Movement- Move Freely and Easily!
Remember those days, as a child when movement was free and easy? 83 year old Bette Calman is living proof that we don’t have to accept pain and stiffness is a natural part of ageing. Our bodies can become slow, stiff and clunky over time, however it’s not because we’re old or have old injuries, but because we don’t use good quality movement on a day to day basis. Imagine being able to run, play, and ride your bike all day, with no pain, just like a child!
Good quality movement is more important for long term health than hard-core exercise. This does not mean we need to be able to touch our ankles to our ears and do 10 sessions of yoga a week to stay healthy. It can be as simple as retraining daily movement habits to incorporate more quality movement. Exercise is important, however pumping weights using poor quality movement, reinforces poor movement patterns and strains the body. Exercise is much more effective if we use good quality movement. The basis of good movement is maintaining adaptability and elasticity, which can be achieved by retraining poor daily movement habits which you can then incorporate into exercise.
The Benefits of Good Movement Patterns:
- Increase your energy with more efficient muscle use
- Feel stronger with better body biomechanics
- Feel less stiffness and less pain
- Reduce your risk of injury
- Reduce wear and tear on joints, preventing joint pain and arthritis
- Reduce wear and tear on soft tissues, avoiding repetitive strain
- Reduces tension in the body leading to a freedom and ease of movement
- Improves your vitality so you can reach your functional potential
If you would like more information on how to keep your body healthy and adaptable then call me today or book an appointment.
What is Adaptable Movement?
In order to participate in meaningful activities on a day to day basis we need to keep our bodies adaptable. Adaptable movement is best achieved with a balanced and aligned body. No matter what you do in terms of movement or exercise, if your joints cannot move in the manner for which they were designed, stiffness, damaged tissues and joints as well as pain will eventuate.
The fascia network is closely associated with the nervous system having the highest number of sensory nerve endings of any tissue type within the body. This means it tells the brain what the body is doing and what position it is in. When you don’t move through your body’s functional patterns, the fascia can become stuck or dried out and the sensory signals to the brain can be compromised. This results in poor communication between the brain and the body. If the brain cannot receive up-to-date information regarding the body it cannot send the appropriate messages back to the body to control the movement. This can lead to slower, less coordinated movements which can increase your risk of injury.
The fascia network surrounding muscles can also tighten up, contract and shorten which limits the muscle’s ability to perform. This stiffening of the fascia, increases tension in the body and can put additional stress on joints and surrounding soft tissues. Increased fascia tension can feel painful however this pain is a warning signal to the brain alerting you to change your behaviour to prevent tissue damage rather than an alert that the tissue is already damaged. Unfortunately we have learnt to believe that all pain means the tissue has already been damaged so we stop, tense up and protect the painful bits. Learning to feel the difference between actual tissue damage and potential tissue damage is difficult, however it is important because ‘fascia pain’ is actually telling us to move more. It is a difficult concept to grasp. The pain signals are very convincing and we have spent many years learning to avoid and fear pain. Common scanning technology (x-ray, MRI etc) cannot identify tension in fascia so it doesn’t get diagnosed. If the fascia remains tight and stiff then the joints can be pulled out of alignment resulting in the wear and tear tissue damage.
The fascia network is also a key component of coordinated movement. Individual muscles do not work in isolation to move the skeleton, they work in myofascial chains to produce sequential movement patterns. The individual muscles are connected to each other via the fascial network which provides a tension-based communication system between muscles. For example in order to move your finger, the muscles in your hand and forearm contract. However this single movement alters the tensional forces in the entire body so you also need to adapt the positions and amount of muscle contraction in your upper arm, shoulder, neck, back, chest, abdomen, buttocks, legs, and feet in order to maintain balance of the entire body to support that movement. Therefore difficulties in controlling hand movements could actually be due to a reduced ability of the fascia network in the leg to sense the tensional changes and provide the necessary support for that movement.
Problems in Movement
Movement chains can become dysfunctional for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s in the developmental process as a child. The sensory system may not provide the appropriate information from birth, so a child can develop sub-optimal movement patterns and postures from early on. These children may be less co-ordinated than others, be clumsy, have difficulty at school and/or difficulty concentrating. Poor postures and movements in children can lead to repeated injuries, especially in teenage years and on the sporting grounds or they can continue into adulthood which can eventually lead to joint problems, tissue damage and/or pain. Treating children’s posture and movement early can help to improve their co-ordination and their learning potential.
