Movement in the body relies on the following systems working together:
- The nervous system – this is the major controlling, regulatory, and communicating system in the body. It is the centre of all mental activity including thought, learning, and memory.
- The skeletal system – bones, ligaments, cartilage
- The muscular system – muscles
Where does bad movement come from?
The human body can be likened to an orchestra. When the bones and muscles (instruments) work in harmony they create good movement (pleasing sounds). However, when they don’t work in harmony bad movement (unpleasing sounds) are produced.
When we are children we move around using all our bones and muscles: climbing, crawling, running, stretching, walking, sitting on the floor. A full orchestra of instruments is used.
As we get older circumstances conspire against us and our variety of movement becomes restricted (some of the instruments in our orchestra stop playing). At school we sit down at a desk for six hours a day. This continues through college and university. In our working lives we spend the majority of our time in one position, eg sitting at a desk, standing on a shop floor or sitting at a steering wheel. These prolonged periods of time spent in just one position aren’t good for the human body.
Where’s the movement gone? It has been restricted to a small number of very similar patterns.
Movement depends on messages to and from the brain. The brain remembers patterns of movement. So if you perform poor or limited movement patterns the brain will remember them and they will become locked into the memory banks of your muscles, making them your default way to move.
How to change bad movement into good movement
Luckily, the human body is amazing – phew! Bad movement patterns can be erased. Firstly by being aware of what good movement looks and feels like. Then by repeating good movement so that it becomes your new default way to move.
This is where Pilates comes in. It focuses on awareness of good body alignment and healthy movement patterns. By continually giving the mind and body good inputs we are educated back into good habits and producing good outputs.
Looking after your health is a lifelong commitment. Patience is the key to success. You must build your skills gradually. There is no quick fix. However, by taking things step by step you will increase your awareness of your body and become more mindful about how it moves. In the long term good movement will start to come naturally to you. You can then focus on maintaining good movement through attending a Pilates class and using the principles taught in class in your everyday life.