‘It’s like learning to ride a bike’

This is an analogy I find myself using almost everyday in clinic. It’s relevant to improving movement at a particular joint, fine-tuning a skill or reducing pain and stiffness at one or many joints.

It’s never too late to change how your body moves 

Case study: I’ve recently been working with a middle aged, fit and healthy lady who had resigned herself to pain killers every night and very little movement through her shoulder joint after several years of it freezing up.

Too often you hear people say they have headaches, or back ache but ‘not to worry I’ve had it for years’…. Like it’s a given and it is an immovable feast… perhaps not realising there are more options out there.

Whatever your age the body is always capable of change and adaptation – it’s just about sending the right message. A skilled analysis of posture, how muscles are being recruited to support different movements, the condition of tissues and how everything is wired up, determines the course of action.

Learning a new skill and improving movement, whatever the history or previous injury, is just like learning to ride a bike… let me explain:

  • 1st time you sit on a bike it feels completely foreign and you cannot understand ever feeling balanced
  • You practice and practice, at first having to concentrate really hard on every little detail of movement
  • Then within a week or 2 you run outside, jump on your bike and you’re off, not even thinking about how you’re doing it
  • Your brain, muscles, joints and nervous system have all learnt a new skill and the coordinated control that allows you to balance and push the pedals round without thinking about it has now become subconscious
  • It’s the same journey with movement rehabilitation – some concentrated effort at first is rewarded very quickly with a new and improved range of movement that stays as long as you use it.

Case study cont… some work on local congested tissues, muscle recruitment and underlying posture soon started to change the state of play in and around the shoulder. But the body had ‘learnt to really reduce the amount of movement it allowed through the joint complex, initially to protect from damage – that damage was no longer a threat but the pattern had been there for some time and so was quite deeply entrenched. 

The answer: A movement designed specifically to target the relevant tissues and lack of mobility, that is pain free and takes less than a minute to do. This is practiced throughout the day and is progressed as range of movement improves. This meant progress was fantastic, leading to a very happy shoulder and gardener…

Lily has helped me greatly in regaining flexibility and movement in my shoulder and arm, and I am now no longer using the painkillers that I needed at night. I am so grateful to her for everything she has done to address my musco-skeletal problems. My posture is now better and I enjoy walking and gardening, and can do normal day to day activities without the pain and discomfort that I had before. AB