Injury leads to automatic compensatory movement patterns in order to avoid pain and prevent further tissue damage. For example you limp when you have a sore ankle. If your ankle heals quickly then you’ll probably regain your typical walking pattern. If however the sore ankle persists, the body will adapt it’s muscle sequencing and it’s fascial structure to support the new walk. New neurological programs of movement sequences will form in the brain so that the limp continues to persist long after the original injury has healed. This can also result in persistent pain. Breaking down the compensatory neurological sequencing, releasing the fascia In order to restore healthy movement, the neurological sequences need to be broken down, the fascia and other soft tissues need to be released and new movement habits formed.
Sensory nerves can also get damaged with injuries which can lead to changes in the messages sent to the brain affecting the sensory processing within the brain. The brain relies on sensory information to process all the things that are going on inside and outside the body, in order to make the right decisions about movement and function. When the sensory information is disturbed by injury the brain makes different decisions and develops new ways to maintain function. As the sensory nerves re-grow they can change their signals and become more sensitive both at the tissue level and at the spinal cord level. The brain can get confused and think the tissues are still damaged. The brain needs to relearn and reintegrate the new information to regain control of the healed tissue. The importance of sensory processing and it’s connection to pain within the healing process, is undergoing a great deal of research.
Your daily habits play a big part in the movement patterns you adopt. If you spend numerous hours sitting at a desk your body will adapt it’s structure to support a static sitting posture. After years of sitting at a desk, your body has built up fascial tissue in areas to allow you to maintain the sitting posture with reduced muscle contraction in order to save energy. However the difficult arises when you try to stand – the body has changed it’s design to support sitting so that when you stand your body has reduced mobility and your standing posture and movements are restricted. Reduced movement can be perceived as pain – but your tissue may not necessarily be damaged.
When the body structure has changed and has resulted in restricted movement patterns in specific areas of the body, then often the body will compensate in order to retain function. If you have stiffness in one area of the body, the movement will be transferring to another area of the body in order to maintain function. For example if you have reduced movement in your shoulder, but you want to reach the chocolate located on the top shelf of your cupboard, you will possibly arch your back to enable your hand to reach the chocolate. Because it is essential for survival that you reach that chocolate, your body will find a way to maintain the functional range even though your physical shoulder range has been reduced. This can lead to increased mobility and in the back for which it wasn’t designed, leading to tissue damage and pain over the long term. Improving you shoulder mobility may help to take the strain out of your back by reintegrating healthy movement patterns.
Moving your body through specific movement patterns keeps the fluids moving in and around your fascia. When you spend long periods of time not moving, or moving within the same patterns day in and day out, the fascia can dry out and become sticky. The fascia can stick to itself and other surrounding tissues, leading to adhesions and stiffness. This stiffness and stickiness can be perceived by the brain to be pain. Pain is an alert system to instigate a change in behaviour, so the pain is actually telling us we need to move. Unfortunately however we have learnt to fear pain, so instead of moving more we move less because we think we have damaged tissues. This belief perpetuates a stiff /no-movement /pain cycle.
When one aspect of the myofascial chain is stuck or not gliding freely the whole movement chain can be compromised. This alters the ability of the body to sense the changes in tension which then limits the ability to adapt the body to support specific movements. This results in compensatory or alternative movement patterns in order to maintain function. If the area that is stuck is not freed then the new movement pattern becomes the norm. Alternative movement patterns place joints and soft tissue in sub-optimal positions, and the communication between the body and brain can get blurred which can eventually result in pain and/or tissue damage.
Improving the health and fitness of fascia tissue is simple to integrate. Assessing your posture in standing and how your posture changes with movement can tell us which areas are stiff and stuck. They may not necessarily be in the areas that you feel pain. Pain is often the trigger to seek help. However the cause of the pain has been years in the making. Poor work habits, repetitive sporting movements, injury, stress and trauma all influence the body, how it moves and how the nerves communicate with the brain. Combined posture assessment, fascia and soft tissue release with mobility training will ‘reset’ the body and the nerves to give you back that freedom of movement. We can also teach you how to recognise early warning signs, modify you habits and your workplace so you can maintain the changes and not have to keep coming back for treatment!
Services Provided To Improve Movement
- Gait analysis
- Activity and movement analysis
- Home or work station assessment
- Structural integration to release restricted movement patterns
- Sensory modulation
- Movement and activity retraining
Please call and have a chat to discuss your needs and find out if we can help restore your movement and release your inner child so you can life your life to your full potential.