“Easy” Movement

I’ve been thinking a lot about movement lately, and how much we take it for granted.  Many of us have a tendency to grumble when we’re unable to find a parking spot as close to our destination as possible or think of exercise as a chore. I have heard myself complaining about how difficult distance running is and I have heard clients complain about how hard they find certain exercises. None of these are complaints based on our inability to perform a movement, but instead a reluctance to do something that we don’t perceive as being easy.

But what do we say to the people who are physically incapable of specific movements? People whose bodies don’t have the ability to move with the “ease” with which we move our bodies everyday?

Last month my family traveled to Jamaica and for the first time in 20 years I was able to visit one of my dearest aunts who is severely disabled and unable to leave the island nation. An accident at birth resulted in a paralysis along the right side of her body – everything from her leg, arm, and eye are incapable of movement. The last time I saw her I was 16, and at that time she could walk (with assistance) from her bedroom to the living room, kitchen or front patio, anywhere that people were gathered. Although her speech is limited, she loves to be around people listening to conversations and watching kids run around. She is always accompanied by her journal and her pen so that she can do her drawings while watching and listening to everyone else. Its almost as though her body is constantly craving movement and manifests that movement in spirals on paper. How easy and free our movements must seem to her. My aunt’s mobility has greatly deteriorated in the last 20 years, mostly because a change in her care has meant less opportunities to walk and use the function of her left, non-paralyzed side.

The less we move, the more challenging it becomes when we attempt to move. Think about children on monkey bars. They swing their bodies back and forth across the bars with little struggle, rarely complaining about their shoulders or hands hurting. How many of us were able to do that as children? How many of us still can? Its not to say that we can’t re-learn how to endlessly swing on monkey bars or tumble across a gym floor or spin on the ice or any of the many movements we used to enjoy as children. Those movements aren’t lost to us, but we will have to embrace the “difficulty” and challenge of re-learning them.

When we become aware of how much we take for granted can we use that as a launching pad to explore more movement? Can we shift from thinking something is “too hard” and instead embrace the challenge to explore more?

What if we start by simply asking ourselves to try. Try to just run around the block and when that feels “easy”, run a little more. Try to hang from the monkey bars but keep your feet on the ground while your arms embrace your body’s load. Eventually can you try to lift your feet? Start small and explore the movement and mobility that is available to you today. Next week you might have a little bit more.

This weekend was wickedly hot in Toronto and I was thrilled to be spending the weekend in parks watching my son play baseball and later playing in my own softball game. In the first inning I was running hard from 1st to 2nd base and had to make a sudden stop that resulted in me kind of tripping over the base. As I was falling I could feel my myself rolling over my right ankle. I instantly dreaded how bad this injury was going to be. As I was falling I knew this was going to have some sustained impact on my ability to move “easily” and with complete freedom. Luckily its just a sprain and I was able to continue playing, I’m able to continue working and my mobility is not seriously impacted. A little sore and puffy, sure, but I’ll be back in full action in no time. I won’t be running or doing pistol squats anytime soon – but this injury is giving me time to contemplate how “easy” it generally is for me to move and to continue to embrace that ability.

And in case you were wondering, yes I was safe at second 🙂

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