If you have found my blog, and continue to read it regularly, then it is likely that you are on a journey similar to mine.
But this is only an assumption.
I can only tell you what my journey has been, and continues to be, and consider it highly probable that if my words resonate with you, you’re pursuing a similar path.
My path is one of understanding my body (not just the body) in motion.
Learning to move “well” again. What does that mean? To move well…
Creating an internal system in which all movements (or as many as possible) are available and safe to perform. A physical system that is supportive no matter what activity you choose to participate in. To have confidence that no matter what you get yourself into, your body’s got your back, because it has its own intelligence and intuition.
A system with options to move in 3D.
A system that you are in clear, open, communication with. A system you respect when you are aware of reaching its limits, and you are appreciative of for all that it can do for you.
How to measure “moving well”
Many people have attempted to measure and quantify the criterion for “moving well”.
The FMS and SFMA likely being the most common systems for assessing movement quality. But is a pass, fail, or score from 0 to 3 sufficient? Numbers are nice for measuring with, but can we quantify moving well?
The FMS and SFMA certainly have attempted to put a number on movement quality, and so have THIS, THIS, and THIS (and many others…)
What I find curious about all this is that many of the people I work with tend not to be interested in the numbers. They just want to feel better. Feel like they’re making progress. And not once have they asked me for numbers to quantify it (but maybe that’s because I rarely bring it up…)
This is what I hear:
“I don’t know how to listen to my body. I need help learning it’s limits.”
“I want to change and re-pattern the way I move to generally feel good and reduce some pain/discomfort.”
“I’d like to be able to find more strength and power in my dancing without having to feel like I have to push myself to my limit and injure myself.”
“I want to get back to dance safely. I feel very disconnected and unfamiliar with my body.”
“I want to maintain the health of my lower back, improve my movement quality, I want to make all my movements more efficient and more rounded and filled out.”
Replace the word “dance” with any other activity or sport.
I want to get back to LIFE safely.
I want to improve my LIFE quality.
I’d like to find more strength and power in my LIFE.
We can’t really put a number on this. That’s not something I can can tell you you’re moving towards, only an experience you can tell me about, and together we can have a discussion around what that means.
We can put a number on your deep overhead squat, and count the number of push-ups you can do, but we can’t put a number on your ability to communicate with yourself, your self-respect, and your comfort in your own body.
Things we can measure with numbers certainly help us. But they can be misleading, too.
Like the gentleman I worked with who’s numbers were “improving”, yet in his body, things felt the same. He was getting more flexible (numbers up), muscles testing stronger (numbers up), but there were some other details, some mechanics that we’re timing quite right, some movements still being avoided. Numbers were improving but he was improving around the issue, not changing the issue.
Maybe people have created these quantifying systems because there is something deeper. Maybe they know this “thing” they are after can’t be measured, but using numbers helps to communicate, and for many people, is easier than listening to their own bodies.
And these numbers point to that “thing”, but they aren’t that thing themselves.
As the saying goes, a number is “like a finger pointing to the moon, but it is not the moon.”
What is it we’re after? What makes these numbers meaningful? The numbers indicate understanding. Safety. Options. Our own, limitless potential.
I think even the individuals who have created these systems of numbers know that they aren’t the whole picture. They remain insufficient, and so we keep trying to improve the systems, debate the systems, practice them and do research on their efficacy and publish studies about them.
Number of pirouettes.
We’re all chasing numbers.
At the heart of it is, “I want to get better”.
But the person who wants to “get better” needs more than numbers. He/she needs understanding.
Someone asked me, “What things do I look out for to make sure I’m moving correctly as I work my way up? I’m not entirely sure where I would expect my old movement patterns to show up in form errors.”
It’s an excellent question. How do I understand my body? How do I trust my body? What do I look out for?
There are really only one of two possibilities…
Look out for anything that feels the same, because that indicates no change, and look out of anything that feels different because that indicates change. Move into the space of “different” and changing.
Look out for anything that feels unsafe, because that is useful information to explore with care, and look out for anything that feels safe, because that will be lovely to explore in more depth.
Recognizing these things: Different vs. same, safe vs. unsafe, is the foundation of your exploration.
Play and explore primarily within the “different and safe” space. Move past your usual comfort zone.
When exploring the different and unsafe stuff, be careful, respectful, and use awareness, but also understand that these movements need to be charted, not avoided. Maybe not right now, but eventually.
Is there one particular, best method for doing this? Nope. Every method, every exercise, even the ones that don’t “work” are part of the journey.
But it does help to have guidance and support. It helps to have people you can talk with about your experience and gain inspiration from. It helps to educate yourself. It helps to trust and follow-through with a thought process. And it helps to make it a priority. A REAL priority. Not just a , “Oh it would be nice to…”.
What are the confirmatory signs?
How can you tell that things are changing in your system, moving you forwards? Use numbers. They can definitely help, but they can’t tell you everything you need.
So let’s try something now, if you’re up for it. Grab a pen and paper and write this down.
Pick three words to describe:
- Your body in motion
- Your body at rest
- Your relationship with your body
Pick more than one word for each, if you like.
Maybe in motion you feel blocky, choppy, sluggish, fluid ,or smooth.
Maybe at rest you feel disconnected, uncomfortable, restless, apprehensive, certain, calm, ready, or solid.
Your relationship might be described as nurturing, appreciative, trusting, dishonest, uncertain, disrespectful, having poor communication.
Don’t pick words the words you would like to hear, choose the words that are the truth right now.
These words are describing the quality of your experience in your body. When these words change, you begin to describe your body’s experience differently, that is a sign. And when these words make you smile, that’s great, but don’t stop the exploration there.
If you can’t find any words, or you think this is stupid, that’s a sign, too.
Write your words down today. Then, forget all about the words you wrote down. Set a reminder in your phone to check in with them again in a few weeks, months, or whatever.
Now do the work.
Do the exploring. Establish a daily practice. Get the guidance and support you need. Get the education you need. Do something different than you’re doing now.
When you check in again with the words you selected, has anything changed?
Are things the same or different?
Do things feel more or less safe?
I’d love to hear how it goes.