Movement classes are great because an instructor is there to lead you through a balanced flow of exercises. Do this on the right, and then left. Try this standing on your left leg, and then try your right. But, when we leave class, we are faced with being our own movement teachers and the responsibility of balancing out a day’s worth of motion falls on our shoulders while we’re smack in the middle of chasing small kids, completing tasks for The Man, and running up and down stairs trying--in desperation--to find our missing set of keys.
While we’ve got mindfulness (somewhat) down in our set-aside exercise time, it is really the thousands of daily, non-exercise loads that add up to the current state of our body. When you learned how to read in school, there was no caveat that you read ONLY in a classroom setting. The reading lessons you received in class were to prepare you for reading as you came across words while living your life. And the same goes for your movement classes. In movement class you should be learning principles and details that apply to how you move all the time you are outside of the "exercise laboratory."
Right now I’m in Connecticut, working with a cohort of future Restorative Exercise Specialists™, on their second half of required course work. The staff of RES week all stay together in a big house that sits on a beautiful lake. Which is awesome because I. Love. To. Swim. I don’t love swimming a little, I love swimming A LOT.
(This is a picture of a post-work day canoe session with the fam, where the littlest little decided she needed to breast-feed WHILE I WAS PADDLING. This is my most-favorite breastfeeding photo to date although not being able to switch arms made for one sore shoulder.)
When swimming at home last month--and by swimming I don’t mean laps, but taking myself from place to place in the water using a variety of dives and totally inefficient strokes--I noticed that when doing my version of a side-stroke, I scissored my legs in the same way even after I switched lead-arm. My lower-half stroke always started with my left leg being in front (flexion) and my right in back (extension).
Another thing I do in water is stay in place for a fixed amount of time--like 20 minutes--just to keep up my survival muscle. I noticed there as well that, to stay above water, I was utilizing a left-lead scissor kick. ALWAYS.
Now I’ve been swimming for decades, but I never clued in to this particular strength pattern until last month. It made a lot of sense to me because in exercise class, my left hip is always resists extension more than my right, which I work on in class. What I didn’t realize was, when “out of class”, I had been practicing a thousand hip-flexing loads that strengthened the left leg in the position that I was so diligently trying to to remove it from.
That day in the pool, I learned to scissor with my right leg in front, and truth be told, I looked like a floundering fish for about 4 minutes. But, my brain and body finally got on board and for the first time I felt all the resistance on the left side of my torso. Within a few days of scissor-kicking in a way that required more length in muscles on my left side, I noticed that my resting range of hip extension was better than what it had been. There were other almost-instant physiological responses as well, that I won’t mention because I am polite. (Huge poop immediately after first time trying out new kick.)
So now we are all here in Connecticut, in the lake, doing what RES-nerds do when we live all together, which is constantly measure the way we move. In this case, it was getting everyone in the lake to try out their scissor kicks and strokes,noticing and changing our lead leg when we take the stairs, and eating with our silverware in the opposite hands.
We are so glad we have each other, because we probably freak a lot of other people out.
WISH YOU WERE HERE!