There’s been a running theme throughout the news recently. After witnessing the extraordinary willpower at the winter Olympics we watch as Ukraine fiercely resists an oppressor. What they have in common is they have a determination and a willingness to suffer in order to succeed, albeit under very different circumstances.
My point is that in human nature we’re willing to make sacrifices for whatever is most important to us. Whether fighting for freedom or to be victorious in competitive sport. The secret to success in anything is working out what is most important to you.
Believe it or not, the same principle applies to how we move.
You see, your brain and body are always in communication. We all know the feeling of being in the ‘flow’ - where things are easy, fluid and happen without much conscious effort. In contrast, if something’s ‘not quite right’, it’s common for your body to tell you about it. This means that pain levels become elevated, your gut can turn into a knot, your mind and body start fighting with itself. It’s a bit like trying to swim through mud rather than water.
So comes the million dollar question - how can we help our bodies and brains get into this state of ‘flow’?
First of all, trying to decipher messages coming from your body (pain, weakness, heat etc.) through experience alone isn’t all that helpful because everything you feel is processed in your brain. This means it’s influenced by past experiences, cultural meaning and preconceived beliefs. Undesired sensations are more commonly a perception of threat than actual tissue damage.
Secondly, respect yourself rather than just accepting yourself. This often involves changing your mindset from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and developing a relationship with yourself to let go judgements. If you truly respect yourself in the moment, you have nothing to change.
Thirdly, if you’re struggling to find your flow – it might be worthwhile taking a look at what is motivating you to move. There are positive motivators and negative motivators. I’ll list of a few to give you an idea by what I mean by this.
I run because I enjoy the feeling of strength and power
I cycle because it’s where I feel free
I swim because I loved it as a child and it makes me feel young again.
I skate because it makes me feel like I’m flying
I run to lose weight because I feel self-conscious
I cycle because I was told I have osteoarthritis
I swim because it’s the only way I can exercise without ankle pain
I skate because I don’t want to lose the next competition
I hope you can see the differences. You might not think that it’s important but the benefits of assessing your motivations behind actions is endless. Not only will you move better but you’ll also enjoy the movement more (it will be less of a chore). The result will be a burst of feel good hormones and a better learning effect for your brain. This makes it easier to repeat those same movement pathways which means focused practice and improved performance.
Our Jindabyne dragon boat team. Third overall and first best dressed!