My clients often ask me, "Now that I'm no longer in pain, what kind of exercise should I do so I don't hurt myself again?" Good question. Here's my answer: Once you've reversed your Sensory Motor Amnesia, it's important to integrate your new awareness and control into full body movement. Exercise is fun and good for you, so have at it! It's also important to strengthen the new, more balanced posture and movement.
Do what you love to do now that you have awareness and control of your body and movement. Paying attention to your movement, and exercising and moving within your comfort range is what will help you prevent injury. Challenge yourself, yet be mindful not to go beyond what truly feels good.
On page 30 of my book, Move Without Pain, I write about walking, one of the most basic, fundamental activities in the human vocabulary. I write about how movement, rather than exercise is the key to long term health. Create a movement-filled life and you will generally find your health and fitness to be better than you realize.
Gretchen Reynolds, author of The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, shares a similar outlook (as discussed in this May 2012 New York Times article).
I wanted people to understand... how little exercise you can do in order to get lots and lots of health benefits. Two-thirds of Americans get no exercise at all. If one of those people gets up and moves around for 20 minutes, they are going to get a huge number of health benefits, and everything beyond that 20 minutes is, to some degree, gravy.
Those who know me have heard me mention my mother, Meg Peterson, as a living example of how a movement-filled life has kept her strong, fit, and still hiking at 85 years old. Yes, she was blessed with good genetics, but more importantly she refused to slow down as she got older. She takes out her own trash, mows her own lawn, walks several miles daily (and incorporates hills when possible) and doesn't shy away from using the stairs instead of an elevator. And yes... she does her Hanna Somatic Exercises!
8 Ways to Be Fit and Healthy: (without "exercising")
- Walk instead of using the car whenever possible
- Do your own gardening
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Ride your bicycle to work or to run errands
- Hand-wash your car instead of taking it to the car wash
- Shop locally and carry your groceries home on foot
- Put on music and dance while you cook
- Walk around your house while using the phone (instead of sitting still)
I have often had clients tell me that if they don't feel dead on their feet after a workout, that they haven't exercised hard enough. Robert Sapolsky, author of the best selling book about stress called Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, presents some interesting - and disturbing - facts about the negative affects of extreme exercise on bone mass and stress hormone levels(pg. 123). If you love to run marathons, that's great. Just be aware of the need for bringing your nervous system out of the fight or flight mode (which causes stress hormones to flood your body) afterwards. Do your Hanna Somatic Exercises to reboot the muscular system and give yourself time to recover.
If you aren't an extreme exerciser, you're in the majority. Always be sure to bring movement of all sorts into your day and that, in addition to sensible nutrition, should stand you in good stead for a long time.