Oh, is that my leg that just kicked you?
May 12, 2012 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Body Mindfulness and Exercise Filter: how can I become more aware of the 'shoulds' of my body to correct posture, gait, breathing, etc...?

I have terrible balance, and continuously accident prone, am an inveterate heel walker by the wear on my shoes and usually slouch very badly. When trying to get any sort of exercise friends have noticed I tend to forget to breath (and suffer resulting chest cramps), put my arms in the wrong place and bash into/drop things and I intermittently display a sense of time that's dubious at best combined with a fantastic hyper focus only on things that obsess me, aspie style, otherwise acting a bit gnat-like in relation to things around me.

I asked this question earlier related to better holistic concentration, but now I want to focus more on what my body is doing to get a sense of the right state.

I would like to stop falling into holes (I'm not kidding, I have a fist sized bruise on my calf now from taking a tumble), exercise better into a less hurty way and I'm bolding this, get a sense for how the muscles in my body feel when they're doing the right thing, whether standing erect or walking and a better knowledge of how I should be feeling things like where air is coming from.
posted by Phalene to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I had a really good yoga instructor once that helped fix my incorrect positions and incisively commented on the whys and hows of it.

I also had a pretty good physical therapist that did something similar.
posted by krilli at 1:25 PM on May 12, 2012

The word you're looking for here is "proprioception", which is a sense of your body in space. Here's a page that talks about some proprioception and balance exercises that might be useful.
posted by judith at 1:34 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anecdata, but one of my historically accident-prone friends became completely fine when his undiagnosed astigmatism was finally corrected. Turns out, having the world not where you expect it leads to stepping in holes and running into doors.

To train in the posture habit, I got a vibrating interval timer and set it to remind me every X minutes. When it goes off, I check my position and reset good posture ("tuck the shoulders", "head above shoulders", etc.). It was hard at first and wore out my muscles, so I worked down from 20 minute intervals to 5 or so.

Proprioception is also a great keyword.
posted by bookdragoness at 1:58 PM on May 12, 2012

Chen style tai chi made me a ninja.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:00 PM on May 12, 2012

get a sense for how the muscles in my body feel when they're doing the right thing

Highly recommended for exactly what you're asking:

posted by zeek321 at 2:04 PM on May 12, 2012

Another Feldenkrais book recommendation, I found it easier to follow the directions in this one.
posted by BigSky at 4:59 PM on May 12, 2012

Chen style tai chi made me a ninja.

Anecdotally and according to scientific studies martial arts deals with this stuff:
Effect of adapted karate training on quality of life and body balance in 50-year-old men - Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine
Fitness levels of middle aged martial art practitioners - Br J Sports Med 2004;38:143-147 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2002.001768
(random hits from google scholar.)

Along with tai chi, Montreal surely hosts judo, jujitsu, shotokan karate, or akido dojos. All of which would teach proprioception, breathing, etc. Most forms of martial art will teach you how to fall correctly (with a roll or other controlled method.)

Some of them teach forms of meditation as well.

Boxing, fencing, kickboxing, etc. should work as well; they all teach body awareness, footwork, etc.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:48 PM on May 12, 2012

Ditto yoga. The classes at my local yoga studio are really good about teaching alignment. When I go to class, the poses help me realize how much better my body feels to be properly aligned, and there's always a focus on breathing (the instructor reminds the class during difficult poses that if we're not breathing, we need to ease out and take a break). It's definitely improved my general posture when sitting/standing, and I think it's helped my running as well.
posted by Terriniski at 7:38 PM on May 12, 2012

Contact Improvisation — I took a course exactly for the reasons you describe, and it helped a lot. Afterwards I went on to train Aikido, which is also excellent for this.
posted by Tom-B at 9:51 PM on May 12, 2012

I'm asking partially because the easy answer of doing a martial art (ie fencing, tae kwando) in my case was a socially awkward experience in falling over repeatedly and just wanting not to be the centre of attention the third time I unthinkingly try to do a position by taking both feet off the ground at once.
posted by Phalene at 10:28 AM on May 13, 2012

I'm not a practitioner, but most tai chi practice is slow controlled movements, I believe, so you're less likely to fall over with that.

Perhaps a balance board?
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:37 PM on May 16, 2012

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