Watching Tiffany in the video above, it's hard to believe that she once struggled to move without pain let alone lift and shift heavy loads in a multi directional way. Having been involved in a car accident the previous year, she had been suffering with constant back pain and had tried the traditional physio and clinical Pilates without significant improvement. She was referred on by the physio to see whether an alternative movement therapy might help progress her a bit further.
A delightful and intelligent young woman in her late 20's, Tiffany was frightened to move.
She had described herself as quite athletic before the accident but the constant pain as a result of injuries sustained during the crash had robbed her of this attribute. Although she was hopeful for improvement, she really didn't expect any change in her condition. She was quite surprised at just how quickly things did change once we got into our first few sessions. In her testimonial, she wrote:
"I went from barely walking/bending/sitting/standing/turning and lifting to training like an athlete again."
It's interesting to watch people as they move about. As a movement coach, I am fortunate enough to have the time to truly observe a wide variety of people in motion. I watch for the strategies they employ to lift and shift, to turn and reach, how they sit and stand and walk. Movement strategies vary from person to person and it's in the identification of these strategies that we can get an insight as to why some people move with ease and others find difficulty in the simplest of tasks.
The issue for Tiffany was really no different to that of any other client I have worked with. We are all made up of various tissues like bone, muscle, fascia, nerve, lymph, blood and skin. We all need to deal with the effects of gravity and we all need to employ intelligent movement strategies in order to remain effective and successful as we navigate our way through life. Unfortunately, modern living has some negative impacts on the way our tissues behave. Constant hours of sitting, driving and computer work, or doing any repetitive motion for hours on end tends to create problems for these tissues which inevitably lead to disease, dysfunction and PAIN. Although the car accident was the catalyst for her condition, it was the way in which she was moving in her day to day activities that was causing her pain. Regardless of how these strategies were developed, a change was needed so that Tiffany could return to her former athletic self!
From our first session, it was very clear that Tiffany's "force management strategies" were not optimal. She moved "staccato" rather than with "flow", as if each movement had a stop and a start in case it would produce pain. The key areas vital for effective "force transmission", being the foot/ankle, hips and thoracic spine, were locked up and stiff so it wasn't surprising that Tiffany was in pain whilst attempting those simple tasks we generally take fore granted.
The aim was to get Tiffany's body to start communicating as a whole. A kind of re-connection if you like, where movement becomes rhythmic, seamless and intuitive. We employed the use of mobilisers to unlock her feet, ankles hips and thoracic spine so that these very vital areas for movement began to talk to one another, to share the load and allow for freer motion and finally help her find the road back to her athleticism. Take a look at the "video library" section of this website and you will see Tiffany demonstrating some of these useful movement patterns.)
So why do I employ this method rather than the traditional core Pilates?
Traditional thinking says we need to "strengthen the core" in order to protect the lumbar vertebral segments from excessive force and motion but I no longer agree that this is the most effective strategy for protecting the lumbar spine. Instead, creating a springy, responsive structure that moves well in all 3 planes of motion may well be a far more effective strategy when dealing with forces entering your body as you walk, run, jump or lift. Activating the "core" may in fact create some unwanted stiffness or rigidity in the tissues of the hips and trunk posing a challenge for the effective mitigation of ground forces as they flow up the kinetic chain.
In contrast, mobilisers address the integrative tri planar capability of the upright human in motion. They train the body to successfully transfer forces safely through the tissue rather than blocking forces as maybe the case where we train for core strength and stability.
Mobilisers help promote efficient motion by;
-providing an "ungluing " and hydrating effect on the fascial/connective tissues which when "gluey", can restrict access to fluent motion. Tissues that slide and glide over each other allow for smoother motion and transfer of force
- restoring rhythm and timing to the joint complexes of the feet/ankles, hips and thoracic spine in all 3 planes of motion
-acknowledging the impact that gravitational orientation has on tissue
-allowing forces to flow between these structures so that work loads are effectively dispersed and the risk to tissue damage is minimised
Understanding how our clients deal with force is really the key to helping them heal and regain pain free movement. What strategies does your body employ to distribute force, for example, when you use a shovel to shift mulch from one spot to another? Or when you jump from height onto the ground below? Or when you pick up the washing basket full of clothes and deliver it to the clothes line for hanging? It's generally these simple things that, if executed using sub optimal "force management strategies", will bring you undone. So for us movement coaches, it's these strategies we need to recognise in order to find the CAUSE of your pain and offer up solutions to PREVENT future injuries from occurring.
Tiffany makes a graceful model throughout my website, both in the photos and videos that help explain what it is that I do and the modalities that I employ. I can't thank her enough for her intelligent and open minded approach during our sessions together and congratulate her for the way she embraces the joy and freedom of her own beautiful movement.