From the time we learn how to walk we start to develop biomechanical patterns aka body movement patterns. Our brain, nervous system and muscles optimize these patterns so they become second nature, we can do them without even having to think about it.
Remember the last time you walked from point a to point b, how much did you think about it before doing it? Chances are you not at all. That’s because walking has become an ingrained body movement pattern.
However, just because a posture or pattern of movement is optimized, it doesn’t mean it’s optimal for your body. Let me explain…
Our bodies have evolved to do two things:
1. Conserve energy
2. Take the path of least resistance.
In keeping with these two principles, our bodies develop and habitualize patterns (such as running or riding a bike) until they feel intuitive and effortless.
The problem is, just because you developed a biomechanical pattern, it doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy one. Some people walk in a way that’s bad for their knees for example.
The problem with suboptimal patterns
Suboptimal patterns cause unnecessary wear and tear on your body resulting in joint injury, stiffness, and even pain.
For example, let’s take a look at this photograph of a guy looking at his phone. I think it’s safe to say that this posture can’t possibly be good for his neck, but more importantly he has no clue he’s doing it. Can you relate? We’ve all been there before, zoned out into our devices oblivious about our body mechanics.
So how do we make sure our bio-mechanical patterns are healthy ones for our body?
Step one: Recognize asymmetry in your movement patterns. For instance, my right side is stronger than my left and when I do squats, I tend to rely more on my right side – especially when I’m tired and at the end of my set.
Step two: Correct the asymmetry. So, in the case of my lop-side squats, I will stop and take a break if my form starts to go and I will do additional exercises just for my left hamstring to let it catch up the right in terms of strength.
If you want to find out what unhealthy biomechanical patterns you have and don’t know where to start, ask for help. Simply ask a friend to look at how you walk, a colleague how you sit, or a fitness studio buddy how you do exercises and if something looks off. Then work slowly to correct these patterns.
Remember, if you are trying to correct something like how you walk or sit, be patient as it can take a while to create new patterns.
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Hi, I’m Naudia Lou. I explore topics such as mindfulness, health, training, nutrition and psychology. I’m a neuroscientist turned yoga teacher. In my pastime, I’m an avid rock climber, free diver and traveler so you can expect occasional forays into those topics too.