This Bank Holiday weekend a friend came round to see me because she had injured her knee and didn’t know what to do. In the course of our consultation, several things became very clear. Firstly, although the pain had subsided, the pain memory was very strong; as a consequence some of her movement was restricted not through pain but through the anticipation of pain. Secondly, she was very upset that the injury was caused by cycling and now she would have to give up her favourite activity. After a little discussion, we agreed what had caused the pain (not cycling) and found a strategy where she could continue to exercise and feel fitter without physical damage. Although we had only spent an hour together, her relief at understanding her pain and having a series of positive possibilities to explore was as important as her improved movement from the session. Scott Clark, Feldenkrais teacher and leader of the Feldenkrais Teacher Training in London has written an excellent article The Meaning of Pain which you can find here: http://www.feldenkrais.co.uk/articles/pain.html. Scott gives some clear and wonderful images about how we approach pain and the warning signs of injury.
At this time of year, people often sign up for a gym membership, determined to get fit and lose weight and to become an all round better person. Can I insert a word of warning here? Whilst I have every respect and understanding for the personnel who work in gyms and leisure centres, they are often over-booked and under pressure to process new customers, with the result that vital questions may be left unasked. If you sign up for ANY programme of exercise or movement, someone should talking to you about your previous experience, your current and past health issues and you should be given clear instructions on using equipment and how to avoid injury. I recently changed my gym and although I have regularly used gym equipment all my adult life and am an accredited Feldenkrais teacher, I would still expect to be given a proper induction and training as well as a warm up before being given heavy weights to lift, then encouraged to work to a maximum capacity on back bends. The trainer involved was a lovely person but I came away worried that her new customers were at the very least in danger of developing bad habits, but -more seriously – were risk of serious injury. Do not confuse speed and maximum effort with effective and lasting movement training and if an exercise causes pain, stop…please! #️mindful movement.