The Importance of Movement
We have previously discussed how our experience of pain is generated by changes in temperature, chemistry and mechanical forces. See Pain, pain and more pain.
And how we move is the key factor in the mechanical strain placed upon our body's.
For many of us we repeat the same activities everyday; and the way we perform these activities is unique to us. No two people are the same or move the same. Consequently the strain on our joints and muscles is slightly different.
For some people their movement pattern is naturally good, they have balance, coordination and strength. For others, their movement is strained and this is either the cause of their injury or the result of injury.
In either case, their movement needs to be improved.
A Simple Forward Bend
Our spines are the same as every other animals, even a Giraffe has seven vertebral bones in its neck; the same as us but bigger. But unlike other animals we stand upright on two legs and therefore we frequently bend forward to pick things up.
Despite bending forwards throughout the day, how many of us actually practice the movement and analyse our movement pattern. Could we bend forward with a better technique?
The answer is yes 100%. Even the best athletes in the sport of weight lifting constantly practice their bending technique. They assess their foot position, distribution of body weight, pelvic tilt, movement at their hips and stability of their spine.
There are infinitive ways in which a person can bend forwards but as general observation, most of us move in-correctly.
If in doubt stick your bum out
The purists could pick fault with this statement 'if in doubt, stick your bum out', but as a starting point it helps correct one of the most common faults. People don't release their hip joints.
The lady in the picture demonstrates a simple squat. Her spine is held in neutral alignment and her hips and knees have released to allow the body to drop down.
This movement might look simple, but as a clinician of over 20 years, it is rare that I observe a client who moves like this. Consequently I see many people with knee, hip and back pain.
Remember, if we don't move well, the repeated mechanical strain on joints is likely to initiated a warning.
How can I improve?
The first thing is to have awareness of your movement. The next time you bend forward stop at the end of the movement and ask yourself where do you feel the weight on your feet. Is it on your toes? maybe your heels. Do you have more weight on one foot than the other.
You can also check where your knees are in relation to your feet.
The video opposite demonstrates a wall squat. By first practising with your bum resting against a wall you can focus on alignment without worrying about balance. Once this movement has been mastered then progress to performing the movement in free standing.
Finally, make sure you then employ this movement during daily activities.
Please note this post, like all brief explanations only covers the basics for pain arising from muscle, bone, tendon and ligament structures. There are many other factors that influence the experience of pain and much research has been done on the emotional components of pain and the sensitisation of the pain mechanism.
For more information and links to educational videos please visit 'virtual physio' on the QuickPhys website.