By: Coach Joshua Jericho Littauer
As hectic as life is we somehow find time to pay attention to everything that others are doing, what’s going on in the world of politics, family, friends, work etc.. But rarely are we this aware of our own bodies. It seems that the most time we spend focusing on our body is when something goes wrong. Whether that is sudden illness, momentary pain, or just the little annoyances that distract us from the rest of life. I’d like to take a look at we aren’t aware, and see if we can cultivate this idea of learning to focus on your body and be aware of what it’s telling you in a variety of circumstances. From the gym to daily life, self awareness is extremely important in helping us to become the best version of ourselves.
To use a little example to get your brain thinking along a similar train of thought, let’s imagine your body is vehicle. Your vehicle is designed to complete certain tasks and take you from place to place, and is equipped with a motor, transmission, electronics, and computers that make your drive enjoyable, efficient, and safe. There are certain things your car does that give you warning that something is not totally right. Air conditioning stops blowing cold air, the steering wheel vibrates when braking hard, there is a funny smell, or a check engine light pops on. Regardless of the issue we quickly become aware something is wrong. How quick are you to notice similar symptoms in your body? Is your brain able to identify what your body is telling you? Can you identify and diagnose specific things wrong with your body? Let’s look at a few reasons why this may be important.
Being self aware is a great door to open up the possibilities for change and growth. This is true in both mental and physical personal development. On the physical side being self aware allows us to identify problem areas, know where our strengths lie, understand how and why our bodies are reacting the way they do, and learn to create more muscle recruitment to improve movement patterns. A few simple examples could be noticing low back soreness after deadlifting, having sore biceps after pull ups, feeling pinching while pressing overhead, or lacking the ability to hit full depth in a squat without your chest collapsing forward. By being unaware of what your body is telling you, or not being able to identify what underlying issue is, it is difficult to grow and improve upon a movement.
I’ll continue to with those examples. If you feel low back soreness the day after a deadlifting workout it tells me that you are not properly engaging your glutes or hamstrings throughout the lift. By being able to identify and activate your glutes and hamstrings during a deadlift it will take away the strain felt on your low back. In this particular case it would be helpful to learn how to properly hinge at the hip to help allow your larger muscle groups to take over. Another example could be experiencing burnout quickly on your handstand pushups because you primarily use your triceps and are not able to engage the rest of your shoulder or upper thoracic to help you push. By being able to identify what is going on with our body during exercise we can diagnose the areas that need work to improvement overall movement and capacity.
Awareness can also mean looking for deficiencies or mobility issues that prevent proper movement. For example, if you struggle to get your hips below parallel during a squat without your chest collapsing forward you may have tight ankles. Loosening up your ankles, would allow you to shift your weight to the center of your foot enough to maintain an upright torso while at the bottom of the squat. The same self awareness would help you identify a pinch in the front or your shoulder during overhead pressing that could be caused by a tight bicep tendon. In any regard, having this type of awareness can really help fix weaknesses and deficiencies.
If you have been in a class with us at Premier you would learn quickly that we are big on learning to identify and activate muscle groups to provide improved movement. The importance of knowing your own body is found in your ability to adapt and learn with a changing environment. Life always throws you curveballs, but with the ability to be self aware you can adapt and grow. Having the same physical awareness lends you to a growth perspective that makes the lifelong journey of fitness both fun and productive. Learn to be self aware, learn to know your body, and watch yourself grow.