Very commonly I will be helping someone work their way through some basic movement, and a common problem comes up…
They do not know if they are “doing it right”.
And while they do not always say it in that manner, what I do tend to hear is…
“Should I keep my knees from falling in?”
“Should I brace my core?”
“Should I avoid bending over?”
“Should I stop my shoulders from shrugging?”
“Is this good body mechanics?”
And so on, and so forth…
And while these questions are all very valid…after all, these are almost certainly things that they have at one point or another been told to do or avoid…all these questions tend to do in the moment is make someone become stuck in their head.
They are overthinking… analysis to paralysis.
And while the opposite end of the spectrum of being lost in ones head is just a problematic, the person stuck with an algorithmic checklist or spreadsheet in their mind is never going to be able to take on lifting a heavy weight, steadying themselves on a surfboard, or cutting a rug on a dance floor…let alone enjoy it.
And while some folks may be more prone to overthinking than others, there are many reasons beyond the individual that these questions tends to come up so often.
Typically…and quite likely exclusively, these are things that the person has been taught to prioritize. By physical therapists, just as much as personal trainers.
You see we are not a very body aware culture, and a great deal of instruction that is given out there when it comes to formal exercise just results making you overly cautious, and even neurotic about moving. As a result, we tend to learn to attempt to pre-plan our movements, with the hope of “doing it right”.
Well this tends to work just about as well as trying to get the grass to grow by yelling at it.
You see, the vast majority of our movement is not pre-planned…it is reflexive.
When I unexpectedly step on one of our children’s toys at our home, I do not think…
“Engage core, shift to opposite leg, fire hip flexor…yell f-bomb”
I just do it.
And chances are, you do as well.
We do not think to move… we simply move.
The muscles that move our bodies, and the mind that makes the decisions about those movements all rely on our senses.
So what does all this have to do with getting out of your head? Well in order to do that, you must return to your senses… and drop into your body.
Said another way, instead of attempting to control the movement consciously, you will do well to focus on sensing yourself and what you are intending to do.
This is also known as having a goal or priority, and then from there listening to whatever may need to be done to achieve that.
This allows you to interact and most especially react much more fluidly and ultimately… effectively. By doing this, you will find that you end of “doing it right”.
Well, it would be understandable if perhaps you were hoping this act of listening could be diluted into something simple and concise. Good news… There are three things that I tend to advise people to focus on in order to do this. Conveniently, they rely on three separate senses…
- Feel… Feel your feet on the ground.
- Sight…Set your gaze and sense your surroundings.
- Sound…Exhale with effort and synchronize the sound of it with the tempo and nature of the movement.
The first helps you both become and remain connected to the ground. When we are upright we typically achieve this through our feet, and as a rule when you take on anything strenuous keep your feet flat. The weight through our feet elicits a cascade of reflexive muscular activity throughout our body, and little shifts can have big impacts on up above.
The second helps you have a consistent reference to what is in your environment, and with that sense where you body is within your environment. Our bodily tone also tends to follow our gaze, which can be to our advantage or otherwise…all depending on what and how you do it.
The third simply helps prevent you from being overly rigid, and at the same time give a pulse of power at your midsection. A general rule is unless you are performing something akin to lifting a car, favor pushing a little bit of audible air out during the hard part of any movement.
While these are just the basics, and they will absolutely need to be adjusted to whatever specific action or activity you or I are taking on… these are three fundamentals that will undeniably serve you from here to the grave when you are attempting to take on anything that requires some level of effort.
Now, if you would like to go a little bit more in depth on this, then click on the link below. There you can watch a short video where I go into far more than the above, while providing some audiovisual instruction of what it may look like taking these things on.
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.