I cannot express the value and importance of this… as a starting point for developing a movement practice… This is important… Movement! A daily full body joint by joint check-in… assessment… preparation… recovery tool.
It doesn’t matter what else you do for movement… Yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, martial arts, parkour, MovNat, climbing, running, or even just sitting in front of the computer (yes that is a movement practice too). This is where you learn about you… how you move… why you move… your limitations, fears, anxieties, excitements, passions, and so much more.
You are a human mover… this is where it begins… You Must Move… every day… even just a little.
I didn’t feel well last night, canceled plans, and laid down in bed at 8p. I didn’t get up until 9a this morning… Thank god for an easy Saturday work day. Upon getting out of bed, my back and knees ached… which with my injury history is pretty normal. This daily practice is what keeps me moving at the capacity I do considering all the damage I have done to my body already in this life.
This is what keeps me alive… not in the life support kind of way… but in the engaged, mentally, intellectually, emotional, spiritual way. If I don’t move… at least a little bit every day… I feel a little piece of me dry up and die inside. Moving is living support.
My back feels better… My knees ache less… My heart is full… My mind engaged… How do you feel this morning???
It’s a totally free and clear day. What am I going to do??? I am spending the day playing at Austin Boulding Project… checking in, writing, shooting videos, climbing, experiments with Instagram stories, and whatever else catches my fancy.
I’m extra excited… I replaced my 15-year-old climbing shoes which were falling apart with these @sportiva.climbing shoes.
When your day is devoted to playing… Where do you begin?
I begin by checking in.
I woke up with some minor aches at the medial right knee with walking and general right side low back tension/tightness/restriction. Considering the swelling in my knee from last week and an active day yesterday with mountain biking… I pretty much expected this. Nothing feels more inflamed or painful than usual… but I do want to check in with my body before pushing myself.
At austinboulderingproject, they have a nice fitness room setup with a floor movement section and massage tools. I love using the foam roller as a part of checking in with where I am holding tension in my body. Things I noticed during this 10-minute foam roller session… Right side calf tension and right side low back. I give an extra bit of love to these areas… not for release… not to fix anything… but more to just bring blood flow and attention to how I’m moving through these areas of my body. This section of the video is only sped up by 2 to show how slow and soft I am on the foam roller.
Also, considering I will probably be climbing a fair amount, I make sure to roll out my forearms… just enough to bring blood flow.
Checking in continued… hip to spine mobility
After foam rolling, I am checking in with full body joint by joint mobility. This is an exploration of how all the pieces are playing with the whole.
I generally begin with my hips… moving through shin box to pigeon. I am noticing the tightness of my right nip in external rotation and its relationship to the right low back tension/tightness/restrictions… and play with this a bit… feeling… can these two individual parts connect… can they play well together. It is an easing and opening into movement.
This video is only sped up 2x… I’m hoping the slowness of the movement can be seen.
Checking in Continued… fingers, wrists, and forearms
Since I’m just getting back into climbing after a long layoff and I have a history of shoulder and elbow issues (seven months of elbow tendonitis last year), my fingers and forearms are a huge weak link. I want to develop a healthy climbing practice that will last me the rest of my life…
This is simple joint mobility work for the fingers, wrists, and forearms. Again, I’m checking in to make sure everything works. After climbing last week, I’ve noticed some minor joint compression in my right third and fourth fingers at the DIP and PIP joints. It’s not enough to cause worry… but enough to let me know these areas need my attention.
This video is sped up by 2.
Checking in Continued… Spine
How do I find the movements of gait when my gait exhibits dysfunction?
My low back is sore… tight… achy… especially the right side low back. This is the norm. Since the most recent knee surgery, I don’t express my gait pattern fully through my left knee. This means I also don’t express my gait pattern fully through the right side lumbar and thoracic spine (as well as other places). This means my gait is a dysfunctional movement pattern.
These are some of my core work for segmental three-dimensional movements through my spine. This is what keeps me active. When I don’t do this… I hurt… I hurt bad. I used to have such bad back pain that I would be laid up for weeks from a single episode. These types of movements… every day… keeps the pain away from the 7’s, 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s out of ten… and more around 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s.
