The theme we’re exploring this month at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center is RECOVERY.
Along with the things we automatically think of, such as massage, stretching, and rest, I’d like to introduce the idea of body awareness as a powerful tool in your recovery toolbox. I’d also like for you to consider that your recovery protocol doesn’t always need to take a long time and that quick exercises completed directly after your activities can make a significant change in your tension pattern.
It is useful to be aware of how our activities, posture, and environment (chairs, cars, sofas, airplane seats, etc.) affect the pattern of tension in our body. With this knowledge, we can often modify our movement or ergonomics to better suit our needs. For instance, if we notice that we get shoulder and neck pain after driving, we can look at the ergonomics of our car and see if there is a way to adjust the cushioning or positioning of the seat and steering wheel to offer better support. If we tend to slump when watching TV, we can experiment with putting a cushion behind our back so that we can still relax into the sofa, but not slump as much. In these instances, recovery is about accurately assessing how we interact with our surroundings, and modifying our environment to better support our bodies and allow them to rest and rejuvenate.
However, there are also times when our activities cause tension, but we can’t modify our environment or movement without compromising performance (a few examples- the body positions assumed by surgeons, dental hygienists, hairstylists, and certain types of athletes). In these instances, it can be helpful to have a few easy, quick exercises to help neutralize the tension caused by your activity in real-time. What I mean by this is that, rather than waiting until the end of your day to unwind, you do very short, focused 2-5 minute “recovery breaks” when necessary throughout your day before the tension is able to accumulate in your body.
Aston® Kinetics has some great tools that can help you improve your body awareness and develop an effective self-care program. You can also look back to the experiences you have had in personal training, exercise classes, physical therapy, and other wellness settings to build your arsenal of self-care techniques. And remember- recovery doesn’t always have to be long and involved. Be aware of how your body feels throughout your day. Adjust your movement or ergonomics when possible, and when it’s not, see if you can do small things to keep tension from accumulating in your body. Should you still do your normal recovery activities- massage, stretch sessions, Epsom soaks? Absolutely! But also consider these daily small modifications and “recovery breaks” as other techniques for maintaining and furthering your health and wellness.
Amanda Skidmore is a staff member of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, where she helps people release long-held tension and pain patterns, while also teaching them how to use their bodies with greater ease and efficiency. For more information, give us a call or visit the front desk.