Peter is a specialist in quickly resolving both chronic and acute pain and empowering lifestyle change to improve performance levels both for sport and life in general. For more information about his work, visit here
When we observe children or young animals they are constantly moving, jumping, running and enjoying using their bodies. Why is then, that as adults, we often neglect this most beneficial and enjoyable aspect of having a body?
Most of us expect that we will lose our physical strength and mobility as we get older but this doesn’t have to be the case and by maintaining your strength and flexibility you can enjoy using your body to do whatever you want for the rest of your life.
Keeping physically active will maintain lean muscle mass also helping to reduce fat as well as improving circulation, digestion, sleep quality and energy levels throughout the day.
Even though we know this to be true, many of us see purposeful exercise as far too much like hard work and don’t make time for it in our busy schedules.
We stress too much about how many times per week to exercise and for how long instead of just incorporating it into our daily lifestyle and enjoying it for its own sake.
Many of us also don’t enjoy exercise because it hurts but this is usually simply a result of poor posture and misuse of the body, which creates a situation where certain muscles are too short and tight and others are too long and weak.
By stretching the tight muscles and strengthening those that are weak we can restore good posture, which is the basis for free flowing and pain-free movement.
As a Corrective Exercise Specialist I regularly prescribe programmes with this very objective in mind but it is possible to improve posture through simply having a greater awareness of our bodies and what it feels like to perfectly balanced.
If you stand with an upright but relaxed posture and allow your body to sway gently forwards and backwards you will notice that the muscles in your lower back will tense if you sway too far forward. Similarly, if you sway too far backwards your abdominals will tighten to keep you upright and your toes will start to come off the ground.
As you get used to these feelings and notice how the distribution of your weight changes, gradually allow your movements to become smaller and smaller until you feel as though you are in a neutral and balanced position.
Once there, keep breathing and relax into the position, imagining your head and skeleton being suspended from a string whilst your muscles are being drawn gently towards the earth by the force of gravity. From this balanced posture we can move freely and the most natural of all movements is walking.
In fact we walk all the time, but do we really enjoy it or are we thinking more about where we need to get to and whether we are running late rather than being truly present in the moment and taking in our surroundings?
In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, the author of Peace is Every Step, “Walk not in order to arrive, but just to walk... make steps as if you are the happiest person on Earth.”