This video is sped up 6x. I am moving slowly… feeling each segment of my spine moving in all three planes of motion.
Checking in continued… toes, ankles, knees, hips, shoulder, and spine…
Checking in… feeling into my structure… taking the toes, ankles, knees and hips, shoulders, and spine joints through some loading patterns… checking in to feeling… is there pain? Stiffness? Restriction?
I noticed the left knee to foot feels a bit disconnected in the squat variations and in the tripod with rotation when loaded on the right shoulder … something I will keep focus on throughout the day.
My body feels much improved from the stiffness and achiness of this morning. I’m still noticing a little knee tenderness… I don’t want to aggravate this… so I’ll continue to check in with it throughout the day.
Now… it’s time to climb
One more before I go climb. I’ve been sitting writing up my movement series for a while.
Just because I am sitting… doesn’t mean I’m not moving. Even as I sit… I express movement… feeling my back, neck, breathing, shoulders… stagnation is a sign of death. I am alive… and movement is my expression of life.
I finished the first summer semester of Physics with an A. I’ve decided to take the rest of summer off from school so I can focus on some business ideas, movement, and most importantly… myself.
My mom was in town last week. It was a really good visit… and a challenging week overall. Anyone who knows my history… understands that these visits are ripe and fruitful for introspection and big feelings. This visit, combined with parenting and relationship challenges, was not a disappointment.
Whenever I get into the big feels, it is easy to take the focus away from other aspects of myself… breathing, meditating, journaling, and moving my body. When this happens I tend to feel stuck. The practice of moving internally and externally is so important to keeping the emotional energy flowing. When this happens I need to recalibrate. Today is restoring focus on moving, feeling, flowing, surrendering, and just being. It opens me up to trust and gratitude… and that I am right where I need to be.
My heart stirs.
The deeper I dive…
the older the wounds I find buried within.
My heart has been locked up tight…
Prison for a lifetime…
I don’t want to hold onto this any longer.
Movement is healing…
Movement is relief…
Movement pushes me deeper,
exposing older wounds.
To move exposes pain,
I am forced to feel and left with the choice…
bury it, lock it up tighter, and stop movement…
and free my Self.
I will always choose freedom over confinement.
In the short time since making the video, my neck has improved. There was still a niggle of tightness at the base of the right side occipitals that I missed while filming. Probably due to being a bit rushed. I have since used the Thera-cane on that spot and my neck feels much improved.
I hope you find this video helpful. Below is a link for the Thera-cane. Please leave a comment if you have a question about this video or suggestions for a future demonstration.
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My right hip and right side low back are achy. The anterior compartment of my right hip feels compressed with tight passive and active range of motion. I feel it all the way down to the lateral compartment of my right foot and up into my right side low back (multifidi, quadratus lumborum, psoas region. It has been building up over the course of a few weeks. I’ve been so Go! Go! Go! with school lately, that I haven’t taken the proper time to work on it. I’ve been moving quite a bit lately, however with less focus on restorative/explorative movement. Tonight is time to put in that focus.
I felt some specific spots of restriction on both sides of my neck and right forearm as I was moving, so I did some self-massage using hands and went back to challenge the movements. The restrictions eased up and my neck and forearm moved easier. I love how my body can tell me the exact spots to work on.
I went into this session with no preconceived idea of what it would look like. Instead, I simply followed what my body presented. My good friend and brilliant movement teacher, Melody Benton – Instagram: Movement Goddess sent me the video below posted by Abby Corriveau – Instagram: Feminine Badass.
In the video, Abby is instructing how to sit both hips to the ground in the “shin box” position using a tool. I cannot place both hips to the ground in this position. I’ve been questioning whether this is a good goal position to pursue both for my clients and myself. My concern is that pushing positions or stretches have the potential to create instability in the system… specifically through ligament laxity. It’s a concern, but I haven’t really formulated a firm opinion Considering how tight my hips have been, I decided to give this a try tonight.
I noticed a pretty good difference in hip mobility; specific to the shin box position. I wasn’t able to sit both hips to the floor, but I felt closer. I’m not sold on whether having access to this hip mobility is good for my body in the long haul, but will definitely add it in over the next few weeks to feel how it may potentially benefit my body.
