Updated: Mar 28, 2021
This morning while drinking my morning coffee, I was watching an interview with a corrective exercise specialist from a leading training organization. He was talking all about posture compensations, and different posture patterns that we typically see in people.
These are oftentimes referred to as “syndromes.” He spoke about which muscles are typically short or long, and overactive or underactive in each syndrome. He mentioned possible causes...sitting at a desk all day and lack of movement being the main two. Then he touched on corrective strategies, such as stretching overused and activating underused muscles.
Now, don’t get me wrong, everything he mentioned is probably actually going on in folks, and yes, some of these strategies may even work well temporarily, but what I felt was missing in this talk was the personal aspect of actually “seeing” each individual.
People are more than just a collection of a bunch of over or underactive muscles. They come with past experiences, fears, hopes, dreams, traumas, injuries, social pressures, and beliefs. They come with a story, and their body is the cover.
When I was a student studying to become a trainer, I remember my instructor asking the class one day “if you only got 20 min to meet with a potential new client, which assessments would you choose?”
Keep in mind that we were learning about squat assessments, sit and reach, and things like that. I raised my hand and answered “I would listen to their story,” I said. I can still remember the confused look on my instructor’s face as she said “yes, but what assessments would you do?” “That’s it," I said, "that’s all I would need to know.”
She just stared at me somewhat confused, and moved on to the next person. To this day, that is still the most important thing to me when meeting a new client. Of course, I’ll notice or pick up details that their body is telling me, but most importantly, I see their body in relation to their story.
Our stories tell us so much...maybe we sprained our ankle yrs ago, and are afraid to put weight on that side, maybe we were in a car crash, and our body is still holding on to that fear, maybe we were a gymnast or ballet dancer and can remember our coaches telling us to stand up straight, or maybe you were taught that as a child (very common in my older adult clients).
Maybe you played an impact sport where you were used to curling up to take a blow? Maybe you used to love to run as a child, but were told you were too slow, or maybe you used to love to exercise and move until you got injured, then just couldn’t find that same love again?
The thing is, our relationship with movement, and how we hold ourselves and present ourselves to the world is so much more than short or tight muscles, and how many push ups we can do.
Movement comes with a host of emotions, experiences, fears, beliefs, and joys--THESE are at the root of how we move. IT’S ABOUT OUR STORIES. What story is your body telling?
After discovering the story someone’s body is telling, that’s where the work comes in. We work together to reveal which part of the story needs to change. I look at which patterns each person is used to making, which ones they like, and which ones aren’t serving them anymore.
We will also explore the emotional ties to these patterns. Then we work together on learning new patterns that may be more efficient and possibly help alleviate some of the discomfort the old patterns were causing.
We do this in small steps to get the nervous system used to the new movements, then we work on creating larger patterns, eventually training those patterns to become stronger and more useful...in essence, we’re re-writing your story.