How your body feels, how you move your body, and how you see your body, are all influenced by the words you read and hear. Finding the right movements and drills to ‘heal what ails ya’, get strong, or be ‘sport-specific’, will only take you so far.
The language you’re processing is as important as the movements you do on your journey to feeling great, moving well, and tapping into your true potential. Here’s why…
Words are powerful. They can make you distrustful of your body. They can make you feel like your body is too complicated for you to take care of. They can make you feel like whatever happens to you is inevitable – like you don’t have a say in the matter. They can also do the opposite of all these.
Words can influence the focus type your brain uses. They can influence you to choose to move with stiffness or fluidity. They can influence you to avoid certain movements or use other movements almost exclusively.
So if you’re going to heal your aches and pains, and build a strong body that is durable for the long haul – along with doing movements, drills, or lifestyle changes – you’ll want to take a look at the kinds of messages you’re experiencing.
Your body is always trying to protect you. And if your mind believes – consciously or subconsciously – that you are at risk, that will be a program that runs in the background perpetually until you address it.
If you are afraid of current or potential future injuries (example: if you do athletics you should expect to develop injuries), or you’re afraid of a certain movement and its potential to cause an injury (example: rounding your back when you pick something up is dangerous) – those beliefs make it seem as though there is good reason to be fearful.
Amongst other effects, fearful movement has been shown to decrease neural drive to the tissues being feared, as an act of ‘avoidance’ of those tissues. And when work that is meant to be done by certain muscles is diverted off to other muscles instead, there will be some kind of effect for you.
Overuse injuries occur when the load placed on the tissue involved is too repetitive, or too significant for what that tissue is capable of handling.
You see messages every day that influence how safe you feel in your body, how trusting you think you should be of your body, and how capable you are of taking care of your body so it’s free of unnecessary pain.
Here is one real world example:
Note the fear-based headline that’s backed up by the little writing above it. ‘Science is to be believed, and science says that you’re going to injure yourself.’ How do you feel when you read this headline?
There are also less in-your-face here messages you have likely heard from clinicians, coaches, advertisements, instagram influencers, friends, or family. Here are a few examples: ‘torn muscles’, ‘weak hips’, ‘blown out discs’, ‘glutes are off’.
Physical therapist, Seth Oberst, weighed in, “we are particularly vulnerable to words with a negative connotation as they illuminate our own insecurities. Do bone spurs or disk herniations tell us anything about how that person moves or how they perceive, behave, and experience their environment? Of course not, yet a label immediately begins to shape our understanding of ourselves.”
And because I care about being fully transparent with you, I want to tell you this – that screenshot up there is from a website that was built for me three years ago by a marketer I hired to write sales copy for me.
I can’t speak for all trainers, but I never got any education in school about writing marketing materials or copy for ads. So I initially hired that out to someone else who was trained in it. My skin crawled when I heard the marketer say, “fear and pain sells”. I never used this particular web page and I ended the relationship with the marketer shortly there after.
I aim to be incredibly intentional with the words I use, and have since put the work in to learn more about how to convey a message without invoking fear and suffering in someone. Even if that means it takes longer to show the full value of working with me as a coach. Yes, what I offer is life-changing for many people, but I’m unwilling to use marketing that goes the opposite direction of the autonomy and empowerment I want you to further develop in yourself.
Even though it would be faster financially to act as if I’m your savior, or to do crazy tricks with my body to show you I’m more advanced than you and you should strive to be like me, or to de-value the work of building a body that supports you by offering “10 min butt training” routines.
And saying all this is scary feeling because I might mess it up in the future. I might unintentionally say or do something that doesn’t support your journey as a student or potential student of mine. I’m human, and I’m always learning, and so even if I mess it up, I’ll always make it right.
The world is noisy and full of messages, some that are helpful and some that are not.
So what’s true when it comes to your body, healing the aches and pains, and growing strong for the activities you love?
While it would be impossible to pin down all the things that are ‘true for you’, there are a few Truths about bodies and movement that benefit you to know (and hopefully live by them).
I’ve put them into a download for you to place somewhere you can see them regularly.
They’re not sexy or flashy and they don’t prey on your weakness…in fact they do just the opposite. They bolster your capacity to be an excellent caretaker of your body. And that’s the journey I’m here to support you on as you walk the path yourself.