Muscles have memory.
This is why it takes time for them to heal. When we have an accident or use our body in the wrong way, the body remembers the position we have adopted to prevent us from feeling pain. It becomes a habit! So to change the alignment of the muscles requires regular treatment and/or exercises. In short, it’s a re-education process.
Muscles memorise particular movements, especially frequently repeated ones, carried out over a long period of time. Once they have been firmly implanted in the memory functions of both muscle and brain, it is difficult to change them. For example, if you work at a desk, you will have a particular way of sitting. It is uniquely your way of sitting. When you try to change your posture for any length of time, you will experience discomfort because your muscles want to return to the position to which they are accustomed. Also the moment you take your attention away from the new posture, you will automatically return to the hold one. This is why exercises, massage and stretching are an important aspect of retraining your muscle memory.
Some postural problems have an emotional basis. People who carry an emotional burden can often be seen to literally carry it on their shoulders, which have physically bent under the weight. People who lean forward and/or stick their chin out might be in a hurry or moving ahead of themselves (too keen).
Some physical problems are inherited – although the emotional posture passed through the family may also contribute to it.
However there are ways to retrain our body and to optimise our posture/movement. Pilates, Feldenkrais, Yoga, Nia, Tao Yin Chi Kung all teach the body better ways of standing, sitting and moving. The natural body prefers movement options that take as little effort as possible, so when we train it in new ways the mind begins to record the pattern. Over time the new way of moving becomes its preference and the body automatically selects this option. Thus making it more efficient and pain free.
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This information was copied and paraphrased from the following books:
Facilitated Stretching – R E McAtee and J Charland
Stretching and Flexibility – K Laughlin
Overcome Neck and Back Pain – K Laughlin
PilateSystem – T Blount and E McKenzie