Hi, I’m Maureen Evans and I’m blogging here at Gavin’s invitation. My focus is on giving people back control of their own bodies and I specialise in breaking movement down to first principles and re-educating people how to move (as I had to learn movement this way following years of personal back pain). I’m sharing with you today some key principles that will really help you to move pain free. I’d suggest that you stop, think and play around with these and please let me know if you have any questions.
Principle 1: Do as Little as you can for Maximum Effect
Gavin has explained how pain is created in the brain. Well, one of the key purposes of movement when you’ve had back pain is to teach the brain that it’s okay to move again. If you’re over grabbing or straining to push yourself in to a movement, the brain isn’t going to get that message.
Modern life teaches us that in order to get more out, we have to work harder, but why not start thinking of your movement in exactly the opposite way? How about if you tried to get the maximum amount of movement for the least amount of effort? Think of the effortlessness of a top sprinter when they get in to the flow. Movement will help you to get rid of your back pain, but only when you allow yourself to think in this way..
Principle 2: Use Gravity
For any physicists out there, I mean by this Einstein’s theory of general relativity rather than Newtonian theories of gravity. So, rather than gravity pulling us downwards (Newton’s apple falling from the tree), think the earth pushing up at us (the more generally scientifically accepted Einstein’s theory). So, the chair that you are sitting in right now is pushing up on you and giving you support. What this means is that rather than collapsing in and compressing your joints, gravity will, if you let it, allow you greater lift and freedom of movement.
Principle 3: Everything is Connected
It can be useful to know the names of muscles, joints etc (indeed, it’s an essential tool for Gavin to navigate when he does any hands on work), but as I found out when I went on a 5 day dissection lab last year, it’s a little bit messier in there than the pictures show. Everything in our body is connected and there isn’t a place where one muscle stops and a tendon starts or indeed where the tendon stops and bone starts. So, by thinking about your muscles or just moving a particular part of the body, you are potentially creating problems for the future. Indeed, research has shown that our brain communicates better with our bones than our muscles.
So, instead of thinking of what muscles you’re moving or strengthening, think of integrated movement.
What About the Bridge?
So, what does this all mean in the context of a movement such as, say, the Bridge? Here are my top tips for doing a Bridge:
- Use your feet and your shoulders as bases of support
- Think of this as a lengthening movement rather than a lifting movement
- In actual fact, think about dropping your weight in to your feet – the ground reaction force and the information from nerves in your feet will cause the pelvis to lift without you trying to lift it. Your back will thank you for this.
- Most of the muscles from the pelvis connect to the lower leg, so by reaching your shins away from you as you move in to the movement, you’ll find the lift that you need without trying.
- On the way back down, allow the pelvis to “carry” the spine down rather than waiting until the last minute to drop the pelvis. I used to find the way back down from the Bridge agony on my back until I discovered this movement.
- Finally, trust yourself to play around with it and enjoy it and please do let me know if you have any questions or feedback.