Welcome to another fabulous week of Movement Mondays, where we get to start off each week exploring different ways to move to keep your body healthy and happy!
As good as it is to move your body, to build up strength and mobility, it is also important to recognize the areas in your body that may always be working and spend time allowing those places to not work.
The first step is to even recognize that you have parts of your body that may unconsciously holding onto to tension ALL THE TIME. For many people, some of the places of habitual tension are the shoulders, jaw, belly and pelvic floor. In fact, check out all those spots in your own body right now and see if you were even just a little bit tense. Interesting hey? In a workshop or private client session when I introduce some of those places of tension to people they are amazed at how they didn't even know those areas were chronically tight. A big eye opener for many of us. And if you found that those areas were relaxed just now, check in later on today at different times and see if those spots (or other areas) are working more than they need to.
Which brings us to the knee cap release. Can you relax your quadriceps? What does that even mean? In Restorative Exercise™ we call this the Knee Cap release. Many people have the habit of quadriceps that are chronically engaged due to many factors and one of them being a postural habit of standing with their pelvis forward, so that the weight of the body is held in the front of the foot and not back over the heel. When your quadriceps are engaged they pull the patella up and back towards the front of the knee joint when in a standing position. If your quadriceps are chronically tensing, then the patella stays held against the bones of the knee joint which can lead to creating friction which can then lead to osteoarthritis and other knee issues for example. Not so much fun. If you can relax your quadriceps, then your knee caps will relax down as in the video below.
Stand up and try it right now. With straight legs, can you lift and lower your knee caps like in the video? Some people will have no problem with that and others will be surprised at how hard it is to do such a seemingly simple movement. Or you might notice that one leg might be able to relax more than the other one. The work now is to reconnect your brain into your quads to rebuild that motor program of keeping your quads relaxed. As many times as you can throughout the day, tell your quadriceps to relax... whether or not they actually co-operate!
Another way to invite those knee caps to relax is to lean agains a wall with your legs extended out in front of you. Lean your butt against the wall and bend forward slightly to shorten your rectus femoris (one of the muscles in your quadricep group that is likely always on if you can't relax your knee caps) and allow the quads to relax, thus dropping the knee cap. Try it a few times here and see if it easier to get those quads to relax.
What I love about finding those places in the body that habitually hold tension is that when you reconnect to those areas, they then "wake up". I shine the light of my awareness to them and a deeper knowing and understanding unfolds. Those unconscious habits become conscious and a sense of empowerment emerges where we can make those small, appropriate changes day by day, moment by moment, resulting in many moments of mindfulness all day long. Talk about the mind/body connection!
Have fun with the knee cap release and as always, feel free to comment and share. Have a great week everyone!