Movement IS Medicine.

I spend a lot of time moving at work. Not really because I want to, but sort of because I have to. It does feel kinda good to run around with a water bottle caddy, though…I feel sort of powerful because just a few years ago I would have dreaded it beyond belief. When I move at work, my intention is to get the job done. It doesn’t really feel like medicine because it’s hard work.

But the movement that DOES feel like medicine is the intentional, purpose-driven stuff I do during my workouts. Part of the reason I enjoy working out is because I know it helps me perform my job as an athletic trainer better. I can trust myself to lift heavy things if need be (but I’m also unafraid to ask for help), and I can trust myself to help a player off the field, for example. I like efficiency, as does anyone else, but I also value effectiveness.

And for me to feel and be effective (because I suppose there is a difference there), I know that I have to be mindful of what my body is doing outside of work.

As of late, most of what I do is sleep, stand at practice and treatments, and then sit a lot just watching TV. I really do want to workout more, but I also want some sanity, and I’m okay with letting myself take a break. However, I’m also really sore a lot of the time. This past week has been tough — we had a 3 hour plane trip, not a lot of sleep, a lot of sitting in uncomfortable positions, and then a football game that took almost 5 hours! It was a very cool football game, though, and I powered through because I knew how important it was that I stepped up and did my job. I was really trying out a lot of different muscle releases (my roommate helped me do a psoas/hip flexor release the other day, and I definitely almost cried, but it felt great afterwards), and a lot of stretches and light muscle activations.

None of it really helped me feel much better, but I was in a good state of mind and I wasn’t worried — I know that I am strong, resilient, and I will get better.

Fast forward to today — I worked out this morning and yesterday afternoon as well. Both times I did my little “rehab plan” that I implemented for myself, along with some heavier weighted movements.

And can I just say that I feel excellent!

When I say movement, I suppose I do refer a lot to body weight movement that helps keep your joints smooth and limber and in control. However, movement to me also encompasses anything loaded. But…load isn’t just about doing things with heavier dumbbells.

To improve in life and in the gym, we need progressive overload. In both senses, we sometimes have to break ourselves down before we can be built back up. Progressive overload definitely can happen with body weight movements, like my favorite thoracic bridge rotation warmup — I can do more reps, do it a lot slower (absolutely GNARLY), or try to increase my active, achievable range of motion. Progressive overload can also happen with changing a moment arm (ex. with the Copenhagen exercise, extend the lever arm to the lower calf instead of the knee), changing the tempo of the movement, adding pauses, and then most obviously, adding weight.

I could spend forever releasing my psoas muscle (I use the term loosely, with an understanding that the effect doesn’t last over 10–15 minutes — but that’s why we NEED to load) and stretching it, but if I don’t strengthen all my muscles around it, it’s not going to get better. I could poke at my hamstrings with a lacrosse ball all day, every day, but if I don’t teach my hamstring how to shorten, lengthen and move in all the crazy positions life hands to you — I’m not going to get better. Don’t forget that your body needs to learn to stabilize…and move…and maintain positions…there’s a lot.

Movement is medicine, surely because of the neuromuscular adaptations.

Movement is medicine, though, for even more reasons than the neuromuscular adaptations.

Movement is medicine because you can feel yourself get stronger through your own efforts — it’s not someone else doing it for you, you’re taking charge of your own body. And I think that’s one of the biggest parts of rehab — being able to feel like you’re in control. Because if you’re not in control, the pain you feel is magnified beyond belief.

Movement is medicine because it reminds you that you’re strong, that you’re in charge of your body, and you can tell it to do what you want it to do.

And it helps you with other random good stuff like connecting with your breath (which is really important if you’ve ever strained your QL muscle, ha), increasing your heart rate…and it certainly helps me wake up.

I mean, really there’s no way you could go wrong with movement unless it’s truly dangerous for your body. Pain does NOT determine the limit of your potential for movement. It’s not a guide…it can be a distractor and it can be really messy. Essentially, there are moments when movement is great…and other times when it isn’t great. And the thing is, movement is such a big definition — are we talking 90 degrees or 5 degrees? So you see. It depends. Yes, it depends! This classic answer is extremely true here.

And my job is somehow to determine when that is.

It’s an extremely interesting job. For the most part, our experiences, our knowledge of the patient and their social settings/emotional maturity, and our knowledge (of course), come together to help us determine a plan. It’s all about your intentions, and then the proper dose of movement to achieve those specific goals.

I believe in movement. I also believe in individuality, and that the psych and social factors matter just as much as the biological reason for injury. It’s not simple, it’s not always linear, it doesn’t always make sense…but moving the body, as we were meant to do? That makes total sense.

Movement is medicine and it’s wonderful.

Athletic trainer, coffee lover, looking for a hobby I don’t have time for. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.

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