If you are working to overcome an injury and doing exercises to correct compensations your body has developed, that is great! It is absolutely necessary to address the compensations.
My question for you, though, is what are you doing the rest of your waking hours every day?
Faulty movement patterns and compensations are present for two reasons: 1) your body has learned poor movement habits over the years as it decided doing things certain ways was easier, or 2) anytime pain is present your body learns to move differently to protect the area. Whichever is the reason for your movement habits, and it is very possible it is a combination of both, those movements become deeply ingrained in the brain and nervous system. They become ingrained to the point that the movements feel 100% natural and normal. They are subconscious movement patterns that you do not realize you are doing.
The problem with this is when you are working to break patterns due to an injury, your body does not understand that what it is doing is wrong. Therefore, it will continue to move in the way it knows how unless you consciously do something to change that.
You pay attention to how the body is moving when doing exercises to retrain the body because that is the purpose. Then, you finish the exercises and return to your day, no longer thinking about how you are moving. That is great for the mental capacity side of things because you save the mental energy for the tasks you need it for, but not great when you go back to the patterns your body is used to. The one hour (maybe) of corrective exercises can in no way counteract the many hours you spend during the day continuing to move in your faulty patterns. Until you develop an awareness of how your body is moving on a regular basis, you will not be able to fully correct your issue or resolve your injury.
Let me share a personal example. When I got out of my boot last summer following my foot injury, I started doing exercises to strengthen the foot and ankle as well as teach my foot how to work like a foot again. It was not until several weeks later that I realized any time I was standing in place, I was standing on the outside of my foot – when brushing my teeth, when cutting up vegetables, when washing dishes, etc. My compensations were so prevalent in my daily life that I had not even noticed I was doing it. Once I became aware of what I was doing, I was able to start working on it. What happened in the beginning is I would naturally shift to the outside of the foot since that is where my body was ‘happy’, catch myself, and then get the weight on the tripod of the foot where it needed to be. Now that I have retrained that pattern, I no longer have that issue. Whenever I check myself on where I am standing, I am always standing on the tripod of my foot. In fact, it now feels weird to stand like I used to. I have a lot of examples from my clients as well in regard to the lightbulb moments they have had when they realized what they were habitually doing.
It takes awareness of how the body is moving in daily life to fully overcome the patterns you are stuck in. If you are feeling like you are not making the progress you feel you should be making, I highly encourage you to start developing an awareness around how you are moving. There might just be something there that is holding you back!
Have questions for Brianne? You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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