Jason Burtchell, PT, Cred. MDT
Recover What Moves You
For some of us, it's running. For others, it's reaching the peak of a mountain, or finishing a difficult workout. Perhaps you've felt it after a long day of helping your neighbor with a project. It can occur during that quiet moment when you carry your child up the stairs and tuck them in, knowing that they feel safe and protected in your strong arms.
It's that feeling of gratitude, connectedness, exhilaration and accomplishment that accompanies what we seek out that drives us. And the beauty of it is that there are so many avenues to get to that feeling.
Movement moves us. When we start to recognize it, we start to chase it. That feeling of connectedness, of being part of something larger than ourselves is what will pull us off the couch, what helps us start when our mind is saying "not today." Nobody ever finishes saying "I wish I hadn't done that."
Just as importantly, we carry that feeling with us. We're less stressed at work. We are able to enjoy our family and friends more. We have the ability to better appreciate the most important things by simply being more attuned to them. We sleep better. That's what movement can do for us.
Perhaps you've also felt what it's like to miss it. It's funny, we often don't even notice it in obvious ways. You feel more tired. You tend to think negatively. You're more easily upset by things that don't normally bother you. This happens to all of us in the BEST of times. We are pulled away from the things that make us healthier and happier by the demands of our job, or because we overslept, or it's raining out. Perhaps your child is sick or has been up half the night, so we skip over movement.
Hopefully we are able to pull ourselves out of the downward spiral- if we miss once, we don't miss twice. But we all know that's not always the case. Sometimes missing a day turns into missing a week, two weeks, a month. We aren't sleeping as well. We make poor nutrition choices. Yeah, we know we should get back to our movement, but it's overwhelming and it's hard to get started again. We've fallen out of the habit.
Or, perhaps, there was an injury. Movement of any sort is, of course, not risk free. We can reduce our risk, but there will be times when we end up hurt because that's life. Our foot slips on the stairs, the back is stiff or "goes out" (it doesn't really "go out" but that's another blog post), or "gee, this pain just showed up." Now we're moving funny, and perhaps not at all. Frustration builds and movement goes by the wayside.
Look, these things are going to happen. I would venture that there isn't a person reading this to whom it hasn't happened. So what do you do about it?
If it's that you've fallen out of the habit, for whatever reason, it's time to create a new habit. One that's more sustainable, reasonable, one that you can start with "quick wins" to ensure you will not be able to find a reason not to do it. It could be as simple as getting up a few minutes earlier and committing to 5 to 10 minutes of movement as soon as you are out of bed (no coffee until the movement is done). Perhaps it's meeting a friend at the hiking trail, knowing that you are less likely to skip if someone is expecting you to be there. It's also telling yourself the story: "I'm the type of person who gets up when the alarm goes off so I can do this activity." Repeat, repeat, repeat. You'll find that the story you tell yourself is true, and that it's easier to make it true the more often you do it.
If injury is stopping you, find something else you can do in the interim. Can't walk or hike? Ride a bike. Can't lift your toddler up because your shoulder hurts? Squat down for hugs, hold hands. And: get your injury looked at. If you have lost the ability to do what moves you, you are losing so much more than just a movement. You are missing a part of what makes you feel connected, accomplished, alive. You can accept this passively: "well, I'm getting older," "I used to do that, but I just don't anymore," "I didn't like it that much anyway.", and sadly many do to their detriment. You can also address the issue- if you know what is bothering and how to fix it, then this is pretty straight forward. But: we are incredibly complex and wonderful vehicles of movement (among many other things), and sometimes it's necessary to get a bit of help. Here's the good news: there's help out there.
If you have lost the ability to do what moves you, then take the steps to recover what moves you. It means so much more than "exercise."