This might sound elementary, and it is. Doesn't mean most people are proficient in it. What I'm talking about is the cliche of having "body awareness". I first realized the power of this tool during a general yoga class. At the end of the class, we went through a meditation exercise of doing a body scan, focusing on each part of the body separately and essentially taking inventory. Later on in my years practicing as a physical therapist, I started to realize that the patients with any meditation experience, seemed to have a better grasp on inhibiting and isolating muscles, an integral part in retraining the body for better alignment. Having a better awareness between the brain and muscles or "neuromuscular" connection allows us to selectively activate muscles, giving us the ability to strengthen our weaknesses and inhibit our overactive muscles.
Here are 3 ways to improve your body awareness:
1) When working out, notice which muscles you are using instead of just getting through the motion. It might surprise you that you might not actually be using the intended muscles for that exercise.
2) When laying down at night, notice any aches and pains you have in a resting position and if you can change those sensations by changing positions
3) Notice your default positions in sitting, standing, and lying down. Do you like to stand with more weight on one leg than the other? Do you seem to lie with one side of your back lifted off the bed? Do you like to cross your legs in sitting always in one direction?
Dr. Joshua Mazalian, DPT, OCS, CSCS is the owner of JAM Sports and Spine in Los Angeles and specializes in sports and orthopedic physical therapy. You can reach him on Twitter @jamsportsPT and Facebook as well as email at firstname.lastname@example.org