Do you ever feel like you’re not really sure what muscles are supposed to do what, or if what you’re feeling is what you’re supposed to feel, or if your form while doing that squat is correct? You’re not alone.
Something fascinating about our society is that, as interested as we have collectively come to be in health and fitness, we never truly learn how to move. We learn to walk from watching our parents and those around us, we sit in the way that’s most comfortable, we run whichever way comes naturally to us, and so on and so forth. But in a lot of cases, the way we’ve instinctively and habitually come to move isn’t really the best way to move, and when we perform these actions improperly, it can be detrimental to our health and wellness. This is because, more often than not, poor posture, form and body awareness will lead to injury or dysfunction of some kind.
To help you regain control over your body and improve your motion awareness, try to incorporate these four habits into your regular routine.
Take Up Yoga
If you really want to learn how your body moves in a great way, try incorporating yoga into your weekly routine. Yoga is centered around connecting movement to breath and having an awareness of your body, especially because one of the core concepts of the practice is balance. Yoga also emphasizes good postural alignment, so you’ll get a great understanding of exactly how to sit, stand, and flow through movements with efficiency and ease.
Don’t have the time or don’t want to pay for classes? There are great resources on the internet (check out channels like Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, for example) that offer free instructional classes you can do in the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, and for however long you’d like.
Focus During Every Rep
One of the most common ways we lose control over our bodies is by not focusing during exercise. We clear our heads and don’t actually think and pay attention to the movements we are doing. This zoning out can not only be dangerous, but doesn’t promote any sort of mind-body connection that is crucial to understanding how your body works and keeping you tuned into your body’s needs.
An easy way to take control of your body is to focus on every single rep, step, and jump and to pay close attention to exactly how you’re moving and what your body is telling you with every motion. This concentration alone will allow you to learn about yourself in ways that can’t be attained anywhere outside of exercise. Your body is always speaking to you, so don’t zone it out with loud music or an unclear head when you’re putting your body in a stressful state (i.e. exercise).
Ditch the Equipment and Get Back to Basics
Sometimes in order to gain more control over your body, you must free your body of the chains that are machines and weights. We become so reliant on machines, barbells, and dumbbells that our bodies often make adaptations to meet the needs of these pieces of equipment, instead of the barbells and machines adapting to our bodies.
Take control by focusing on bodyweight movements that emphasize the transfer of body weight across your entire system. Exercises that center around calisthenics, like lunges with twists, step ups, or yoga planks with leg and arm raises, can ultimately help your coordination, balance, core strength and body awareness, all of which promote normal function. After all, when are we ever going to naturally need to move our bodies in the way we do when doing a leg press or using the arm curl machine? (Never.)
Get a Trainer, or Study Up
While gaining control of your body is definitely something that you can do on your own, you might find that getting a good personal trainer can definitely help in the process. If you have a quality instructor who is looking out for your best interests, he or she will be able to teach you how your body is supposed to move and function, so that you have a better understanding and awareness of specific movement patterns and neuromuscular behaviors.
If you’re not really into the idea of getting a trainer, or think that working with one might not be financially feasible right now, you might want to take the time to explore biomechanics and anatomy. After all, it’s hard to gain control over your body if you don’t really understand how it works from a mechanical standpoint. So, try hitting the books and thinking consciously while you exercise. It will help you engage the right muscles and perform with the correct movement patterns.