Movement and Performance
Our movement and ability to perform is supported by our ability to maintain balance, uprightness and ease. When I work with someone I always start with these general attributes before moving into specifics. They are all interrelated but I'll describe them individually.
Most people are balanced in the sense that they aren't always falling over. But I'm interested in how much muscular effort is require to maintain balance and how much mobility is lost as a result of this effort. Often people tighten too many muscles in order to stop themselves from falling. This affects their levels of fatigue and restricts mobility but also compromises the efficiency of actions that require the unimpeded motion of these muscles.
Instead of holding oneself up, we can constantly re-balance, particularly at the ankles, knees, hips and top of the spine). When I help somebody to do this, they often feel very unstable and are initially reluctant to maintain it! It is important to recognise that balance does not necessarily equal stability, often they may appear to be opposed.
When the deep muscles around the spine are being used well, a person will be upright with minimal effort. The alternative (which is common) is for the superficial (surface) muscles of the torso to be recruited for postural support. In the first case the spine is slightly extended and takes it's full length, acting as a catalyst for efficient movement and breathing. In the second case the torso and spine are compressed and interfere with movement of limbs, breathing and even vocal production.
The difficulty is that we get very little feedback from these deep spinal muscles and they can be hard to directly control. The key to changing this is to become aware of the habitual over use of the wrong muscles and think of the spine as a whole. Once we do this, the deep muscles tend to take up any slack. We learn the use of the spine at a very young age and the ability tends to be innately within us, just waiting for an opportunity to fire!
By ease I mean the degree to which unneeded muscles are released and the appropriateness of muscle recruitment in activity. Muscles may be unduly contracted because of problems of balance or uprightness but also habits of inefficient muscle use may have developed for a whole range of reasons such as stress, poor instruction or injury.
It is important to ensure that releasing one muscle is not at the expense of tightening another, nor at the expense of collapsing or shortening the spine. In fact, in my opinion it is not useful to consider consciously changing an isolated muscle at all, instead we must find a way to coordinate the whole neuromuscular system in such a way as to reduce unnecessary muscular contraction. When this happens muscles assume a healthy resting length and are maximally available for recruitment when needed.
Underlying all of this is the fact that we have little awareness of our habits of muscle use, posture and coordination. Habitual use of muscles just seems normal to us. In order to help change these habits I provide timely, accurate manual and verbal feedback that shines light on the unknown aspects of movement and provides a simple way to make change.
Once balance, uprightness and ease have been restored, specific skill development and performance ability can be approached in a new light. Often some seemly intractable problems disappear without needing any specific intervention at all! Other times specific instruction becomes much more effective then previously possible.
If you want to improve how you move or perform then you should book a session with me today.