Tonight, I worked a little on finger grip (huge weakness). I would have done more, but during the install process, I burned two of my fingertips today and didn’t want to aggravate the blisters it too much. Overall, the session felt great.
I went camping over the weekend at a lovely property east of Austin along the river. I spent most of two days completely barefoot, exploring grass, rock, and soft sticky dirt. I slept on a Thai massage mat, which is significantly firmer than my bed at home. It made of a rough sleeping experience simply because my body isn’t conditioned to it. I was expecting to wake up in pain. Surprisingly, my body felt pretty good overall. The only discomfort was the soreness in my legs from playing on the slackline the previous day.
I did feel physically tired. Sleeping in a different environment meant that I didn’t get as much deep sleep as normal. With a 6 am appointment on Monday, I was feeling the need for recovery.
In this session, I explore the edges of my movement joint by joint with a good bit of focus on wringing out my spine. My lower back was a bit stiff and the extra spinal mobility movements really helped. I finished with some full body self-massage using the foam roller.
I woke up Monday morning tired, but not exhausted. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. Now to reintegrate back into life again.
My movement practice connects me to my body, but more importantly, it connects me to my Self… my heart, the very feeling being of me.
Why is it that when I feel most closed off internally to my heart, I am most likely to be lazy with my movement practice? The human body is a giant sensory organ. We are made to feel… to feel the full spectrum of what it means to be a human… externally (physical world) and internally (emotional world). It’s ok to feel deeply sometimes… even when it hurts. It’s a sign that I am real, authentic, and healthy.
This week I’ve had a huge emotional process. Lots of feelings swirling from just the simple daily adulting of life. It has also been a week with too little movement. When I don’t move my body enough, it is a sign that I am not feeling the depths of my heart enough. I tend to hold emotional tension and stress both physically and emotionally. By the end of a week, it can feel like I’m carrying an extra load on my shoulders. I’ve got enough on my plate… I don’t need to carry anything that doesn’t serve me.
Tonight’s movement session helped with a bit of a reset. My knee has actually been feeling better the past couple days. It’s almost as if the pop I felt last week was beneficial. My theory is that I had a cyst forming in the medial capsule from the surgery and the pop was the cyst being squeezed out and reabsorbed by my body. I’m guessing there is still some cyst (or whatever it is in the joint space). The knee still feels unstable at full extension. I can balance on the 2×4 and 2-inch bar, but I don’t dare get on the slackline yet. I’ve also had a bit of left side neck tension. Probably a secondary issue due to gait issues related to the knee pain.
In this session, I focused on rehab for the knee and neck, which really meant moving joint by joint through the entire body with a focus on the feet, knees, hips, spine, and breath. At the same time, I felt deeply into my heart. I allowed all the feelings from the week to move. I allowed myself to feel, surrender, and let go… As if someone was physically taking a weight off my shoulder. There is still more underneath, but it feels good being a little lighter for the moment.
In this session, I’m focusing on moving and feeling. Being in pain takes an emotional toll. It is real. No matter how strong we tell ourselves we are… we also can feel weak and vulnerable. I find it is important to be real and honest about this aspect of movement. Emotional movement is equally as important in physical movement when developing a movement practice.
Knee Therapy Movement Meditation
It is Sunday morning and the last day of Spring Break. I’m feeling the need to nurture my body. Tomorrow I am back to the parenting/school/work schedule. My knee feels much better compared to Wednesday when I hurt it. It is close to being back to how it felt on Tuesday… which is still far from where I want it to be.
Dealing with a structural pain issue is super frustrating. I can do a ton to improve functional issues, but I can’t change my structure. The medial joint capsule of my left knee has a structural issue. It is hard to know which movements are good for it and which ones will aggravate it. A movement may be good for my knee on Monday and bad on Wednesday. Which means I have to listen really well to my body… every day… with every movement… This is challenging. Sometimes I want to cut loose and just move… move hard and move fast. Sometimes I miss moving how used to be capable of moving… before injuries started mounting on top of each other.
