said “Treat your body as if it were an infant!” What an amazing thought!
We often go through life abusing our bodies. As children and young adults we are invincible. Our bodies are mobile, we have wonderful coordination and balance and we don’t hurt! Then as we age, we begin to feel the effects from those early years. Sound familiar?
When we handle an infant, are we not gentle and soft and keep them safe from external harm? Then why, as we age, do we treat ourselves differently? Sure we are stronger, have better coordination and generally know what situations to avoid that could possibly harm ourselves. But that does mean we should take our bodies to the extreme?
We only have one body to carry us through life, wouldn’t you want it to function optimally without pain? The more you abuse your body in your workout, on the job or in everyday habits without repair through therapeutic practices or time off, the less your body will be able to handle any unavoidable extreme situations. It may buckle under the pressure of too much force and strain.
Take, for example, Ronnie Coleman, eight time Mr. Olympia winner. After years of hard, fast, aggressive workouts he is now handicapped because of excessive force and compression on his spine. He has undergone multiple surgeries to “fix” his back, neck and hips but, unfortunately, he will never be as he once was.
Of course we may not all be bodybuilders and it does not need to be an extreme case such as Ronnie’s to cause an imbalance in the body! If we keep adding insult to injury such as training incorrectly through pain or not resting when our bodies tell us to, then we are at a much higher risk of injury: temporary or permanent!
That then begs the question: how do we treat our bodies like an infant in an “adult” world?
~ When working out, pause to set up your position so that your body is in the proper alignment before beginning your set. Remember: proper alignment when standing upright, say for bicep curls, is ear over shoulder over hip bone over ankle. Because our bodies will take the path of least resistance, it is important to check your posture throughout the workout and reset throughout as necessary. This will not only protect your body in the long run but allow you to address the correct muscles for a better workout.
~Never lift weights too heavy for you. The mirror is your friend. Turn to look at yourself frontways and sideways in the mirror during your set. If you cannot do 10-15 reps without causing a misalignment in the body, decrease the weight. This will be obvious as you will begin to lean too far forward, backward or side to side. You may also notice a lifting in the shoulders or hips. If you do not have added weights, such as in Essentrics®, be mindful of and strive for proper alignment in every routine to ensure safety and to address the correct muscles.
~Tell yourself in the moment: is forcing this really worth it? When in a stressful physical situation, pause, take full, deep breaths and exhale audibly and slowly. This will reset your brain to tap you into a more relaxed state, perhaps opening you up to make a better decision.
~Give yourself time to heal. Take your time when healing an injury and be mindful when getting back into it. Do not be afraid, but rather cautious. Listening to the signs your body gives is key!
~Be kind to yourself: physically, emotionally, mentally. Give yourself space, time and positive thoughts. Your body is beautiful and unique and capable of so much. Take care of it. We are beholden as long as it carries us through this life!
Happy 2019 to all of my Body Awareness Coach fans. I wish you a successful and healthful new year!!