By Bette Chamberlin
I know that sounds silly, but really, is it?
In order to pick up your paper, whether you have it at your front door or at the end of your walkway outside your home, you will bend some joints.
The question is, what joints are you using to bend in order to lower yourself in space. HOW are you doing this? Are you cold and hurrying as fast as you can in your stiffened from sleep state?
Fair enough. It’s cold outside in the winter. I understand because I try to get out and in as quickly as possible and that is my priority. My movements are stimulated by cold, and recently by snow – I tip toe in slippers through the white covered lawn and hope that no one sees me in my winter coated robe straining to grab the paper before my feet are wet and frozen. I’m really not thinking at all about how I’m bending my joints.
But I know better.
When I work with students we learn to pick up something from the floor with awareness . It’s one of those procedures that challenges thinking and pausing before action. Here are the joints that our bodies are designed to utilize during this movement:
ankles knees hips atlas (joint connecting the skull to the top of the spine)
When you are bending in order to pick up a speck of lint from your carpet, or doing a deep side lunge in tango, your muscular skeletal system will very much appreciate it if you DO organize yourself around the above joints.
We often approach movement based on how we move through our daily lives.
My student tightens her neck and lower back when bending down to pet her cat, prepare dinner, unload the dishwasher, sit at the computer, AND during ballroom practice. We may think that the way we move outside of the studio has nothing to do with how we move inside it, but it is surprisingly connected.
Slowing down to really picture the location of our moveable joints helps to challenge inefficient habits/beliefs and allows us to re-pattern how to approach movement.
So the next time you pick up your newspaper or that sock that you dropped, let your neck be easy and your back to widen Thinking this, it will be harder to use your cervical curve and lower back as a moveable joint (it is not!)
Then apply your newly found ease to that tango lunge, rumba walk, or Latin inspired squat.
But when it is freezing outside when you pick up your paper, you can give yourself a pass!