I have to remind myself that it is ok to feel frustrated… that it’s ok to be angry with my former self and the decisions I made. It’s ok to feel… even when feeling doesn’t feel good. But it is also important to surrender these feelings. They are not me… not who I am. It’s something I am holding and I can just as easily let it go as I can pull it closer. My choice is to let it go and feel deeper. When I feel deeper… I feel deeply connected. I get glimpses of the larger orchestrations of life. I feel forgiveness and acceptance towards myself and my body. I feel an incredible amount of gratitude and pride; that considering what my body has been through; I can still do half the cool stuff I able to do… and it could be so much worse.
I love that I get to work all this stuff out physically as well as emotionally. By the end of the session, my body feels more mobility and stability, and my heart feels more open, accepting, and willing to persevere.
On Wednesday, I hurt my left knee more. The medial compartment has been problematic for the past 3-4 months. It feels like either the meniscus wasn’t cleared out well or that a cyst has formed in the capsule space. Wednesday afternoon, I was clearing out some rocks in my backyard. I was tossing them out into the greenbelt. As I threw one, I stepped onto my left knee, it popped, immediately hurt, felt unstable, and felt my nervous system shift.
Once the initial pain wave was over, I was able to walk… with a limp and minimal pain. There was instability mostly in the last 10-20 degrees of extension. I was able to move with arm support into a deep squat position without pain.
I went into knee therapy movement restoration mode for the next two days. I went for a swim, continued to move, and did very light movement exploration. Over the next couple days the pain, range of motion, and feeling of instability improved. This session is the first dedicated movement session focused on restoring as much knee function as possible.
This is a listening and feeling session. I have no plan or no focus on an outcome. I’m just feeling and allowing my body to tell me where it needs to go.
The first part of the session was all Movement Exploration, where I seek out the non-painful edges of my movement. Lots of hip, spine, and shoulder opening. As my body started opening up, it felt more playful, and I transitioned to stability focused work.
I did vestibular and proprioceptive challenges on the left knee on the 2×4. This felt super beneficial. The left knee was much more challenged than my right. However, as I explored, I felt the left knee become more controlled.
All in all, it was a really good session. It felt like just what my body needed.
The tightness and restriction in my neck are still present. Mobility has not gotten worse, which I contribute to last night’s movement session. However, pain has set in at the end range of motion for both neck left rotation and extension. Now I have to work on moving with neck pain.
It is not a major pain, not at the point of calling it a crick in my neck. I don’t even notice it with most movements… only at the end range. At this point, this is a good thing. Normally, when I feel neck tightness/restrictions, it turns to a major crick in the neck that affects all movements. So again, I’m thankful I made the effort to move last night, and need to be extra mindful to move the next few days to continue to work this issue out.
This session is a short five-minute movement session. I don’t want to get overly focused on the “where I’m feeling pain”. Instead, I’m paying attention to other areas of my body that are also tight/restricted.
I’m noticing the pain in my neck moves down into either the left shoulder or beneath the scapula. I feel movement restriction in my right low back with rotation and lateral extension. And my left knee has been a bit more painful in deep flexion than usual (level 3 or 4 on a scale of 10).
I finish with deep squat combined with neck mobility. This was a good start to the day.
Moving with a Neck Pain-
The neck discomfort is still present but has actually improved since the morning. I still have pain at the end ranges of left rotation and extension.
In this evening session, I’m connecting the tightness/restriction/pain on the left side of my neck to the larger kinetic chain. I start with a little soft foam roller work through the spine. I noticed a tender spot on the right side mid back erectors (T11-L2) area.
I worked this area out a small amount. The purpose is not to get a full release, but to just soften up the neurological connection to the tissue.
I then go into movement exploration focusing on moving through my spine, with extra focus on connecting it to the neck. I like to think of this as wringing out the spine. Towards the end, I felt restrictions of movement in the neck and got the foam roller out again. I finished up with shoulder mobility with the staff.
I feel pretty good about how I’ve worked through this recent neck issue. In the past, this is the kind of thing that would really affect my life negatively. It would affect driving; any kind of focused time like reading or studying; my emotional state… my fuse would be super short (especially with my son); I would have nasty headaches, and overall I would just feel tired and depleted.