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.
I started feeling some restrictions in my neck mobility. It isn’t at the point of pain just yet, but my experience knows this as a pain precursor.
In this session, I’m focusing on feeling where the restrictions connect throughout my body. Just because the restriction/tightness is felt in the neck, doesn’t mean that is where the problem is located.
Working Out Kinks in my Neck
I started with a little foam roller and Thera-cane around the neck and shoulders to feel around for muscle/fascial tissue that feels unwilling/unable to lengthen.
Next, I went into Movement Exploration, again with the same purpose. During the movement, I noticed the base of my neck wasn’t moving. I got out the massage balls and worked around the base of my skull.
I finished with some deep breathing check-in, feeling with each inhale and exhale whether I can expand into each quadrant of the body.
The neck stiffness feels a little better, but is still present, The rest of my body feels well moved and oiled. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.
It has been a week of midterm tests, life stress, change, less movement, and I can feel it in these ragged bones of mine. I needed a Movement Restoration Flow.
Over the past week with less dedicated movement sessions, I’ve continued to move with clients, in a seat in class, in a chair studying at home, in line at the grocery store, in my car, in the middle of deep conversations with good friends, and out in the backyard once the glorious Spring sun begged me to join it for slacklining, climbing, gardening, and yard work.
This is why I talk about and promote taking advantage of all the little moments… the opportunities to move… throughout the day. There are weeks where I just can’t or don’t get many movement session, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need them any less. I know from experience, that if I don’t move… and move often… tightness, restriction, and pain will set in. It only takes a day of not moving before I begin to feel miserable in my body.
I can definitely feel the lack of dedicated movement sessions. My knee has continued to be problematic. I can still move through 98% of the functional range of motion with it, but it aches a bit more… or maybe it’s just talking to me more. The pain is still generally low between 1-3 on a scale of 10. I notice the less I challenge it in deep knee bends and tons of core integration… the more it hurts.
It was a nice productive day. I had a full morning with clients, had lunch with my mom, and finished the fencing on the garden cage. It was a beautiful day to be outside. I had a nice drizzle during the last hour of finishing the project. I feel like my new seedlings are pretty well protected from the deer, squirrels, raccoons, armadillos, cats, and eventually chickens.
Movement Session Flow
There was one position in this video that really got the knee talking: the seated butterfly position. I worked around the pain, without going into it.
The rest of the movement sessions felt really good. I worked on opening my hips, spine, and shoulders; some core integration of hands to feet; with a simple get up flow.
After Incorporate Self-Manual Therapy into Movement Restoration last night, I noticed my right glute medius was sore – the workout kind of sore. My assumption is that I opened up my gait mechanics which allowed the right glute med to be loaded fully with every step. Add the repetition of walking all day and I have muscle soreness. This felt like a good thing.
I started with Movement Restoration to open up and explore my body. I noticed the same right side lumbar tension/restriction from last night. I got the Melt Method foam roller out again to get a small release and then back to movement explore. I also noticed that bilaterally my neck was tight. After the Movement Restoration, I focused on Get-ups from the floor, shoulder MOB/stability… moving my body around the loaded shoulder, and Turkish Get-ups.
The Get-ups from the shin box position felt really good. I love the stretch I feel through the hips and core when fully extended.
With the shoulder MOB/stability, my right shoulder is still a bit unstable compared to my left (all residual from elbow tendinopathy a few months ago). I took the shoulder up to the edge but made sure not to cross it. It’s not worth the injury risk.
I added in Turkish get-ups balancing a foam Yoga block on my fist. I love this movement. It is super challenging. I really struggled with my loaded right shoulder. I’ll program this movement in a bit more
over the coming weeks.
It’s been a challenge -schedule-wise over the past week – to fit in good movement session. I add movement in bit by bit throughout the day, which makes a monster of a difference in how I feel, but also isn’t enough.
In this session, I was planning on just doing Movement Restoration, but noticed a few spots of movement tension/restriction – right anterior hip, right lumbar area, and left adductors.
I recently received a Melt Method foam roller as a gift and decided to try it out. It was a really nice tool for the areas I wanted to work on. It is significantly softer than The Trigger Point Grid foam roller I normally use. The spot in my lumbar area seemed to wrap around my rib cage. The Melt Method roller allowed me to work in this area with a softness that felt beneficial.
How I Incorporate Self-Manual Therapy into Movement Restoration:
As I explored movement and noticed a specific restriction that did not improve through movement, I used the roller to slightly inhibit the restricted tissue. Once I felt a slight improvement in pressure pain (generally a 30-40% reduction), I returned to the movement to challenge the movement. I worked on three different areas and noticed a significant improvement in each movement. Today, as I’m writing this, my body feels much better than it has over the past couple weeks… with room for improvement.
