Life is movement. I am sure some of you already heard this. In fact, this is very close to the truth and I would just add that to live a healthy life you need to know how to move.
That seems a bit odd to say but in fact we start moving very early in life and no one really tells us if the movement is correct or not. We usually start crawling and from there we begin to walk and later in life we develop the ability to run.
Our body is a very complex machine but it has some basic principles. Before we activate the muscles that makes us move, our body activates the muscles that stabilise it. That way we can move in a coordinated pattern without compromising our health. The muscles that makes us move are more localised around our arms and legs and the muscles that stabilise us are around our trunk.
The problem starts when, due to certain circumstances (bad habits, prolonged sitting, muscle imbalance, etc.), our muscles start to lose their priorities. So all of the sudden you have stabilisers trying to move the joints rather than stabilising it causing that joint to move differently. Obviously we do not move like robots and all of this happens in a very natural way but your brain does not understand which muscles cause the movement, he only understands about movement. So if you need to lift your arm your brain will give the command but might not use the right sequence of muscles.
A good posture and correct movement go hand in hand so if your movement is not correct your posture will also be affected, creating a vicious circle that might lead to pain and injury.
So during movements, like sit to stand or going up and downstairs or even lifting something, you might not feel any pain, but if your movement is affected your will start to develop a wrong pattern that can potentially lead to injuries.
Probably the most important thing a Physiotherapist can do for you is to teach you how to move using basic principles of biomechanics, after assessing your posture and the way you move. Everybody is unique and move differently but the basic principles of human movement apply to all and must be respected.
Combining postural re-education techniques with re-education of the normal movement patterns through video analysis and basic observation has been showed to make a big difference in people’s health.
Correcting a wrong movement pattern might help decrease early joint degeneration, muscle stiffness and imbalance, promoting a more fluid movement. This is extremely important for athletes, helping them to achieve their goals, like having a better golf swing or hitting a tennis ball with more precision or even running in a more efficient and faster way, but for someone who has pain this can be crucial.
Exercises like Pilates and Yoga are also important because both focus on stability and muscle stretching keeping your movement fluid and restriction free.
So the next time you are going up and down stairs or just getting out of bed just think “Am I moving the right way?”
Senior Physiotherapist, BSc MHCPC MCSP MAACP