Initially when I thought about writing this article I had wanted to write it on the topic of how injuries happen, but the opposite of optimal movement is broader than just injury. Also, speaking about injury specifically may not resonate with most people, especially if you aren't dealing with an injury.
However, what many of us can relate to are those nagging "things": a knee "thing", a hip "thing", shoulders... those "things" that just don't feel right. They may not be screaming at you that they feel wrong or are in critical danger, but they definitely don't feel awesome and you've accepted your "thing" as an obstacle that you live with.
Okay, so HOW does an injury happen?
"I was doing [activity] and ALL OF A SUDDEN... *pop* *bang* *crash*". The thing is, the majority of injuries don't actually happen all of a sudden; they've been happening for a really long time, but today is the day that your tissue decided to tap out and say NOPE!
Most injuries are a result of putting your tissues and joints in positions they aren't stable in. Even many traumatic injuries can arguably be avoided or mediated with more stable body positions. Your tissues have a certain capacity for load or stress - when the input exceeds that capacity, that's when injury happens.
What to do about it.
Your body is really good at making you more efficient in the demands you put on it. Need to lift 60kg regularly? Cool, let's make that easier for you by making you stronger. Need to sit at a desk? Excellent, lets shorten those tissues up in your hips since you aren't using them very often.
Your nervous system is constantly checking in with your positions and finding ways to make it easier to be in those positions. So the name of the game is to put our body in the most optimal positions most of the time so that our nervous system makes those positions easier. That way our nervous system will see those positions as being "normal" and less ideal positions being "not normal", rather than the other way around.
The nervous system is the boss.
There is always a reason behind limitations and excessive tension, and the nervous system is at the helm of that ship. Simply "releasing" these things with stretching or passive mobilisations will not actually change the root cause. Sending messages to the nervous system is the way forward, and you can read more about that interesting relationship here.
Stop identifying with your "thing"!
That came out wrong... but seriously - stop holding on to limitations! So many people I speak to have accepted their pain/injury/mobility as their truth and it's become a part of them. A good reframe is to look at these things as areas of opportunity.
There is a lot of research that has revealed that our self-image and what we believe about ourselves directly affects our body. If we believe that we will always have a bad back then this belief not only becomes self-limiting in our efforts - we become less willing to explore different options outside of "having a bad back" - but the belief itself has a direct impact on the tissue tension in that area. Our mind and bodies are so intricately connected that we cannot separate what is going on upstairs from what is happening in our tissues.
Bottom line: Move daily in optimal ranges and expand those ranges.
If you missed my article on mobility, you can catch up on some daily movement inspiration here or follow us on our @shiftyourmovement Facebook page.