Figuring Out The “Real Problem”

By Susi Hately, B.Sc. Kinesiology, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist

There are all sorts of theories on improving movement, which will help people to reduce pain, and improve performance. And they all work . . . . for a lot of people, most of the time. And some times they fall short. Where all of us, whether we are receiving care or providing care, fall into a trap is when we get stuck on the theory that works the majority of time and our minds fall into a template mode that says “this is what is done for this condition, or, for this movement problem”. The thinking becomes rigid, almost religious at times. An then something happens.

The theory stops working. As a client we’ll see it as being the various techniques or exercises that were prescribed to us no longer work. As a care provider, we see that what we are doing for the client is no longer delivering the results that we expected. In both scenarios, because we are in template mode, we can’t see what is “actually” going on. Our eyes are “shaded” from reality.

I see this a lot with weak glutes. The common refrain is people have weak glutes because they are sitting all the time. However, I have seen people who have occupations that require no sitting at all, or very minimal sitting and their glutes are not firing properly. So, it isn’t just about sitting. It’s also not just about standing with poor posture. Sure those are contributory, but if those two scenarios were the actual issue than there would be many, many more people with weak glutes, and that is not what I am seeing or hearing about from other practitioners who work in different subsets of rehabilitation.

So what to do? How can we get out of template mode and learn to see more clearly?

The question I like to ask is, “what else is going on in this person’s body that is leading to a situation where the glutes don’t engage properly?” To answer this question as a care provider, you will not be required to look in a book, or register for another class promoting another theory. All you need to do is look at your client and see what is actually going on.

To answer this question as a client, you don’t need to necessarily dump the person who is providing you with care and rehabilitation, you simply need to notice what is going on in your own body. Not your friend’s body, or your spouse’s body who apparently has the same condition.

What you will find is that the answer is different depending on the person. For some, there is a real rigidness in the tissue under the lower ribs, and when released, the glutes automatically begin to engage properly. Or, the rib cage is braced with movement, and if movement only happens as far as their is no bracing, the glutes begin to work better. Other people hold their jaw tight. Others still overuse their outer calf or their pelvic floor instead of their glutes. Others need to release through their lateral line, or have to relearn how to twist properly.

The key is there isn’t one answer, and truly the patterns of limitation are endless. You do need to be attentive to what else is contributing to the glutes not firing. And this requires you to be less in your head about what is not working or working for a client and actually being with and watching your client.

And, if you are the client, you will need to grow your ability at being attentive to your own self moving and trusting what you feel.

What I love about this way of thinking is it encompasses pretty much every movement theory out there. When you are actually being with and watching someone or being attentive to yourself, you will see the correlating patterns (notice I didn’t use the word causal). You’ll then you will see more clearly which tool or which theory is appropriate at a given time. This gives you much more clarity, versatility and flexibility – and it will be way more fun  solving problems.

Here is another added bonus:

For the client – As you become more attentive, you become more aware, and you can integrate that awareness. As you do, you will move better, you will feel better, your pain will go down and the opportunities and freedom will go up. You will begin to see possibility again for your life.

For the health provider – you will be empowering your own client to be attentive and integrate their awareness so that they take what you are teaching them and really apply it. This approach, while challenging at firs,t truly makes our job that much more fun. Rather than being the person where the client comes to be fixed, the relationship becomes one of being a trusted advisor – helping to refine the client’s best awareness for greater and greater gains.

The bottom line to consider over the next couple of weeks – Ask the question by starting with what. You know something isn’t happening as it should. Rather than coming to a full stop with an answer like – it is because of sitting, or my posture, ask yourself, “what else is going on?”

Change is possible. For everyone – including you.

Have fun with this,