Restorative Exercise + Movement

I have done a lot of training since becoming a PT; some required and a lot just because I love to learn! One of my favorite trainings was in Restorative Exercise (now Nutritious Movement) with Katy Bowman. I base a lot of my movement work on the premises of RE and you will find RE moves thrown into nearly every movement class I teach. While there has been some criticism of the rigidity of RE (if you're a member of certain movement communities, this might be something you come across), I feel that using RE as a way to measure progress is very valid and it's important to look at alignment as something we have the ability to attain, not something we must be in 100% of the time.

Restorative exercise is a set of corrective exercises (movement micronutrients) designed to help restore you to a natural, reflex driven body, improving muscle length and strength and a strength to weight ratio that allows you to move throughout your environment in any and all ways possible (movement macronutrients). From a rehabilitation standpoint, restorative exercise correctives help move your body back towards it's anatomical neutral and decrease the wear and tear on the body that we normally associate with aging. Fixing your 'issue' is not just about doing a few exercises; it’s about restoring whole body reflexive movement that happens over the course of a 24 hour day, not just one hour of exercise in an otherwise sedentary day.

The problem you are having (whether it's incontinence or back pain or headaches) is just an indication that things aren't working the way they should in the body and your specific problem is your 'weakest link'. With restorative exercise, we look at the whole body and work from the ground up; every step you take can be a step towards health in a well aligned body or a step towards pain and disease in a poorly aligned body.

“Repetitive motions of a handful of joints in higher-than-natural intensities, with limited joint ranges of motion, for years and years amounts to injury. The benefits of moving are well known. What isn’t being taught clearly is this: exercise is not a replacement for movement — in the same way that eating one food every day or taking a supplement does not replace the biological benefit of a diet with variety. Am I trying to discourage you from moving? Quite the opposite. I am trying to encourage you to increase the size of your movement palate. Your body will last you a whole lot longer and be pain, injury, and disease free by using your tissues in a more natural way.” Katy Bowman

"Body Restoration is a two part process: mindful corrective exercise, with specific attention to one’s own geometry and changes to movement patterns throughout the day. The “exercise,” while contrived, is an easy way to *see* areas not communicating effectively with the brain. Without an alignment practice, atrophying areas remain, as, without the rigid parameters, you cannot systematically OBSERVE every part. CHANGE in habit (sitting, standing, walking, footwear, etc.) is the integration of freshly-aware fibers into everyday life, for the purpose of maintaining this new awareness. The ratio of exercise to all-day time is not in your favor when it comes to change. Once you default to old habits that created the spots in the first place, the oxygen wanes. Fibers shut back down. Lasting change comes from the new way you *choose* to move, partially boosted by a new-found eagerness for oxygen in the previously unused parts. They didn’t know what they were missing, but now they do. Play with these two steps. Repeat for 10,000 hours. You’re on your way." Katy Bowman

When you come to me for Physical Therapy or for a Movement Assessment, I will use many principles of RE to help me help you. I nearly always ask that you start with the lower body even if your problem area is your neck! You will receive a foam dome and a plumb line to help you find objective markers and help you to begin to understand where your body is in space vs where you think it is. This helps with alignment as well as with proprioception, i.e. our ability to sense our body in space. Often we have a skewed perception of our body and where it's at. By using objective markers and mirrors, we can better see what is happening in our body and then feel what is happening and how we use our body. Why this becomes important is, yes, for biomechanical reasons ("better alignment" may help to decrease wear and tear), but also it helps our nervous system know where all it's parts are. When we use our body the same way day in and day out, our nervous system can become complacent - when it receives the same information from a particular body part 24/7, it can stop paying attention to that area. When the nervous system stops paying attention, we may begin to develop movement compensations; it's like we have a little bit of movement amnesia (it's more complicated than this, but use this as a general idea of what's happening). This can cause stress in our nervous system and contribute to nervous system dysregulation (see this post for more info: Looking at movement as a nervous system regulator and using alignment to decrease stress in our body is one way I have evolved my work to help people.

If you're interested in learning more or want a movement assessment, feel free to contact me or book online . And look for more movement opportunities to come!

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