Saturday, December 3, 2011

Exercise is Medicine

I have been going to Paul, my physical therapist for a problem that started a month ago. Paul is a great physical therapist. "Exercise is medicine:" he says. "If you don't do the exercises, I can't help you."

Yesterday I discovered that I have been sitting down wrong. Standing up too. You would think that I know how to sit down and stand up - but one develops these bad habits, sometimes the result of an injury, and ones whole body begins to adapt to it. It throws things off, and causes weaknesses and pain in unexpected places. Everything shifts a little, until doing it wrong feels right - and doing it right feels wrong.

You see where I am headed with this, right?

The only way to change this is 1) to have someone point it out to you, someone who knows how your body ought to be working, and show you how to do it differently, and 2) decide that you are going to change the pattern, and then practice, practice, practice. At first it feels wierd, and you have to concentrate. (I am doing 3 sets of 10 - sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up. Watch in the mirror .. are my knees straight? are my feet straight ahead? Where is my weight? ) Over time the new habit becomes more natural and the pains and disability the old habit caused begin to go away. (I know this because Paul has helped me change other bad body mechanics habits.)

#1 above is the equivalent of spiritual direction. You rarely can recognize these patterns yourself - you just know that you have weakness and pain somewhere and don't generally know why. A spiritual director is one who has learned to recogize the workings of the soul and has learned some exercises for it.

#2 above is the equivalent of repentance (change your mind and your direction) and spiritual discipline.
Now I know I sit down and stand up wrong. Just knowing that doesn't change it. I need to exercise. So here I go - another set of 10. So simple... but gets the job done.

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