Today I wanted to address the issue of pain and imbalances in the body and discuss briefly the nature of physical pain/injuries and one way of how to minimize them in your life.
Almost every appearance of pain or occurrence of injury is the result of an imbalance in the body. Whether the pain occurs naturally, from day to day movement, or whether imposed by an outside force (ex. fall, hit from something, etc.), it is a sign or the result of something that is put “off” in our physical system.
The product of injury is often rehab, however my main issue with rehab, over my years of observation in the fitness industry, is rehab’s lack of one the most important components in the Life Warrior system. What I have seen is that rehab often lacks a Holistic View of viewing the body, movement, and its environment. Having said this, rehab is very effective at addressing the immediate issues of the injury and getting the individual out of the imposing pain. The problem is that, most of the time, many discrepancies in the physical system are left completely un-addressed and the person is set up for many resulting issues down the road.
For personal training, whenever I meet a new client here at Life Warrior, in Littleton, Colorado, the first thing I look at is their overall movement. How does a person walk, squat or sit in a chair, lunge, push, pull, bend and twist? When I observe these movements, I’m looking for several major collapses or “leaks” in their system. Do the arches collapse, causing the foot to turn out, the knees to turn in, and essentially the pelvis to rotate and cause undue pressure on the spine? All of these things can be seen and felt from one point, the point of connection of our feet to the very ground we walk on.
So to keep it simple, one of the easiest ways I teach my clients to live a pain free existence is to simply teach them to observe the weight of their feet on the ground…the very foundations of our movement as human beings. When proper alignment of the feet cannot be maintained, it is an indication that other muscles in the body are overcompensating, therefore causing the overuse of these muscles rather than evenly distributing the force of movement throughout all the interconnected muscles of the ankles, knees, hips, and core.
To further complicate this issue, most of us have been wearing supporting shoes for our entire lives. Whenever I tell someone that I run and train mostly barefoot, the first question I’m usually asked is how to I get my support. It’s pretty similar to the question people ask when I say I’m plant based….Where do I get my protein? lol
Well, for a long, long, looooonnnnngggg time before the modern era, even before the Greek and Roman Empires, people chased game, climbed, ducked, crawled, lunged, jumped, and played without any support whatsoever. How did we make it this far? And why is the 20th and 21st century rife with a large percentage of our population in all sorts of pain? (BTW, for that same pre-modern period, humans were mostly grazers, eating meat when they could catch it to supplement their plant based diet.)
I’ll let you answer the aforementioned questions, but I’ll leave you with a short answer on how to live a pain free existence. You have get back to the roots of how you were meant to move, which is outside the box of our mostly sedentary lives. Try going barefoot for part of the day, run in the grass in the park, try lunging across the grass feeling the weight even on the front foot and down the middle of the balls of your back foot, squat or sit in a chair without letting your knees go in or out, balance on one barefoot while cooking dinner. Furthermore, when you do decide to pick up an exercise regiment, try not to go into a gymnasium where you will be waiting for a machine, in which you will sit down in the same position you’ve been in all day.
I will finish with the caveat that you have to take it slowly. Use your common sense! If you’ve been in shoes your entire life, don’t expect to throw them off and run 6 miles or even 1, and don’t expect to exercise by jumping up and down if you can’t squat without collapsing your knees and ankles. Just begin by walking around the house and feeling the center of gravity of your feet on the ground. When you sit in a chair, do you shift all your weight onto one small part of your foot or do you keep your weight evenly distributed down the middle of your feet? Even if your heels are lifted, can you keep the weight even between the balls of your feet?
Well…I hope this helps and here’s to getting on the path to living a pain free existence. Sincerely, John, founder of Life Warrior