It was my Birthday and I couldn’t move! My back went into a spasm while taking a pan out of the oven. I could barely stand up and walking was painful. I’m always talking about how important it is to move. I’m always moving. And yet I couldn’t move. I was distressed, unhappy and in a big pout for the first half of the day. “Why me? Why today? On my birthday?” I realized this attitude was not serving me in any way so I decided to let it go and instead asked the same questions from the perspective of being really curious. Here are the three priceless ‘birthday gift’ reminders about moving that I received as a result. My gift to you!
Curiosity sparked the awareness of how fortunate I am to be able to move freely and how privileged my able-bodied point of view was to be whining and pouting because I couldn’t move on my birthday. What about the people who are in pain every day? Who cannot move about freely? Those who require assistance, who are in wheelchairs, use walkers or are bedridden?
An interesting twist to this story is that two days before my back spasmed, I spent the morning with a woman who has required a wheelchair to get around for the past few years, her diagnosis still unknown. Our conversation included how much she loves to move and her husband takes her out in her custom running wheelchair so she can ‘run’ with him. They recently acquired an attachment for his bike so he can pull her along and go for a ride together. She was telling me how even though she’s not physically moving her legs or body, moving outdoors makes her feel better as if she had been actually running or cycling. We talked about my More-In-Me Movement, and never once did I make the connection about taking movement for granted as an able-bodied person. And equity is an important value to me!!
I guess the universe wanted to make sure and get my attention. Well, I got the message and I appreciate the gift of being reminded of the privilege to be able-bodied and free to move at my will. As I continue to grow The More-In-Me Movement and create programming, I must take this essential lens into consideration.
Once I adopted a curious point of view and let go of feeling sorry for myself, I started to feel better. Seems uncanny but it was as if the energy in my body was able to flow more freely once I released my negative focus. And my back improved rapidly.
Two days after my back troubles started, I was able to go for a 45 minute run pain-free. Up and down hills and stairs and feeling fantastic. How could I go from immobile to moving freely in just two days?
I believe it is my daily practices which include yoga, eating well and moving. My body knew where it wanted to get back to and knew how to get there.
I’ve been learning about gut health recently and the importance of eating an anti-inflammatory diet. While I eat primarily vegetarian, every once in a while I crave fish. The day of the injury I had a strong craving for sardines, which I actually like. I pay attention to my cravings because I trust that my body knows what it wants. So I opened a can of these little fish and ate all of them. I know sardines are a healthy fish however it wasn’t until this incident that I looked up the benefits of sardines and learned that they are considered one of the best anti-inflammatory foods along with turmeric, ginger and kale – staples in my diet. My body knew what it wanted.
Another daily practice that has a significant positive impact is yoga. Not only does yoga keep my body fluid and strong, it corrects imbalances which lead to injury. Despite my sore back, surprisingly I was able to continue with my yoga practice without pain. I moved slowly and did not force any postures, letting my body decide how far it wanted to move or stretch. Moving was more natural for my body and it was as if it was gravitating back to movement.
Thoughtful food choices, yoga, movement, gratitude – all these activities help reduce cortisol levels. High and chronic cortisol levels contribute to inflammation which underlines the necessity for these daily practices to stay healthy and heal when needed.
I became active as a runner about 25 years ago. During the first 15 years, I suffered many injuries, some that took me away from running for months at a time. The injuries were all muscles and joint related caused by imbalances, tightness and stress from a lot of miles on the road. The upside of experiencing these injuries is that I learned a lot about my body. How it works, what causes injury and what it needs to heal. Since I began practicing yoga 10 years ago, I have not had any running injuries. And I think I’m just wiser. When I feel something twitch, I pay attention. I go for massage. I ease off. I stretch and strengthen in the troublesome area.
With this back incident, the pain was travelling from my lower back into my right side and I could tell there was something wonky in my right hip and glute area. I had the knowledge to know how to work out these muscles and bring my hips back into alignment. As one of my favourite running writers, George Sheehan said, “Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant.”
Being active has influenced me to learn about my body and pay attention to what’s going on. I want to be active throughout my entire life and so taking care of my body is a priority.
Use it or lose it the saying goes. And when it comes to your physical health, nothing could be truer.
1. Do not take your movement for granted. You never know what might happen to limit your mobility so be grateful every day for being able to move.
2. Establish daily practices for a healthy body. Pay attention to what you eat. Learn about food. It is medicine when consumed with awareness and intention. Incorporate yoga, tai chi or other movement practices that support overall body awareness, strength and flexibility.
3. Move your body and be a good student to its wisdom. Get active. Move your body regularly to build your natural self-repair mechanisms. Learn to pay attention to what it is telling you. Like anything you pay attention to, you start to pick up on the nuances and can develop an intuitive understanding.
Your body is a priceless gift. Move it. Nourish it. Make good use of it or it will lose its capacity to perform for you over the long term. Treat it like the temple it is – the home for your heart and soul.
What are your daily practices that support your activities and healthy lifestyle?