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Well Organized Movement and Vitality

As we get older, or after we have been injured, many of us experience stiffness, loss of strength, and muscular tension. It may be felt in the back, neck, joints or elsewhere. We may find it painful to move in certain ways or we may lose confidence in our ability to balance and avoid falls.

Although you cannot do anything about getting older you can do something about the effects of aging that you may have thought inevitable.  You can improve the quality of your movement.  Pain, poor balance and a lack of vitality are the result of poorly organized movement (which itself can be the result of many factors).  Well organized movement can increase vitality, restore balance and eliminate pain by reducing stiffness and increasing coordination, power and strength.

A well organized movement is one that requires the minimum amount of effort for the task at hand, involves the whole body, and is reversible.

Minimum effort means that only the minimum energy needed is used - you then retain energy for other things.  You have probably had times where you have struggled to perform an activity and perhaps grimaced, clenched your teeth or stiffened your body.  These all interfere with the action and burn energy that could be better applied.  A better action would be one where these unnecessary, parasitic components would be absent.  The movement would then feel smoother, easier and effortless.

In any action the whole body is involved whether you are conscious of it or not.  Every muscle contributes to the quality of the movement either through acting (contracting) or by not acting (not contracting).  For example, a rigid chest without movement between the ribs effectively acts as a splint that prevents the upper part of the spine from moving.  That means that the neck and lower part of the spine are all that is available for bending or twisting and so experience more wear and tear as a result.  Most people keep the muscles between the ribs permanently contracted - although they don't realize it because they do it all the time - and then experience neck or lower back pain.  It is also why so many older people struggle with transitions like moving from sitting to standing.

The chest is an example of where muscles often remain constantly contracted but the same thing can be found throughout the body.  When all of the muscles of the body are well organized for any given action, those that need to contract do contract and those that would inhibit the action by contracting do not contract.

Another benefit of whole body participation is that the stronger muscles closer to the center of the body are more effectively recruited and effort in the smaller muscles of the extremities is reduced; thereby providing the opportunity for more refined and delicate movement.

A reversible movement is one where direction can be changed or reversed at any time.  The instant that a movement cannot be reversed is when the movement is no longer voluntary and you no longer control its destination.  Reversibility means having real control of your movements and being able to do what you intend in a way that works well for you.  When we move this way we experience ease, power and strength.

Well organized movement originates in the brain.  The brain controls movement and so, to improve movement, changes must occur in the brain.  Under the right conditions, the brain is capable of forming 1.8 million new connections per second.  The facilitation of these conditions is at the heart of the Anat Baniel Method where it is possible to find new, better ways to move that are more efficient, more pleasurable and more effective.

When this type of learning happens and new patterns are being formed in the brain, the benefits go beyond the obvious physical ones.  A brain that works better is also one that thinks better and one that experiences the vitality that was present when it belonged to a child who was learning all of the time.

Loss of balance, stiffness, pain, and mental fogginess are not inevitable as we get older.  Increased vitality, strength, flexibility and the ability to form new neural pathways are possible at any age.  We can always improve the quality of our movements and the quality of our lives.