Last week was a hard week. I imagine it was a hard week for all of us. I was shaken, more than previously, to what happened in Florida…. Recently my life was touched by gun violence. Seeing the loss and devastation of a community touched me where I feel loss and devastation. Even though it didn’t happen here in Austin, I still feel it… rocked to the core of my heart.
On top of the above tragedy, I am also living my life, and that can be hard and challenging too. Last week I saw the transition of two really big relationships in my life. These transitions are good… but they still feel hard. As life moves from one stage into another… I feel the loss… the letting go of one thing so I can be open to something new.
My heart is heavy with the weight of this week. This is my focus in this movement session.
Movement Restoration with Deep Breathing and Going Deep Inside
I am hyper-focused on breathing into my body and feeling/listening to my heart. This is a much slower session. I take pause when I feel I can’t get fully into the depths of my breathe. I allow my breath to open up my ribs; expand my belly; move into my upper and lower back and side body; and down into the bowl of my pelvis. From this deeper place, I feel into where my body wants to move next and allow it to move where it needs to go.
I feel hurt, pain, sadness, hope, challenge, fear, and so much more. I feel it physically and emotionally because I am human. This is my honest place. At the end of this movement session, the weight is not gone… but it is lighter. This is Movement Therapy.
I often find myself saying things in my head like, “this was a hard and challenging week.” When I feel into what drives these thoughts, it isn’t coming from my simple truth. There are usually feelings of laziness and victimhood attached to the thoughts. It is as if I have some kind of expectation that these “challenging and hard” weeks I suffer through mean that I have earned or deserve easy… a day off, a week off, the rest of my life off.
At face value, it’s not a big deal that I have these thoughts, but when I juxtapose them to the decisions I’ve made in regards to how I spent my time over the past week, I see how I am allowing these thoughts to slowly shape me, and it makes me sad, angry, and wary.
It WAS a hard a challenging week. I had the first major test in a class that I’m feeling frustrated with. Test week is always challenging… by design. Fear and anxiety become my unwelcomed companions. I have placed a fair amount of pressure on myself to do well and a test is where the rubber meets the road. I either know what I’m expected to know or I don’t. On top of the test, some of my personal relationships have been strained and are being tested as well. I am being tested in life just as I’m being tested in class.
I did not perform as well at these tests as I would like. The feelings of laziness and victimhood coating my thoughts, fed the justifications for my actions of doing less. I could have studied more. I did not move my body as much. I questioned the truth of heart with self-doubt. I made it through the week, but I know (in hindsight) that I could have done better, and that frustrates me.
I am not perfect. Movement is my life, it is was I teach, it is how I support my family, and I struggle with it just like everyone else. I have chronic pain that is kept at bay when I move… I know this… Yet I still struggle. There is a beauty to the struggle. Movement is home for me. Just because I haven’t been perfect, and I can feel it in my body… physically and emotionally… I can always come home… and home always welcomes me with loving arms.
I haven’t made a movement session video since Monday. I have moved. I get in small breaks all the time, but I haven’t had a designated self-care session in several days… and I can feel it. The pain in my left knee has been elevated over the past several days – 3 or 4 on a scale of 10, and I feel it outside the joint space where it usually remains. My medial calves, adductors, hip flexors, and low back are tight enough to cause discomfort. I can also feel that the tendinopathy in my right shoulder is still lingering (I haven’t done much work on it over the past week or two). This is the reality of chronic pain with a lengthy injury history, my normal is not “pain-free”. My normal is that I will always be working on this stuff. My normal is that every week will be hard and challenging… simply because… I will always have to work harder… just so I do not hurt so much.
There will be no easy days, or weeks, or life. This is a reality I come back to over and over and over again. Every time I do; after I kick and scream and cry for a bit; after my little tantrum, I am reminded that this is what I’m here for. I am here to be challenged and I would be miserable with an easy life. Once I feel a peace with this, (sometimes harder to come to than other times) I am ready to love on my body once more.
The second half of the session I spent doing Movement Restoration and Exploration. This included joint manipulations of the feet, hips, spine, and neck. It was late when I started this session and I was tired. I didn’t finish until after 11p.
Things I noted in this session:
My left adductor was far more sensitive than the right.
I had a couple spots on both sides of my lumbar spine – multifidus or spinal erectors – that were related to macro level movement patterns.
I felt some significant restrictions in the movement of my neck on the left side.
It felt really good to mobilize and stretch my body from toes to fingertips.
I’m feeling more centered. Now to take what I’ve learned from this week and apply it to the next.
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