How I went from frustrated with my body to loving it again
Bodies can be frustrating and complex. But they’re also fascinating.
For example, why is it that when we don’t breathe efficiently, our shoulder or knee end up giving us grief? Why doesn’t something around where we breathe send us signals that things are off?
Or why is it that a big toe that doesn’t move very well can cause neck tension? Why isn’t there something in between all those myriad parts that bothers us first?
I had this discovery as I unravelled my own issues in my body. I’ve had my share of injuries and impacts. Abdominal surgeries, broken bones, habitual postures and movements, anxiety. They all add up to changes in how the body manages itself.
I like to think of the body as one big machine. It comes factory-installed with certain functions and ways of moving. As we go through life, programs get installed and uninstalled, viruses make their way into the programs, hardware breaks and get repaired. We are the product of every experience we’ve had throughout our lives.
So it made a lot of sense that the aches and pains in my body are a reflection (maybe a distorted reflection) of all my life experiences. My frequently strained lower back turned out to be a muscle imbalance brought on by being forever slightly leaned to the right because my gallbladder (about the size of my thumb) was removed from my abdomen. That small shift in volume in my abdomen meant that my body had to fill that space and gravity pulled me down to the right ever so slightly. My left lower back was forever slightly under tension from the side bend. And it was my left lower back that I kept straining.
Similarly, years of anxiety had changed my breathing patterns. I spent most of my life unknowingly in a sympathetic system-dominant state. I was breathing as if I was always being stalked by a predator. A mentally-created predator that was both learned from my home environment (an anxious parent) and reinforced in my career choices. It wasn’t until I got nerdy about bodywork and breathing mechanics that I discovered this about myself.
What did I do to unravel my body frustrations? I got curious. (Well, to be honest, I’ve been curious since birth.) I put my curiosity to work and sought out information to help me understand the root causes of what I was experiencing. I discovered some techniques and thought processes that helped me understand the interconnectedness of the body. Making changes in one area of the body affects areas much further away. Changing the mechanics of how you breathe can improve aches and pains by redistributing pressures within the abdomen. In fact, in my practice every day I use biomechanics and breathing mechanics to alleviate pain. I use neuroplasticity to remind our body of our factory settings and create a sense of safety in the nervous system.
What was my measurable outcome? By restoring my biomechanics in the areas around my surgery scars I was able to resolve my several-times-a-year habit of straining my lower back. I rewired my breathing patterns and noticed a sizable improvement in my anxiety symptoms and sleep quality.
There are many more injuries and patterns I’ve unraveled by getting curious. They all have that one thing in common. Getting curious about the root cause of something I’m experiencing in my body.