The secret to healthy movement is to know how to protect your body and joints from strain, while working your muscles in the right way, which is the skill of being able to contract and relax your muscles as needed.
Protecting your joints can be fun, because your movement feels easier and more pleasurable. Who really wants more tension, strain or pain in their body?
Here are some pointers to healthier joints:
Any action where your foot comes off the ground has the potential to create impact to your joints. For example, when you run or jump, if your landing foot sounds loud, then the impact force is probably high. Instead you can land softly and quietly and so reduce joint strain. Move with minimal impact. One way to do this is to have strong muscles, which absorb the forces which would otherwise cause strain on your joints. Another way is by developing good technique, to land softly and absorb force through many joints, as in a spring.
You can also avoid joint impact by not jamming your joints at the end of the movement, for example over straightening your elbows in a push up, over bending your spine in a back bend, or standing with your knees extended beyond neutral.
Balance is king. Think of a balanced approach to your activity. This means finding balance in what you are doing. For example:
• Balance activity with recovery and rest.
• Balance the exercises you do. Avoid over doing one thing for example, many repititons of Sun Salutations.
• Balance the body parts you work with. Understanding your core is helpful, but focusing just on your belly or core can cause imbalance and strain to your body.
• Develop balance in your postural muscles.
• Balance your physiology, knowing and applying when to stress it and when to relax it.
• Balance between contraction and relaxation. It is unhealthy to hold a body area overly contracted all the time eg pulling your stomach in flat, pulling your shoulders back, or of course the opposite, which is slouching. You need to be able to both contract and relax muscles as you need to, and most importantly use just the right amount of tension to do the activity. During sport you will notice that tensing or trying too hard will affect the judgement, speed and accuracy in your game.
Strength and Flexibility
A wise path to health is moderation.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.