How You're Telling Your Body What You Want From It, Even When You Don't Know It
I talk to clients a lot about the importance of intentional communication with our bodies. I say "intentional" because you're always telling your body something, whether you realize it or not.
I'm sure you've heard a time or two that it's important to listen to what your body is telling you. It can be the difference between catching a growing issue before it gets serious or not, or preventing an impending injury. But, communication goes both ways, and not only do our bodies constantly try to communicate with us, but we're also constantly communicating back.
Most of those communications are completely within the subconscious mind, which is fine if we have developed all the right habits, but that's often not the case.
Every move you make, every minute of every day, is telling your body something. When we're young, we can demand A LOT of our bodies and give little in return, but once we start creeping over 30, things begin to change.
"The body responds to the demands placed upon it." - Wolff's Law
When you sit at a desk all day, slouching over a computer, typing away and clicking a mouse, or moving your fingers around on a track pad, you are telling your body something, and unfortunately, it's not good. The same goes for any job, hobby, or lifestyle that keeps you doing limited movements over and over.
Spending hours on end, day after day, sitting in the same position and doing the same movements starts to give your body the message that that position and those movements are all you need it to be able to do.
Eventually, you find, you can't stand up without low back pain, you can't pull your shoulders back quite so far when you try to stand up straight, and you have pain in your wrist when you try to do anything that requires more range of motion than typing and clicking.
So, what happened? Well, your hamstrings have decided they should stay in the shortened position they are in when you are sitting, hence the low back pain. Your pecs have decided to stay in the shortened and tightened position they are in when you are slumped in a desk chair (and in the car while driving, and on the couch watching TV, etc...), and the muscles in your forearms that control your fingers have lost their ability to provide full range of motion, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. All of these muscles are tighter, shorter, and weaker.
Essentially, by spending so many waking hours doing the same thing, you have told your body that's all it needs to be able to do anymore. Now, when you try to do other things, it's painful.
So, what to do here? Well, the first line of defense is prevention, of course. Spend time every day consciously communicating to your body what you actually want from it. Move your joints through their full range of motion. If you don't use it, you lose it. Stretch your muscles back to their full natural length daily. Develop a regular exercise routine.
If you are already experiencing the effects of repetitive limited motions and lack of overall movement, the remedy is essentially the same, but maybe with a few added steps. Slowly work on stretching your muscles back out. Consistency is key here, because you are going up against what you spend hours doing every day. Move your joints through their full range of motion, gently pushing it just a little bit further. Develop an exercise routine, and move in slowly - don't rush yourself or try to do too much, just because you used to be able to. You may need help, or additional intervention to get your muscles out of their dysfunctional patterns. Maybe you need a personal trainer, a massage therapist, a physical therapist, or a combination of those and others. It depends on your personal situation.
Communicating with your body about your healing journey is also important. Whatever processes your must go through, or experiences you want to have, to help you heal - make sure your body is in on it, so it can work with you.
One example of this is if you have to have surgery. Whether it's big or small, surgery can be traumatizing to your body, because it doesn't understand what's happening or why. Spend some time beforehand explaining to your body what's going to happen, and how it will help. Explain how it may be difficult to go through, but you will get through it, and you will be better off on the other side.
Another example is if you begin a meditation practice. Your body will start to feel new sensations and experiences it never has before, and some people who are new to meditation find that when a new feeling of expanded consciousness begins, their bodies pull them out of the meditative state in fear. Before beginning a meditation, assure your body that it's safe, and the new feelings or awareness you may experience are safe and good.
Tell your body what you want it to do. You want to keep your full range of motion? Use it, so your body knows. You want to get stronger? Lift weights a bit heavier than is comfortable, and your muscles will grow bigger and stronger. You want to run a marathon? Run just a bit further than your current limit. Then do it again, and again, and again, until you get there.
Remember, if you want your body to be able to do all you demand of it, be sure to give it what it
needs to be able to do that. Healthy foods, PLENTY of water, exercise, massage therapy, meditation, Epsom salt baths, foot rubs, moisturizer, and whatever else will keep your body in good condition.
Very importantly, be sure to listen, as well. All too often, we lose touch with our own body and refuse to hear what it's telling us. Your body gives you messages all day. Drink more water. Stretch your neck muscles. Eat some vegetables. Listen closely, and you will understand what it's telling you.
Your body is the vessel that carries you through this life. Take care of it, and it will take care of you - so you can be here as long as possible, to do what it is you came here to do.
From the desk of Neelou Saleh
Spirit of Lotus