Are You Truly Moving With Purpose?

Do you ever feel like you are doing all the right things to heal an injury and your symptoms still persist? You’ve been given countless exercises, stretches, and routines, but after months of consistency you still don’t feel better? It may be that the exercises and stretches that were given to you are in fact the right ones, but you may not be performing them correctly. 


Have you ever considered the possibility that you may be simply moving through the motions, without fully focusing on where you are feeling the sensation of a stretch or strength movement? It is very challenging to stay motivated and focused on a routine for months, let alone a couple of weeks. In my case, I went through the same rehabilitation routine (completely unfocused on the purpose of the exercises) for 2 years before deciding to move on from competitive athletics. 


In my junior year of high school my right shoulder began to hurt when I threw a ball during softball. Looking back now, I believe the problem really started when I broke my right elbow my freshman year. I believe that I adjusted my upper body mechanics when resuming sports, and the trouble began there. After my shoulder pain started, I began physical therapy several times per week as I was aspiring to play college athletics. I went for at least 1 hour, usually 1.5 hours. I do think that there were some missing components to my treatment (including thoracic mobility), but some of the blame on why I was a physical therapy failure for my shoulder is on me. 


During the sessions, I was merely moving through the motions of all the strengthening exercises given to me. As a high school student, I didn’t grasp the importance of what I was doing and how it would help me. I was not paying a bit of attention to where I was feeling the exercise, meaning I was getting zero benefit from the sessions and not changing my movement patterns. I assumed my shoulder was strong since I did physical therapy for years, then came to realize how weak it was in physical therapy school years later. 


I was interning at a clinic in San Diego (which eventually became my first job) and I was working through a variety of stabilization exercises with some co workers. With the proper focus and cueing from my coworkers, it became very apparent that I could hardly activate my midback against gravity. I was shocked, and immediately began a diligent upper body/ midbackroutine to improve. 10 years later, I am still consistent at it, and I can do anything I want with my upper body without pain (including push ups, pull ups, and throwing.) 


To this day if I get lazy in my routines or in my focus with my exercise, I will feel all my midback exercises shift in my neck, upper trap, and anterior shoulder. It’s a pattern my body wants to go into, and I have to mindfully keep out of it. Some people are surprised that I take group and individual fitness sessions since this is part of my job, but this allotted 45-60 minutes gives me better focus so I can concentrate on what I’m doing and not rush though my exercises. 


I would encourage you to slow down your routines and really think about the purpose of each exercise. If you aren’t feeling the exercise or stretch in the correct location, there is little benefit to your time spent. Hopefully you haven’t waited as long as I did to realize this! This topic is part of my inspiration forRedefine At Home, as each posture is described in detail with where you should/ should not feel the exercise. 


Feel free to reach out with your experiences!